Blockchain Intelligence Startup, TokenAnalyst, Shuts Down; Some Employees Move to Coinbase

Token Analyst, a startup focused on blockchain market intelligence, has announced that it’s ceasing operations after two years in operation.

A medium post by the firm on May 5 notes that it will no longer be supporting its products which include APIs and the TokenAnalyst platform.

According to the blog, the team is proud to have contributed to the growth of crypto and blockchain in areas like transparency:

“Our mission was to bring transparency to the decentralized world, and we believe we made significant progress towards this mission.”

The team, however, added that it will remain committed to developing the open financial system for worldwide adoption. Notably, some of the employees in TokenAnalyst will be joining Coinbase to advance this course:

“While we will not be actively working on TokenAnalyst anymore, we are very excited to announce that some of our team is joining Coinbase.”

The blog concluded by thanking TokenAnalyst’s stakeholders for their support, noting that they have been a big factor in the company’s success:

“It was truly invigorating to tweet/whatsapp/telegram/email/signal 24/7 with crypto enthusiasts from all over the world. It was your incredible support, encouragement, and passion that kept us going and motivated.”

TokenAnalyst founders, Sid Shekhar and Jai Prasad, who are speculated to be among those moving to Coinbase also shared their twitter handles @jai_prasad17 or @sidshekhar24 for further communication.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Swipe’s Crypto Visa Debit Cards Now Supported on Samsung Pay; A Month After Google Pay

Cryptocurrency payments platform Swipe has announced that it has teamed up Samsung for addition of its Visa debit card on Samsung Pay platform. The partnership will enable Samsung Pay users to easily make day-to-day payments directly from their Swipe Visa card via devices with Samsung Pay.

Swipe now boasts as the inaugural virtual wallet that offers global support for both Samsung Pay as well as Google Pay. The new service will allow Swipe debit cardholders in the European Union as well as in the United Kingdom to make crypto transactions at more than 50 million points in the world.

The new agreement between Samsung and Swipe was powered by a mutual issuing financial institution Contis Financial.

Swipe currently supports more than 30 currencies that comprise of stablecoins, cryptocurrencies as well as fiat. The deal means that Swipe debit cardholders will now be able to straightly exchange their cryptos into euros when using the Samsung Pay for transactions.

Swipe CEO Joselito Lizarondo expressed his gratitude for the partnership. Lizarondo told Bitcoin Exchange Guide that the integration as well as relationship with Samsung will enhance mass adoption of crypto and ease their use in day-to-day operations.

Swipe COO, John Khenneth, explained that there has been an increased number of people using other related payment platforms like Google Pay following the outbreak of COVID-19 crisis.

Khenneth explained that the new deal will help even as people are abandoning the use of fiat money and physical cards and Samsung Pay will help create a new channel.

Swipe is headquartered in the Philippines but has operations in Europe both in the United Kingdom as well as Estonia. Recently, the firm was granted approval to start operations in the United States and Lizarondo is optimistic about the future. The firm is also looking to offer its services in the Asia-Pacific and South Asia regions this year.

Following Swipe’s success, other players in the market like Binance as well as BTSE are planning to introduce their own debit cards to get a pie of the market.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto Exchanges Are On a Hiring Spree in Anticipation of Heightened BTC Halving Interest

The commerce department announced this week that the US economy shrank 4.8% in the first three months of the year, the steepest decline since the last recession. The same is the case for Europe that covers 19 countries, its economy shrank by 3.8% in Q1 of 2020, the biggest fall since 1995 when eurozone statistics first began.

Meanwhile, another 3.8 million people lost their jobs in the US last week but the pace of layoffs is slowing. Overall, an unprecedented 30 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the six weeks.

The US unemployment is on course to reach the levels unseen since the Great Depression as with a backlog of claims, these figures are undercounting the number of people out of work.

In March, the jobless rate rose to 4.4%. JP Morgan predicted that unemployment could reach 20%.

Exchanges focused on expansion

In the crypto market, however, crypto exchanges are on a hiring spree. Kraken that was planning to hire 250 staffers, will be recruiting 350.

Binance recently shared that its staff has grown to over 1,000 expand its workforce 25% in the first quarter. They are hiring for more people to support its recently launched mining operation, Binance Pool.

Coinbase has posted dozens of openings while crypto exchange OKEx plans to hire more staff in May to expand its workforce of over 1000 employees.

“There’s a greater awareness of crypto as an asset class among the general public,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics about this trend that just added five full-time employees as well.

But the crypto sector has had its share of exodus too with ConsenSys cutting workers. Crypto-carrers.com also saw a decline in new positions, from 300 last year to 84 in April this year.

