Spruce Partners with Etheruem & ENS to Improve Online Identity Verification

Spruce Partners with Etheruem & ENS to Improve Online Identity Verification

Applications for blockchain technology remain diverse, with different companies coming up with impressive ideas on integrating the technology.

One novel approach comes from Spruce – a decentralized identity software firm. The company is now working on improving identity verification, and it recently got backing from the Ethereum Foundation.

Work to Begin in Earnest

Earlier this week, Spruce confirmed in a press release that it had secured a partnership with the Ethereum Foundation to help build its decentralized identity verification system. The company would work with the Ethereum Foundation (EF) and Ethereum Name Service (ENS) to develop a secure sign-in module built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Spruce’s network had been selected after the EF and ENS submitted requests for proposals in July. The companies had sought developers who would build a secure sign-in package using Open Authorization (OAuth) – an open standard for access delegation that is frequently used to grant websites or applications access to Intenet users’ data.

As Spruce explained, it will focus on giving users more control of their data. This way, they hope to offer an alternative to big tech companies and platforms, which are notorious for data harvesting. The company added that the EF is the perfect partner, thanks to its user base that runs into the millions. Ethereum is also the largest community of developers in the crypto space, so Spruce has many resources at its disposal with this backing.

Spruce added that it would work closely with the ENS and EF to ensure that its solution is compatible with the Ethereum blockchain’s standards. Success with their project will empower millions of Ethereum users to control their digital identities and seamlessly access the web.

The first step will be user research and building specifications drafts. Core development work is expected to begin shortly.

More Use Cases for Ethereum

Identity management has become a significant focus for the blockchain space. Allowing people to seamlessly access the web while controlling their data could be one of the biggest ways that the industry disrupts traditional tech, and Ethereum has had a major role to play in that.

In July, Numio – a layer-two scaling solution, raised $1.25 million in funding to push into decentralized finance (DeFi). As part of the company’s expansion, Numio will also be building on its identity management system. The system uses zkProofs to let users verify their identities on third-party platforms without sending any identity documentation.

Numio’s authentication solution uses public-key cryptography, which is heralded as more secure than the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) used by platforms like Authy and Google Authenticator.

Operations like these are some of the reasons why the Etheruem blockchain remains an incredibly important part of the crypto ecosystem. Ethereum’s profile has risen significantly over the last year, and there has been a lot of talk about its token – Ether – flipping Bitcoin to become the most valuable cryptocurrency.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Bitcoin.org Back Online After an ‘Absolutely Massive DDoS Attack’ & 0.5 BTC Ransom Demand

Bitcoin.org Back Online After an ‘Absolutely Massive DDoS Attack’ & 0.5 BTC Ransom Demand

Bitcoin.org, an original Bitcoin website, has been hit with an “overwhelming attack” and a ransom demand.

On Monday, Cøbra, a pseudonymous operator of the website, tweeted that the website has been hit with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), following which the attacker demanded 0.5 BTC, worth about $17k at the current price of $34,000 per Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin.org getting hit with an absolutely massive DDoS attack and a ransom demand to send Bitcoin or they’ll continue.”

“I don’t think I’ve been this offended in a while. Ungrateful scum.”

The website that was first registered in 2008 and is an educational resource is currently online.

Elsewhere, the ransomware group REvil has demanded a ransom of $70 million in BTC for a decryptor tool following the attack on the software vendor Kaseya.

“We know there are thousands of victims here. REvil [has] limited resources to handle negotiations and process keys,” said researcher Allan Liska at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, calling this the biggest non-nation state supply chain attack ever and possibly the second biggest ransomware attack.

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Author: AnTy

Fortnite Going Ethereum? More Likely to be the Community Hoping and Coping

Fortnite Going Ethereum? More Likely to be the Community Hoping and Coping

Popular online video game Fortnite has added a new skin called “Etheria,” which has the cryptocurrency community speculating that it is somehow related to the second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum.

Aestheticdemon is the concept creator of Etheria.

The name is not the only thing that bears a resemblance to Ethereum. The images circulating online also have an object that looks similar to Ethereum’s diamond-shaped logo.

But this seems to be reaching as by this standard “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” could be into Ethereum as well as an energy source in this game is called “Aetherium Crystals.”

This could very well be a case of Apophenia, trying to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things.

Ethereum subreddit meanwhile remained hopeful and continued to cope after Ether’s latest sell-off to $1,700, a drop of more than 61% from last month’s peak. One such hopeful Redditor commented, “Eth to 40k confirmed.”

But it’s not just the ETH community; the entire crypto market is looking for a bullish narrative after the latest deep rout — a catalyst to bring back the bullish sentiments and push up the prices again.

Fortnite, however, is no stranger to cryptos or even Ethereum as a year ago, when Reddit launched two types of Ethereum-based cryptos, Moons, and Bricks, they were a hit among the gaming community.

These Ethereum-based “Community Points,” which were also launched in cryptocurrency subreddits, got more interest from gamers than the crypto community and gained more than 10,000 users in just a week.

Epic Games, which has a valuation of about $28.7 billion, launched Fortnite in 2017.

“Fortnite” creator Epic Games said on Tuesday that it now has over 500 million accounts and that it has 2.7 billion friend connections across “Fortnite,” “Rocket League,” and the Epic Games Store. As of June 2020, Fortnite has 350 million registered users.

The video game developer is currently fighting a legal battle with Apple Inc. As we reported last August, the lawsuit claimed that Apple’s anticompetitive conduct eliminates alternative payment options like Bitcoin to be used in the game, which the tech giant confirmed, saying it violated the App store guidelines regarding in-app payments.

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney is actually very bullish on NFTs and the crypto metaverse. The company raised $1 billion in funding this April to support its long-term vision for the metaverse.

While he called the crypto investment a “wild, speculative mess,” earlier this year, Sweeney added, “the tech is going places.”

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Author: AnTy

Paxful Rolls Out Bitcoin Payments Feature for Online Businesses

Paxful Rolls Out Bitcoin Payments Feature for Online Businesses

Popular peer-to-peer (P2P) blockchain company Paxful has launched a new product, dubbed Paxful Pay, that would allow online businesses to receive Bitcoin payments, per its press release.

Merchants Can Hold Bitcoin

Paxful Pay would make it possible for customers to pay online merchants using several payment methods. Once the payment is received, Paxful would convert it into Bitcoin and send it to the merchant’s wallet.

Paxful is not stopping with Bitcoin. According to the roadmap, popular stablecoin Tether’s USDT would also be supported in the coming weeks. The service is mostly targeted at Paxful customers, which means they will find it easy to integrate other Paxful services such as the wallet and the marketplace. New users will have to sign up for a Paxful account, which will probably distort the e-commerce flow.

Artur Schaback, COO and co-founder of Paxful, spoke on why the product was needed for online purchases. He said:

“We’re thrilled to bring Paxful Pay to our global community. There is a clear need to offer local options for bitcoin and this product is a culmination of our efforts to deliver on that demand. By offering users the ability to complete purchases using almost 400 payment methods, they will now have an even stronger financial solution at their fingertips. We cannot wait to expand this offering to encompass as many merchants as possible.”

Paxful said Paxful Pay has onboarded over 100 merchants and is looking at adding more before the year runs out. The company continues to roll out a suite of innovative crypto products to aid adoption. Paxful previously launched a crypto debit card in November last year. The card enables users to convert Bitcoin into fiat currency at the time of purchase.

Paxful’s Focus On The African Market

Although Paxful has users in the US and Asia, it has a major focus on the African market. This might be attributed to the mass P2P businesses that exist in Africa.

According to the New York-based firm, Nigeria is its biggest market and the largest P2P market in sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and South Africa also have large P2P businesses.

Last year, the company revealed it was actively looking to join forces with African-born crypto players to grow its market share on the continent.

