Former Goldman Sachs President Not a ‘Strong Believer’ in Bitcoin; It ‘May Fail’

Gary Cohn, former economic chief to Donald Trump, says Bitcoin may fail, despite the digital asset having more than a decade long history, growing adoption, and increasing value from mere cents to $19,550 today.

On being asked about his views on Bitcoin, which is on a tear, and how the digital asset and cryptocurrency fundamentally transform our economy, Cohn had the typical ‘love blockchain but hate bitcoin’ reply. Former Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday said,

“When we talk about blockchain we come back and talk about the infrastructure, that’s the highways and the pipes that are necessary for bitcoin but they’re necessary for many other applications and I think they’re very useful and I’m very bullish on them.”

As for Bitcoin, he doesn’t have a “strong opinion” on the flagship cryptocurrency, which has a market cap of $360 billion. He said,

“In essence, I’m not a strong believer in bitcoin… it is a developing asset potentially and for all the reasons it’s a strong developing asset class it may fail.”

He further explains that part of an asset class’s integrity to a system is knowing who owns it, why it’s being transferred, and if it is used for legitimate causes or corrupt practices. The 60-year old said,

“The bitcoin system today has no transparency to it, so there are a lot of people that question why would you need a system that does not have an audit trail, does not have integrity.”

According to him, Bitcoin “lacks some of the basic integrities of a real market” because “you don’t know who owns it, you don’t know exactly how much exists today, how much has been mined how much has been lost, how much has been thrown away on hard drives because they don’t exist anymore so it.”

This is the weakest argument ever for starters, he is talking about cash, and second, if Cohn had bothered to get himself acquainted with Bitcoin, he would have known the most extensive network is a transparent one, and that’s why the different government agencies have been able to catch people trying to route their funds in BTC to avoid authorities.

Haters are just going to hate and miss being part of this revolution until it’s too late.

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Author: AnTy

WEF Report Says Blockchain Is A Core Component in Sustainable Digital Finance

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released a new report about the future of digital finance on Wednesday. The WEF report noted that blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile platforms represent a core element of digital finance’s sustainable future.

The report noted that blockchain combines coming of age technologies with a sustainable environment-conscious business model. In the report, UBS executive Karin Oertli noted that all these nascent technologies could help organizations and governments to meet their sustainability goals. Oertli wrote,

“We believe that sustainable digital finance will play an essential role in efficiently channeling this capital to fuel innovation, growth, and job creation, at the same time supporting the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.”

Currently, many European countries and top silicon tech firms’ save pledged to reduce their carbon footprint to zero in the next decade owing to the growing concern over climate change and global warming. Thus it has become even more important to bring sustainable business models to rescue the planet earth before it’s too late.

New WEF Report In Line With OECD Research

The latest sustainability report from WEF is not the first report of its kind, which has touted Blockchain as the key to sustainable future business models. It reinstates the research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD report had made similar claims regarding blockchain and said,

“The core properties of blockchain and other DLT can enable deeper technological integration, standardization, and the possibility of new business models.”

Carbon dioxide emissions are growing significantly with each passing year. Some of the western countries have taken it upon themselves to make sure to cut their carbon footprint from now onwards.

The emergence of blockchain as key to a sustainable future comes just in time as crypto space has been battling the criticism over Bitcoin’s network electricity consumption and carbon emission.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Second US Stimulus Package of $1,200 on the Way as Bitcoin Bulls Gain Momentum

A second stimulus check is on the way for American citizens, according to the White House’s economic advisor, Larry Kudlow. He confirmed this position during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on July 26, signaling that the Fed’s printers might soon be busy again. This news coincides with strong crypto market bulls that have since pushed Bitcoin past $10,360 as of press time.

Earlier, BEG reported that the first stimulus round might have helped Bitcoin recover from black Thursday, given that quite a large number of Americans invested in Bitcoin. Could this new stimulus round push BTC further? A lot is clearly in play, but an injection by the Fed will likely result in a BTC rally, just like other markets have started to recover.

The European Union also recently announced plans to initiate a second Euro stimulus, aiming to distribute close to 1 billion Euros. While a direct correlation has yet to be linked to Bitcoin’s price surge following the announcement last week, speculators see the move by the EU may have contributed to Bitcoin’s price movement. The leading crypto asset had been stable for quite a while, ranging between $9k and $9.3k, but this resistance has since been broken over the past week.

Bitcoin Investors Gained over 40% ROI Since April.

With most of the stimulus payment processes clearing in April, investors who got into the market at the time are now over 45% in profit.

As the March economic downturn took a heavy toll on all sectors, the price of BTC dipped to lows below $4,000, but then eventually climbed back to almost $7,000 at the beginning of April. Looking at these stats, Americans who opted to buy Bitcoin with their stimulus money can cash out with around 40% gains depending on at which point they bought into the market.

