Libra Association Hires Former HSBC Europe Managing Director, James Emmett

In an announcement on Thursday, Libra Association announced James Emmett, former European head at HSBC as the new managing director of its subsidiary, Libra Networks LLC. Emmett will start his role at the digital stablecoin firm on October 1.

According to the statement, James Emmett is a well-experienced financial services leader in “business, strategy, technology, and operations” having worked 25 years at the global financial institution. Emmett becomes the second high-profile manager from HSBC to join Libra, after Stuart Levey joined as the CEO of the Libra Association earlier this year.

Speaking on Emmett’s appointment, Levey showed his excitement saying the new appointee’s “leadership will help make Libra’s vision a reality.”

Emmett’s 25 years at HSBC saw him take on a number of roles including chief executive of HSBC Bank PLC and Europe. In his capacity as the chief executive of HSBC PLC, Emmet was responsible for the bank’s wholesale and retail operations across Continental Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Bermuda. Emmett has also acted in the position of COO of HSBC overseeing overseas technology operations. Passionate in the opportunities that digital currencies offer the current financial services, Emmett said,

“I am delighted to be joining Libra Networks with a mission to enhance financial innovation and inclusion and to deliver the operationalization of the network.”

With global regulators on Libra’s neck as the Association plans to launch its stablecoin, Libra is moving to employ more legal experts to smooth the relationship with global regulators. Shortly after appointment of Stuart Levey and CEO of Libra Association, Libra appointed Ex-Goldman Sachs Executive, Sterling Daines as its global compliance lead and Stevan Bunnel, former Homeland Security general counsel to replace Robert Werner as Libra’s general counsel.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Polkadot (DOT) Integrates Bluzelle’s Decentralized Data Oracles To Boost DeFi App Development

  • Bluzelle, a distributed oracle platform, announced a partnership with the blockchain research and development firm, Web3 Foundation (W3F), to integrate its decentralized data oracle on Polkadot.
  • This blockchain will offer developers the ability to build cross-chain applications.

According to a release on Medium, Bluzelle aims to bring “distributed storage capabilities” to projects building dApps on Polkadot ranging from decentralized finance dApps to gaming applications. The partnership between the two blockchain firms aims at directly taking up market share on the burgeoning DeFi apps market.

Polkadot’s founder, Gavin Wood (also the founder of W3F), said the partnership with Bluzelle would help in the quick transition of apps to the Web3 phase by leveraging the decentralized storage and trusted data oracles provided by the latter firm.

Polkadot is steadily improving cross-chain interaction between dApps in a bid to switch the web to Web3 standard entirely. In August, the Polkadot team announced the launch of its first parachain implementation testnet, Rococo, removing the need for relay chains. The Bluzelle integration will enhance development on Polkadot-based parachains by offering an architecture that “aligns with that of Polkadot” and “retains access to a reliable data network.”

Additionally, the oracles will provide DeFi projects with historical price data allowing the statistical analysis of token prices. Smart contracts rely on historical on-chain data to keep the market prices in check; hence projects using the decentralized oracles on Polkadot will be resilient to data manipulation attacks.

Bluzelle will be made available to all projects building on Polkadot’s Substrate framework.

Bluzelle is a delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) blockchain-powered by Cosmos, claiming to handle over 10,000 transactions per second (TPS). Such infrastructure is a crucial feature to the growing DeFi market to provide scalability and cheap transaction fees – something that the current DeFi-leading platform, Ethereum, is suffering from. Pavel Bains, CEO of Bluzelle, said the consensus infrastructure would remain on Cosmos and further stating the embryonic stage of Polkadot’s integration:

“At this time, there is not anything built to show. It’s early stages. We are working with a number of DOT projects already.”

In February, BEG reported Polkadot’s integration of decentralized data oracle, Chainlink, becoming the first blockchain outside Ethereum to integrate the latter.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Gemini Debuts DeFi Listings in New York Market With Amp, Compound, and Pax Gold

Gemini crypto exchange has announced that New York users will now be able to trade Compound (COMP), Amp (AMPL), and Pax Gold (PAXG) against the USD. The Winklevoss brothers’ led crypto exchange noted that it worked in collaboration with the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to receive approval for listing these digital assets. According to the official announcement, active trading of the newly added pairs is scheduled for September 15.

