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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author: AnTy

Huobi Launches Global DeFi Alliance With Compound, dYdX, Nest & Maker as Founding Members

  • Top crypto exchange, Huobi, launches a decentralized finance consortium with five founding members.
  • The group aims to enhance the research, development, and growth of the DeFi industry.

Huobi cryptocurrency exchange launched the Global DeFi Alliance, a five-team consortium including two of the top lending protocols, MakerDAO and Compound, decentralized exchange dYdX, and DeFi price oracle platform, Nest. The group aims at promoting the adoption of DeFi products and providing solutions to the international collection of industry players.

Discussing the launch of the Global DeFi Alliance, Sharlyn Wu, Huobi Global Chief Investment Officer said the platform would promote research and development in the industry as well as promote collaboration between DeFi service providers and platforms across Asia, U.S. and Europe. Furthermore, the Alliance aims to create a standardized protocol on DeFi welcoming a more ‘harmonized field’.

The launch of the consortium opens up the potential for collaboration across decentralized finance app developers in Asia and across the world, Wu stated. She further praises DeFi products as “the first attempt in human history to build a modern financial system without credit risk” further stating the industry’s growth will unleash the power of free economy across the globe.

Wu joined Huobi Global earlier this month from the China Merchant Bank International (CMBI) to head the exchange’s DeFi fund. While she acknowledges the rapid growth of DeFi products, she adds that gaps remain that need to be filled. She said:

“However, there are still many gaps that need to be filled, from theoretical research and technological development to ecosystem development.

Not only are centralized financial institutions still far removed from crypto-native communities, but there’s also a divide between Asian and Western DeFi communities.”

The Alliance will look into adding more partners in the coming future from a vast number of DeFi companies and developers.

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Author: Lujan Odera

3 Blockchain Firms, iExec, IoTeX, and R3, join Linux Foundation’s Privacy-Focused Consortium

  • Data privacy-focused group, the Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC), which includes heavyweights such as Microsoft, Intel, Alibaba, and Huawei, announces the addition of six companies, including Facebook, Google, Accenture and three blockchain-based firms – IoTeX, iExec, and R3.

The CCC was launched in late 2019 by the Linux Foundation to bring together developers with a frequent need for data privacy to create confidential computing solutions. The CCC employs a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) technologies. TEEs allows data to be stored and computed on an excluded and secured area, preventing sensitive data from interacting with other parts of the device or application that may be less secure.

TEEs are heavily used on biometric security systems on smartphones, which keeps sensitive information from unauthorized apps. The data on TEEs is only available to authorized systems allowing systems to run without exposing massive amounts of raw data, which prevents AI and machine learning hacking. In a statement on TEEs, Stephen Walli, chairman of the CCC governing board said,

“Securing data-in-use in hardware-based TEEs can strengthen other security- and integrity-related technologies [such as blockchain-based apps].”

Walli also confirmed that the consortium’s annual budget would be bumped up to $800,000 for the 16 companies in the group so far.

Blockchain firms, IoTeX, R3, and iExec, join CCC

Only half of the new entrants in the consortium deal with blockchain-related services, with R3 an enterprise-focused blockchain company, IoTeX is an internet-of-things company that integrates blockchain technology to secure data and iExec, a decentralized cloud computing firm. The three companies will join Oasis Lab, the only blockchain company present among the CCC founding members.

Blockchain technology and TEEs share the common property of data security. The experience that these blockchain firms can bring data privacy TEEs so users will be able to not only “own their private data, but also to use it in a privacy-preserving way,” Raullen Chai, CEO of IoTex, said in a statement.

According to Chai, the introduction of TEEs in confidential computing will solve two main issues in people’s everyday data privacy – facial recognition and contact tracing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facial recognition and Contact tracing solutions

As governments enhance their public facial recognition systems, there is a group of citizens that fear the data may not be secure enough, which may be hazardous if the system is hacked.

Chai stated the company is working on a confidential computing solution that leverages blockchain technology to offer a middle ground for both the governments and skeptics. He said,

“Facial recognition processes can be executed within a secure TEE-based confidential computing environment, where the raw data (people’s faces) and a cross-referencing database of faces can be analyzed and subsequently forgotten after the desired results are obtained by governments.”

