Verizon to Launch News Verification on Public Blockchain for Complete Transparency

On Friday, Verizon officially unveiled its new open-source newsroom product based on blockchain, designed to set new standards for corporate accountability. The platform itself, aptly named Full Transparency, is dedicated to immutably document the news releases of the company, doing so by way of a public blockchain.

An Age Where Massive Amounts Of Information Can’t Be Trusted

Verizon then proceeded to post its first news story through this platform, according to a Verizon representative. This story made a record of any and every alteration made to the original publication, though a representative from Verizon noted that these only apply to the text changes.

As the years stretched on and connectivity increased, a massive spike in censorship, fact-checking and fake news have only caused grief in both traditional and social media. To highlight this, Verizon mentioned the 2020 Edelman Trust barometer, which stands as an indicator of the public’s trust in media. On the 19th of January, Edelman’s “Trust Barometer” reported that 76% of the world is concerned about how false information can be weaponized, with 57% feeling that they cannot fully trust their media.

The Mandatory Kind Words

Jim Gerace stood as the Chief Communications Officer of Verizon and stated the matter at large. He highlighted how Verizon is eager to bring Full Transparency to the market, seeing a company dedicated to connecting people to information. Gerace stressed how this product could ensure that corporate trust and accountability can be held in its own quiet way.

Alongside this, Gerace openly invited organizations across the globe, at least those prioritizing transparency as much as Verizon does, to adopt these communication practices of blockchain verification.

Setting New Standards For Transparency

Verizon hopes that this platform will set a new standard when it comes to corporate responsibility and transparency. In its statement about the matter, Verizon highlighted that all news releases published to Verizon Newsroom will now be bound and secured through the use of cryptographic principles. Through doing so, subsequent changes can then be tracked and contextualized as well.

This endeavor comes thanks to Verizon and Huge, a marketing company, as well as MadNetwork, a blockchain data storage company, and AdLedger, a nonprofit blockchain application entity.

Verizon has already been exploring blockchain-based solutions for a while. Earlier in 2020, Verizon set its sights on blockchain technology to help enhance security, as well.

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Author: Ali Raza

Genesis Reports Largest Ever Quarter, Q3 Driven by ETH, Stablecoins, & DeFi

Digital currency prime broker Genesis reported a record quarter third of 2020 with $4.5 billion in spot volume — up 285% from the same quarter in 2019, $1 billion in bilateral derivatives volume — which was driven by the BTC spot becoming more tightly coupled to risk assets in the broader macro and the embedded optionality in DeFi, and $5.2 billion in new loan originations.

First, Grayscale announced its biggest quarter ever, the third time in a row, and now Genesis is reporting “tremendous growth in its lending business.”

According to its Q3 2020 Digital Asset Market Report, the company’s active loan outstanding grew 50% QoQ to $2.1 billion, adding $5.2 billion in new originations in just Q3, “marking its largest quarter ever by a landslide.”

Q1 Reading: New Loans Issuance Hits $2B In Q1 For Its Largest Quarter Ever

Q2 Reading: Hunt for Yield Drives a Record Q2 for Genesis Lending

Active Loans Outstanding
Source: Genesis Report

Its Cumulative originations increased 61.5% from the prior quarter, seeing the tenth consecutive quarter of strong growth and bringing total originations to $13.6 billion since launching the lending business in March 2018.

“Our loan portfolio substantially increased in value through increased cash and altcoin loan issuance, along with a modest increase in the notional value of crypto loans outstanding.”

The report also noted a growing “appetite for yield” on digital assets as it recorded 165 unique institutional lenders, up from 47.3% from the previous quarter and 275% from last year.

But it hasn’t been Bitcoin that was driving this growth as BTC as a percentage of loans outstanding fell sharply QoQ from 51.2% to 40.8%. It was actually ETH, USD, and equivalents, and “other” altcoins drove the increase in book size in Q3.

“The main driver of this portfolio shift came from the impact of liquidity mining on DeFi protocols,” leading to the active borrowing of ETH and stablecoins.

The report further noted “ample cash on the balance sheets of top tier trading firms,” which indicates that there has been a significant increase in credit distributed by banks to prime brokerage lines across hedge funds, trading firms, and high net worth individuals.

This was also seen in the vastly increased institutional participation in the CME that became the second biggest futures market in OI this month.

And Genesis expects these trends to persist for at least another quarter because Federal Reserve balance sheet expansion may continue in Q4. This means CME growth can continue into 2021.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Finally Hits a 34-Month High as BTC Briefly Pushes Past $14,000 on Its Birthday

Bitcoin continued inching closer to the big resistance of $14,000 on its way to the all-time high of $20,000 today, and finally, on its whitepaper Birthday, BTC hit it.