This could be because exchanges, which make the bulk of its money from trading fees, are benefiting immensely from the heightened volatility in not April but also from the March crash.

Halving in Effect

With halving less than 12 days away now, the speculation in the market is particularly heightened as we saw spot exchanges leading the current rally.

During the last two halvings as well, the bitcoin price exploded. In the wake of the 2012 halving, BTC price jumped from $12 to $1,000 and following the 2016 halving, the price had a 1,000% spike.

So, this workforce expansion could be crypto exchanges anticipating a flood of speculators and investors who don’t wanna miss out on the halving. Lex Sokolin of ConsenSys told Bloomberg,

“It is really nuts to me that there’s such speculation, since everyone already knows it is going to happen, and should be pricing it in as past information.”

“What we can learn is that the crypto markets are still irrational and short-term oriented, and that companies are betting on the speculation of others to drive their own staffing decisions.”

For now, Bitcoin’s price is trading just under $9,000 preparing for the miner inflow to be cut down in half.

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Author: AnTy

Fireblocks Hits $30B In Digital Asset Transfers; Expands into APAC With 2 New Offices

Leading crypto security startup, Fireblocks has announced it is opening new offices in Asia in Singapore as well as Hong Kong.

On April 30, Fireblocks revealed that its platform has so far transferred digital assets worth $30 billion and at the moment conducts transactions worth more than $7 billion every month.

The firm revealed that it is opening new branches in Asia-Pacific region both in Singapore and Hong Kong to serve the increasing demand in the area. The firm also revealed that the new offices will help in serving the local customers in their own locality. The firm also aims at attracting new institutional clients into the Secure Transfer Environment space.

The firm has witnessed an increased demand for its products and services within the Asia-pacific region. Three Arrows Capital, Amber Group and Blitz Group have already implemented the firm’s Multi-Party Computation technology.

The head of product strategy at the firm Stephen Richardson who also heads one of the regional office expounded on the interest in the Asia-pacific region to Bitcoin Exchange Guide:

“Given the engagement of regulators here in Asia around blockchain-related technologies and financial institutions, it will be critical for institutions and exchanges to operate with the highest level of speed, security, and compliance.”

The New York based firm offers digital asset security systems using proprietary software as well as hardware technologies in order to protect private keys, deposit addresses as well as API credentials for institutional clients.

The platform enables secure transaction of cryptos among exchanges, counterparties as well as wallets.

After a thorough analysis of the firm’s protocols as well as technologies, Fireblocks was granted a special insurance policy that covers assets which are in transit as well as storage. According to Fireblocks, the policy safeguards any loss of digital assets emanating from extortion, cyber breaches, among others.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

WeChat Owner Tencent Opens Applications for Its Blockchain Accelerator, 30 Spots Avail

Tencent, the Chinese operator of WeChat, announced on April 29 that they are launching a blockchain accelerator called the Tencent Industrial Accelerator.

The Tencent Industrial Accelerator is open to new and mature blockchain startups and will be made available in 30 places globally, with applications being accepted until the end of the first week of June 2020. For the projects to qualify, they will need to have conducted and at least one financing round finalized.

What Will the Main Focal Point Be?

The Tencent Industrial Accelerator will focus on recruitment in the areas of:

  • industrial blockchain solutions and data sharing,
  • digital asset transactions
  • supply chain financing blockchain applications.

Some other recruitment areas include education, energy, government affairs, manufacturing, logistics, public welfare and agriculture.

Accepted applicants will be offered for a year, 4 consultation meetings, a wide array of business and industry networking possibilities, plus access to the blockchain service platform from Tencent.

Furthermore, they will get the chance to go on an overseas visit related to the blockchain industry in their area of interest. Tencent announced that the development areas of interest accepted are:

  • Computing and trusted identity solutions
  • Smart contract security
  • Consensus algorithms
  • Multi-party governance mechanisms.

The chosen projects will be revealed in 2 months and will go through a second judging round. When it comes to how much a person needs to spend to participate in the accelerator, this is 100,000 RMB, which is a little bit over $14,000.

Tencent’s Blockchain Development’s National Scope

As revealed by recent reports, WeBank, the digital bank of Tencent, announced that it has plans to integrate the Digital Asset Modeling Language smart contract for the FISCO BCOS consortium blockchain, which is the chain that’s going to undergird the national Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN) of China.