This move is quite significant for the New York market, which had been left out of the DeFi space when it comes to listings on centralized crypto exchanges. Coinbase, for instance, has been quite active in listing ‘hot’ DeFi tokens, but yet to cover prospective users in New York. With COMP’s listing on Gemini, crypto investors and enthusiasts in the big apple will now be able to acquire positions in DeFi through the exchange.

COMP made waves in May when the decentralized protocol debuted this governance token to be used in running the platform. The protocol has since risen to become one of the leading DeFi lending and borrowing platforms; currently, its market cap stands 544 million while the price of one COMP token is $163 as per Coingecko metrics. Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini’s Co-founder, tweeted bullish sentiments as well,

“The #DeFi revolution is upon us. @Gemini is now accepting deposits for $AMP @amptoken, $PAXG @PaxosStandard, and $COMP @compoundfinance. Trading to begin on 9/15!”

Amp and PAXG, on the other hand, propose value in digital collateralization and gold tokenization, respectively. The former will expose Gemini’s clients to Flexa’s Network collateral token ‘AMP’ whose underlying is to act as a form of collateral, supporting the fundamentals of Flexa’s payments network. This innovation allows users to pay merchants’ in crypto while Flexa handles ‘under the hood’ to convert these payments to the merchants’ preferred fiat currency.

Gemini’s venture into the DeFi space has scaled its range of tradeable digital assets to 12; notable mentions that were already featured include BTC, LTC, ETH, and BCH. The exchange highlighted that its updated trading portfolio would be available via API connections and the platform’s Active Trader.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

C.R.E.A.M Finance Goes Live on Binance Smart Chain; Deposits Jump Past $300 Million

Earlier this month, Binance announced the launch of Binance Smart Chain to enable the creation of smart contracts and the staking mechanism for BNB.

At that time, it announced Ethereum-based Cream as its DeFi collaborator, and today the DeFi project has gone live on Binance Smart Chain.

Unlike the sky-high costs on the Ethereum network, BSC boasts of only $0.05 – $0.10 per transaction.

“BSC never aimed to replace ETH, BSC is just ETH-compatible. Smart projects are giving their users more options. Option for cheaper fees,” said Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.

Binance is speeding up its efforts to keep up with the DeFi world. Recently, it announced a $100 million fund to connect the DeFi and CeFi world with “support for Yield Farming with major crypto assets coming soon to Binance Smart Chain.”

As Binance chases DeFi, its native token BNB enjoys the greens of 18% to trade at $27.5.

Meanwhile, right from the launch of Cream on BSC, the tokens supported are BNB, BUSD, BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC.

“The Binance ecosystem and its reach of 400,000+ accounts and fiat gateways covering over 170 countries and regions will help get DeFi into mass adoption,” states Cream’s official announcement.

Since its launch two months back, C.R.E.A.M Finance has amassed $309 million in deposits or total value locked (TVL), $224 million of which were added just this week — making it the 10th largest DeFi project as per DeFi pulse.

This week, the DeFi aggregator also launched an automated market maker (AMM) called ‘Swap,’ a market that is increasingly getting crowded with new projects popping up every other day.

A fork of Balancer, Swap comes with a slightly lower fee structure than the popular Uniswap with support for Yearn, Aave, Compound, Balancer, Uniswap, and TokenSet besides its own tokens.

The governance token of the project is currently trading at $252 in green. In the past seven days, Cream has jumped 170% in value and made its ATH at $289 on Wednesday.

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Author: AnTy

OFAC Blacklists Three Russians’ Crypto Addresses Linked to 2016 US Presidential Election

The Treasury Department of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC in short, announced sanctions for three Russian hackers involved in meddling in the 2016 Presidential elections. The statement further added cryptocurrency addresses attached to the Russian Troll group, Internet Research Agency, were also sanctioned.

The sanctions stretch to several crypto addresses, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Zcash (ZEC), and Bitcoin SV (BSV). As of the publishing of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are subject to U.S. jurisdictions are blocked,” the statement adds. U.S. citizens are also prohibited from engaging in transactions with the listed persons.

The three sanctioned persons – Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev, and Darya Aslanova – are listed for controlling the crypto wallet accounts and dealing with the IRA. The statement reads,

“Russian nationals Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev, and Darya Aslanova, as employees of the IRA, supported the IRA’s cryptocurrency accounts. The IRA uses cryptocurrency to fund activities in furtherance of their ongoing malign influence operations around the world.”

