SBI eSports Signs Pro FIFA and Super Smash Bros Ultimate Players; Will Be Paid in XRP

SBI eSports, a subsidiary gaming venture of Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings, has signed two professional players to its e-team. In an official announcement made on 16th October, the SBI e-sports subsidiary also revealed that they would be paying its player’s salaries in XRP.

Back in September, the firm revealed that they were planning on paying their player’s salaries in cryptocurrencies. The official announcement read,

“The company aims to raise awareness of the SBI Group by strengthening contact points with the digital generation, and to create synergies with the various financial services businesses of the SBI Group.”

The payment of salary in the digital token would be facilitated via SBI’s crypto-asset trading division called SBI VC Trade. However, the final decision to accept salaries in XRP tokens would lie in the players’ hands. The official signing read,

“Players will be paid in the crypto asset ‘XRP’ instead of Japanese yen based on the wishes of the player and the sponsorship contract with SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd.”

The two pro players signed by the SBI eSports include one of Japan’s top pros in the Nintendo Switch fighting game, Super Smash Bros, Ultimate player Kenji “Ken” Suzuki, and FIFA 21 player Subaru “Mikey” Sagano, who has represented the German soccer club 1. FC Nürnberg.

The signings made by the SBI e-Sports is one of a kind because of the digital asset salary clause, which was not only highlighted in the official announcement but also in the personal tweets made by the signed players.

SBI to Conduct a Security Token Offering for SBI eSports

The SBI Group is also set to conduct a security token offering for the eSports subsidiary expected to occur on October 30. The offering would see 1000 total shares up for grabs valued at 50,000 yen (about $475) per share.

SBI Group is a Ripple partner and one of the significant stakeholders in the digital asset firm.

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Author: James W

KPMG Reveals Blockchain-Based Climate Accounting Infrastructure for Greenhouse Gas Reporting

KPMG, an international accounting giant, has launched a blockchain-based solution for tracking climate emissions. The new blockchain-based system is called Climate Accounting Infrastructure (CAI), which would enable big organizations and companies to monitor their carbon emission and offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change has been one of the most critical issues in recent times. Major firms and organizations have come together to monitor and decrease their respective organizations’ carbon footprint.

The CAI blockchain solution would store environmental data in a financial system that could be utilized by the partner firms to meet their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) targets.

CAI can be integrated with a company’s existing systems with external data sources, which would record its emissions. The data would be recorded on the blockchain system to ensure secure storage.

KPMG partnered with data provenance and tracking providers Context Labs and Prescriptive Data, and the blockchain firm Allinfra, on the product side. Context Labs is responsible for enriching organizations’ emission data, matching it with environmental context, and later recording and certifying the data on the blockchain system.

Arun Ghosh, the head of KPMG’s U.S. blockchain, commented on the launch of their new blockchain-based system and how it would ensure greater transparency. He said,

“As investors broaden their focus beyond financial factors to include ESG practices, organizations are increasing efforts to reducing carbon footprints, alongside transparent disclosure of progress.”

How Would CAI Help Organizations Become More Environment Friendly?

The blockchain-based CAI solution would help organizations comply with the latest environmental regulations and model the impacts and risks based on their business model with real-time data.

Climate change is real, and many big tech firms with large carbon footprints have pledged to bring it down to zero in the near future. With the rising earth’s temperature and melting glaciers, discussions around climate change have become the need of the hour. And Blockchain is definitely going to help in enhancing and furthering that goal with properties such as transparency and accountability.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Leading Japanese Messaging App, LINE, Launches Crypto Lending Services on BITMAX Exchange

LINE, the Japanese messaging app giant, is launching crypto lending services for its clients through its subsidiary crypto exchange, BITMAX. The news, which was first reported by CoinDesk Japan, highlighted that BITMAX users will be now be permitted the option of lending their crypto holdings to the exchange service, with BTC, XRP, ETH, BCH, or LTC as the underlying collaterals.

This service is set to function similarly to bank loans; only instead of interest, the lenders will receive a ‘rental fee.’ LINE filed a statement with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Oct 9, noting the firm will be running a campaign up to Oct 30, where users could earn as much as a 10% rental fee for lending their digital assets. This should start accruing from the day the rental is deposited.

With LINE’s 80 million local outreach, the new lending services become bullish to the Japanese crypto market. The country which has had historically low-interest rates will probably benefit from the exposure in crypto volatility, although at the cost of accommodating the high risk.

LINE made it’s crypto debut onto the Japanese market last year after being granted an operational license by the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). They recently launched a blockchain development platform and digital wallet as part of scaling LINE’s crypto services footprint.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

EY Debuts First ERP Solution on Ethereum and Enhances On-Chain Analytics Explorer

Consulting giant Ernest & Young (EY) has launched an enterprise procurement solution based on the Ethereum public blockchain. This initiative will leverage smart contract capabilities to enable participants to design and implement procurement contracts on a public blockchain. Dubbed the EY OpsChain Network, it will oversee a shift of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) into decentralized networks instead of the current frameworks, which are fundamentally centralized.

EY announced this development on September 27, noting that it will be the first of its kind to facilitate day-to-day ERP activities while benefiting from Ethereum’s decentralized architecture; interested prospects can try out the beta version for free. The press release further highlights that building on Ethereum’s public blockchain will increase efficiency through the automation of figures in procurement pipelines,

“It has become difficult to manage network-level agreements from inside a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The solution allows buyers and sellers to operate as networks, automatically keeping track of total volumes and spend, and using globally agreed terms and pricing.”

The EY OpsChain Network is built on Baseline protocol, an open-source initiative developed by EY earlier in the year. This protocol is the base of fundamental core features given that it leverages zero-knowledge proofs, distributed identity tech, and off-chain storage. This will allow firms to interact with each other on the EY OpsChain Network without exposing sensitive or private data on the public blockchain.

EY’s global blockchain leader, Paul Brody, has since expressed bullish sentiments on adopting enterprise blockchain solutions. He had previously informed Decrypt that EY believes that more than half of all business contracts will be made on the blockchain by 2030. Brody said,

“Competition is increasing between networks of companies, their partners, and suppliers. The ability to work as a network, above the level of any single ERP system, is crucial. Doing so on a public blockchain means not having to persuade a company or supplier to join a costly, closed proprietary network.”

EY Blockchain Analyzer

Apart from the OpsChain Network, EY also made some new enhancements to its blockchain analyzer and explorer product suite. The newly integrated functions will enable clients to analyze on-chain crypto activity in-depth, an approach that could improve the management of compliance, legal, and fraud risks. Currently, the beta release supports only BTC, although plans are underway to feature Ethereum as well,

“The Explorer & Visualizer solution makes it possible for internal audit teams and forensics accountants to search for specific transactions, addresses, and blocks to gather relevant information.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Overstock’s Crypto Trading Subsidiary, tZERO, Hits Record High Volumes in August

  • tZERO, the crypto trading app backed by retail giant Overstock, has announced new record volumes in August.
  • This digital securities platform noted that both their crypto trading app and blockchain-built alternative trading system (ATS) experienced the highest activity since they were launched back in June 2019.

The month of August saw tZERO’s user base grow by 11% compared to July, marking an increase of more than 1,000 new users on the digital asset app. Notably, this year has been relatively bullish for tZERO with a total of 143% growth in user base since it began. The platform is now looking to give traditional brokers a run for their money when it comes to offering digital securities trading services to Wall Street.

Going by last month’s stats, tZERO’s digital asset app grew by around threefold in traded dollar volumes. The reported figure, which is $22 million, is a jump from July’s $7.6 million, while the year-over-year growth stood at 684%. Saum Noursalehi, the CEO of tZERO, further highlighted significant milestones by the project,

“In addition to delivering record trading volume on the tZERO ATS in August, the St. Regis Aspen (ASPD) digital security began trading … These wins, coupled with FINRA’s approval of tZERO Markets, are exciting, and we look forward to offering our crypto customers the opportunity to open brokerage accounts at zero Markets.”

The platform is now incentivizing activity with its recently rolled out zero-fee structure for publicly-traded digital securities; private ones, however, retained the previous fee structure. Nonetheless, the project is not yet out of the words when it comes to product scaling and attracting heavyweight investors to compete favorably against traditional brokerages.

Apart from the crypto trading app, tZERO has been actively involved in the tokenization of assets, not limited to real estate and film productions. It is also quite noteworthy that Overstock began accepting BTC payments as early as 2014, giving the retailer a head start in the space.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Apple is Censoring DeFi & ‘Stifling Innovation’ in Crypto Industry: Coinbase CEO

Apple having a row with developers and app providers is nothing new, but the tech giant seems to be especially targeting the cryptocurrency industry.

Last month, Epic games and Apple got into a legal battle when the Fortnite creator launched its own in-app payment system, which also involved the use of bitcoin and cryptos, to circumvent Apple’s “monopoly over in-app payments on iOS.”

As a fact of fact, Apple doesn’t allow to add the ability to earn money using crypto and access Defi apps or Dapps in their iOS apps, said Brian Armstrong, CEO of crypto exchange Coinbase, which has regularly come under fire for taking up the authorities’ side against their customers.

“Why would Apple want to prevent people from earning money during a recession? They seem to not be ok with it, if it uses cryptocurrency,” he said.

According to market participants, tech giants want to be everyone’s bank, and as Podfather Adam Curry told Joe Rogan, it is how they control people.

Stop This!

In a Twitter thread, Armstrong shared the struggles Coinbase is also going through with Apple, which end up creating a “worse” experience for customers.

Besides the company’s Coinbase Earn program, Apple doesn’t let them provide a list of decentralized apps, “which are really just websites” to iOS users.

In the past couple of months, the DeFi sector has exploded, reaching almost $10 billion, amidst the central banks’ quantitative easing and interest rate cuts, which have been devaluing the fiat currencies around the world.

“DeFi and Dapps are a major area of innovation in financial services that has seen rapid growth lately,” and has “enormous potential.”

But Apple doesn’t let companies help the “unbanked and underbanked” on the grounds that the “app offers cryptocurrency transactions in non-embedded software within the app, which is not appropriate for the App Store.”

According to Armstrong, Apple is “holding back progress in the world” by censoring the features and further protecting competition.

He likened Apple’s actions with Microsoft forcing users to use Internet Explorer on Windows, which “led to all their antitrust issues.”

“Apple, it’s time to stop stifling innovation in cryptocurrency. We would like to work with you productively on this. Some day, cryptocurrency could even be integrated into IAP to give people in emerging markets better access to the financial system globally,” said the Coinbase CEO.

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Author: AnTy

Web3 Foundation Awards Grant to Swisscom Blockchain To Secure Polkadot PoS Network

Swisscom Blockchain, the blockchain tech arm of Swiss telco giant, Swisscom, received a grant from Web 3 Foundation to build guard operators for Polkadot’s and Kusama’s nodes and validators.

In a blog post released on Wednesday, Swisscom Blockchain’s Kubernetes Operator will enhance the robustness of both chains making them, “less prone to attacks on network participants.” This aims to strengthen the trustworthiness of network participants on the blockchain platforms.

According to the statement released, the Kubernetes Operator aims at protecting network participants on a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain, Polkadot and Kusama, in case the network goes down or is compromised.

PoS consensus mechanism introduces a concept of slashing, which happens when a node validator does not function correctly or tries to cheat the system. For example, if a node operator modifies the system updates without community approval, they are at risk of getting ‘slashed’ – lose all their staked coins.

This brings about a challenging prospect to PoS blockchains hence the need for Kubernetes Operator to monitor the availability and behavior of these node operators.

The operator is a set of tools that enable the deployment and monitoring of node validators and network participants for high availability; Swisscom Blockchain AG makes it easier for network validators on Polkadot and Kusama to interact easily with public Blockchain networks through a network of “highly secured sentry nodes.”

Swisscom Blockchain received an undisclosed Wave 5 grant from the Web 3 Foundation through the General Grants Program. According to Jorge Alvarado Flores, Head of Technology at Swisscom Blockchain, the grant will allow the telco to set up, “an open-source repository that other startups and enterprises can use to setup/manage their infrastructure in an automated way” in tandem with “high-security protocol resources hosted in the enterprise.”

Web 3 Foundation also offers grants through the Open Grants program.

Dieter Fishbein, Head of Ecosystem Development at Web3 Foundation, has a hopeful wish that the solutions provided by Swisscom Blockchain will reduce the cases of “validator unresponsiveness.” In his statement, he stated,

“Providing Kusama and Polkadot with a Kubernetes Operator contributes to a more robust network, helping validators ensure high availability in their operations, and reducing the chances of validators getting slashed for unresponsiveness.”

Polkadot is an interoperable layer 1 blockchain that “connects several chains together in a single network, allowing them to exchange data securely and process transactions in parallel.” Kusama, which runs on a similar codebase to Polkadot, enables users and development teams to deploy their projects faster on Polkadot.

Flores further commented on the partnership stating his hopes for a better and more secure future for Polkadot. He said,

“Looking ahead, we are hopeful that our contributions to the Web3 Foundation on the automated deployment of sentry and validator nodes will be useful for other enterprises to engage in the Polkadot ecosystem.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Huawei and Beijing Municipal Government Collaborate to a Build Blockchain-Governed Smart City

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant, has partnered with Beijing Municipal government to develop a blockchain-governed smart city to improve service delivery and data-sharing. This initiative comes as China intensifies its tokenomics dominance with the DC/EP set to be rolled out in major cities such as Beijing. Notably, the two entities have been working together since 2019; a recent official report on the project highlighted that it is still in trial phases.

Huawei & Beijing’s Blockchain-based Directory

The blockchain-based public directory by Huawei and Beijing Municipal government leverages the former’s Cloud Blockchain ecosystem for real-time data sharing and management. It will link over 50 municipal agencies and support cross-departmental communication as well. In doing so, Beijing authorities are optimistic about enhancing trust through verification as per the technical fundamentals of blockchain tech.

The project is, therefore, set to play an important role, especially within the healthcare niche where COVID-19 responsive services are dependent on communication. Other areas set to benefit are real estate transfers, appeals to city government rulings, fundamental risk assessment, and finding local parking spots hence a direct trickle-down effect to Beijing natives.

Huawei Still China’s Tech Poster Boy

This Chinese tech conglomerate has not been short of controversy, with most of the pressure coming from the western world. Nonetheless, Huawei appears to be thriving in China’s market as well as emerging markets in African countries where it has partnered with the most significant service providers. The recent milestone in being part of Beijing’s shift towards a smart city further confirms the firm’s position as a leading tech in China despite criticism from International foes.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Goldman Sachs New Digital Asset Manager Reveals Plans to Bring A ‘Digital Token’ to the Bank

  • U.S. financial giant Goldman Sachs is pushing forward its plans to launch a digital asset with the appointment of its new digital asset manager, Mathew McDermott, former head of the bank’s investment internal funding operations.
  • McDermott confirmed the bank is looking into a digital asset of its own.

According to CNBC, Goldman Sachs is rejuvenating its efforts towards a digital asset with the appointment of Mathew McDermott as its new head of digital assets. McDermott replaces Justin Schmidt to radically transform the traditional financial system and embrace digital technologies like blockchain to create a digital finance market ecosystem. He said,

“In the next five to 10 years, you could see a financial system where all assets and liabilities are native to a blockchain, with all transactions natively happening on chain.”

In his pragmatic and radical approach in transforming the digital assets section of the bank, Mathew McDermott will start by digitizing the $1 trillion repurchase agreements (repo) market. Blockchain aims to reduce the costs and inefficiencies of the crumbling repo market, a market “ripe for standardization,” he explained.

“By leveraging distributed ledger technology, you can standardize processes to manage collateral across the system, and you have a much more efficient settlement process given the real time settlement.”

Mathew further said Goldman Sachs will explore digitized systems and the benefits to the credit and mortgage markets by partnering and discussing with other financial institutions and banks in a bid to build a stable network.

Read More: Is Goldman Sachs The Latest Bank To Jump On The Bitcoin Bandwagon?

The Goldman Sachs digital token

Mathew further said the bank is focusing on plans to launch its own digital token in the future if possible use cases are realized.

“We are exploring the commercial viability of creating our own fiat digital token, but it’s early days as we continue to work through the potential use cases.”

The rise of blockchain technologies and associated cryptos is posing a threat to the overall finance market as we know it. Despite the implications, McDermott is looking forward to being successful stating,

“With any technological advancement, there will be a disruption to the existing status quo.”

He did not reveal any crypto holdings but believes the cryptocurrency market is facing a resurgence. He explained the bank has “seen an uptick in interest across some of the institutional clients who are exploring how they can participate in [crypto] space.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bank of England Taps Accenture to Update Real-Time Gross Settlement Service to Support CBDCs

The Bank of England (BoE) has appointed an Irish tech consultancy giant, Accenture, to assist in the renewal program for its Real-Time Gross Settlement Service (RTGS).

According to the announcement on July 30, the contract awarding follows a public procurement process that began back in February 2019. BoE has since noted that the renewal of its RTGS is set to add value to the U.K payment system in several ways. The announcement reads:

“…the renewed RTGS service is to increase resilience and access, offer wider interoperability, improve user functionality and strengthen the end-to-end risk management of the UK high-value payment system.”

The UK’s RTGS plays an essential role in the country’s financial ecosystem, settling an average of £685billlion every day. Executive Director for Banking, Payments, and Innovation, Victoria Cleland, noted that this milestone would play a significant role in shaping the future of UK’s payment network:

“The Renewal Program is a key priority not just for the Bank but also for the wider UK payments industry.  It will support a resilient financial system that protects the UK’s financial and monetary stability in the years to come.”

CBDC’s Also in Consideration

Reporting the news first, Coindesk, revealed that the BoE renewal RTGS might be compatible with a digital pound amongst other CBDC’s. The new design will feature tools for ‘bolt-on’ functions, should the BoE decide to integrate CBDC’s. Cleland further echoed that it will keep the U.K. on track when it comes to FinTech innovation:

“The renewed RTGS service will be designed not only to benefit everyone in the country which makes payments but to keep the UK at the leading edge of payments innovation.”

This development coincides with a new spark in CBDC interest by governments and regulators. China is currently ahead of the curve, having launched its digital yuan pilot back in April. Nations like France and Italy have shown willingness to participate in a digital Euro as soon as one is formalized.

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Author: Edwin Munyui