Toyota’s IT Subsidiary to Launch Digital Token Trial With Japanese Crypto Exchange, DeCurret

The IT subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Systems, is embarking on a digital currency trial scheduled to last for six months. According to the announcement by Toyota Systems, the trial will be run in collaboration with a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange dubbed ‘DeCurret.’ The latter is set to provide underlying blockchain crypto infrastructure to facilitate the prospectus Toyota Systems digital currency pilot.

All Toyota Systems employees will be part of this digital currency test as per the press release in collaboration with DeCurret. This means that a total of 2,500 participants will be onboarded to try out the Toyota Systems digital currency initiative. They will perform blockchain-based functions such as task automation, data recording and management, and payment transactions based on the digital currency; this will be done through smart contract infrastructure.

Most notably, Toyota Systems employees will be able to derive utility from the prospectus token because their welfare benefits will be issued in the digital token form. They will be able to exchange this token for gifts or benefits listed that are featured in a particular catalog. However, Toyota Systems was keen to mention that the digital token will not be exchangeable for the Japanese Yen.

With this development in place, the car manufacturing giant said that it would be looking at the possibility of integrating a digital token within its P2P ecosystems for large scale use. This is not the first time Toyota has invested in blockchain technology; they launched a blockchain lab back in March as part of an increased effort in researching the underlying potential. Toyota is also a long-term member of the R3 consortium, having joined the bandwagon as early as 2016.

Other car manufacturers are also bootstrapping when it comes to blockchain and crypto innovations. Some notable milestones include the anticipated token launch trial by BMW Korea, scheduled for later this year. French carmaker Renault recently launched a blockchain project as part of boosting its vehicle parts compliance certification.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

China Planning to Legalize Digital Yuan; Forbids Yuan-backed Digital Tokens

China continues to lead in developing its central bank digital currency (CBDC) as it now considers giving it a legal foundation in an upcoming law revision, reported South China Morning Post.

In the past few weeks, the trial of the digital yuan in the real world took place through the giveaway of 50,000 digital “red packets”— a series of trials have been conducted in Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Xiongan — and now the central bank is also addressing all the problems that emerged in the pilot tests.

According to the media report, The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) published a draft law on Friday that would give the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system a legal status.

For the first time, it included the digital yuan, which was also defined as part of its sovereign fiat currency.

As per the draft law, issuing yuan-backed digital tokens by any party or any plans to replace the renminbi in the market would be forbidden.

DCEP, meanwhile, will be allowed to be circulated and converted like coins and physical banknotes.

“Its centralised management will be good to fight against cryptocurrencies and global stablecoins and prevent their erosion of currency-issuance rights,” Mu Changchun, head of the central bank’s digital currency research institute, said on Sunday at the Bund Summit in Shanghai.

The central government has already made clear that DECP won’t replace cash, but there are some domestic concerns related to its convertibility, privacy, and safety. Mu touched on these potential pitfalls as he said,

“The PBOC will also face anti-counterfeit issues in the digital era, and we must lower the cost.”

He further added that the central bank would be asked: “to coordinate the construction of digital currency application scenarios for the purpose of identification.”

A digital yuan product suitable for those senior citizens that don’t use smart terminals is also in development.

As for the threat the government-led project poses to private mobile tools like WeChat Pay and Alipay, Mu said they are just electronic wallets while the DCEP is the money inside them as such “not competitors.”

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Author: AnTy

Cashaa’s New Joint Venture, UNICAS, to Roll Out 22 Physical Crypto Banks in India

U.K. based cryptocurrency firm, Cashaa partners with India’s banking service provider, United Multistate Credit Cooperative Society, as the latter, introduces banking transactions using cryptocurrencies to 22 physical locations in northern India. According to a blog post on Medium, the two financial firms will operate under a joint venture, UNICAS, to launch the products in December this year.

The UNICAS venture will allow users to invest in cryptocurrency, real estate, gold, and other physical assets directly, buy crypto using cash at any of the 22 physical locations, and take up loans against their digital assets. Cashaa plans to open over 100 physical locations across India in 2021, currently stationed across three states – Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, with a combined population of over 140 million.