OFAC first listed IRA operations using cryptocurrency in 2018, accusing the firm of participating in meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Russia is not the only nation the U.S. agency is focusing on. In November 2019, BEG reported OFAC was accelerating its efforts to sanction cryptocurrency addresses from two Iran nationals in relation to ransomware attacks within the country.

The list of Russian cryptocurrency addresses that have been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Brazil Fast Tracks CBDC Launch; Central Bank President Calls for Roll Out In Next Two Years

  • Brazil’s central bank president, Roberto Campos Neto, announced the country’s plan to launch its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) by the end of 2022.

Speaking at a Bloomberg-sponsored event, Roberto Campos Neto, president of the Banco Central, praised digital currency payment systems as the future of financial systems claiming the country is in the pipeline of launching their CBDC in the coming two years.

Despite starting their research on its digital payments systems and CBDC recently, Brazil aims to accelerate its efforts in the field to provide a stable and working platform by 2023. According to Neto, Brazil’s CBDC will be built on an instant payment system allowing efficient, open, and interoperable transactions across similar systems in a bid to improve the financial system.

Neto stated Brazil is ready to launch its CBDC given it has “all the ingredients” to start its CBDC project and complete it by 2022. He said,

“To have a digital currency, you need an instant payment system that is efficient and interoperable; an open system, where you can create competition; and a currency that has credibility, is convertible and international. After that, I think you have all the ingredients to have digital currency. We think we will have it in 2022.”

Additionally, the central bank has been working on its banking infrastructure in a bit to provide instantaneous banking settlements between peer banks. The new infrastructure, PIX, will be launched in November, allowing peer-to-peer open banking transactions that can be settled in a matter of seconds.

Neto, however, did not mention the role that the CBDC will play in its new PIX infrastructure. It is expected to be complementary to the latter. He further clarified the role of a CBDC as:

“A CBDC distinguishes itself from cryptocurrencies without national trust, like Bitcoin, because it is just a new form of representation of the currency already issued by the national monetary authority, that is, it is part of the monetary policy of the issuing country.”

With the launch of its own CBDC project, Brazil joins several countries already working on CBDC’s, including China, Japan, and Canada.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bermuda Govt Partners With Stablehouse to Test A Stimulus Token for COVID-19 Aid

On Tuesday, the Government of Bermuda announced that it has rolled out a pilot initiative for digital stimulus token. The program is being run in conjunction with Stablehouse, a Bermuda-based payments startup. The program is expected to offer crucial feedback on whether digital tokens can be used for buying essential goods and services in the country.

Stablehouse claims to be ‘a global virtual currency clearing house’ and facilitates the exchange of stablecoins. The startup is being advised by ex-Tether executive, Phil Potter, who will offer his expertise to the government in the provision of Bermudian Dollar Token, BMDT.

The government is seeking to collect vital information and data on whether merchants will readily accept digital tokens as a payment method. The pilot phase will also establish whether Bermudians are ready to use the tokens to buy essential goods and services.

At the moment, the government has recruited three merchants as well as 20 individuals who were given a stipend of free BMDTs that they use to test the initiative.

Speaking to Decrypt, chief fintech advisor to Bermudian prime minister, Denis Pitcher explained that the project will kick-off with a small number of participants but will gradually expand.

“Our ultimate goal is to end up with a wallet on every phone because wallets are the browser of the future when it comes to money and the future of finance.”

The partnership will see Stablehouse offer point-of-sale services to the merchants as well as provide its Green Wallet that enables clients to store coins while offline easily. The startup will also be handling issuance as well as redemption of the BMDT. It’s important to note that every token is backed by the Bermudian dollar, which is also pegged to the US dollar.

The token will run on Blockstream’s Liquid, which is a sidechain protocol that is designed to link together various exchanges.

The token stimulus initiative has been in the works since last year and is part of a comprehensive plan to introduce digital currency on the island.

Bermuda has implemented various crypto-friendly policies in the recent past. For instance, in October last year, the island allowed its residents to clear their taxes and fees using US dollar-backed stablecoins.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Coinbase and Circle Launch Major Upgrade in USDC 2.0; Stablecoin Sees ‘Unprecedented Adoption’

Coinbase and Circle, the members of the Centre Consortium, has announced a major upgrade to the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) protocol and smart contract.

Launched in September 2018, this regulated stablecoin saw an “unprecedented adoption” during the pandemic, surpassing $1.4 billion, up from about $450 million at the beginning of March, and recording more than $90 billion in on-chain transaction volume.

