Russia’s State Owned Bank, Sberbank, Mulls Over Issuing A Ruble Pegged Stablecoin

Russia’s largest state-owned bank Sberbank is mulling over the idea of issuing their stablecoin reported a local daily. Many believe the decision was prompted by the recent signing of a new cryptocurrency law by President Putin. The director of transaction business Sergey Popov confirmed the same and said that if everything goes as planned, the latest stablecoin could be pegged one to one against Russian Rubel. Popov said:

“Probably, we can issue based on the law that has been adopted, a token that we can peg to the ruble, such a corresponding stablecoin, which can become the basis, an instrument for settlements for some other digital financial assets.”

The reports suggest that the new stablecoin could be used to buy digital assets, and will be issued, under this new law, by the end of July. As per the new law,

“digital rights are understood as digital rights, including monetary claims, the possibility of exercising rights under equity securities, the right to participate in the capital of a non-public JSC, and the right to demand the transfer of equity securities.”

It is also important to note that the new law prohibits the use of digital assets as a means of payment, and the new law is expected to come to force by January 1st, 2021. However, crypto-to-crypto transactions buying and selling, as well as loans in crypto, are entirely legal.

Sberbank Has Been Waiting Since 2018 For a Cryptocurrency Law

The DFA law was implemented in 2018 when the government was pondering over categorizing crypto assets with the findings as treasure and regulate it the way they have regulated treasure hunts. However, the government went back and forth many times before arriving at the final version signed by President Putin.

Sberbank has been in waiting since 2018, given the bank has been involved in crypto-related initiatives in the country. In May this year, the Sberbank invested around $100 million for 5000 blockchain-enabled ATMs, which can also mine cryptocurrencies. Back in November 2019, the largest bank in Russia developed a blockchain solution for repurchase agreements.

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Author: James W

OKEx Rolls Out A P2P Crypto Exchange in India With Zero Transaction Fees

The popular Malta-based spot and derivatives exchange – OKEx – has been eyeing the Indian crypto market for some time, and has now announced its plans to launch a peer-to-peer crypto exchange in India with zero trading fees. The firm is set to launch the platform by August 5.

Jay Hao, the chief executive of OKEx, commented on their recent endeavor into India and promised to improve the ecological layout and overall trading experience for Indian users. He said:

“We’re committed to connecting Indian traders to the international crypto-trading marketplace by providing a one-stop service for Indian traders, including spot and many kinds of derivatives. What’s more, OKEx will also further improve the ecological layout in India and enhance the trading experience of Indian users.”

The platform would offer Bitcoin and USDT trading pairs against the national fiat – INR. The firm has promised to add other coins later as the demand picks up. The platform would also allow INR deposits via popular online payment portals like UPI, IMPS, and NEFT.

OKEx Launches 30,000 USDT Giveaway Campaign to Promote Their Launch

OKEx launched a giveaway program to promote its new platform with 30,000 USDT being up for grabs. Users can benefit by participating in the giveaway contest comprising of quizzes, social media postings, and referring friends.

There remains an interest in international exchanges in the Indian crypto ecosystem, despite the uncertainty of over-regulation. OKEx also invested in the Indian derivative exchange CoinDCX during its seed funding round. Apart from OKEx, Binance, the world’s leading exchange, has also shown great interest in the Indian market and has already availed INR on-boarding for Indian customers. Apart from that, Binance also acquired WazirX exchange.

Research from OKEx also revealed the growing interest of Indian customers in the crypto space, and there are currently 5 million Indians with crypto holdings. While another analysis from CoinDCX revealed a 1031.4% month-on-month increase in BTC/INR trading volume.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Currency Debasement sees BTC Breaking into a New ATH Against Turkish Lira & Argentine Peso

Bitcoin is currently trading around $11,000 on the USD market, still about 75% off from hitting the 2017 peak of $20,000.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency might still have a way to go before it could see new highs, but in Turkey, the prices have flown upwards.

“Bitcoin’s all-time high is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed,” said Casa co-founder and CT Jameson Lopp in response to investor Preston Pysh’s tweet, “Bitcoin already making new ATH in Turkey.”

Source: TradingView

This new high has been achieved because of the TRY depreciation despite the state banks selling at least $2.5 billion to prop up the lira. Turkey’s gross currency reserves have dropped about 40% since this year’s beginning. Analysts at MUFG Bank said it would continue at least until inflation is stabilized.

