Supply Chain Protocol VeChain Seeks Consensus to Enforce Major Upgrade

Vechain (VET) Launches Voting Process for VeChainThor Proof of Authority 2.0 Upgrade

Blockchain-powered supply chain platform VeChain is looking to implement ‘mass adoption’ of its blockchain solution. In a recent release, the protocol called on community members to vote on adopting a new consensus algorithm.

PoA 2.0 Best Of Both Worlds

VeChain set out to address the issues in the supply chain industry, and to a large extent, it has been successful. However, the protocol seeks more adoption and is planning on launching its upgraded blockchain protocol.

A blog post reported that this new upgrade would be the best of both worlds, combining the prestigious Nakamoto mining algorithm with the Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus mechanism.

This is expected to form a new proof-of-authority (PoA) consensus algorithm, PoA2.0, which will enable higher throughput and high scalability while ensuring no data loss and a secure platform.

The upgrade called SURFACE is geared towards enabling more institutional adoption of the VeChainThor blockchain. SURFACE, which stands for a Secure, Use-case-adaptive, Relatively Fork-free Approach of Chain Extension, will comprise three major components. This includes a VRF-based source of randomness, a committee-based block-producing process, and a passive block finality confirmation process.

So far, the VeChain Foundation has been able to implement the first part of its VIP-193 upgrade. Also known as the VRF-based source of randomness. It balances the unpredictability and unbiasedness of the block-proposing schedule while allowing for the highest level of data security. This component is expected to make it impossible for anyone to predict and subsequently doctor the block proposers ahead of time.

The two remaining components are currently up for votes, with the VeChain Foundation requiring all stakeholders to either accept or reject the new upgrade.

The voting is expected to last for a week and commenced on October 11, continuing to October 18.

VeChain Closes Deal With Blue Aqua

The new upgrade will take into account three sets of key stakeholders. This will be the Authority Masternodes with 40% voting authority, Economic X nodes with 40% voting authority, and the Economic nodes making up the remaining 20% voting authority.

Stakeholders will be required to cast their vote to adopt the PoA 2.0 Phase 1 upgrade of the VRF-based source of randomness on the VeChain Thor Mainnet or choose to discard the upgrade.

However, the news has not positively impacted VeChain’s price, with the digital asset largely trading in the red.

Trading currently at $0.10518, VET is down 5.94% on the daily chart, with the market valuation dipping 5.85% as well.

VeChain recently partnered with Singapore-based aquaculture service provider Blue Aqua to adopt blockchain traceability in the shrimp farming industry. This will see the urban farming company integrate with VeChain’s ToolChain for implementing a traceability system for seafood source, quality, and sustainability of their farming operations.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Dubai to Allow Crypto Trading within Tax-Exempt Economic Zones

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed an agreement with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) to support the trading of cryptocurrencies in DWTCA’s free zone, reported the state news agency.

Under this agreement, a framework is established that allows DWTCA to issue approvals and licenses necessary to conduct financial activities relating to cryptocurrencies.

“Dubai poised to become crypto hub,” commented Su Zhu, CEO, and co-founder of Three Arrows Capital. “Crypto bigger epochal shift than the discovery of petroleum itself.”

As part of its efforts to drive innovation and become a digital economy hub, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority also announced on Wednesday that it would support the regulation, offering, issuance, listing, and trading of crypto and related financial activities within its free zone.

SCA meanwhile will be overseeing, monitoring, and inspecting entities operating within this free zone.

As the region’s financial hub and tax haven, Dubai has taken several steps to bolster the use of blockchain within the city.

The Airport Free Zone Authority of Dubai also signed a similar agreement with the SCA back in May. In June, a Bitcoin Fund – the first of its kind in the region – was listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange.

According to financial analysts, Dubai is well-positioned to benefit from the growing crypto market in the Middle East as regulators work on favorable rules leading to its acceptance and promotion of blockchain-based technologies.

“With the rise of new technologies such as non-fungible tokens set to play an important role in the future of commerce…DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of DWTCA.

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Author: AnTy

Dallas Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban, Calls for Proof of Authority Basis to Crypto Regulation

Dallas Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban, Calls for Proof of Authority Basis to Crypto Regulation

Crypto regulation in the United States remains a hot-button topic, especially following recent moves by regulatory watchdogs in the country. While many are wary of these regulators and their views on the industry, some pro-crypto names are welcoming the possible developments.

