Storm Play Launches Long Awaited iOS App for Microtasks

The popular gamified microtask platform, StormX, has launched their long-awaited iOS app. To celebrate the milestone, Storm Play account holders have the opportunity to win prizes worth $10,000 in BTC, STORM, BNB, or ETH via the company’s Twitter competition.

Cryptocurrency Freelancing

Storm Play leverages blockchain to “empower the global workforce.” Storm Play lets users earn STORM tokens, bitcoin, and ether for trying games, products, services and performing other microtasks—similar to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program.

The Storm Play platform brings together Storm Makers and Storm Players. Storm Makers include sellers, advertisers, and companies who are looking for the services of freelancers to complete tasks of different levels. Storm Players include consumers, viewers, and freelancers who complete these tasks.

Storm has an in-app ledger system for rewards called bolts. The tasks by Storm Players are rewarded with bolts. These tokens can be redeemed for STORM Tokens or sold and exchanged for other cryptocurrencies.

Since the Storm Tokens is compatible with all ERC20 token cryptocurrency wallets, they can be stored in hardware wallets like Trezor or Ledger as well as in cloud wallets like MyEtherWallet and MetaMask.

The Long Awaited iOS Launch

Image courtesy of Stormx.io

Up until now, Storm Play has only been available via Android and has kept iOS users waiting for almost a year. A recent announcement shows that Storm Play is now finally available on iOS.

CryptoSlate reached out to Storm CEO Simon Yu for comment. He had the following to say about the launch:

“It took longer than we estimated but we’re excited to launch our iOS platform. We started back in 2014 and the environment was very similar. Right after Mt. Gox and Silk Road incidents people were afraid to buy Bitcoin but the technology was still really interesting. Our platform (Storm Play) allows people all over the world to be able to get their hands on cryptocurrency without having to risk their money. That includes the 1.7B people currently without a bank account and it’s exciting to have the ability to tap into a new group of people.”

Potential Rewards

To celebrate the launch, Storm is facilitating a Twitter competition for those interested in trying Storm Play. The planned campaign promises $10,000 delivered in BTC, STORM, or ETH a lucky winner, assuming they’re willing to jump through some social media hoops.

So far, Storm has made some tangible progress in terms of gaining market recognition. After raising over $30 million in its ICO in December of 2017, the company has made solid progress towards improving their app and expanding its user base.

The simple premise around Storm Play is attractive, and the campaign is likely to highlight that. Already boasting 2.4 million downloads and 250,000 active users, Storm is positioned to continue to gain traction through the bear market.

The future looks promising for Storm, or at least according to CIOReview in its “20 Most Promising Blockchain Solution Providers of 2018.”

The contest for the $10,000 prize is set to conclude Feb. 4th at 17:00 PST, with winners, announced three business days afterward. May the odds be in your favor.

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Venezuela Could Set New Precedent for Bitcoin as a Medium of Exchange

Hyperinflation in Venezuela is estimated to have reached a boggling 1.3 million percent in 2018. To reconcile runaway prices, the wealthy and the technologically savvy have turned to the stock market and cryptocurrency.

Venezuela’s Deteriorating Economy Turns People to Cryptocurrencies

Fueled by rich oil reserves, the country was once one of the fastest growing in South America during the 1990s and was an economic powerhouse in the region. Today, decades of corrupt and neglectful policies have put Venezuela on a road to economic disaster, and it’s accelerating.

The IMF estimates that Venezuela’s inflation stands at around 1.3 million percent, meaning that prices double in less than a month. This has caused country-wide shortages of basic necessities, such as food and medicine, adding to the hardships endured by Venezuelan citizens. Conditions have become so bad that ten percent of the country’s population has fled the country, according to The Economist.

The country’s national currency, the Bolivar has plummeted in value. To combat the issue, Maduro knocked five zeros off the currency by issuing new Sovereign Bolivar. Forbes called the move “a scam” and a mere “facelift” to the issue.

In desperation, the local people have taken to volatile (and oftentimes difficult to use) cryptocurrencies. On social media, Bitcoin, Dash, and Zcash are often cited as the number one choices for Venezuelans looking to weather hyperinflation.

And, people from around the globe are helping the country find its way to cryptocurrency. For example, AirdropVenezuela is facilitating donations to tens of thousands of verified Venezualans.

According to crypto statistics hub Coin Dance, the trading volume for Bolivars on LocalBitcoins has surged in 2018. The weekly trade volume for bitcoin rose from 170 to 2000 BTC in 2018.

Adjusting for Bitcoin’s 75 percent fall in value since the beginning of the year, weekly trading volume in Venezuela still increased from $2.5 million to $7.3 million, over a 190 percent increase.

Values in bitcoin. Chart courtesy of Coin Dance.

Cryptocurrency Replacing Stock Market Hedging

Although the poor in Venezuela have been hit the hardest by inflation, rich Venezuelans have other options to combat the problem. In the past, many have used the stock market as a sort of inflation-linked bank, buying shares to deposit cash, and selling them to withdraw it, as said by the Economist in July of 2018.

According to Barron’s, stocks in Venezuela have done a better job of keeping up with inflation, increasing in value (in Bolivar terms) by 73,000% in the past year. Banco Mercantil, one of South America’s largest banks—which operates outside of Venezuela—is the most popular stock among the rich, understandably.

However, despite the astounding growth of the Venezuelan stock market, its trading volume adjusted to dollars is minuscule. Data from Bloomberg suggest that the Caracas Exchange (index) had a daily trading volume that fluctuated between $50,000 and $3.9 million in the month of December, numbers rivaled by the growing bitcoin trade.

The LocalBitcoins figure is also an estimate, which doesn’t account for bitcoin traded outside of the platform. And, with weekly volume consistently upwards of $500,00 in USD terms, it seems that the country’s appetite for some digital currencies is significant.

Although conditions in Venezuela are grim, the natural and spontaneous use of Bitcoin at such a scale hasn’t been seen before. The nascent digital currency could actually start behaving like peer-to-peer digital cash in the country, one of Bitcoin’s original aspirations. As things unfold in the troubled economy of Venezuela, it will be interesting to see if the country sets a new precedent for cryptocurrencies.

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Wyoming Paves the Way in Blockchain Legislation–Issues New Bill for Tokenizing Stocks

Wyoming continues to spearhead blockchain adoption with House Bill 0185. The bill, scheduled for July 1st if passed, permits corporations to issue blockchain-based stock certificate tokens. This bill is just one in a string of new legislation, cementing Wyoming’s position as the pro-crypto state.

Tokenization is the process of representing ownership of real-world assets digitally on a blockchain. The tokenization of assets such as stocks, real estate, or art is already happening. Some companies are even making headway into tokenizing shares of Nasdaq traded stocks.

Tokenizing Stocks in Wyoming

Proposed on Jan. 16th, the new HB0185 bill would allow companies to make distributions, authorize shares, and make amendments—and make those actions legally binding—even if conducted via blockchain technology. As stated in the current draft of the bill:

“A BILL for AN ACT relating to corporate shares and distributions; authorizing corporations to issue certificate tokens in lieu of stock certificates as specified; making conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date.”

These new rules would replace the formerly cumbersome and manual processes around corporate governance with a more efficient digital solution. This has the potential to make the process more transparent and more cost-effective.

The tokenized certificates would also be authorized via network signatures–unique identifying hashes of two officers or directors of a corporation, allowing parties to take advantage of the unique properties of blockchain-facilitated cryptography.

The bill, if passed, would become effective on July 1st. And, based on Wyoming’s voting history, the bill is quite likely to pass. The bill is sponsored by the representatives Olsen, Brown, Hunt, Lindholm, Western and Zwonitzer—and Senators Driskill and Rothfuss.

In short, the bill is laying the legal groundwork for storing, as well as performing, the administrative actions needed to maintain a company via blockchain.

Wyoming’s Other Blockchain Bills

HB0185 is only one in a series of bills in Wyoming’s blockchain initiative. Two other bills, HB0062, and HB0057 were recently passed (unanimously) in the state’s legislature.

Bill HB0062, “Wyoming Utility Token Act–property amendment,” established a clearer definition of utility tokens, and specifies that these tokens are more akin to property than securities. This bill allows certain tokens to potentially avoid more stringent federal securities laws.

Bill HB0057, titled “Financial Technology Sandbox,” provides a managed, secure testing environment for corporations wishing to experiment and develop blockchain and crypto-related businesses. The bill would give state agencies the ability to administer waivers to specific regulations, which could otherwise hinder potential innovation within the industry.

Another bill, HB0070, “Open blockchain tokens-exemptions,” would provide special state exemptions for entities who sell or facilitate the exchange of “open blockchain tokens.” These businesses would no longer be subject to specific securities and money transmission laws—provided they get approval from the state secretary and Wyoming’s banking commissioner. Some example of open blockchain tokens, as suggested by William Hinman—the director of the SEC division of corporate finance—might include bitcoin and ether. This bill could make the state more attractive for transactional businesses and exchanges looking to establish themselves in the United States.

People are Taking Notice

These progressive crypto bills have not gone unnoticed. Some blockchain-related businessessuch as Cardano’s primary development company IOHK, as declared by CEO Charles Hoskinsonare now planning to relocate their business to Wyoming.

Times are changing, and Wyoming seems to be leading the way with a pro-crypto legislature. Now, whether other states will follow Wyoming’s lead is another question.

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India Stalls Cryptocurrency Regulations, Uncertainty Continues

India’s government has continued its “undecided” stance on regulation around the cryptocurrency ecosystem. No timeline was promised by Pon Radhakrishnan, the Minister of State Finance, for enacting legislation, even in the December 28, 2018 meeting.

December Passed: Still In a Limbo

The Indian Government and the domestic cryptocurrency exchanges had always been at odds with each other regarding the regulation of cryptocurrency in India.

But even after two years, the Government is yet to clarify its stance on the regulatory policies of cryptocurrency. Not only that, the government doesn’t even have any concrete plans regarding a timeline for finalizing the rules.

