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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Unsplash

Coinbase Inc has started plans for a stock market listing that could come as early as this year, making it the first major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange to go public, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The listing would need the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) blessing. Were the watchdog to greenlight it, it would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates vying for mainstream endorsement.

Coinbase could pursue the listing later this year or early next year, the sources said, cautioning that the plans are still subject to change. The company has not yet registered its intention to go public with the SEC, but has been in talks to hire investment banks and law firms, the sources added.

The sources requested anonymity because the listing preparations are confidential.

A Coinbase spokesman said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation. The SEC declined to comment.

While the SEC has said some cryptocurrencies may be considered securities and be subject to regulation, it has yet to issue specific guidance on most virtual coins. Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win legitimacy among mainstream investors and a general public wary of their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.

VALUED AT $8 BILLION

One of the sources said that Coinbase, which was valued at more than $8 billion in its latest private fundraising round in 2018, is exploring going public via a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering (IPO).

In a direct listing, a company does not sell new shares as it does in an IPO and existing investors are not bound by lock-up restrictions on when they can divest their holdings following the market debut.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase is one of the most well-known cryptocurrency platforms globally and has more than 35 million users who trade various virtual coins, including bitcoin, ethereum and XRP.

The New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup Inc (C.N) CEO Vikram Pandit are among those that have invested in the San Francisco-based company. It was one of the top beneficiaries of the bitcoin BTC=BTSP boom in 2017, a year in which the original cryptocurrency rocketed from $1,000 to almost $20,000. Bitcoin currently trades at close to $9,400.

On Wednesday, Coinbase said it had hired Facebook Inc FB.N deputy general counsel Paul Grewal as its chief legal officer.

Originally published by
Anirban Sen, Joshua Franklin Anna Irrera | July 9, 2020
Reuters

 

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

Shopping street in Kabul, Afghanistan (Jono Photography/Shutterstock)

Blockchain startup Fantom has been given the green light to start tracking medicinal drugs in Afghanistan to help stem the country’s counterfeiting problem.

After a signing ceremony with the Afghan Ministry of Health and several pharmaceutical distributors last month, the startup has unveiled details of its Smart Medicine pilot project.

The project aims to keep track of pharmaceutical drugs traveling along the supply chain in order to stem the distribution of fake products caused by a lack of appropriate checks.

Being able to verify the authenticity of medicines is vital in preventing counterfeit products, Michael Kong, CIO of Fantom, said in a Telegram interview with CoinDesk.

Several pharmaceutical companies are involved in the project including Mumbai-listed Indian company Bliss GVS, Afghanistan-based Royal Star and Indian manufacturer Nabros Pharma.

Fantom will supply labels to trace 80,000 products created by Nabros and Bliss GVS over Fantom's smart contract platform and Opera blockchain network.

The products will cover four areas of pharmaceuticals including 50,000 hand sanitizers, 10,000 joint creams, 10,000 Kofol chewable tablets and 10,000 Diacare foot creams.

The pilot will demonstrate how scanning product data to a blockchain can create an immutable record, Kong said.

The startup will design shipping labels that are to be scanned by Royal Star at every stage of the distribution process.

Labels can be checked on Fantom's platform and will contain a unique hash code that can be publicly verified on-chain and includes 11 data points.

These data points will be able to verify the product name, batch number, barcode number, expiry date, production date, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) number, producer’s name, location of scan, the status of the scan, and time and date of a scan. 

The project is also collaborating with Nigeria-based blockchain startup Chekkit which is providing a QR code scanning system in the audit trail to guarantee products are not tampered with.

Counterfeit drugs are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year, with inferior or useless products ranging from cancer treatment to antimalarial pills.

One in 10 medical products in developing countries is substandard or falsified, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The announcement of the pilot follows on from a formal partnership agreed between Fantom and the Afghan government to establish a blockchain initiative for public health last November.

The startup was given a mandate to invent a solution for detecting counterfeit drugs, Kong confirmed.

Originally published by
Sebastian Sinclair | July 6, 2020
coindesk

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Gold Level Contributor

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has come under pressure to further postpone the launch of a blockchain replacement for its decades-old settlement and clearing system.

One of the main share registry companies in Australia, Computershare, told the Financial Times (FT) on June 25 it was seeking a two-year delay to the implementation of the ASX’s new blockchain-based system because the new project “lacked clarity.”

The Clearing House Electronic Subregister System, or CHESS, is the existing infrastructure responsible for clearing and settlements of trades and transactions on the ASX’s network. The stock exchange is planning to overhaul the current system with distributed ledger technology to enable same-day settlements.

Concerns raised by Computershare relate to a claimed lack of clear information on the technical and operational aspects of CHESS, the fee structure for new services and how regulation would be implemented and governed on the new system.

Several ASX clients have also expressed their concerns over the ASX’s ability to increase its dominant market position for clearing and settlement into other markets including share registry services, per the report.

“This [new platform] is owned by ASX and the ASX is a monopoly, it’s not ideal. I don’t believe they should own it,” Tony Cunningham, founder of Perth-based stockbroker CPS Capital, told the FT. “If ASX [has] a distributed ledger, then why do you have a share registry?”