“With the aggressive push for credit into the real economy, investors are also anticipating a deterioration in Turkey’s current account position. Turkey’s current account position turning to the deficit with one of the largest negative real yields is a recipe for currency depreciation.”

Even though the US dollar has been declining, reiterating to a two-year low, the lira continues to weaken.

Once a favorite of emerging-market investors, the cost of borrowing Turkish lira for a short period in an exchange of dollars climbed over 1,000% on offshore markets, the highest level since March 2019. This was because of the heavy intervention late last week, which drained the supply of local currency.

To deter short-sellers, foreign investors are prohibited from borrowing from local banks, as such, those without the currency have to borrow it on the offshore market where the limited supply drives the rate.

Turkish authorities have been leaning on state banks to bolster the lira with dollar sales instead of rising rates or curving the credit supply.

All of this has the lira being one for the worst performers in the emerging markets. Apart from the Argentine peso, the Turkish lira is the only primary emerging-market currency that has fallen since the dollar peaked in March.

The same is the case for the Argentine peso. Currency debasement has people spending 336,980 ARS in December 2017 to buy one Bitcoin, which has now risen above 800k ARS.

Source: CoinGecko

Although it is more of a case for fiat currencies, the currency crisis is making bitcoin slowly a choice of preference to the people of these countries. For instance, Bitcoin trading volume has been continuously hitting new highs in Argentina on peer-to-peer exchanges.

In the week ending on August 2nd, Argentina hit a new high of $1 million, doubling in just a month, on LocalBitcoin and Paxful combined, as per UsefulTulips.

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Author: AnTy

BIS and HKMA Launch ‘TechChallenge’ Seeking Trade Finance Innovations; DLT & IoT Included

The BIS Innovation Hub (BISIH) has partnered with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to hold a trade finance digitization competition to spur innovative solutions for the sector, especially in Asia. BIS announced on August 3 that global innovators are invited to submit their applications by the end of the month, after which successful participants will be invited to develop full prototypes in a sandbox environment throughout 2021.

Research conducted by the HKMA before embarking on the ‘Tech challenge’ revealed that over 70% of stakeholders in traditional financial institutions believe that most global trade finance needs are yet to be addressed. Notably, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has, in the past, presented similar facts, highlighting a $1.5 trillion global trade finance gap.

With such stakes in play, the BIS and HKMA have since taken the initiative to find solutions for this potential market. Other prominent stakeholders backing this project include the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), International Institute of Finance (IIF), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Blockchain and DLT Highly Considered

Interestingly blockchain, which is among the latest emerging tech featured, has been regarded as a solution to some of the problem statements tabled by BIS and HKMA. For starters, distributed ledgers can be instrumental in connecting ‘digital islands’; this is where tech becomes akin to specific jurisdictions, or is limited such that every party runs its centralized platform.

The BIS now suggests that blockchain can be used for linking global trade finance platforms for better communication, hence connecting the digital islands from the point of trust and verifiability.

In addition, blockchain can also be considered in delivering efficient B2B or B2C ecosystems for SME’s to thrive. According to the explainer materials by the BIS, novel tech such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and IoT will further complement efforts towards the SME environment.

Finally, innovative solutions in line with onboarding emerging markets were featured in the BIS and HKMA problem statement. On this one, decentralization, which most actors approach with an open infrastructure perspective, could assist in the integration of developing markets through seamless interface connections. The organizers highlighted,

“To leverage the diversity of innovation and digitization underway on this topic globally, solution providers are free to suggest any technology approaches they consider suitable to address one or more of the problem statements, including decentralized approaches based on blockchain/ Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT).”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Ledger Hardware Wallet to Issue Exploit Fix to Prevent Users from Sending BTC on Accident

According to a blog published by Mo Nokhbeh, a crypto software researcher, the Ledger Wallet app is in danger of exploitation due to a vulnerability that has persisted on the platform since 2019. According to Mo, a user can send Bitcoin (BTC) instead of other Bitcoin forks such as the BTC testnets, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash etc. without their knowledge if even if they had selected the ‘forks’.

To use the Ledger hardware wallet, a user must install the corresponding app on to the USB drive allowing users to hold different types of digital currencies. However, only one app is able to be open at a time to ensure security and total isolation of the apps.

An issue arises with BTC and its corresponding forks for example if your Litecoin app is open and live and you’d wish to send LTC, the wallet will prompt a confirmation of a Bitcoin transaction while the interface presents it as an LTC transaction to a Litecoin address. If you accept the confirmation, a fully valid BTC transaction will be sent out of your wallet instead of the cheaper altcoin forks.