A Trade-Off for Privacy

Earlier this week, crypto enthusiast and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban said on Twitter that he would be open to the idea of crypto regulation as long as it would be centered around existing fraud laws.

Cuban, whose Dallas Mavericks are one of the few NBA teams to accept crypto payments, explained that the ideal crypto laws would require identity and Proof of Authority. This way, it keeps innovation alive and protects consumers.

As Cuban explained, implementing a regulatory regime based on Proof of Authority will reduce cryptocurrencies’ anonymity and privacy – two tenets on which digital assets stand. However, it seems to be a healthy trade-off considering the stability that the market will be getting from stable regulation.

While Cuban has grown into one of the crypto industry’s biggest spokesmen, he remains steadfast in his push for regulations. In July, following the bank run on decentralized finance (DeFi) stablecoin protocol, Iron Finance, Cuban called for increased stablecoin regulation.

Speaking with Blomberg, Cuban blamed himself for being “lazy” and not doing enough research on Iron Finance. But, he also called for additional regulations to the space. Despite the pushback he got, Cuban reaffirmed that regulation could be a good thing.

At the same time, the billionaire hasn’t been all pro-government. He criticized the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate last month and looks to impose tighter reporting rules on crypto businesses.

Regulators Moving in On Crypto, Stablecoins

The current regulatory landscape remains unstable, although agencies are working hard to bring some clarity to the industry. Earlier this week, Gary Gensler, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), told the Senate Banking Committee that he and his team are “working overtime” to regulate crypto and protect investors.

In the hearing, Gensler explained that ensuring oversight hasn’t been easy – considering that there are well over 6,000 digital assets and more people are getting into the space by the day.

The policymaker requested additional time – as well as people – to get regulations past the goal line.

Besides the SEC, the Treasury Department is also working towards stablecoin regulation. A recent Bloomberg report showed that the Department is preparing a review showing the challenges posed by stablecoin redemptions and the possible effects of a run on the crypto market.

As the report states, Treasury officials are looking to mitigate “the most urgent risks” associated with Tether (USDT) and other stablecoins while also pointing out the threats that a “fire-sale run” on cryptocurrencies could have on broad financial stability.

USDT remains the most dominant stablecoin, holding about 56 percent of the market. Criticism has slammed the asset’s redemption process and backing, with some holders claiming that they’re unable to redeem their tokens for fiat.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SEC Needs More Authority to Prevent Crypto from Falling Between Regulatory Cracks: SEC Chair

SEC Needs More Authority to Prevent Crypto from Falling Between Regulatory Cracks: SEC Chair

In a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Gary Gesler targets DeFi and stabelcoins and said more resources are needed to protect investors in this growing and volatile sector.

US Securities and Exchange (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler sent a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren, which she released this week, responding to her inquiry regarding the SEC’s authority to regulate crypto platforms.

“Right now, I believe investors using these platforms are not adequately protected,” wrote Gensler in the letter and reiterated that they should focus on crypto trading, lending, and DeFi platforms and work together with Congress, the Administration, and fellow regulators. Warren said in a statement,

“I’m glad SEC Chair Gensler agrees and has directed the SEC to use its full authority to address these risks, and that he has also identified where additional regulatory authority may need to be granted by Congress.”

Warren is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and chair of its Subcommittee on Economic Policy and has also called on the Financial Stability Oversight Council to use its authority to regulate cryptocurrencies.

In the letter, Gensler detailed that the American public is buying, selling, and lending crypto on both centralized and decentralized platforms that can implicate the securities laws and, in some cases, even the commodities laws and banking laws.

“I believe we have a crypto market now where many tokens may be unregistered securities, without required disclosures or market oversight.”

He noted that the test to determine whether a crypto asset is a security, the Howey test, is “clear,” and the agency has brought dozens of actions in this area and hasn’t yet lost a case.

“I’ve urged staff to continue to protect investors in the case of unregistered sales of securities.”

The letter primarily reiterated what Gensler said earlier this month at the Aspen Security Forum. Once again, he pointed to the rise of the stablecoins embedded into the crypto system and may seek to sidestep a host of public policy goals connected to the traditional banking and financial system.

