Cosmos (ATOM) Enhances Interoperability with IBC Protocol Rollout

Cosmos has finally launched its Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol following a majority vote from the community members.

Cosmos IBC Now Lets Blockchains Talk To Each Other

The newly launched protocol would enable the transfers of tokens and data between sovereign blockchains.

More than 1500 Cosmos validators and delegates supported the launch.

The long-awaited IBC protocol would also address scalability issues through sharding technology, according to the development team.

Cosmos also said that this launch opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, as decentralized applications (DApps) built on its network would be able to execute multi-chain smart contracts.

According to Tendermint CEO Peng Zhong, the launching of the IBC marks a momentous milestone in the evolution of the Cosmos ecosystem as it builds the foundation for interoperability.

Cosmos has been working on its vision to realize an open blockchain protocol for some time now.

Although the IBC whitepaper was released back in 2016 by Cosmos co-founders Jae Kwon and Ethan Buchman, it was not until 2019 that a mainnet was launched.

In 2020, the ATOM’s native blockchain launched another incentivized testnet for IBC, dubbed Game of Zones, which stress-tested the IBC module pre-launch and distributed over 100,000 ATOMs in rewards to dozens of validators.

Stargate, the last phase of IBC, which completed the original roadmap laid out in the Cosmos whitepaper, was then launched in February 2021. Speaking on the impact IBC would have on the blockchain space, the lead developer of the IBC Protocol Christopher Goes, said,

“IBC will create an ecosystem of politically independent chains that can interact via trade and information exchange. Knitting together many different blockchains can form a new crypto-economic system”.

The Impact of IBC In DeFi Sector

IBC’s launch greatly expands the realm of possibilities for blockchain applications. IBC will be used to transfer both fungible (cross-chain payments) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) between chains. This will see the subsequent rise of interchain token exchanges and NFT marketplaces.

The launch of IBC is a big deal, especially in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector, as it could open up opportunities by allowing tokens to zip between chains. A product on an application-specific blockchain could use an asset from a completely different chain.

The initial version of IBC allows users to kick off token transfers between various chains only on the Cosmos Hub, the central blockchain that connects all other Cosmos blockchains or zones. Now for the first time, Cosmos has achieved actual cross-chain token transfers.

The blockchains built on Cosmos’ native consensus model like Kava (KAVA) and Crypto.com (CRO) will likely be the first crypto projects to adopt the IBC standard, putting an end to blockchain silos.

Even though Gavin Wood-led Polkadot (DOT) blockchain ecosystem is on the path to end network tribalism through its Bridges protocol, Cosmos seems to have beaten them to the finish line.

Meanwhile, Cosmos also announced its plans to add the Gravity DEX, a decentralized exchange, as the next upgrade following IIBC.

The Gravity DEX will act as an online marketplace for trading tokens from any connected blockchain, including tokens from IBC-enabled blockchains, wrapped ETH (wETH) to wrapped BTC (wBTC) tokens, and from any future networks that implement IBC.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

French Gov. to Auction Off $34 Million in Bitcoin (611 BTC); Majority From 2019 GateHub Hack

French Gov. to Auction Off $34 Million in Bitcoin (611 BTC); Majority From 2019 GateHub Hack

An auction firm has been contracted to host the sale of 611 BTC before the end of the week on behalf of the French government.

A French government agency in charge of the recovery and management of seized and confiscated assets will now sell 611 BTC using a local auction house. In early March, the French government officials confiscated a significant amount of the crypto assets from a 2019 GateHub heist. The theft of the crypto assets included Ripple XRP; the French government may have exchanged them for BTC to ease sale on the crypto market.

Using prevailing Bitcoin market prices, the 611 BTC are valued at $34 million.

Individuals wishing to take part in the auction were given up to March 13 to register. The auction will kick off on Wednesday, March 17th, at 9 a.m. The auction features lot sizes of 437, which will range in Bitcoin amounts of 0.11 and up to 2 BTC.

Kapandji Morhange has been shortlisted by French Agency for the Recovery and Management of Seized and Confiscated Assets (AGRASC) to hold the auction.