Read More >> Data Breach at Popular Hardware Crypto Wallet Ledger Affects Million; Trezor Fires Shots

Interactions with Ledger

Mo has been vocal to the Ledger team on the vulnerability of their platform, but claims his cries fell on deaf years with the issue persisting for the past year and a half. In a response posted on Decrypt, a spokesperson from Ledger said the delays were mainly due to the communications channels the security researcher used. The spokesperson said,

“The researcher contacted us through many means—mainly Twitter DMs. The appropriate medium for bug bounty remains the dedicated email address [email protected] Due to this, our point of view on this timeline differs, and we are genuinely sorry for the miscommunication.”

However, Nokhbeh denies the claims saying the only time he sent a Twitter DM was recently in June 2020 after a number of failed tries through the official channels.

Read More>> Crypto Hardware Wallet Ledger: ‘Funds are Safe’ After ‘BigSpender’ Vulnerability Found

Solution to the Ledger App vulnerability

In a statement focusing on the possible exploits, Ledger said the vulnerability arose as a tradeoff between security and usability especially for the Bitcoin network. While the external security of the wallets remain solid, Ledger allows Bitcoin forks/derivatives that follow the same derivation path as the top crypto to derive public keys or sign Bitcoin transactions. It reads,

“Some BTC forks use the same derivation path as BTC. If we prevent these forks from using the BTC derivation path, this would simply prevent users from using the Ledger Nano S/X with these forks.”

The statement further states the solution to the issue has been released in a new update warning users when their intended and confirmation transactions do not match.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Will Emerge Stronger Out of the Ongoing Crisis: Congressman Tom Emmer

It is the fact that no one has centralized control over Bitcoin that makes it stand out in comparison to fiat currencies that are tightly controlled, said US Congressman Tom Emmer on “Pomp Podcast.”

Born in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the situation isn’t much different from the ongoing distressed economic scenario which is spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, noted Emmer. He pointed out how now people are back to looking for new safe haven assets amidst the unprecedented money printing by the US government.

According to him, the world’s leading cryptocurrency is here to stay. “As we come out of the crisis, Bitcoin ain’t going away. It’s gonna get stronger,” Emmer said.

Bitcoin along with the underlying technology will see further advancements and “continue to become more and more important.”

“You just watch, it has value, when something has value, people are going to take risks and it’s going to advance,” he said.

He also touched upon the OCC’s announcement from last week allowing national banks to hold bitcoin and cryptos for their clients — a big move for the cryptocurrency industry as banks have been reluctant in providing their services to businesses dealing with cryptos.

“Now [Acting Comptroller of the Currency] Brian Brooks is saying ‘Hey, institutions, you can start banking this stuff. You can provide a home for it, you can start working with it,’” Emmer told the host Anthony Pompliano, co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital.

We’re moving into the next phase

The Congressman is known for his bitcoin support, just last month when the major accounts of Twitter were hacked to promote a bitcoin scam, he defended the digital asset stating, “Bitcoin isn’t the problem. Centralized control is.”

Emmer further explained that bitcoin wasn’t one that screwed up rather Twitter was the one whose security “wasn’t adequate.”

Elaborating on centralization being the real culprit, he pointed out how during the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese government in control of fiat currency “shut everybody down,” which means you can’t go out of Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, or even go out to buy groceries.

In a centralized system, someone is always in charge of the allocation of money which is “never” a good thing, said Emmer citing “The Road to Serfdom,” a book by economist Friedrich Hayek.

And that’s where the crypto comes.

“I think we’re just moving into that next phase, which is why crypto, the area, excites me,” Emmer said.

According to him, the government will have a role in this next phase but not a big one as “people can police themselves.” “I don’t like the fact that my colleagues think everybody is so dumb they’re all gonna get fleeced all the time. You know, the greatest game is through the greatest risk,” he said.

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Author: AnTy

Coca-Cola to Utilize Baseline Protocol For Supply Chain Tracking with Exposure to DeFi

Coke One North America (CONA) has partnered with Provide and Unibright to streamline the supply chain of the largest coca-cola bottlers in the region by integrating the Baseline protocol as a fundamental technology.

This initiative will not only improve the communication between internal and external stakeholders in the bottling process but also expose them to the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) ecosystem. A crypto niche that is currently on the rise with over $4.45 billion in locked digital assets.

Notably, the Baseline protocol integration is an advancement from CONA’s earlier adoption of the Hyperledger Fabric, whose target was to streamline the internal network of the twelve largest Coca Cola bottlers in the region.

