COVID-19 Has Uncovered The Need for Verification by Blockchain In A Social Distancing World

Blockchain technology has proven to be a game-changer, even though cryptocurrencies which brought it into the mainstream is still struggling on the regulatory front. While cryptocurrencies were believed to liberate the society from a centralized financial system, blockchain has found various use cases well beyond the financial ecosystem. As of today, blockchain is being actively used in the field of supply-chain management, agriculture, healthcare, and education to name a few.

Many mainstream firms such as IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, and Microsoft have shown great interest in blockchain technology creating numerous solutions based on the decentralized tech to help enterprises become more efficient. CB Insights in its latest report has calculated that the blockchain solution spending would cross $16 Billion marks by 2023 and also identified at least 58 industries that have limitless potential to harness the decentralized tech.

Key Industries Where Blockchain can Excel

CB Insights report pointed towards numerous industries that can implement various blockchain solutions in their system to see the added benefit of transparency in data, decentralization. The key industries included,

Banking:

Banking services have become more online and digital in the past decade with services like PayPal and Jack Dorsey’s CashApp becoming mainstream. As of today even in the developing nations the need to physically go to a bank for any form of service has reduced significantly. While a majority still need the banks for a number of financial needs, it is no secret that only middle-class and rich folks are the main beneficiaries, while a poor find it difficult to even open a bank account.

Decentralization and blockchain technology can prove to be the real savior of the unbanked and the recent rise of the DeFi ecosystem is a clear example of how decentralized finances can become mainstream with enough reach. DeFi technically does the same thing as a banking system i.e to offer loans and lend money, but without the discrimination.

The fintech industry has seen a rapid growth of near 23% year-on-year and blockchain could be the perfect catalyst to push it in the mainstream. Jan Sammut, the founder of IBIS Brokers explained how blockchain can change the financial world,

“Finance is definitely the sector that has seen the most blockchain adoption.

Since blockchain networks combine settlement, computing, and the unit of account in a single layer, they are perfectly suited to applications such as P2P lending.”

Voting:

Elections are one of the keys practices of any democratic nation, and thus conducting a free and fair election is the core of democracy. Almost every democratic nation currently makes use of the physical casting of ballots to ensure that the casted ballots are valid. The voting process also requires authentication of voter identity secure record-keeping of casted ballots and final tallies to determine the winner. While this process has been carried out for centuries, the ongoing pandemic has made everyone think to look for an alternative to being physically present at the voting booth.

Remote voting through blockchain systems is being actively tested in the USA where people can cast their votes directly from their mobile phones and the casted votes are maintained trough a blockchain-based ledger which ensures privacy and security. With enough trials and testing, blockchain-based voting systems could prove to be a boon for many who cannot go out to cast their votes.

Supply-Chain:

Supply-Chain management has adopted blockchain with open arms and one of the key industries which have ramped up the incorporation of various use cases of the decentralized tech to track goods, food, and beverages. Be it Nestle, one of the biggest food and beverage producers, or French Supermarkets like Carrefour. Most of these firms have experienced the efficiency of implementing blockchain tech in their work process.

IBM has turned out to be one of the biggest suppliers of the enterprise-grade blockchain solution in the supply-chain industry.

Jack Barrett, the CEO of Catalyst commented on the trend of blockchain technology in the supply-chain management suggesting,

“Blockchain is finally breaking out of the hype phase as we have begun to see its innovative capacity at work in the financial industry, the supply chain sector, the real estate market, and so on.

Personally, I see this technology take root and completely overhaul traditional financial systems plagued with cumbersome and costly processes.”

Blockchain Solutions are being actively used in a number of industries and that is only going to grow further as its popularity rises. The decentralized tech has proven to be more efficient and reliable than the centralized systems most of these industries have been using. And given the growth rate of the fintech industry which is near 25% per year, it won’t be a big surprise if the blockchain revolution comes way early than what many experts are anticipating.

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Author: James W

University of Waterloo Prof: Ripple’s XRP is More Environment-Friendly Than PoW Based Bitcoin

The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought back attention towards maintaining a cordial relationship with our environment. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the whole world has come to a standstill as roads become empty and factories shut down.