With the latest upgrade, USDC will become “significantly easier for people to use USDC in payments, commerce, and peer-to-peer transactions,” besides adding additional security to the smart contract.

More importantly, Centre says USDC 2.0 is introducing “gasless sends.” Transaction on the Ethereum network involves “gas fees” and in order to pay this, most digital wallets are required to purchase and hold a balance of Ether (ETH).

Now, with the latest upgrade, the idea is to remove the barrier to “mainstream adoption and broad usage of digital dollar stablecoins for internet payments.”

The official announcement states USDC 2.0 enables users to delegate the payment of the gas fees to another address, giving the developers the option to either pay the fee on behalf of the customer or deduct the fees in USDC.

As such, customers will be able to send and receive USDC payments on a peer-to-peer basis using only USDC.

“These simplified and improved user experience flows will accelerate the virality of making and receiving payments using USDC on the internet.”

Another thing USDC 2.0 introduces is a new set of on-chain multiple signature contracts which means administrative operations can be managed on-chain, in a result, improving the “security, auditability and in turn resilience.”

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Author: AnTy

Tezos (XTZ) Launches Delegated, Pre-Funded, Self-Sustaining Harbinger Price Oracles

Tezos has announced Harbinger — it’s very own oracle to deliver signed price feeds based on market data from multiple crypto exchanges to its network.

With Harbinger, Tezos is expecting the algorithmic stablecoins, lending platforms, and insurance products to kick off the new use cases.

Initial versions of the contracts are already deployed on mainnet and CarthageNet.

It’s not surprising that the network is delving deep into oracle as oracle projects have been having a lot of attention and gains in the crypto market. The crazy growth of Chainlink (LINK) is evidence of how much traction the decentralized off-chain data feed providers are getting.

Other popular oracles in the market are Band Protocol (BAND) and Augur (REP).

Take on the DeFi World

Now, Tezos, a liquid-proof of stake crypto network, is ready to make the most of the decentralized finance (DeFi) world through its oracle.

Oracles are critical to the fast-growing DeFi space, which has a total value locked (TVL) surpassing $7 billion, in order to have trusted price feed.

In its official announcement, Tezos announced that in Harbinger, “an account that pays for fees to update the price oracle can be delegated and pre-funded with tez,” much like staking.

This, it says, will enable the development of “self-sustaining” price oracles where the block rewards for participating in PoS consensus offset the fees required to keep the oracle data current.

“Having a reliable feed for on-chain price data is critical for DeFi lending platforms. Harbinger is an important building block for the decentralized finance ecosystem on Tezos,” said Robert Leshner, founder of Compound.

After taking inspiration from MakerDAO in StakerDAO, this latest one is based upon Compound’s Open Price Feed.

Harbinger is a set of tools and reference contracts, allowing anyone to become a ‘poster’ who retrieves prices from ‘signers,’ which are crypto exchanges to deploy a price oracle on the Tezos network, which then publishes cryptographically signed prices.

Moreover, Tezos smart contracts use callbacks to receive data to avoid reentrancy attacks.

In the meantime, the 13th largest crypto by market cap of $2.5 billion, XTZ is falling alongside the broad crypto market, trading at $3.43.

Also Read: Is the DeFi Craze Killing Tezos? XTZ’s Main Selling Point “Staking” Is Losing Appeal

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Author: AnTy

Brazilian Central Bank Task Force To Study CBDC Issuance and Impact

The Central Bank of Brazil on 21st August announced that it will be setting up a world-wide study group to research the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDC). The central bank, in its official statement, noted the growing impact and adoption of digital assets, especially CBDCs.

The new study group will look into various aspects of digital assets and how it can help in the economic uplifting of citizens while ensuring to mitigate all risks associated with digital assets.

The main intention of the study will be to improve commercial transactions between public and private entities, along with improving international or cross-border remittance services. Some of the critical areas of this worldwide CBDC Study include,

  • Scope
  • Societal benefits
  • National challenges

The study group tasked at looking into different aspects of CBDC will also study the security vulnerabilities involved with these digital assets like data protection and regulatory compliance risks involved.

CBDCs have been a priority for many countries, especially after China’s aggressive approach towards blockchain and the launch of its native CBDC. Most of the countries are quite receptive to blockchain technology despite being critical of cryptocurrencies. This is the reason most of the countries are looking for ways to launch their own CBDC.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh