OOC Oil & Gas Consortium Successfully Tests Blockchain Management System for Wastewater

The Offshore Operative Committee (OOC) Oil & Gas Blockchain Consortium, comprising of companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Repsol has successfully completed pilot blockchain management program to automate payment, reduce costs and time for transporting wastewater, reported Reuters.

The water haulage program would streamline the process of transferring wastewater and other by-products produced during oil and natural gas extraction. The blockchain pilot automatically measured the volume of by-products and generated invoices in real-time.

The blockchain management system has been developed in partnership with blockchain software developer firm, Data Gumbo. The pilot run ended in late January and turned out to be a success as it reduced the amount of time that was required to transport the wastewater from ‘90-120’ days to ‘7 days’.

The blockchain pilot also reduced the need for human intervention significantly from 16 steps to 7 steps. The automation process also ensured that 85% of volume data on the network gets automatically validated due to the information provided by other parties involved on the network. They are confident that soon, they would be able to verify 100% of the data on-chain.

Rebecca Hofmann, the chairman of the 10-company consortium, was quite happy with the pilot run and lauded blockchain technology for bringing efficiency in their work process. She said:

“The results of this pilot prove that non-manned volume validations can trigger automated payments to vendors, and showcase the opportunities that exist for blockchain to reduce costs, increase efficiency, provide transparency and eliminate disputes in the oil and gas industry.”

The pilot wastewater management system was undertaken in partnership with Nuverra Environmental Solutions, who managed the water disposal of oil wells. The blockchain management system was tested on 5 Equinor wells located in North Dakota, and all five wells returned high efficiency with the use of blockchain.

The OOC Blockchain Consortium now plans to implement the system with its mainstream production sites.

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Author: Silvia A

Nike Shoppers Can Earn 3% in Crypto Rewards by Using Fintech Startup Plutus’ Visa Card

Nike, the footwear giant, has entered into a partnership with the London-based Fintech startup Plutus to offer its customers 3% cashback for crypto purchases.

Users can take advantage of this offer on online Nike stores using a Plutus Visa card, this would unlock an offer of 3% crypto cashback or up to 9% cash rewards.

Plutus operates within the United Kingdom and European Economic Area and keeping the ease of use for customers, all the offers available through Plutus Visa card would be available for purchase in Euro and Pounds.

Plutus Aims To Bring Crypto to the Mainstream

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, most of the shops and business have been shut for months and, as a result, online shopping has become ever more popular. This Nike-Plutus partnership would help people spend crypto to buy their favorite sneakers online and also receive a cashback for the purchase.

This is not the first stint for Plutus with a mainstream popular brand as Nike. Prior to this partnership, the fintech startup worked with major air travel websites like Airbnb and Skyscanner to help people book the tickets for their favorite destination using crypto. Danial Daychopan, the founder and CEO of Plutus talking about their experience in these kinds of partnerships said:

“Plutus was approved as an affiliate partner for both Airbnb and Skyscanner at the start of the year. However, all programs in the travel category have been temporarily paused by the company due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. Both of these partners were included to offer cashback to qualified Plutus members.”

The crypto rewards would be generated on the Plutus native token Pluton (PLU) which leverages on the Ethereum network to run a decentralized loyalty token program. The Plutus app would also allow users to earn passive income by staking their PLU token apart from the twelve percent total awards available on offer.

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Author: Lorraine Mburu

Payment Platform Crypto.com Receives ISO/IEC 27701:2019 Certification for Data Privacy

Crypto.com, a crypto payment platform has become the first crypto service provider to obtain an ISO/IEC 27701:2019 privacy certification, announced the payment platform on June 2nd. After numerous third-party audits, SGS which is a leading inspection certification provider, granted the golden privacy certification to Crypto.com.

The privacy certification is considered as the new standard for data privacy as it set the standards for Privacy Information Management System within an organization. The certification also requires the assessment of information security risk. The firm seeking this certification can determine the scope of the audit.