According to Quartz, as a reply to a fellow parliamentarian, the minister of state for finance, Pon Radhakrishnan is reported to have said on the Lok Sabha, the lower house:

“In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise a technically feasible solution, the department is pursuing the matter with due caution. It is difficult to state a specific timeline to come up with clear recommendations.”

This announcement comes as no shock for Indian crypto traders as they have already faced a roller coaster of rules and regulations within this span of time. Unfortunately, the uncertainty around regulation will continue to thwart cryptocurrency-related business in an economy of well over a billion people.

Bans, Unmet Promises, the Fight Continues

The Indian crypto exchanges were blindsided by the crackdown by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in April 2018. The RBI directive practically prohibited banks from dealing with virtual currency exchanges and traders. This was a crippling move.

India Restricts Cryptocurrency in Favor of Own State-Backed Crypto
Related Story: India Restricts Cryptocurrency in Favor of Own State-Backed Crypto

The virtual money exchanges retorted by filing a case against RBI’s stance in the apex court. This case is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Supreme court had ordered the government to submit a report on the findings of the government’s virtual currency panel that was formed in December 2017.

But with this latest announcement from Pon Radhakrishnan, it is clear that India’s Narendra Modi’s Government is in no rush to dictate the crypto rules, or even give a ballpark figure on when the deadline would be set.

For now, it does seem as though this impasse is set to continue even into 2019.

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U.S. Federal Reserve Doesn’t Like the Idea of a Government Cryptocurrency

The Federal Reserve Board governor is still not fond of the idea of central bank digital currencies, despite the fact that the reserve is equipped to issue one.

The Fed Says No to CBDCs

It’s been a year since bitcoin’s price exploded and launched cryptocurrencies into the mainstream, which pushed many to believe that the future of money was just around the corner. With an incredibly high number of companies promoting blockchain-based—assets popping up each day—the idea doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

Despite the number of advocates promoting the benefits of cryptocurrencies, there is still a long way to go before major financial institutions decide to enter the market.

Quartz reported on Dec. 27th that back in May 2018, Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve Board governor, spoke at the Decoding Digital Currency Conference in San Francisco, where she delivered a speech criticizing cryptocurrencies and their lack of transparency.

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While her speech praised blockchain for being one of the most significant technological innovations of the decade, she was skeptical about the usefulness of cryptocurrencies. Citing the high price volatility of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Brainard said that such coins couldn’t be used as a store of value or a unit of account.

She also noted that cryptocurrencies were extremely vulnerable to hacks and money-laundering, making it hard for any major financial institution to deal in these assets. Raising concerns about how a national digital currency would affect retail banks, which make loans to the public, Brainard said that the Federal Reserve maintains that issuing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is generally a bad idea.

The Infrastructure for CBDCs is Already Here

The subject of central bank digital currencies got a lot of media traction after Christine Lagarde, the director of the International Monetary Fund, supported the idea at the Singapore Fintech Festival in November.

Lagarde highlighted some of the benefits that national cryptocurrencies would bring, saying that they could solve the problems of financial inclusion and privacy, as well as security and consumer protection.

Even Kevin Warsh, a former governor at the US Federal Reserve, who was among the candidates to become the new chairman of the Reserve, was in favor of the idea. Earlier this year, Warsh told the New York Times that he would have allocated resources to explore a national currency.

Former Top Official Said He Would Consider FedCoin to Rival Bitcoin
Related Story: Former Top Official Said He Would Consider FedCoin to Rival Bitcoin

According to Quartz, the blockchain-based “Fedcoin” had the potential to improve the transparency and efficiency of the U.S. dollar and could have given the Federal Reserve access to unconventional financial tools, such as negative interest rates.

Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schar, researchers at the St. Louis Fed, studied the idea even further. In February 2018, they concluded that any central bank could “easily” create its own digital currency.

Bernsten and Shar argued that, as the key characteristics of cryptocurrencies are red flags for central banks, and consequently they wouldn’t be issued on a “permissionless” network. These digital currencies would effectively be centrally-managed electronic money.

However, the researchers noted that the idea would be hard to put into practice:

“cryptocurrency is still a very young technology and there are large operational risks. Overall, we believe that the call for a ‘Fedcoin’ or any other central bank cryptocurrency is somewhat naïve.”

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BlockTower Capital to Lose $1 Million After Betting Bitcoin Would Hit $50,000

BlockTower Capital, a hedge fund which manages more than $130 million in client assets, made a $1 million bet last year that Bitcoin’s price would go above $50,000 by the end of 2018. The Hedge Fund is expected to lose over $1 million in options by the end of the week.

A Bitcoin Bet Gone Wrong

One of the largest crypto hedge funds in the world, which manages hundreds of millions of dollars in client assets, has made a shocking bet that it’s bound to lose by the end of the year.

Ari Paul, co-founder of BlockTower Capital (source: Business Insider)

BlockTower Capital’s co-founder and current chief information officer, Ari Paul, made a bet on behalf of the company on December 20, 2017, specifying that Bitcoin would be worth more than $50,000 by the end of 2018.

According to Business Insider, the bet would have enabled Paul, who spent just under $1 million on call options, to buy 275 bitcoins at $50,000 apiece any time before December 28, 2018. In total, if the options were exercised BlockTower could have spent up to $13.8 million.

However, with Bitcoin currently trading at around $3,800, it’s safe to say that BlockTower Capital won’t exercise those options.

Related: Dubious Bitcoin Price Predictions; Thomas Lee Claims Bitcoin’s Value is at Least $13,800

At the time, the company stood by their decision saying it was a way to “risk a little to win a lot.” During an interview with CNBC on December 26, 2017, Paul said that “it was not a bet that something will happen, but a bet that something could happen,” and that he liked the odds and payout of the move.

Fast forward to December 2018, Paul told Business Insider that they “were not betting on or expecting” a Bitcoin rally. He claimed that the options were a way for the fund to maintain exposure to an extreme rally while reducing overall crypto exposure.

Perhaps Paul’s bet falls into the list of other lackluster 2018 predictions.

Other Crypto Bets Await Resolution

Despite the amount of press they’ve received, BlockTower Capital and Ari Paul aren’t the only ones betting on the future of crypto. Earlier in December, Morgan Creek Digital Assets publicized a bet that the Bitwise index fund of cryptocurrencies would outperform the S&P 500.

Related: Cryptocurrency Skeptics Challenged: $1 Million Bet Crypto Outperforms S&P 500

Many believe that the bet is a direct challenge to those who see cryptocurrencies as “Ponzi schemes” and believe Bitcoin and other coins will eventually be rendered worthless.

The challenge is as a ‘Buffet Bet’ 2.0, a nod to Warren Buffet’s bet of $1 million that S&P index funds would outperform a selection of actively managed hedge funds. Buffet’s winning bet got him a return with a 7.1 percent interest compounded annually, which is more than three times larger than the 2.2 percent return the selection of hedge funds got.

While BlockTower Capital’s bet is lost, there is still time for Bitcoin’s price to recover in 2019.

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Data Shows that Women Are Underrepresented in Blockchain and Crypto

New data shows that the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries are male-dominated, severely underrepresenting women in the workforce.

A LongHash report published on December 11, 2018, analyzed the most recent 100 blockchain startups and found that the industry employs significantly more men than women, showing a growing gender divide in the emerging companies. But, is this a result of a conscious plan to push women out of the industry or a more complex case of supply and demand?

LongHash Finds Women Are Underrepresented in Blockchain

Looking to highlight the long-debated issue of gender divide in the industry, LongHash, a blockchain data and media company, published a report analyzing the most recent 100 blockchain startups and their employees.

The report considered the top 100 blockchain startups that the ICO tracking website, ICO Rating, listed as “upcoming” and tracked the overall gender balance of their teams, the number of women the companies employed at the executive level, and the number of women that served on the companies’ advisory boards.

According to LongHash, out of the 1,062 listed team members, 14.5 percent of them were women. The report also found that 7 percent of the blockchain startup executives were women, and for advisors, that number was 8 percent.

However, women were least represented in the top management category, as 78 of the 100 startups listed had no female executives. Only one startup from the list had more than one woman in an executive role.

The report went on to point out that while tech, in general, is largely a male-dominated field, big tech companies in Silicon Valley all have a workforce that’s at least 25 percent women. Almost 29 percent of employees at small tech startups were female, while just 15% of startups that got venture funding have women on their executive teams, as reported by the non-profit Women Who Tech.

Are Women Consciously Being Pushed Out of Blockchain?

The LongHash report implied that, despite the industry being relatively young, it grew to prominence in the #metoo era and should have resulted in more women being involved in blockchain. Back in February 2018, the New York Times criticized the male-dominated culture surrounding cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology which often caused “sexist incidents” and inappropriate conduct from company executives.

To highlight these kinds of incidents, CryptoSlate reached out to the Chair of the Washington Technology Industry Association and former president of StormX, Arry Yu. In regards to how women are treated at crypto events, and in the industry in general Yu stated:

“…when events are thoughtlessly thrown together over and over again where conference parties are held at strip clubs, or where ‘crypto-dudes’ assume any woman they encounter is a waitress, assistant, or party seeker—this is where the industry as a whole will continue to fail. What creates even more damage to progress is when attendees or witnesses of ‘crypto-bro’ sexist behavior do not speak up by reprimanding these kinds of close-minded, provincial acts…”

These cases of discrimination, unprofessional conduct, and unwanted sexual advances are a recurring narrative in the cryptocurrency space, especially during the peak of the market. Breaker Mag highlighted this kind of behavior when a female journalist undertook a ‘crypto-cruise.’ Another question altogether, however, is whether women are being purposefully pushed out of the industry in terms of employment opportunities.

Women in the Workforce

The small number of women employed in the blockchain industry could also be a result of the market supply. In 2017, a Pearson Frank Java and PHP Salary Survey found that women made up just 11% of the developer workforce.

