The real estate market of Hong Kong is said to be one of the most expensive in the world, alongside New York, London, and Sydney. Yet, crypto startups are moving into the most valuable skyscrapers in the city.

On August 22, CCN reported that BitMEX, a popular cryptocurrency exchange that facilitates Bitcoin and Ethereum margin trading, moved its headquarters to Cheung Kong Center’s 45th floor, renting out 20,000 square feet at $28.66 per square foot.

Its old headquarters were based in Victoria Harbor, a region within Hong Kong that is known for expensive residential properties. In Victoria Harbor, BitMEX paid around $3.18 per square foot and in Cheung Kong Center, BitMEX is paying $573,200 per month, at a rate of $28.66 per square foot.

BitMEX will operate its office in the most valuable skyscraper with Hong Kong alongside major financial institutions such as Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, Bloomberg LP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

Banks are Moving Out of Skyscrapers

According to a report released by SCMP, a mainstream media outlet in Hong Kong, even major banks like Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas have started to explore cheaper locations for their offices in Hong Kong due to rising rental fees.

Annual office rental costs in Hong Kong Central average around US$307 per square foot a year, a rate that easily surpasses London’s West End and Beijing’s Finance Street.

BitMEX and Diginex Global, two crypto startups based in Hong Kong, are renting out 72,000 square feet in total, paying around $1.3 million per month.

“Blockchain companies show no signs of slowing their expansion in Hong Kong. These firms are leasing space in top-tier office buildings to attract and retain talent.” Philip Pang, an associate director of office services at Colliers, told SCMP.

The local publication reported that Goldman Sachs is relocating from Hong Kong Central to Causeway Bay in the next few months to save 30 percent on rent. BNP Paribas has also relocated its office to Swire Properties’ Taikoo Place.

While JPMorgan has leased the Quayside in Kwun Tong near Victoria Harbor, the cost of rent comes nowhere close to the rent BitMEX will be paying throughout the years to come.

Landlords Not Confident in Crypto

Over the past nine months, despite the 80 percent drop in the valuation of the crypto market, cryptocurrency-related businesses have prospered. Specifically, exchanges have continued to generate large revenues.

However, local publications have reported that Cheung Kong Center demanded BitMEX to pay a year’s rent upfront, which is estimated to be around $6.8 million, demonstrating the lack of confidence in crypto-related businesses by major landlords in the Hong Kong real estate market.

“It’s pretty common for landlords to ask for larger deposits from tenants with weaker covenant strength. Landlords are always open to taking on new tenants, it’s just a matter of balancing rent against flight risk,” said Denis Ma, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

With the one year’s rent at Cheung Kong Center, it is possible to purchase multiple story buildings in many major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Min, Tokyo, and Busan.

*This post is credited to CCN

Chinese billionaire and co-CEO of technology company Ideanomics Bruno Wu believes the blockchain could be the solution that helps African countries trade their minerals and natural resources efficiently and profitably.

Wu made the comment while speaking to entrepreneurs and investors at the Africa House Collective event, held in New York recently.

Wu’s company Ideanomics, formerly called Seven Starts Cloud Group, has invested heavily in artificial intelligence and blockchain companies through companies they acquired and partnered with. The tech company uses the new technologies to disrupt new markets. The U.S. based company recently announced a joint venture that removes intermediaries in the port supply chain.

Speaking on how Africa can leverage blockchain, Wu said digitizing asset production and distribution would put the continent on the forefront of the commodities market, same way it leads the mobile money market.

“Having a better tomorrow for Africa is about having a more transparent future. And blockchain can help there.”

In an interview with Quartz, Wu said his company is currently studying the African market and is open to partnering with countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.

He believes the continent can profit from adopting the blockchain technology and use it to save millions of dollars earned from the sale of commodities, which is often lost to corruption and money laundering.

Wu’s desire to see Africa profit from the blockchain technology follows a similar assessment from the CEO of diversified financial company Alexander Forbes Andrew Darfoor.

Darfoor had told CCN in an interview in Harare:

“Blockchain is something that we are investigating, and we are assessing it. I think blockchain has benefits, but I think it’s a broader digital strategy.”

