Taproot and Schorr Merged into Bitcoin Core to Enhance Privacy

Earlier today, Schnorr and Taproot proposals were implemented to Bitcoin Core.

The Bitcoin network rarely undergoes such big changes, but after a decade still, as the network continues to grow and mature, it innovates along the way.

The much-awaited updates to Bitcoin, when finally activated, will increase the leading cryptocurrency’s privacy features and enhance its transactional capabilities.

Last month, Bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille made a pull request, meaning other developers were invited to review the code before its release. Taproot proposal alone had more than 150 developers review the code.

After a month of testing, the proposals finally made it to bitcoin, as per commit history on Github.

The activation mechanism for these proposals haven’t been decided yet; once chosen, it may still take time, even a year, before it is activated.

Formally, these two updates are Bitcoin improvement proposals (BIP) 340 and 341, which represent perhaps the biggest changes to the network since Segregated Witness (SegWit) was implemented to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit in 2017.

Schnorr targets the size by combining multiple keys to a single one when facilitating transactions from a wallet while providing the added benefit of privacy.

Taproot allows Schnorr signatures to be used to allow new ways for users to define conditions to spend Bitcoin. This upgrade is designed to add smart contract flexibility to Bitcoin.

The Taproot implementation was also part of the Bitcoin 0.21.0 release, which also included support for Tor’s anonymous communication software.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

PBoC’s Fintech Innovation Regulations Pilot Program Extends to Six More Districts

The new Fintech Innovation Regulations implemented last year by the Bank of China (BoC) in a Beijing Pilot program will be extended to six more districts, with hopes of benefiting the real economy amidst global Covid-19 concerns. The decision is aligned with China’s 3-year Fintech Development Plan unveiled last year by the BoC.

After releasing the new Fintech Innovation regulations last year, the Bank of China (BoC) opted for a pilot program approach that was unveiled in Beijing. On April 27th this year they have stated their intention to extend the regulatory programs to six of China’s districts.

The extension will involve the districts of: Chongqing, Suzhou Hangzhou, Hebei Xiong’an New District, Shenzhen and Shanghai in an attempt to bolster financial systems. Ultimately, the extension aims to boost the economies of these districts struggling under the present circumstances.

They have reiterated their intentions to help SMEs mitigate financial downsides amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are aiming to amid the pandemic situation and help enterprises to resume work and production.”

China’s Huge Appetite for Fintech Products.

The main objective of these Fintech innovation regulations is to uphold their citizens’ consumer rights. Notably, China has a colossal population with a voracious appetite for Fintech products and consumer goods.

The intentions of the BoC were made clear last year in October when they launched a certification program for Fintech products. The system was set to cover all possible angles on Chinese payment systems including point-of-sale mobile terminals, embedded application software, user front-end software, and security carriers and chips.

The fintech innovation regulations are a major cog in China’s mega plan to further foster growth in their Fintech realm.

During a conference held last year where the Fintech Development Plan (2019-2021) was discussed at length, whose scope of touched on the plans for the Fintech sector touching on guidance ideology, basic principles, development targets, key missions and guarantee mechanisms between the three-year period.

The bank has set a three-year timer to achieve one of their main objectives which are solidifying Fintech regulations which would entail coming up with a framework for implementing the regulations. According to the outline from the Bank, China ought to have come up with framework dubbed ‘the four beams and eight pillars’ of their Fintech Development.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Congresswoman Addresses Libra’s Latest Whitepaper: ‘Too Many Questions Unanswered’

A U.S Congress lawmaker, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, called out Libra following the latest changes implemented in its new updated whitepaper claiming the changes do not address the concerns raised during the hearing.

According to Garcia’s statement, Libra’s plan to offer single-backed digital currencies or improve their compliance systems do not pass the mark for the Rep, who has vowed to push for Libra’s classification as a “security”.

U.S Representative: “Libra hasn’t addressed the issues by FSC”

Regulators across the world are taking a closer look at Libra, Facebook’s crypto, setting tough regulations on stablecoins and other digital assets backed by fiat. Sylvia Garcia, who also serves on the House Financial Service Committee, questions why Facebook is offering cryptocurrencies in a Twitter thread sent out on Apr. 17.

Libra, which is a Swiss-based digital payments platform, released its whitepaper on Thursday proposing the introduction of compliance and single fiat-backed stablecoins. Though the concept of a multiple fiat-backed digital currencies, LBR, is still in the plan.

As per the recent whitepaper updates, this step was taken in a bid to combat the threats posed by the stablecoin to current monetary systems as well as align themselves to regulators.

Lawmaker Sylvia Garcia, however, isn’t convinced and came to point out that the most recent whitepaper, issued by Libra, did not necessarily address concerns raised by her and Facebook CEO Mr. Zuckerberg. A Libra coin backed by a basket of assets is not what they had recently envisioned.

Representative Garcia further stated that the changes introduced in the new whitepaper don’t follow the guidelines the Financial Service Committee offered during Mark Zuckerburg’s hearing last year. She wrote:

“As such, this doesn’t address the concerns I raised when Mr. Zuckerberg testified before FSC, and for which I introduced a bill to address said concerns.”

“Libra is a Security”

Notwithstanding, Garcia plans to continue the relentless push for Libra to follow the securities act claiming that it qualifies as one. The congresswoman wrote:

“I will continue to work to make sure that the SEC regulates any such asset as the security that it is under current securities laws.”

With growing regulatory scrutiny, a number of Libra members have dropped out of the project due to the rising uncertainty clouding the new project. These members include PayPal, eBay, MasterCard, Visa, Stripe, and Vodafone. Only a few members have joined the Libra Association recently; Shopify and Tagomi.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Compound Protocol Moves Towards Decentralization With COMP Governance Token Launch

  • Compound users will now wield the power to propose and vote for changes to be implemented on the platform. This aligns with their objective of being truly decentralized.
  • With just 1% backing the proposal users will have to determine by voting whether the change is in their interests.

Compound is setting its project to a decentralized governance system as it experiments with a testnet launched on Wednesday. The Open Finance backed startup is looking to grant its users the power to propose and vote for implementations to occur on the platform without requiring permissions from the compound team. A tokenization process will be launched developing the Compound governance token, COMP, to carry out the voting process.

This is in line with the pressure from the community to work on decentralized systems more than centralized chains, explained by Compound founder, Robert Leshner, who used the Bitcoin analogy. He said,

“My personal belief is that nobody would use bitcoin if it was run by the ‘Bitcoin Corporation.”

Compound an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol built for developers, has been at the top of the industry and accounts for up to 15% of total $1 billion in funds locked in Ethereum DeFi. They are currently supporting lending options such as BTC, ETH, and ZRX.

Tokenization not aimed at raising funds

The Compound team is looking at various ways it can tokenize the platform. Leshner was however quick in dispelling any notion that the tokenization was aimed at raising funds. The COMP token won’t be available to the public until complete decentralization has occurred.

Employees, investors, and Compound’s top brass will be issued with the tokens first. Later on, another share of the tokens will be issued on Ethereum with criteria that hasn’t been defined by Compound yet.

Implementation Process

Notably, users will be able to propose updates. They will, however, need 1% of the total COMP tokens (set at 1% to help battle spam) to propose an update.

Once a proposal has been made, there is a 3 day voting period. As long as you have the power to do so, you can vote FOR or AGAINST it. A proposal will need to reach quorum (4%) in order to take effect. Once a quorum is reached, the proposal put into TimeLock and will be implemented 2 days later.

At the end of 2019, the Compound Finance team raised over $25 million USD in a funding round including Andreessen Horowitz’s subsidiary, az16, Polychain Capital, Paradigm and Bain Capital Ventures to integrate crypto exchanges, lenders and users on a singular platform.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Bitfinex Requests Users To Provide More Private Information To Be KYC Compliant

The popular cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex implemented additional controls to be compliant with (Know-Your-Customer) KYC procedures. During a conversation with a recognized news site, Paolo Ardoino, the CTO of Bitfinex, explained that they are always trying to enhance their compliance program. This is very important considering regulators are changing the legal frameworks in which exchanges operate.

Crypto Exchange Bitfinex Imposes New KYC Regulations

Clients of Bitfinex will be required to provide further information if they want to continue operating in the platform. For example, users will have to provide additional data, including their residential address.

Verified users have to furnish information about the source and use of the funds that include proof of address, among other things. The exchange has always allowed unverified users to trade on the exchange and participate in limited trading activities.

Not only will users will have to provide a picture of of themselves holding a government-issued identification card, but they will also have to share with the exchange information about their objectives when trading on the platform. According to Mr. Ardoino, all the information that they collect from users is properly stored, securely and confidentially.

In the future, other exchanges could gather more data in order to have more information about their clients and about how they use their digital assets.

It is worth mentioning that the exchange Bitfinex has been involved in different legal issues and controversies due to the Tether (USDT) stablecoin. The New York Attorney General (NYAG) has placed accusations on Bitfinex for using the reserves meant back the USDT stablecoin.

Regulatory agencies have been trying to regulate the cryptocurrency market and exchanges in the space. The main goal is to have control over the users of these platforms and understand whether they are involved in illegal activities.

Read Original/a>
Author: Carl T

Massive Lawsuit Brought Against Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by PayPal

  • PayPal says that the regulations implemented by the CFPB force them to make “misleading and confusing” disclosures to customers.
  • The payment processing firm is asking to be compensated for the attorney fees and cost of taking this case to court.

PayPal is one of the biggest payment processors in the world, and they’ve served millions of customers on various merchant websites. However, they have recently gotten involved in a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to PayPal, the CFPB has required them to make disclosures about its fees with “misleading and confusing” statements.

The lawsuit, which was filed on December 11th by PayPal, states that the agency seems to be unclear on the substantial ways that digital wallets and prepaid products (like their prepaid debit cards) differ. A court filing revealed to CoinTelegraph shows that the CFPB requires both digital wallets and prepaid products to be regulated under the same rules. However, this type of regulation for the digital wallets that PayPal offers is “fundamentally ill-suited,” as PayPal states.

Within this lawsuit, there’s a specific CFPB rule in question – “Prepaid Accounts Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E) and the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z) Rule.” The rule was originally implemented in April this year, and it states that PayPal must provide users with a disclosure on the fees that are not charged by the company. PayPal claims that the rule also doesn’t properly demonstrate what most customers actually pay for their fees.

Essentially, the rule states that the descriptions of these fees on PayPal that “undermine PayPal’s own clear disclosures” need to be simplified. Furthermore, the rule bans them from offering information to consumers that would otherwise allow them to make “an informed decision,” and instructed the firm to tell their customers the worst possible fee that they may come up against, “even if the fee would rarely be incurred.”

In the filling, PayPal added, “The Rule mandates that customers be given — and actually view — ‘short form’ fee disclosures. The requirements for this short form disclosure are extremely prescriptive and rigid. Certain fee categories must be placed in specified positions and presented in certain font sizes […] The Rule further prohibits PayPal from including explanatory phrases within the disclosure box to describe the nature of these fee categories.”

Along with the petition for the ruling by CFPB to be deemed unconstitutional, the push to relieve them of it also asks that PayPal be awarded the costs and attorney fees by the court, as they deem appropriate.

Andrew Rossow, an internet attorney from Ohio, said that the lawsuit from PayPal makes it clear that there are many regulators – CFPB included – don’t actually understand the new technologies being launched in the industry today, like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and others.

Rossow added, “I think the CFPB’s recent expansion of Regulation E (Prepaid Accounts Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act) and Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act) was premature because it still doesn’t understand, in my opinion, how these digital wallets (which includes cryptocurrency wallets—hot and cold) operate and the parties that involved in even the most ‘basic’ of digital money transactions.”

If the court sides with PayPal, the progress could be huge for the cryptocurrency industry. After all, PayPal isn’t just standing up for itself – it is “defending the business operation of each of its competitors, protecting themselves from unwarranted and almost endless liability at any given point in time,” says Rossow.

PayPal has recently revealed their substantial quarterly profits and has been recording new users and more transactions. However, the platform recently cut some of their partnerships, including their ties to Pornhub and their models.

Read Original/a>
Author: Krystle M

Blockchain Startup Partners With Oil Consortium For The Management Of WasteWater

Blockchain technology is being implemented by many companies in the oil and energy sector. The new-age technology is close to achieving mainstream adoption as more use cases are developed.

A consortium of oil firms has engaged a blockchain startup to create a system for the management of water that is used in the extraction of oil. The system will be used in North Dakota’s Bakker oil fields. The companies that form the consortium include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The blockchain system will bring increased efficiency to the management of wastewater from oil fields, and help these oil companies to conduct their business better.

Blockchain Firm Awarded Contract to Manage Oil Water

A blockchain startup was awarded the contract to run the blockchain water handling technology. Data Gumbo received the contract from the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC) Oil and Gas Blockchain Consortium on the 10th of September. The pilot program will be used at the oil fields in North Dakota.

One of the companies that is a part of the consortium, Equinor, said that they expect to save over 25% in costs related to the disposal of saltwater. Saving this amount of money will enable the companies to direct it towards other activities which will ultimately benefit the industry.

Data Gumbo will run an automated payment system using their blockchain network. The startup will also use the GumboNet platform for the management and synchronization of data about the wastewater. Having this data on one platform will allow the oil industry as a whole to make better decisions and achieve new levels of efficiency.

According to the EPA, over 2 billion gallons of liquid byproducts from the oil and energy sector come into the United States daily. These fluids come into the country through about 180,000 wells, and it is these fluids that will be managed by Data Gumbo’s System.

Data Gumbo and the Consortium

Data Gumbo has developed a technology for the management of supply chain and payment systems in the oil industry. According to Andrew Bruce, the startup’s CEO, streamlining the various processes in the oil sector will reduce all costs by over 30%.

The Oil and Gas Blockchain Consortium was formed in March and it is tasked with looking at the different proofs of concepts for blockchain networks in the industry. The consortium is the first of its kind in the United States and it will give the American oil industry a huge boost.

Read Original/a>
Author: Ali Raza