The Pioneer project, which leveraged Hyperledger Fabric as early as 2019, obtained favorable results for increasing transparency and efficiency within the supply chain. CONA has now decided to advance this course by enabling communication with external stakeholders as well.

The Baseline Protocol in CONA’s Bottling Strategy

With so many processes involved, the bottling process is one of the most costly operations in the supply chain for Coca Cola’s products. This might soon change following this initiative by CONA to utilize the Baseline protocol. Ideally, the goal is to create a “Coca Cola Bottling Harbor,” which will help seamlessly onboard the bottling suppliers into the Ethereum-built ecosystem.

Despite operating on Ethereum’s public Mainnet, the Baseline protocol enables large companies or entities to transact and communicate privately on the network. This project is the brainchild of corporate giants Ernst and Young, Microsoft and ConsenSys, the Ethereum venture studio. Launched earlier this year, and making great strides in setting up base support for businesses to build decentralized ecosystems. Ernst and Young global blockchain leader, Paul Brody, has since told Decrypt that,

“It’s great to see the Baseline Protocol growing beyond the original code base, with companies like Unibright and Provide. Services building and applying it at scale. It confirms we made the right choice with Consensys and Microsoft to donate this work into the public domain and create a foundation structure to steward development.”

The Cutting Edge

Apart from running operations on the Ethereum public blockchain, the bottling suppliers and other stakeholders will be exposed to DeFi products. They will be able to access the said portfolio through various means, including tokenized invoices.

Initially, a transaction would have been impossible. This is because of limitations in jurisdictional markets and unsystematic barriers obstructing centralized record keeping. While the project is quite optimistic, the partners identified some challenges like undesired changes to purchase orders and manual errors that may hinder CONA’s initial expected results set for Q4, 2020.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

USD-Pegged Cryptos & BTC Continue to Rise in Contradiction to the Falling US Dollar

The US dollar is not having a good start in the second half of 2020.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of leading currencies, has fallen 9.5% since the March high. July was the currency’s weakest monthly performance in a decade after USD fell to a two-year low.

Source: TradingView

This weakness has been tied to the market, expecting further easing of US monetary policy, a lack of agreement among lawmakers on further fiscal stimulus, and falling bond yields.

Dollar’s loss, however, has been turning out to be good for other asset classes. Gold has hit a new all-time high at above $2,000. Bitcoin is also up 58% YTD at around $11,400, and this could be the time to stack more sats. Trader Scott Melker said,

“This is arguably the most pivotal moment we have seen for the United States Dollar since it bottomed in 2008. This channel has been intact for over 10 years. If it breaks down, hide yo’ kids and buy a metric ton of Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin’s gains have also been attributed to the dollar’s fall, and the digital asset is further expected to benefit from USD weakness.

“If the dollar continues to depreciate, there is a high probability that Bitcoin will continue to rise,” said Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx.

Crypto also addresses frictions such as settlement and transparency, which were “assumed” to be “very hard to solve before,” said Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. “Crypto is up 80% while USD is down 3% YTD.”

Fueling the Rise of Stablecoins

Another interesting facet seen in the crypto market while USD continues to lose its value is the increase in the demand of USD-pegged cryptos.

Stablecoins have had a rapid rise following the crypto crash in March, which was spurred by a massive sell-off in the global equity markets, which led to a huge rush into cash and a global shortage of dollars. Coin Metrics in its joint report with Bitstamp says,

“Moving into stablecoins allows investors to effectively keep money parked on the sideline without having to completely cash out into fiat currency and incurring fees. This rush to safety likely accounted for a significant portion of the increased stablecoin demand following March 12th.”

Stablecoins are back on the rise, with Tether in the lead, which added more than 400 million to its supply in just three days, to a total of over 11.5 billion.

USDT Supply
Source: CoinMetrics

Another driver behind this growth is the use of stablecoins as a medium of exchange, given their ease of international transfer. An increase in these types of payments could be due to hyperinflation in many fiat currencies following the March crash.

The transfer value of these fiat-pegged cryptos reached over $5 billion on July 27th, led by USDT-ETH, USDC, and DAI.

Stablecoin Transfer Value
Source: CoinMetrics

According to Coin Metrics, this continued rise in stablecoins is likely to help introduce more new users into the crypto ecosystem.

“Stablecoins could be the gateway that helps spur crypto’s global adoption, and boost usage of BTC and other crypto assets along the way.”