Africa has a continent has been on the fence regarding the use of blockchain. It’s been a mixture of reticence and strong-handedness. So far, Kenya has been the focal point in the continent, where the government has set up a task force, hoping to study its benefits and challenges. This hasn’t stopped the adoption of the technology, as it’s being applied for elections and in the health sector. Other African countries like South Africa have taken it a step further by running a blockchain pilot for the banking sector to cut down processing time for settlement.

*This post is credited to CCN

While cryptocurrencies are more accessible than ever before, there’s still a long way to go until cryptocurrencies are perfectly regulated in most of the world’s countries. While Europe and America are still trying to figure out how to accurately and efficiently regulate cryptocurrencies, a wide array of Asian countries have been quick to enact laws, ground rules, and regulations.

Not only did Asian regulators understand the importance of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but most of the Asian banks have also become aware of the fact that the adoption of the underlying technology of blockchains is inevitable. Hence, most Asian country governments have understood the importance of protecting their monetary sovereignty while still allowing innovations to take place.

Here is our list of Asian countries that have fully, partially, or slightly adopted blockchain:

Japan

Our list starts with Japan, one of the most influential Asian countries when it comes to a great deal of things, including the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Not only is Japan one of the most crypto-friendly countries (and one of the earliest adopters of crypto), but it’s also the place where Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious pseudonym associated with the creation of the Bitcoin platform, is believed to have started his operations.

The first major regulatory intervention took place after the Mt. Gox crash in 2014 and, thanks to a very lenient and business-focused government, cryptocurrency operations have been since thriving in Japan. For example, in April 2017, Bitcoin has been recognized as a legal tender in Japan. 2017 was also the year in which Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) approved 11 exchange operators. The government has set up a legal framework through the PSA (Payment Services Act) that legalizes the use of cryptocurrencies as an official payment method.  Nowadays, the crypto scene is pretty much vibrant in Japan.

China

China’s start with cryptocurrencies can be described as nothing short of enthusiastic, which led to dramatic rises in Bitcoin prices, among others. Back in the “olden” days, China was considered a haven for cryptocurrencies, and Chinese exchanges accounted for almost 90% of the daily trading volume for Bitcoin alone.

As faith would have it, the Chinese government has cracked down upon both crypto exchanges and mining operations within the country. In 2017, the People’s Bank of China also banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) within the country. The government’s pressure was so high that various Chinese crypto exchanges either relocated or stopped accepting Chinese currency.

Thanks to the cheap electricity in China, crypto mining was extremely popular (some estimate that 70% of all Bitcoin mining took place in China). In the following months since the government’s decision, many miners left the country and set up operations in Canada, Iceland, and other crypto-friendly countries. Unsurprisingly, this major change has affected the global crypto market and has even led to a crash.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not fully banned in China, but the government did rule that cryptocurrencies cannot be used as a legal currency in the country. In the middle of what might seem like a fiasco, the Chinese government has made its stance on cryptocurrencies quite clear, meaning that it understands the importance of such technologies. China is already looking towards introducing its own version of Bitcoin to substitute the national currency.

South Korea

South Korea has seen its fair share of cryptocurrency innovations and has recently made various headlines. For the last couple of years, South Korea emerged as a slightly crypto-friendly country. Last year, South Korea was the third biggest market for Bitcoin trading and the largest market for Ether trading in the world. This was until January 2018, when the government followed the example of China and cracked down on the virtual exchanges. The government even issued various official statements regarding the ban of cryptocurrencies and pointed at the fact that they are used for various criminal activities and money laundering. Even though the government’s stance has softened since January, there’s still no guarantee that South Korea will ever become the crypto force it once was.

Thailand

While regulators from all around the world still have various problems when it comes to categorizing cryptocurrencies, Thailand has stepped forward as one of the most prolific ecosystems for crypto adoption. Earlier this year, authorities have issued an emergency decree that resulted in the creation of the Digital Asset Business Decree. It defines both crypto and digital tokens, and it introduces a tax so that the government can benefit from the growing industry.

Even though Thailand still has a lot of work until its regulations will be perfectly accurate and relevant, the country does a good job at formalizing the process of crypto exchanges and ICOs. One interesting aspect is the fact that all ICOs and trades must be paired with one of seven officially acknowledged cryptocurrencies.