Crypto.com underwent a rigorous audit of multiple departments including the mobile application. SGS mainly focused on the privacy information management system that has been put in place to help mitigate privacy risks. SGS examined the company’s privacy risks against the ISO/IEC 27701:2019 standard, The certification for crypto.com for sure is a big achievement, but it needs to continuously maintain the same standard of privacy and data security to maintain its certification status. Jason Lau, Chief Information Security Officer of Crypto.com stated,

“Rather than focusing on one data privacy regulation, our strategy is to work towards having a global data privacy governance model, allowing us to adapt more readily to changing regional regulations. ISO/IEC 27701:2019 is validation to our employees and our customers that our focus is not just security, but also upholding the privacy rights of individuals, and an organizational-wide commitment towards constantly enhancing our global privacy program.”

Crypto.com was founded in 2016 and currently boasts of over 2 million customers. The platform has managed to garner high interest for its privacy features and ease of use. The privacy certification would only boost its contention further.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Numerai Raises $3M in Second NMR Token Sale, Led by Union Square Ventures, Placeholder

Numerai, a hedge fund and information marketplace, has closed its second native token NMR fundraising round at $3 million.

The fundraising round saw participation from CoinFund, Union Square, Placeholder, Ventures, and Dragonfly Capital.

The first token sale was conducted in March last year, raising $11 million with its fundraising round being led by Paradigm and Placeholder. A majority of the funds raised in the first round were utilized to build the hedge fund.

Numerai is also known for hosting tournaments for data scientists who help the firm find the best trading strategies for the hedge fund. The firm stated that a portion of the raised funds would be utilized to develop their other venture Erasure which is a popular defi information staking protocol and 17th largest Dapp.

Currently, $2.1 million worth of tokens are locked in the information staking protocol which is primarily used for its data scientist tournaments along with its marketplaces Erasure Quant and Erasure Bay.

Erasure Bay is Numerai’s latest initiative, which launched back in March this year to make the interaction between the user and the platform simpler. This new marketplace makes it easier to exchange information before people could only submit predictions related to the equity market, but with Erasure Bay now they can do so.

Richard Craib, the founder of Numerai who was also one of the investors in the fundraising round commented on the success of the token sale and said:

“[This fundraising] gives us a lot more money that goes directly to developing Erasure and increasing the number of stakes, increase the users, and letting the protocol be used all over the Internet,”

Talking about the Erasure Bay, he said:

“Erasure Bay is demonstrating that you can trust other people online if they’re willing to put some cryptocurrency at stake and let you burn it if they misbehave. We did not expect all these weird use cases but we’re into it.”

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Author: James W

Bitcoin Core Upgrades to Version 0.20.0; 117 Devs Contributed to the Protocol Changes

The latest Bitcoin core upgrade, 0.20.0, has been released marking the 28th one since the first protocol was rolled out by Satoshi. In the new upgrade, a number of features were removed while others were added in a bid to fix underlying bugs and improve the performance of Bitcoin’s ecosystem. A blog update by Bitcoin Core reads that the release,

“includes new features, various bug fixes and performance improvements, as well as updated translations.”

Tweeting on June 3, the Bitcoin Core team said that this new upgrade is now available for download on its website.

Source; Twitter

According to Jameson Lopp, a BTC veteran, this milestone is a result of a combined effort by 117 people over a period of 6 months. Notably, the contributing number of developers was 102 higher than in the previous upgrade, 0.19.1.

Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 Updates

The new update for Bitcoin’s protocol sets out to make the nodes more stable and efficient. As a result, the developers came up with Autonomous System Numbers to serve as a new configuration in Bitcoin’s IP mapping. While it does guarantee full efficiency in node connectivity, the 117-developer team is optimistic of more responsive BTC nodes going forward.

Another major change is the removal Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) 61 which had been deployed under the 0.19.0 update. This feature would allow BTC node operators to broadcast ‘reject messages’ to other network participants in the case where a block or transaction is rejected. Ideally, this should help sort out throughput challenges faster but it appears it did not work as expected. Marco Falke, a Bitcoin Core contributor highlighted that,

“[n]odes on the network can not generally be trusted to send valid (“reject”) messages, so this should only ever be used when connected to a trusted node.”