CryptoSlate reached out to Ashlie Meredith in an interview, a former university professor and now current University Program Director at the blockchain accelerator MouseBelt. She commented that:

“…there are numerous studies showing that employers evaluate identical credentials differently based on the gender of the applicant—especially if it’s a traditionally male field. A focus on diversity could address this kind of inequality in opportunity.”

Yet, there are also opponents who argue that companies that hire women just on the basis of their gender are adding to the growing dissatisfaction of their employees who were hired for their skills and experience.

Industry’s View on Diversity

Amber Baldet, the former blockchain lead at JPMorgan Chase, told QZ the belief that women were being sidelined in blockchain is not true. “Women just aren’t being publicly recognized for their work,” she explained.

Also, focusing too much on equal gender representation isn’t something young companies have the time or resources to do. Henry Ward, CEO of Carta, told CNBC that when Carta was founded in 2012, diversity was not the focus—it was “staying alive.”

Additionally, adding more women to top executive and advisory positions in emerging blockchain companies isn’t an indicator of success—crypto companies with mostly female leadership aren’t more likely to have successful ICOs.

In contrast to that sentiment, Yu reaffirms that gender inclusion is something that should be a priority for startups, regardless of resource constraints:

“Diversity is not something startups can postpone until they are mature, especially as it pertains to gender… the first 20 hires in any startup company set the tone and culture for the company over its lifetime…”

Taylor Monahan, the CEO of MyCrypto Wallet, said that the issues concerning women in blockchain are identical to the issues that concern men in blockchain. The issues she faces “are business problems and human problems and regulatory problems, not gender ones,” she explained in an interview with Forbes.

The notion that women need more recognition and better representation in blockchain could actually bring more harm than good, Kim Elsesser, an author and lecturer at UCLA, argued. She believes attracting more women into blockchain and other male-dominated industries is a fantastic goal, but highlighting women’s supposed vulnerability in the field isn’t the way to do that.

Women have significant obstacles to overcome in male-dominated industries, Elsesser wrote, but highlighting how underrepresented they are in a field such as blockchain is not going to eliminate these obstacles.

Shifting the Industry’s View

Meredith is more proactive about getting women involved in blockchain and technology in general. There is an untapped resource that could help push blockchain technology forward:

“…We should ask ourselves: why do I believe in blockchain technology? If the answer is its potential to disrupt and revolutionize our governments and financial systems, then we need to work to get everyone involved.”

Whatever the underlying reasons, it is clear that there are vastly fewer women involved in the blockchain sector than men. Even more concerning is the prevalence of ‘crypto-bro’ culture that may tarnish the reputation of the industry to the public. Yet, it’s uncertain if the industry views this imbalance as a problem.

To effectively address these concerns it is necessary that the figureheads in the industry first bring attention to the problem and then make it a priority they’re willing to champion. Whether that will happen though is up for speculation.

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Bear Market Forces Bitmain to Close Blockchain Development Center in Israel

The downturn of the crypto market has forced Beijing-based Bitcoin mining giant Bitmain to close its blockchain development center in Israel and lay off all of its employees, Israeli business news outlet Globes reported on December 10, 2018.

Shutting Down All Operations in Israel

While many predicted that the bear market wouldn’t last longer than a few weeks, the downfall of the crypto market shows no signs of stopping, despite the end of the year getting closer. The extremely unfavorable conditions have already forced many blockchains and crypto businesses to close down or lay off staff in order to remain afloat.

And while most casualties have been smaller startups, the latest one is none other than industry giant Bitmain. The Beijing-based mining rig manufacturer has been hit hard by the crypto market and is struggling to remain profitable.

According to Globes, an Israeli business news outlet, Bitmaintech Israel, Bitmain’s development center set up in Ra’anana back in 2016, will close this week and its 23 employees will be laid off. The head of the company, Gadi Glikberg, who serves as a VP at Bitmain, will also be leaving the business.

“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” Glikberg reportedly told Bitmaintech’s Israeli employees.

During its two-year run, Bitmain’s Israeli center worked on the Connect BTC mining pool and building AI technology used in the company’s Sophon project.

Hard Year for Bitmain

Neither Bitmaintech nor Bitmain have commented on the news yet, leaving investors worried about the company’s stability.

The news about the shutdown of the Israeli center comes amidst two lawsuits the company is currently facing. A $5 million class-action lawsuit was filed in the North District Court of California against Bitmain’s U.S. and Chinese-based entities, accusing them of unauthorized mining practices.

Another lawsuit was filed against Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver and the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange, with the case alleging that the defendants manipulated the Bitcoin Cash network for their benefit.

In addition to the legal troubles the company has faced in 2018, Bitmain is also struggling with financial problems. Back in September 2018, a report from BitMex Research showed that the company had a net loss of $395 million in the second quarter of 2018.

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Binance Launches Blockchain DEX to Compete with Ethereum, EOS, TRON

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, is launching its own blockchain that will support the forthcoming decentralized exchange Binance DEX and host its native Binance Coin, the company announced in a Medium post on December 5, 2018.

One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges and the largest crypto company in the world, Binance has ambitious plans to bring blockchain technology closer to mainstream adoption.

Related: Binance Chooses NEO’s Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance for its BNB Chain

According to a Medium post from December 5, the company plans on launching its very own blockchain network. While no exact dates have yet been specified, the company did say that the network will launch sometime in the first few months of 2019.

Binance also announced that it will move its native cryptocurrency, the Binance Coin (BNB) from the Ethereum network to Binance Chain, saying that “details on when Binance Coin will transition from an ERC20 token to a native Binance Chain asset will be revealed soon.” As stated in the press release:

Binance DEX is made by the blockchain community, for the blockchain community, with support from Binance developers, as part of advancing our mission to spread the freedom of money.

The launch of the company’s own blockchain follows its earlier plans to launch a completely new decentralized exchange. According to Binance, the community-driven decentralized exchange will allow traders to issue and exchange digital assets without having to deposit onto a central exchange. The new exchange is currently being built on top of Binance Chain, and will use Binance Coin (BNB) as a native asset, the company explained.

Binance Chain Aims to Solve Ethereum Scaling Issues

In its post, Binance said that the new blockchain will allow millions of entrepreneurs and developers worldwide to issue tokens, which led many to believe that the new blockchain may be designed as a fully-fledged smart contract platform—just like Ethereum.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise, though, as Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, has frequently criticized Ethereum for its lack of speed and scalability. He believes that most leading blockchains that support smart contracts, such as EOS and TRON, are too slow to enable mainstream adoption. Back in August 2018, Zhao told Fortune that he thinks the existing blockchains will cede the field to more specialized applications.

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And while Ethereum developers have already agreed on a system-wide update that will fix major issues such as scalability, Binance went ahead with plans to launch its own network and decentralized exchange.

Binance DEX was built as a direct response to the need for a “high capacity chain” and an easy-to-use decentralized platform, Zhao explained in an interview. He also noted that Binance Chain’s expected “instantaneous” transactions will make it a direct competitor to Ethereum, and by extension to other smart contract platforms such as EOS, Stellar, and Tron.

 

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How EOS, TRON and Ethereum Have Impacted the Gambling Industry

While reports on the impact of blockchain seem to focus mostly on cryptocurrencies, the technology is affecting industries across the board, with gambling being the one that benefits the most from secure ledgers. The application of blockchain technology benefits both the players and the providers, and ensures the results of their bets are generated fairly and securely.

Online Gambling Needs Blockchain More Than Most Industries

Blockchain technology managed to go from a relatively obscure and abstract concept to one of the founding principles tech companies are based on. The technology has managed to creep into almost every industry, ensuring that its presence in the coming years.

And while industries such as aviation and insurance have been at the forefront of blockchain adoption, the technology is expected to make the biggest impact on gambling. After all, casinos have been exchanging cash for tokens in the form of chips long before cryptocurrencies or blockchain appeared.

In 2018, the online gambling industry is expected to surpass $50 billion, as cited on Inc.com. A study by SuperData Research found that mobile gambling was up 75% year-over-year and that it now accounts for over 25% of all online gambling.

However, the sheer number of websites offering online gambling makes it harder for a gambler to verify the reliability of a site. The mark of a reliable gambling site tends to be a byproduct of their reputation, and most players gravitate towards those sites not because of third-party validation, but rather the reviews they receive.

By integrating blockchain technology, all parties benefit from the permanent record of a verifiable, unchangeable transaction ledger. This means that players are provided an assurance of where their money is going and that their results were generated fairly.

With an online gambling blockchain in place, there is no obfuscation of the rules, which are clearly legible to all parties, and an instant payout is guaranteed. There are no concerns about a site withholding winnings because there is no site governing the game. The player’s funds go directly into a smart contract without the need for a middleman.

A Rising Number of Gambling Apps Is a Direct Answer to the Industry’s Problems

According to a recently released report from Dapp.com, the majority of dApps being deployed on Ethereum are related to the gaming and betting industries. During the third quarter of 2018, 244 dApps were released on Ethereum, with 110 of them related to the betting industry.

And while only 15 percent of Ethereum’s users are actively using betting dApps, they accounted for just over 20 percent of the total transactions on the network during Q3. Betting dApps also made up 18 percent of ether’s total volume distribution on the network, the report from Dapps.com showed.

Dice2win, a blockchain-based dice game, scored third on the list of Ethereum dApps with the most transactions, while Fomo3D, a controversial exit-scam game, attracted the most users.

The increase in demand for trustless betting is best reflected in EOS, a blockchain platform similar to Ethereum. While significantly younger, EOS is often described as the Las Vegas of the blockchain, as over half of the 60 dApps launched in Q3 are betting platforms.

According to Dapp.com, 123 DApps went live from Aug. 10th to Oct. 30th, totaling 220 million EOS, equivalent to $1.2 billion. The EOS betting game player makes up 93 percent of the 6.2 million transactions on the platform, nearly the same as the number of transactions on Ethereum dApps recorded in Q3.

The popularity of the platform can be attributed to its BFT-DPoS protocol, which enables a high TPS (transactions per second) rate while maintaining costless transactions. Such a model provides a fantastic user experience, basically removing all of the setbacks associated with traditional blockchains.