Taiwan

As some Asian crypto countries seem to prefer to tighten the rules, Taiwan is yet another country that might become a safe haven for cryptocurrencies. The Taiwanese government’s view on cryptocurrency can be viewed as “neutral.” Slowly but surely, Taiwan continues its journey towards becoming an important crypto hub in the Asian scene, with more banks developing their own cryptos and with various trading platforms already in the game.

Indonesia

After maintaining a firm stance against cryptocurrencies for quite some time now, Indonesia’s government has recently legalized crypto trading. Various important figures within the nation’s government have also hinted at the fact that cryptocurrency exchanges might be subjected to various regulations as well.

Even though Asia seems to have a very nice fascination with cryptocurrencies, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is a relatively new technology and that it’s quite normal for governments to have hesitations or make mistakes when it comes to regulating cryptos. At the time of this writing, Asia has a fairly balanced crypto situation with countries such as Japan that fully embrace the technology, others like South Korea that are becoming more and more restrictive, and some like India that seem to be very much confused about the whole condition.

*This post is credited to UseTheBitcoin

 

The government of Austria, like almost every other on the planet, is sinking deeper into debt. The country is planning to raise 1.15 billion euros in an auction next Tuesday.


In an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the bonds will be issued and authenticated using the Ethereum blockchain.

Austrian finance minister Hartwig Löger said the following in a statement:

For us, blockchain technology is an important part of economic policy. With the establishment of the Fintech Council in the Ministry of Finance, we are developing strategies so that Austria can profit from these developments as much as possible.

TOKENIZING GOVERNMENT BONDS

Two bonds will be issued — one maturing in 5 years, and the other in 10 years. The high yielding 10-year bond will yield a whopping 0.78% interest, which investors will (hopefully) be able to collect 10 years from now.

For those readers who aren’t familiar with how government financing works, it’s essentially like an ICO, except instead of a startup offering promises of revolutionary technology, governments sell bonds (complicated paper tokens) based on the promise of being able to extract taxes from their citizens.

The bonds will be issued by the OeKB (Oesterreichische Kontrollbank) on behalf of the Austrian treasury, but it’s not exactly a token sale. The debt itself is only being recorded on the blockchain and will not be tradeable, but it is a major step towards potential future tokenization.

 

BULLISH NEWS FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY

This is good news for cryptocurrency prices. It means publicity for the actual value of the technology. Austria is known for being relatively conservative. If the country is able to find uses for the Ethereum blockchain, other governments are likely to follow suit. This means big potential increases in demand.

Furthermore, the move is a major step toward more regulatory clarity for tokenized assets, which is one more step towards blockchain-based assets going mainstream. As both the technology and the regulatory procedures have their kinks worked out, the barriers to entry for other players seeking to enter the market will be lowered.

This is not the first time bonds have been issued using a public blockchain. Sberbank in Russia issued bonds in May using the Hyperledge Fabric framework, and Australia recently partnered with the World Bank to issue bonds on a blockchain.

This announcement is a major development, however, due to the choice of the Ethereum blockchain. It’s the first time the major public blockchain has been chosen for a task usually reserved for established but highly bureaucratic and inefficient high finance institutions.

If this is a sign of what’s to come, the trickle of institutional money coming into the blockchain space could turn into a flood.

*This post is credited to Bitcoinist

Blockchain needs security, the same as any other kind of technology. In this article, Sarah Rothrie explores a brief history of cryptography, how it applies to blockchain, and why hashing is necessary for the integrity of the chain.

Distributed computing, mechanism design, and cryptography algorithms form the holy trinity of blockchain technology. Distributed computing utilizes a decentralized network of computers and existed before blockchains in the form of torrenting networks.

However, torrenting sites had no means of governing the behavior of participants, which is where mechanism design enters into blockchain. It provides the incentive for network participants to work for the good of the network.

Cryptography is what serves as security for protecting those incentives. The seminal Bitcoin white paper explained how these three scientific principles could play together to form a secure, peer-to-peer exchange of value that would eliminate the need for a third party in financial transactions.

