Ant Group Launches Blockchain-Powered Cross-border Trade Settlement Platform ‘Trusple’

Ant Group, owner of mobile payment app Alipay, launched a blockchain-powered platform for cross-border trade settlements this week. The move came ahead of its IPO, which it plans to list in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market next month simultaneously.

The 16-year old giant, which is backed by e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, is seeking to raise about $35 billion in the dual IPO to become the world’s largest IPO by surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco’s billion last December.

Previously known as Ant Financial, Ant was rebranded this year as a tech firm due to tighter financial regulations.

Ant is known for submitting the most number of blockchain patent applications globally, over the past two years. The technology saw a surge in interest after President Xi Jinping said last year that the country should accelerate its development.

Its new platform, “Trusple,” is based on Antchain, the company’s blockchain technology.

On this platform, buyers and sellers upload their orders, which automatically generate smart contracts with information like logistics. The banks then process payments using Antchain.

The users of the platform could also include vendors that sell to other businesses through marketplaces like Alibaba’s overseas e-commerce site, AliExpress.

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Author: AnTy

DCG’s $100 Million Plan to Diminish China’s Dominance on Bitcoin Production

Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group has entered into the bitcoin mining world with the announcement of its new wholly-owned subsidiary, Foundry.

“Digital asset mining and staking provide the backbone of the blockchain technology that will drive that advancement,” noted Silbert, the founder and CEO of DGC. The company runs its own mining operations and provides financing and equipment to crypto startups.

Through its fourth subsidiary, Foundry, which was “quietly” formed in 2019, Silbert will be betting $100 million on the mining sector. Genesis, Grayscale Investments, and CoinDesk are the other three subsidiaries of Digital Currency Group.

Mike Colyer, a former Core Scientific executive, and veteran GE, will be heading the company as the chief executive officer.

With this latest venture, Silbert is looking to bring back some of the bitcoin production to the US from China.

China accounts for more than 65% of the global bitcoin hash rate while the US only accounts for just over 7%, as per the data source from the University of Cambridge.

Silbert believes this is a ripe opportunity for North American crypto firms to capture a considerable share of the world’s mining power.

For cheap power, which is abundant in China during the rainy season, Foundry is launching operations in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and upstate New York along with British Columbia and Quebec in Canada.

Moreover, the company has already been working with Shenzhen-based bitcoin miner manufacturers MicroBT and Bitmain towards this goal. Jordan Chen, COO of MicroBT said,

“Foundry’s understanding of the mining industry and DCG’s full support have made it a key partner in our expansion across North America in the past year. We plan to continue collaborating with Foundry as we focus on increasing our global market share.”

Although, as Silbert notes, “The mining space is littered with the carcasses of failed mining efforts,” Foundry is poised to success because of the concerned lawmakers and policy groups in Washington, D.C., about China dominating bitcoin production.

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Author: AnTy

Coinbase Withdraws From Blockchain Association Shortly After Binance.US Joins

  • Coinbase withdraws from the blockchain lobbyist group a day after Binance.US, Binance’s American wing, joined the group.

In a report first published by The Block, Coinbase seems to have withdrawn from the Blockchain Association, a blockchain lobbyist group due to “recent decisions” within the group. The withdrawal follows the recent introduction of Binance.US, a crypto exchange rival to Coinbase, to the lobbyist group.

Coinbase, a founding member of the now-23 team association, wrote a letter addressed to the association claiming its resignation immediately. While the letter did not specifically mention the addition of Binance.US as the cause, the tone of the letter gives away pretty much on Coinbase’s view. Criticizing the membership criteria of the association, the letter reads,

“And while we hope the Blockchain Association remains committed to those values, unfortunately, recent weeks have demonstrated to us that the Blockchain Association is not interested in the membership criteria we had worked to establish to underpin the mission of this organization.”

The letter further states the “shift in organizational goals is not in line” with the plans the exchange had while founding the organization “nor the objectives of the association.”

A spokesperson from the exchange claims the recent decisions by the Blockchain Association hastened Coinbase’s departure, further stating,

“We believe that decisions made now have the potential to irreparably impair the credibility of the Association and make it increasingly difficult for it to achieve its goals and those of its members.”

The resignation from the Association will closely be linked to Binance.US joining the platform, despite all parties involved not commenting directly on the subject. In a tweet sent out on Tuesday, Blockchain Association stated they were disappointed to see Coinbase leave the organization “at a critical time for the industry” but defended their membership criteria saying,

“However, we believe that it is important to abide by our established neutral membership criteria + honor majority Board opinion.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Subsidiary to Top Austrian Mobile Network Provider, Launches Crypto Payments for 2500 Merchants

Austrian leading mobile service provider, A1 Telekom Austria Group, announced its subsidiary, A1 Payments, will be accepting digital currency payments like Bitcoin and Ethereum. On Monday, a posted blog stated the firm’s new payment system would allow individuals as well as corporations to transact with thousands of merchants across Austria.

BEG announced A1 Payment’s plans to get into the digital currency payment back in August 2019, with the Head of A1 Business Marketing, Markus Schreiber, saying then:

“With our pilot operation in the A1 shops, we are testing the demand and acceptance of digital currencies in Austria.”

A1 Payments pilot included several cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, Dash, Litecoin (LTC), and XRP. However, the main launch has begun with the inclusion of the first three, and more tokens to be added in the future.

The digital payment system also allows other cashless options for merchants, including bank credit cards and payments via online platforms such as Alipay.

Similar to other crypto payments intermediaries, A1 Payments provide the payment terminal, take care of its maintenance, and the processing of payments. This means that all the trades by crypto users in merchant shops or towards corporations will be settled in EUR. Hence the receiving counterparty does not need any knowledge in digital currencies to accept them.

The Austrian company aims to offer seamless payments across their customers, enabling “companies with only one terminal to accept digital currencies alongside conventional payment methods.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Worlds Fourth-Largest Bank, MUFG, to Roll Out A Digital Currency for Mobile Payments

Japan’s giant banking institution, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Bank (MUFG) finally announces plans to launch its digital currency after releasing a conflicting report in December 2019. According to local news website, Mainichi, MUFG’s president, Hironori Kamezawa, confirmed the company will launch its own digital currency partnering with Recruit Group, which operates restaurant introduction sites including “Hot Pepper Gourmet”.

The partnership with Recruit Group was made back in December, raising the rumors (now confirmed) on the launch of a digital currency. The digital currency will be used across Recruit’s business ventures allowing users to instantly and cheaply transact across a possible 1 million stores spread across the globe.

According to Kamezawa, the launch of the digital currency comes in line with the current global pandemic which is discouraging the use of physical cash.

“There are various delays, but there may be a new coronavirus problem, so it may be just the right timing.”

A statement from Recruit Group shows its hopes of a successful partnership on MUFG’s digital currency launch. They aims a spread over multiple global stores targeting “young part-timers.” The statement further confirms the digital currency will be available to non- Recruit members stores. A spokesperson stated,

“We are thinking that it can be used openly by everyone.”

Notwithstanding, the company will also focus on digitizing the internal processes in a bid to increase profits and promote paperless work. While the company looks to expand its overseas territory, Kamezawa emphasized on getting the right product fit.

“We will move from the phase of expanding quantity through acquisitions to the phase of improving quality.”

MUFG Bank’s love for a digital currency started back in 2018 and in April 2019, the bank confirmed it will its digital coin allowing digital payments through smartphones. MUFG is the fifth largest bank in the world in value of assets terms.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Chinese Shipping Giant, COSCO, to Use Alibaba’s Ant Group Blockchain for Maritime Logistics

  • Following a successful partnership between the shipping giant, Maersk, and IBM to set up an enterprise blockchain.
  • Ant Group and COSCO become the latest shipping-tech partnership to integrate a blockchain to ease logistics in maritime transport.

According to a report by Technode, a partnership between Ant Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba and China’s shipping line, and the third-largest global shipping line, COSCO has been announced. The two giants will begin an exploration of how Ant blockchain, the former’s blockchain solution, can be integrated into shipping to track and trace goods in a bid to reduce the clog in logistics across ports.

Blockchain technology provides a digital transparent ledger that reduces the costs associated with logistics across maritime businesses. The platform will connect the maritime cargo industry, which accounts for 90% of trade across the world, networking cargo owners, customs agencies, vessel operators, ports, and logistics companies.

Ant Group is heavily invested in the blockchain field, providing different industry sectors with decentralized technology solutions. At the tail end of 2019, Ant Financial announced it had processed over $6 billion in medical bills on blockchain in a year since its partnerships with big pharma companies, including Bayer.

The entry into the shipping industry will see the blockchain platform compete with IBM and Maersk’s blockchain platform named TradeLens. The blockchain-based maritime logistics platform has seen exceptional growth over the years since launch in 2018, adding top shipping ports including Oman’s top port and India’s top private port operator, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ).

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Author: Lujan Odera

Is DeFi Driving Ethereum’s Put/Call Option Ratio to Reach A Yearly High?

As per the latest data set released by the crypto research group Skew, Ethereum network’s Put-Call open interest ratio has risen to 1.04 on 2nd July. The open interest ratio has increased to a yearly high, which was last seen in July 2019.

The Put-Call open interest ratio measures the number of open put options against the number of Call options. A put option allows the trader to sell the underlying asset of their options contract at a predetermined price before the maturity date of the contract, while the call option gives a right to buy to the trader.

The put-call option ratio has tripled over the past four months and has seen a right angle rise from a value of 0.84 to 1.04 over the past couple of months. A clear sign that traders are working overtime in search of yield. The price of Ethereum has failed to maintain its value above $240 despite multiple moves above the price point, which indicates that the second largest cryptocurrency has exhausted its uptrend.

Luuk Strijers, COO at cryptocurrency exchange Deribit called it a bearish sign and suggested that investors were buying puts to protect their portfolios from falling. He said,

“Typically this implies the market is more bearish as investors are buying puts to protect their portfolios from a fall in the underlying,”

Typically traders write options when the market momentum is bullish, or the market is consolidating, where the trader receives a premium for selling the underlying asset at a downside rate. If the market moves, the value of the put option drops then, in turn, yields profit for the trader.

Source: Skew ETH Put/Call Ratio

The Derbit exchange COO also stated that Ethereum’s rise in open interest ratio for put-call options had increased mainly due to traders writing excess put options. Traders with long term positions in the spot market are writing put options to generate some extra yield on their investment.

John Todaro, head of research at TradeBlock, tweeted that Ether price could see an uptrend once the demand for Ether in the Defi ecosystem rises. He explained,

“There’s a lot of excitement around new DeFi tokens, and most of the collateral locked up across those platforms is in Ethereum. As that outstanding ether supply comes down and demands from Defi platforms hits escape velocity, ether will rally hard.”

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Author: Silvia A

Industry Giants, BHP and Baosteel, Make First Iron Ore Trade for $14 Million Using Blockchain

Mining conglomerate, BHP Group has revealed that it has transacted a $14 million worth of iron ore trade through a blockchain-based platform which has been created by MineHub Technologies based in Canada.

The transaction involved BHP Group and China Baowu Steel Group, which is an offshoot of Chinese giant steelmaker China Baoshan Iron & Steel, which is mostly referred to as Baosteel.

Last month, BHP stated that it was in the process of piloting a blockchain-based iron ore trade with the Chinese conglomerate Baosteel.

In a statement shared exclusively with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, during the transaction process, BHP utilized the blockchain platform to process the contract terms virtually, exchange the documents as well as offer real-time cargo visibility.

The piloting of the blockchain-enabled trading by BHP is part of the firm’s plan to digitize its documentation procedures for its commodities trading fully. According to Michiel Hovers, who is BHP’s sales and marketing executive, the mining industry requires a paradigm shift when it comes to documentation. He said:

“The bulk commodity industry needs a digital revolution to reduce physical documentation processes.”

Baowu Steel, which is state-owned, has previously invested in blockchain technology in efforts to digitize its trade. Last month, the firm conducted what it said was the inaugural blockchain-enabled yuan-denominated foreign letter of credit (LC) with another mining giant called Rio Tinto. The firm used the Contour platform that has been developed on Corda technology R3, which is an enterprise-focused blockchain solutions firm.

BHP’s journey in the blockchain space can be traced back to 2017 after Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum founder announced that the mining giant was developing a blockchain-based application that will help in tracking natural resources.

In February last year, the mining leader in partnership with a Japanese based shipping firm NYK successfully tested blockchain tech.

The Canadian-based MineHub Technology explained that the BHP testing was just one of the many in the pipeline, which will involve its blockchain platform. The firm also stated that the testing comes at an opportune time when various crooked characters are taking advantage of the supply chain uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

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

Hidden Group Rakes in $200 Million in Two Years by Attacking Crypto Exchanges: Report

A hidden group dubbed “CryptoCore” has been targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, primarily in the US and Japan since 2018 has successfully stolen millions worth of digital assets, as per the ClearSky report.

The CryptoCore group has accumulated $70 million from its heists on exchange and is estimated to rake in over $200 million in two years.

Source: ClearSky

Though not extremely technically advanced, the group is swift and persistent and has been active since May 2018 but its activity has receded in the first half of 2020.

The cybersecurity company has been tracking CryptoCore for two years and found that it has links to the East European region, Ukraine, Russia, or Romania in particular.

CryptoCore Digital Infrastructure-Graph
Source: CryptoCore Digital Infrastructure-Graph

In its report, ClearSky points out that CryptoCore’s Modus Operandi is to gain access to the wallets of cryptocurrency exchanges, be it corporate wallets or exchange’s employees’ wallets. The group gains access to them through either spear-phishing against the corporate network or the executives’ personal email accounts.

The group makes use of cloud services, not limited to Google Drive and malicious crypto-themed domains such as btcprime[.]tk, krypitalvc[.]com, and blockchaintransparency[.]institute.

After extensive reconnaissance, the group carries out a spear-phishing attack by impersonating a high-ranking employee. From there, it moves to the victim’s password manager account from where it gets the keys of crypto-wallets and other valuable assets.

Millions Scammed, Millions Lost

Cryptocurrency scams are a growing problem, especially with everyone working from home due to COVID-19. Recently, we reported how bitcoin giveaway scams using the name of Tesla CEO Elon Musk made $2 million in less than two months.

According to a recent study by Scamwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australians filed 1,810 reports of crypto-related scams in 2019, totaling over $21.6 million AUD (almost $15 million USD).

“Most were Ponzi schemes, with no real cryptocurrency involved,” said the report.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also been receiving 16,500 emails on average every day since the service to allow people to flag phishing and other suspicious emails were launched two months ago.

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Author: AnTy