The stability of the platform also translates into real-world usage, with EOSBet, the most popular EOS dApp, becoming the first open-source casino to acquire an Online Gambling License from Curacao, which in itself is one of the world’s oldest online gambling regulators.

Massive Payouts from Gambling dApps Show Increase in Popularity

However, EOS does come with its own setbacks, as the scale of users is highly limited by its complicated wallet setup. Users also have a hard time grasping the platform’s RAM and CPU protocols, as most platforms charge users gas fees.

Related: TRON Launches a $100 Million Fund for Blockchain Gaming

Aiming to address the issue of complicated account setups and buy-ins is Tron (TRX), with initial statistics showing that the use of its dApps has the potential to outpace both Ethereum and EOS projects. Despite being just a few months old, the platform managed to attract a strong user base by not requiring a special asset to pay for the computation.

A great indicator of the platform’s popularity among gamblers is the fact that Tronbet, its most popular betting dApp, has reached an unprecedented milestone—a whopping 3.1 billion TRX has been won by players since October 2018. Despite Tronbet being the first betting app launched on the network, it has been responsible for the boost of traffic the platform’s native token has seen, which resulted in TRX’s price exceeding that of the much larger ETH platform.

While it’s still unclear whether demand drives the development of certain types of games—or vice versa, it seems that dice games are leading the way when it comes to blockchain gambling. Another one of Tron’s high performers is Trondice, a simple dice betting game that’s exceeded 200 million TRX in winnings back in November 2018.

The Industry Still Has a Long Way to Go

While all data points to incredible year-on-year gains for most betting dApps, mainstream adoption in the gambling industry is still a long way off. Some important achievements have been recorded within the currently limited adoption paradigm, with the most important being user trust, enhanced transparency, and relative ease of use.

Related: Crackdown: Chinese Authorities Confiscate $1.5 Million in Cryptocurrencies in FIFA Gambling Racket

But, blockchain itself is a double-edged sword, with many of its main benefits also being its major flaws. This is especially visible when it comes to KYC and AML verification, as many betting dApps don’t require users to share any identifying information. The notion of complete privacy attracts a certain niche that enables such businesses to stay profitable, but it also enables a plethora of illicit activity due to the absence of regulatory oversight.

From a platform point of view, the adoption of blockchain technology in the gambling industry leads to the development of native platform tokens that can be used to pay for services within the dApp. However, the current bearish market gives little incentive for players to jump into owning one of the hundreds of altcoins meant for such platforms, making it harder for companies to attract less crypto-savvy customers.

It is still early to judge the magnitude of the impact blockchain technology will have on gambling, but the potential remains obvious. The raw innovation that is happening in the gambling space may mark what could happen to other sectors in blockchain in the near future.

The post How EOS, TRON and Ethereum Have Impacted the Gambling Industry appeared first on CryptoSlate.

TRON Launches a $100 Million Fund for Blockchain Gaming

TRON, one of the most popular dApp platforms, is establishing a blockchain game fund: TRON Arcade. The company is looking to invest up to $100 million in gaming projects over the next 3 years, building the foundation for a robust blockchain gaming ecosystem.

Announcing TRON Arcade

The rising star among dApp platforms TRON has stated that the company is looking to implement foundational changes in its blockchain gaming ecosystem.

According to the company’s Nov. 29th press release, the fund, named TRON Arcade, is expected to attract investments reaching up to $100 million within 3 years from its launch. TRON’s main goal for the fund is to empower developers to create and introduce new games into its autonomous ecosystem.

Related Article
Related: TRON dApp Usage Now Exceeds Ethereum, TRX Storms Ahead With Major Gains

The company expects the project will contribute to building a strong community of content and entertainment, as said in the release.

The company’s newly launched blockchain game fund is regarded by TRON enthusiasts as a bold way to fundamentally change the gaming industry. Furthermore, the company plans on taking the model and applying it to other industries such as charity, enterprise solutions, consumer internet, social media, and entertainment.

According to the release, the company is dedicated to building a global, decentralized Internet ecosystem and “ushering the world into Web 3.0.”

Building Blocks for the Game Ecosystem

TRON’s mission of leveraging blockchain to benefit both the betting and the entertainment industry was made possible by the acquisition of BitTorrent. Project Atlas will combine BitTorrent, the world’s largest peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, with the power of blockchain to create a token economy that will optimize content distribution and provide content creators with the tools they need to expand.

Justin Sun, the founder and CEO of TRON said this about the release:

“TRON strives to tackle existing issues faced by the gaming industry by leveraging the open, transparent, and immutable blockchain technology. TRON Arcade will play a crucial role in encouraging developers to join in our mission and provide the best blockchain gaming experience to users around the world.”

Not only could the launch of TRON Arcade cement the company as a leader in blockchain technology implementation; TRON has also had an incredibly successful month. TRON (TRX) showed substantial growth, surging 32 percent between Nov. 28 and Nov. 29.

According to analytics website dapp.review, the TRON Network has surpassed Ethereum in dApp transaction volume. On Nov. 16th, the dApp TRONbet alone had registered 550 thousand transactions, the largest of any dApp on the TRON and Ethereum networks.

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TRON dApp Usage Now Exceeds Ethereum, TRX Storms Ahead With Major Gains

TRON dApps usage now exceeds that of Ethereum dApps, beating the blockchain giant in the number of users, number of transactions, and transaction volume, DappRadar data showed on Nov. 29, 2018.

Move over Ethereum, TRON Is Now the Most Popular dApp Platform in the World.

It seems that the current bearish market has had very little impact on TRON, as the company is on its way to having the best year yet. Despite being just a few months old, the platform managed to attract a strong user base, beating the much older more well-known Ethereum platform in almost every category.

According to data from DappRadar, the top ranking dApp on the TRON Network, TRONbet, currently has more users than the top ranking Ethereum app, IDEX. Despite IDEX being an exchange, the gambling app TRONbet also managed to surpass it in terms of the number of transactions taking place over a period of 24 hours.

The total value of transactions made across 24 hours is also significantly larger on TRONbet, with the app reporting 200 million TRX, or around $3.5 million at current prices. In comparison, the IDEX exchange reported a trading volume of 2,600 ETH, which when converted amounts to just over $300,00.

TRON Leads in Gambling Apps

Related: What is Project Atlas? Justin Sun Reveals Details of New Tokenized BitTorrent Platform on Tron
Related: What is Project Atlas? Justin Sun Reveals Details of New Tokenized BitTorrent Platform on Tron

Alex Sunnarborg, founder of Tetras Capital, a hedge fund focused on digital assets, tweeted the stats from DappRadar on November 28, pointing out that the leading TRON dApps were all gambling related.

The list of TRON dApps shows that 11 out of 15 top ranking dApps are related to gambling. The second most popular category is gaming, but it counts just three dApps whose stats pale in comparison to the network’s betting platforms.

The company’s native coin, TRX, is also in the green, trading at $0.015 with a market cap of $1045 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap. TRX currently holds the 12th position in the website’s top 100 listing and saw a surge of over 31 percent on Nov. 28.

The coin’s gains are mostly attributed to the company’s latest announcement, as users are now able to use TRX to buy one-year subscriptions on BitTorrent or µTorrent products, including Ads Free and Pro Windows.

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Unregulated OKEx Derivatives Impacting $400 Million in Trades

In a recent controversy brought to light by Amber AI, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has been allegedly engaging in “market manipulation and fraud,” impacting $400 million in trades. Investors are unable to seek help from the courts due to regulatory exclusions.

An Achilles Heel for Investors

Despite Hong Kong having been among the first hubs to publicly endorse both blockchain and fintech, cryptocurrencies have remained a thorn in the side of Beijing’s financial regulators. At the moment, there is very little incentive to impose an outright ban on crypto trading or exchange in the city, unlike in Mainland China. That said, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in Hong Kong has not worked to make the atmosphere towards crypto more favorable, either.

Why Major Crypto Exchange OKEx Controversially Used User Funds to Liquidate Bitcoin Contract
Related: Why Major Crypto Exchange OKEx Controversially Used User Funds to Liquidate Bitcoin Contract

Back in October 2018, the SFC proposed a “sandbox” approach for crypto exchanges. According to the South China Morning Post, the proposal introduced Nov. 1, enabled exchanges to apply for licensure in Hong Kong.

While the move was widely regarded as a step forward for the industry in China (and the industry overall), many failed to notice a key point in the announcement: The new approach would not accept platform operators trading digital assets, such as futures, derivatives, and other contracts.

These exceptions stripped investors of the ability to seek the SFC’s help in the case of fraud or manipulation, leaving investors vulnerable.

Investors Left Without Recourse

On Nov. 26, the South China Morning Post said that the Seychelles-registered exchange was under fire last week after three of its future settlements for Bitcoin Cash were delivered earlier than scheduled. These contracts affected trades worth more than $400 million.

Several investors endured heavy losses as a result, turning to the law in hopes of a fair inquiry into the incident. The solicitations to the courts received no responses, with judges pointing to the recent dictum of the exclusion of derivatives and futures.

It seems that in cases of derivatives and futures, fund managers and traders need to carefully weigh their options and assess the risks themselves, as any remuneration from the courts seems unlikely.

Potential Fraud

In more troubling news, Amber AI, an algorithmic trading firm, claims that these trades were not simply a mistake.

In a Medium post, the firm claims that OKEx was trading against its clients’ positions in the futures markets and profiting at their expense. Amber AI claims that the incident borders on fraud.

The exchange denied all such claims in a detailed blog post.

This is not the first time OKEx has caused losses for its customers. Back in July of 2018, the exchange took a portion of the gains from all of its traders in a clawback mechanism used to plug clients’ margin call losses.

The exchange endured the significant backlash from the community, even though it may have been within their contractual rights to cause these losses.

In all, OKEx has been in the news for the wrong reasons. However, without the pressure of a regulatory agency, there is little customers can do to dispute losses caused by OKEx. In this regulatory environment, the best traders can do is remain vigilant and avoid these unregulated securities, and if these practices continue, vote with their dollars and trade somewhere else.