After a series of studies were conducted in August 2017 relating to the viability of DLT systems for the purpose of settlement and clearing, the ASX finally said yes to settling trades using DLT with a planned launch date previously expected in April 2021.

The DLT CHESS replacement has faced several road bumps including in 2018 when the ASX decided to postpone the proposed date over concerns raised by respondents detailing whether the implementation window of Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 was achievable. This March, it further delayed the launch due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The rollout looks likely to face further setbacks, with the stock exchange having just agreed to another “short delay,” as reported in the FT.

“We know there are stakeholders who want a small change to the go-live date as well as those who are seeking for more time,” the ASX said as per FT reporting. “We will listen carefully to the consultation feedback prior to finalizing the revised implementation timeline.”

Originally published by
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Gold Level Contributor

Mining conglomerate BHP has completed its first trial trade of iron ore using blockchain technology.

As reported by Reuters on Monday, the roughly $14 million deal with Chinese metals giant Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd. (Baosteel) was conducted on a platform created by Canada-based startup MineHub Technologies. The MineHub platform was used to process contract terms, exchange documents online and provide visibility and accountability along the supply chain. The transaction took place in June.

BHP Group is an Anglo-Australian mining, metals and petroleum multinational based in Melbourne, Australia, and is the biggest mining firm worldwide by market capitalization.

Given the mining industry’s dependence on paper-based legacy systems, the trial blockchain trade comes as BHP and Baosteel see a need for a shift to digital, the companies said.

“The bulk commodity industry needs a digital revolution to reduce physical documentation processes,” according to Michiel Hovers, sales and marketing officer at BHP.

BHP and MineHub said using blockchain would boost efficiency and transparency in statements, Reuters reported.

Baosteel is the Chinese state-owned listed arm of Baowu Steel Group Co. Ltd. The firm has not been shy about using blockchain technology in the past, having previously completed what was claimed as the first yuan-denominated international letter of credit (LC) via the Contour platform in May. Contour is built on Corda technology from R3, the enterprise-focused blockchain software firm.

Canada-based MineHub Technologies told Reuters the BHP transaction was the first of many in a series involving its blockchain platform and comes at a time when bad actors have taken advantage of supply chain vulnerabilities during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Current pandemic events and fraud cases in the commodity trading industry are causing a step-change in the adoption of digital solutions,” said MineHub CEO Arnoud Star Busmann.

Using Hyperledger’s Fabric blockchain, MineHub previously worked with IBM to develop capabilities to trace the data it uploads about the ore mining giant Goldcorp mines, including certification that the material was produced in a sustainable and ethical way.

Originally published by
Sebastian Sinclair | June 29, 2020
coindesk

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

(Drozdin Vladimir/Shutterstock)

The Norwegian Seafood Association has teamed up with IBM and Atea, a technology firm focused on the internet of things (IoT), to create a blockchain-based track-and-trace system. The project aims to prove the provenance of sustainably farmed salmon in Norway.

Following a successful pilot, five high-quality fish farming operations are now ready to start running a live production version of IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, a new offering from Big Blue that uses the same underlying technology as Food Trust, the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain protocol.

Norway produces some of the highest quality seafood in the world. The Scandinavian country exported some 2.7 million tons of seafood in 2019 with the largest customers being in the U.S., Russia and China.

Brand protection

Norway’s fishing industry sees blockchain traceability as a way to ensure the quality of the national brand and that its salmon is what it says it is. There have been incidents where fish has been fraudulently passed off as having come from farms in Norway, said Atea CEO Steinar Sønsteby.

The technology has the ability to track every aspect of the fish lifecycle, using cameras inside the pens in the sea where the salmon swim, the temperature of the water (which dictates the speed at which they grow), the transportation and whether the fish is frozen or fresh, said Sønsteby.

Atea is the contract holder with farms, he said, and IBM provides the blockchain solution and runs the system in the IBM Cloud. The business arrangement is also novel.

“Both us and IBM are going to be paid, which is a revenue share, so we get a small cut of every ton of fish that is being tracked,” said Sønsteby. “It’s not like a regular IT solution where you charge for a service and get paid. We will get our money over the coming years as fish is tracked and value created.”

Participating by uploading data to the blockchain is Kvarøy Arctic, a provider of sea-farmed salmon, and BioMar, a provider of high-grade fish feed. 

“Norwegian seafood is known for its quality. At the same time, we still do not have the ability to trace where the fish came from, how it was grown or how it was stored,” Robert Eriksson, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Association, said in a statement. “Blockchain can help eliminate these problems with a transparent, accountable record of where each fish came from.”

Originally published by
Ian Allison | June 25, 2020
Coindesk

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Bronze Level Contributor

Banking users of SIA's private blockchain infrastructure will be able to link up with other distributed ledgers following successful testing of interoperability via Quant Network's Overledger technology.

This integration provides the ability to bridge permissioned blockchain instances between SIAchain's 580 European network nodes and other external networks - which could not be previously connected - in order to have crossplatform applications and services covering the likes of notarisation, payments and KYC.

Initiated in mid-2019, the collaboration has involved a full program of testing across SIAchain, R3 Corda and private Ethereum platforms.