Founded in 2015 with headquarters in New York, Paxful has over six million users and over $5 billion traded on its platform since inception.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Software Provider Temenos Enables Crypto Trading for Banks

Banking software provider Temenos has announced a partnership with online digital asset firm Taurus to enable access to cryptocurrency for financial institutions.

Per its press release, the integration would make it easier for banks to offer cryptocurrency trading to their clients via Taurus’ platform.

Temenos Leveraging Taurus Blockchain Expertise

This will see Temenos’ banking clients exposed to a plethora of blockchain solutions like Taurus-CAPITAL (tokenization and lifecycle management), Taurus-PROTECT (hot, warm, cold digital asset custody), and Taurus-EXPLORER (API-based blockchain connectivity to ten blockchain protocols).

All this will now be accessible through the Temenos MarketPlace.

Temenos notes that Taurus was selected after a thorough review and evaluation process to help banks seamlessly integrate all forms of digital assets across cryptocurrencies, tokenized assets, and digital currencies.

Taurus will be integrated with Temenos’ next-generation core banking software called Temenos Transact.

Speaking on the occasion, Managing Partner at Taurus Sebastien Dessimoz noted that there had been an increase in demand for digital assets since 2020.

According to Dessimoz, Taurus’ blockchain expertise would aid Temenos clients in managing any digital asset and creating digital products easily.

Geneva-based Taurus received a securities license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to launch the regulated crypto marketplace dubbed the Taurus Digital Exchange (TDX).

Taurus said that TDX would enable investors and banks to trade tokenized securities, private assets, real estate, art, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and cryptocurrencies.

Taurus is a seasoned blockchain company as it offers services for cryptocurrencies, including staking and decentralized finance (DeFi), tokenized assets, and digital assets, all within its platform.

Taurus Integrates Aave

Taurus has continued to grow its product suite. In March 2021, the Swiss digital asset provider added DeFi protocol Aave to its asset infrastructure. The integration would enable banks and exchanges to deposit and borrow cryptocurrencies like Ether.

Aave, a DeFi protocol catering to both institutional and retail users, facilitates borrowing and lending of digital assets has experienced exponential growth alongside the broader crypto market.

Banks are gradually warming up to decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols like Aave, as the amount of funds locked up in DeFi protocols rises above the $80 billion mark, per DeFi Pulse.

In a research paper published earlier this month by Netherlands-based ING Bank, it was agreed that both centralized and decentralized financial systems need to co-exist to achieve success. The paper states:

“Although DeFi currently appears to be a domain on its own, we envision that centralized and decentralized financial services will converge at some stage as both have unique capabilities that are beneficial to the other. There is, however, the challenge for centralized institutions of making sure that their assets stay within countries that are white-listed.”

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Online Marketplace eBay to Support NFT Transactions On Its Platform

Popular e-commerce company eBay has joined the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) train as the online retailer now supports non-fungible token (NFT) auctions on its platform.

eBay Making Strides In Crypto Sector

In a blog post, eBay said that it had updated its company policy to include the sale of digital collectibles like trading cards, images, or video clips on its platform.

The online retailer said it would update its policies and tools on digital collectibles in the future. But pending the updates, trusted sellers who meet certain requirements will be allowed to list their NFTs on the platform.

However, the company said that it would add new capabilities that bring blockchain-driven collectibles to future NFT updates.

eBay has prior experience verifying physical collectibles and items for buyers. It plans to continue this model using the power of the blockchain.

eBay added that it was also working on programs, policies, and tools to let its customers buy and sell NFTs across a broad range of categories.

With this move, eBay becomes the first e-commerce company to tap into the NFT frenzy. The company is also mulling the idea of accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment in the future.

NFT Projects On The Rise

NFTs are digital assets with unique properties that cannot be interchanged with another. They are one-of-a-kind assets in digital form that can be bought or sold like any other physical asset.

