Decentralized Indexing Platform, The Graph Introduces Incentivized Data Curation

Decentralized indexing platform, The Graph is extending its decentralization efforts by launching decentralized data curation. In a statement this Thursday, The Graph is releasing ‘The Graph Explorer’ and ‘Subgraph Studio,’ allowing curators on the platform to contribute and earn incentives.

The launches aim at creating an open and competitive data curation space ensuring data remains useful, accurate, and reliable. With these upgrades, The Graph is finalizing its goals to give its users a fully decentralized indexing platform.

Founded by Edge & Node, The Graph offers users a decentralized indexing protocol to blockchains such as Ethereum. Since its launch in 2018, the protocol has attracted hundreds of developers (mostly on Ethereum), who use its “subgraphs,” or open APIs, to collect and consolidate transactional information across different dApps on Ethereum and the Interplanetary File system (IPFS).

With the launch of the Graph Explorer dApp and Subgraph Studio, any developer or user can permissionlessly deploy subgraphs and curate on subgraphs in exchange for ‘query fees,’ paid in its native token, GRT.

Subgraph Studio and the Graph Explorer DApp

The Graph uses its Open APIs to represent data collected on a blockchain transaction. These subgraphs contain lists of useful information that can be used by developers to build dApps. The subgraphs index the data collected on Ethereum and stores it on the network. DApps then query the subgraphs to obtain transaction data from the blockchain, powering their front-end interfaces.

The launch of the Subgraph Studio allows users to create, test and deploy their own subgraphs on the network for incentives. This aims to increase the number of DApps selecting to build on The Graph’s network.

“Subgraph Studio represents a fundamental shift in delivering software,” a statement from The Graph post reads. “Now developers can publish subgraphs to mainnet by deploying to the Studio and paying for query fees seamlessly via gateways and billing.”

Currently, eight dApps, including udius, DODO, Livepeer, mStable, Opyn, PoolTogether, Reflexer, and UMA, have decentralized their data curation using subgraphs and more are expected to follow.

Practical use of subgraphs

There are two network participants on The Graph – indexers and curators. Indexers are the ones who sort out the data through subgraphs and arrange it to make it more palatable to users. These indexers are then paid in GRT tokens. However, the competition amongst indexers means that only the best will be selected for rewards based on the quality of data.

To claim GRT rewards, indexers need to provide a Proof of Indexing (PoI) to ensure the data is accurate. Once provided, the rewards are unlocked automatically but can be ‘slashed’ if the data is not accurate or best quality.

Similar to Yelp or Uber ratings, curators on The Graph rate and rank the most important subgraphs and signals to indexers to use them for their dApps. For their efforts, curators are paid query fees in GRT, incentivizing them to focus on the most important subgraphs that power the most useful blockchain applications.

“You’re incentivized to select good subgraphs that are actually being used,” Baptiste Greve, product manager at Edge & Node, said.

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Author: Lujan Odera

OCC Mulling Partnership with Feds and FDIC To Regulate Crypto

  • US financial regulators are ramping up efforts to regulate the burgeoning crypto industry.
  • The new head of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), Michael Hsu, has made this known in a recent House Committee on Financial Services hearing.

Joint Task Force On Crypto

According to the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen appointee, a combination of the OCC, Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) may soon end cryptocurrencies’ regulatory uncertainty.

Hsu mentioned this in a virtual hearing titled “Oversight of Prudential Regulators: Ensuring the Safety, Soundness, Diversity, and Accountability of Depository Institutions.”

According to Hsu, the OCC has spoken with the Feds and the FDIC to create an “interagency sprint team.” The joint task force would focus on creating a regulatory framework for the nascent industry.

This was in response to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who pressed each regulator on what their respective agencies were doing to combat bad practices in the crypto space.

Also in attendance was Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Randal Quarles and FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams.

Confirming Hsu’s comments, Quarles said that the agencies in question were focused on the crypto issues at hand and aim to have answers and joint views soon.