Though considered volatile, digital assets such as Bitcoin are proving to be lucrative as fundamentals make inroads to the retail space. No wonder applications like Jack Dorsey’s Cash App are fast catching up with this trend.

The platform recently moved to allows Bitcoin purchases, including an automatic feature for such executions to grow revenue through Bitcoin’s demand. It is quite noteworthy that most of Cash App’s Q1 revenue this year came from Bitcoin purchases, a trend that might replicate itself in an even bigger way should more Americans decide to spend their stimulus on Bitcoin.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

After Swipe Acquisition, Binance to Roll Out Crypto Powered Card in EU This August

Binance Card set to launch in August this year in the European Economic Area (EEA) with the U.K to follow later, a statement from Binance confirms. The debit card allows users to shop and buy from millions of VISA accepted merchants across the world using four cryptocurrencies.

The announcement by Binance confirmed that its users in the EEA and the U.K would be able to start applying for Binance Cards beginning August. This comes barely a week after Binance announced its acquisition of credit card manufacturer, Swipe.

The Swipe-powered card allows users to use four cryptocurrencies to shop for their goods and pay for services, including Bitcoin (BTC), Binance Coin (BNB), Swipe’s native currency, Swipe Coin (SNX) and Binance USD (BUSD).

Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, CZ, revealed over the weekend he had tested the Binance Card teasing he might now be able to go 100% crypto. Speaking on the planned launch in August, CZ said:

“Giving users the ability to convert and spend their crypto directly with merchants around the world will make the crypto experience more seamless and applicable.”

Binance Card offers a point-of-sale conversion meaning that the debit card will work like the traditional bank cards. Once you top up your card directly from your spot wallet on Binance, the card will automatically convert the crypto balance once you purchase something hence no need to convert your crypto to fiat manually.

Explaining the process at the point of sale, Swipe CEO Joselito Lizarondo said:

“For example, if I have 50 euros in BTC and 50 euros in BNB, if I made a transaction for 75 euros, it would be approved, and then it would deduct my crypto in the order I selected.”

BEG reported earlier in March the beta release of the Binance Card with Vietnam and Malaysia, leading the market test.

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Author: Lujan Odera

European Union Economic Council Aims to Introduce ‘Tougher’ Laws On ‘Global’ Stablecoins

  • Chief economic minister in the European Union calls for tougher and more stringent regulations to govern the cryptocurrency industry
  • Targeting global stablecoin projects such as Facebook’s Libra

In a speech made during the Digital Finance Outreach Conference 2020, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, spoke on the regulation of the digital finance industry, urging EU states to take the step forward in guiding proper regulation of the digital assets.

As the world continues its battle to stop the spread of COVID-19, many states and organizations have turned to digital payments, and Valdis does not expect this trend to go away any time soon. He said,

“Once the crisis passes, I would not expect the process of embracing digitalization to slow down – given how quickly technology evolves and the strong demand.”

The future is pointing towards a digital finance economy, and Dombrovskis is urging the European Union to take the step forward to “embrace digital finance and make it mainstream.” However, the challenge of regulation always arises in light of new technologies given the rapid movement in the field.

To remove these regulatory barriers, the commission is looking to launch a digital finance strategy for Europe later in the year. The strategy will focus on creating laws and regulations to make the most out of digital finance, enabling the continent to compete with the U.S, parts of Asia, and Russia in the space.

Crypto assets at the test

Crypto assets and distributed ledger technologies are the first tests for the commission. The fragmented regulation of crypto across European countries is making it difficult for market integration and companies to carry out businesses freely across the trade bloc. Dombrovskis said,

“Lack of legal certainty is often cited as the main barrier to developing a sound crypto-asset market in the EU.”

While the speech gives little away on the planned crypto regulation regime, Valdis said the new regulation strategy would boost innovation and development in digital finance across Europe through a harmonized rulebook.

A closer look at stablecoins

Valdis also differentiated the need to have a separate regulation handbook for “global stablecoins” backed by fiat currency. He believes global stablecoins such as Libra “are likely to raise additional challenges in terms of financial stability and monetary policy,” hence the need to adopt stringer policies on them.

The speech did not state any specific stablecoin, but the rise of Facebook’s Libra currency has seen several financial authorities take a keen look at the stablecoin.

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Author: Lujan Odera

BIS Annual Report Reveals Increased Activity in CBDC; Emphasis on Policy Not Competition

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Annual Economic report has revealed that Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) are gaining popularity and could play an essential role in the digital innovation era.

Covered in a particular chapter ‘Central banks and payments in the digital era,’ the report paints a picture of the ongoing activity in this space. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic and Libra proposal are some of the factors that significantly accelerated research and development on CBDC’s.