While the pandemic for sure has created a sense of uncertainty, it has also given a pause to mother nature from constant carbon emission and pollution which in turn has resulted in clearer skies and improved conditions for our ozone layer.

While the world will not be the same once we get past these troubled times, its time for some introspection and how we take our environment for granted.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies are going to play a pivotal role in the financial future, and thus sustainability should be a top priority for the decentralized space as well. Ripple, one of the key players in the decentralized space, is at the forefront of this initiative where its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), in association with the University of Waterloo is looking into ways that cryptocurrency can be made more sustainable.

Professor Hasan and Research Associate Crystal Roma along with their team recently published a research paper on the cost of running an XRP Validator node.

The research found that running one for a year would cost around $63, which was a great contrast to the fact that mining a single Bitcoin cost anywhere between $531 to $26,170. Professor Hasan noted that:

“Energy consumption is a big issue for blockchain, and it’s important that we identify better alternatives that can replace Proof-of-work algorithms.”

Bitcoin and the Environmental Woes Associated With PoW Based Mining

Bitcoin is certainly the king of cryptocurrencies, be it in terms of monetary value, its market cap or market dominance.

However, being such a prominent name also bring a lot of criticism along with it and while there have been many controversies associated with the king coin including its scalability and price volatility issue, the most prominent one is the label of being not so environment-friendly primarily because of its mining consensus Proof-of-Work.

The debate around high electricity consumption for mining Bitcoin, and its respective carbon footprint, arose during the last quarter of 2018. It’s estimated that the amount of electricity consumed in the bitcoin mining process is equivalent to the energy footprint equivalent to the size of a country like Austria.

Experts have since debunked the allegations of having a massive carbon footprint, claiming a majority of the power utilized to mine Bitcoins come from clean source energy, however, there is no denying the fact that Bitcoin mining does consume a significantly high portion of electricity without any direct output of that consumption.

While in many cold countries, miners have modified their mining rigs to use it as a modified thermostat, yet the concerns loom large.

Proof-of-Work mining consensus is considered the most secure consensus at present as it requires multiple miners to input their hashpower to mine the next block, making it difficult for hackers to gain control over the network.

On the other hand, Proof-of-Stake the second-most popular mining consensus select a miner on the network based on their on-chain activity and thus instead of hundreds of miners putting in their hashpower, which in turn leads to a lot of wastage of electrical energy, only the selected one mines the block.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Will COVID-19 Accelerate the Demise of Cash? It Puts CBDC’s into Sharper Focus: BIS Head

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill and it has added to the misery of the financial institutions as well as governments to manage their deficits in these troubled times. While governments are on a money printing spree to get through. The ongoing crisis has also led to a rise in global discussion around Central Bank Issued CBDC’s and brought a sharper focus towards the concept.

During a webinar hosted by Accenture last week at the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee – Chamber of Digital Commerce, the head of the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub, Benoît Cœuré primarily talked on two key areas resilience and technology. Cœuré believed these two key areas would be of great importance in the post-COVID-19 era for central banks and payment gateways

He further elaborated that the ongoing pandemic exposes the loopholes in the financial system and brought out the importance of technological advancements with time. He also believed the focus of central banks and governments should be to look for technologies that can work at arm’s length and overcome present issues of social distancing. In short, he believed that in the post-pandemic era there will be drastic changes in human behavior and consumption patterns which would have a lasting impact on how economies functioned in the pre-COVID era. He explained that there would be significant changes to the payment technology and elaborated,

“The payment industry immediately comes to mind. Payments have been at the forefront of technological change recently. A rapid shift towards digital payments can improve cost, transparency and convenience for billions of consumers. International cooperation is needed to support technological capacity in developing economies, ensure interoperability between national systems, enhance cross-border payments and remittances, and support financial inclusion – in short, to avoid spatial and social fragmentation.”

Physical Cash May Start to See a Decline in Demand

The ongoing pandemic is also going to change how people used physical cash. The head of BIS believed that it is an open question whether the present situation would lead to the demise of use of cash. But, it would surely accelerate the adoption of digital payments. He also believed that the global discussion around CBDCs would see a sharper focus and explained,

“The current discussion on central bank digital currency also comes into sharper focus. Whether COVID-19 will accelerate the demise of cash is an open question. But already, it highlights the value of having access to diverse means of payments and the need for any means of payments to be resilient against a broad range of threats.”