With NFTs, these digital assets are tokenized to create a digital certificate of ownership. This ownership is what’s bought and sold. The details and records of the owner of the NFTs are stored on a public ledger, also known as the blockchain.

Popular NFT forms include gamified collectibles, pure collectibles, sports-based imagery and collectibles, and art-based collectibles. The uniqueness and price depend on rarity and special features.

Thousands of projects featuring NFTs have exploded in the crypto space over the last few months, from the piece of digital artwork by Beeple that went for $69 million to the numerous sports collectibles sold by NBA Topshot, a platform that’s in partnership with the NBA.

Numerous NFT marketplaces continue to spring up as the NFT craze waggles on. The popular names include Top Shot, Rarible, Nifty Gateway, and OpenSea. Having an online retailer like eBay, with a major presence in online shopping, making an entrance would extend the NFT craze to millions of active buyers on the platform. Popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance is also making inroads into the NFT market. The bitcoin exchange plans to debut its NFT platform by June 2021.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

MasterCard Survey Reveals Users Interest In Purchasing Cryptocurrencies

Payment giant MasterCard has disclosed in an online survey that more people are considering using cryptocurrency for payments of goods and services.

40% Plan To Use Crypto Next Year – MasterCard

The company had polled 15,569 consumers across 18 countries, and 40% of this group plan to use crypto in the next year.

Millennials seem to be more interested in digital currencies.

67% said they were more open to using the technology than they were a year ago, 77% of this group want to learn more about them, while 75% are open to using it if only they understood it better.

The survey was conducted from February 26 to March 10, with consumers in four regions, including North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

According to MasterCard, no less than 500 respondents in five of the 18 countries and at least 1,000 in the other 13 were contacted by the Harris Poll and Mastercard’s research team.

Apart from cryptocurrency, MasterCard also disclosed that people also voted their interest in biometrics, contactless, and QR codes as a means of payment.

According to the company, people are comfortable with emerging payment technologies and would support services that require them to use less physical cash.

With connections across more than 210 countries, MasterCard is undoubtedly a global technology company in the payments industry. It was first founded 55 years ago in 1966 as Interbank Card Association but was later changed to MasterCard in 1979.

MasterCard Pushing Crypto Frontier

MasterCard has been contributing to the crypto industry for a while now. The payment company was one of the first firms to support cryptocurrencies on its payment network.

Recently, it signed a partnership with crypto exchange Gemini to help launch its cryptocurrency rewards credit card. The credit card would offer crypto cashback to Gemini customers every time they shop with it.

The payment network also has an interest in aiding governments to achieve their CBDC goals. Last year, MasterCard launched a platform that allows central banks to analyze digital currencies. The platform was introduced to facilitate an environment where fintech, banks, and consumers can partner to issue, distribute, and exchange digital currencies.

Earlier in February, MasterCard collaborated with the Bahamas government, which provided the citizens with the option of loading the country’s CBDC onto a prepaid MasterCard.

Now, the company is looking into exploring smart contract technology on central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

MasterCard said it was examining how smart contracts can help central banks worldwide develop digital cash and push towards the realization of state-backed currencies. It is reportedly already in talks with China to explore wider cross-border usage of the digital yuan. Mastercard is awaiting final approval for licenses to start onshore card business.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Poker Websites Buying Millions of Dollars Worth of BTC Per Day to Meet Crazy High Customer Demand

Bitcoin is helping people get hilariously rich as it continues to surge. According to Bloomberg, online gamblers have also taken to cashing out in BTC to get their winnings bigger and bigger.

Winning Power Network, which operates AmericasCardRoom.eu is one of the poker websites that reported buying millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin a day from the over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks in recent weeks to meet the demands of its players, which is dominated by Americans despite online poker being illegal in most states, said Chief Executive Phil Nagy. He said,

“Right now, 90-95% of our payouts are people asking for Bitcoin because it’s going up.”

“We are constantly having to go out and buy Bitcoin — lots. Lots. More than we’ve even had to before.”