He also pointed out how, unlike traditional markets, in crypto, investors trade without an intermediary 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from around the globe.

“I believe we need additional authorities to prevent transactions, products, and platforms from falling between regulatory cracks. We also need more resources to protect investors in this growing and volatile sector.”

This comes amidst the $1 trillion infrastructure bill with crypto tax provisions passing the Senate without the amendment that excludes miners, stakers, validators, and developers, required to report to the IRS, and is now moving to the House. Jerry Brito, executive director of CoinCenter, said,

“The House is currently in recess and not scheduled to come back until Aug. 23 (tho they could be called back sooner). We’re taking a minute to regroup and begin coordinating with members who are supportive of our effort.

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Author: AnTy

CFTC Wants A Piece of Crypto Too, But More Concerned About DeFi

CFTC is reminding the SEC that it is them who has authority over crypto-assets, while Senator Elizabeth Warren is urging for more crypto oversight to avoid possible systemic risks before it gets even bigger.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is urging US regulators and Congress to respond to the growth of cryptocurrencies.

“Right now, we don’t have any cops on the beat to speak of,” said Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, in an interview with Bloomberg.

“So long as it’s an unregulated system, you may be pulling more people in so that they can get cheated, and that’s not what we want.”

While the senator does see positives for the technology behind crypto assets in potentially providing a solution for “unbanked” who are required to pay high fees to cash their checks, Warren also said regulations need to be stepped up to avoid any possible systemic risks.

“The bigger it gets and the more it stays outside the financial system — something goes wrong, there’s a run on crypto, or elsewhere in the economy, I don’t want the U.S. taxpayer to be the one that gets called on to back this up.”

Warren further pointed to pump and dump schemes that are illegal but often not punished due to unclear oversight on the industry.

Her comments follow US Securities and Exchange Commissioner (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler talking about bringing more crypto enforcement actions on the market, which he said is rife with manipulation and fraud.

He called for Congress to give the SEC the power to oversee crypto exchanges, which are not within the SEC’s authority, along with crypto lending, decentralized finance.

Gensler also said that many tokens, not just crypto assets but also stablecoins and derivatives, may fit the definition of securities that fall under existing US laws.

However, it’s not just the Fed, IRS, and SEC after crypto, but other agencies like CFTC wants a piece of the pie as well.

“Just so we’re all clear here, the SEC has no authority over pure commodities or their trading venues, whether those commodities are wheat, gold, oil….or crypto assets,” tweeted CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz on Wednesday.

Quintenz also retweeted several tweets regarding crypto, including one from the House Committee On Agriculture that said, “crypto is bigger than the SEC. Congress needs to write the rules of the road to protect investors AND innovation in the digital economy.”

Quintenz seems to be more interested in and concerned about DeFi.

Last week, in response to Warren talking about the need to regulate crypto before many small investors get entirely wiped out, Quintenz said that CFTC has already extensively used its authority over outright crypto token fraud. It’s the decentralized systems with full transparency of open source code that “significant(ly) reduce information asymmetries.” He said at the time,

“The competition-innovation cycle occurring in defi, powered by almost zero barriers to entry and total transparency (both unprecedented in the traditional financial system), is incredible to watch. But CFTC must stay vigilant at prosecuting outright fraud.”

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Author: AnTy

Monetary Authority of Singapore Partners With World Bank and IMF to Launch Global CBDC Challenge

Monetary Authority of Singapore Partners With World Bank and IMF to Launch Global CBDC Challenge

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched a global challenge for financial institutions to submit ideas and solutions relating to retail Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

The apex bank unveiled the challenge in partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Global Challenge To Seek Solutions For CBDC

The Global CBDC competition seeks innovative retail CBDC solutions to enhance payment efficiencies and promote financial inclusion.

Financial technology (FinTech) companies and financial establishments around the world have been invited to contest this challenge.

According to the bank, the competition would see participants submit solutions to 12 unresolved problems regarding CBDC instruments, distribution, and infrastructure.

At the end of the contest, three winners will be chosen, with each receiving S$50,000 (US$37,193) in prize money. In addition, up to 15 finalists would have the chance to receive mentorship and access to the APIX Digital Currency Sandbox.