The Switzerland headquartered organization has since encouraged central banks to consider CBDC’s noting the underlying opportunity in digital policy creation:

“One option at the frontier of policy opportunities is the issuance of CBDCs, which could amount to a sea change.”

The Push Factors

According to the BIS report, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift towards digital ecosystems, not sparing payment networks. The report highlights that there has been a sharp decline in cash transactions leading to a surge in e-commerce services.

Consequently, financial watchdogs are also embracing the new ‘normal’ hence the efforts towards CBDC’s in recent months.

As the U.S issued stimulus checks at the height of the pandemic, the vulnerabilities of its payment ecosystem were highly exposed. The BIS report points out that social inequalities attributed to payment ecosystems can, therefore, be solved with CBDC frameworks:

“The crisis has amplified calls for greater access to digital payments by vulnerable groups and for more inclusive, lower-cost payment services going forward.”

Another factor was Libra’s announcement back in 2019; the Facebook-led project sounded a warning for regulators globally as per the report. Before this, most had taken a laid-back approach with minimal activity in research. However, the Libra proposal has awakened a CBDC frenzy within a year.

Focus is on Policy, Not Competition

While private stablecoin proposals may have spurred the move towards CBDC’s, the organization said that regulators are focused on the policy as opposed to competition.

“CBDC issuance is not so much a reaction to cryptocurrencies and private sector ‘stablecoin’ proposals, but rather a focused technological effort by central banks to pursue several public policy objectives at once.”

At the moment, China is the most advanced jurisdiction in a CBDC integration. The Asian superpower rolled out a pilot for the digital yuan as soon as it emerged from the COVID lockdown. The PBoC backed digital currency is expected to equip China’s watchdogs with access to digital payment ecosystems.

With most of the population already using Alipay and WeChat, a migration towards digital monetary policy might not be complicated. Other nations that have signaled they will embrace a CBDC include Italy and France, which are both ready for a digital Euro.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

WEF to Tackle Corruption In Public Procurement Across Colombia Using Ethereum’s Blockchain

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) is launching a proof-of-concept (PoC) blockchain, based on the Ethereum blockchain, to reduce corruption across governments’ public procurement deals.
  • The “Transparency Project” will first be tested in Colombia to distribute the tenders for PAE public school meals program.

Global public procurement consists of over ten trillion dollars in expenditure but close to 10-30 percent of this money is swallowed up by corruption; something the WEF seeks to solve. The process offer tenders have switched from manual systems to a digital system to increase accountability, but certain loopholes still exist in the chain.

The close relationship between governments and private sectors with vast resources involved raises the incentives for corruption to take place. Moreover, the digital systems also increase the level of corruption due to low transparency levels, a highly bureaucratized system, and no reporting platform, all of which encourage acts of fraud.

Colombian Government Adopts Blockchain to Fight Corruption

An insight report compiled by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and WEF, the Office of the Inspector General of Colombia, agreed to test the Transparency Project. The PoC aims at improving government contracting processes starting with the public meals program worth billions of dollars in Colombia.

The adoption of a public and permissionless Ethereum blockchain platform provides transparency, immutability, and direct access to records of the government procurement contracts reducing the cases of corruption. Additionally, the system decentralizes the processes involved in vendor bidding and bid evaluation phases of procurement. Ashley Lannquist, the WEF’s project lead for blockchain and digital currency said,

“I think the strongest value proposition is that you could have high confidence that no records are being deleted, no vendor bids are being denied.

This came out as a key value-add and, of course, it comes the most from permissionless blockchains like Ethereum.”

A Work in Progress

Public blockchains features of data permanence and censorship resistance qualities make a case for the integration of these systems in procurement. However, the platform is far from perfect as questions of data privacy and scalability on public blockchains arise. How does this affect the Colombian government’s PoC integration?

According to Colombian law, the process of procurement must be anonymous to avoid collusion by suppliers or unfair selection of tenders. As such public blockchains, which are pseudonymous, do not meet the cut of total anonymity.

In a bid to solve this issue, WEF and the Colombian IG are looking into the possibility of launching hybrid blockchains, employing the anonymity of a permissioned blockchain, but keeping the permissionless features alive. Lannquist said,

“We thought of the pairing of public Ethereum with Hyperledger Fabric, for instance.”

“Some transactions happen on either one or the other, and you do want public [Ethereum] for the permanent record keeping.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Six Blockchain Startups Selected On World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2020 Tech Pioneers List

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced the list of technology pioneers, and among them were six blockchain-based startups. The announcement was made earlier today through the official WEF Twitter account.

The six firms consist of:

  • MakerDAO
  • Chainlink
  • Veridum Labs
  • Lightning Labs
  • Ripio
  • Elliptic

The WEF Technology Pioneers of 2020 list brings together 100 startups from across the globe, which are set to introduce or pioneer new technologies as well as innovations in different sectors, including Artificial Technology (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning.