The Indian based bank will provide the physical locations and licenses necessary to operate in the country while Cashaa joins in with experience in the crypto space. Mr. Dinesh Kukreja, Managing Director of United Multistate Credit Co. Operative Society, will lead UNICAS as the joint venture’s chief executive.

“We are the first regulated financial institution in the world with physical branches where users can access crypto products,” Kukreja, CEO, UNICAS.

Kukreja stated the project would allow the company to “scale and offer customized financial and crypto products for the local Indian markets.” The banking location will be reconstructed as crypto launches, allowing crypto transactions using the rupee and asking for loans using your crypto assets.

At launch, the banks will allow transactions, buying, and selling of six cryptocurrencies, including – Bitcoin (BTC), Cashaa (CAS), Ethereum (ETH), Binance (BNB), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).

However, there still is the dark cloud of regulation from the Indian government following the Supreme Court’s ruling – overturning the blanket ban of cryptocurrencies imposed by the Royal Bank of India (RBI). Kumar Gaurav, Founder & CEO of Cashaa, said the confused nature of the government could be the reason “most Indians are not aware or are miss guided about cryptocurrency as an online product.”

“They tend to trust what they see or what the government recognizes and recommends,” he continued. “Also, India is still largely a cash-based economy despite a Demonetization drive. With UNICAS Crypto lounges we intend to address both issues which are slowing the process of cryptocurrency adoption in India.”

The joint venture aims at rapidly expanding its reach across India – targeting over 100 branches serving cryptocurrency customers in 2021. With the traditional finance world merging with the innovative crypto industry, Kukreja aims the partnership will “bring enormous transformation to both Indian fintech and the crypto industry.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Asia, Africa, & South America Combined Accounts for Less than 10% of Lightning Network Nodes

About 87% of all the Lightning Network nodes are LND nodes. In comparison, about 11% are C-Lightning, and only 2% of the remaining are Eclair, according to the latest report by members of the Faculty of Computer Science from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Christian Decker of Blockstream, Zurich.

Lightning Network is a layer 2 solution on the bitcoin network for scalable and instant transactions. It currently has a capacity of 1,040 BTC with 14,273 nodes running it, as per 1ML.

In the past couple of years, several implementations of LN have popped up.

In early 2018, Twitter CEO and bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey-backed Lightning Labs’ CEO Elizabeth Stark, announced the initial release of LND for developers to make it available for testing purposes on the main Bitcoin network.

C-Lightning is Blockstream’s own implementation of the Lightning Network built in the C programming language.

Eclair is for those who want to set up a full Lightning Node, which needs a lot of computer know-how. With this approach, you are routing transactions on the network and can also make your own transactions.

Geographic distribution of LN Nodes

The report titled “Node Classification and Geographical Analysis of the Lightning Cryptocurrency Network” also found that a large share of the total Lightning Network nodes, 44.8%, are located in North America and close behind is Europe with 43.1% share.

In Europe, most of these nodes are located in Central Europe with a very high node distribution on both the East Coast and the West Coast.

The remaining nodes are located in Asia at 6.2% share, Oceania at 2.2%, and then South America and Africa, each having 0.8% and 0.6% of the Lightning Network nodes.

In Asia, most of the nodes are located on the coasts of South Korea, China, and Japan.

It has been further found that multiple node clusters are centered in metropolitan areas. For instance, in Germany, the largest node hub is located in the metropolitan area in Berlin and then Munich and Frankfurt. In Japan, this has been found true with Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe.

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Author: AnTy

$127 Billion of Gold Discovery Brings Elation in Bitcoin Community

A huge amount of gold reserves has been discovered in Russia that has elated the bitcoin community.

The largest gold producer of Russia, Polyus PJSC, said its untapped Sukhoi Log deposit in Siberia holds the world’s biggest reserves — 40 million ounces of proven reserves with an average gold content of 2.3 grams per ton.

“The estimate of the reserves is an important milestone in development of the field,” said Chief Executive Officer Pavel Grachev in an interview in Moscow. The field may allow the company to boost its annual output by at least 70%, reportedly.

The audit showed that a deposit of 67 million ounces of total resources is up from the previously estimated 63 million. The main investment in the project, however, won’t start until 2023.

“We want to show that a project of this quality and scale can and should be carried out, taking into account the best environmental standards, despite the hard-to-reach location,” Grachev said.

With Gold’s supply to increase, bitcoiners took this opportunity to point out how there will only ever be a limited 21 million BTC.

“$127 billion of gold randomly discovered. Friendly reminder that there are, and forever will be, 21 million bitcoin,” tweeted Lolli, a BTC rewards site.

Bitcoin proponent Anthony Pompliano also pointed out how “No one knows how much gold exists in the world & it is unlikely to be nearly as scarce as people previously thought.”

But according to Dan Tapiero, both gold and bitcoin should be part of investment portfolios. While Bitcoin price rallied 82% this year, gold also recorded returns of +25% YTD, making a new ATH in August as central governments pumped a vast amount of stimulus into economies to mitigate the damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Tapiero says people can front-run central banks and institutions by buying not only bitcoin but also gold, whose institutions’ allocation is still small.

“The funniest thing about bitcoiners is that they don’t realize that no one in the traditional money mgmt world gives a shyt about GOLD. Institutions have about a 1% allocation. It’s very early days for gold. It’s even earlier days for BTC,” he said.

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Author: AnTy

OpenZeppelin Launches Defender Developer Suite Allowing DApp Building In ‘Minutes’

OpenZeppelin announced the launch of Defender, a developer suite aiming to help developers build smart contracts in “minutes,” on Tuesday. The suite aims to enhance and automate the development and the building of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications on Ethereum. Allowing developers to concentrate on creative inventions instead of spending time rewriting “fundamental code.”

So far, four of the top DeFi platforms – including Aave, dYdX, Compound, and Balancer – are using the product to automate the development operations when building DeFi products.

OpenZeppelin is an Ethereum focused development group providing a secure standard for decentralized applications on the blockchain. Doubling up as one of the top Ethereum smart contract audit firms, OpenZeppelin’s Defender suite will make it faster (development in minutes) to build dApps on a “secure self-secure infrastructure.”

Moreover, OpenZeppelin’s chief technology officer, Jonathan Alexander – speaking to Cointelegraph – stated that easing the process of creating DeFi apps could help reduce the risks of hacks and attacks on smart contracts.

Recently, the Harvest Finance smart contract was exploited as liquidity providers lost $25 million in staked funds. This has been a recurring problem across the decentralized finance ecosystem, including Balancer, YAM Finance, Uniswap, etc. – a problem Alexander believes “could have been avoided or reduced by following a careful security process.”

However, most startup teams lack a transparent security audit due to cost and a “comprehensive system that fully informs them on security best practices and how to assess risk,” he continued.

Props, a blockchain firm using OpenZeppelin’s Defender suite, CEO Peter Watts praised the ease-of-use and enhanced security it offers. He stated,

“Working with high-value smart contracts can be stressful. OpenZeppelin Defender relieves that stress by dramatically reducing the room for human error, making smart contract management simple and safe – it’s a no brainer that will improve the security and efficiency of any team.”

The Defender suite is open source, free, and available for any developer to use Ethereum test nets, including Ropsten, Rinkeby, Kovan, and Goerli.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Potential Investors’ Market Increases by 52% to 32 Million in 2020: Grayscale Survey

More than half of US investors are now interested in Bitcoin, up 19% from 36% last year, Grayscale’s latest survey revealed.

Interestingly, 83% of these who invested in the digital asset did so within the last year.

The Bitcoin Investor Study for the eventful year of 2020, in which the global pandemic was a key driver of Bitcoin investments, revealed 38% of Bitcoin investors invested within the last four months. Two-thirds of these reported ramifications of COVID-19 to be a factor in their BTC investing decision.