The leading digital currency went as high as $14,100 on Bitstamp, up 5% today with $2.6 billion in trading volume, before retracing under $14k. The last time we hit this level was in the middle of January 2018.

Today, as October comes to an end, Bitcoin has printed a monster monthly candle as we rallied 35% this month following the start of around $10,340. Now, it’s to be seen how high we actually end it.

In 2020, to date, Bitcoin has recorded 90.5% gains.

Bitcoin Shines Bright

On Wednesday, this week, BTC came close to hitting 2019 high but failed and dumped to go under $13,000.

Yesterday, we started moving yet again, while the equity market dropped even lower. Since Oct. 12, S&P 500 has been on a downtrend and has decreased by 7.5% during this time. In the same time period, Bitcoin’s price increased by nearly 25%.

It was the tech stocks that were hit the hardest, yesterday Nasdaq fell 2.8%, and since Oct. 12, it has slid more than 8%. Apple stocks were down 5.2% after it posted the steepest drop in quarterly iPhone sales in two years, while Amazon dropped 4.1% because of the increase in costs forecast and waning of a tougher 2021 had Facebook shedding 6.2%.

Also Read: Apple Can Buy 145k Bitcoin With Just 1% Of Its $191B of Dollars Held in Cash

“Exact opposite happened. Bloodbath, tech stocks in particular. The Warren effect,” said economist and trader Alex Kruger referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren expressing a desire to be Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary adding to the risks.

“Rare given the size of the stocks dump. Could it be the market appreciates how bullish BTC Warren would be?”

Even gold continues to fall, going as low as $1,860 today before recovering to $1,880. The US dollar is also stuck between 92 and 94 ever since late July.

Even in the Crypto Market

In the cryptocurrency market, after a long time, this weekend is promising to see some activity. Bitcoin’s uptrend is also helping altcoins recover today.

For the past few weeks, altcoins have been losing in the wake of the flagship cryptocurrency’s strong upward movement. However, today Ether made it to $390 while DOT, WBTC, XTZ, and YFI all are up about 5%.

For now, Bitcoin continues to steal the show as Grayscale Bitcoin Trust bought another 5,190 BTC yesterday.

Additionally, CME is poised to close with its highest quarterly close ever and highest monthly close as well. Since its launch in December 2017, the total open interest (OI) on the platform is up 7.5x in terms of contracts.

“Institutions have clearly flipped their view of the world since 2018; as of this week, they were long Bitcoin with no short exposure,” noted analyst FilbFilb.

Leveraged Funds that make up most of the OI have been short as they perpetually are bearish; this week, they further increased their shorts. Other reportables, meanwhile, are pretty flat, retail bullish, and dealers short.

“So overall takeaways; Chart; very bullish bucking the trend vs. traditional. Institutions total mindset shift. Dealer Short. OI increasing as price increases. Bullish,” he added.

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Author: AnTy

Mastercard And GrainChain Launch Blockchain Food Traceability Platform

Mastercard announced yesterday that it has partnered with agricultural-based blockchain outfit GrainChain to create digital records of commodities. The two firms will harness their resources to create digital records throughout supply chains in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America.

The GrainChain, best known for its blockchain solution that targets the Honduras coffee industry, is backed by Overstock’s Medici Ventures. The service offered by GrainChain enables traceability and settlements in the country where its coffee industry employs 20% of the population.

According to the announcement, the new partnership will use a platform known as Provenance, where users can forensically track the commodities using blockchain technology to authenticate the produce. The idea is to help farmers and brands protect their reputation as well as consumers.

The platform will offer end-to-end visibility for customers

GrainChain marketing director, Tom DeRosa, voiced his satisfaction about the partnership. According to him, “Our partnership with Mastercard is for provenance and traceability.”

He further said the main purpose of the partnership with the card payment giant is to offer reliable end-to-end visibility for customers and the capability to authenticate its origin. GrainChain has chosen Mastercard as an industry-agnostic platform because it has the best technology in the market to scale globally, he reiterated.

Founder and chief executive officer of GrainChain, Luis Macias, also commented on the development, claiming that the collaboration will improve the country’s supply chain and the continent at large.

He further stated no reliable real-time accountability, transparency, and profitability with streamlined global trade. As a result, the country’s retail suppliers are hindered from taking their operations to the next level.

While commenting on the partnership, Vice President of Mastercard’s Innovation and Startup Engagement, Deborah Barta, said the partnership is essential for the digital identity of goods. She said,

“The traceability market is a global industry, and the digital identity of products and goods is even more critical today.”

At first, GrainChain began with Hyperledger Fabric for its blockchain technology. Earlier this year, it switched to Symbionts Assembly to provide a better and more efficient service. GrainChain revealed that the new technology had improved services, and the collaboration with Mastercard will be beneficial for mission-critical use cases in the financial service sector.

GrainChain also revealed its satisfaction and joy with Symbiont’s Assembly and the massive role in the financial services.

Mastercard gets deeply involved in blockchain

On a similar note, with the current level of partnerships between Mastercard and some blockchain-based firms, it seems the card payment giant has finally embraced blockchain and distributed ledger technology. Mastercard has also collaborated with other firms like this in the past. The most recent is its collaboration with Envisible to incorporate Wholechain, Envisible’s food traceability system, into its Provenance platform.

Mastercard has also announced it will soon roll out a central bank digital currency (CBDC) testing platform. With the launch of the platform, it will enable central banks to test roll-out strategies. The card payment giant is also involved in other digital identity solutions projects, which shows its strong support for blockchain technology.

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Author: Ali Raza

COVID-19 Accelerated Digital Payments Growth and Fintech Regulatory Innovation: Study

A joint study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) and the World Bank has revealed that COVID-19 greatly accelerated Fintech regulatory innovation developments. Dubbed Global COVID-19 Fintech Regulatory Rapid Assessment Study’, the report was released on Oct 28 as part of an effort to empirically equip regulators and central banks in the digital currency era. Notably, the study highlights that increased digital payments activity did not result in a similar spike in crypto exchange use; however, these platforms also grew by smaller percentages.

The study’s results are based on responses from 118 central banks and financial regulators in 114 jurisdictions, from both developed and developing economies. Generally, there have been increased efforts to further accelerate the current regulatory innovations and introduce new initiatives to further support the burgeoning sector. According to the study, 72% of the sample has increased or debuted digital ecosystem initiatives, while 58% have already pivoted on RegTech/SupTech focused policies. Innovation offices are also on the rise, with 56% of the respondents noting progress.

Despite the bullish outlook in digital payments adoption, the study found that developed and developing economies faired differently. As per the findings, emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) made more progress in accelerating or introducing Fintech initiatives. Most notably, EMDEs initiatives to support digital ecosystems have been focused on remittances and payments; some respondents reported waiving fees and altering transactional thresholds to mitigate the pandemic’s effects.

Crypto Exchanges Lag Behind

Although not as much as the digital payments arena that was already in place for most economies, the nascent crypto sector grew. As per stats from the study, digital payments are reported to have grown by around 60%, while activity on crypto exchanges only managed to gain 3%. Interestingly, there was a clear difference in the crypto exchange growth for developed and developing markets. The former grew by 6% while the latter saw an increase of 2% in crypto exchange usage.

Prevailing Challenges in Fintech Integration

At the core of regulators’ decision-making process is the risks associated with volatile Fintech environments, especially in upcoming markets like crypto. This study’s respondents identified cybersecurity as the top threat of digital ecosystems, followed by operational risks, consumer protection, and fraudulent activity. The report reads,

“In particular, 90 percent of surveyed regulators from advanced economies see cybersecurity as one of the top three increasing risks associated with FinTech activities.”

As for oversight, it appears that most central banks and regulators are comfortable with adopting and being resilient to innovations. Nonetheless, the respondents highlighted some shortcomings; they include the performance of core regulatory functions, access to reliable data, restriction to essential tech or information, and cooperation with local domestic agencies.

A Prospectus Future with CBDCs

This study has painted out the current status of digital payment networks globally and coincides with an increased interest in CBDC research and development. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are now a hot topic with the latest insights from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in a collaborative report with 7 major central banks.

Developed economies have currently leaped research, while some like China has gone further and launched a pilot for its prospectus digital yuan. This initiative has been in place for some months and is a reference for most ongoing projects in the space. In 2021, South Korea and Japan are also set to pioneer their CBDC tests to prepare for the virtual currency shift.

Well, UK’s Minister for Africa at the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, James Duddridge, is optimistic that the study will complement the current approaches to Fintech policies,

 “I trust that this report will inform and inspire countries around the world, help support their FinTech regulatory strategies, and encourage greater collaboration across jurisdictions.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Huawei’s Flagship Phone, Mate 40, Will Support China’s Digital Currency Wallet On Launch

Huawei announces support for the upcoming Chinese central bank digital currency in its upcoming flagship smartphone, Mate 40. The smartphone will include a hardware wallet for the digital renminbi, a Weibo post stated.