On other related news, the US government is set to auction about 0.75 BTC valued at about $42,268, using the current value this week. The government officials did not divulge details about the assets’ source or what led to the auction.

This is not the first time when governments are selling seized and confiscated crypto assets via auctions. At the start of this year, Finnish authorities made headlines after a decision was made to auction Bitcoins that had been seized concerning criminal investigations connected to drug trafficking and related crimes. At the time, the government confiscated about 1,666 BTC, which was worth at the time, $860,000.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Just 270 Addresses Responsible for Majority of Money Laundering in Crypto: Chainalysis

Just 270 Addresses Responsible for Majority of Money Laundering in Crypto: Chainalysis

The United States, Russia, and China receive the highest volume of digital currency from illicit addresses.

Just 270 deposit addresses are being used for the majority, 55% of all of the cryptocurrency value sent from illicit addresses in 2020, as per the latest research of Chainalysis. These addresses collectively received $1.3 billion worth of illicit crypto, while just 24 received over $500 million worth of it.

Additionally, 1,867 deposit addresses received 75% of all cryptocurrency value sent from illicit addresses in 2020. This level of concentration is greater than in 2019, showing that a small group of crypto services is being used by criminals to launder hundreds of millions of dollars.

Money laundering actually makes up a huge portion of the illicit funds that travel to service deposit addresses, as per the report. A smaller but significant portion of illicit funds also goes to deposit addresses that do a high volume of legitimate transactions and flies under the radar.

Cryptocurrency sent from illicit addresses facilitating money laundering tends to wind up at just a few services, mostly five including mainstream “risky” exchanges, mixers, gambling platforms, ever since 2017.

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The report also found that the United States, Russia, and China received the highest volume of digital currency from illicit addresses, reflecting their high shares of crypto trading volumes.

Scams followed by stolen funds make up the largest crime type in the US while Russia receives a “disproportionately large share” of darknet market funds, which according to Chainalysis, is because of Hydra. As for China, ransomware and stolen funds are the dominating crime types that the country receives funds from.

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Author: AnTy

82% of Bitcoin Mining Pools in Support of Taproot Activation

The majority of the Bitcoin hash rate is in favor of Taproot, the biggest upgrade to the largest cryptocurrency network since SegWit implementation in 2017.

This upgrade will expand Bitcoin’s smart contract flexibility while bringing more privacy to the network.

“Taproot has a lot of use cases that will help with user privacy, save on block space, and should marginally reduce the overhead to run a node,” noted a developer.

As of writing, A total of 82.05% of Bitcoin mining pools have announced their support. That number was sitting at around 30% just two weeks ago.

This has been made possible because of the biggest Bitcoin mining pools, Poolin, F2Pool, Antpool, and BTC.com, all of which account for 10 to 20% of the global hash rate in the past month. Combined, they account for more than 50% of the Bitcoin mining hash power.

When it comes to the exchange mining pools, Huobi, which has a share of more than 10%, has also given its nod to the upgrade. The mining pool of the leading spot exchange, Binance Pool, which accounts for just under 10% of Bitcoin’s total hash rate, is yet to announce its support.

It is basically the smaller mines that have to signal their support, although a few like ViaBTC, 58COIN&1THash, SlushPool, and NovaBlock, which accounts for 7.85%, 6.36%, 2.60%, and 1.04% share respectively, have given their yes.

So, basically, Binance Pool and SigmaPool are the only ones left.

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Author: AnTy

An Impressive Feat: Bitcoin Holds Strong at $10,000 Despite 3 Big Hits

2020 has been really good for the majority of the asset classes. But bitcoin hasn’t been able to achieve a more significant price level, still struggling to top 2019’s $13,900 price point.

The year started on a bullish note, only to experience one of its worst crashes in March. BTC recovered beautifully from that drop and started ranging between $9k and $10k during May and July.

In mid of August, we pumped, reaching a one-year high at the north of $12,500 only to get back to $10,000 in September.

And now, just a day in October, and things turned gloomy. Bitcoin first dropped $450 on the news of crypto derivatives platform BitMEX facing criminal charges. But the digital asset held strong.

Also Read: Here’s Why the BitMEX Criminal Charges Are ‘Bullish’ for Bitcoin’s Price & The Overall Market

This wasn’t even the first big event that hit BTC. A few days back, KuCoin suffered the third largest theft ever suffered by a cryptocurrency exchange. But the digital asset held strong to its most important psychological level.

BTC hit its longest-running streak of keeping above $10,000.

Bitcoin had started recovering from yesterday’s losses, going nearly to $10,700 when early Friday President Donald Trump announced that he and First lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19, soon after his closest aide, Hope Hicks fell ill with the coronavirus.

This came with barely one month left until the US presidential election, against Democrat Joe Biden that has focused heavily on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. The development obviously makes it harder for the President to try to shift attention from the virus.

The market responded negatively to the news, with the US stock futures falling.

“Trump having COVID is most definitely bearish, as his odds of winning collapse. Expect downside continuation,” noted trader and economist Alex Kruger. “I think the higher odds are a) bullish Biden, b) bearish stocks short term, c) bearish dollar, and can easily be wrong in all three,” he added.

Bitcoin is currently trading around $10,550, while gold has jumped to $1,910 after sliding to $1,890. After strengthening above 94, the US dollar index fell victim to the situation and is back around 93.75.

Amidst weak price action, although an impressive feat in itself, the positive development for the flagship cryptocurrency is its active addresses currently being at an all-time high.

“This means that the 200-day rolling average of bitcoin addresses that move bitcoin to-and-from each other is the highest it’s been over the last decade,” states TokenDaily.

With no sharp rally to support this momentum and despite minimal mainstream adoption, these numbers indicate healthy, substantive growth in bitcoin.

More Reading: ‌A ‘Big’ Positive Step Towards the Bitcoin ETF Approval

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Author: AnTy

This Top Coin, Being the Worst Performer of 2020, Is A Disappointment to the Crypto Market

The fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap is currently trading at $0.176 in green by 1.66%, like the majority of the market.

With 8.61% losses In 2020 so far, XRP has now beaten EOS to become the biggest loser among the top 25 cryptocurrencies. XRP is down over 26% against BTC YTD.

In the past seven days, XRP/USD dropped 3.22% and 14% in the past month.

Post COVID-19 crash hasn’t been a good time for XRP as such it’s performance during this period pales in comparison to the strong recovery made by Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) since the March sell-off.

Last month wasn’t good for either BTC or ETH, which moved in a “flat tandem,” but it was worse for XRP, which struggled and lost “14% of its already heavily drained market cap,” noted Arcane Research while trying to answer “Is XRP dying?”

Source: Arcane Research

XRP was flat in Q2 of 2020 with just +1% gains while Bitcoin with +44% and Ethereum +70% gains outpaced the digital asset by big margins. While stablecoins, DeFi innovations, and Proof-of-Stake anticipation has been driving Ether higher, “interest into XRP has died off as XRP struggles to recover since the crash.”

XRP’s poor performance particularly started in Q2 because it did start 2020 strong. It was after the markets crashed in March that “the three musketeers have seen vastly different growth trajectories,” and XRP has been simply a disappointment.

XRP also lost its 3rd spot to Tether (USDT) last quarter, and some are expecting it to drop out of the top 10 list altogether.

At the beginning of this month, Ripple unlocked 1 billion XRP from escrow in different stages.

Ripple is a “No Brainer”

Bitcoin proponent Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, the co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital, recently shared his views of XRP, which he believes won’t benefit from Ripple’s success as a payment protocol.

“To me, if Ripple is successful, that doesn’t mean XRP has to be successful,” said Pompliano.

In the latest episode of his “The Pomp Podcast,” Pompliano talked about how Ripple excels as a blockchain-payment company with over 350 financial institutions and banks as its partners, but he remains unconvinced if this success is reflected in XRP. He said,

“What I don’t understand, and I think where I choose to not engage on the XRP side, is I don’t understand why people are buying it, speculating on future price movements.”

But Ripple’s mission as a software company that wants to build better software for banks is a “no-brainer,” which makes sense and is a “venture capital bet,” he said.

“I’m jealous I didn’t invest in Ripple in the seed round,” added Pompliano.

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Author: AnTy

FBI Issues Warning to Crypto Holders About Increasing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought the whole world to a standstill, with the majority of countries worldwide placed under strict lockdown measures to contain the spread.

The crypto community remains enthusiastic, despite the ongoing crisis, with the upcoming Bitcoin Halving just a month away. However, this enthusiasm has also made them vulnerable to scams.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a warning on Monday specifically for crypto holders, suggesting they be prepared for a surge of coronavirus-centred crypto scams in the coming weeks.

Cryptocurrencies have turned out to be a lucrative investment in the past couple of years, which has drawn the interest and investments from people of all kinds, be it institutional investors, small-time traders, young or old. This rapid rise in interest has also given way for scammers to lure many into Ponzi schemes, promising high returns in a short period of time.

However, the risk of scammers has risen significantly in these troubled times where a majority of the population are uncertain of their financial future, as most of the financial markets hit record lows and scarce investment opportunities.

The FBI believes scammers are praying on these insecurities to steal people’s hard-earned money, and launder it through the complex ecosystem of decentralized coin exchanges. While entities like Huobi have taken steps to prevent these activities, buyers beware.

FBI Believe Scammers May use Humanitarian Aid as Cover for Scams

The FBI warning noted that the scammers might use a number of methods and curtail their pitches on emotion quotient in the ongoing situation, where they might pretend to be from organizations looking for donations to help the needy.

The FBI also believes blackmail could also be a scamming avenue for making money. Where the scammers may threaten to infect the victim’s family with the Coronavirus.

The FBI has also urged people to be cautious and, use common sense and not let their emotions get better of them.

The agency has also stated that people should refrain from donating to anyone before verifying the credibility of the source, and report any suspicious website/s or person/s asking for donations.

While there is no clarity on why the agency suddenly issued such a specific warning, it seems there have been many COVID-19-themed scams in the past couple of weeks, prompting the authorities to issue the warning.

In one instance, scammers managed to collect $2 million from PPE seekers in Asia. A few scammers in the UK and USA were found sending malicious texts which drew attention from financial regulators.

A Chainalysis report has revealed that the ongoing pandemic has brought down funding of these scams by one third. This, however, hasn’t discouraged scammers from trying to phish people as their number of attempts have remained constant.

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Author: James W

Amazon Shows Interest In Onboarding Blockchain Specialists For Their Advertising Business

In an age of ever-growing mistrust in the majority of our interactions with banks, the media, government and the advertising and marketing industries have become prevalent, blockchain provides trust. It doesn’t come too much of a surprise that Amazon has shown interest in it.

There is very little in the way of doubt that Amazon reigns on a tall throne when it comes to online retail. The company accounted for roughly 44% of all eCommerce sales in 2017, and a spectacular 4% of all retail from within the United States.

A job posting on LinkedIn last week suggested that Amazon has plans to bring blockchain technology into its advertising products. With global ad fraud predicted to cost an unprecedented $23bn this year, blockchain has been a much-touted solution. The open-source ledger tech at the core of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could also give brands more transparency over their media buys.

An ad exec with knowledge of Amazon’s ad workings said it will have difficulty handling the blockchain trilemma finding the balance between scalability, security, and decentralization.

The underlying philosophy of blockchain is an existential threat to centralized companies like Amazon. The B2B realm has a much more developed ecosystem for blockchain to take advantage of, and Amazon’s existing platforms are already optimized to incorporate the technology with little friction.

While it was initially tied for a long time to cryptocurrency performance, the technology has since shed this relationship and become a power unto itself, making it a key driver of innovation.

A world where the transactions made on your behalf when purchasing such things like AdWords, Facebook Ads, Media buying are all recorded, with a trail that fully discloses the costs, right through the real live data, of what that spending generated for your business.

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Author: Sritanshu Sinha

Can Facebook’s Libra Change the Sentiment of Younger Generation Towards Crypto Assets?