Bitcoin’s open software library, OpenSSL has also been removed in the new core upgrade. London Bitcoin Devs, Michael Folkson, who contributed ‘a little’ in this upgrade has echoed that the OpenSSL was a source of bugs. In fact, this feature began being phased out as early as 0.12.0 with BTC developers favoring secp256k. According to Folkson, the complete elimination of OpenSSL in the 0.20.0 upgrade offers more security and “reduces attack surfaces”.

It is quite noteworthy that there are more underlying changes other than the ones highlighted. Folkson emphasized that,

“more significant things happening below the surface that users won’t see.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bitfinex & Tether Class Lawsuit Revised; Adding Bittrex and Poloniex to Alleged Manipulation

  • Revised lawsuit on Bitfinex’s alleged price manipulation of the market using Tether (USDT) during the 2017 bull run to $19,800 has added two U.S based cryptocurrency exchanges
  • US Based Bittrex Exchange and Justin Sun owned, Poloniex
  • Bitfinex still claiming they are “false allegations”

According to a recently revised class action lawsuit filing to the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, Bittrex and Poloniex are the recent defendant additions to alleged charges on supposedly manipulating the Bitcoin market using unbacked Tether (USDT) stablecoins back. The plaintiffs claim the Bitfinex Inc. and its affiliated companies caused billions of losses to traders from the manipulation.

The filing claims that if BitFinex, Bittrex, and Tether would not have manipulated the market, the sharp rise is seen at the end of 2017 and the successive year-long bloodshed would not have happened at such proportions. Multiple class lawsuits arose from the case claiming BitFinex Inc. and its ring of exchange affiliates enabled the printing of billions of dollars of USDT and artificial pumping of BTC and the altcoin market.

The lawsuits were merged into one last year and have now revised it to include Poloniex and Bittrex – also allegedly involved in the manipulation of markets. The lawsuit states,

“Bittrex and Poloniex accepted these transfers and knowingly allowed Bitfinex and Tether—as owners of the addresses holding the USDT—to sell the debased USDT for crypto-commodities on their exchanges, driving up the crypto-commodity prices.”

According to the original filing, BitFinex and Tether were accused of printing USDT and using the stablecoins to boost the prices of at least $1 trillion USD in different crypto assets. The NY federal court shut down efforts by BitFinex to dismiss the class-action lawsuit in November and the second lawsuit in the US Court for the Western District of Washington was opened a fortnight later.

Two plaintiffs have been dropped from the case, David Leibowitz and Global Trades Solution AG, both of whom were represented in the original filing. The new filing also includes Matthew Script as a new plaintiff alongside Benjamin Leibowitz, Jason Leibowitz, Aaron Leibowitz, and Pinchas Goldshtein.

BitFinex and Tether Denounces the Lawsuit

BitFinex and its sister company, Tether released a statement on June 4, 2020, claiming the lawsuits filed with the U.S District court are “false allegations”. Stuart Hoegner, General Counsel for Bitfinex said the lawsuit claims causation due to a correlation between the USDT demand growth and BTC price surge. Hoegner further said,

“This meritless lawsuit is an insult to the ingenuity of Tether’s customers, as well as the success and innovation of the industry and all who play a role in it.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

‘Masked Hero’ Calling to ‘Buy Bitcoin’ Amidst the Peaceful Protests and Riots in the US

  • Bitcoin is taking an active part in the riots across America.
  • People are protesting since last week over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while pleading for air as a white Minneapolis officer jammed a knee into his neck.

One protestor in the Los Angeles neighborhood talked about opting out of the current scenario by moving into bitcoin. He said,

“We live in a system that will not allow us to thrive. […] My macro solution for everyone is to opt out and exit the economy as a whole and the way we do that is by buying bitcoin.”

“Who is this masked hero?” enquired Jesse Powell, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken on Twitter.

The protests erupted only recently but it needs to be pointed out that in the first five months of 2020, things weren’t going well either. People were under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in unemployment soaring to nearly 24% with jobless claims since mid-March at a staggering 40.8 million.

While people are struggling to fed their family and pay their rent and mortgages, US Federal Reserve printed money and stocks are flying.

This wasn’t the first incident of bitcoin being highlighted during the protests either.

Earlier this week, another protester in Dallas carried a sign saying “Bitcoin will save us,” much to the ire of the people both from inside and outside the crypto industry.