The Chinese digital currency electronic payment (DC/EP) project was launched back in 2014, but tests only took to the public earlier this year. The project looks ready to go mainstream with the latest announcement of the Mate 40 supporting a digital wallet for the token. The smartphone offers users a self-custodial “hardware-level security, controllable anonymous protection, and dual offline transactions,” the statement on the Weibo post reads.

Huawei Mate 40

The latest Huawei support for the digital yuan follows a public test run across the country. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) distributed over 10 million yuan to 50,000 random participants in Shenzhen in a public trial of the DC/EP system.

With the DC/EP, users can spend the digital yuan at any of the thousands of merchant stores that support it or at any point of sale devices with support for the token.

The post, however, did not clarify how the digital DC/EP project will work or how users could convert their bank balances and cash to the digital yuan using the Mate 40 hardware wallet. Moreover, it remains unclear if the Mate 40 smartphones in other regions will support the DC/EP wallet or restricted in some regions.

However, China is not the first state to release a national digital currency – being beat to the race by the Bahamas. The island nation announced a public launch of the “Sand Dollar” as the first public CBDC worldwide.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Blockchain-Based Music Streaming Platform, Audius, Moves to Solana Due to Ethereum Scaling Issues

Audius, a blockchain-based music streaming platform, announces its switch to Solana blockchain from its POA Network. This is due to the high gas costs and scalability issues on the Ethereum blockchain. However, the native token – AUDIO – the platform’s governance and staking systems will continue running on Ethereum.

Audius content management system (CMS) will be moving its operations to Solana blockchain over the course of the next year. According to the post, the music streaming platform aims to leverage Solana’s scalable and “virtually costless” blockchain to solve the congestion problems and high fees previously experienced on its host network, POA.

Audius has witnessed remarkable growth in the past few months – recording over 800,000 monthly users and 150,000+ songs streaming on the site posted so far. However, the growing demand for Audius streaming audio content is facing a challenge due to Ethereum’s scalability and latency problems.

According to the statement, over the past week, the Audius site faced a heavy load of issues, “resulting in longer wait times searching, streaming, and indexing” of its music catalog. Despite the move to the POA network, Audius surge in users has clogged the network – at times, taking up to 90-95% of the network space – with an all-time high registered this weekend.

Move to Solana

With the hot DeFi market reaching yearly highs, Ethereum has faced sower transaction times and higher gas fees forcing developers to search for better options elsewhere such as Solana. The platform claims a low latency platform and high throughput of over 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) – all while charging a percent ($0.00001) per transaction.

Furthermore, the launch of Solana’s “Wormhole,” a secure, trustless bridge connecting to Ethereum, will cater to the rapid growth of finance dApps and protocols, creating multiple enhancement in sourcing capital – solving the challenge of high gas fees and congestion.

While the exact amount and arrangement are yet to be disclosed, the CEO of Audius, Roneil Rumburg, stated the partnership involved “technical support and incentives.” He said,

“There’s an agreement between the two teams that involve technical support, deliverables for support, and incentives. … Solana will help Audius have the best user experience possible.”

Audius has raised over $9 million in successive rounds to build a decentralized Spotify and Soundcloud-like platform where artists will receive roughly 85% compensation for their content.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Harvest Finance Increases Bounty to $1 Million to Track the Attacker Who Stole $33.8M

Early Monday, the latest decentralized finance (DeFi) project Harvest Finance, was exploited. It was estimated that $33.8 million of the funds, about 3.2% of the total value locked in the protocol before the attack, was lost.

A couple of days before the attack, the project’s TVL surpassed $1 billion, which has now come down to a mere $300 million, as per DeFi Pulse. Since then, its FARM token has also lost 60% of its value, currently trading at $96.5.

To catch the attacker, the anonymous team behind the project has increased the bounty for identifying the hacker from $400,000, which had already been raised from $100k to $1 million.

Initially, the team said they know the person behind the hack, “who is well-known in the crypto community,” and they don’t want to dox them. As per the latest update, all that the team knows about the hacker so far is that they have an understanding of how DeFi works.

The attacker, meanwhile, is actively “money laundering” Bitcoin through various darknet mixers and crypto exchanges, including Binance, Huobi, Kraken, and Coins.ph, according to the post mortem of the incident.

The attacker reportedly exploited the effects of impermanent loss of USDC and USDT inside the Y pool on Curve.fi repeatedly.

Following the attack, funds from the shared pools, DAI, USDC, USDT, TUSD, WBTC, and renBTC, which were “not affected,” have been withdrawn.