The lack of regulatory clarity has served as a red flag to institutional investors from staking in the emerging technology.

Calls for a dynamic regulatory framework have been on for some time, with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner Hester Peirce saying the SEC needs to step up to the task.

But Hsu said that a “fragmented” approach to crypto regulation might not work out in the long term. He is deeply concerned as the lack of collaboration among regulators on this financial innovation is a pain point for many investors.

Too Many Cooks Spoil The Broth

The US crypto space has been fraught with many views on how cryptocurrencies should be regulated. Each government agency has used an independent rule book in determining what constitutes a security or a commodity.

An example is the SEC classifying Ripple’s XRP a “security” and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) calling Bitcoin and Ethereum “commodities.”

These disjointed efforts by regulators have seen many crypto startups setting up elsewhere, as noted by Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

But the most pro-crypto regulatory agency has been the OCC under the helms of new Binance US head Brian Brooks. Brooks, who had a stint with US largest crypto exchange Coinbase, permitted banks in an interpretive letter to offer crypto custodial services to their clients. Alongside this, he also said they could issue their stablecoins – digital assets that monitor fiat price action.

But the new OCC head may not continue on this lane as he has called for a staff review of the agency’s actions in the crypto space.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

MetaMask Doubling Efforts to Address Security Besides Scalability says CEO amidst New Phishing Alert

MetaMask Doubling Efforts to Address Security Besides Scalability says CEO amidst New Phishing Alert

The popular crypto wallet sees significant growth amidst the ongoing bull market thanks to “really big cultural event” NFTs and the emergence of side chains and layer-two networks.

Popular crypto wallet MetaMask is alerting its users of a phishing attack that is currently circulating in the market.

On Monday, MetaMask reported a new type of phishing bot becoming active. It comes from an account that looks “normal” but has few followers.

The fake account then suggests people fill out a support form on a major site like Google sheets, which is hard to block and ask for your secret recovery phase, which shouldn’t be shared with anyone, ever.

“An easy, easy way to avoid this kind of phishing attack is to ONLY seek support from WITHIN the app you want help on,” says MetaMask. The crypto wallet further states that it always directs users to its domain.

Security is actually one of the biggest short-term problems besides scalability. The latter is about making it easier and easier to use Ethereum compatible chains and layer 2 solutions that MetaMask is addressing right now. MetaMask co-founder Dan Finlay; in an interview with Laura Shin on her podcast “Unconfirmed” said,

“We’re really kind of redoubling and redoubling our efforts to improve our onboarding education, improving in-app education, just really trying to protect users from fishers as much as possible.”

MetaMask has been doing a lot of different research on ways of changing the wallet and doing improved education, continuing its extensibility project, which is going to let them integrate more and more account types such as multi-factor type accounts that will let users lock down their accounts, even more, stated Finlay.

This is a critical moment for the internet to start growing up about how people discover information, and it is one of the big fights MetaMask is fighting this quarter, he added.

Recently, as we reported, MetaMask hit five million active monthly users milestone, representing a growth of 5x in just six months after hitting 1 million active users just in October during the ongoing bull market.

This user base is very diverse both across use cases and across demographics, said Finlay adding that the ongoing growth was the combination of a few factors all coming together, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a “really big cultural event” that brought in a lot of people.

NFTs was a use case that was simple enough, engaging, and fun, said Finlay.

At the same time, we see the rise and emergence of a lot of Ethereum compatible blockchains, side chains, and layer two networks coming about, and that’s really increasing the scalability of the entire platform, he said.

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Author: AnTy

Brave Acquires Open Search Engine, Tailcat; Breaking Away From Google’s Prying Eyes

Popular privacy-focused web browser Brave has bought out Tailcat, an open search engine, in its efforts to launch a private search engine.