Daniele Savarè, innovation & business solutions director SIA, says: “The achievement of a fully interoperable blockchain network, through our collaboration with Quant Network, is another key-element in our path of bringing innovation and state-of-the-art technologies for supporting banks, financial institutions, corporates and public administration bodies to extend their capabilities in integrating different DLT business applications."
 
SIA - a subsidiary of CDP Equity - is European leader in the design, creation and management of technology infrastructures and services for Financial Institutions, Central Banks, Corporates and the Public Sector, in the areas of Card & Merchant Solutions, Digital Payment Solutions and Capital Market & Network Solutions. SIA Group provides its services in 50 countries, and also operates through its subsidiaries in Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and South Africa. The company also has branches in Belgium and the Netherlands and representation offices in the UK and Poland. For more information: www.sia.eu/en

Quant Network is a technology provider, delivering enterprise-grade interoperability for the secure exchange of information and digital assets across any network, platform or protocol, at scale. Quant’s Overledger, the world’s first DLT operating system, complements and connects existing systems and DLTs, to drive innovative and efficient growth for companies, public entities, and regulatory bodies alike. Headquartered in London, UK, Quant is recognised as a Gartner Cool Vendor 2019 and is committed to unleashing the power of systems that are as connected as the world we live in.
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 24, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: Shutterstock

A solar energy trading trial run by blockchain startup Power Ledger has found the initiative to be “technically feasible” for real world use.

The trial, which was partly funded by the Australia government, surveyed 48 households in Fremantle, Western Australia, and found blockchain energy peer-to-peer energy (P2P) trading delivered lower costs “desired by consumers.”

“Power Ledger has demonstrated how peer-to-peer energy trading can incentivise the right outcomes for the grid in a more cost-effective way,” Power Ledger chairman Jemma Green said in a press release

The trial ran between December 2018 and January 2020 as part of the RENeW Nexus Project and used Power Ledger’s blockchain technology to trace the transactions of rooftop solar energy traded between households. RENeW is an Australian national not-for-profit organization advocating for sustainable living.

A report detailing the findings of the trial and published earlier this month in a joint effort between Power Ledger, Curtin and Murdoch Universities found energy trading could provide localized energy markets with the ability to deliver a more stable power grid, at lower costs.

Other findings included how the Australian tariff structure needed an overhaul in order to make P2P energy trading more attractive to the consumer as well as making it more readily accessible to deal with excess solar energy (during the day) in the grid without the need for government subsidies.

“Participants had a positive view of P2P energy trading and could see its benefits but stated that changes to the tariff structure would be required to make it attractive,” the report claimed.

Additionally, the project included a study of a distributed Virtual Power Plant (VPP) as well as a microgrid with a 670kWh battery that is to service homes in the “East Village development in Fremantle.”

The Village is a sustainable development initiative featuring smart homes powered by green renewable energy.

In the case of Power Ledger’s initiative, a virtual power plant is a cloud-based distributed power station that aggregates green energy resources for the purposes of enhancing power generation, as well as trading or selling power on the local electricity market.

“This project is a world-first with great significance for how cities around the world can learn to share solar,” report co-author Peter Newman said in a statement.

Originally published by
Sebastian Sinclair | June 22, 2020
Coindesk

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Gold Level Contributor

Providing a legal identity for all of the world’s population by 2030 is one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – and may be more relevant than ever with talks of new coronavirus immunity ID documents underway. In order to have an idea of the status of the world’s current identity problem, about 75% of the people on the planet are currently without a bank account because of their inability to prove their identity via a valid passport, birth certificate, utility bill, or some other means, to complete KYC (Know Your Client) procedures.

A blockchain-based approach might be a starter for an unchangeable record of individual legal identity. This would neutralise dependency on a central issuing authority or government intervention, due to the decentralized nature of the ledger (a ledge meaning whereby the blockchain records and maintains all data exchanges).

Basically speaking, a blockchain can be defined as a growing and interconnected sequence or chain of records, called blocks. Each of those blocks contains a cryptographic hash or ‘identity’ of the previous block, transaction data and its timestamp. As a blockchain is usually managed by a P2P network, the majority of the nodes in that network must be in consensus to approve any change in any block. Those nodes are computers, and each has a copy of the blockchain. A transaction is written into the ledger only if it was approved by a greater number of nodes after inspection of the hash.

With many uses in financial inclusion, smart contracts and the tracking of goods and transactions, blockchain technology is a powerful tool for fighting fraud, as the records cannot be altered retroactively.

With this in mind, we list below 10 of the most promising European startups that are supporting and stretching the use of blockchain through their main services and products. We compiled this list by analysing growth rate, funding rounds closed, global launches, team size, among others. 

Settlemint – Settlemint was founded in 2016 in Leuven, Belgium, by Matthew Van Niekerk and Roderik Van der Veer. With over €5 million in funding, SettleMint is democratizing blockchain as part of the business environment of the future. The company provides the infrastructure to simplify blockchain application design, building and integration through a reliable and scalable proprietary low-code solution of BPaS or “Blockchain as a Service”, so that companies can go from scratch to blockchain application cases with faster speed and less complexity.

Coinfirm – London-based Coinfirm, founded in 2015, aims to act as a foundation for the safe adoption of blockchain by all actors in the economy, including traditional financial institutions, governments, regulators as well as ordinary citizens. Its anti-money laundering (AML) for virtual currencies and blockchain actors allow financial institutions and regulators to safely engage with the crypto world. It has also created its own token, the AMLT, and offers incentives for users to report ransomware and other scams. So far the team has raised around €5 million, with its last funding round being earlier this year.