There has been a lot of debate about whether central banks should launch their own digital currencies and that debate has been fueled further by China who is already testing their national digital currencies in several cities.

Interestingly, China is among the most advanced nations when it comes to payment modes where almost 90% of the population is using a digital form of payment which are integrated into their daily use applications. This makes it even easier for the country to implement and issue CBDCs since they won’t have to make significant changes to their payment infrastructure. The ongoing crisis has only proved the need for such innovations and a majority of the nations are believed to spring in action once the pandemic situation is under control.

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Author: Lorraine Mburu

FBI Issues Warning to Crypto Holders About Increasing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought the whole world to a standstill, with the majority of countries worldwide placed under strict lockdown measures to contain the spread.

The crypto community remains enthusiastic, despite the ongoing crisis, with the upcoming Bitcoin Halving just a month away. However, this enthusiasm has also made them vulnerable to scams.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a warning on Monday specifically for crypto holders, suggesting they be prepared for a surge of coronavirus-centred crypto scams in the coming weeks.

Cryptocurrencies have turned out to be a lucrative investment in the past couple of years, which has drawn the interest and investments from people of all kinds, be it institutional investors, small-time traders, young or old. This rapid rise in interest has also given way for scammers to lure many into Ponzi schemes, promising high returns in a short period of time.

However, the risk of scammers has risen significantly in these troubled times where a majority of the population are uncertain of their financial future, as most of the financial markets hit record lows and scarce investment opportunities.

The FBI believes scammers are praying on these insecurities to steal people’s hard-earned money, and launder it through the complex ecosystem of decentralized coin exchanges. While entities like Huobi have taken steps to prevent these activities, buyers beware.

FBI Believe Scammers May use Humanitarian Aid as Cover for Scams

The FBI warning noted that the scammers might use a number of methods and curtail their pitches on emotion quotient in the ongoing situation, where they might pretend to be from organizations looking for donations to help the needy.

The FBI also believes blackmail could also be a scamming avenue for making money. Where the scammers may threaten to infect the victim’s family with the Coronavirus.

The FBI has also urged people to be cautious and, use common sense and not let their emotions get better of them.

The agency has also stated that people should refrain from donating to anyone before verifying the credibility of the source, and report any suspicious website/s or person/s asking for donations.

While there is no clarity on why the agency suddenly issued such a specific warning, it seems there have been many COVID-19-themed scams in the past couple of weeks, prompting the authorities to issue the warning.

In one instance, scammers managed to collect $2 million from PPE seekers in Asia. A few scammers in the UK and USA were found sending malicious texts which drew attention from financial regulators.

A Chainalysis report has revealed that the ongoing pandemic has brought down funding of these scams by one third. This, however, hasn’t discouraged scammers from trying to phish people as their number of attempts have remained constant.

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Author: James W

Plaintiffs Withdraw Class Action Lawsuit Accusing Bitfinex, Tether of Manipulating BTC Prices

The class-action lawsuit brought against Bitfinex and Tether for manipulating BTC market prices has officially been withdrawn by the complainants.

According to court documents filed in the Western District of Washington on 7th January 2020, Adam Kurtz and Eric Young, the plaintiffs who had accused the two firms of manipulating BTC market prices have chosen to opt for voluntary case dismissal. The two initially filed the case against iFinex, the parent company to Bitfinex and Tether on 22nd November 2019.

The two petitioners had indicated in the court documents that they were crypto traders focusing on BTC trades. When filing their case, they purported that the two aforementioned companies had provided erroneous trade details. They also claimed that both companies had entered into an agreement that would see them take over the BTC market.

New York’s Attorney General Case

By relying on a past case that had been brought forward by the NYAG the petitioners also went as far as to accuse the respondents of attempting to influence the bitcoin market by printing unbacked tethers. The original filing by the plaintiffs read that:

When Bitcoin prices were falling, Defendants and their co-conspirators printed USD₮s and artificially increased the price of Bitcoin.”