The Harvest Finance team further said that it is taking full responsibility for the engineering error and is now working on a remediation plan for affected users.

The possible remediation techniques the team is considering include implementing a commit-and-reveal mechanism for deposits, stricter configuration of the existing deposit arb check in the strategies, withdrawals in an underlying asset, and using oracles for determining asset price. The team stated,

“We made an engineering mistake, we own up to it. Thousands of people are acting as collateral damage, so we humbly request the attacker to return funds to the deployer, where it will be distributed back to the users in its entirety.”

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Author: AnTy

In Q3 Ripple Paid Out Over $9M in XRP to Its Strategic Partner, MoneyGram; A 38% Drop Over Q2

  • The blockchain-focused startup, Ripple Inc. continues to funnel millions of dollars’ worth of XRP to global remittance firm, MoneyGram.
  • The San Francisco-based firm channeled $9.3 million in XRP tokens to MoneyGram over the third quarter of 2020, representing a $5 million decrease from the previous quarter.

The latest MoneyGram financial results released on Thursday show Ripple Inc. made a payment of $9.3 million in market development fees to the remittance service provider. The company received a net benefit of $8.9 million after a partial offset of $0.4 million in “transaction and trading expenses”.

The payment is made every quarter since the partnership between Ripple Inc. and MoneyGram in 2019. According to a MoneyGram spokesperson, the firm gets paid the fee for facilitating and processing transactions on Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) product, which uses XRP for settlement.

However, this represents a drop from the $15.1 million paid out in Q2 2020, signaling a drop in transactional volume on Ripple’s ODL platform.

The recent payment brings the total amount paid to MoneyGram to $52 million adding to the $16.1 million in XRP paid in Q1 2020, and a total of $11.3 million paid out in the last half of 2019. According to an insider in MoneyGram, the company does not hold any XRP but rather sells it as soon as they receive it.

In mid-June 2019, Ripple announced a strategic partnership with MoneyGram that would see the latter benefit from Ripple’s cross border trading services and foreign exchange settlement using the XRP token. Furthermore, Ripple invested $50 million into MoneyGram in exchange for equity to kick start the partnership.

The partnership between the two payment firms is expected to last till 2023.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Crypto Custodian, Casa, Now Allows US Customers to Buy Bitcoin Using Their Bank Accounts

Cryptocurrency custody platform Casa announced yesterday that users can now use their bank accounts to purchase Bitcoin on the platform. The platform said it is launching the service for its customers who are based in the US. It also stated that the purchased Bitcoin would be sent directly to the user’s wallet.

According to the announcement, the users can buy up to $200,000 worth of Bitcoin in a single month via the new service, with a 0.99% fee placed on every purchase.

Nick Neuman, chief executive officer of the platform, said users could buy the Bitcoin through partner platform, Wyre. He said there is a mining fee attached to each purchase because all purchased Bitcoins are sent on-chain directly to the user’s wallet.

Crypto exchanges also charge mining fees, usually when users are transferring their digital assets to their wallets.

Casa Buy BTC
Source: Casa Blog

Low transaction fees

According to Casa, the 0.00% fee for a single transaction represents one of the industry’s lowest fees.

Casa claims it has a superior security model that keeps customers’ investments safe as it gives users full control of their funds while keeping the funds safe.

Customers have exclusive access to their wallets because they have the keys. So, they have the freedom to choose how they manage their accounts.

Third-party custodians keep about 50% of all Bitcoin custodians because of the high-security level they provide for BTC stored with them.

They also provide users with full sovereignty and full control over their funds, making the Bitcoin network less resilient.

Casa says one of the benefits of relying on the platform for the custody of funds is that it has reduced the level of risks or complications that traders and investors have when keeping their funds. The high risks are the reasons why many Bitcoiners are not interested in self-custody.

But the Casa platform will take care of those issues as it provides completely secure custody of users’ funds. One other benefit is the fact that their funds are insured against any risk.

The application process is simple

Casa has informed users on how to get started with the platform. According to the company, users can use the bank account button on the Casa app’s purchase screen. They will be redirected to the company’s purchase partner Wyre to complete the process.

The review of the application also doesn’t take much time. According to Casa, each user application review takes between a few minutes to a few hours. Once the review is complete, a notification is sent to the user, and they can start purchasing Bitcoin with their bank accounts immediately.

The company says its processing partner requires a photo ID as well as their full personal information when processing the Bitcoin purchase. The requirements are to make sure the deal is in line with government regulations and protect fraud. The data is never stored on the Casa server as it is submitted via the Casa app.

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Author: Ali Raza