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Nasdaq Reportedly Looking into Bitcoin Futures Despite Plunging Prices

The world’s second largest stock exchange, Nasdaq, is reportedly planning to introduce a Bitcoin futures market within the first quarter of 2019.

The Bitcoin market has plunged by more than 80 percent across the spot markets, data from CryptoSlate has shown, but it hasn’t deterred the world second largest stock exchange from eyeing the lucrative industry.

According to a Nov. 27 report from Bloomberg, the Nasdaq Stock Market is reportedly looking to list Bitcoin futures on its exchange as early as 2019. Two people familiar with the matter told the publication that Nasdaq was betting on sustained interest despite the cryptocurrency’s dramatic plunge over the past year.

The unnamed sources claimed that Nasdaq has been working to satisfy the concerns of the CFTC before launching the contracts. And while the New York exchange operator was first reported to be eyeing Bitcoin futures back in 2017, one of the sources said that the company won’t begin trading until the first quarter of 2019.

The report comes almost a year after Nasdaq announced its plans to introduce bitcoin futures back in November 2017. At the time of the announcement, bitcoin’s price was experiencing a never before seen high, soaring to $11,000.

The company planned to take price references from numerous spot exchanges for their bitcoin futures as compiled by VanEck Associates Corp. At the time, Adena Friedman, the chief executive officer at Nasdaq, said that this approach would make Nasdaq’s bitcoin contract different from its competitors.

Nasdaq Presents Another Case for Institutional Demand

Stepping into a long-lasting bear market suggests that Nasdaq sees sufficient institutional demand for bitcoin futures in the U.S. Currently, the demand from institutional investors for crypto can only be evaluated through the numbers that Bakkt, Fidelity Digital Assets, Goldman Sachs, BitGo Custody, Coinbase Custody, and other major OTC markets can provide.

Related: Nasdaq Holds Secret Meeting to Legitimize Cryptocurrency

However, as developing infrastructure for a new asset class requires allocating a large portion of an exchange’s resource, it’s safe to say that Nasdaq seems certain that the demand for its futures will grow over time.

Depending on the delivery of Nasdaq’s plans, the cryptocurrency market could have both Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange operating bitcoin futures markets as soon as the second quarter of 2019.no

Bakkt, a cryptocurrency exchange built by ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, is also expected to launch its Bitcoin futures market on January 24. As Bakkt physically delivers bitcoin to its investors and as such, it could have an actual impact on the supply of the coin and ultimately its price.

And while the details of Nasdaq’s plans still remain unclear, the increased competition by the two exchanges could lead to an increase in additional liquidity for the asset, something the market desperately needs.

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Why It’s Overkill to Compare the Bitcoin Slowdown With History’s Biggest Bubble Bursts

Skeptics forecasted it saying the crypto crash was inevitable; die-hard crypto enthusiasts called it fear to monger with a tint of hidden agenda. Skeptics seem to be having the last laugh–for now, at least. Especially after the latest Bitcoin nosedive prompted investors to weigh the asset class with some of history’s most spectacular asset bubbles.

However, is it really that simple? Perhaps not.

Comparison With History’s Biggest Bubbles

The crypto space came under similar analysis/criticism in the past as well. And some leading financial publications comparing the Bitcoin plunge with some of history’s biggest bursts did so back in 2014 too.

Bitcoin passed $1,000 towards the end of November 2013 and climbed up to around $1,200 before retreating to the $340–$530 range by April 2014. This prompted some analysts to draw a parallel to the South Seas Bubble.

Ethereum Founder, Vitalik Buterin: ‘We’re at the Tail End of a Crypto Bubble’
Related: Ethereum Founder, Vitalik Buterin: ‘We’re at the Tail End of a Crypto Bubble’

The South Seas Bubble refers to the spectacular crash of the stocks of U.K.-based South Sea Company. During its peak stocks of the company went upward of £1,000 (unadjusted for inflation), before crashing to nearly nothing by H2 1720.

The crypto space remained relatively humble over the next couple of years with a steady, moderate growth. However, that would soon change starting Jan. 1, 2017, when Bitcoin passed the $1,000 milestone once again after nearly three years. And by the end of 2017, it attained an all-time high of over $20,000.

Bitcoin bubble?

Flogging a Dead Horse

After the recent plunge in Bitcoin prices, similar reports have begun surfacing wherein analysts are comparing the currently downward spiral of the crypto market with bubble bursts such as Tulip Mania, South Sea Bubble, and Wall Street Crash of 1929, among others.

Coinbase CTO: Crypto Has Bubble-Crash-Build Phases, Crucial For Rallies
Related: Coinbase CTO: Crypto Has Bubble-Crash-Build Phases, Crucial For Rallies

Sure, the crypto market is down today compared to late-2017 with Bitcoin price hovering in between $4,000 to $4,500 as of press time. However, the year-on-year.

But even with the current slow down taken into account, most of these analyses seem to have conveniently forgotten to draw a comparison between the current bubble and the one from 2014.

Is this a bubble within a bubble? A double-bubble, maybe? (Like some Twitter users are calling it here.)

The bottom line here would be that unlike the other bubbles these analysts have referred to, the so-called Bitcoin bubble doesn’t seem to burst into oblivion. If the recent past has taught us anything, it is likely that Bitcoin prices will eventually correct and reaches an equilibrium before going stronger again–just like it did in 2014.

The post Why It’s Overkill to Compare the Bitcoin Slowdown With History’s Biggest Bubble Bursts appeared first on CryptoSlate.

Ethereum’s New Serenity Protocol Lowers the Cost of Running Staking Nodes

Ethereum’s new Serenity update, which will enable the network to transition from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus model, has been generating a lot of hype in 2018. Apart from addressing the problem of scalability, the new chain also drastically reduces the cost for running a staking node in Ethereum 2.0, it was unveiled in a tweet on Nov. 20, 2018.

Protocol Update Lowers the Cost of Staking

In a rapidly declining crypto market, news about technical updates to some of the most popular blockchain networks out there has a tendency to go under the radar.

On Oct. 31, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin spoke about the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade and the basic idea behind the new platform during the Devcon4 conference in Prague.

Ethereum (ETH) Developer: “No Constantinople” Hard Fork in 2018
Related: Ethereum (ETH) Developer: “No Constantinople” Hard Fork in 2018

He spoke about Serenity, the Proof of Stake (POS) protocol that the platform will be using for the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. Very little technical details were given about the protocol itself, but Buterin did explain what was in the upgrade and what problems it was meant to address.

And while most of the industry was either focused on comparing the new protocol to the standard POW or on the declining value of cryptocurrencies, a Twitter user pointed out one of the main advantages the new consensus will bring to the network.

David Hoffman, a blockchain researcher at Bunker Capital and host of the POV Crypto podcast, said that the new upgrade would significantly reduce the cost of staking.

He tweeted on November 19:

The announcement has caused quite a stir among his followers, many of whom are either active traders or ETH miners.

How Does the New Protocol Benefit the Network?

According to Hoffman, when the Ethereum network changes from PoW to PoS, 32 ETH will be required in order to stake. As staking will replace mining in the new consensus protocol, stakers will be able to receive block rewards and transaction fees.

The rewards enable stakers to receive passive income, earning up to 5 percent of the staked ETH yearly. The decrease in price Ether has seen during the second half of November has certainly impacted this in a positive way, as the loss of value means that the 32 ETH are worth less than $5,000.

The lower price means more stakers could enter the network, adding to its efficiency. Vitalik Buterin spoke on the problems Ethereum had when developing Serenity during his Devcon4 Keynote speech, and said that the new protocol would be a thousand times more scalable than the original PoW concept.

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XRP Takes over Ethereum to Become the Largest Altcoin by Market Cap

The bearish movements in the cryptocurrency market, which resulted in Bitcoin’s price falling well below the $6,000 mark, have benefited Ripple, as it’s XRP coin has now overtaken Ethereum as the largest altcoin in terms of market cap.

New Ripple Surge Sees Token Become Largest Altcoin By Market Cap, Again

The bearish movements that took place across the cryptocurrency market throughout November 14 and the early hours of November 15 resulted in Bitcoin’s price dropping well below the $6,000 mark, with the lowest trading price recorded around $5,500.

Almost all cryptocurrencies have experienced a significant decline, with Ripple’s XRP being no different. However, despite being on its third consecutive day of declines on Nov. 15, it has managed to hold its value better than most.

Bitcoin Plunges to $5400: 12 Month Low, Market Sheds $25 Billion
Related: Bitcoin Plunges to $5400: 12 Month Low, Market Sheds $25 Billion

The decline on November 14 brought the price of XRP from $0.5 to an intraday low close to $0.4, the report said, adding that the coin’s price had since retracted to close around $0.46.

November 15 saw XRP trading at around $0.44, showing that the momentum is firmly on the side of sellers. Both the RSI and the MACD are decreasing showing seller momentum.

This is not the first time XRP has seen a meteoric rise on the market cap chart, as the coin’s switch around with Ethereum is a pattern that has occurred several times throughout 2018. Following the launch of Ripple’s xRapid platform, XRP overtook Ethereum on November 6, 2018, as well on September 26.

Overall Outlook for the Market Remains Bearish as Buyers Look for Stability

And while the slump Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin have seen on November 14 is the fifth one this year, a few things seem to be different this time around. According to Forbes, the sell-off began after a period of two-month stability rather than after a short spike and broke through the $6,000 and the $5,800-marks, which has been seen a market “bottom” for Bitcoin.

Clement Thibault, Senior Analyst at global financial platform Investing.com told Forbes that a drop below $6,000 for Bitcoin was a clear sign of a bearish market.

However, Henry James, deputy CEO and chairman at Fincross International, isn’t surprised by the sell-off. He explained that a breakout from this price range has been expected for a number of days, as it followed a long period of tightening price action amongst Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies.