Governments across the world are contributing millions to improve contact tracing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, users providing their location data has been tough given the security and trust issues patients have.

With the introduction of blockchain levered TEEs and confidential computing, Chai said a trustless platform would be created, meaning that users will not have to worry about their private and sensitive data being shared or used without their consent.

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Author: Lujan Odera

OOC Oil & Gas Consortium Successfully Tests Blockchain Management System for Wastewater

The Offshore Operative Committee (OOC) Oil & Gas Blockchain Consortium, comprising of companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Repsol has successfully completed pilot blockchain management program to automate payment, reduce costs and time for transporting wastewater, reported Reuters.

The water haulage program would streamline the process of transferring wastewater and other by-products produced during oil and natural gas extraction. The blockchain pilot automatically measured the volume of by-products and generated invoices in real-time.

The blockchain management system has been developed in partnership with blockchain software developer firm, Data Gumbo. The pilot run ended in late January and turned out to be a success as it reduced the amount of time that was required to transport the wastewater from ‘90-120’ days to ‘7 days’.

The blockchain pilot also reduced the need for human intervention significantly from 16 steps to 7 steps. The automation process also ensured that 85% of volume data on the network gets automatically validated due to the information provided by other parties involved on the network. They are confident that soon, they would be able to verify 100% of the data on-chain.

Rebecca Hofmann, the chairman of the 10-company consortium, was quite happy with the pilot run and lauded blockchain technology for bringing efficiency in their work process. She said:

“The results of this pilot prove that non-manned volume validations can trigger automated payments to vendors, and showcase the opportunities that exist for blockchain to reduce costs, increase efficiency, provide transparency and eliminate disputes in the oil and gas industry.”

The pilot wastewater management system was undertaken in partnership with Nuverra Environmental Solutions, who managed the water disposal of oil wells. The blockchain management system was tested on 5 Equinor wells located in North Dakota, and all five wells returned high efficiency with the use of blockchain.

The OOC Blockchain Consortium now plans to implement the system with its mainstream production sites.

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Author: Silvia A

VeChain Picked To Spearhead The Use Of Blockchain Solutions Asia Pacific Provenance Council

A freshly formed consortium known as Asia Pacific Provenance Council is banking on blockchain to enhance efficiency in supply chains that exports Australian agricultural surplus estimated to be worth about $76 billion to China each year.

The consortium has partnered with VeChain public blockchain which will enable solo shipments containing agricultural produce such as avocados which will be tracked from their Australian picking point of pick up to their arrival in China for consumers to buy them. The partnership will enable each member of the supply chain to easily confirm the products that have been shipped, their location as well as their storage conditions such as temperature, humidity and other components.

VeChain will also offer Australian companies such as Fresh Supply Co (FSC) fresh product tracking capabilities like exporters as well as logistics operators to record how different agricultural lots are moving via supply chains, international shipment service providers as well as customs.

David Inderias, Fresh Supply Co CEO stated that the technology will be helpful in improving trust among those involved. He explained:

“…being able to say that our products are safe, and that we have tracked them, is going to be table stakes for dealing with China.”

The current COVID-19 pandemic and its effects all over the world, necessitated the urgency of the partnership, VeChain stated. The firm explained that the pandemic is a threat to producers of food and manufacturers as well as vendors all over the world.

VeChain explained that it seeks to become an enabler empowering its partners with blockchain technology to help in development of apps for different sectors of the economy.

In a statement shared with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, VeChain CEO Sunny Lu explained how the platform will help in the current COVID-19 crisis. He said:

“The implementation of blockchain technology certainly contributes to buffering the immediate economic impacts of the pandemic for the enterprises, and will help improve productivity by unleashing more resources and growth opportunities.”

In the recent past, public awareness when it comes to food safety has gone up and blockchain technology will help in keeping with the track.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Swiss Crypto Association Rolls Out A 1:1 Bitcoin-Backed ‘tzBTC’ Token on Tezos For DApps

A consortium of Swiss based crypto firms have come together to launch “tzBTC”, a bitcoin-backed token on Tezos blockchain in a bid to kick-start decentralized finance (DeFi) on its programme.