BSN became earlier this month available for commercial applications, after being 6 months rolled out in tests. Tencent Cloud, WeBank, Shenzhen Securities Communication and Huawei are FISCO BCOS blockchain platforms founding members.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Algorand Foundation Opens 250M ALGO ($50M) Grant Program to Drive Its Blockchain Dev.

The Algorand Foundation has announced a generous 250 million ALGO grants program to fuel its blockchain development.

According to a Press Release shared on April 14, the foundation will allocate $50 million USD to further enhance its role in building participation within the Algorand blockchain network.

Currently, three stakeholders operating on this network have already been allocated 6M ALGO tokens as part of the Grants initiative. The announcement also notes that the program will take place over years, with four target categories that leverage Algorand’s blockchain.

These categories include:

  • Education & community initiatives,
  • DApps
  • Development tools
  • Innovative research based on the Algorand blockchain.

The foundation’s Head of Operations, Fangfang Chen, has since said they are optimistic on this milestone:

“We are thrilled to announce the 250M ALGO Grants Program, which is designed to support innovation that helps to grow the Algorand ecosystem,”

Chen added that Algorand believes that a public, permissionless and wholly Proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain is instrumental in the creation of a borderless or open economy.

It, therefore, follows that the foundation is committed to developing an ecosystem through the Algorand blockchain, hence its support for projects in these specific categories.

The ALGO Grant Allocation Criteria

As you’d expect, this initiative’s going to get a lot of interest and applications from teams looking to capitalize on the opportunities of this grant by Algorand blockchain.

The foundation has since outlined two specific selection criteria that will be used to identify potential projects. One of these is a project’s projected positive impact on the Algorand community.

The other catch is its quality in terms of growth opportunity. As well as the academic or technical strength of a proposal and the team’s commitment towards their Algorand based solution. However, there are plans to build an open ecosystem in future that will allow the Algorand community to vote for their preferred projects.

As mentioned earlier, three projects have already qualified for Algorand’s grant program; these being Blog, Reach and PureStake AlgoSigner. Each of these are working on different solutions to make Algorand’s blockchain network a better platform for integration for modern-day industries.

For example, Blog focuses on nodes and API performance. Reach specializes in the DeFi space, while PureStake Algosigner breaks down the barriers between Algorand network participants.

Notably, the founder of Reach, Chris Swenor, praised the ALGO Grant program for its significance,

“The grant program from the Algorand Foundation is one of the most focused programs out there, and we believe it will be instrumental in accelerating the adoption of Algorand’s platform.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Coinbase Custody, Bison Trials Partner To Roll Out Polkadot (DOT) Staking Services

  • Bison trials has recently announced its integration with Coinbase Custody while also providing support for the Polkadot protocol.

With help of blockchain infrastructure-as-a-service firm Bison Trials, Coinbase custody announced staking support Polkadot’s DOT tokens client’s, with up to 20% returns. As it was officially announced on the 14th of April 2020, the new integration will allow Coinbase Custody clients to entrust Polkadot (DOT) tokens to Bison trial validators.

Speaking to news source cointelegraph, Joe Lalloz the CEO of Bison Trials promised that this integration will make it easier for people to participate in the network and that it would smooth the running of blockchain infrastructure. This will be done by putting more emphasis on the user experience which in turn will support greater participation. The integration according to the CEO of Bison Trials will make it easy for clients to earn staking rewards by participating in securing Polkadot.

Staking could be the long awaited turnaround on crypto

Sam Mclngvale, the CEO of Coinbase Custody recently said that staking provides Coinbase Custody clients with a way to improve crypto governance. This is by participating in network rewards while chipping in to the governance and security of the general crypto ecosystem. CEO Joe Lalloz seemed positive about the whole project claiming that the future infrastructure was more promising.

Bison Trials, per recent reports, the two Libra members and Coinbase Custody are planning on adding staking service for other blockchains in the future. This however will not be the first time that the two firms worked on staking issues, back in January of this year, Coinbase Custody and Bison Trails teamed up with a lobbying organization, Proof of Stake. The two Libra members did this in a bid to push for clearer regulations on crypto.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ripple Adds New Feature to XRP Ledger 1.5.0 To Increase Efficiency and Use Cases

XRPLedger’s team announced the addition of several new features on the platform to increase the efficiency, scalability of the network and also increase its real-world use cases. The new features were added on the platform last week. XRP Ledger acts as a gateway for XRP based payment settlement and also facilitate the exchange of the digital asset.

Over the years, even though XRP has been at the center of controversy and centralization debate, XRP Ledger has turned out to be the choice of numerous banks around the globe where Ripple has partnered with over 200 commercial and central banks for cross-border remittance systems. The Blog Post detailing the new features and services read,

“support for gRPC API, API versioning, UNL propagation via the peer network, new RPC methods, augmented submit method, improved tx methods, improved CLI parsing, improved protocol-level handshaking protocol, improved package building, and various other minor bug fixes and improvements.”