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The important driver of interest continues the perception of Bitcoin as an asset offering a large growth opportunity, at 59% this year up from 51% in 2019. Similarly, the ability to start with a small amount is another driver, among 65% of respondents.

82% of those who expressed interest in Bitcoin said they would pursue safe-haven investments during market volatility or economic downturn compared to 38% of those who were not interested in the leading digital currency.

The online survey of 1,000 US consumers between the ages of 25 and 64 was conducted between June 26, 2020, and July 12, 2020.

A Huge Opportunity

The survey further found that the market of potential Bitcoin investors has increased to 32 million compared to 21 million a year ago. Bitcoin is basically moving towards mainstream acceptance as familiarity with BTC increases from 53% in 2019 to 62%. Almost half of them believe it will be mainstream by the end of the current decade.

However, the common characteristics of investors interested in Bitcoin remain consistent with last year as “the more formal education an investor has, the more likely they are to invest in Bitcoin.”

Still, there are twice as many (31%) male investors as females (15%). However, female investors that would consider bitcoin investment are up 4%, with 66% of those women interested in BTC would be more open to investing if they see evidence of a strong performance track record.

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“The fact that the majority of current and potential Bitcoin investors haven’t even reached their prime earning years yet, coupled with the $68 trillion wealth transfer set to take place over the next 25 years, reveals a potentially huge opportunity for those who see the possibility for long-term growth in Bitcoin,” concluded Grayscale.

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Author: AnTy

IOTA Tangle Tech Project Funded by Japanese Govt, to Build DLT-based Maintenance Solutions

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a national research and development organization under the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industries in Japan, announced a strategic partnership with IOTA Foundation to create risk-based maintenance (RMB) systems across industries using artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs).

In a press release shared with BEG, IOTA Foundation will team up with Best Materia, IMC, High-Pressure Institute of Japan, The Society of Chemical Engineers Japan, OMC, Lloyd’s Register, and Yokohama National University in the project. The project aims to provide solutions in the 170 Trillion Yen ($1.5 Trillion) domestic social infrastructure conservation market to build durable and secure infrastructure across industries worldwide.

The AI-driven RMB systems built by IOTA Foundation will be integrated across various industries in Japan to target more countries in the future. The project will assess the damages and risks involved in maintenance – using past maintenance data to predict which parts in industries, factories, and plants need maintenance.

As a software solution (SaaS) service, the RBM solutions will provide a decentralized data service built on IOTA Tangle, a distributed artificial intelligence system, and digitization and sharing infrastructure for data.

As Japan struggles to solve its aging problem across the country, the launch of AI-powered solutions will be vital in replacing current RBM specialists who manually carry out the maintenance schedule. Shigemitsu Kihara, CEO at Best Materia, hopes the integration of IOTA Tangle protocol will enable secure collection and storing of RBM related data, “which is the key to the AI system’s accuracy,” he said.

With blockchain-based RBM systems in place, plants and industries will benefit significantly in mitigating risks from the machines’ maintenance, etc. This will further reduce “unplanned outages, improve plant availability and lower costs” by reducing the manual influence and unnecessary repairs.

According to the release, over 30,000 industries require AI-powered RBM systems in Japan alone. The cost to integrate the project is estimated at 30-50 million Japanese Yen each – totaling 900 billion Yen (~$7.9 billion) to 1.5 Trillion Yen (~$13.2 billion).

In an email sent to BEG’s desks, Holger Köther, Director of Partnerships at IOTA Foundation, praises the open-source and distributed risk-based maintenance system. Holger hopes the IOTA Tangle platform will enhance data collection on the project and further stating,

“Digitalizing the risk-based maintenance (RBM) systems for safer and more efficient industrial plants is only one of many applications where IOTA will be used in the future.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Millionaire Addresses Reaches Highest Level Since January 2018

As Bitcoin’s price holds strong at $13,000, the number of Bitcoin millionaire addresses are also hitting levels not seen since the last bull run.