Another one has been in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the poster of the protester read “Bitcoin & Black America” referring to the book authored by Isaiah Jackson.

Crypto industry has also been sharing its solidarity to the cause with Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse supporting those “who are fighting to save Black lives,” although he “can’t ever fully understand the pain of our Black community that recent and past events have caused.”

Bitcoin has been a part of protests in other parts of the world as well. Last year, the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong supported the adoption of the digital currency. Also, in countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, and others, cryptocurrencies played a role.

Markets Rising amidst the Chaos

For the first time in about a month, this week the price of bitcoin also jumped above $10,000 amidst the raging protests, although we are back to $9,500.

But bitcoin isn’t the only one, while many cities are on fire in the US, the S&P 500 enjoyed its greatest 50-day rally in history while struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

If history is any indication, these 37.7% returns would further expand in the days ahead.

The reason behind this disconnection between the stock market and the economy is the trillions of dollars injected into the market by the Federal Reserve and government. Trader and economist Alex Kruger said,

“Europe sharply reducing political tail risk, Japan fiscal package 40% of GDP, China fears overdone as Trump steps back, economies reopening, US riots The market has spoken. Hence why so much green.”

But the widespread civil rest in the US could act as a headwind for stocks. Currently, bitcoin is trading at above $9,600 and is expected to hit $20,000 this year.

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Author: AnTy

DiversiFi, Formerly Ethfinex, Launches Its DEX 2.0 With Starkware; Processing 9,000 + TPS

  • Bitfinex sister decentralized exchange, DEX in short, DiversiFi, which relabeled from Ethfinex in August last year, announced a relaunch of their platform, now DiversiFi 2.0, on June 3rd, 2020.
  • The new platform will introduce Starkware’s zkSTARK layer 2 scaling solution, which will improve the privacy and reduce latency on the exchange.

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According to an official publication, DiversiFi 2.0 DEX will be able to process over 9,000 transactions per second by employing a ‘batching mechanism. The DiversiFi DEX is a non-custodial trading platform that targets high-frequency traders and the latest integration will allow the users to capitalize on arbitrage and real-time orders – a problem on centralized crypto exchanges.

The new launched platform will be powered by zero knowledge proof batch validation relying on zkSNARKS and ZK Rollups scalable solutions. The Starkware scaling solution will batch the trade transactions in large batches and securing each batch with a ZK verification signature.

Given that these transaction will be done off-chain, the transaction details only consume a small part of the Ethereum blockchain reducing the overall cost in transaction fees.

New solutions through Starkware’s integration

In a statement released following the re-launch of DiversiFi 2.0 with Starkware integration, the CEO of the company, Will Harborne, said the new platform will offer solutions to current scalability solutions. Deep liquidity, the instant transfer of trades between peers and withdrawal certainty through a partnership with BitFinex and ConsenSys are key on DiversiFi 2.0’s development agenda. Harbone said,

“The solutions born out [Starkware integration’s] will address the key issue of scalability – but without the usual traditional sacrifices of liquidity, speed, settlement and fees.”

Always certain to withdraw your funds

DiversiFi also formed the Data Availability Committee, DAC in short, who will maintain the copies of users account balances in case the DEX fails or faces a blackout. The DAC committee includes its sister company, BitFinex, Nethermind, StarkWare, and ConsenSys.

Furthermore, copies of the account balances allows easier distribution of users fund and maintains the withdrawal operations on the DEX when there is a failure in the system.

The platform records a second by second timer list showing users withdrawals and what time they will complete keeping arbitrage traders in a real time loop.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Difficulty Sees 2nd Largest Drop of 2020 to 9.29%; Hashrate & Price Continue to Dance

Today, the bitcoin network difficulty took a drop of 9.29% to 13.73 trillion, as per Coinwarz.

This is the fourth downwards adjustment this year after -0.3% in February, -15.9% in March, and -6% in May. Also, the second largest downward adjustment of 2020.

Bitcoin-Difficulty
Source: CoinWarz – Bitcoin-Difficulty

This decline will make mining bitcoin easier as while difficulty was high, more and more hash power was being added to the network, hash rate is currently near 120 Th/s, making it hard to mine BTC.

