Over 100M Unique Users in the Crypto Ecosystem; University of Cambridge Digital Asset Study

The 3rd Global CryptoAsset Benchmarking Study, an initiative by Cambridge researchers to analyze the developing growth of the industry, has estimated that over 100 million people in the world currently hold BTC or alternative crypto assets. According to this publication, the number of new digital wallets increased significantly, with around 191 million accounts opened in Q3, 2020 alone.

Going by these stats, the number of new people who own crypto assets has skyrocketed compared to the 2018 estimates, which barely hit 36 million. The research attributes this growth to an increase in activity and awareness within the main functions of the crypto ecosystem. Other metrics highlighted include mining, off-chain service provision, regulatory compliance, and improvement in IT infrastructure.

A Vibrant Outlook

Despite taking a hit after the 2017 ICO boom, crypto onboarding has been at its highest post the bubble. More off-chain service providers have launched to on-ramp newbies through fiat-crypto ecosystems and vice versa. Notably, the usage demographics were found to vary between different regions greatly; for instance, crypto exchanges domiciled out of APAC emerged as more crypto-focused trading platforms. Reads the report:

“While North American and European firms primarily serve crypto asset hedge funds and traditional institutional investors …

a notable share of APAC service providers deals with miners (41%), in part explained by the high level of mining activities in the region, especially in China.”

Regulatory and Compliance

As for the regulatory scope, much still has to be done according to figures revealed by the research. Over 2 out of 5 firms surveyed have obtained a license or are in the process of doing so. This is despite the FATF Travel Rule coming in place last year, requiring all Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to comply with new KYC/AML standards.

However, the research also argues that general compliance has increased, and some of those who are not licensed are because their activities do not fall within current regulatory frameworks or established guidelines.

“However, the remaining 58% should not be perceived as the share of entities conducting unregulated activities or evading regulations: some surveyed service providers are engaged in activities that do not yet warrant any authorization process.”

IT Security

With scamming being prevalent in the crypto ecosystem, the research notes that at least 90% of the VASPs keep the entrusted assets in cold storage. Nonetheless, there’s always a downside risk attributed to insurance since this line of service is yet to make in-roads into the crypto market. Had it not been the case, ‘Those who do have insurance plans are primarily insured against cybercrimes, professional errors, hazards, and loss or theft of private keys.’

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bermuda Govt Partners With Stablehouse to Test A Stimulus Token for COVID-19 Aid

On Tuesday, the Government of Bermuda announced that it has rolled out a pilot initiative for digital stimulus token. The program is being run in conjunction with Stablehouse, a Bermuda-based payments startup. The program is expected to offer crucial feedback on whether digital tokens can be used for buying essential goods and services in the country.

Stablehouse claims to be ‘a global virtual currency clearing house’ and facilitates the exchange of stablecoins. The startup is being advised by ex-Tether executive, Phil Potter, who will offer his expertise to the government in the provision of Bermudian Dollar Token, BMDT.

The government is seeking to collect vital information and data on whether merchants will readily accept digital tokens as a payment method. The pilot phase will also establish whether Bermudians are ready to use the tokens to buy essential goods and services.

At the moment, the government has recruited three merchants as well as 20 individuals who were given a stipend of free BMDTs that they use to test the initiative.

Speaking to Decrypt, chief fintech advisor to Bermudian prime minister, Denis Pitcher explained that the project will kick-off with a small number of participants but will gradually expand.

“Our ultimate goal is to end up with a wallet on every phone because wallets are the browser of the future when it comes to money and the future of finance.”

The partnership will see Stablehouse offer point-of-sale services to the merchants as well as provide its Green Wallet that enables clients to store coins while offline easily. The startup will also be handling issuance as well as redemption of the BMDT. It’s important to note that every token is backed by the Bermudian dollar, which is also pegged to the US dollar.

The token will run on Blockstream’s Liquid, which is a sidechain protocol that is designed to link together various exchanges.

The token stimulus initiative has been in the works since last year and is part of a comprehensive plan to introduce digital currency on the island.

Bermuda has implemented various crypto-friendly policies in the recent past. For instance, in October last year, the island allowed its residents to clear their taxes and fees using US dollar-backed stablecoins.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Anheuser-Busch InBev, ING Bank, & Rolls Royce Join Mousebelt’s Blockchain Education Alliance

Blockchain Education Alliance, an initiative by Mousebelt, has gained four new significant members according to an announcement by the blockchain accelerator on August 17. They include margin crypto trading platform Multi.io, Rolls Royce, Belgium brewing firm Anheuser-Busch InBev and Dutch-based ING bank.

The project whose fundamental goal is to accelerate blockchain education and research now has 26 members following this addition. Having launched in October 2019, pioneer members included ETC Labs, Nem, LTO Network, Harmony One, Wanchain, ICON, Tron, and the Stellar Development Foundation. It was not long before the initiative attracted the likes of Binance, Mastercard, KuCoin crypto exchange, and Constellation Labs onboard as well.

With such players already approving the Blockchain Education Alliance strategy, some of its milestones include a 72-hour live blockchain education event that was held in May. This virtual conference was dubbed ‘REIMAGINE 2020’ and featured networking events, panel and debates, and a continuous livestream of the keynotes.

Given the prevailing lockdowns at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, REIMAGINE 2020 attracted students from various universities, giving them exposure to cutting edge tech like blockchain as well as an opportunity to meet with the industry veterans. Mousebelt’s head of Education, Ashlie Meredith, further pointed out that they are looking to nature skills given the looming uncertainty in the global economy,

“In a time when many students will not be returning to campus, increasing opportunities for educational experiences, jobs and internships is of utmost importance.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

CoinMarketCap Launches ‘Earn’ Initiative That Will Pay Users to Learn Crypto

Leading crypto metrics site, CoinMarketCap, has launched an initiative that will enable its account holders to earn tokens for learning about projects in the industry. Dubbed ‘CoinMarketCap Earn,’ this program intends to scale educational activity in the crypto space as opposed to providing investment or financial advice. Notably, a similar initiative was launched by Coinbase back in 2019, although it runs as an education rewards program.

The CoinMarketCap Earn program is an interesting prospect, given the platform’s cutting edge in crypto traffic. A good percentage of stakeholders in the industry, including newcomers, visit the site regularly for price updates alongside other market stats. With such an established audience, its Earn program could onboard millions into the crypto ecosystem.

According to the FAQs on CoinMarketCap Earn, the program will enable interested users to watch educational videos of featured crypto or blockchain projects, after which they will take quizzes. Should one be successful in answering all the quiz questions, they can earn up to $10 worth of the project’s underlying tokens.

A source from CoinMarketCap has since told The Block that the program will be featuring two projects every month with an 8-day campaign period for the token offers. While the news comes as a boost to the crypto community, markets including Mainland China and the U.S, have been excluded from the product. This is where Coinbase, which serves the American market, still beats CoinMarketCap despite a recent acquisition by Binance.

Band Protocol Debuts First

Following the progress made towards crypto education, Band protocol, which is a cross-chain focused on data oracles for the smart contract and DeFi space, will be first to launch an earning program. The Sequoia Capital-backed project has already allocated $160,000 worth of its native tokens ‘BAND’ to this course. Band Protocol CEO, Solaris Srinawakoon, emphasized on the value addition in scaling crypto education,

“Education is key to accelerating the use of crypto assets, and we are thrilled to be part of CoinMarketCap’s efforts to help users learn more about their underlying technology.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Society2 to Launch IOTA Based Decentralized Social Media Platform; Exchange Privacy for MIOTA

Society2, a new decentralized social media initiative by IOTA is trying to change the way the user’s personal data is handled on the internet.

The project called DeSM aims to help consumers regain control of their data and make social media a truly private experience. Though this project, IOTA node owners would be able to run their own social media websites and applications.

Today any internet-based service or application has become a sophisticated data phishing portal where they track and collect user’s personal data on the behest of offering their service.

Social media services, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or similar other services collect every possible data of the user like their locations, their call record, their search history and then sell it to the highest bidder without any moral check. This not only puts the user’s interest and privacy at danger but if it falls in the wrong hands it can be conveniently used to harass the user as well.

While there have been many decentralized social media initiatives, they never enjoyed widespread adoption and Society2’s team is looking to change the factor.

The developer team has started to develop an IOTA-based DeSM framework that would enable new privacy standards and how the user’s data is shared between social media platforms. Ben Royce, head of development at Society2 said:

“SOCIETY2’s framework is very different from existing social networks. An owner of an IOTA node can run a social media site or app as easily as downloading an open-source template from a menu, customize it or not.”

The developer team has promised that the decentralized social media solution would come with privacy and security controls, which are not available on current, more centralised platforms.

In fact, present social media platforms make it extremely difficult for anyone to read or get notified about privacy policy changes and bury this information at the bottom which can’t be easily found by those unfamiliar with technology and the importance of privacy.

Society2 Users can Decide Who Can Access Their Private Data

The decentralized social media platform would not only give total control of user’s data in their hand, but would also give them the power to decide who can access it, and in return, they receive micropayments and rewards in IOTA.

The social media platform would be strictly based on IOTA’s framework, utilizing its peer-to-peer micropayments system in case a user is ready to offer their data to advisors.

Rayce also revealed that the decentralized social media solution would only support the IOTA token since they believe that the IOTA framework is best suited for such an initiative, having the scalability and security to assure it of being successful.

Society2 Would Work on Top of IOTA Streams

Society2 would not only use the IOTA currency as the fuel for its network, but its framework would work on top of IOTA’s distributed Ledger Technology – called IOTA Streams.

IOTA Streams is a framework for cryptographic applications which would enable social media content encryption and distribution.

The Society2 project was officially launched this week and is expected to deliver an early prototype for DeSM system by Q3 of 2020 for community feedback.

The development team behind the project also believes that the framework for the decentralized social media solution could also be utilized by modern-day social media giants like Twitter. Joseph Skewes, the project’s head of operations said:

“Twitter recently funded the independent team bluesky, which is researching the decentralized social media landscape for a standard that Twitter itself could eventually use. A framework like SOCIETY2 may develop into a suitable candidate for such a platform.”

Skews comments towards the use of their DeSM framework by Twitter could have been inspired by an announcement made by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey towards the end of 2020, where he revealed that they have funded a developer team to develop decentralized standards for social media.

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Author: James W

Japan’s FSA Rolls Out New Initiative (BGIN) To Create ‘Open and Neutral’ Blockchain Dev

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), has announced the launch of the Blockchain Governance Initiative Network (BGIN). The regulator revealed this at the “BG2C – Special Online Broadcasting Panel Discussion,” held in collaboration with Nikkei on March 10.

According to Georgetown University Professor, Dr. Shin’ichiro Matsuo, this project is meant to create a sustainable ecosystem for blockchain tech development. The fundamental idea is to develop an open network that can facilitate dialogue between industry stakeholders.

Apart from a communication avenue, BGIN will serve as an archive for academic research and development on distributed ledgers. The project is set to create a common language which will enhance interaction and sharing of perspectives amongst network stakeholders like the JFSA;

“an open and neutral sphere for all blockchain stakeholders to deepen common understanding”

These developments are part of the G20 Osaka declaration where the JFSA spearheaded research initiatives around blockchain. The roundtable took place back in 2019 and prominent regulators across the world were in attendance. Some notable mentions include the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, and France.

Given Japan’s advanced crypto laws, BGIN is more likely to complement regulatory development so far. This open network will take blockchain discussions to distributed ledgers which means more input and consolidation within the industry.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Square Crypto Launches Lightning Development Kit ‘LDK’ To Boost Adoption Of The Network

The crypto initiative started by the payment firm Square and called Square Crypto has announced on Tuesday the launch of its first product.

This product is a Lightning Development Kit (LDK) that’s meant to help the integration of Lightning with developers’ Bitcoin (BTC) wallet applications. It includes demo apps, language bindings, an API and many other elements that should make the Lightning integration safe, easy and simple to configure, says a blog post published by the group.

Square Crypto Took a Few Other Projects into Consideration

Square Crypto has mentioned that it took a few other projects into consideration, but that it finally concluded a Lightning-Network integration project for wallets is necessary, as developer are demanding it. This is what the company’s blog posted reads further:

“We spoke with dozens of wallet developers. What we heard was a desire for flexibility when integrating Lightning. Wallets and applications require different key store and backup mechanisms, security approaches, UX tradeoffs, and more. That means the solution is building for more wallets, not fewer.”

The Kit’s Release Not Yet Announced

The tools included in the kit intend to give developers an improved user experience, Square Crypto saying that:

“For bitcoin to become a widely used global currency – one that can’t be stopped, tampered with, or rigged in anyone’s favor – improvements to bitcoin’s UX, security, privacy, and scaling are required.”

It seems the kit is still getting built and a date for its release hasn’t been yet revealed. What’s sure is that today’s Lightning infrastructure is not complete and could sure use some more features. Back in December 2019, Square Crypto announced that it’s offering grants to a Lightning developer working part-time, in order to provide support for his work. Earlier in September, it hired 3 new team members, out of which 2 have experience with Lightning.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Jack Dorsey’s Square Crypto To Invest $100,00 In The “Future Of Money”

The crypto initiative of payment company Square, Square crypto recently announced that they are allocating $100,000 on grants to the BTCPay Foundation.

Square integrated bitcoin in 2018, when its Cash App began selling the cryptocurrency to users. This service generated over $190 million in revenue over the first two quarters of this year, yielding shy of $3 million in gross profit. Dorsey said Square’s exposure to various payment methods could help the company “weather storms,” referring to economic downturns.

The announcement for the news said:

“BTCPay represents everything we love about open-source bitcoin projects. It exemplifies the ideals of our community and promotes adoption by letting merchants accept bitcoin, control their private keys, and self-validate their coins. It also creates powerful real-world applications for bitcoin without sacrificing user experience or requiring trusted third parties.”

In an earlier interview, Dorsey had said:

“In the long term it will help us be more and more like an internet company where we can launch a product … and the whole world can use it, instead of having to go from market to market, to bank to bank to bank and from regulatory body to the regulatory body.”

Square’s Cash App is reportedly testing a free stock trading service. In a recent interview, Dorsey revealed that the company was hiring five open-source engineers to work entirely on making the crypto ecosystem better.

Steve Lee, Square Crypto’s project manager had earlier said in an interview:

“We are very, very pro-Bitcoin. There is more than enough work for us to do there. That said, we are open to emerging use cases and technologies that complement Bitcoin.”

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Author: Sritanshu Sinha

ICO Startup GXChain (GXC) Offices Reportedly Shut Down By Chinese Police; Execs Being Interrogated

GXChain, A Chinese-based initial coin offering (ICO) initiative, have just had their offices clamped by the Hangzhou local police.

According to Bitcoin influencer and co-founder of Primitive Ventures it seems the GXChain team is having some legal issues. Using her Twitter account, Dovey was able to relay the news to the world by posting a photo of the startup’s offices which were taped closed, probably by the Chinese police, and stating that GXChain had been shut down by the Chinese police.

Dovey also wondered why GXChain had been clamped as she believes it has an authentic business. Dovey, however, quipped that the reason for the clampdown could have been triggered by the startup’s core business of trading individuals processed credit data saying that the venture is very sensitive in China. GXChain has in the past sometimes blurred the lines of privacy in a similar manner to Facebook and that could likely be the cause.

Dovey also updated her followers stating that the entire managerial team of GXChain had been picked up by Hangzhou local police for interrogations.

GXChain was started in 2017 and was rated as one of the hot ICOs of the year. The startup were successful in reaching their hardcap just a few hours after its ICO went live. The company sold approximately 24,510,000 GXC tokens and in the process raising about $144,000,000 USD after the end of ICO.

The company refers to itself as the ‘blockchain for the global data economy’ and comprises of a decentralized data marketplace that offers various forms of data to numerous enterprises in China.

Compared to many ICOs that came up in 2017, GXChain is one of the few legit projects that kept its promise. They maintained a team that kept working to ensure the project was successful even after the ICO was over. Despite being one of the authentic ICOs of 2017, the Chinese police are now after them.

Cointelegraph reports that the Chinese police are also actively investigating a non-custodial token trading platform EtherDelta in relation to a suspected exit scam.

Although it is not yet clear what the Hangzhou police are looking for in GXChain, keep it here for more details as the story unravels.

Latest update from who’s close with Hangzhou local police – all executives of GXchain are now with the police for interrogation

— Dovey Wan 🗝 🦖 (@DoveyWan) September 11, 2019

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Coinbase Introduces USDC Bootstrap Fund To Support DeFi Projects; Investing $2M In Compound & dYdX

Coinbase has introduced a new initiative dubbed USDC Bootstrap Fund and just as the name suggests, the firm intends to boost developers with a fund in terms of USDC tokens.

In a blog post, the crypto exchange said that the new fund will be used to enhance developments of decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols. The new initiative ‘USDC Bootstrap’ will only invest in DeFi based projects using its stablecoin USDC.

DeFi is a relatively fresh concept in the blockchain sphere which can be described as the conventional financial products that you could get from a financial institution like lending or derivatives that have been developed on top of a blockchain. In other words, DeFi protocols consist of smart contracts that are governed by codes and the protocol on which they’re built on.

CoinDesk reports that after several deliberations with DeFi platform developers, the exchange says it realized that liquidity or availability of funds to borrow was one of the urgent needs for DeFi based initiatives. The exchange hopes that through grants, it will boost the development of the DeFi ecosystem.

To kickstart the initiative, Coinbase announced that it was investing 1 million USDC each in Compound as well as dYdX. However, unlike the Coinbase Ventures where investments are made in startups for an equity stake, the Bootstrap fund is designed to add to a protocol’s lending pool where interest will be returned after counterparties borrow from it.

Zhuoxun Yin, dYdX operations head, the most challenging aspect in the development of a new DeFi protocol is attracting borrowing demand. however, the addition of USDC to the lending pools will help to lower the interest rates and embolden clients to borrow more USDC.

Head of Bootstrap Fund Nemil Dalal explained that boosting lending protocols will help in the growth and development of DeFi, which is an area of much interest for Coinbase. In the recent past, Coinbase venture also invested in different DeFi protocols such as Dharma and BlockFi. Dalal explained that Coinbase was interested in enhancing decentralized finance within the banking industry.

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Author: Joseph Kibe