After the Great Crypto Bull Run of 2017 and the monumental crash of 2018, blockchain technology won’t make as much noise in 2019. But it will become more useful.

In 2017, blockchain technology was a revolution that was supposed to disrupt the global financial system. In 2018, it was a disappointment. In 2019, it will start to become mundane.

Some cryptocurrencies are down more than 90% from their peak in late 2017, but the technology underlying them is by no means out. Although still new to many people, blockchains are a decade in the making (with precursor technologies that are even older), and the crypto world has recovered from massive (in percentage terms) price declines before. Many of the developers who flooded into the space in 2017 are still working in it; innovative-sounding projects are still alive and even close to bearing fruit. And several big corporations plan to launch major blockchain-based projects in 2019.

Here are three reasons why 2019 will be the year that blockchain technology finally becomes normal.

Big plans from Walmart—and Wall Street

Walmart has been testing a private blockchain system for years as a food supply tracker. It says it will start using the system next year and has instructed its suppliers of leafy greens to join by September.

Meanwhile, on the cryptocurrency side, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange and one of the most influential players on Wall Street, plans to launch its own digital asset exchange in early 2019. And Fidelity Investments recently created a new company called Fidelity Digital Assets.

The main thing Fidelity brings to the table is a so-called custody service for crypto-assets. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have argued that big investors like hedge funds, family offices, and sovereign wealth funds are itching to put billions of dollars into digital assets but can’t because there isn’t enough regulator-approved infrastructure.

In the US, for example, big investment funds are required to store their clients’ assets in individual accounts with banks or other entities—“custodians”—that can protect them from theft or fraud. Securely storing crypto-assets is a technical challenge, however, since unlike transactions made with conventional money, blockchain transactions can’t be undone if they turn out to have been fraudulent.  Fidelity, whose solution involves a variety of sophisticated security measures, has called this “the most pressing unanswered question” for institutions. In recent weeks, however, it’s become clear that the lack of infrastructure is not the only big thing keeping them away. Fidelity and ICE still seem committed even as other major Wall Street firms hesitate. But this is crypto, and things can change fast.

Smart contracts: finally good for something in the real world

Smart contracts are bits of code that execute an agreement between two parties—for instance, a flight insurance policy that automatically pays out if your flight gets canceled. In principle, they would eliminate the need for all sorts of costly intermediaries. The idea has been around since the 1990s, and Ethereum was devised in 2013 specifically as a blockchain that could run smart contracts.

However, for that automated flight insurance policy to work, it would need a trustworthy source of real-time flight data—an “oracle,” in industry parlance. Otherwise, what’s to stop hackers from feeding it fraudulent flight delays and claiming payouts? The lack of reliable oracle technology has limited the use of smart contracts thus far.

Now that technology is improving. A startup called Chainlink recently teamed with academic researchers at Cornell to create what it calls the first “provably secure, decentralized oracle network.” Its oracles use cryptography and a type of secure hardware called a trusted enclave to securely feed data to smart contracts on the blockchain.

One practical use of smart contracts that might appear in 2019 is in legal technology. Chainlink has partnered with a project called OpenLaw, which is developing simple smart-contract-based legal agreements (for example, an agreement between a worker and a company). And OpenLaw has partnered with Rocket Lawyer, a popular online service that lets users create their own legal documents.

The idea behind the collaboration, according to Rocket Lawyer’s CEO, Charley Moore, is to use smart contracts to track the rights and obligations in legal agreements (like a freelance contract) on the blockchain and, once the contract’s conditions have been met, automate payments using cryptocurrency. Moore says the plan is to launch sometime in 2019 and that the system should be easy to use, even for people who aren’t familiar with cryptocurrency.

Rocket Lawyer isn’t alone. A startup called Monax recently launched a private beta phase for a similar-sounding platform for blockchain-based legal agreements that runs on a new smart-contract platform called the Agreements Network. And a startup called Clause says it is working with LegalZoom to create smart contract-based legal services.