On Wednesday, Brave announced the acquisition of Tailcat, an open search engine that was created by the team that was behind the Cliqz anti-tracking search-browser combo. Cliqz, now defunct, operated under Hubert Burda Media, exited the browser and search space in May last year.

As per the announcement, Tailcat will be used as a base for the much expected Brave Search. The Brave Search will be an inbuilt search engine that is developed to allow private and transparent surfing.

Brendan Eich, Brave co-founder, and CEO explained that the company is focused on launching Brave Search before the end of summer 2021.

“Brave is now working on integrating this technology and making it available to all as Brave Search, first via early access for testers, and then for general availability by this summer.”

At the moment, Brave browser highly depends on a number of external search engines, giving its clients a choice to use popular search engines such as DuckDuckGo that is also privacy-focused, and Startpage, and also the mainstream search engines such as Google. Brave claims that almost “all of today’s search engines are either built by, or rely on, results from Big Tech companies.”

On the other hand, Tailcat is developed on top of a fully independent index whereby it will not collect IP addresses and other personal information and data aimed at enhancing the search results. Eich explained that Tailcat engineers have been developing a privacy-focused search engine over the last seven years till Cliqz ceased operations. As part of the acquisition deal, the Cliqz development team will now move to Brave. The dev team is headed by Dr. Josep Pujol, who hailed the deal as a major breakthrough in offering an alternative to the Big Tech dominance.

The acquisition comes days after Brave announced a major achievement in its efforts to enhance its browser adoption. Brave doubled its monthly active client base from 11 to 26 million.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Binance Sends Final Warning to US Customers; 14 Days to Withdraw Funds

  • Binance continues its efforts to get rid of U.S customers on its platform.
  • Users should withdraw all their funds from the platform in the next two weeks.

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in trading volume, Binance, is hastening its efforts to sweep off every U.S. based customer off its global trading platform, Binance.com. According to a Decrypt report, the exchange is giving every U.S. registered customer 14 days to “close their positions and withdraw their funds” or risk having their funds locked.

Binance is imposing these stricter measures to comply with KYC/AML compliance regulations. It has previously been reported that the exchange warned users geo-tracked using their IP addresses to withdraw their funds from the platform in 90 days.

This followed a warning by CEO of Binance, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, back in July 2019 when announcing a partnership with BAM Trading to launch its U.S. trading platform, Binance US. At the time, CZ confirmed that a “few restrictions would be accompanying the new partnership,” with U.S. customers having access to fewer tokens and features.

However, the latest warning sent via email to U.S. registered users is the most serious yet from the exchange. An email shared by one of our followers said,

“Dear user, as we constantly perform periodic sweeps of our existing controls, we noted that you are trying to access Binance while having identified yourself as a US person,” concerning the U.S registered customers using the platform.

The users have been given two weeks – ending December 8 – to clear their trading positions and withdraw funds from Binance.

“Please note that as per our terms of use, we are unable to service US persons. You have 14 days to close all active positions on your account and withdraw all your funds, failing which your account will be locked.”

The latest warning comes at the back of Binance US, adding Alabama to the states available for customers – with only eleven more states remain outside of the regional exchange’s network.

While the exchange does say the account will be locked, not all hope is lost for withdrawing user funds. It says users can contact customer support to try and get it temporarily unlocked.

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Author: Lujan Odera

China Blacklists Crypto OTC Trading Desks With A Five-Year Banking Ban As Punishment

  • PBoC blacklists crypto OTC traders in its latest efforts to crack down on money laundering.
  • This has caused several OTC trading desks to shut down as the future turns bleak.
  • The central bank set a three to five-year banking ban in the country as punishment.

Bitcoin over-the-counter (OTC) traders could be facing up to a five-year ban on their banking accounts in China, local reports state. The central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBoC), is heavily cracking down on money laundering activities and is blacklisting several OTC trading desks dealing in cryptocurrencies.