Odem – Swiss startup Odem, founded in 2017 in Zug, is bringing blockchain to education. It aims to refresh the outdated infrastructure on which education, training and employment were built, making them universally affordable, accessible, verifiable and transferable. In 2018 the startup landed around €2 million of investment, which it’s used to expand its learning platform, which even lets students control and own their academic records in one place forever, safely stored on the blockchain.

Continue reading

Originally published by
Bernardo Arnaud - eu-startups

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Bronze Level Contributor

It’s costing more to use Ethereum and that may be because more users are flocking to the platform than ever before, according to one key on-chain metric. Analysts say the growth of both transactions and the cost to process them is being driven by an increase in stablecoin usage and DeFi applications. 

The seven-day moving average of the total amount of “gas” used in transactions on Ethereum’s blockchain rose to a record high of 61.12 billion on Monday, having surpassed the previous high of 60.07 billion reached in September 2019, according to data provided by the blockchain analytics firm CoinMetrics

Gas is a token that powers Ethereum’s blockchain. It is the unit used to calculate the amount of fees a user needs to pay in order to transfer smart contract data or payments on Ethereum’s blockchain. Meanwhile, ether is the reward paid to miners and is equivalent to the amount of gas needed to execute a transaction. 

“The increase in gas usage indicates a continuous growth in the use of Ethereum’s platform, as measured by the number of transactions, as well as demand for block space, as measured via gas per transaction,” said Wilson Withiam, research analyst at data provider Messari.

Ethereum’s transaction count recently hit a 27-month high of 938,265 and was up nearly 45% from lows seen in January as of Monday, according to Glassnode

Tether and DeFi fuel growth

“As both tether and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) on Ethereum have exhibited phenomenal growth, Ethereum gas usage has skyrocketed to all-time highs,” Kyle Davies, co-founder and chairman at Three Arrows Capital.

Indeed, the use of the U.S. dollar-backed stablecoin tether (USDT) on Ethereum has increased sharply this year. 

Continue reading

Originally published by
Omkar Godbole | June 16, 2020
coindesk

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Bronze Level Contributor

The New York Times on Friday released new details and findings of its News Provenance Project, a blockchain-focused research and development project. 

In a blog post, product manager Pooja Reddy delved into the initiative, which it built using IBM's Blockchain Platform. Word of the Times' work on a blockchain project emerged last spring through a now-deleted job posting. The Times later launched a website for the News Provenance Project, which indicated it would move "from research to execution" during a new phase in 2020.

Friday's blog post details the results of that execution. As Reddy noted:

"A prong of The News Provenance Project was to conduct research around how readers make judgments about the photos they see online. To help with that research, we built a prototype that leveraged blockchain to surface a news photo's contextual information on a simulated social media feed. We wanted to see whether visible contextual information, such as the photographer's name and the location depicted in the photo, could help readers better discern the credibility of news photos in their social feeds."

From a technology perspective, Reddy said that the Times "wanted to see if it was possible to record everything that happens to a photo, from capture to publication, in the form of photo metadata and display that information on social media platforms."

"Blockchain's ability to preserve the full history of a photo separately from the image file itself made it a compelling technology for our explorations around tracking provenance," she continued.

For the trial, The Times said it built a network of test news organizations as well as a social media platform that would link them. Additionally, the organizations had shared ownership of a distributed ledger and database between them and "could make changes to photo metadata in the database."

The end result, per Reddy: "When testing our prototype with users, we found that it effectively helped them make informed judgments about photos in a social media feed. Yet, there is more research and exploration that needs to be done."

"While blockchain technology could be a viable tool in helping preserve the origin of news photos, there are a number of challenges that would need to be addressed before it could be widely used," she continued.

According to Reddy, prototype-centric assumptions would face critical tests in real-world environments, including about the content that exists on the blockchain itself as well as how photos may be altered when shared on social media. Reddy also stressed that "[b]lockchain networks must be accessible to news organizations" and that for such a system to work, a variety of outlets would need to be brought in with the lowest barrier to entry possible.

"This prototype was an experiment that taught us a lot about the power of credible, contextual information in social media feeds, but there is a long way to go before something like this can be fully realized," Reddy wrote.

Originally published by
Michael McSweeney| June 12, 2020
The Block

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Bronze Level Contributor

Arweave CEO and co-founder Sam Williams speaks at the Fall 2019 Multicoin Summit. (Credit: Multicoin Capital)

Arweave, a blockchain network meant for the permanent storage of data, has released a completely new approach to smart contracts.

In short, smart contracts on Arweave, much like must of the code on websites today, will be run by users’ computers rather than the blockchain itself. Released Thursday, SmartWeave is an approach to smart contracts that allows the blockchain to dispense with gas fees and only requires a smart contract’s code to be run as often as it’s needed and not by every node on the network.

“SmartWeave is a new smart contract language environment built on top of the Arweave network,” Arweave’s Sam Williams told CoinDesk. “It uses this novel type of evaluation called ‘lazy evaluation’ to move the computational burden of smart-contract execution from the nodes in the network to the users of the smart contract.”