State-backed digital currencies

Though Venezuela’s oil-backed national cryptocurrency, the petro, appears to have beeneither a scam or a flop, at least 15 countries’ central banks are taking a serious look at launching national digital currencies. Even if none are issued this year, expect the discussion about them to heat up in 2019 as cash use continues to decline around the world and new payment technologies, including cryptocurrencies, improve.

The International Monetary Fund’s head, Christine Lagarde, examined the case for central-bank-backed digital currencies in a recent speech. State-backed digital money, she argued, could reach more people, and offer better security, privacy, and consumer protection, than private cryptocurrencies or commercial payment technologies.

A digital form of banknotes guaranteed by governments? In many ways, it’s the opposite of the revolution the original cryptocurrency pioneers envisaged. But revolutions don’t always unfold the way the revolutionaries had in mind.

*This post is credited to Technology Review

Chinese cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain has just released its own cryptocurrency index. Going forward, the firm will provide market data for 17 of the largest digital assets by market capitalisation.

Bitmain Crypto Index Will Track 17 of the Most Popular Digital Assets

One of the planet’s largest producers of digital currency mining hardware has just published an index of cryptocurrency prices. Bitmain announced the move via its website, BTC.com, earlier today.

According to the post, Bitmain’s new price index has been tailored to institutional and individual investors alike. It stated:

“The index tracks the performance of the largest and most liquid digital currency in the market and is denominated in US dollars.”

The index draws its price data from the largest cryptocurrency exchanges on the planet. To help decide which trading venues are eligible to inform the service, Bitmain analyse each based on its: reputation, regulatory compliance, price transparency, stability, and trading volume.

The exchanges making the grade thus far are: Bitfinex, Binance, Bitstamp, Bittrex, GDAX, Gemini, Huobi, Itbit, Kraken, OKEX, and Poloniex.

Bitmain will provide visitors to the index with real-time price updates by the second, along with a daily reference price. This latter feature will be updated at 10 a.m. (GMT +8) each day.

The coins chosen by Bitmain are: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, Dash, IOTA, NEO, Monero (XMR), Cardano (ADA), Tron (TRX), Icon (ICX), Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and OmiseGo (OMG).

In addition to the 17 single digital currency indices, Bitmain has also created a combined index of the leading 10 cryptos. This will be known as the Bitmain Large Cap 10 Index (BLC10). In the words of the Chinese firm itself, the BLC10 will be:

“A comprehensive index of market capitalisation weights, totalling more than 90% of the market’s digital currency market value, covering currency classes, decentralised platform classes and anonymous digital asset classes.”

Bitmain Still in Choppy Waters

In other recent Bitmain news, the Chinese mining hardware manufacturer has just had a class action lawsuit brought against it by one of its U.S. customers. The case claims that Bitmain had redesigned their ASIC cryptocurrency mining chips to earn mining rewards and transaction fees for the company rather than the users themselves.

Filing the complaint is an LA resident called Gor Gevorkyan. However, the action is on behalf of all Bitmain’s U.S. customers. Gevorkyan believes this is around 100,000 individuals. He is hoping to sue the mining giant for over $5 million.

However, the lawsuit is just the tip of the iceberg with regards Bitmain’s current troubles. Its plan to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has exposed some dubious figures relating to the company’s inventory. This has prompted a full restructuring of its board of directors.

*This post is credited to News BTC

All the while, the once undisputed leader of the hardware manufacturing industry is slipping behind technologically to other companies also building ASIC chips.

Stellar and Monero have staked their claim as the rising stars of cryptocurrency by consolidating their market caps.

The two coins have added significant amounts to their net worth to cement their holds on higher places in the cryptocurrency top 10.

Stellar Lumens (XLM) has moved ahead of EOS to take fifth place, but although beating EOS by a market cap of $4.98 billion, still lags Bitcoin Cash in fourth place by $4.37 billion.

Bitcoin remains in first place with a market cap of $109.25 billion – which translates as 55% of the entire cryptocurrency market cap, according to the latest data from OnChainFX.

Meanwhile, Monero has jumped a place to ninth instead of Tron.