Bitfinex had come out to strongly deny the accusations leveled against it by the plaintiffs. A company spokesperson states that the allegations were baseless and mercenary. The spokesperson went as far as to state that the company was more than willing to challenge any nuisance defrayals.

While it has not yet been established what motivated the two to drop their case, it’s worth noting that the laws in the United States will let someone re-file their suit at a later date. However, they cannot bring it back to the court if they decide to withdraw it for a second time.

Tether had filed a letter of intent that stated their intention to put forth a motion that would lead to the dismissal of yet another class-action lawsuit. In this case, Tether had been accused of manipulating BTC prices, and the plaintiffs were seeking damages to the tune of one trillion dollars.

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Author: Daniel W

Bitfinex and Tether Get Dragged to Court for Second Lawsuit, Alleging BTC Price Manipulation

Bitfinex was previously brought to court over research that revealed that Bitfinex and Tether participated in price manipulation. Bitfinex stated that the research is “foundationally flawed.”

Bitfinex and Tether have become no strangers to the legal system recently with the plentiful media attention on their honesty (or lack thereof) over what their platforms hold. Now, as if one lawsuit wasn’t good enough, the twosome has been hit with another class-action suit, which was filed this week. According to an article by Finance Magnates, Bitfinex is rejecting the claims made against it.

As Bitfinex sees it, the lawsuit has been brought on by a “copycat” that is against Bitfinex and Tether, stating that they’ve been manipulating Bitcoin prices with the stablecoin’s use.

The lawsuit, which was filed with the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, was filed on Friday, and was the second of its kind. The lawsuit was preceded by similar action by lawyers that brought the exchange to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The exchange stated,

“As we predicted last month, mercenary lawyers continue to try to use Bitfinex and Tether to obtain a payday. To be clear, there will be no nuisance settlements or settlements of any kind reached. Instead, all claims raised across both actions will be vigorously contested and ultimately disposed of in due course. Once they are, Bitfinex and Tether will fully evaluate their legal options against those bringing and promoting the baseless claims.”

iFinex operates both Bitfinex and Tether as the parent company, and the executives of iFinex control both companies, which has likely led to many of the controversies. There’s been research published by two academics, revealing that Tether was manipulating Bitcoin prices ahead of the 2017 rally.

However, the plot thickened as Bitfinex was used to manipulate the market in this circumstance, which put both of the companies on the line. Even with this research, Bitfinex and Tether have both attempted to shut down the claims, stating that the study was “foundationally flawed.”

Bitfinex added that neither they nor their affiliates had manipulated the market or the price of tokens with Tether tokens. They added,

“It is irresponsible to suggest that Tether or Bitfinex enable illicit activity due to the efficiency, liquidity, and wide-scale applicability of Tether’s products within the cryptocurrency economy.”

Controversy is already common in the cryptocurrency industry, based on consumers that have still yet to catch up with the trend. However, the issues surrounding Bitfinex and Tether continue to follow the platform, as yet another lawsuit has come against them for price manipulation.

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Author: Krystle M

The Infamous Bitcoin Time Traveler is Back, This Time He Wants You to “Sell your Bitcoins”

You remember that time-traveler guy from 2014 who brought the good news from 2025? He who said Bitcoin would be worth $10,000 in 2017, $100,000 in 2019 and a million in 2021?

Well, turns out he was a Bitcoin bear all along.

That’s right.

All those, “dollar is no longer used” or any central bank-issued currency for that matter, and ASICminer, IMF, Government of Saudi Arabia, and the North Korean government will be the largest Bitcoin HODLers, the wet dreams of a CT-based Bitcoin proponent are no longer his views.

He has come to realize that Bitcoin just “wastes electricity” and doing “ecological damage in an era when we should be focusing as a society on reducing our carbon emissions.”

The time traveler did all his research this time, read all those papers, and found that annual carbon dioxide emissions from the Bitcoin network are as much as the country of Jordan and accounts for 0.2% of global electricity use.

Well, there was another study that found that the majority of electricity (74.1%) used by Bitcoin actually comes from clean sources like solar, wind, and hydropower and is “more renewables-driven than almost every other large-scale industry in the world.”

