Healthcare Sector in Afghanistan to Experience Transformation via Blockchain

The health sector in Afghanistan is about to witness a major shift. This is coming after the country’s ministry of public health entered into an agreement with a blockchain venture. The venture is named FantomOperations and the plan is to incorporate blockchain technology into the country’s healthcare sector. This announcement was made public on the 27th of November when the Afghan Voice Agency reported it.

Big Transformation Coming

According to what was agreed upon, the healthcare sector in the country is about witness real change. In fact, the agreement is so comprehensive that blockchain technology is going to be employed in the identification of fake drugs. It is also going to be used in the establishment of medical registries in different medical centers. Even the digitization of the records of patients across the nation is also part of the deal.

While speaking on the whole deal, Ferozuddin Feroz, who is the country’s minister of public health was quite optimistic about the whole deal. He clarified that the ministry of public health was very dedicated to the idea of incorporating the latest forms of technology into the running of the health sector. He also went ahead to state that in order to achieve this goal, the adoption of blockchain technology was going to be the best bet. He also added that there are several benefits that the country stands to gain from the coming of blockchain technology. These included increased effectiveness, higher levels of transparency and even an overall increase in the speed of the various transactions.

Taking Challenges

Stakeholders of the sector on the side of the government and the general public are all worried about the several challenges ahead. One of the most prominent of these is the proliferation of fake drugs all over Afghanistan. This is a nation where so many Afghans depend on the use of traditional drugs as solutions for their several health challenges. There are reasons why they do this. Some of the main reasons are of affordability and easy access. This has been confirmed by a study from the European Asylum Support Office which made its findings public earlier in the year in April.

According to the report, the association of those importing medicines into the nation raised an alarm about a huge chunk of the medicines and medical equipment entering the country. They cried out that as much as two-fifths of these items are entering the country either illegally or they are fake. This is one of the reasons why the government is doing everything possible to tackle these hydra-headed challenges.

The United Nations is also interested in the developments made in the country. It has made it known that Afghanistan has commenced the implementation of blockchain technology-based solutions to address several issues. A good example in this regard is the one that has to do with sustainable urban development. The body is expecting that Afghanistan is going to become urbanized in the next one and half-decade. If all is to go as planned, then it has taken urgent steps now and that explains the use of blockchain.

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Author: Ali Raza

Death By Abandonment’ Is Reason Most Crypto Projects Die Before Their 2nd Birthday: Longhash

In efforts to understand the major causes leading to the demise of many crypto projects, blockchain education platform Longhash dug into Coinopsy’s data to come up with conclusions on what kills crypto projects.

The analysts examined 700 crowd sourced projects in a span of 8 years and came up with a conclusion that majority of crypto projects had died due to abandonment which accounted for 63.1% of the dead crypto projects.

According to an article released by Longhash, crypto projects dying as a result of abandonment were mostly due to the investors halting trading an asset which led to volumes dropping to zero. These projects, on average, had a lifespan of about 1.6 years.

The research also identified that scams accounted for about 29.9% of the dead crypto projects making it the second most prevalent cause. The researchers found that 2017 recorded the highest number of scams in the crypto industry. The number of projects dying due to scam increased five-fold as per the researchers as indicated below.

The report by Longhash also identified three people who were severely implicated in three distinct dead scam projects mentioning Bitcointalk user Crunck as well as another person going by the name Daniel Mendoza.

The other category of dead crypto projects identified by Longhash was joke projects like AnalCoin, BieberCoin as well as BagCoin. This category accounted for 3.2% of dead crypto projects and had an average lifespan of about 1.4 years.

Longhash’s report indicates that its difficult to quantify the exact number of dead crypto project since most of the data is crowdsourced. The report also notes that there is little consensus on what constitutes a dead crypto project.

Cointopsy has listed 705 projects as dead, DeadCoins has listed 1779 as dead while CoinMarketCap has more than 1000 projects that record less than $1000 every day in terms of trading volume as near their death or lifeless.

Cointelegraph reports that in its recent research, it was found that the most common causes of crypto projects deaths were low liquidity, fraud, lack of utility as well as poor management.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Century and a Half Year Old UK Church Is On Sale for $1.5 Million with Bitcoin Payment Options

Rightmove, a major United Kingdom-based real estate website, is selling a 150-year-old church in the country for around $1.5 million USD (or $1.2 million GBP) and the vendor is accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a method of payment.

According to the listing on the site, the church, which was converted into a seven-bedroom property, was created back in 1871. Known formerly as the St. Laurence’s Church, the property is based in County Durham.

The owner of the property has agreed to sell it for BTC, but the price needs to be confirmed during the time of the sale. At the moment, the property is worth 182.34 BTC, but the asset is very volatile, so it is pretty much expected that prices will change soon.

Bitcoin And The Real Estate Market

This is only one of several places that can be bought using crypto. Aston Plaza, for instance, provided several other properties. The company was focused on the Bitcoin-oriented real estate market and it paused its activities recently, but still offers some properties for sale.

One of the main issues that people find while trying to sell property with Bitcoin, is that there are not many people getting rich with BTC anymore. The market boomed in 2017 when several investors got rich, but despite the high gains this year, not everybody is using BTC to pay for real estate anymore. Fortunately, this has not stopped some companies from offering Bitcoin payments as an option.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

SEC, CFTC and FinCEN Tells Crypto Industry to Abide By Existing US Financial and Banking Laws

Three major US financial regulators are warning the crypto industry players to adhere to the country’s banking laws.

The warning was given in a joint communique issued on Friday and signed by the heads of Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Heath Tarbert, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Kenneth Blanco and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Jay Clayton.

The three regulatory bodies are reminding players in the crypto industry that they must adhere to different banking and financial services legislations irrespective of how they describe their digital coins or tokens.

The regulatory agencies pointed out at the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) that stipulates how various financial services enterprises should be licenced or registered by the relevant regulators. Of importance, the regulators stated that the ‘form of digital asset-related activities’ that an individual engages in will define the regulator that such an individual should register with and which other legislations they must adhere to.

The three heads explained the mandate of their agencies when it comes to cryptos and related services. They addressed such aspects like futures commission merchants, brokers, crypto exchanges, mutual funds, among others. They went ahead to describe the types of companies each of the agency oversees.

The statement also reminded crypto users and handlers of their mandate when it comes to anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT).

The regulators reminded individuals and organizations dealing with crypto trading that they have an obligation of reporting as per the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) emphasizing on illicit use of cryptos, that has been a key focus for the regulators in the recent past.

In regards to AML and CFT, the regulators reminded the crypto players in the market that they have a duty to keep updated records of transactions as well as reporting requirements comprising of suspicious activities.

Apart from the rare joint statement from the three financial regulatory agencies, Cointelegraph reports that earlier today, a draft of a new IRS questions 1040 form for the current fiscal year surfaced and contains a section with a new duty to report crypto assets. It reads:

“At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Will Stablecoins Become the Go-To Option for Central Banks and Private Institutions?

Cryptocurrency adoption has seen a significant boost in 2019, where major financial institutions like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, and ING have either tested their stablecoin or are pondering over launching one. Not only that countries like China and Russia who were not very keen on regulating or adopting cryptocurrencies have found a way to regulate it. Frances and Portugal have made crypto-to-crypto transaction tax free.

One important thing to note here is the growing trend of stablecoins, be it central bank-issued or commercial banks launching their own stablecoin, stablecoin initiatives are growing more rapidly than what many would have expected. These blockchain-powered stablecoins can play a major role in providing banking services to 1.7 billion unbanked and poor.

Central Banks around the Globe might Start Developing their own Stablecoin

Although the acceptance of cryptocurrency has risen tremendously since 2018, however, a load of attention and regulatory ease ups have prompted many private players to dive into the stablecoin game. This has particularly got the governments around the globe concerned as traditionally only a government had the power to issue a currency.

The newly announced libra, in particular, has managed to irk regulators and governments around the globe, as many fear it’s working model can create a shadow banking like situation where the central government-issued fiat currency might lose its value to it.

That is why central governments around the globe are seriously looking into the underneath technology of blockchain and looking to issue their own central bank-issued decentralized currency to avoid giving power in the hands of private players. ING’s chief economist had similar thoughts and believed libra’s announcement has prompted central banks to accelerate their efforts.

Stablecoins could Fulfill the Idea of Banking the Unbanked

A recent report from The Global Findex database 2017 which is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation highlighted that advances in digital technology can help achieve the World Bank goal of universal banking.

Cryptocurrency is not just limited to the trade market and big investors, it has actually helped nations like Venezuela to survive its hyperinflation and trade sanctions from the US, Iran decided to regulate crypto amid trade sanctions threat, Dash helped poor Nigerians to get access to banking.

With the emergence of stablecoins as a go-to option for both central banks and private institutions, the era of the stablecoin could pave the path for providing banking services to those who need it the most.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Coinbase Looks To Boost Engineering Staff At Earn By Acquiring Rippled Backed Omni Rentals

Major crypto exchange Coinbase is presently in talks with the rental service company Omni that had raised $25M from San-Francisco primarily based – Ripple last year.

Omni is an online rental service firm founded by Thomas McLeod. It aims to provide access to the items that people may need through its rentals platform. Omni introduces a rental service wherein people in the same neighborhood and find items and rent it among themselves, from air mattresses to camping equipment, from bikes to air purifiers, various electronic devices and more. All the customers need to do is search with an appropriate keyword or explore the different categories according to their needs. Later, in exchange for the items that were rented, users may also earn cash whenever somebody rents out the item they offered.

Omni collaborated with XRP, due to which all earnings are often paid out to XRP wallet. This has made Omni the primary platform in the world that enables individuals to get XRP coins while not having to buy them via exchange.

Consultants believe that there are more potential investors and traders out there who are already acquainted with crypto, but they are unwilling to take the risks that come with it. But because Omni and XRP are operating along with each other, it eliminates the factor of risk for them and can easily invest. McLeod believes that will be a great way for curious people who wish to enter the crypto world, while not having to really invest in it.

However, Omni’s business didn’t perform well. To scale up the platform, Omni relied on local storefronts for pick up and drop off their items, however eventually, the firm caught with numerous complaints from its existing and new customers that have led the corporate to place Omni on an acquire-hire deal to Coinbase… Omni sold his storage business to Clutter, which bought users list a series of complaints like changes in the prices, items being misplaced, etc.

The company is in talks with Coinbase to hire a number of Omni’s engineering employees, who would have them work on Coinbase Earn, which rewards users with cryptocurrency for finishing online educational programs.

Omni had raised a total of $35M from investors such as Flybridge, Highland, Allen & Company, Founders Fund, Precursor, etc. As per TechCrunch, few employees who were interviewing at Coinbase said that there is no such deal on the table yet.

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Author: Sritanshu Sinha

MakerDAO Vulnerability Would Have Let Criminals Siphon ETH-Powered DAI Stablecoin

MakerDAO network had such a major bug that, Ethereum (ETH) that powers the DAI stablecoin could have been stolen due to an exploit. According to the reports, a hacker could use a single transaction to steal the tokens.

This would result in the complete loss of funds for the project, which could have catastrophic consequences for the network and possibly ruined the network forever. According to the researcher responsible for finding the bug, the attack would have needed minimal costs and it could be pretty effective.

HackerOne affirmed that the attack was only possible because a flaw in the code could allow someone to create an auction with a fake bid. The end contract would trust that value, which could lead to the exploit. This would basically let someone withdraw all the ETH.

One of the reasons why the exploit would work is because DAI loans can be liquidated if the network is considered being “unsafe”.  In order to cancel these loans, there is collateral, which is from where the money would have been stolen if the hack was successfully implemented.

Right now, there is around $270 million USD) locked as collateral for the DAI network. If the heist was successfully made and the criminal escaped with his money, he would have certainly been able to live a very wealthy life. Fortunately, white hat hackers exist and it seems that they have protected the network once more.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

The Malta Based Crypto-Focused Founders Bank Raises $10M From Binance And Polychain

A crypto friendly bank has managed to raise $10 million from major crypto players. The bank which will be located in Malta secured the money from lead investors which comprise of Binance and Polychain Capital and will start operations from next year.

The bank which is known as Founders Bank will be co-founded by Paula Pandolfino. According to CoinDesk, the bank also secured the backing of Carduus Asset Management.

Although it is not clear the amount every investor contributed, Pandolfino stated that the bank is looking forward to raise an additional $30 million in the near future.

Pandolfino explained that cryptocurrencies will take over the finance industry and as such it is important to have a bank that will fully support the sector. She added that Founders bank aspires to be a major pillar within the banking sector focusing majorly on crypto based projects and startups. The co-founder also stated that the bank is in the process of changing how the conventional banking conducts its operations.

Currently, the bank is still waiting for the European Union banking certification and initially planned to get funding through equity tokens. However, to speed up the licensing process the idea of equity tokens was abandoned to ensure that there are minimal regulatory aspects.

According to Polychain president, Joe Eagan, the decision to fund the bank was as a result of personal experience after his company had challenges to get a banking partner in 2016. Eagan explained that while the situation has changed after several banks like Metropolitan Bank and Silvergate started to serve the crypto space, there is still room for more players and Founders can help to bridge the gap.

Malta has been working hard to market herself as a blockchain hub and has managed to attract some of the largest companies in the industry. The country is currently dubbed as the Blockchain Island and has so far passed three bills that seek to come up with a regulatory framework and encourage innovation in the blockchain space.

The passing of the three legislative bills made the country the inaugural nation to come up with a legal framework to guide the nascent blockchain industry.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Serious Bitcoin Lightning Network Security Vulnerability Has Finally Been Fixed

On August 30, software programmer Rusty Russell announced that he had found a major security vulnerability in various lightning projects that could have allowed attackers to strip users off their money.

On Friday, he published all the details of the threat here.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network adds a second layer to Bitcoin’s blockchain which creates a payment channel between two parties. It allows instant payments at almost zero fee so much so that a person can pay using bitcoin even for the smallest of purchases.

In the disclosure, Rusty outlined in detail the issue he had brought to light. The vulnerability was found in the process of creating and funding the lightning channel. The receiver of the channel could have gone without verifying the amount of the funding transaction or checking the conditions that are needed to be met before a transaction takes place. Exploiting this, an attacker could have claimed to open a channel without paying the peer or paying only a part of the full amount, enabling him to spend the funds in a channel created with a victim.

In his disclosure Rusty wrote,

”The victim will only notice when it tries to close the channel and none of the commitment or mutual close transactions it has are valid.”

Though there were some claims that surfaced in mid-September of the vulnerability being exploited, the size of the exploit has not been revealed.

The upgrades that have come about since have addressed this bug. As per Rusty, all the major lightning software clients have been upgraded. As per a lightning developer, the vulnerability was not revealed till everyone was sure the users were no more at risk.

Just goes to show that with any code-based payment method, bitcoin is susceptible to long-standing code vulnerabilities too and it is important to see how such issues are handled to protect the users.

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Author: Sritanshu Sinha

Japanese Crypto Exchange Coincheck May Launch IEO with Intention of Helping Raise Funds for Tokens

Coincheck, a major crypto exchange based in Japan and owned by the Monex Group, is considering the launch of an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) platform. According to the company, the group is still considering the possibilities, but it was hinted that the launch may actually happen.

IEO platforms are getting more popular recently, mostly due to the level of success that Binance reached with its own IEO platform. The word ICO got a bad rep after so many ICOs failed after 2017. Many investors now see them as highly unregulated and risky, because of this, the IEOs are getting traction.

They are deemed to be more reliable than Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) by many experts. Companies such as Huobi, Bitfinex, Gate.io and others are already using this new model. Coincheck is paying attention and will possibly start to invest in this field as well.

According to the company, the ideal clients for a possible platform would be the ones that do not have any tokens yet but already have a real business. Now, the company is considering the local rules in order to determine whether this ICO can be a good idea.

Coincheck was one of the largest exchanges in Japan, but it was hacked and it lost nearly everything. Since then, the company is trying a new start. This year, it was greenlighted by the Japanese regulators to open up shop again and the launch of IEOs, which are still not that popular in Japan, might give the company the necessary boost.

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Author: Daniel W