The XRP developer team also notified that in the coming week they will be updating the XRP Ledger mainnet, Ripple servers as well as clusters and validators to the latest 1.5.0 version. XRP Ledger which was introduced a year back as an enterprise solution helps different financial organization to utilize the open-source software and integrate it to their existing financial infrastructure by leveraging XRP. This ledger is then used for cross-border remittance in any currency.

The XRP Centralization Dilemma

Ripple has maintained that XRP is a decentralized currency and the firm has no control over it, however, their claims are not easily believed as a majority of the token is held by Ripple themselves. Out of the 100 billion pre-mined XRP at the start, Ripple owned 80% of the total supply which it releases in the market.

While the debate over the centralization continues, Ripple is also involved in several class-action lawsuits where it has been alleged that XRP is a security, and as per the regulatory guidelines any firm cannot sell these securities unless they have been cleared by the SEC. This is the reason Telegram’s GRAM token is yet to be issued to its early investors, even though the firm was supposed to launch its mainnet back in October 2019.

Ripple, however, maintains that XRP is decentralized and there is no control over the functioning of the ledger, and even if Ripple Labs closes tomorrow the XRP Ledger would continue to function as it does today.

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Author: James W

Winklevoss Twins Crypto Exchange Gemini To Add LINK, DAI, and OXT Support

Winklevoss twins backed crypto exchange platform, Gemini has announced that it was adding three more crypto assets starting on April 24, the Block reports.

According to a blog post released by the company, users of the exchange will from Friday 24 be able to trade in Chainlink (LINK), Orchid (OXT) as well as Dai (DAI).The announcement adds to the number of crypto assets supported by the platform which include Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Zcash and Bitcoin Cash. The support for Dai makes it the first time the platform is supporting a stablecoin.

At the start of the week, the firm also revealed its plan to support the Basic Attention Token (BAT). The renowned exchange stated that starting from April 24 one can deposit the BAT tokens directly to their accounts while trading will kickoff thereafter.

According to the statement, the three assets will offer the customers a fresh way of interacting with the crypto ecosystem. For instance, with Dai, the platform users will have a chance to deposit all forms of ERC20 supported tokens consisting of Ether into Maker’s platform. The users will also be able to borrow from the token at 66% of the total deposit value and trade within the Gemini platform.

Dai has been on the rise since the start of this year. The Block reports that research indicates that during the first quarter of this year, the volume of stablecoins transactions rose by about 8% compared to the same period last year. The transactions hit the $90 billion mark this year.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Coinbase Upgrades Wallet App to Simplify Crypto Transactions In A Bid to Boost Adoption

Coinbase exchange has announced an upgrade of its digital wallet in a bid to make crypto transactions much easier. According to a blog post on April 8, the firm intends to create an ecosystem where sending or receiving digital currencies will be initiated with only a few taps. This will be facilitated in over 100 countries supported by Coinbase as well as transfers to other crypto wallets.

The new changes were made on the platform’s interface and are set to improve three major front-end functions within Coinbase. They include discoverability, execution, and confidence while leveraging Coinbase for its crypto trading services.

With the new upgrade, Coinbase users can initiate a crypto transaction through the action button as long as they are operating anywhere on the app. The update will further facilitate quick and simple currency swaps giving an opportunity for new users to intuitively navigate the Coinbase ecosystem. Finally, the exchange cleaned up its visual design; this will allow more transparency and build confidence as users will better understand the underlying of their crypto transactions.

Following this milestone, Coinbase is optimistic that it will enhance its service delivery to realize an open financial ecosystem as envisioned. The blog reads,

“Along with helping you manage your crypto and earn rewards, we believe sending and receiving will be a critical element of the open financial system.

We are excited to make this service accessible to more customers on Coinbase.”

Coinbase’s Recent Changes

This exchange has made a number of fundamental developments since the year began. Last month, Coinbase updated its address features to accommodate simple usernames such as @BEG instead of the normal complex string of characters.

Coinbase also introduced Bitcoin batching to free up space within its network and save on operational costs. This move was however criticized by some crypto stakeholders who noted that the exchange was late to game given its peers had integrated this feature two years earlier.

Another notable milestone is Coinbase Pro which was launched on android for advanced and pro traders. The San Francisco based crypto exchange is currently among the leading platforms in daily volumes traded globally.

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Author: Edwin Munyui