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

‘Earliest Practical Date’ of Phase 0 of ETH 2.0 is Not Until Bitcoin’s 12th Anniversary in 2021

Yes, July 2020 was the target as the likely launch for phase 0 of ETH 2.0, but it is still “in the final testing stages with large multiclient testnets,” and client teams are putting on the final touches.

They could be ready for a relaunch of a larger public testnet in a matter of weeks.

However, during the Reddit AMA today, Justin Drake, a researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, shared that the “earliest practical date for genesis” is January 3, 2021, that would be Bitcoin’s 12th anniversary.

This delay is caused by several things that need to happen before genesis, including a public testnet with over three clients running smoothly for two-three months and an incentivized “attack net” running for the same duration.

Adding a bug bounty program running for 2-3 months and serious differential fuzzing across clients, and all of this can’t happen in Q3 2020, and Q4 has Thanksgiving and December holidays.

Some developers are still optimistic about the launch date by a handful of weeks and “putting money on 2020.”

The good thing is Phase 1 is “looking like the extension of Phase 0” the real heavy lifting on the engineering side won’t start until later this year because, for now, most eth2 client resources are dedicated fulltime to shipping Phase 0.

Also, Drake believes, even the late launch comes with “goodies which may get you excited.”

In conclusion, they are expecting 3-4 production validator clients for genesis, BLS12-381 hardware wallet integrations are happening, and a new deposit contract is written in Solidity with lower gas consumption.

The ETH Lock-Up Issue

The Ethereum community is extremely excited about staking, a hot trend in the crypto market. The number of addresses holding 32 ETH, the requisite for staking has been fast-growing, and just last month, ConsenSys announced six crypto heavyweights — Binance, Huobi Wallet, Crypto.com, DARMA Capital, and Trustlogy, and Matrixport that will join its Staking Pilot Program.

During the AMA, Drake also shared that resolving the issue of not having staked ETH lock-up until Phase 1.5, which could take years, is a priority.

“It is also a thorny issue without a fully satisfactory way forward as of now,” said Drake. There are various possible outcomes, including ETH1 being fully merged into ETH2 being the cleanest but hardest to pull off.

Despite the issue of ETH being locked up for a long time, Drake believes they will “easily reach the 0.5m ETH threshold to trigger genesis” because staking rewards will be high during the early days and also because “many enthusiasts are keen to jump in.”

Phase 1 Much Simpler to Implement

Currently, more than 100 people are contributing to the ETH 2.0, which the researcher believes they have made hard for themselves.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin feels the same way as he shared his biggest regret today is “not launching” ETH 1.0 about a year later with all the deficiencies fixed.

For now, they are working on launching the testnet for Phase 0, which has apparently higher implementation complexity.

Phase 1 has two components, one being data only shard chains, which is “much simpler” than the beacon chain, and Phase 0 will already lay all the groundwork for it. The other one is a custody game and a crypto-economic game where complexity arises from challenge-response type interactions that have continually been refined and simplified.

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Author: AnTy

LG CNS Partners With Blockchain ID Firm, Evernym To Improve The International ID Systems

  • In a local report from Korea, LG’s information wing, LG CNS signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the blockchain-based firm, Evernym.
  • Will introduce decentralized identification (DID) on international passports and driving licenses.

A post from Aju Daily further explains that the partnership with LG CNS will push the software company that develops decentralized, self-sovereign identity applications, into building global blockchain-based identification systems.

The Evernym system aims at replacing the physical international drivers’ licenses and passports by allowing governments to “issue, accept, and verify credentials that operate like a digital passport.”

The implementation of a new blockchain-based authentication system is the start of a partnership between LG CNS and Evernym. On the statement, LG CNS will actively work with Evernym to contribute to the Worldwide Web (W3C) Consortium.

The Chief Technology Officer at LG CNS, Kim Hong-Geun, is aiming at a global market to offer an instant and secure identifier to governments and firms. Kim spoke on the latest signed MOU stating,

“Through cooperation with Evernym, we will create DID solutions and service models that can be used globally. We will also actively participate in related public projects so that South Korea can lead the global standardization of decentralized identification (DID).”

Blockchain Developments in Digital Identification

In February, the LG and Samsung backed consortium, SK Telecom, announced the first-ever mobile-based id system built on blockchain, in partnership with local bank, NongHyup (NH) bank. The new DID system by Evernym will also feature on smartphones allowing users to transfer and retrieve identity information at any moment from the blockchain.

Following IBM’S and Evernym’s partnership in early 2019, a number of venture capital firms started knocking on its doors with Overstock’s Medici Venture’s closing a $2 million investment round in the blockchain-based ID firm.

LG CNS is also engaging in other areas of the fourth technology revolution recently saying it will increase its efforts in R&D in the artificial intelligence, cloud computing and blockchain industries.

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Congress Members Reintroduce ‘Digital Dollar’ in Automatic Boost to Communities Act

  • In the wake of the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had in the past few months across the U.S, the House of Representatives are set to discuss a digital dollar bill in the coming weeks.
  • Could the said $2000 monthly stimulus package be distributed to Americans directly into their digital wallets?

The U.S government has begun distributing the COVID-19 stimulus checks in a bid to boost the economy. In a new development in the Lower House, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is looking to introduce a digital wallet in the new bill titled, ‘Automatic Boost to Communities Act (ABC)” to which the $2000 extended monthly payment will be distributed to. The Act reads:

“No later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall offer all recipients of BOOST payments the option to receive their payments in digital dollar wallets.”

The ABC Act was introduced to the Lower House on Thursday with several members supporting the bill including;

  • Jesús García (D-Ill.)
  • Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
  • Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
  • Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
  • Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
  • Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
  • Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  • Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The bill aims to improve access of financial services to Americans connecting the Federal Reserve directly to the citizens. The short term $1200 stimulus is currently underway but some Americans are yet to receive the check as the system faces some challenges with third parties.

The initial stimulus bill included a “digital dollar” payment system to allow seamless disbursement of the funds but was later removed without explanation.

The ABC Act aims to transform the digital payments field during this pandemic and beyond looking into various forms of payments including digital wallets, debit and credit cards, online payment systems and access to mobile payment systems.

Direct Competition to Libra?

The current news comes just hours after the Libra Association announced its plans to develop a multi-currency and single-currency backed stablecoin in its updated whitepaper.

Libra platform aims to offer unbanked and underbanked users a digital wallet account that holds the tokens backed by dollars, euros, pounds, and yen. The development of a digital dollar may prove to cause direct competition to the Facebook-led project.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Elon Musk’s Tesla and CargoSmart Test Blockchain Tech To Speed Up Cargo Release Process

  • In collaboration with CargoSmart and China’s Shanghai Port Group, Tesla company is aiming at transforming the goods importation process in China using the new blockchain application.
  • The companies aim at making the whole clearing process both cost and time effective.

Formalities related to shipping transactions are quite chaotic. Document verification which is paramount on the other end over time has proved to be lengthy and messy. Many documents e.g the port documents and bill of lading need to go through multiple parties that consumes a lot of time. U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla is working on a way that will make importation of goods into China easier. The pilot used blockchain to share all relevant shipping data and documentation among all concerned parties, including Tesla.

The China Shipping industry is evidently one of the sectors that has recently shown interest in blockchain-based innovations. Tesla along with Chinese ship operator COSCO are aiming at rolling out an app that will shorten the normal cargo release time. This will, in turn, allow global logistic companies to possess ownership of goods once they have been cleared.

Blockchain all but set to revolutionize the shipping industry

In a bid towards adopting a paperless, seamless and trusted process at the port of Shanghai, CargoSmart has partnered with electric car company Tesla, COSCO and the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) to lessen consignee and shipment agent authentication process. CargoSmart recently stated that the new application will accelerate the digitization of the shipping enterprise procedures and the further increment of the current international supply chains.

The blockchain-based application uses blockchain technology to exchange real-time shipment data between the terminal operator and the carrier. The shipping processes become faster since documentation is digitized which in turn reduces all the shipment verification steps .

Plans for future upgrades?

Since December 2019 when Tesla with the help of Cosco and the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) streamlined its processes, the application has been updated. As at now it can boast of more helpful features like “terminal release, display laden gate out and the appointment date.” This in turn ensures that those waiting for their shipments will have better visibility of their cargoes.

More tests are scheduled to be conducted at ports in Xiamen, Qingdao and Laem Chabang in Thailand. This is to widen the scope by involving more carriers and terminals on the platform. The company is planning to roll out a blockchain association for the members of the Global Shipping Business Network.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Big Shift in Workforce and Inheritance Boom Will Make Bitcoin a Multi-Trillion Dollar Asset Class

  • “The more familiar people are, the harder the FOMO will kick in” – Misir Mahmudov
  • Even 1% of the wealth transfer goes into Bitcoin, it will be a multi-trillion-dollar asset class

Since falling from $9,200 on the weekend, Bitcoin price has now got stuck around $8,600. The world’s leading cryptocurrency is up over 18% YTD but down 0.17% in the past 24 hours.

Trading at $8,636 as per Coincodex, it is currently managing the daily trading volume of $473 million as per Messari, down from $1 billion on the weekend.

However, the Bitcoin forward curve paints a bullish picture. The forward curve is a graph that defines the price at which a contract for future delivery can be made today.

Trader Avi Felman shared a Twitter thread where he explains that generally the futures curve slope positively, meaning as expiries go further out prices get higher which is called Contango and the opposite is Backwardation where prices get lower.

Historically, Bitcoin futures trade at a premium to spot prices i.e. Contango. It allows one to “short the future, and go long spot, and collect the spread.” There are desks in the crypto industry dedicated to this trade alone.

The more awareness, the harder the FOMO kicks in

Currently, Bitcoin is down 57% from its all-time high of $20,000 in 2017 while its awareness in the US grew from 77% in fall 2017 to 89% in the Spring of 2019 despite 2018 being the bear market, notes analyst Misir Mahmudov.

“The more familiar people are, the harder the FOMO will kick in. Wait until they start hearing about BTC reaching a new all-time high this bull run,” Mahmudov said.

What’s even more interesting and bullish for BTC is the millennials and $68 trillion wealth transfer.

A Big Shift in the WorkForce & Wealth

Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini co-founder points out,

Though it won’t be 70%, but much closer to 40% and over 50% in Africa, a shift would be happening.

Studies have shown that these Millennials will be holding five times the wealth they hold today. The group is anticipated to inherit more than $68 trillion from their Baby Boomer parents by 2030, marking the greatest wealth transfers in modern times.

Many of the Baby Boomers have been the beneficiaries of a great economy that offered well-paying safe jobs, the meteoric rise in the stock market and substantial gains in real estate. On the other hand, post-Boomer generation has been wrestling with college debt, costly real estate, procuring a well-paying job, and the high cost of insurance.

But this unprecedented hand-off of wealth will change the fortunes of many millennials that are expected to have some ripple effects on the economy.

Bullish for Bitcoin

According to crypto industry experts, it will be bullish for Bitcoin. As Ryan Selkis of Messari points out, “If 1% of that goes into cryptocurrencies, crypto will be a multi-trillion-dollar asset class,” putting a conservative case for $50k+ bitcoin.

Millennials are already buying Bitcoin, as evident from the survey of adults familiar with cryptocurrency, 20% of millennials purchase Bitcoin in the last year.

Also, GBTC is already among the top 5 holdings of Charles Schwab for Millennials ahead of Netflix and Microsoft.

So, as millennials take up the largest percentage of the workforce and a huge amount of wealth gets transferred, Bitcoin will be reaching the moon.

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Author: AnTy

Facebook’s Libra Has “Failed” As Central Banks Won’t Accept It – Switzerland Finance Minister

  • In its current form, the social media giant’s cryptocurrency won’t be approved
  • No central bank will accept the basket of currencies underpinning it

Facebook’s digital currency Libra has been a big miss so far and requires a revamp in order to be supported, said the finance minister of Switzerland and outgoing president. Where regulatory consent is concerned, Ueli Maurer, the president of Switzerland said,

“I don’t think (Libra has a chance in its current form), because central banks will not accept the basket of currencies underpinning it,”

“The project, in this form, has thus failed.”

Government debt and bank deposits held by the custodians are some of the assets backing Libra, which is meant to dodge the high volatility persistent in cryptocurrencies.

The Libra Association has shared their concerns regarding Libra with politicians and regulators that range from confidentiality to its possible ability to impact current fiat policy.

The cryptocurrency Libra scheduled to be launched in June next year may get delayed according to co-creator David Marcus and other officials running the project.

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Author: AnTy

Disney Stops Justin Sun’s Attempt to Trademark “TRON” citing Brand Confusion

  • Disney stops Tron CEO’s attempt to trademark “TRON”
  • Tron using the name “in bad faith to trade off the goodwill of Disney and its famous brands.”
  • Justin Sun says these are nothing but false claims & FUD

Media giant Disney has blocked blockchain platform, Tron, from obtaining three trademarks, claiming they would damage its brand.

Last month, the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected Tron’s applications including for the brand name TRON.

Tron Foundation, however, reportedly hasn’t filed for a response.

“Tron gave up its half-hearted attempt to register trademarks in the US after Disney filed a strong Opposition alleging dilution & brand confusion,” Jake Chervinsky, general counsel for Compound stated on Twitter.

In response, Tron founder and CEO Justin Sun took to Twitter to claim the TRON being invalidated by Disney to be “FUD” and false. He says many of their field trademark applications aren’t challenged or affected by Disney.

Sun further said that they will continue to “actively prosecute” in the US adding they have already received trademark registrations in other countries.

“Those challenged by Disney belong to supplemental classes and were filed for defensive purposes. They do not affect Tron’s core trademarks,” added Sun.

Tron Foundation’s China partner Raybo technology first filed to trademark “TRON,” “TRONNETWOK,” and “TRONIX” in February last year. However, when Disney pushed back in August and Raybo failed to respond, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected all three applications by default.

In its Notice of Opposition filed by Disney in early August, the company argued that the proposed trademark would infringe on its sci-fi film series of the same name.

They pointed out that Tron has been using the name in all capital letters in a font/stylization that is “highly similar in appearance to the unique and distinctive” font and stylization of Disney’s TRON.

This the corporation says is used by Tron “in bad faith to trade off the goodwill of Opposer and its famous brands.”

Because Tron Foundation doesn’t issue any response to Disney’s notice in the following nine months, the patent office rejected their trademark applications by default.

“Tron clearly didn’t take the trademark registration process seriously,” Chervinsky told Decrypt.

“They never hired U.S. counsel to represent them, even though the USPTO explicitly ordered them to do so. They also didn’t respond to the USPTO’s notice of default, meaning they gave up on their trademark attempt completely.”

Chervinksy says though there’s nothing wrong in doing this, the “respectful” way to handle the situation was to withdraw the application and not to ignore the USPTO.

But if Disney wants, it can make the situation difficult for Tron as Chervinsky explains on Twitter, “if Disney’s serious about this, they could take Tron to court in a trademark infringement suit.”

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Author: AnTy

Ethereum Developer ConsenSys Shuts Down Operations in India and Philippines

  • In total, the teams in India and the Philippines only accounted for less than a dozen people.
  • The projects for these teams specifically dealt with decentralization and blockchain-based payments.

There are over 30 hubs around the world that are attributed to ConsenSys, the Ethereum blockchain development company. However, as reported by CoinDesk, the company has shut down their operations in both India and the Philippines. The teams were notified by Joe Lubin via email, who stated that the offices would be shut down, and the closure was confirmed by one of the members of the team in India.

This shutdown was part of a series of layoffs that began last year, dropping about 13% of the staff, which was about 1,200 members at the time. Since then, the total number of people employed have dropped down to 1,000 people. The last bull run of the crypto market paved the way for growth for the venture studio, bringing the price of Ethereum tokens up to $1,000. However, the crypto winter forced them to change their priorities and adjust their staff.

Overall, the operations shut down in India and Philippines only accounted for less than a dozen people in total, but their work involved some high-profile projects for the company. In India, the team was working on decentralization for multiple sectors, like healthcare and land titling. The team in the Philippines was focused on a network called Project i2i, using blockchain technology for interbank payments with UnionBank. Presently, the future of these projects is unclear.

Further questions were directed to the main office for ConsenSys in Brooklyn, New York, but CoinDesk reports that there was no comment provided by press time.

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Author: Krystle M

Indexica Reports: Any Factor Can Make Bitcoin Move Just Like Gold or a G-10 Currency

  • In 2019, Bitcoin went as high as $13,900 only to lose about 40 percent of its value. This drop in Bitcoin’s price has been attributed to a number of factors.

Intercontinental Exchange launching the physically delivered Bitcoin futures platform Bakkt’s disappointing performance, recording a meager 72 BTC futures contracts in the first 24 hours, has been seen as the factor that triggered the price’s crash.

While some pointed to the unwinding of long positions as the driving factor behind BTC price nosediving, others pointed to the technical bearish signals that triggered the leading cryptocurrency to take a breather after surging more than 200% in the first half of 2019.

But all these factors might not be what has been behind the 40% drop.

According to Indexica, a Los-Angeles based alternate data provider, this fall has less to do with Bitcoin itself and more to do with the growing cryptocurrency ecosystem.

As per their index built on data from Aug.1 through Oct. 1, the movement in the price of the flagship cryptocurrency is driven by new blockchain technologies and competing for digital currencies.

Actually, the talk around Mastercard’s partnership with R3 to develop a new blockchain payment system, the study stated has been a strong driver of recent returns.

“Now that Bitcoin is a big kid, anything can make it move, just like anything can make gold or a G-10 currency move,”

Zak Selbert, chief executive officer at Indexica told Bloomberg.

“Bitcoin is part of the financial landscape in a very intertwined and mature way.”

Selbert said this sensitivity of Bitcoin to the development of competitors is another sign of a coming of age.

Moreover, Bitcoin’s strongest predictive measure, Indexica found was its “quoteability” that showed the digital asset was most often talked about in concurrence of traditional currencies.

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Author: AnTy