It’s like the bake-at-home pizza versus Pizza Hut. Arweave keeps the data ready, available and accurate (in the freezer); users’ machines only need to make sense of that data (bake it) when, and only when, it is needed.

Lazy evaluation verifies the data and, in particular, when each piece of data came into the system. 

“The key thing Arweave is offering you is the ability to say every single thing that came through the system has a time ordering,” Williams said. 

As Ethereum’s perpetual problem with front-running on decentralized exchanges (DEX) illustrates, establishing the order of events reliably is one of the more important pieces of work decentralized systems need to do.

That said, it’s not important that each node on a network verify precisely how each digital document renders. Much as each computer that opens a website interprets its HTML and JavaScript locally, Arweave requires users’ computers to do the processing of information, not the network itself. This logic makes sense because Arweave is fundamentally built to be a new kind of internet.

“Arweave as a base protocol is very focused on decentralized, autonomous web services,” Williams said.

Entering a space similar to that of Blockstack, Arweave offers a kind of internet that users log into directly. Once a wallet has logged into Arweave, it can move around all kinds of apps without needing to log into them individually. Williams expects this will create interesting new experiences that we can only partially imagine now.

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Originally published by
Brady Dale | June 11, 2020
Coindesk

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Gold Level Contributor

Coinbase Analytics has ties throughout the gargantuan crypto exchange but only uses publicly-available data, according to Coinbase. (Credit: CoinDesk archives)

Coinbase is getting in on the government blockchain analytics game.

The behemoth cryptocurrency exchange has initiated procurement deals with a number of U.S. agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for a cryptocurrency investigations tool called “Coinbase Analytics,” according to publicly available documents. The Block first reported on the prospective deals Friday.

Coinbase Analytics has close ties with Coinbase’s entire product ecosystem, as its Senior Product Manager “collaborates” with “Coinbase Consumer, Coinbase Pro, and Coinbase Custody as well as” Coinbase’s payments and crypto division, according to an undated but now closed job posting.

In an emailed statement, Coinbase said its Analytics product does not and has never used any internal customer data.

“Coinbase Analytics data is fully sourced from online, publicly-available data, and does not include any personally-identifiable information for anyone, regardless of whether or not they use Coinbase,” a spokesperson told CoinDesk.

Coinbase joins a crowded field of cryptocurrency analytics companies – Chainalysis, Elliptic, CipherTrace and others – vying for a piece of the federal pie. Agencies from all corners of the U.S government regularly contract with crypto intel firms, inking deals for their tracing software worth millions, and sometimes stretching years. 

Apparently, Coinbase, who bought blockchain intelligence firm Neutrino in February 2019, is about to undercut the competition.

“This is the least expensive tool on the market and has the most features for the money,” read a DEA May notice so heavily redacted that those features’ specifics are unclear. But they are unique, as the IRS notice, published in April, notes Coinbase Analytics has “enhanced law enforcement sensitive capabilities that are not currently found in other tools on the market.”

Coinbase confirmed that it developed the Analytics product from Neutrino. It further stated that Analytics is available for financial institutions and law enforcement agencies alike, and is used in internal investigations.

“It’s an important tool to meet our regulatory requirements and protect our customers’ funds,” Coinbase said.

The DEA’s interest appears to stem in part from Coinbase Analytics’ pinpoint accuracy. It has “some of the most conservative heuristics used in commercial blockchain tracing tools,” a “critical” distinction in avoiding false positives, the DEA notice read. 

Neither the DEA or IRS disclosed the bottom-line value of their prospective deals, which federal contract websites indicate have not been finalized yet. Both agencies seek year-long contacts with Coinbase, and the DEA deal is not more than $250,000.

The IRS has recently begun ramping up its activities in the cryptocurrency space, sending tax firms notices last month requesting proposals for auditing support.

UPDATE: (June 6, 2020 1:58 UTC): This article has been updated to include comment from Coinbase

Originally published by
Danny Nelson | Jun 5, 2020 : Updated Jun 8, 2020
Coindesk

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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: Shutterstock

Daily life has been upended by the coronavirus. And where there is uncertainty there is fear.

Fear of who’s got the dreaded virus and who may look completely asymptomatic — and who, unwittingly, may be putting countless other people at risk.

Shane Bigelow, CEO of Vital Chain, which uses blockchain to help individuals download and control how healthcare data is used — including COVID-19 test certification — told PYMNTS in a recent interview that digital certificates can go a long way toward reopening businesses and establishing trust.

He said that in general, “you’re seeing developments from myriad of sources around self-sovereign identity and the way that blockchain can be used for that.”

That’s due in part to the fact that blockchain can serve as an auditable and immutable ledger to enhance data security.
Vital Chain’s other efforts include digitizing birth and death certificates.

Earlier this year, the company announced a strategic pact with Medici Ventures, the wholly owned blockchain accelerator of Overstock.com, to integrate with partners across various vital record ecosystems.

Through the use of blockchain, the company has said, processing and storing those documents becomes streamlined and more cost efficient.

For Vital Chain, Bigelow said “we didn’t set out to find a blockchain product. We set out to find a way to digitize part of a medical record and make it more useful.”