Monero has a market cap of $1.71 billion, compared to Tron’s $1.45 billion.

Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap

Rank Coin Price  Market cap (Billions)
1 Bitcoin (BTC) $6,288.00 $109.25
2 Ethereum (ETH) $206.22 $21.27
3 XRP (XRP) $0.51 $20.81
4 Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $535.88 $9.34
5 Stellar Lumens (XLM) $0.26 $4.98
6 EOS (EOS) $5.29 $4.79
7 Litecoin (LTC) $50.16 $2.99
8 Cardano (ADA) $0.075 $1.93
9 Monero (XMR) $103.49 $1.71
10 Tron (TRX) $0.02 $1.45

 

Bithumb’s multimillion dollar airdrop

Hot on the tails of the announcement of a Stellar airdrop by Blockchain, Asia Pacific exchange Bithumb has revealed a 15 Bitcoin giveaway to a member picked at random.

The airdrop is to celebrate the exchange’s fifth year of trading.

The winner will be picked from users logging into the exchange between November 12 and December 11, 2018. The winning user will be named on December 24, 2018.

The exchange hints more airdrops with other coins are on the way.

President survives no-confidence vote

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine has survived a no-confidence vote over introducing a national virtual currency.

Heine avoided a defeat by a single vote. The parliament was split 16-16.

Now, Heine plans to go ahead with the Sovereign cryptocurrency, which is designed to have parity with the US dollar.

The International Monetary Fund has warned the government should reconsider cryptocurrency plans.

“The potential benefits from revenue gains appear considerably smaller than the potential costs,” said a report “In the absence of adequate measures to mitigate them, the authorities should seriously reconsider the issuance of the digital currency as legal tender.”

*This post is credited to IExpats

Dubai residents will soon have the means to make payments for school fees, bills and other retail purchases with emCash, a state-developed blockchain-based digital currency.

The UAE’s first official credit bureau – emCredit – under the Dubai Department of Economic Development is pushing its official blockchain-encrypted state digital currency emCash for wider adoption by rolling out point-of-sale (PoS) devices at government storefronts across Dubai.

PoS devices will also be deployed at retail storefronts, enabling both citizens and residents of Dubai to make purchases following a partnership with blockchain payments provider Pundi X , Trade Arabia reported on Monday.

A spokesperson for the state-backed subsidiary emCredit stated:

To be the world’s first city to offer blockchain-based payment solutions to our residents is an exciting moment for Dubai…Deploying cutting-edge technology such as blockchain is a key priority and is delivering benefits to our citizens in the form of convenience and securities to customers and merchants across Dubai.

As reported by CCN in October 2017, emCash was developed as Dubai’s first blockchain-based digital currency as a digital equivalent to the dirham, the UAE’s fiat currency.

While UAE residents use the digital currency via a smartphone app ‘emPay’, the blockchain enabling the digital currency is compatible with shared ledgers to record transactions instantaneously while ‘control over payments is not limited to any single member in the emPay ecosystem,” emCredit chief executive Muna Al Qassab explained at the time.

The entire ecosystem consisting of the digital currency, the smartphone application and the PoS terminals will see development and testing before their approval by government regulators this financial year.

The development comes at a time when the Smart Dubai office, a government initiative led by the Crown Prince of Dubai, has approved a citywide blockchain payments platform connecting all 38 government entities, partnering financial institutions and other municipal departments in the UAE’s largest and most populous city. In this particular use-case, the blockchain deployed is compatible with both public and permissioned blockchains using open-source Hyperledger and public Ethereum tech.

*This post is credited to CCN

Mongolia’s Central Bank Gives the Nod to Issue First Digital Currency

The Central Bank of Mongolia has given permission to issue the first digital currency in the country. According to a report by the official state media outlet Montsame, Mobicom, the biggest mobile telecoms operator has become the country’s first licensed entity to issue its own digital currency.

The report says Mobicom’s financial arm Mobifinance has the backing of the CB to issue the e-currency, dubbed “Candy,” to investors. The formal permission was received at a ceremonial event at the Bank of Mongolia’s headquarters Friday.