James said:

“This latest sell-off suggests that buyers are still hesitant at this stage and are in search of more real-world use cases for cryptocurrency”

The post XRP Takes over Ethereum to Become the Largest Altcoin by Market Cap appeared first on CryptoSlate.

Bitcoin Lightning Network Reaches All-Time High Capacity

Efforts to improve the scalability of Bitcoin appear to be bearing fruit as the Lightning Network, a second layer off-chain scalability solution on the network designed to handle vast transaction throughputs without resulting in high prices has recorded an important milestone. According to data from 1ML, the Lightning Network now has a total of 4,039 nodes at press time, of which a total of 2,914 have public IP addresses.

Boom Time for Lightning Network

This marks the first time that the Lightning Network has exceeded 4,000 nodes, at a time when its total network capacity now stands at an all-time high of 134.42 BTC (about $760,454), barely two months after the network capacity figure crossed 100 BTC for the first time ever.

What Is the Bitcoin Lightning Network?
Related: What Is the Bitcoin Lightning Network?

Following a September summit held in Melbourne, Australia, Lightning Labs developer Alex Bosworth revealed on Nov. 12, 2018, that a total of thirty changes would be implemented in the next version of the Lightning Network including multi-path payments, dual-funded channels, and hidden destinations, among other features.

It will be recalled that earlier this week, Lightning Labs co-founder Olaoluwa Osuntokun was featured on the latest Forbes 30-Under-30 list after the startup successfully raised more than $2.5 million for its commercial implementation of the Lightning Network to make bitcoin a more viable means of carrying out microtransactions in the manner of Venmo or Cash App.

Stellar’s Interest in Lightning

Earlier in 2018, Stellar also revealed that it has plans to implement the framework on its own network before the year runs out. In a blog post in January, the company revealed that it had a long-standing interest in LN implementation.

An excerpt from the post reads:

“We’ve noted the market demand for more private channel transactions on Stellar, and we will integrate Lightning in 2018. […] Lightning will have a huge positive effect on Stellar’s long-term scalability and security. We’ve been aware of Lightning’s potential for Stellar for a while, and we’ve recently collaborated with Stellar advisor and Bitcoin Core developer Jeremy Rubin to optimize our implementation.”

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Investor Rights and Legal Risks Might Make STOs the Future of Funding

An exceptionally low success rate and a substantially high risk of scams are already making the much-hyped ICOs obsolete. And now, according to a Nov. 12, report from Beyond Blocks, there might be a better, faster, and more secure way of funding blockchain projects.

The Wild West Days of Crypto Funding Are Over

The initial excitement over ICOs, with their ability to garner multi-million dollar investments and virtually no taxation or regulation, seems to have faded as rapidly as it has started. And while much of its popularity was killed by government regulation, and sometimes even outright bans, the meager success rate, and the scamming issues also attributed to the negative sentiment towards ICOs.

When implementing an ICO, a company doesn’t have to sell equity, and users can buy tokens for use, making it beneficial for both parties. However, as utility tokens are not an investment in the company itself, the users aren’t entitled to anything from the company.

This presents a problem as there’s no value to the tokens until the issuing company delivers on its promises – however, businesses rarely have insurance in place to protect investors.

As very little can be done to prevent incredible amounts of money being lost, Building Blocks raised the question if this was the right moment to offer investors a new alternative to ICOs?

A Legitimate Answer to the Anarchy of ICOs

STO stands for Security Token Offering, and it’s a new and legitimate way of funding blockchain innovation. It’s seen as a more stable alternative to ICOs, as the security tokens are ties to real securities, which often represent the company’s tokenized assets.

Security tokens give the buyer ownership over whatever the token represents in digital form, for example, equity, derivatives, or real estate. This type of funding can create more liquidity and make it more accessible to investors.

Apart from potentially being able to bring a lot of money to the crypto industry, STOs also require licensing by regulatory bodies such as the SEC. The risk of running into legal troubles halfway into the funding is virtually nonexistent, as all regulatory criteria will be met from the very beginning of the funding.

As an STO is fully compliant with regulatory frameworks, it also offers investors the ability to trace their investment and protects them against fraud.

Harish D. Gupta, CEO, and Co-founder of Polybird Exchange told Cryptoslate:

“What we have been observing in the marketplace is that the popularity of ICOs have been going down as much as people have been claiming that the ICO market is dead. This happened for various reasons. One obvious reason was way too many scams in the ecosystem, but another major reason was that the utility token investors invested in weren’t structured well to capture the company’s growth. So in cases where companies started to gain traction and generate revenue, investors weren’t able to capture much/any growth.”

However, STOs do come with setbacks, especially for companies looking into this type of funding. One of the main concerns with STOs is that some of form of security tokens don’t allow all investors into the sale. According to Building Blocks, when securities are on the regulated exchanges, most trades will be performed via algorithmic trading, thus bringing centralization.

For companies, Security Token Offerings bring complex processes and paperwork, while ICOs haven’t brought any real hassles so far, as they’re relatively easy to set up and are quite lucrative.

It is still unclear whether STOs will be able to completely replace the more lenient and lucrative ICOs, but what remains certain is that they are offering accredited investors the governance and protection that was often reserved for traditional IPOs.

The post Investor Rights and Legal Risks Might Make STOs the Future of Funding appeared first on CryptoSlate.

IMF Chief Calls for Central Banks to Consider Issuing Digital Currencies

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chair Christine Lagarde has called for central banks to consider the possibility of issuing Central Banks Digital Currencies (CBDC), describing them as potential tools of financial inclusion and consumer protection.

Better Than Cash?

While speaking at the Singapore Fintech Festival on Nov. 14, the renowned economist praised digital currencies in a marked departure from the IMF’s usual disposition toward digital assets, sparking hopes that financial regulators and institutions around the world are coming closer to finding a framework to support widespread cryptocurrency adoption.

In a prepared speech, Lagarde stated that CBDCs can reduce the risk of global financial instability by eliminating the psychological motivation behind a bank run. According to her, whereas during a bank run, customers hurry to make withdrawals because they believe that the bank’s funds will be irreparably depleted in they do not make it there in time, CBDCs remove this risk by enabling the distribution of money in a manner that far outstrips cash in terms of geographical reach, speed and security.

Speaking further about the potential benefits of CBDCs, Lagarde said:

“That currency could satisfy public policy goals, such as financial inclusion, and security and consumer protection; and to provide what the private sector cannot: privacy in payments”

In her opinion, the issue of state-backed digital currencies would be in line with the expectations of modern consumers who increasingly expect money to not only be secure and easily usable like conventional cash but also to be easily integrated with social media. The benefits of the technology she said, far outstrip any potential pitfalls and it also provides a broad framework to mitigate the risks it creates.

Following her speech at the event, a 39-page IMF report on CBDCs was launched.

Changing Times at the IMF?

Lagarde’s pronunciation comes as a significant surprise at a time when the IMF is currently involved in a tussle with the Marshall Islands over the country’s controversial plan to float a sovereign ICO and issue a national cryptocurrency. Earlier this week, the organization effectively threatened the small Pacific country with an international aid blockade if it pushes through with its plan.

Prior to this week’s events, the IMF also released a report in September recommending against the issuance of a state-backed cryptocurrency in the Marshall Islands, stating that such a move would threaten the country’s economic link to the U.S. by jeopardizing its correspondent banking relationship with its large neighbor.

Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Talks About the Benefits of Cryptocurrency
Related Story: Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Talks About the Benefits of Cryptocurrency

While it should be noted that cryptocurrencies and state-backed digital currencies may not necessarily be the same thing, Lagarde’s latest comments are certainly noteworthy. This is due to the fact that they, for the first time, indicate cryptocurrencies and digital assets are being seriously considered rather than being fought against at the highest levels of international finance and regulatory circles.

According to Lagarde, the best way to implement a CBDC framework would be through a public-private partnership that would leave the central bank to focus on back-end settlement and empower financial institutions to carry out client interfacing and innovation. In her opinion, the implementation of CBDCs would also be a significant boon to poorer regions of the world currently left underserved by the existing banking paradigm.

The post IMF Chief Calls for Central Banks to Consider Issuing Digital Currencies appeared first on CryptoSlate.

Thailand’s Democrat Party Holds First Ever Election Vote with Blockchain Technology

Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party has become the first in the world to use blockchain technology in a live electronic voting system involving more than 120,000 voters for its primary election, Zcoin announced in a press release on Nov. 13.

Thailand Becomes a Leader in Blockchain Adoption

Despite a turbulent political atmosphere, the kingdom of Thailand has crossed a significant threshold when it comes to blockchain adoption.

Using a blockchain platform based on Zcoin, an open source cryptocurrency, members of the kingdom’s oldest political party, the Democrats, voted for their leader.

The voting took place both on voting stations, which were equipped with Raspberry Pi devices, and on a mobile voting app that required voters to submit their photo ID.

All data, including identification documents and voting tallies, was encrypted and stored on a decentralized and distributed file storage system, which was then stored on the Zcoin blockchain. The blockchain served as an immutable database and was used in order to provide auditability to the Thai Election Commission and Democrat Party candidates.

According to Computer Weekly, encryption keys were split using a cryptographic method called Shamir’s Secret Sharing Scheme, and voter identification documents could only be decrypted by a member of the Thai electoral commission or a representative of the Democrat Party for the purpose of verifying the eligibility of voters.

Zcoin Explores the Future of Voting

Zcoin is an open source, decentralized privacy coin that pioneered the use of the Zerocoin protocol which uses zero-knowledge proofs in its privacy scheme to break transactions links. Zcoin, which has been live since September 2016, is currently traded on exchanges such as Binance, Bittrex, and Huobi.

Speaking of the event, Poramin Insom, founder and lead developer of Zcoin, said that both the company has achieved a huge milestone in the country’s political history and that he hopes that more elections, both in Thailand and abroad, would look into blockchain technology.