He said that one notable part of individual data that could benefit from blockchain and can be of use in the age of coronavirus (and beyond) is the medical test result. Those test results can be complex and hard to read.

As economies and businesses reopen, said Bigelow: “If you’re a retailer and you are putting someone at your front door to gauge who is coming in or out of your store and whether or not they have COVID-19, you are not going to be able to take those test results and have them be used in any material way.”

To make that data more accessible and useful, he said, the company has been connecting into several data sources that gather test results — such as LabCorp and Quest — to gather information and present it in ways that clearly certify whether individuals are able to resume normal daily life.

In terms of process as described by Vital Chain: Medical professionals administer tests for COVID-19 and certify the tests’ accuracy; individuals opt to have the test results uploaded to Vital Chain and based on the test results, Vital Chain issues a “digital certificate.” That certificate identifies COVID-19 status through a color-coded pass. That status can then be displayed on an individual’s phone via barcode.

Asked about ethical concerns that might surround such access, Bigelow noted that there are federal rules that enable consumers to gain access to their medical records.

Although the rules take effect across the span of a few years, medical companies and other healthcare entities have already been complying. And with those consumers’ consent, he said, these medical records must be supplied on demand.

In a hypothetical example, he said that a manufacturing plant can reduce anxiety on its campuses — where, presumably, the firm may already be practicing social distancing.

“If you marry that to ‘here’s my test result,’ now you’ve reduced the fear for anyone re-entering that workplace because they feel that ‘OK, this is about as good as it’s going to get,’” he said.

Photos on a corporate-issued ID can also be matched to the Vital Chain ID.

Conceivably, users can show their antibody tests to get into sporting arenas, get haircuts or gain access to goods and services at a retailer that is also using Vital Chain.

In response to questions from PYMNTS over whether the desire to return to work may spur attempts to pass along fraudulent test results, Bigelow maintained the biggest threats are “perpetrated by people that wake up with a fever and decided to go out to the public anyway.”

Then there’s the potential for “accidental fraud,” he said. For example, recent tests have shown that 1 percent of asymptomatic individuals had the coronavirus, while 4 percent of the symptomatic people had the virus.

“I’m far more concerned with the asymptomatic people because if you’re symptomatic, the pretty standard rule is stay home, get better, work from home,” Bigelow maintained. “If you can’t work from home, lean on the government for the support that’s being provided.”

“But if you’re asymptomatic,” continued Bigelow, “you don’t think you have it, but you’ve never had a test. That 1 percent will spread this virus far more than the symptomatic people who stay home. I call it an accidental fraud. They’re going out, and they’re spreading it unbeknownst to even themselves.”

The drive to make businesses safer can be seen as consumer- and employer-led, not government-led — and enhancing the movement toward self-sovereign identity.

As Bigelow told PYMNTS: “This is all about giving the consumer control over their information and letting them decide how they want that information to be used. We are simply making it easier for people to control the information that’s currently in paper form in the medical record.”

Originally published
PYMNTS
 

 

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Gold Level Contributor

The new entity will participate in various energy projects, including gas flaring reduction, landfill gas reduction, and turning biogas into usable power.

CHICAGOJune 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- EZ Blockchain - Chicago-based blockchain technology service company has reorganized its business into two companies with two distinct but equally innovative purposes. As a result of a spin-off, a new power generation business will be called EZ Energy Technologies, Inc., or EZ Energy. The transition separates their work in power generation and flare mitigation from the blockchain mining business. One of the primary objectives in branching EZ Energy off is to diversify the applications of the company's affordable energy sourcing maximizing technologies in sectors outside of cryptocurrency. Following the separation, Vlad Rodinoff, founder of EZ Blockchain will take the position of CEO at EZ Energy, and Sergii Gerasymovych will assume the position of CEO at EZ Blockchain.

EZ Blockchain, LLC and its executive team will remain the largest controlling shareholder of the EZ Energy business. The company anticipates the deployment of 9 MWs of its own power generating units, called SmartGrids, through the end of 2020.

Sergii Gerasymovych said, "There are other applications to use gas-generated power right on-site on the oil pad. None of that energy has to be wasted anymore with our combined technology. This energy could be used on-lease as prime power for oil and gas producers in addition to powering our mobile data centers."

EZ Blockchain originally became known for its services and products designed for cryptocurrency mining, primarily manufacturing mobile data centers known as "Bitcoin mining containers" along with the management of crypto mining facilities. Since the installation of EZ Blockchain's first mining mobile data Smartbox in 2018, designed and built exclusively by and for the company, EZ Blockchain has funneled much effort into an initiative aimed at harnessing wasted energy by reducing gas flaring.

The energy project started with a partnership with KTS Engineering, the official distributor of Jenbacher electric gas generators to give oil fields a viable and scalable option to turn excess natural gas into usable energy which otherwise goes into flares and wasted.

In two years since the installation of the first mobile data center in Indiana, EZ Blockchain's energy project has grown in scope. The mobile data centers have been designed to be oil field ready and to meet additional requirements of efficiency and remote operation. The new "EZ Smartboxes," coupled with EZ Blockchain's hugely positive footprint around the Midwest mobile data center locations, spurred the final decision to branch this energy effort into its own business line.