A highly elated Mobicom CEO Tatsuya Hamada said as digital currencies have begun to circulate, ATMs and cards will become a thing of the past as well.

According to the plans for digital currency put forward by the central bank, regulation defines who will participate in digital currency system and how, process of getting permission, rights and duties of customers and service providers.

It also expected to support further development of FinTech technology and payment system. The new digital currency, Candy kicked off as an entire ecosystem for Mongolian consumers, who can use the digital currency to pay for various goods and services with a range of businesses.

*This post is credited to bitcoinexchangeguide

TOKYO: Bitcoin and other digital currency worth around ¥6.7 billion yen (RM248 million) has been stolen in Japan following a hacking attack, a virtual exchange operator said on Thursday.

Osaka-based Tech Bureau, which operates virtual currency exchange Zaif, said its server had been illegally accessed and money transferred.

“We decline to comment on the details of how this illegal access occurred, as it is a crime and we’ve already asked the authorities to investigate,” Tech Bureau said in a statement.

It added that the virtual currencies stolen were bitcoin, bitcoin cash and monacoin.

“We will prepare measures so that customers’ assets will not be affected” by the hack, it said, adding it would receive financial support from major shareholder Fisco Group.

The current management team will step down after returning the lost assets to customers, Tech Bureau said.

Japan’s financial services agency on Thursday began on-site inspections into the company, Jiji Press reported.

Japan is a major centre for virtual currencies and as many as 50,000 shops in the country are thought to accept bitcoin.

Earlier this year, Japan-based exchange Coincheck suspended deposits and withdrawal for virtual currencies after it had been hacked, resulting in a loss worth half a billion US dollars of NEM, the 10th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation.

Japanese authorities later ordered two cryptocurrency exchanges to suspend operations as part of a clampdown following the hack.

*This post is credited to Free Malaysia Today

The grim reports coming in from Kaspersky Labs, a Russia-based antivirus firm is that cybercriminals have been able to steal more than $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2018 and this has been done with the help of crypto scams. It is shocking to see such a high amount and that too in one quarter. Phishing and spamming have been the two major areas of concern as they can get sensitive information from crypto traders.

The ploy is simple enough. There is a honey-trap that traders are falling into. Cybercriminals are attracting investors with promotional giveaways that are hard to ignore. Investors are being lured with such offers and they are giving away their popular cryptocurrencies in exchange for the offer. This is allowing the criminals to get confidential information from the traders that are being used to steal millions of dollars in every transaction.

It is mostly the unsuspecting investors that are being fooled every time so that they give up valuable information of their crypto wallets. This is almost like giving away your bank passcode to a stranger. Kaspersky has put up a detailed view of how the cybercriminals are mopping the floor up. They are not asking for crypto wallet information directly. Instead, they are posing as if there is a new project where initial coin offerings are being initiated. Investors who want to gain early access to the event are buying the tokens. This is accumulating a huge amount of money in the name of ICO that the criminals are collecting when there is no event or anything.

Although the introduction of Bitcoin Trader software has come as a respite for many but the scammers are focusing on Ethereum for phishing. One of the reasons why cybercriminals have chosen Ethereum as their primary goal is that the ICOs attract more funds through the ETH platform. Plus, investors have the greed to gain early access to events. This is becoming their path to losing more money than ever.

The trend is not just limited to the trading platforms. Duo Security also came up with reports that the scammers have taken on to Twitter to circulate fake crypto giveaways. They have also found that as many as 88 million Twitter accounts are using a certain technique that involves machine learning to train a classifier bot. Here also, the ploy was simple.

They used almost 200 new tweets from each of the accounts and trained the bot to circulate fake competitions that will allow the users to impersonate some of the popular names in the crypto industry. This made the competition look real and traders believed in the competitions that led them to use their crypto wallets without a second thought. The bots that originated from these competitions could identify the accounts that had a lot of importance in the crypto industry. As a result, it became easier for the scammers to target the ones who could easily be fooled by the fake giveaways instantly.

*This post is credited to Andysowards

According to new report available with Million Insights, Crypto-currency is commonly termed as a form of money exchange, which is performed with the help of cryptography to complete the transactions. Growing popularity of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin is attributed to its widespread use in the mainstream media since last decade. Bitcoin, one of the most popular crypto-currency majorly uses peer-to-peer technology in order to operate with no central authority or banks.

The global Crypto-Currency And Cyber-Currency Market size is expected to value at USD 84 billion by 2024. The market is subject to witness a substantial growth due to the minimum fees for transaction in cryptocurrency exchange, exclusion of third parties for financial deals, and limited occurrence of fraud & identity theft. However, lack of awareness about the cryptocurrency among general population is expected to restrain market growth to large extent.

Although, addition of block-chain technology that provides more security and flexibility for financial services in cryptocurrency market, thus offering numerous growth opportunities for business, in the recent years. Globally, the market is predicted to grow at high CAGR over the forecast period, providing numerous opportunities for market players to invest in research and development in the crypto-currency and cyber-currency market.

Crypto-currency is commonly termed as a form of money exchange, which is performed with the help of cryptography to complete the transactions. The crypto-currency majorly involves monitoring & formation of new units, enhanced security, and minimizing risks such as money fraud. Crypto-currency is purely digital form of money that can only be used for online transitions. Growing popularity of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin is attributed to its widespread use in the mainstream media since last decade.

Bitcoin and the other crypto-currencies are considered as a decentralized system due to absence of any central authority. The crypto-currency and cyber-currency market has witnessed up to four times of overall market capitalization over the last couple of years.

A cyber-currency or crypto-currency is commonly understood as a digital asset that is derived to work as a medium of exchange with secure financial transactions, measurement of additional units, and monitoring the transfer of assets. Increasing demand for cyber-currency and cryptocurrency as an alternative to centralized electronic money and central banking systems is expected to drive the growth of crypto-currency and cyber-currency market over the forecast period.

Latest technological advancement coupled with development of innovative technology such as ledger technology, and a block chain, that acts as a communal financial transaction database are anticipated to foster demand for crypto-currency and cyber-currency market in the upcoming years.

Crypto-currency majorly involves a mix of experts in the tech and business spheres along with ICOs, for application related issues. The successful implementation of cyber-currency or crypto-currency require an international team with advanced decentralized system. The authenticity of every cryptocurrency’s coins is provided with the help of a block chain. A block chain is a constantly growing list of records, which are also termed as a block; these blocks are connected and managed with the help of cryptography.

Every block broadly consists of a hash pointer that is linked with the previous block, along with a timestamp and transaction data. Block chains does not allows any modification to the existing data, thereby providing necessary security. These factors are expected to fuel growth of the crypto-currency and cyber-currency market during the forecast period.

Bitcoin, one of the most popular crypto-currency majorly uses peer-to-peer technology in order to operate with no central authority or banks. Ethereum is also a decentralized system and a type of a crypto-currency, which runs smart contracts.

The market is divided by region as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa. North America has shown major growth in recent years owing to the rise in the implementation of latest technologies in banking & finance sector and existence of well-established online infrastructure. Asia-Pacific region is predicted to hold major market share with massive growth in forecast period.

Countries such as Malaysia, China and Singapore are leading the Asia-Pacific market with shifting trends towards adoption of digital currency over traditional form of financial exchange and significant investment by leading industry players considering potential growth opportunities in the region. The key players in the crypto-currency and cyber-currency market are Nvidia Inc., XILINX, Inc, Intel Co., Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Ripple Labs, Inc., Microsoft Co., AlphaPoint Co., BitGo Co., Coinbase Inc., and The Bitfury Group Inc.

*This post is credited to Digital Journal

The 2018 US China Blockchain and Digital Currency Conference at LAX Marriott Hotel on August 22, 2018, despite Beijing’s official ban on sales of new digital tokens and halt on bitcoin trading, China remains a hub of activity for blockchain development.

The 2018 US China Blockchain and Digital Currency Conference at LAX Marriott Hotel on August 22, 2018 is organized by Blockchain China Connect, Artisan Business Group, Inc., and partnered with FundingPost.com.

The conference will be the only Sino-US investment and funding focused event for blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. Hundreds of blockchain entrepreneurs, investors, bitcoin mine operators, traders, and legal taxation experts are expected to attend, and it will provide a great platform for peer-to-peer networking and exploring investment, finance, business and collaboration opportunities between the U.S-China and other countries.

In China, Blockchain is the first tracking standard that is receiving widespread acceptance from consumers, businesses and government.

Big online companies as Alibaba and JD are investing large sums into blockchain and President Xi Jinping calls it a “breakthrough” technology back in May 2018.

However, the country remains a hub of activity for blockchain development. Several start-ups are partnering with the local Chinese government to research or implement the technology and about 41% of Chinese startups who received funding in the first quarter of 2017 were blockchain related.

Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shanxi, Henan, Guiyang and Hangzhou all have policies actively encouraging blockchain development, with Hangzhou pledging investments of $1.5 billion (10 billion yuan) in the technology.

*This post is credited to Chepicap.

People are just becoming acquainted with the idea of digital money in the form of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, where transactions are recorded on a secure distributed database called a blockchain. And now along comes a new concept: the blockchain-based token, which I’ve been following as a blockchain researcher and teacher of courses about cryptocurrency and blockchain tokens.

In the last 18 months, digital developers have raised more than US$20 billion through a funding process called “initial coin offering” – many of which use tokens. There are two common categories of them: “utility” tokens and “security” tokens.

Utility tokens

Utility tokens are essentially cryptocurrencies that are used for a specific purpose, like buying a particular good or service. For example, if you want to store information online, the most common way today is to become a customer of a hosting service like Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon Web Services. You reserve a certain amount of storage space on those companies’ servers and pay for it with dollars, euros, yen or other national currencies.

But there is another way. The Filecoin network, for instance, expects to provide similar cloud storage services without itself operating buildings full of massive servers. Instead, its users will store their data, in encrypted form, on the spare hard drive space of other regular people. This needs a different form of tracking of how much space a person uses, and a new way to pay all the people whose hard drives host the data. Enter the utility token, in this case called Filecoin.

As a customer stores more data, the network will deduct from their balance of Filecoin tokens and will send those tokens to each storage provider based on how much data they’re hosting. Customers can buy more tokens with whatever currency they wish, and hosts can exchange them for any currency they choose – or keep them to spend on storage of their own data.

In addition to automating the data use and payments, Filecoin tokens offer another advantage over regular currencies: They can be used in much smaller increments than pennies, so prices can be very accurate.

Filecoin’s goal is a cloud storage system that is as trustworthy and secure as commercial operations, but decentralized. The utility token is simply a tool that makes this approach possible.

Security tokens

A security token, sometimes called a “tokenized security” or a “crypto-security,” is more than a currency – it often represents ownership in an underlying real-world asset. Like traditional stocks or bonds, they’re regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Regular securities are tracked either on paper or – more likely these days – in a centralized database. Security tokens use a blockchain system – a decentralized database – to do the tracking of who owns which assets.

Using blockchain-based security tokens expands trading beyond regular bankers’ and stock-market hours, and may enable faster finalization of transactions. In addition, a marketplace based in software that allows smart contracts can automate various aspects of regulations and reporting.

Security tokens make it easy for customers to access multiple investments: Just as a single E-Trade investment account can keep records for a variety of different stocks and bonds, a blockchain-based digital wallet can do the same for a range of different security tokens, representing equity, debt and even real estate.

Connection to cryptocurrencies

Neither kind of token requires its own blockchain, the way the bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies do. Instead, tokens can outsource their ownership accounting systems, attaching them to preexisting blockchain ledgers. This in effect creates a new subledger, say of the Ethereum network’s ledger, just for that particular token. Every user who sends a token that is tracked and recorded on Ethereum pays a small transaction fee to the Ethereum network to validate the transaction.

Tokens are still at an early stage of development. I expect to see lots of innovation around how to use them for years to come.

This post is credited to TheConversation