While each of these principles is deserving of its own explainer, this article will focus on cryptography and how encryption algorithms serve blockchains.

A brief history of cryptography

Cryptography in some form has been around since the time of ancient Egypt. Before the age of computing, it meant using a simple cryptography algorithm called a cipher to transmit messages. One of the most often-cited is the Caesar cipher, used by Julius Caesar to communicate with his generals in the Roman Empire. The Caesar cipher substituted each letter of the message by the letter that comes three places after it in the alphabet, so A becomes D, B becomes E and so forth. As long as the system used in generating the ciphertext remains secret, the message could also remain private.

Later on, in the 16th century, Vigenere introduced the concept of an encryption key to cryptography algorithms, which could decrypt coded messages. Using the Vigenere cipher, the message text was transcribed into a single keyword that is repeated until it matches the character length of the original message. This keyword then generates the ciphertext using a table.

The critical development here is that security of messages transmitted using a Vigener cipher depended on the secrecy of the key, not the system itself.

20th century developments

The problem with these kinds of codes is that they are easily breakable by analyzing letter frequency. The Germans used the Enigma Machine extensively during World War 2 because it was able to generate ciphertexts that could not be broken by analyzing letter frequency.

The machine used a system of multiple rotors to generate the ciphertext. So the letter “e” in the original message would correspond to a range of different letters in the cipher text. The key was the initial setting of the rotors.

Although the Germans thought that the code was unbreakable, Enigma was cracked by the Polish as early as 1932. Cryptographers working for the British military in Bletchley Park, including the now-legendary Alan Turing himself, later found a way to figure out the daily keys used by the Germans.

The dawn of computing

Post-war, demands for encryption in the business and commercial space increased as a means of protecting corporate secrets. During the 1970’s, IBM developed the Data Encryption Standard (DES) cryptography algorithm. However, it used a small encryption key. As the age of computing dawned, it became easy to brute-force DES, and hence there was a demand for an update. The Advanced Encryption Standard adopted in 2000.

Although many people may not be conscious of it, encryption is now part of daily life. Email and text messaging, passwords, and SSL layers on websites all involve the use of encryption. It also forms the backbone of cryptocurrency. There are many different types of cryptography algorithms covering various use cases, lots of them already obsolete. However, the use of cryptography in blockchain comprises digital signatures and hashing.

Digital signatures

Cryptocurrency payments require a digital signature, in the form of a private key. When someone enters their private key against a payment transaction, this encrypts the transaction. When the payment reaches its destination, the recipient can decrypt the transaction using the public key of the sender.

This is known as asymmetric cryptography, as it depends on a pair of keys linked together by cryptography. It is more secure than symmetric cryptography, where both sender and recipient use the same key. In this case, the key itself must also be transmitted along with the payment, which means an additional layer of security would be needed to protect the key.

Hashing

Blockchains are also dependent on hashing. Hashing is a cryptographic method of converting any kind of data into a string of characters. As well as providing security through encryption, hashing creates a more efficient store of data, as the hash is of a fixed size.

Characteristics of hashing cryptography algorithms

A cryptographic hashing algorithm must fulfill specific criteria to be effective:

  • The same input must always generate the same output. Regardless of how many times you put the data through the hashing algorithm, it must consistently produce the same hash with identical characters in the string.
  • The input cannot be deduced or calculated using the output. There should be no way to reverse the hashing process to see the original data set.
  • Any change in the input must produce an entirely different output. Even changing the case of one character in a data set should create a hash that is significantly different.
  • The hash should be of a fixed number of characters, regardless the size or type of data used as an input.
  • Creating the hash should be a fast process that doesn’t make heavy use of computing power.

How a hash algorithm generates a hash. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How does hashing work?

Blockchains hash each transaction before bundling them together into blocks. Hash pointers link each block to its predecessor, by holding a hash of the data in the previous block. Because each block links to its predecessor, data in the blockchain is immutable. The hashing function means that a change in any transaction will produce an entirely different hash, which will alter the hashes of all subsequent blocks. To propagate a change across the blockchain, 51% of the network would have to agree to it. Hence, the term “51% attack”.

Different blockchains use different cryptography algorithms. The Bitcoin blockchain uses the SHA256 algorithm, which produces a 32-byte hash. Dogecoin and Litecoin both use Scrypt, which is one of the faster and lighter cryptography algorithms.

Cryptography is a complex and detailed science, that reaches way beyond the scope of just blockchain. There is plenty of further reading available on cryptography, especially for the more scientifically or mathematically inclined, it is a fascinating subject with much to explore.

*This post is credited to Jaxenter

The stakes must have seemed high already in 2013, when the largest bitcoin wallets safeguarded by blockchain security provider BitGo held about $1o million-worth of the cryptocurrency.

Later on, in 2015 they crept up to around $100 million. And what had perhaps been unthinkable in the years previous, by 2017 the largest crypto wallets in BitGo’s charge reached close to $1 billion.

Looking ahead to the next milestone, BitGo CEO Mike Belshe will give a talk next month at Stanford University entitled “Securing the Trillion Dollar Wallet.” In a world of tokenized everything – not to mention hedge funds and other institutions redefining the meaning of a whale crypto investor – this no longer seems far-fetched.

“Now we are really thinking, what’s it going to take to secure a trillion dollars?” Belshe told CoinDesk. “It may be a little far away, but we have to start thinking about it now; we have to start designing it now in order to get there.”

Designing a system like this involves a complex blend of hardware and software, policies and procedures, not to mention meeting externally audited regulatory requirements (BitGo recently received approval in the U.S.to act as a qualified custodian for digital assets on behalf of institutional investors).

However, as one security consultant told Belshe’s team, building a secure vault for such a large sum of money basically comes down to two things: kids and fingers.

It’s one thing to keep the cryptographic private key controlling a bitcoin wallet in cold storage, i.e. on a piece of paper or a hardware device disconnected from the internet and locked in a safe. But if a bad guy comes into your office and is ready to cut off your finger or put a gun to your child’s head, what are you going to do? Obviously, quick and ready access to those assets means the security will be cracked.

The trick is to marry technology with process and controls such that it’s difficult to get the money out – or at least so that moving the vast majority of the assets involves lots of independent, separate people whose key signatures are all required, said Belshe.

He added:

“Some of the technology guys out there are saying, ‘hey we can get you out of cold storage in 10 minutes.’ I’m sorry, but if you can get a billion dollars out of cold storage in 10 minutes, that means there’s somebody’s finger that you can threaten.”

Big money

Stepping back, becoming a qualified custodian has taken Belshe years and has seen BitGo come close to acquiring qualified custodian Kingdom Trust, before going it alone to establish BitGo Trust.

With the addition of a regulated trust function, BitGo, which currently handles around $15 billion in monthly crypto transactions, is arguably pulling ahead in the race to secure digital assets for the institutional set. Competitors in this space include the hardware maker Ledger, the traditional U.S. custodial bank Northern Trust, and blockchain startup itBit.

But Belshe views the inevitable evolution towards digital assets as a rising tide that will benefit everyone in the industry. He also admitted clients are really looking for custodians with big balance sheets, something which BitGo does not have today.

“I would love if the big players came in and put their balance sheet behind the security of their custodianship of digital assets. It would be amazing for all of us,” he said.

Since the 2008 crash, the onus has been on diversifying custody arrangements, something the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has encouraged. These days, hedge funds will often be using 15 to 20 custodians with perhaps only 5% in each to limit their exposure, noted Belshe.

He said BitGo has been in talks with many hedge funds and found there are “literally dozens” that can’t wait for the end of a 30-day review period (during which the public can register objections to South Dakota’s approval of the company as a qualified custodian) so they can use its trust service.

In the detail, achieving parity with established qualified custody providers involves gaining third-party certification of policies and procedures, or SOCs (system and organization controls). BitGo has now attained SOC I and II certifications, with the auditing of those carried out by Deloitte.

It’s a length which few, if any, other crypto companies have gone to, said Belshe, and it encompasses a wide range of eventualities.

“You can have the most secure software in the world and the most secure hardware. But inside your company what’s the policy for keeping things safe? What happens if your data center goes down?” he said. “We have policy, procedures and plans for all this, that have been tested and are in place.”

Insurance claims

Following BitGo’s qualified custodian announcement, the startup’s next big step is a crypto insurance product to be released within a couple of months. Such insurance typically covers investors for risks such as theft.

BitGo wouldn’t write the policies, but rather white-label the product with an established insurer. Belshe wants to do this right and has amassed a deep knowledge of the subject along the way. The experience has left him circumspect whenever he hears about crypto insurance being offered in the market.

“The insurance claims out there are wide and wild and often not really of value,” Belshe said (meaning “claims” as in representations about insurance, not requests for payment from an insurer). “Anybody that’s looking at insurance, or a provider that claims to be insured, ask them to really show you what the [coverage] limits are.”

This can take some digging. As hard as it is to differentiate BitGo’s cold storage from somebody else’s cold storage solution, it’s equally hard to differentiate one claim of full insurance from another, said Belshe. Oftentimes, you’re dealing with small policies of $10 million or less that may not even cover theft.

Typically the questions that need answering are: Who is the underwriter? What cases are covered? What about insider theft? What about executive insider theft? What are the caps, what are the deductibles? Can you cover your deductibles?

Belshe acknowledged that underwriters are there to provide a service and don’t want to be used as marketing, but in the end, full transparency has to be made available for customers.

Someone offering a great insurance program would find a way to get “solid green lights” from anyone who wanted to review it, even if they had to do that under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), said Belshe, concluding,

“If they are not willing to talk to you about it, it’s a red flag. I guarantee you, if it’s in secret, there’s a reason it’s in secret.”

*This post is credited to CoinDesk 

New research has revealed that Chinese investors are diversifying portfolios with the addition of digital assets. The findings come as Beijing continues to relentlessly clamp down on anything to do with the emerging industry.

According to the 2018 addition of the annual “White Paper on the New Middle Class” report, crypto-currency has been added as a new asset class occupying around 10% of people’s portfolios. The report said this is the first time it has included digital currencies as part of its metrics. Financial writer and university professor Wu Xiaobo, from Zhejiang University, publishes the paper in order to shine more light on the spending and investing habits of China’s burgeoning middle class.

The research suggests that this socio-demographic group is mostly risk-averse. Just over 9% of those surveyed stated that they accepted the risk of a loss over 15%. The report also surmises that with this in mind it is unlikely that the number investing in crypto-currencies will rise higher than 10% considering their wild volatility.

Since the beginning of 2018 Bitcoin and crypto-currency markets have crashed over 70% to their current levels. However, anybody that has done any research would know that this has happened several times before and things have always bounced back. There is also the fact that digital assets could become a form of wealth protection as in the case in Turkey and Venezuela where political upheaval and rampant inflation devalued national fiat currencies forcing citizens to turn to crypto.

The Chinese government has been battling to reduce the level of crypto-currency ownership within its borders. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has issued warning after warning on crypto and initial coin offerings (ICOs), which is not unusual considering the no central bank would be in favor of a decentralized currency which puts control back into the hands of the people.

Chinese citizens, who are well-used to their firmly interventionist central government, have quickly moved to direct peer-to-peer crypto trading channels as the exchanges have moved their operations overseas to avoid the crackdowns. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which can cost as little as $30 per year, are also being used in China to access exchanges hosted in other countries but blocked at home.

Beijing is now also censoring social media and chat apps such as WeChat to prevent the population reading about crypto-currencies. Chinese citizens, however, seem to continually find new ways to continue with their crypto habits.

*This post is credited to Asia Times

Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision in the crypto case, India’s leading cryptocurrency exchange operator Zebpay announced the shut down of its exchange operations, effective from 4 pm today (September 28).

After the RBI banned banks and payments wallets from extending their services to cryptocurrency entities, most exchanges, instead of shutting down their operations, had gone crypto-to-crypto. This included crypto exchanges Zebpay, Unocoin, and Koinex.

However, with most cryptocurrencies facing a death threat and the value of almost 800 of them having fallen to zero, Zebpay has now announced to shut down its crypto-to-crypto offerings as well.