Post halving, the time to find the block went over 14 minutes, 40% higher than the average 10 minutes, as per Bitinfocharts.

On May 20, the block time dropped under 10 minutes but soon found its way above 10 minutes and had yet to find the balance.

This downwards difficulty adjustment, the second after the halving will help in bringing the block time to 10 minutes. This adjustment took the difficulty back to early January levels but while the price was under $8k at that time, currently we are trading around $9,750.

On March 10, the bitcoin network difficulty reached its all-time high of 16.5 trillion. At that time, BTC/USD was trading around $8,000.

Hash Rate and Price Dance

After the third bitcoin block halving last month, the bitcoin hash rate dropped nearly 50% from the high of 151.9 Th/s on May 11, the day of halving. Since then, the hash rate has been gradually trending upwards.

“Hashrate and price continue their dance: up and down. Sometimes lagging, sometimes not,” stated F2Pool, the China-based second-largest bitcoin mining pool.

After the bitcoin price crashed in March, revenue per Th/s was not sufficient for some miners to remain profitable as such they had to either switch off or move machines.

Unprofitable miners from China, Canada, USA, or Europe, usually end up in locations like Kazakhstan, Russia, the Middle East, and South America, said to Thomas Heller, Global Business Director at F2Pool.

Bitcoin halving further made things worse for miners as the miner inflow got reduced by 50%. But now, the hydro season is coming in China, which occurs from the end of May to the end of October resulting in the “all-in hosting” price to drop to $0.03/kWh from $.055/kWh.

The drop in cost will make mining less expensive, as such “May’s hashrate growth matches BTC’s move up, despite the post-halving revenue drop.”

Meanwhile, transaction fees, which as a proportion of mining revenue is still significantly higher, are providing some “additional buffer” for miners to keep their older mining rigs online post-halving.

However, over the past week, miners sold more BTC than they generated. The same behavior is seen this week as on June 2nd, the miners sold 9% more BTC than they mined. However, given that miner flow is cut in half, BTC sent to exchanges by miners is low in comparison to pre-halving numbers.

Miners selling might also not really be a bad thing because miners HODL during a weak market as it can’t take the pressure while miners selling indicates the market is well supported.

The miner’s rolling inventory (MRI) is still high at 105% today, above 100% means miners are selling more than they mine and below 100 indicates miners are amassing inventory.

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Author: AnTy

Japan’s Top Banks Join Crypto Exchange-Led ‘Study Group’ to Discuss Digital Payment System

  • Three Japanese banking industry heavyweights are joining arms in a study group to focus on digital payment settlement networks in the country.
  • The study group is led by local cryptocurrency exchange, DeCurret Inc., giving possible hints of a crypto integration.

Top Japanese banking institutions, Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), alongside experts and industry leaders in Japan joined a study group to look into digital payment systems.

The group will meet once or twice a month from June to September this year chaired by former head of the Payments and Settlement systems, Bank of Japan (BoJ) and current director at Future Corporation, Mr. Hiromi Yamaoka.

DeCurrent Inc., released a statement dated June 3, 2020 outlining the key agendas of the meetings including digital payment systems, application of distributed ledger systems in the economy and digital currency settlement platforms within Japan.

The wide scale penetration of digital payment services and blockchain in Japan is remarkable. Ripple Inc.’s partnership with SBI Holdings has seen a number of big banks take on blockchain development including Fukushima Bank and SFMG. The study aims at coming up with a standardized version of these systems and blockchain infrastructure. The statement further noted,

“The purpose of this study group is to examine and discuss challenges and solutions concerning digital currencies and digital settlement infrastructure, to find a consensus toward their realization, and to present a direction for standardizing services and infrastructure.”

Other top firms that will join the group include the East Japan Railway Corporation, KDDI Corporation and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in Tokyo. Japan based blockchain firm, Accenture Japan Ltd. and SIGMAXYZ Inc. will act as cooperating companies.

The study, once published, will be sent to the observant teams from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry, the Financial Service Authority (FSA) and the Bank of Japan.

DeCurret launched operations back in 2018 gaining approval to launch in Japan, and in March the following year, from the FSA. The license allows the exchange to carry out digital payment services and trading in the country.

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Author: Lujan Odera