Those addresses that have been holding more than $1 million worth of BTC have surpassed 20,000, the highest level since January 2018, as per Glassnode.

These numbers have been increasing since March when the sell-off pushed these addresses from about 17,500 to nearly 7,500.

In August, these numbers took a big leap when it added about 5,000 new addresses. Now, it has reached levels that we came close to in the middle of last year.

The number of addresses with more than $1 million of Bitcoin reached its all-time high at just above 28,000 at the top of the market in December 2017 when BTC price hit $20,000.

According to Bitinfocharts, while 20,554 addresses are richer than $1 million, only 2,754 addresses have $10 million worth of BTC.

Meanwhile, more than 25 million addresses have $1 worth of BTC, close to 9.7 million addresses have more than $100 of BTC and 3.64 million has $1,000 worth of Bitcoin.

The number of addresses richer than $10k worth of BTC is moving to 990k, and 182,414 addresses have $100k BTC.

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This has been as Bitcoin works towards solidifying its role as digital gold, a store of value. Recently, a team of analysts at JP Morgan also touted the leading digital currency to be in “intensive” competition with gold, suggesting a “doubling or tripling” in its price if this trend continues.

“The older cohorts prefer gold, while the younger cohorts prefer Bitcoin as an ‘alternative’ currency,” read the research note.

The analysts also added that Bitcoin’s long-term prospects could further improve because of its utility as a payment mechanism.

In that regard, just yesterday, a BTC wallet holder moved over 88,857 BTC, worth about $1.15 billion for a fee of mere 0.00027847 BTC, worth less than $4.

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Author: AnTy

Silvergate Bank Q3 Earnings Call Upholds Bullish Trajectory; Net Income Shot Up 29% to $7.1M

Silvergate, a Fintech and crypto-focused bank, has reported another bullish quarter according to its latest earnings call. The Q3 Silvergate Bank stats show that they have been gaining on most fronts, especially with increased activity in the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN). As earlier reported by BEG, this platform recently crossed the $100 billion mark in transfer volumes.

Notably, $36 billion of the total transfer volumes were done in the last quarter, according to the Silvergate Q3 report. The company’s CEO, Alan Lane, attributed this growth to increased activity and strong digital asset prices during the past quarter,

“During the third quarter, bitcoin and other digital currencies saw strong price appreciation and an active trading environment, which we believe contributed to the increase in the number of transactions occurring on the SEN.”

Silvergate’s Q3 Earnings Call Break Down

The California-based bank’s growth has been quite exponential, most of which can be pegged to a burgeoning crypto industry in 2020. On that note, Silvergate reported a 29% increase in net income to $7.1 million compared to the previous $5.5 million in Q2. The figure also jumped year-over-year compared to 2019’s third quarter, where the reported net income stood at $6.7 million.

As for the market growth, Silvergate’s clients are now over 900, with a larger part being institutions. Lane has also pointed out that there around 200 prospective clients who might soon be onboarded as well. With such growth, he is confident that the debut of heavyweights like JP Morgan is not a threat to Silvergate’s sustainability and market expansion. In fact, Lane believed that exchanges are better off with more banking options,

“Those exchanges really want to have multiple banking partners and multiple sources of liquidity … And when volumes increase across the ecosystem and volumes are increasing from other customers, we’re seeing the same type of volume increases from those customers that JP Morgan is reportedly banking.”

Silvergate also reported a spike in its clients’ deposits; the amount went up by $586 million, marking its second-highest quarterly increase after the 2017 bull-run. Consequently, the firm’s fee income increased to $3.3 million in Q3; this is a 40% gain compared to the Q2 $2.4 million fee income.

Another highlight is Silvergate’s lending service ‘SEN Leverage,’ which recorded a $13 million increase, bringing the total amount of credit approvals to $35.5 million. Lane is quite optimistic about this specific product, although there are no plans to scale past Bitcoin anytime soon,

“We anticipate a long growth trajectory for SEN Leverage and will judiciously expand credit availability to our customers over time.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui