Bank of America to Speed Up Stock Trade Settlement Using Paxos Blockchain Network

Bank of America to Speed Up Stock Trade Settlement Using Paxos Blockchain Network

Crypto firm Paxos has welcomed Bank Of America to its blockchain-based network for settling US equities.

According to Bloomberg, Bank of America has become the latest US bank to join the Paxos Network for blockchain stock settlement. The Paxos network facilitates the quick settlement of securities.

European banking giant Credit Suisse and Nomura Holdings Inc’s Instinet already use the network known as Paxos Settlement Service.

Improving Return-on-Assets for BoA

Speaking on the new development, the Bank of America’s head of financing and clearing, Kevin McCarthy, said joining the Paxos network would help improve the return-on-assets in the business, which he said has been a challenge for the bank.

Paxos Settlement Service is an alternative settlement platform to existing market infrastructure. It was launched in 2020 after receiving a no-action relief from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in October 2019. Paxos has also applied for a clearing license with the SEC.

The CEO of Paxos, Chad Cascarilla, said his platform could threaten the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), which currently dominates equity settlement. The DTCC offers a “T+2” settlement process via legacy software. The DTCC settlement takes up to two days and only offers same-day settlement for trades are recorded on or before 11 a.m.

This is unlike Paxos that settles stock trades within minutes using the blockchain. Paxos runs a permissioned version of the Ethereum blockchain.

Using Blockchain In The Stock Market

In recent times, financial firms worldwide have begun to explore how blockchain can help address inefficiencies in the financial markets. Even as the total value of stocks traded globally is pegged to be around $77.5 trillion, the complexity in stock-related transactions persists. The stock market still has problems regarding the time it takes for transactions to be approved and the operational costs.

NASDAQ is one stock exchange that has been a front-runner when it comes to adopting blockchain. The exchange already uses blockchain technology to issue and manage private securities. Most of the other exchanges are still exploring prototypes and looking into the opportunities in blockchain technology.

Banks like JP Morgan Chase have also leveraged blockchain technology to develop specialized payments systems and offer niche banking products. Since last year, JPMorgan has used the blockchain to execute intraday repurchase agreements totaling billions of dollars.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Balancer Labs Launches V2 With Promises Lower Fees, Higher Yields, and Easy Interface

Balancer Labs, a DeFi protocol operating on the Ethereum blockchain, said in a press release that its long-awaited V2 is live.

Balancer’s Governance Execution

The project, which has been one year in development, will see the automated market maker (AMM) switch its governance execution to a community multi-sig.

This will see new signers like Jake Brukhman of CoinFund, David Hoffman with Bankless, Alexander Langer of Inflection, and eight more signers forming the new community.

Alongside this, the upgrade comes with a new clean user interface to make it simpler for users to execute trades. Also, the V2 offering will see users enjoy lower gas fees, faster exchanges, and improved liquidity – major challenges the Ethereum network is hoping to address with its ETH 2.0 launch.

Speaking about the expected gas savings the upgrade will facilitate, Balancer Labs said users would enjoy a 40% gas reduction fee for simple swaps. They will also get a 53% gas reduction fee if they execute trades with internal balances.

Balancer Labs also noted that all liquidity pools would be managed within a single vault in the new V2.

However, Balancer Labs says users should continue using the V1 pool since it provides the best prices. This is until enough liquidity is moved to the new V2 protocol. The development team notes that once enough liquidity is in the latest version, all trades would be routed through its Protocol Vault so users will enjoy low gas costs and better pricing.

Concerning V2 liquidity mining, Balancer Labs said liquidity providers (LPs) would switch to a new and trustless program to mine its native token BAL. This will see LPs stake positions in different pools to receive BAL. Balancer said these pools are divided into three tiers, and each tier slot will be getting a fixed amount of BAL token per week.

DeFi Is Booming

In the run-up to its V2 launch, Balancer Labs highlighted the key contributions of a few industry players and said it had signed agreements with a few. Some of its launch partners are Gnosis which handled its user experience focusing on price, UX, and transparency. Others are Ocean Protocol, Element Finance, Aave, Gyroscope, PowerPool, Enzyme Finance, and Techemy Capital.

AMMs like Balancer Labs are hugely popular in the DeFi sub-sector, given their competitive prices and user-friendliness. In a new report by DeFi data aggregator DeFi Pulse, the UniSwap rival has racked up over $2.77 billion total value locked (TVL) in the last 90 days.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Nokia Floats Permissioned Blockchain Platform for Data Exchange

Nokia Floats Permissioned Blockchain Platform for Data Exchange

Telecoms giant Nokia is launching a private blockchain for enterprises, dubbed the Nokia Data Marketplace, per an official press release.

This enterprise solution is designed for the secure sharing of data, transactions, artificial intelligence (AI) models built within a permissioned blockchain architecture.

Nokia Designs Platform For Data Trading

The marketplace will provide enterprises and communication service providers (CSPs) access to trusted datasets. The service will facilitate real-time access to silos of trusted datasets for enterprises to choose from.

Furthermore, with the monetization of data swaps between customers, these CSPs could be empowered to grow into data marketplace providers.

The blockchain-focused effort would be useful in several sectors. These include EV charging, environmental data monetization, supply-chain automation, transportation, ports, energy, smart cities, and eventually healthcare.

Commenting on the service rollout, Nokia’s Vice President Cloud and Cognitive Services Friedrich Trawoeger said that customers are in need of secure and trusted access to data for effective business decision making.

Nokia Data Marketplace solves this problem, according to Trawoeger. The private blockchain enables CSPs and enterprises to benefit from richer insights and predictive models.

The Nokia Data Marketplace would also accelerate AI growth through a federated learning approach. This would see it use orchestration capabilities to drive the development of highly accurate machine learning models for analytic use cases. Nokia Data Marketplace is also looking to be the platform that would efficiently apply AI and machine learning algorithms for data on-site.

Enterprise Blockchain Growing

In a fast-growing digital ecosystem, more people are spending time behind their screens than outdoors. Companies are frantically searching out channels to lay hands on the numerous ways data is being created daily.

This need is even more apparent as many people stay indoors and connect to the world through their phones. Now more than ever, millions of data are being generated by the second, and Nokia may just be providing a platform where companies can easily get user info.

Aside from Nokia’s efforts, blockchain companies Stellar, XinFin, and Ripple Labs are notable players in this market segment. These combined trios have brought the blockchain-based enterprise service into the limelight and led to wider adoption of blockchain for various other uses.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

ING Report: How Blockchain & DeFi Will Change The Financial Landscape

ING Report: How Blockchain & DeFi Will Change The Financial Landscape

Multinational banking services provider ING bank has lent its voice in the ongoing debate surrounding decentralized (DeFi) and centralized finance (CeFi).

In a detailed whitepaper published on its website, the Amsterdam-based financial institution expounded on the pros and cons surrounding DeFi and how centralized finance could help institute a new economic system.

Collaboration Between DeFi and CeFi Beneficial For Global Finance

The paper titled “Lessons Learned from Decentralized Finance (DeFi)” opens by admitting the radical change decentralized finance (DeFi) has brought into the financial space.

Noting that DeFi aims to replace intermediaries with automated digital smart contracts, ING argues that negative opinions surrounding the emerging technology paint it as a foe rather than an ally.

In the 22-paged document, the European financial powerhouse noted that CeFi could help address DeFi’s area of weakness, pointing out know-your-customer (KYC) protocol.

It concluded by saying that if both entities collaborate, this could see the best of both worlds coming together to birth a new financial order.

Speaking on the document, ING’s blockchain lead Herve Francois argues that DeFi could substantially be more disruptive for the finance sector than Bitcoin has been.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) follows on the back of Bitcoin’s decentralization ethos of 2008. This nascent industry has grown exponentially in the last four years, with the largest DeFi facilitator Ethereum, boasting over $76 billion worth of assets under management (AUM) single-handedly.

The booming crypto market has seen other decentralized protocols springing up, with many providing legacy-backed services for a fraction of the cost.

Legacy Institutions Could Help DeFi

Pointing to some of the key takeaways from its study of the DeFi ecosystem, ING noted that counterparty risk is replaced with technical risk in the purely digital form of financial services.

The paper highlighted eight key features of the DeFi ecosystem that makes it rise above the current financial system naming composability, flexibility, decentralization, accessibility, innovation, and three other points.

The borderlessness that comes naturally to DeFi is a major plus, given that conventional financial institutions spend so much time and resources complying with local laws of countries they branch out to.

However, ignoring anti-money laundering (AML) and KYC requirements were the weak feet of DeFi, and this is an important area centralized finance could come in.

Using DeFi lender Aave as a case study, ING said that this disruptive technology had more accuracy, transparency, and speed than its centralized counterparts. However, it agreed that the novelty of the protocol came with inherent technical risks.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Filecoin (FIL) Launches Free Decentralized Storage Solution for NFT Markets

The solution leverages IPFS and Filecoin blockchain for long-term security of the NFTs.

Released Tuesday, NFT.Storage, a decentralized file storing system, will allow developers and collectors to ‘protect their non-fungible token (NFT) assets.’ According to the statement, the platform lets developers and NFT holders store their assets on the Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS) via Filecoin to ensure NFTs last for the long term.

The solution is a service created by Filecoin and backed by Protocol Labs and Pinata to provide unique solutions to the NFT marketplace. Additionally, users can also store metadata associated with the NFTs individually in an effort to keep NFTs ‘accessible in the long-term’, the report further states.

Mikeal Rodgers, Engineering Manager at Protocol Labs, believes NFTs – digital art pieces, music, trading cards, photos, tweets, etc. – are “part of humanity’s cultural legacy.” These assets require to be stored safely in the long term to allow the future generations accessibility of the assets, he added.

“Content addressing and distributed storage networks ensure that digital artwork, basketball cards, and virtual real estate are guaranteed to stay secure and available long-term.”

“NFT.storage makes it completely frictionless to mint NFTs following best practices through resilient persistence on IPFS and Filecoin.”

The core of NFT.Storage service to NFT holders is content addressing, which is simply marking content with hashes. Once you place an asset on NFT.Storage, a hash is assigned to the content – giving it a unique “fingerprint” that can be used to search, find and reference it anywhere on the platform. This produces a secure, unique, and verifiable content and files for NFT users.

Although Filecoin (FIL) is planning to make the storage solution free, there has been no communication on how long the “free storage” will last. The Terms of Service states NFT.Storage will be free for all participants on IFPS “for as long as Protocol Labs, Inc. continues to offer free storage for NFT’s.” All rights to terminate the free storage also reserves with NFT.Storage project.

Finally, NFT.Storage will offer data storage on the NFT solution “ad infinitum or until Protocol Labs decides to conclude the NFT.Storage project.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

SEC Moves To Expunge XRP Holders From Ongoing Ripple Lawsuit With Latest Filing

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s ongoing lawsuit against blockchain firm Ripple Labs and its executives has taken a new twist.

SEC Files Opposition To Motion To Intervene

In a recent release, the agency filed a motion to stop XRP holders from intervening in the ongoing lawsuit. The filing termed the “Memorandum of Law in Opposition of the Motion to Intervene” seeks to ensure no third party is involved in the ongoing case.

The government agency said this is because the movants have no stake whatsoever and cannot be called in as reliable witnesses due to their association with the defendants.

It also noted that their grievances are properly represented by Ripple Labs and the company’s chairman Chris Larsen and CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

The SEC noted that this is not the first occasion the movants have tried infusing themselves into the case, citing their first filing in the Rhodes Island District Court.

It, however, said that the XRP holders might force the agency to take up a legal case against the body of interested movants since there has not been any reason to bring them into the matter.

The SEC said that this intervention is summarily against the agency’s sovereign immunity, and if the courts decide to let them state their case, it may be forced to bring in other disgruntled investors who feel the defendants were not honest in their dealings with them.

The financial agency also explained that the movants’ cause is a lost one given the fact that whatever funds they lost following the lawsuit on secondary markets cannot be recovered as they are not a party to the case.

The SEC said the recent filing by the lead counsel for the movants Jordan Deaton lacked any new substantive argument as they have repeatedly borrowed from the defendants’ narrative of XRP not being a “security.”

It says this sustained discourse is similar to XRP’s position and shouldn’t, therefore, be allowed to stand in order not to foster delay and confusion.

The regulatory body also jabbed at Deaton’s motive, subtly stating that this could be a platform for the lawyer to gain Twitter prominence following the growing media attention surrounding the case.

Ripple Scaling Up Despite SEC Lawsuit

The SEC’s lawsuit in the closing days of 2020 adversely affected Ripple Lab’s partnerships and its utility token’s valuation in the secondary market.

Following the December filing by outgoing Chairman Jay Clayton, crypto exchanges in the US swiftly delisted the XRP token from their platforms. If that weren’t enough, key partnerships with US companies, went underwater with MoneyGram reneging its agreement with the embattled company.

Ripple CEO Garlinghouse had noted that most of the blockchain company’s business was executed overseas, citing the regulatory haze in the American nation as a deterrent to innovative banking in the country.

He also pointed out that only the US SEC has a problem with the XRP token given that Asian nations, the area XRP has the most influence, do not classify the digital token as a “security.”

In the months that followed, XRP dropped from the 4th most valuable crypto position to the bottom ten, and its value traded way below a dollar.

But following preliminary victories in the opening case with the SEC, the XRP has rallied significantly, and calls for the digital payment firm to be relisted on exchanges have begun making the rounds.

And as the general crypto market has rallied, the XRP token has surged after it rose 17% in April and momentarily reclaimed its position as the 4th most valuable cryptocurrency.