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Author: AnTy

Coinbase Wallet Integrates Unstoppable Domains; Send Payments Via .Crypto Addresses

Coinbase Wallet, a service rendered by US based Coinbase crypto exchange is extending its support for Unstoppable Domains according to an announcement made by the latter on their official twitter page.

Founded in 2018, Unstoppable domains is a blockchain-based domain name service that provides users with .crypto domains which can be used as a replacement of the long alphanumeric character wallets have.

With the domain names now integrated with the wallet, the users can trade and remit payments to other users without necessarily being obliged to key in often long crypto addresses. The .crypto domain names allow the users to launch and host decentralized websites running on a peer to peer protocol dubbed Inter Planetary File Service (IPFS).

The main difference that could be drawn from the legacy domain names that is: .com, .org is that they are issued by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They ordinarily retain full rights to domain names and could shut any website down if need be. Whereas the Uncensorable domains that are hosted on the Ethereum ecosystem can only be taken down by the holders of the private keys.

Cofounder of Unstoppable domains, Brad Kam is optimistic that Blockchain domains are the future of crypto wallets. He commended Coinbase’s initiative that will solely push the market into crypto mainstream. The Coinbase wallet has now consolidated their place as a one stop shop for all the crypto inclusive of BTC and ETH that they provide.

They will also offer custody support for Blockchain domains granting Coinbase users privileges to register and manage the domains from the Dapp browser. They have currently registered about 250000 domains with 21000 including by some Fortune 500 companies being acquired in July. They raised $4Million in May 23rd 2019 seed round that was spearheaded by VC firm Draper Associates and Boost VC.

Notably, this is not the first collaboration that the San Francisco based Unstoppable domains. They have forged partnerships with Huobi wallet, my Ether wallet and the Trust wallet backed by mega crypto exchange Binance.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Mad Rush to BTC Coming Soon as Dave Portnoy Declares ‘I Want to Buy All the Bitcoins’

Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, has now turned his attention to Bitcoin as he said, “I want to buy all the bitcoins.”

Portnoy took to Twitter to rant about how he doesn’t know how to buy bitcoin and doesn’t want to deal with hardware wallets in order to keep his assets safe. He doesn’t want to deal with lengthy passwords. A concern is probably holding back a lot of new comers.

“I don’t wanna do bitcoin because I don’t understand the fuck it is,” said Portnoy.

He also shared how he “bought Bitcoin in that original Bitcoin age,” and that he spent an estimated $20,000 that is “just sitting in the ether.” But he doesn’t know how to access it or what has become of his investment.

Back in June, Portnoy shared a video of another rant about bitcoin from 2017 and said his stance hasn’t changed over these years. At the height of the bull market, he said he “can’t get enough” of bitcoin even though he said, “It’s like Mario brothers.”

On Tuesday, he invited the Winklevoss twins, the now Bitcoin billionaires that co-founded the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, to explain Bitcoin to him.

“I’m officially inviting the Winklevoss twins to my office to explain bitcoin to me,” Portnoy said. “If the Winklevosses want to come over and tell me how to do this in a way that I understand, I will look into Bitcoin. I want both of the Winklevosses, I want them in their little fucking row outfits, and I want them sitting in this chair being like, ‘This is how you do it,’” he said.

Tyler Winklevoss accepted the invitation with his brother Cameron adding, “I’m in too.”

Portnoy has been stealing the limelight in 2020, having built a reputation as a stock market day trader during the coronavirus lockdown, launching his own series he dubbed ‘Davey Day Trader Global (DDTG)’. He has been riding the massive rally the stock market is seeing thanks to all the unprecedented market intervention, money printing, by the US Federal Reserve to prop up the economy.

The crypto community welcomed Portnoy’s interest in Bitcoin. This could turn out great for the digital asset if Portnoy’s day trader army; his 1.7 million followers on Twitter, jumps into Bitcoin as well.

Trader Cantering Clark said a meeting with the Winklevoss twins would make Portnoy “see the clear value proposition in Bitcoin.” He also expects Portnoy “to be quite vocal about it afterward.”

“The REAL retail craze will come after ATH’s. But, if @tylerwinklevoss and @stoolpresidente want to give the @RobinhoodApp retail crew a head start on the mad rush that will be coming soon, then I say WELCOME to the party!” said another trader Mr. Anderson.

Already, the Bitcoin market is enjoying an uptrend since it broke above the critical $10,000 level. The largest cryptocurrency is up 54% YTD and more than 190% since its March lows.

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Author: AnTy