Recently, the Chinese central bank had enhanced its efforts in cracking down money laundering activities hence the latest move. In a bid to stop the illicit and illegal trades, the PBoC is taking a step affront to combat cryptocurrencies being used to launder funds by setting some of the OTC traders under its “disciplinary list.”

The first step in PBoC’s crackdown in the crypto ecosystem will target large OTC traders who trade in millions. According to the report, exchanges that allow transactions away from the public and transact high volumes will be blacklisted. Some have already faced the brunt, having their bank accounts and bank-issued cards blacklisted for the next three years and their online accounts banned for the next five years.

Local banks and financial institutions are now in charge of monitoring money laundering, bidding to keep the vice away at the lowest levels and higher levels of government. The institutions quickly flag and restrict the transactions involved in money laundering, and subsequently, the information is transferred to the local branch of the PBoC.

Once registered, the “blacklist” is transferred to other banks and local financial institutions across the country. This prevents the OTC dealers on the disciplinary list from opening and transferring funds to new accounts.

Despite the crackdown, regulations on cryptocurrency transactions within China remain slim – leaving a grey area on the crypto transactions by investors. Because there are no corresponding rules and regulations, “various financial institutions have different judgment standards for cryptocurrency transactions” hence some crypto OTC desks could be flagged by some local financial institutions.

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Author: Lujan Odera

China Should Seize the ‘First Mover’ Advantages of Launching A CBDC: PBoC

China should aim at becoming the first country to issue digital currency as part of its efforts to internationalize the yuan and lessen its over-dependence on the world’s dollar-dominated payment system, the People’s Bank of China (Chinese central bank) said.

The commentary appearing in China Finance, a People’s Bank of China run magazine, opined that the rights and capacity to offer and control digital currencies is set to become the ‘new battlefield’ among various sovereign nations. The article also claims that issuance and the circulation of virtual currency will alter the current international financial system.

The article argues that China should aim at becoming a first mover in the digital currencies space and calls for the acceleration of the development of the country’s CBDC.

“China has many advantages and opportunities in issuing fiat digital currencies, so it should accelerate the pace to seize the first track,” says the article.

Also, the article argues that data feedback from a Chinese central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC) would be vital for the development of a national monetary policy, which is imperative for economic recovery in the post-pandemic landscape.

The article also revealed that PBoC’s digital currency research outfit had filed approximately 130 patents related to crypto applications touching on issuance, circulation, and implementation.

The People’s Bank of China’s research institute was founded in 2015 to look at the feasibility and implementation process of digital currencies, to reduce the costs of circulating fiat currency and enhance policymakers’ grip in the money supply ecosystem.

Last month, various state-run Chinese commercial banks embarked on large-scale piloting of the digital wallet, which is a step closer to the highly awaited official launch of the digital currency. PBoC revealed last month that about 400 million people are involved in the piloting program for a digital yuan.

The Chinese central bank is looking forward to using the digital yuan during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The article concludes that digital yuan can help in breaking the dollar hegemony in the international monetary system.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

US Bank Regulators to Roll Out Uniform Rules for Crypto & FinTech Firms; Streamlining Licensing

  • In efforts to ease the regulatory process for payment services and crypto firms, the United States is set to introduce a unified set of regulations that will be used in about 48 states.

As per a press statement shared with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, money services businesses based in the United States, composed of crypto firms, will in the near future enjoy easy regulatory processes. The press statement explains that the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) is set to launch a group of state regulators which will oversee all the licensing work.

CSBS will bring together 48 state regulators who have agreed to come up with a unitary set of supervisory rules. Until today, crypto-based firms as well as payment service companies were forced to adhere to numerous individual state regulations.

About 78 firms will benefit from the fresh simplified format and according to an official at CSBS, these companies move more than $1 trillion per year combined. The enactment of the unified state regulations will help ease operations across many states.

John Ryan, CSBS’s CEO, stated that the new initiative will come with numerous opportunities which will help businesses operating in the country to expand their services. Ryan also quipped that the new model will work safely just like in the old regime.