This recent move to incorporate bitcoin onto Tezos blockchain is a step closer in rivaling Ethereum blockchain which introduced bitcoin applications more than a year ago. DeFi evidently grew rapidly on Ethereum in 2019. Tezos blockchain was launched back in 2018 with an aim of playing host to a new generation of decentralized finance (DeFi), social and business projects.

The Tezos Foundation has teamed up with Bitcoin Association Switzerland along with a number of Swiss digital asset service providers among them including Sygnum, Inacta, Swiss crypto token and Bitcoin Suisse to create the TZBTC digital token. The token gives its holders the ability to interact with Tezos smart contracts while attaching on the value of the Bitcoin. Tezos foundation operational head Roman Schnider told swissinfo.ch that the collaboration openly demonstrated that Switzerland is a leader in financial innovation.

Lucas Betschart the president of Bitcoin Association Switzerland said in a press statement that the new token brings the brand and the liquidity of the blockchain. Furthermore, it gains the potential for rich functionality made possible by Tezos smart contracts. The head of operations at the Tezos Foundation Roman Schnider said that atomic swaps are for building out DeFi exchanges and perhaps a wrapped Ethereum (ETH) token. He more so insisted that this partnership was the first in kind but was a roadmap to a better future on the same front.

The main consideration under the recent integration was that intermediaries such as banks and lawyers were not paramount during exchange of items of value. This promises to ease full operations while promoting accessibility and flexibility. This new system all but ensures that privacy will be preserved, as well as bring efficiency and transparency to established digital systems.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Crypto Rating Council Adds IOTA, BAT and USDC, While Ripple Gets Ignored

The Crypto Rating Council (CRC) is a consortium of United States-based crypto firms who advocates for better regulatory clarity in the crypto space and is backed by the likes of Coinbase, Kraken, Bittrex, and others.

Given the growing debate over whether cryptocurrencies fall under the security category apart from Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) (they are considered as assets, given the level of decentralization and transparency), they analyzed a number of digital assets to determine whether they possess traits of Security.

In a blog post dated 2nd April, CRC revealed that they have inducted three new cryptocurrencies in its list with different ratings which include Basic Attention Token (BAT), USDCoin (USDC), and Iota (IOTA). The blog post also revealed that the recent analysis was based on reviewing their previous ratings along with new developments and available information in the public domain. CRC also updated the scores for Maker and Polymath tokens.

How Do CRC Ratings Work?

CRC rates each token on a scale of 1-5, the higher the rating, the higher its chances of showing traits of security. Security ratings are important since it ensures that these are not sold unregulated. Every country has different security laws and they must adhere by them and have a regulatory clearance before making it into the market. However, it is also important to note that CRC is not affiliated to any government body and its ratings are not endorsed by any developers, regulators or third-parties.

The CRC rating gave IOTA an overall score of 2.00 which makes it unlikely for it to be considered as a form of security. IOTA has always claimed to be among the decentralized projects and belive the current rating by CRC would really help it expand its credibility in the US market. The firm responded to their rating of 2.0 saying,

“With our Crypto Ratings Council rating, we believe the US market and CRC’s partner organizations will feel more comfortable and confident engaging with the IOTA token and protocol.”

Apart from IOTA, even BAT scored a 2.00 rating on CRC while USDC scored the lowest of 1.00 suggesting it inhabits the least qualities of security. USDC which is a US Dollar backed stablecoin, even DAI, the decentralized stablecoin scored 1.00 on CRC ratings suggesting stablecoins shows the least traits of security.

Ripple Shows High Traits of Security

Ripple backed XRP token when evaluated by the CRC back in 2019 scored 4.00 rating that suggest it shows high traits of Security. While CRC ratings are not taken into consideration by any government-affiliated agency or security regulators and probably won’t change any of their opinions, but Ripple is facing a lawsuit for being security in the United States. XRP still maintains a rating of 4.00 on CRC.