The way this primary election was run will have significant implications for Thailand’s first national election, since the military coup in 2014, set to take place next year. Insom said:

 “The unique circumstances of this election made Zcoin’s blockchain a good fit to record votes and sets the stage for future deployment of e-voting systems in the country,”

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BancorX Launches With Promise of Decentralized Instant Cross-Chain Crypto Conversion

The Bancor Network announced the launch of a new generation crypto exchange service. The new service acts as a fundamental disruptor to the existing exchange paradigm that requires depositing funds on a centralized exchange, or order matching on a decentralized exchange.

In a post on the official Bancor Twitter account on Nov. 5, Bancor revealed that the new service called BancorX will enable seamless conversion within over 110 ERC-20 and EOS-based cryptocurrencies.

How BancorX Works

According to information released by Bancor, unlike on a typical centralized or decentralized exchange, BancorX enables the automated cross-chain exchange of cryptoassets that are based on the Ethereum and EOS blockchains directly in user wallets, which eliminates the risk of depositing funds in a centralized exchange or waiting for order matching on a decentralized exchange.

The functionality of BancorX is based on the ability of BNT (Bancor Network Token) to function concurrently across both EOS and Ethereum blockchains, which enables seamless cross-chain transactions. To make this possible, BNT automatically issues and destroys itself simultaneously across different blockchains, which means that a BNT that moves from Ethereum to EOS, for example, is removed from circulation on Ethereum and added to circulation on EOS – thereby keeping the token’s supply constant.

If for instance, a user converts an ERC-20 token in a crypto asset based on the EOS blockchain using BancorX, the ERC-20 token is immediately converted into BNT, which is then sent to the BNT smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain. The smart contract receives information for the destination blockchain (in this case EOS), and the BNT is completely removed from circulation on Ethereum.

The BancorX EOS smart contract then issues a corresponding amount of BNT on the EOS chain, and this BNT amount can be converted into EOS or any EOS-based cryptoasset using Relays on the Bancor Network. If a user is converting from an EOS token to an Ethereum token, the same process repeats itself in reverse.

Added Security Features

According to Bancor, a fail-safe has been included in the exchange framework, with a transfer quote built into BancorX smart contracts which assign a maximum amount of BNT that can be transferred across chains at any time. This quote is then periodically reset with each new block produced as it is depleted by transfers, ensuring that the system continues to work smoothly.

An excerpt from the announcement post on Bancor’s blog reads:

“As BancorX goes live and the first BNTs flow from ETH to EOS and back again, Bancor will aim to remove friction, unify the user experience and ensure the system’s continued decentralization and utility. With real blockchain interoperability, the possibilities for token-powered applications proliferate dramatically. We are thrilled to introduce this new tool — and to see what you do with it.”

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Ledger Nano S Announces Support for IOTA

IOTA Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on distributed ledger technology and permissionless ecosystem development recently collaborated with Ledger, the cryptocurrency and blockchain security leader, to integrate IOTA tokens with Ledger’s secure hardware wallets for cryptocurrencies.

IOTA (MIOTA) Now Supported on the Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

Ledger hardware wallet, one of the most popular digital currency wallets available, has announced the support for IOTA, the 12th largest cryptocurrency in the world. The company confirmed the partnership on Twitter on Nov. 2, saying that the IOTA application has been developed by the IOTA community and is now available to download on Ledger Live.

According to IOTA’s press release, the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet will enable users to protect the private keys giving access to their IOTA tokens in a state-of-the-art secure chip.

Eric Larchevêque, CEO of Ledger said:

“Providing the highest level of security and quality is a major focus at both Ledger and IOTA”

He added that the collaboration between the companies will be focused on developing a compatibility feature allowing users to access, store and manage IOTA tokens on Ledger devices.

Ledger’s Operating System is Tamper-Resistant

Ledger wallets are built with a distinctive operating system (OS) called BOLOS, which is integrated into a secure chip – the same one used for credit cards and passports.

According to Ledger, the combination of the chip and the OS creates a tamper-resistant platform capable of securely hosting applications and data.

David Sønstebø, co-chair and co-founder of IOTA Foundation, said:

“At IOTA, we made a commitment to delivering the safest and most usable standalone cryptocurrency wallet. The Trinity wallet is well on its way to fulfilling that commitment, and today we are proud to announce the next step on the journey.”

IOTA’s Trinity Wallet Launches Public Bug Bounty Campaign
Related: IOTA’s Trinity Wallet Launches Public Bug Bounty Campaign

Sønstebø said that Ledger has earned a strong reputation for security and reliability and that integrating with Trinity was a natural choice for the company. He also said that it was all made possible thanks to the hard work of their community, the IOTA developers and the Ledger team have put into the project.

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New Whiteblock Research Casts Doubt on EOS Claims, Says EOS is “Not a Blockchain”

Blockchain testing solutions provider Whiteblock has announced the successful completion of the first ever independent test of the EOS platform, throwing up a set of results with potentially seismic implications for the network, which has been marketed as the “Ethereum killer” as well as the wider cryptosphere.

Released on November 1, 2018, the report titled “EOS: An Architectural, Performance and Economic Analysis” says that EOS is not a blockchain at all, but rather a “distributed homogeneous database.”

Test Background

According to the announcement, the EOS test results show a significant difference in actual performance versus reported performance when measuring transaction throughput under “realistic network conditions”. Organized by the Bounties Network and led by Consensys Project Lead Brent Xu, the study was intended to ascertain the veracity of claims made by EOS regarding it speed, scalability and transaction throughput against a backdrop of blockchain companies making unverified claims about these statistics.

Whiteblock’s independent testing process was described in the announcement as a necessary counterpoint to the effects of high powered marketing and fantastic claims, which risk hurting the development of the blockchain ecosystem by attracting government and developer attention to the wrong projects.

The test measured the performance of the EOS network in terms of its transactional throughput, its resilience to adverse network conditions, the effects of variable transactions rates and sizes on the network, its average transaction time, its fault tolerance, and its partition tolerance. Launched in September 2018, the two-month long test saw Whiteblock observe the behavior of the EOS network under a wide variety of environments and conditions to confirm the true capabilities of the network.

Shocking Test Results

The results announced by Whiteblock are nothing short of shocking, with reverberations sure to extend through the EOS community and the wider crypto world as the implications sink in. A damning quote from the statement reads:

“EOS is not a blockchain, rather a distributed homogeneous database management system, a clear distinction in that their transactions are not cryptographically validated”.

EOS Reduces Account Creation Costs by 25 Percent
Related: EOS Reduces Account Creation Costs by 25 Percent

EOS token and RAM market is essentially a cloud service where the network provides promises for computational resources in a blackbox for users to access via credits.

According to Whiteblock, the EOS network has no effective accountability due to an absence of transparency in terms of how much block producers can create. At a time when EOS has already come under fire for allegedly permitting collusion between Block producers, this will come as another blow to the credibility of the network once hailed as the “Bitcoin and Ethereum killer”.

Whiteblock also stated that the throughput of EOS is much lower than was claimed in its marketing materials, which is compounded by the network’s consensus failures and lack of Byzantine Fault Tolerance. According to the company, EOS is built on a fundamentally flawed system that does not promote genuine decentralization.

Concluding the statement, Whiteblock informed interested parties that an invitation-only live stream of the EOS benchmark tests will hold in November.

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Amsterdam Businesses Threatened with Grenades if Bitcoin Ransom Not Paid

Multiple Amsterdam businesses received emails threatening them with hand grenades or shootings if they do not pay €50,000 in bitcoins to the sender, the NLTimes reported on Oct. 31.

Bitcoin ‘Terrorists’ Threaten Amsterdam Coffeeshops with Bullets and Grenades

Cyber terrorists are targeting Amsterdam, demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin from multiple coffee shops and threatening them with live hand grenades and firearms if they don’t pay up.

The police have confirmed that that multiple reports of this email have been received and all are currently under investigation.

The threatening email, which is in possession of AT5, a local media outlet, was purportedly sent to at least three coffee shops and Club ABE on Amstelstraat. The first was reported in May 2018 by Club ABE, which disclosed an incident with a hand grenade tied to the club’s door in August 2017.

According to the broadcaster, the email read:

“You probably noticed how many entrepreneurs have had to close their doors recently by order of the municipality. To prevent you from being the next one, you must immediately take action.”

The writer instructs the entrepreneur to create an account on coinmama.com or coinbase.com, buy 50 thousand euros in bitcoin, and transfer it to a specific address.

Cyberterrorists Taking Advantage of Municipal Laws

The threats made by the group dubbed “the bitcoin terrorists” take advantage of the municipality of Amsterdam’s policy to close businesses after a shooting or an explosive was found.

However, Maurice Veldman, the lawyer representing several coffee shops in the city, told AT5 that owners are not impressed by the email and that these types of intimidation are not taken seriously and are very easy to make.

However, all of his clients were required to report the threats as they signed a covenant with the mayor stating that they are obliged to report everything related to safety. He also stressed that none of the coffeeshops paid the demanded amount and there have been no incidents.

The municipality of Amsterdam has also worked on changing its policy on closing businesses after a shooting or an incident with explosive. In September 2018, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said that the city is gradually becoming more precise in the application of such measures.

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IOTA Collaborating With Car API Development Company HIGH MOBILITY

HIGH MOBILITY and the IOTA Foundation both sign a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the integration of IOTA content, blueprints and tutorials into HIGH MOBILITY´s developer platform.

A Perfect Startup to Accelerate IOTA’s Technology

HIGH MOBILITY, a multiple-award winning API platform company focusing on digital developer tools for connected cars, has partnered with IOTA Foundation.

The IOTA Foundation is the supporting company behind IOTA, an open-source distributed ledger powering a secure, scalable and feeless transaction settlement layer.

According to the company’s press release, HIGH MOBILITY aims to bridges the gap between car manufacturers and app developers by integrating IOTA content, blueprints and tutorials into their developer platform.

The API Developer wants to enable big corporates to engage and work with thousands of independent developers simultaneously and enable developers to use standardized car APIs for seamless prototyping.