The sandbox offers a comprehensive test and development platform, including a host of different application programming interfaces (APIs).

The chosen finalists would pitch their solutions to a global audience on Demo Day at this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival. The Singapore FinTech Festival is a global festival that will be held from 8 to 12 November 2021.

Other UN agencies which MAS partnered with on this project include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Capital Development Fund.

The Global CBDC Challenge will also be supported by Amazon Web Services, Mastercard, payments platform Partior, blockchain software developer R3 and blockchain project Hyperledger.

Banks Around The World Working On CBDCs

Many central banks around the world are currently developing CBDCs. According to reports from Bison Trails, 80% of Central banks are studying CBDCs and making efforts to make their currencies compatible with the digital economy.

Most of these advancements are focused on wholesale CBDCs, which will promote central bank-level payments. However, some are also considering retail CBDCs, which consumers and businesses will be able to use like cash.

China still has the lead in developing and deploying CBDCs. The country is currently testing a digital Yuan version, where customers can transact payments over their mobile phones.

The US kicked off a Digital Dollar Project last month to test how a Federal Reserve-issued CBDC would operate.

The project, which consists of five pilot projects, is aimed at evaluating how the digital dollar can benefit people who are unbanked or underbanked as well as individuals who do have access to banking services and small businesses.

Meanwhile, unlike other countries, El Salvador took a more radical approach as opposed to having a CBDC. The country recently became the first to make Bitcoin a legal tender.

El Salvador is also considering mining Bitcoin using geothermal energy derived from volcanoes.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Monetary Authority of Singapore Warns: Crypto is ‘Highly Risky’ & ‘Not Suitable for Retail Investors’

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Warns: Crypto is ‘Highly Risky’ & ‘Not Suitable for Retail Investors’

Singapore is warning the public about the risks of trading cryptocurrencies. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in response to a parliamentary question on Monday said,

“Cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile, as their value is typically not related to any economic fundamentals.”

“They are hence highly risky as investment products, and certainly not suitable for retail investors.”

Crypto funds are not authorized for sale to retail investors, he added.

Tharman, a senior minister and coordinating minister for social policies, said the MAS has powers to impose additional measures on digital asset service providers, under which crypto exchanges are regulated, as needed.

At the beginning of the last year, Singapore introduced new payments legislation, The Payment Services Act, which allows the global crypto firms to expand their operations in the country by applying for operating licenses.

MAS Chairman’s comments came as the total cryptocurrency market cap surged past $2 trillion amidst the rising prices while BTC continues to trade around $58,500. While crypto trading in the country surged significantly over the past year, it remains small compared to traditional markets.

The combined peak daily trading volumes of Bitcoin, Ether, and XRP accounted for just 2% of the average daily trading volume of securities on the main stock exchange last year, said Tharman.

Amidst all this, authorities have stepped up efforts to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with crypto assets, he said. In similar news, Singapore-based crypto trading platform Torque is shutting down after at least 70 police reports were lodged against it as investors claimed to lose millions in cryptos.

For this, MAS is raising awareness on the risks of investing in crypto and has increased surveillance of the sector to identify suspicious networks and higher-risk activities that may need further scrutiny, Tharman said.

“The crypto-assets space is constantly evolving.”

“MAS has been closely monitoring developments and will continue to adapt its rules as needed to ensure that regulation remains effective and commensurate with the risks posed. Investors, on their part, should exercise extreme caution when trading cryptocurrencies.”

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Author: AnTy

Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) Sees A Sharp Rise in Crypto-Related Fraud

Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) Sees A Sharp Rise in Cryptocurrency Related Fraud

The Austrian regulator reported a record amount of potential frauds in 2020. And cryptocurrencies are at its center, with two-thirds of investment fraud reports related to digital assets trading products.

Besides cryptocurrencies, the frauds were related to gold and stocks, Financial Market Authority said in a statement.

A rise in scam offerings for digital assets was seen on “dubious” platforms that were often advertised on social media like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, or TikTok, the regulator said.

“We see a great need for stricter regulation,” FMA spokesman Klaus Grubelnik said on Friday.

He further said the prosecution of these cryptocurrency-related frauds was even more difficult because investigations have to be conducted across borders. While fake offerings for bullion and stocks have been around forever, the shaft has now been seen towards the digital assets “because of the hype,” Grubelnik said.