In a statement issued on its blog, Zebpay said, “At this point, we are unable to find a reasonable way to conduct the cryptocurrency exchange business. As a result, we are stopping our exchange activities. At 4 pm today (September 28, 2018), we will cancel all unexecuted crypto-to-crypto orders and credit your crypto coins/tokens back to your Zebpay wallet. No new orders will be accepted until further notice.”

However, it added:

The Zebpay wallet will continue to work even after the exchange stops and one is free to deposit and withdraw coins/tokens into their wallet.

Speaking about the closure of the Zebpay exchange, Nischal Shetty, founder and CEO of WazirX, another crypto exchange, said, “While Zebpay has been a competitor, it’s unfortunate to see they’re shutting down their exchange. The crypto community needs to stay strong and to stick together. We need to keep the crypto fire burning in India. All Zebpay users are welcome to continue trading on WazirX.”

SC Decision Could Go Against Crypto Exchanges

The fact that Zebpay did not hang in there long enough for the Supreme Court’s decision on the crypto matter clearly indicates the possibility of the decision going against crypto exchanges — the RBI way.

The RBI, meanwhile, in its submission to the court, said that the petition challenging its circular dated April 6 is not maintainable either in law or on facts and, hence, liable to be dismissed as such.

The RBI asserted: “The impugned circular and the impugned statement neither violate the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 or the right to trade and business guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.” The RBI response added that “there is no statutory right, much less an infringed one, available to the petitioner to open and maintain bank accounts to trade, invest or deal in virtual currencies (VCs).”

“The petitioner cannot seek to exercise the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court to avail a right which they do not have,” it said.

The multiple petitions filed against the RBI circular alleged that the ban it has imposed on banks barring them to deal with cryptocurrencies entities violates Articles 19 (1) (g) and 14 of the Indian Constitution and will lead to the closure of such companies.

The Curious Case Of Cryptocurrency In The Supreme Court

On July 20, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had ordered that all the cryptocurrency-related cases be clubbed and had finalised the next hearing for September 11.

However, interestingly, not all the cases are about the RBI banning banks from extending their services to cryptocurrency entities.

The first crypto case — Siddharth Dalmia and Vijay Pal Dalmia’s — actually talks about banning cryptocurrencies in India amid rising funding of terrorism and insurgency, illicit trade of arms and drugs, illicit investments, avoidance of banking channels etc.

Last year, Income Tax officials had also sent notices to over 100K HNIs investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The matter is now being investigated by the enforcement directorate, as the IT officials found that the HNIs hadn’t paid any tax over Bitcoin gain.

In its notification, cryptocurrency exchange Zebpay clarified, “Despite regulatory and banking problems along our journey, we continued to look for solutions as we did not want India to miss the bus of digital assets that power the public blockchain. However, the recent past has been extremely difficult. The curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customer’s, ability to transact business meaningfully.”

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency case continues to be adjourned in the Supreme Court owing to the other cases. Being a regulatory affair, the ball is actually in the court of Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who is heading the interdisciplinary committee on cryptocurrency and ICO matters. The committee was expected to submit its report earlier this month, but there is no update further on this development.

*This post is credited to Inc42

Known as the Blockpass Identity Lab, the pioneering blockchain research facility will focus on exploring ways in which blockchain technology can be applied in protecting personal data online according to The Scotsman. Built at the Merchiston Campus of the Edinburgh Napier University, the laboratory is part of a £600,000 collaboration between the Hong Kong-based blockchain-based identity application firm, Blockpass IDN, and the Scottish university.

Under a three-year partnership, funding will be provided to support research staff, 5 PhD students and a virtualized blockchain environment. The facility will place emphasis on the key challenges revolving around identity as it seeks to build new data infrastructures that respect the privacy, rights and consent of netizens.

“This exciting work to explore how blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers carries on the tradition of innovation and excellence exemplified by John Napier [the Scottish mathematician that the Edinburgh Napier University is named after],” said Kate Forbes, the Scottish Minister for the Digital Economy.

Conferences and Hackathons

To mark the launch of the blockchain research facility there will be various activities held and this includes a conference on advanced cryptography, blockchain and digital identity. Additionally, there will be a hackathon where participants will be required to develop prototype applications that focus on blockchain, digital identity or other decentralized and distributed ledger technologies.

Plans for the research facility were initially announced in April this year. At the time the chief marketing officer of Blockpass, Hans Lombardo, cited various online data breach scandals which had served to make clear the risks that come with storage of sensitive personal data in a centralized location.

No Single Point of Failure

“We continue to see identity management at the forefront of blockchain and cryptography discussions as the price of consumer data abuses becomes clearer and more pertinent,” said Lombardo in a statement. “The creation of this lab in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University will provide a space where further research and innovation can lead that discussion to newer and more advanced grounds.”

While much of the attention on data breaches has been focused on the United States and firms based there such as Equifax and Yahoo, Europe, where Blockpass Identity Lab will be based, is not alien to the problem as about 17% of the population is estimated to have fallen victim to identity theft, one way or the other. Last year, for instance, it was estimated that the cost of credit card fraud on the continent exceeded £1 billion leading to cancellations of the cards by more than 5 million people.

*This post is credited to CCN

VegaWallet’s public sale started a few days ago, on September 17th. The VGW Token brings various use cases across the platform including instant and zero-fee transfers.

Users will see the first applications launched in the future months as VegaWallet plans to lead the mass adoption of real-world crypto apps.

According to CEO, Tarek Hajri, “VegaWallet aims to be a complete cryptocurrency platform. Our Products and services will cover your journey into cryptocurrency every step of the way. We’ll make it easy to buy and trade, give you a safe place to store it, then provide options for spending it the way you want.”

VegaWallet teamed up with essential healthcare companies including AscellaHealth in order to implement the payments systems where applicable and to build blockchain-based protocols to streamline business practices.

You will be able to find VegaWallet listed on top-rated websites such as ICObench, FoundICO, and NAGA-Trading.

VegaWallet brings real-world apps for crypto payments

The VegaWallet is dubbed as “the complete crypto platform,” and it will support the adoption of crypto, by providing more real-world use cases. The platform will allow business not only to receive crypto payments besides fiat money and credit but also to sell digital assets as well.

The platform aims to bridge the gap between consumers who plan to buy items using crypto and businesses which don’t accept blockchain-based digital assets for the moment.

VegaPay is the VegaWallet app that does this by instantly transferring the authorized amount to its built-in exchange. Then it sends the correct amount of fiat funds to modern payment terminals via Near Field Communication technology.

This process makes paying with Bitcoin or other digital assets more accessible than it was by now. There will be no need for special debit cards or chips.

It’s also important to note that VegaWallet’s platform is a two-phase project.

During the token sale, users will have the ability to use the multi-currency digital asset wallet and the built-in exchange.

These two products are currently in alpha testing, and they should be out and available to the general public shortly.

VegaWallets POS

The second phase delivers a complete point of sale (POS) system that allows businesses to transact using crypto, and it also allows the purchase of crypto using these locations, the same way as a gift card does.

In other words, consumers will be able to have crypto added to each VegaWallet account on check-out. It’s like buying food and at the same time adding crypto tokens to your account.

What’s excellent about VegaWallet is that it also allows users to pay directly with cash.

Businesses will be able to sell crypto straight from a wallet of collected funds, and they can also collect a small commission for selling the funds from VegaWallet’s exchange. It’s a win-win situation all the way.

VegaWallet will introduce VegaPay

VegaPay will be implemented at the end of the second phase of the development.

When this feature is activated, it will verify the transaction and immediately use the VegaWallet exchange to trade the correct amount of crypto in the users’ wallets account to fiat to pay at any locations that don’t accept crypto just yet.

The funds will be sent to the terminal using the Near Field Communications program.

VegaPay will create a one-time use credit card number for entrance via the phone or online.

This number is to be treated like a gift card, and it will be backed to the highest level of security.

VegaPay will be using this code instead of providing a permanent number which will only increase safety and security leading to reduced risks for fraud and hacking attempts related to all of Vega Wallet’s services.

Another great thing is that there will not be required any type of bank verification.

All in all, VegaWallet and its VegaPay will open the gate towards crypto adoption, and it will make sure to offer customers the ultimate crypto experience.

*This post is credited to Oracletimes