The San Francisco-based fintech company has also been strategically repositioning itself since the SEC lawsuit was made public. Ripple said it was launching a private version of its XRP Ledger Protocol tailored for national banks in a release on its website. This private protocol would help apex banks in the issuance, maintenance, and monitoring of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), set to serve a secondary role to fiat.

The US tech company also recently appointed former US Treasurer Rosa Gumataotao Rios as a board member. Alongside, financial veteran Kristina Campbell will serve as the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Rios’ former role as the currency maker is seen as a strategic move to sell the idea of digital currencies to anti-crypto critics. Campbell would be tasked with the responsibility of accelerating the company’s growth while delivering value to shareholders.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Indexing and Querying Protocol, The Graph (GRT), Launches A Micro-Transaction Solution, Scalar

Indexing and Querying Protocol, The Graph (GRT), Launches A Micro-Transaction Solution, Scalar

The Graph, a decentralized indexing and query protocol, announced the launch of Scalar, a micro-transaction scalable solution for fast and cheap fees on the network.

Announced Wednesday, Scalar, built on the Connext Vector protocol, will provide micro-transaction solutions on The Graph network to reduce the fees and increase scalability when querying on the protocol. Additionally, Scalar introduces incentives – paid in its native GRT token – for The Graph’s node operators and data providers.

The micro-transaction solution is developed by The Graph Foundation and Edge & Node, a software development company specialized in building and using Connext, which is a  peer-to-peer, cross-chain liquidity network specializing in micro-transactions.

Billed as the “indexing and querying layer of the decentralized web,” The Graph connects decentralized finance (DeFi) applications to different blockchains. The platform’s querying service allows users (DApps) to get data from other blockchains to enhance their functionality – especially DeFi projects. Top DeFi projects such as Uniswap (UNI), AAVE, and Synthetix (SNX) and blockchains such as Solana (SOL) have turned to the platform to link data from other blockchains.

The Graph’s indexing and querying service has grown exponentially over the past year as the DeFi, and non-fungible token (NFT) market took center-stage in the crypto universe. According to the post, The Graph hosted query service has exceeded 14 billion queries in February alone and 19 million in March – representing a 10,000% increase from last year as the crypto world turns to Ethereum-based DApps.

With the rising number of queries, The Graph turned to Scalar micro-transactions to reduce the average load time for DApp users, which could blow out of proportion on current systems. A statement from the dev team reads,

“Using Scalar, node operators have a new way to monetize their infrastructure through query fees paid in GRT, and data providers can be paid directly for making useful data available for apps without paywalls and ads.”

The scalar solution uses state channels to aggregate and compress transactions before being finalized on-chain. In the post, The Graph Foundation states they have been working and researching heavily on how state channels work before starting the development of Scalar two years ago.

“This is the first time state channels will be used in broad-scale production,” Tegan Kline, co-founder and business leader at Edge & Node, stated.

“Scalar is this major new building block for infrastructure in the decentralized applications space. We’ll be using this within The Graph ecosystem to be able to handle the billions of queries that we’ve seen on The Graph’s hosted service, in The Graph’s decentralized network.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

MIT Blockchain & Crypto Course Prof, Gary Gensler, Confirmed as the SEC Chairman by US Senate

MIT Blockchain & Crypto Course Prof, Gary Gensler, Confirmed as the SEC Chairman by US Senate

Gary Gensler has been finally confirmed as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after a 53-45 vote by the Senate on Wednesday, the day the crypto and traditional markets are all eagerly awaited the Coinbase listing on Nasdaq.

Gensler, chosen for the nation’s top financial regulator by US President Joe Biden, began his career as a banker at Goldman Sachs. He previously also served as chairman of the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission (CFTC) and implemented new rules around derivatives in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

As SEC Chair, not only Gensler will play a key role in enforcing and drafting rules that govern Wall Street but will also be shaping the regulations addressing the crypto industry.

The crypto market has high hopes from Gensler, even SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce said in a public statement that with the new chair, this

“is the perfect time for the Commission to consider afresh how our rules can be modified to accommodate this new technology in a responsible manner.”

Gensler, who has taught about blockchain and cryptocurrency at MIT, said last month during his confirmation hearing that he will work on promoting both innovation and investor protection in the sector. At the time he had said,

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion, but they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to.”

The crypto market is also expecting good news regarding a Bitcoin ETF approval under his chairmanship.

“I think digital assets will be his legacy,” Michelle Bond, a former senior counsel at the SEC who is now CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets told CNBC.

“This is a global phenomenon. He is going to focus on registration of exchanges, regulation, retail protection, and he will be looking to root out fraud and manipulation.”

“This is a man who created a regulatory framework for swaps, and he has all the expertise to create a firmer regulatory framework for digital assets.”

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Author: AnTy

CoinList’s Rally Network Liquid Token Sale Attracts 40k Users to Buy $22 Million in RLY

CoinList’s Rally Network Liquid Token Sale Attracts 40k Users to Buy $22 Million in RLY

Rally, an open network powered by the Ethereum blockchain, has raised $22 million from its liquid token sale on CoinList, a crypto asset issuance platform.

44,000 Investors Join The Rally Family

Investors numbering 40,000 purchased the RLY tokens for $0.60 each between April 1 and 4, 2021, per a CoinList post. The sale was originally approved in March through community governance.

The investments were limited to $1,000 per person, with nearly two-thirds of the offerings with 115,000 registrants missing out on participating.

Commenting on the sale of the liquid token, Rally founder Kevin Chou explained that the project aimed to advance the number of people personally involved on the Ethereum-based platform that mints “social tokens” for digital asset holders to flex their crypto clout.

To make up for the RLY that was locked up for 12-month a linear, the token pricing, which was set at $0.60, was determined by a 20-day trailing average from March 11, 2021, to March 30, 2021, minus a 30% markdown.

Some weeks ago, investors had the privilege to purchase RLY for less than half the price offered by CoinList on the open markets.

With 40 million RLY sold having previously been allocated to Rally’s Community Treasure, the liquid token sale got approved through community governance last month.

Following the sale, the share price of Rally has increasingly been gaining momentum. So far, close to 250% since trading for less than $0.29 on March 12. RLY consistently traded between $0.25 and $0.35 from mid-January until mid-May. At the moment, RLY last changed hands for $1.

However, half of the tokens will become tradable on October 4, after which the remaining RLY will unlock gradually monthly.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Cosmos Dev Team, Tendermint, to Launch Decentralized Exchange With B-Harvest Acquisition

Even as the race to solve the blockchain trilemma heats up, blockchain protocols are rolling out features to navigate blockchain technology into a more sustainable ecosystem.

While others have done this through rolling out upgrades, some others have relied on acquisitions of blockchain projects addressing a part of the challenges to scale up.

Tendermint Brings B-Harvest Onboard

In a move to further solidify its place in the crypto space, Tendermint announced the recent addition of B-Harvest to its development team.

The announcement made on April 7 will see it achieve its goal of launching a decentralized exchange.

Before the acquisition, B-Harvest was focused on building a decentralized exchange (DEX) that would facilitate interchain token exchange. The project called Gravity decentralized exchange would use Cosmos’ ATOM utility tokens to maintain its network consensus. This would see the Cosmos Hub used as the heart of the interchain to aid the trading of tokens from connected chains, including those from Cosmos-powered networks.

B-Harvest is not a stranger to the Cosmos blockchain. According to the Tendermint development team, it is one of the oldest validator nodes in the Cosmos ecosystem. A September 2020 partnership saw Tendermint and B-Harvest join forces in developing the Gravity DEX Liquidity Module.

Tendermint claims to have great plans for B-Harvest’s Gravity DEX.

According to the blockchain company, Gravity DEX would serve as an interchain bridge on the Cosmos Hub between network activity for the Cosmos network and other blockchains.

B-Harvest itself will continue providing validation services for multiple delegated proof-of-stake (dPoS) networks and ensure the growth of decentralized applications (dApps). It will also look into the decentralized governance of the ecosystem.

Speaking on the acquisition, Tendermint’s Chief of Staff Jin Kwon said it is a strategic move to further build and develop the Gravity DEX while adding valuable features to the Cosmos Hub.

Tendermint, however, did not state how much it cost them to bring B-Harvest on board.

Tendermint Becomes Fully Interoperable With IBC

Tendermint has been working hard in the past couple of months to create a more collaborative blockchain ecosystem.

In the Feb. 2021 release of its much anticipated “Stargate” upgrade, Tendermint drew closer to its goal of creating a protocol that would allow different blockchains to transfer data and tokens amongst themselves. The launch, built for developers, came with some other enhancements, notably faster upgrades and auto-sync of full nodes. The blockchain was also expected to run more efficiently, cutting downtime and energy waste.

Stargate, an early form of interoperability, is the first step towards the Cosmos Network agenda of introducing a fully interoperable ecosystem for private and public blockchains.

In a tweet post, Cosmos announced that its Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol was live on the Cosmos Hub, making it easier for sovereign blockchains to communicate with one another. This interchain exchange will lead to the cross-pollination of data and tokens between private and public blockchains.

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Author: Jimmy Aki