Can Facebook's Libra Change the Sentiment of Younger Generation Towards Crypto Assets?

According to a survey conducted by Cint a majority of the Gen Z does not want anything to do with cryptocurrency. While it may sound astonishing but that is the reality as per the survey conducted on 1,884 young Americans.

The firm behind the analysis is also well reputed for its various research and exchange of data. The Moto of the analysis was to understand how Gen Z views the most talked topic in recent years.

The study reveals that 53% of the total number of people who were part of the survey and under the age of 25 do not want anything to do with the cryptocurrency, while 17% of those who were interviewed maintained that they are not going to make any investment in the coming six months. So the study is a clear indication that 70% of the interviewed Gen Z do not like crypto while only 30% have some form of interest.

However, the recent survey is a clear contrast to the one which suggester 55% of the Millenials are more inclined towards crypto investment than any other form of modern day asset.

Can Facebook’s Libra Change the Gen Z Sentiments

Facebook has got the Gen Z addicted to its social media platform and thus many believe that the launch of its stable coin Libra next year could change the way how Gen Z perceive cryptocurrencies.

The most influencing factor in doing so would be the tons of categorised data Facebook has under its possession. Facebook has a multiple generations hooked to their ecosystem which comprises of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instragam. The interoperability among these three itself could be a game changer as people would be able to send money across all three platforms.

However Facebook Libra has to get past a ton of obstacles and scrutiny before it could do something at that scale. Currently, the Libra stable coin is not in good books of several regulators and central banks around the globe, mainly because of its financial structure and working model.

Libra would be backed by a number of Fiat currencies and government security, which is a clever way of avoiding compliance as no single regulatory body have any saying due to its multi Fiat support. Bank of Japan has even accused Libra of trying to piggy ride on regulatory reforms and believe it would be unfair for other digital assets which has to go under rigorous watch it regulatory bodies.

If with some miracle Libra is able to surpass all these obstacles and become the digital money of the internet, people using Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram would send money as easily as sending messages. Facebook has become an integral part of a quarter of world population as it accounts for 1.5 billion daily users. If we look at the stats in terms of age bracket, 88% of the population between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age and 84% of the population between the ages of 18 and 29 years are regular Facebook users.

The same holds true for Instagram and WhatsApp as well, where 72% of users are under the age of 17 and 64% of the population between the ages of 18 and 29 years use Instagram on a regular basis. On the other hand WhatsApp accounts for 38% of its users are between the age of 18 and 24.

The large section of the population being on Facebook’s ecosystem would make it extremely easy for the social media giants to simply put a crypto wallet on these apps, and users can simply use it as they do for chatting or sharing media files. It would definitely change the way the Gen Z currently perceive crypto space.

This could be another revolution that Facebook becomes a pivotal point of, people would start using crypto with a curiosity and with enough users it would become a necessity as has been the case with the use of Facebook.

Chris Hughes rightly summarizes how Libra is both an interesting and fearful take on the world’s financial network. He says,

“Libra has a long way to go before being successful, but in theory, it’s brilliant and frightening. At the start of the week, I thought the problem would be that it would reinforce Facebook’s corporate power. Now, a few days out, I think the problem is different and bigger: a new layer of monetary control between central banks and individuals, mediated by corporations”

He went on to add,

“What Libra backers are calling “decentralisation” is in truth a shift of power away from developing world central banks and toward multinational corporations and the central banks of the largest economies.”

“If #Libra is successful, the problem will be bigger than more power for Facebook. We’ll have to answer whether we want a global currency managed by (mostly) for-profit, private companies or public ones.”

However all these are just speculation especially until the actual launch of the token as per the initial plans. It is also interesting to note that it is not the first attempt from Facebook to introduce a form of money transactions in their ecosystem.

Easier they had introduced messenger payments which failed to take pace and finally had to be shut down. Banking and Social media are two totally different ball game, and given the scrutiny it has faced for poor management of user private data along with their Libra working model, it would be one daunting task if they succed at it.

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Author: Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team