Joint Project Exploring Putting Vehicle Data on a Blockchain

IOTA’s open source technology will reportedly offer new opportunities for autonomous and electric vehicles and infrastructure, fostering ride and car-sharing applications and connecting mobility participants in a new peer-to-peer ecosystem.

Alisa Maas, Head of Mobility and Automotive at the IOTA Foundation said:

“As the industry begins to recognize the huge potential of distributed ledger technology it is essential to establish collaborations that enable permanent innovation and the growth of a multi-player ecosystem”

Kevin Valdek, the chief technical officer at HIGH MOBILITY said that the company has seen a lot of interest from developers in combining vehicle data with distributed ledger technologies. He further stated that their development team is currently looking into how vehicle data can be put onto a ledger, but also how it can be combined with charging infrastructure and payments.

According to the press release, with the rollout of the integration of IOTA into the HIGH MOBILITY platform both parties have agreed to provide lightweight and easy to understand documentation and webinars.

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Ethereum Remains Monopolistic Platform for ICOs; Stellar, NEO Follow Lead

Despite the declining number of ICOs, Ethereum is still dominant in the sector as it is used by more than 85 percent of all ICOs, leaving Stellar and NEO far behind.

Declining Number of ICOs Coudn’t Dethrone Ethereum

ICO Platforms
ICO Platforms

Graph showing the breakdown in ICO platform adoption (Source: CoinGecko)

Nonetheless, the 80 percent drop in the number of funds ICOs raised in Q3 did very little to dethrone Ethereum as the top ICO platform.

The report indicates that the ICO market is still predominantly dependant on the Ethereum ERC20 token standard, with over 85 percent of successful ICOs issued on Ethereum.

However, the report showed an increasing trend of token issuance on other platforms. And while the difference between the number of ICOs issued on Ethereum and its second contestant Stellar is astounding, it demonstrates a bright future for upcoming platforms.

Just under 6.5 percent of the 193 ICOs were launched on Stellar, while NEO, coming in third, hosted 3.6 percent of the ICO market. NEM, a platform that pitches faster transaction speed with a lower transaction cost saw a rise in ICOs issued, coming in fourth with 2.4 percent.

However, EOS is yet to take off with only one successful ICO issued using the platform.

The Current State of the ICO Market

ICO Funding Falls to Lowest Point in a Year Due to Crypto Bear Market
Related: ICO Funding Falls to Lowest Point in a Year Due to Crypto Bear Market

The ICO market has been continuously shrinking from quarter to quarter, the report shows that the slow downward trend of cryptocurrency prices and market value that has characterized 2018 continued into the third quarter.

However, despite the downward trend that plagues the crypto market, CoinGecko’s data shows that trading volumes have been growing steadily. Four out of the top five cryptocurrencies in use today are more valuable than they were in November 2017, with the loser being Ethereum.

According to the report, the fact that Ethereum is down 22 percent year-on-year is most likely due to the decreasing number of ICOs, as only 388 ICOs (of which 193 were successful) were launched in the third quarter of 2018.

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Early-Access Launch of USD-Pegged Cryptocurrency StableUSD Announced by Stably

Stably, a venture capital-backed startup seeking to bring stability to the cryptocurrency market is launching an early-access sale of a price-stable cryptocurrency that is pegged and fully backed 1:1 by the U.S. dollar, the StableUSD (USDS) stablecoin, the company announced in a press release on Oct. 31.

Stably Launches Early-Access StableUSD Sale

The Stably developer team has officially launched its early-access sale of the StableUSD (USDS) token on the Ethereum network, the company announced in a blog post.

Stably, based in Vancouver, Canada, is a venture capital-backed startup seeking to bring stability to the volatile cryptocurrency market through a secure, transparent medium of exchange. The company has already raised around $500,000 in seed funding from various funds and investors to kickstart their StableUSD project.

With each StableUSD token fully backed 1:1 to the U.S. dollar, the tokens are equivalent in value to American fiat currency.

Starting October 31, anyone can apply to be a verified client to buy and redeem StableUSD. According to the company’s press release, a verified client can send cash to the company’s regulated trustee to initiate the transaction. Stably then submits the transaction to the smart contract, which mints new StableUSD tokens and sends them back to the client.

And while the company failed to give any exact dates on when the entirety of its service will be available, Stably said that the ability to create and redeem StableUSD will be accessible in an easy-to-use web portal in the near future. Once the redeeming feature is live, the company will also launch StableUSD pairs on exchanges.

However, the company did note that the process of submitting transactions to the smart contract will also work with any cryptocurrency, including Tether (USDT). The sent cryptocurrency will be converted to U.S. dollars on the open market by a regulated third-party trustee. The corresponding amount of StableUSD will then be minted and sent back to the client through their smart contract.

New Partnerships to Increase Stability and Transparency

In response to the increasing standards on transparency and stability many investors have shown, Stability has also entered a partnership with Prime Trust, a regulated financial institution overseen by the banking commissioner’s office at the Nevada Financial Institutions Division.

According to the company’s press release, Prime Trust has agreed to be the regulated trustee for Stably’s StableUSD fiat reserves, allowing users of Stably’s future platform to view the company’s fiat reserve’s balance in real-time via a live feed from Prime Trust’s API.

The company has also engaged with leading accounting firm Cohen & Co. as an auditor to provide third-party audits of the company’s quarterly financial statements and conduct weekly attestations for Stably’s fiat reserve.

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Circle’s Stablecoin Draws Most Early Demand

USDC, the stablecoin supported by a consortium that includes Circle Internet Financial Ltd. and Coinbase Inc. has seen more demand than any other recently launched dollar-backed cryptocurrency, including the Gemini Dollar, with a total of $127.4 million of the coin issued since its September debut.

USDC Is Grabbing Massive Amounts of Investment Attention

Stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) could be on its way to becoming the most popular dollar-backed digital currency to date, as recent figures have shown its incredible popularity among investors on the rise, leaving behind some of the more known stablecoin names such as the Gemini dollar.

According to an Oct. 30 Bloomberg report, more than $127.4 million of USD Coin has been issued since launching September 2018. Citing information from the crypto data tracker Etherscan, Bloomberg also said that the Paxos Standard, introduced the same month as the USD Coin, has garnered $108 million in funds, while Gemini Dollar received nearly $13 million.

Coinbase Announces Immediate Support for Circle’s USD Stablecoin
Related: Coinbase Announces Immediate Support for Circle’s USD Stablecoin

The tokens which are pegged to a fiat standard, typically the US dollar, are not thought to be challenged with the same volatility as other cryptocurrency prices – the very reason they’ve been gaining traction in 2018. Increased instability of kingpin cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether has turned many large investors to stablecoins.

However, USDC isn’t the only stablecoin looking to fulfill this newly created demand. There are currently more than 50 stablecoins to date, with more reportedly in the works. With Bitcoin down by more than 50 percent for the year, some traders are parking funds in stable coins, which are being advertised as maintaining parity to the fiat currency they are pegged to while awaiting the next bull run.

The Consortium Backed Stablecoin Unique on the Market

Aaron Brown, a business author, and investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion said that the USD Coin is the most native to the crypto world, with the least connections to traditional finance. He also added that what makes it different from other coins is that they depend on the business success of the issuers, while USDC can survive on its own.

This is due to the fact that USDC isn’t tied to just one company – it’s backed by a consortium called Centre. The consortium will serve as a platform for users to make deposits from traditional bank accounts, convert fiat currency into tokens issued by members to facilitate transactions and provide the ability to shift back to the greenback.

With the original stablecoin, Tether, having its value frequently deviating from its $1 peg, thus it seems there might be a huge market opening for USDC to fill.

Learn more about stablecoins:

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Major Accountancy Firms Race to Offer Auditing Services for Crypto and Blockchain Companies

Top professional services firms, including EY, PwC, and KPMG, are currently hiring hundreds of blockchain and cryptocurrency experts to offer auditing services to companies involved in the loosely regulated sector, the Financial Times reported on Oct. 29.

Auditors Grapple with Crypto and Blockchain

Despite a prevailing lack of consensus on how digital assets should be accounted for and the overall negative sentiment large financial institutions have towards cryptocurrencies in general, major accountancy firms don’t shy away from providing services to companies in the sector.

Companies such as EY, PwC, and KPMG are ramping up their by hiring specialized staff and developing their own in-house technologies to support the crypto audit process. The main reasoning behind the overwhelming support the industry has gotten from the auditors stems from their belief that businesses will continue to use the blockchain technology underpinning it even as the hype around cryptocurrencies dies down.

Jeanne Boillet, global assurance innovation leader at EY, told the Financial Times that the company previously had more than 150 clients worldwide involved in crypto assets as of September 2018 and that the company did not have any choice but to address it as many of their clients have invested in cryptocurrencies.

EY’s rival RwC currently employs around 400 blockchain experts globally across multiple divisions within the company, including its consultancy business. Ralph Weinberger, leader of PwC’s global network assurance methodology group, said that the company is providing “significant resources” to providing auditing services in both cryptocurrency and blockchain.

A Promising Industry That Still Requires a Lot of Work

And while the potential auditors see in blockchain and crypto is huge, the lack of regulation around the industry is certainly making things harder. There is currently no clear guidance for how the assets should be accounted for or audited, as they do not fall neatly under current standards, forcing companies to draw up their own processes.

David Lyford-Smith, technical manager at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said that most auditors viewed cryptocurrencies as intangible assets, though in some cases they were being treated as inventory.

However, the main problem auditors are faced isn’t the lack of support from government regulators or appraising the value of cryptocurrencies, but verifying ownership. Jatin Patel, a director in the investment management and funds audit practice at KPMG, told the Financial Times that the company struggles with the anonymity afforded to holders of most digital currencies.

But Mr. Patel added that proof of ownership was becoming easier as crypto custodians become more prevalent. Other companies, such as EY, are addressing this issue by carrying out due diligence on potential crypto clients, sometimes going beyond their standard procedures.

Ms. Boillet of EY said:

“We are pushing and challenging companies in this industry so that [their] controls are proper and secure.”

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