The listing of technology pioneers by WEF started in 2000, where outstanding tech pioneers are acknowledged and recognized. The startups are incorporated in various WEF initiatives as well as events to shed more light and insights into various critical world discussions.

According to WEF, the six blockchain-based startups will be incorporated into the organization’s initiatives, events, and activities for two years to bring their fresh thinking in various global discussions.

The six blockchain startups will also become members of the WEF’s Global Innovators Community, which is an invite-only group bringing together the globe’s most promising startups.

The six startups will also be part of WEF Strategic Intelligence ecosystem that assists industry leaders as well as policy and decision-makers to navigate different transformations in various industries, economies as well as global issues. In other words, the six startups will be taken as experts to help in making important decisions by global leaders and decision-makers.

Blockchain-based startups have been recognized previously with Bitfury, which offers blockchain solutions, making it to the list last year. In 2015, Ripple made it to the list.

The recognition is essential as it helps the startups to access a wide range of expert insights as well as the market. The startups can exchange notes with other firms from across the globe. The listing will also give the six blockchain startups the much-needed exposure to potential clients.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

WEF’s ‘Blockchain Bill of Rights’ Gets Support From Governments and DLT Firms

The World Economic Forum has finally revealed Presidio Principles called the ‘Blockchain Bill of Rights’ on Friday after teasing about it for quite some time.

These new principles, which would focus on forming international partnerships and fostering diplomacy across countries for creating Digital Economy 2.0.

The document found support from 15 signatories until now, which involves the government of Colombia, blockchain firms like ConsenSys, CoinShares, Electric Coin Company, along with the United Nations’ World Food Program.

The Presidio Principles described 16 essential rights of users for blockchain networks and applications. Some of the key principles of the Blockchain bill of rights include:

  • User’s right to manage consent of data stored with third-party service providers.
  • Porting of data between interoperable networks
  • Revoke consent for data collection at any given time in future.

Victor Munoz, the advisor to the President of Columbia on the matters of economy and digital transformation revealed the reason behind their support for the Presidio Principles and said:

“We supported the creation of the Presidio Principles – as well as guidelines and design principles for public institutions – because we wanted to ensure that progress can continue rapidly and responsibly, ensuring that basic characteristics like security and data privacy are secured for our citizens,”

Apart from the few mentioned signatories, many blockchain and crypto firms are advocating for others to join WEF’s open dialogue, one of them being Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin. Lubin believes this would show the users in the community their commitment to standing for the rights of the users in the decentralized space.

The global blockchain council has been involved in the development of the framework behind the Presidio Principle since last year when it first convened in 2019. The first draft of the Blockchain Bill of Rights was made public on April 10th on Github and was open for public comments and it was available for comments until May 5.

The final version of the bill was released on May 23rd. The next step to ensure its correct implementation would be to issue different guidelines for different industries and how it can be incorporated in their current ecosystem.

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Author: James W

WEF Rolls Out Blockchain Deployment Toolkit; DLT Can ‘Revolutionize’ Global Supply Chains

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is optimistic that blockchain based solutions can be used to reboot the almost halted global supply chains. The organization has now produced a roadmap or toolkit that will help in saving the global supply chain, CoinDesk reports.

WEF believes that the use of decentralized ledger technology (DLT) can be used to solve the supply chain problems in the world that have been brought forward by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the world.

The Swiss based NGO released the blockchain deployment toolkit which aims at helping governments as well as businesses to upgrade their supply chains to conform to the prevailing economic climate as well as enhance faster global economic rebound after the end of COVID-19 crisis is over.

The report which is 244 pages long comes with checklists, guided questions and explainers, forming a consortium, public vs private supply chains, how to address the tax issues as well as data privacy, cybersecurity, interoperability, among other issues. In this case, the report is more of a barometer when it comes to deciding if blockchain will fit one’s scenario rather than a guide on implementation, Cointelegraph reports.

WEF points out that the current public and private supply chains have been severely exposed by the coronavirus crisis – giving examples of supply of food, pharmaceuticals as well as medical supplies as some of the most affected sectors.

The report also points out that transparency is key in the supply chains and use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) would enhance ‘shared truth’ among the stakeholders involved in the chain.

WEF head of blockchain and digital currency, Nadia Hewett, explained that the toolkit was developed before the start of COVID-19 crisis but its release has been fast tracked to deal with the crisis. The release of the toolkit could not have come at a better time when global economies are experiencing shocks occasioned by the crisis.

WEF is a non-governmental organization which was launched in 1971 with the aim of bringing together leaders from different fields like politics, business and academia to discuss and come up with solutions on major economic issues that are important to the global economy.

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Author: Joseph Kibe