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Author: James W

WEF’s New Global Consortium To Focus On Cryptocurrency Governance Framework

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced the creation of a global consortium which will come up with a governance framework for all cryptocurrencies comprising stablecoins.

In a blog post, WEF announced that after extensive consultation among the global community members, an international consortium which will work closely with financial institutions, representatives of governments, developers as well as other global community members to analyze the type of crypto governance which can enhance financial inclusion.

Klaus Schwab, WEF founder who is also the chair, said that virtual currencies are critical area of interest which needs input from different sectors, geographies as well as functions. He said:

“Building on our long history of public-private cooperation, we hope that hosting this consortium will catalyse the conversations necessary to inform a robust framework of governance for global digital currencies.”

According to CoinDesk, the new consortium will aim at providing solutions to the current fragmented regulatory regime in different countries. The consortium will also advocate for innovative regulatory approach in order to enhance technological advancement. The consortium is also expected to come with principles that will encourage the public and private players to work together in exploring the various prospects which comes with virtual currencies.

The international consortium has the backing of various central banks basically from the developing countries and different non-governmental entities. The consortium also has backing from Mark Carney of Bank of England who has previously argued that digital currencies have great potential.

The initiative received support from industry players such as Libra Association’s David Marcus, ConsenSys’ Joe Lubin as well as Neha Narula from MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative. They all praised the efforts taken by the WEF.

The new developments come just a few days following the forum’s blockchain head, Sheila Warren together with Sumedha Deshmukh who came up with ‘Blockchain Bill of Rights’. Last week, various central banks stated that they will set up a working group which will analyze how the crypto technology can be used in the finance sector.

WEF also announced that an international technology governance summit will be held on April 21-22 this year.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Bank of America Becomes Newest Member of the Marco Polo Blockchain

Bank of America has joined the Marco Polo consortium. The goal of this partnership was to bring more efficiency to the bank during international trades and settlements.

The Marco Polo network was created by TradeIX and the R3 consortium. The platform has the goal of connecting several institutions in real-time to let them access capital more easily and increase their visibility in trading relationships.

Bank of America’s main reason for starting the partnership is that the institution has always strived to offer to its clients excellent financial and trade solutions and the Marco Polo network offers more services that can be important for the company to achieve these goals.

The head of global trade at the bank, Geoff Brady, stated that joining the network is important for the company to achieve its long-term objectives and to offer the solutions that the clients need the most. It makes the process more transparent and the clients can see it happening this way.

Also, this technology can be used to eliminate paper records, which are considerably expensive to keep and can make the whole trading process considerably slower.

David E. Rutter, the CEO of R3, has become a part of the Bank of America group now and affirmed that other banks should join Marco Polo as well. According to him, the blockchain technology is growing a lot and transforming how the financial market works.

Mastercard also joined this consortium recently, which shows how important Marco Polo has become. The Bank of America itself is a huge company. It is the 13th largest bank in the world and the 6th largest public company in the U. S.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

R3 Plans Expansion as Company Announces New Office In Dublin by 2020

The blockchain consortium R3 is amid a big expansion. This week, the group revealed that it plans to open up a new office in Dublin, which will be inaugurated in 2020. The announcement comes on the heels of the last one, that the company would double the size of its London office.

According to R3, this new office will be focused on serving as a tech hub. It was also affirmed that the local team would team up with the already existing London team on some occasions.

This is all a part of the company’s expansion move. In order to increase its popularity around the whole world, R3 is on a hiring spree. Dublin is an obvious choice as no one is actually sure what will happen to London post-Brexit.

The CEO of R3 David Rutter affirmed that not only the city is connected to London but it also because there are several experts in the blockchain there. This could help in order to find the talent that will make the office be successful.

The Enterprise Blockchain Sector Is Becoming Important

The time in which blockchains were only used by random people on the internet is long over. The age of blockchains for enterprises has just started and it is shown to be incredibly successful. While still a very new sector, some of the largest companies in the world are investing in it as they prepare for the future.

According to Rutter, R3 is the kind of company that will be active in diverse ecosystems and starts partnerships that will help enterprises all over the world to make the most of their blockchain applications.

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Author: Gabriel Machado