In 2021, so far, the price of Bitcoin has surged past $57,000, hitting a trillion-dollar market cap. The entire cryptocurrency has been enjoying a bull run, with the overall market capitalization going past $1.75 trillion.

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Author: AnTy

New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority Warns Crypto Investors to Watch Out for Scams

New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority Warns Crypto Investors to Watch Out for Scams

New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has become the latest financial watchdog to issue cryptocurrency risk warnings to crypto holders and investors.

The warning is coming as the crypto market is witnessing a gradual contraction in market prices. The financial watchdog has warned citizens dealing with crypto assets to be wary of the risks since digital assets are not regulated in the country. FMA stated,

“Cryptocurrencies are not regulated in New Zealand and are often exploited by scammers and hackers.”

A rise in crypto scams

Based on NZ Herald’s report, the FMA has expressed worries about the increasing cryptocurrency scams in New Zealand, with several unregulated digital exchanges promising unusually high returns that are unrealistic.

This latest announcement from the FMA is coming barely 24 hours after the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning about the risk of cryptocurrency investments in the country.

Highly volatile market

The watchdog added that New Zealanders looking to invest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies should be very careful because they are highly volatile and risky investment vehicles.

The FMA said it shares the FCA concerns, and crypto holders and investors should be prepared to lose all their invested funds if they continue in the highly volatile crypto market.

Many cryptocurrency exchanges based overseas are not regulated, as they carry out their business exclusively online. As a result, investors of such exchanges are at high risk of losing their entire investments if something goes wrong in the market. The FMA noted that there is no assurance that their funds will be safe since it’s difficult to find out who is selling, buying, exchanging, or offering the cryptocurrencies.

In the past year, the crypto market has risen substantially, as almost all the digital assets added considerable gains. Now the overall market cap of crypto assets stands at over $1 trillion, with Bitcoin having about 70% of the share.

In 2020, the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency rose by more than 300%. But with the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, more people became interested in the crypto market. As a result, crypto scams more than doubled as well.

Elliptic, a crypto assets risk management provider, reported recently that threat actors are hiding stolen Bitcoin in privacy wallets. Some criminals are also using pictures and details of famous people to deceive crypto holders on fake news websites.

The threat actors have used scam Bitcoin ads featuring unauthorized pictures of celebrities and personalities like Waleed Aly, Chris Hemsworth, and Andrew Forest to lure their victims to part ways with their cryptocurrencies. The report revealed that these cybercrimes are linked to threat groups from Moscow.

Verifying registration status of the exchange

New Zealand’s watchdog has also issued an advisory to crypto investors who deal with crypto exchanges. According to the regulator, users should verify whether the exchange holds their New Zealand dollars in a trust account. They should also ensure that the exchange is dully registered with the Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR), which is required in the case of a dispute resolution.

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Author: Ali Raza

PBOC Planning Technical Pilot Testing of Digital Renminbi (e-CNY) for Cross-Border Payments

The central bank of China and Hong Kong Monetary Authority is now discussing the technical pilot testing of digital renminbi for cross-border payments, said HKMA on Friday. The launch date for e-CNY hasn’t been set yet.

Sharing the recent development in the cross-border payment area, Eddie Yue, the chief executive of Hong Kong’s central banking institution wrote,

“The HKMA and the Digital Currency Institute of People’s Bank of China are discussing the technical pilot testing of using e-CNY, the digital renminbi issued by the PBOC, for making cross-border payments, and are making the corresponding technical preparations.”

He further notes that with renminbi already in use in Hong Kong and e-CNY being the same as cash in circulation, “it will bring even greater convenience to Hong Kong and Mainland tourists.”

This development was shared in HKMA’s article on “A New Trend for Fintech – Cross-border Payment,” where it talks about the share of e-payment in Hong Kong being one of the highest among the world’s developed economies.

While the domestic payment service has become highly digitized, development in cross-border payments is lagging behind globally.

For this, HKMA launched a joint research project with the Bank of Thailand last year to address the various cross-border payment issues by using central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and a blockchain platform. Yue noted,

“The research project has entered its second stage, including exploring specific business applications as well as the operability and scalability of the platform to allow the participation of three or more CBDCs.”

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Author: AnTy