EZ Blockchain started in 2017 and is based out of Chicago, IL. The company is a full-service crypto mining facility management company that builds and operates physical infrastructures for blockchain-based mining, which has positioned the group to develop sustainable energy alternatives from a unique vantage point. Read more about EZ Blockchain and their projects and investments on their website www.ezblockchain.net.

Originally posted by
PR Newswire | June 2, 2020
EZ Blockchain 

 

 

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Gemini Helps Bring Cryptocurrency to Samsung Blockchain Wallet Users to Seamlessly Buy, Sell and Trade Crypto

NEW YORKMay 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini), a leading cryptocurrency exchange and custodian, today announced it is collaborating with Samsung Electronics to power the Samsung Blockchain Wallet and bring crypto to the fingertips of Samsung Blockchain Wallet users in the United States and Canada.

This integration will allow Samsung Blockchain Wallet users to connect to the Gemini mobile app to buy, sell, and trade crypto. Gemini is the first U.S. crypto exchange and custodian to partner with Samsung.

Samsung is committed to establishing a simple and secure gateway for more individuals to enter the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem. The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is a convenient and secure crypto-wallet that allows users to self custody their crypto directly on Samsung Galaxy Phones1. By connecting their Samsung Blockchain Wallet to Gemini, users can buy and sell crypto, view their Gemini account balances, and also transfer their crypto into cold storage with Gemini CustodyTM for the highest level of security.

"Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be working with Samsung to bring crypto's promise of greater choice, independence, and opportunity to more individuals around the world," said Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini. "Now, Samsung Blockchain Wallet customers can buy crypto in a simple, elegant and secure way on Gemini."

The Samsung Blockchain Wallet and the Gemini Mobile App are available in the Samsung Galaxy Store for select Samsung Galaxy Phones1

1Samsung Galaxy Phone: Galaxy S20 Series, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Note 10 Series, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy S10 series (S10 Lite is only available on U.S open device). Verizon excluded. 

Originally published
PR Newswire | May 28, 2020

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Network's Proof-of-Stake Utility Token, VID, Lists on Bittrex Global Exchange in Conjunction with "Everest Milestone" Launch

GEORGE TOWN, Grand CaymanMay 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The VideoCoin Development Association Ltd. today announced commercial availability of the VideoCoin Network, revolutionary video processing infrastructure that provides video service and application developers with a simple-to-use, low-cost solution for transcoding and livestreaming video. This delivery – on schedule with the project's year-long "Road to Everest" release milestones – comes at a critical time with increased demand for video-based entertainment, news, and social applications now dramatically rising due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Equally critical to meeting market needs is removing the barrier of using ever-fluctuating crypto to purchase a project's services – a huge objection of traditional businesses – or be rewarded for work. Starting today, the VideoCoin Network paves the way for mass adoption of blockchain-driven, decentralized applications by enabling the use of fiat currency both for the purchase of services on the VideoCoin Network by customers worldwide and for the payment of workers and stakers. In addition, beginning today in support of the Everest release, workers and stakers may now obtain the VideoCoin token (VID) through its listing on the Bittrex Global exchange. VID is used by the VideoCoin Network to enable worker selection and provide enhanced staking rewards.

Launching a Revolution in Video Processing

For developers of video services and applications, the VideoCoin Network delivers a transformation in video processing infrastructure by tapping into the power of decentralization, securely connecting idle and underutilized computing resources in data centers around the world, and matching them with developers' needs to bring efficiency and boundless scalability to the world of video processing. VideoCoin Network shares this efficiency directly with its customers in the form of ultra-competitive pricing for its services in comparison to centralized solutions like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Combined with a developer-friendly interface that removes the complexity of working with traditional video processing services – get up and running with a few lines of code, not a full engineering team – the VideoCoin Network is video processing infrastructure that is not only low priced, but simple to use.

"As the global video business moves larger volumes of content to Internet delivery, the costs of processing and delivering video have become a huge burden for major media companies. The current crisis has intensified this," said John Ward, leading US broadcast executive (iNDEMAND, DIRECTV, FOX Sports). "VideoCoin Network's decentralized solution represents an incredible opportunity to streamline costs, preserve quality and increase efficiencies."

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Originally published by
VideoCoin Development Association 
May 27, 2020

CISION PR Newswire

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Credit: Tada Images/Shutterstock

Chinese internet giant Tencent is looking to invest heavily in new technologies like blockchain as it looks to move past the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.

The creator of popular messaging service WeChat, Tencent is investing 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) into “new infrastructure” based on emerging technologies over the next five years, as reported by Reuters.

In an interview with state media Tuesday, Dowson Tong, Tencent’s senior executive vice president, confirmed the company had also earmarked investment for sectors such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

It isn’t clear how much of the $70 billion investment Tencent will ultimately set aside for blockchain, nor has it elaborated on what specifically it will be investing in.

As per Reuters, the firm has acknowledged its cloud offerings have been hit by the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown. As the nation starts its return to normality, “Expediting the ‘new infrastructure’ strategy will help further cement virus containment success,” Tong said in a report by Guangming Daily.

The news comes a month after China’s Blockchain Services Network (BSN) was rolled out for commercial use. Blockchain is a critical part of the country’s tech strategy, and the government hopes BSN will form the backbone infrastructure for services that leverage the technology all around the country.

China’s steadfast support for DLT is paying dividends, believes Haipo Yang, founder and CEO of Chinese crypto exchange CoinEx. Speaking to CoinDesk recently, he explained this unambiguous approach has helped create a “good environment for blockchain technology,” improving China’s credentials as an innovation hub and leading to the emergence of a vibrant blockchain investment scene.

Tencent has gradually increased its exposure to blockchain. At the end of last year, it launched a DLT-powered invoice system and received the green light from the Hong Kong regulator to start work on a blockchain-based virtual bank. It’s also become a member of a new national committee to help set industry standards for blockchain technology, along with several of its competitors.

With blockchain being a state-sanctioned technology in China, and with the infrastructure for a whole host of new services – the BSN – having already launched, it should come as no surprise Tencent has opted to set aside potentially billions of dollars for investment in the emerging technology.

Originally published by
Paddy Baker
Coindesk | May 26, 2020

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To allow for network improvements and the acceleration of the worldwide commercialization of its platform, we.trade has unveiled an “enhanced collaboration” with IBM. The company also said that IBM is joining its founding banks as a new shareholder, according to an announcement.

Jason Kelley, GM of blockchain services for IBM, said in the announcement, “The strategic direction for we.trade and IBM is focused on driving growth and transparency across the entire trade ecosystem, collaborating to enhance the network effect of blockchain, and expanding access to trade finance and other services to the marketplace.”

Prior to growing the network worldwide, the firm will begin to extend offerings to more banks and customers throughout Europe in July, beginning with Asia. There will also be ongoing efforts to allow we.trade to work with other trade finance systems that are distributed ledger-based.

we.trade was created on the IBM Blockchain Platform’s newest iteration. The company is backed by some of the leading global banks, including HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Société Générale, Santander, CaixaBank, Erste Group, KBC, Rabobank, UniCredit and Nordea. It is intended to link together buyers, sellers, insurers, banks and logistics groups in a network that simplifies cross-border trading.

we.trade assists in automating a number of procedures regarding trade finance, and also offers traders access to credit rating, insurance and logistics services. Once they are on the network, traders can start orders, receive financing and handle the order-to-payment process. Additionally, they can browse the network to find new trading partners.

In August, news surfaced that we.trade had seen its inaugural bank transaction. HSBC reportedly became the first bank to use the blockchain platform to handle a trade finance transaction that occurred within the firm’s second round of experimental tests that started in June.

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PYMNTS
 

 

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As COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains worldwide, Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger, told Karen Webster that the pandemic has spurred a shift in thinking about new use cases for permissioned blockchains.

Increasingly, firms seek accountability and visibility into suppliers, vendors and transactions in real time.

And despite the impact the pandemic may be having across other parts of the tech sector, Behlendorf said that there’s relatively less risk of blockchain-focused R&D budgets being scaled back or pilots being canceled.

“We’ve passed the point where people feel like they need to do a proof of concept with the technology,” he told Webster, adding that it’s not just early adopters embracing blockchain.

He pointed to blue chip companies such as Honeywell, which said earlier this year that it was tracking $1 billion in airline parts over blockchain, which has been built on top of Hyperledger fabric.

Blockchain had faced reputational challenges, he said, with its initial association with bitcoin and other cryptos, but blockchain has moved beyond misconceptions that it exists simply as the rails for bitcoin.

Blockchain’s movement into the mainstream has required the development of use cases where cryptos are not front and center — but where immutable records are essential.

The Emerging Use Cases

One application of blockchain that is gaining traction, Behlendorf said, lies with better verification of products as they are assembled and sourced across supply chains. He offered the example of firms sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) from Chinese companies.

Blockchain, he said, offers a form of getting to “know your customer” — not just on a financial level, but on the ability to deliver goods and services as advertised. Within verticals such as healthcare, he added, there’s the additional value seen in being able to process claims and contracts quickly (which can benefit, say, healthcare companies).

Blockchain, he said, helps companies “not only from a money laundering and antiterrorism point of view, but also can establish whether an entity is reliable provider of these goods.”

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Originally posted
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Kadena founder Stuart Popejoy (Credit: CoinDesk archives)

Kadena is now integrated with data provider Chainlink for streamlined pricing feeds.

Announced Tuesday, the project helmed by former JPMorgan blockchain leads has inked a deal to use Chainlink’s existing set of off- and on-chain oracles for pricing Kadena-based assets, beginning with kadena (KDA), co-founder Stuart Popejoy said in a phone interview. 

For Kadena, which markets itself as a high-throughput alternative to both the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, Chainlink will provide developer tools for decentralized applications (dapps) based on Kadena’s Pact smart contract language.

KDA itself has yet to be listed on any secondary markets, but Popejoy said the token should be listed on two top-ten cryptocurrency exchanges by the end of Q3 2020.

“Chainlink has figured out how to incentivize an ecosystem of multiple players with their LINK token. They’re already able to enforce certain concepts of governance and data quality, just [by] having a diversity of vendors,” Popejoy said.

For Chainlink, the Kadena integration amounts to another non-Ethereum blockchain subscriber to its price feeds. Tezos and Polkadot announced integrations earlier this spring.

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Originally published by
Willima Foxley | May 19, 2020
Coindesk

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