He explained that the states will not be giving up their authority but will realize efficiencies through sharing of information. Ryan also explained that although states will be sharing information, every state has the right to conduct and independent examination when the regulators deem it necessary.

The new initiative comes after several complaints were filed by crypto and fintech firms as they try to get a solution on having a state-by-state supervisory regime that delayed the licensing process. CSBS embarked on testing various approaches to determine what could work well in efforts to come up with a lasting solution. The current unified approach led to promising results which culminated in the establishment of a pilot initiative last year.

Western Union’s Rosemary Gallagher whose firm participated in the pilot program praised the initiative saying it will lead to a faster licensing process.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Fidelity Head Launches New Bitcoin Index Fund; $100,000 Minimum Buy-In Price

One of the largest mutual funds in the U.S., Fidelity Investments, is enhancing its efforts in the Bitcoin and crypto space with its chief strategist, Peter Jubber, starting an institutional-grade and high net worth clients-focused BTC index.

According to a filing sent to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Fidelity Investments has launched a new Bitcoin index fund, ‘Wise Origin Bitcoin Index Fund I, LP’ that targets high et worth investors and institutions. A $100,000 minimum buy-in value is required by the index fund following the demand by corporations and accredited investors on Wall Street on crypto investments.

The Wise Origin Bitcoin fund was launched by the head of strategy and planning at Fidelity Investments, Peter Jubber, in conjunction with the mutual fund’s brokerage and distribution divisions. The fund aims to provide a gateway for accredited investors on Wall Street to dip their feet into crypto.

Fidelity is known for its soft stance on crypto investing, owning stakes in crypto companies such as Canadian mining firm, 8Hut, and providing custodial services to institutions. Jubber, also a well-known enthusiast and evangelist of Bitcoin and blockchain, in 2017 said the firm was sketching out a decade long plan on the impacts and opportunities that blockchain technology offers to traditional finance.

Peter will lead the ‘Wise Origin Bitcoin Index Fund’ as the executive director and FD’s Fund’s president. Reports on Forbes also confirm that a Delaware based firm, FD Funds GP will become a general partner to Fidelity’s new BTC fund.

Fidelity’s reports on the cryptocurrency market this June showed that over 36% of big institutional investors were taking up digital assets, and another 80% of them stating they find crypto appealing. Moreover, a recent report by the mutual fund concluded there is an increasing interest in Bitcoin as a store of value with the world’s witnessing unprecedented fiscal and monetary policies.

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Author: Lujan Odera

The US Seizes $2M in its Largest-Ever Move Against Militant Group’s Crypto Fundraising Effort

The US Justice Department has taken down the efforts by the military wing of al Qaeda, Hamas, and Islamic State to raise funds via cryptos through schemes that sold bogus COVID-19 safety equipment to US hospitals.

The agency said they seized about $2 million in the largest ever move by the US against the use of cryptos by militant groups. Authorities confiscated over 300 crypto accounts, four websites, and four Facebook pages.

All 150 cryptocurrency accounts used to launder funds were seized, investigators said. The department said in a statement,

“These actions represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency in the terrorism context.”

Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Justice Department were all involved in the investigation to take down the fundraising schemes.

During the probe, the US agents operated an undercover website mirroring a Hamas website for 30 days, said John Demers, head of Justice Department’s national security division.

Using FaceMackCenter.com website, the militant groups peddled the personal protective equipment touted as approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, which in actuality “were not FDA approved,” to first responders, nursing homes, and US hospitals.

Investigators also reported that the payments were collected through US credit cards and PayPal, but the equipment was never delivered.

The Islamic State promoted its scheme via Facebook accounts while AL Qaeda solicited donation for its scheme through the Telegram app.

“Nothing was hidden,” said one U.S. official, “They thought they were protected” by the encryption in the apps they used.

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Author: AnTy