But let’s not talk about that.

We have to talk about reducing the ecological damage that Bitcoin mining is causing. What do you have to do to prevent that, you ask?

Time Traveller has the answer. Unlike “you must find a way to destroy this godforsaken project in its infancy,” like last time as that ship sailed a long time back, you just have to

“sell your Bitcoins,” now.

Because let’s face it, you are gonna lose all your coins anyway as “history has shown.” This also illustrates “why Bitcoin is not a good investment option.”

And don’t even look at Shitcoins.

Time Traveler says other cryptos share Bitcoin’s flaw, most of them and let’s not forget that “these coins don’t produce anything.” Well as Mark Cuban said Bananas are better options at least you can eat them.

You may say what about fiat money, it doesn’t have any intrinsic value as well. But you see, they might be based on thin air but they have people believing in it.

I know what you are thinking, Bitcoin holders and investors believe in it the world’s leading cryptocurrency too, a bit too religiously some may say, but you just can’t just print it endlessly. So, No. Bananas for life.

And also, don’t forget that “history has shown that people who invest money in the stock market will generally end up witnessing much higher returns than people who buy gold.”

I thought one BTC was going to be worth a million in the next six years? Well, I think that theory invalidates once you realize the renewable energy Bitcoin is wasting.

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Author: AnTy

Teenagers Apprehended in Bitcoin Drug Ring Over the Dark Web in Dublin, Ireland

Teenager-Apprehended-in-Bitcoin-Drug-Ring-Over-the-Dark-Web

While there are many advantages and benefits that cryptocurrency has brought the world there are a number of downsides and one of these is the use of cryptocurrency for the purposes of committing crime.

This has been an issue as law enforcement around the world has reported more incidents of scams, crypto being used for illegal activity and so on and while there is more knowledge about crypto and thus, more chances of such crimes being persecuted, the menace continues.

One of the most recent crypto crimes that have been uncovered is a drug smuggling ring whose kingpin had been taking advantage of teenagers as young as 14 to store large amounts of narcotics that had been purchased over the dark Web.

According to reports, the kingpin ran an enterprise that distributed various drugs in the West Dublin area which included cocaine, MDMA and ketamine.

Recently a 17-year-old boy was arrested over with over $682,000 work of ecstasy that was seized at Lucan postal center and he is believed to be a holder for a drug dealer that was paid off for the purpose. The teenager was later released without charge.

However, he is far from the only one involved in this operation as local authorities said that there are dozens of young people in various areas within Ireland that are holding drugs on behalf of these crime syndicate in a bid to reduce legal risk and take some of the repercussions of them.

Crypto, the Dark Web, and Drugs

This highlights yet another issue that is ongoing in the industry which is the cryptocurrencies are being used heavily for criminal purposes over the dark web. The dark web is a section of the internet that is not accessible via traditional browsers and needs specialized software to access.

The dark web offers a great deal of anonymity and has created a breeding ground for the sale of drugs, human trafficking, and other criminal activities. While the advent of cryptocurrency meant that payments were easier for legitimate users, it also created a new avenue by which criminals could make their payments without getting caught as in a case like this where the drugs were reportedly purchased with cryptocurrency.

However, there is an ongoing crackdown on the dark web as international police disrupted two of their most prolific drug markets in a series of raids around the globe and seized roughly $600,000 in cash as well as cryptocurrencies such as monero and bitcoin.

This goes to show that cryptocurrency has found a great deal of use on the dark web for this purpose as it was reported that the use of bitcoin over the dark web doubled in 2018 compared to 2017 and shows no signs of stopping him with all the raids taking place.

There is a debate about whether this will affect the overall reputation of cryptocurrencies or whether it is an inevitable side effect that cannot be removed from the overall equation.

For now, the drug ring in Dublin is being investigated by local authorities as well as narcotics squads who are being joined by Ireland’s national Bureau of criminal investigation, the Garda national drugs, and the organized crime Bureau.

Should these criminals be apprehended, it could shed more light on just how far-reaching their activities on the dark web are and what role cryptocurrency played in the activities.

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Author: Tokoni Uti