More than 60% of its transaction volume, which is about $100 million a month, is currently in Bitcoin. Due to this crazy high demand, brokers are charging up to a 1.5% premium.

This makes sense given that Bitcoin beats the traditional asset by a wide margin, up 150% YTD reaching $18,600, a level last seen right around the peak of December 2017.

While before this rally, 60 of WPN’s customers were cashing out in Bitcoin, this has now shot over 90%.

Poker sites have been accepting Bitcoin since 2014. Just last year, a Guinness World Record for the largest crypto jackpot in online poker was set for $1 million.

In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the poker business exploded, growing a whopping 43%, as people were stuck home with business shutdowns as part of the lockdown measures.

WPN, whose long-term customers can make both the deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin, doesn’t hold it but instead converts BTC into fiat right away. Nagy said,

“When Bitcoin drops or does something significant, inevitably, we have people send us $100,000 or $200,000 in Bitcoin because it’s the fastest way to liquidate it.”

“And we are kind of stuck with it.”

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Author: AnTy

US Treasury Dept And Federal Reserve Are ‘Studying’ Possible Launch Of A Digital Dollar

Speaking during the online Atlantic Council webinar, the U.S Deputy Treasury Secretary, Justin Muzinich, said his department, alongside the Federal Reserve, is looking at launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) tied to the dollar in the future.

This announcement follows a trail of the Federal Reserve’s previous efforts to launch digital dollar wallets liable to the central bank. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester, revealed last month that legislation is being set up so each American would own a digital dollar account with the Feds.

Notwithstanding, the Boston Federal Reserve announced in August that they are testing over 30 blockchain projects to prepare a digital dollar. However, the research and development process for a CBDC is set to take years to complete – having begun in 2015 – the Boston Fed said.

Muzinich stated the learning curve in launching a digital dollar on a distributed ledger would produce “efficiency benefits and cost benefits.” He further targeted the slow U.S. efforts in introducing its own dollar:

“And I also think, more broadly, it’s important for the government to embrace innovation and not be scared by it.”

However, there are still a few factors to consider in launching a CBDC, including regulation of the CBDC to prevent money laundering activities while maintaining users’ digital privacy.

On regulation of a digital dollar, Muzinich states governments worldwide – especially Europe – should work to regulate cryptocurrencies globally. This arises from the different functions of cryptocurrencies, away from payments.

Questions of money laundering have taken center-stage in the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Still, other issues such as financial stability and monetary base of the cryptocurrency should also be put in check. To keep the consumers and users of the digital dollar safe and secure, Muzinich stated the existing laws governing fiat currencies should be extended to crypto.

“Treasury has made it clear that the obligation to comply with U.S. laws is the same, regardless of whether a transaction is denominated in traditional fiat currency or digital currency.”

“Existing laws apply to digital assets in no uncertain terms.”

He explains that even if cryptocurrencies comply with the KYC/AML/CFT rules, there’s still a danger of foreign parties disrupting the monetary base creating financial instability. This could arise if a stablecoin issuer shifts its reserve ratio from fully backed to partially backed, or changing the composition of assets in reserve.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Hackers Extorting Bitcoin from Stolen ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ Accounts

Hackers are targeting the accounts of the popular online game Call of Duty: Warzone and demanding bitcoin as a ransom payment from the victims to return the account, reported Motherboard.

Several victims are also complaining that the publisher behind the game, Activision is unresponsive to their requests for help. One victim told Motherboard,

“I turned it on one day, and my account was logged out, and I couldn’t sign in with my credentials, so I made a new account because I could not get in contact with Activision support, which I’m so mad about.”

Some of the hacks are done through previously compromised passwords from other websites, which is a common technique as finding breached data online is rather trivial. With people using the same password on multiple devices, it becomes easy for the hackers to break into their accounts.

The Warzone accounts that are advertised with rare weapon skins are on sale for hundreds of dollars.

Skins are awarded on fulfilling certain challenges, which at times can be time-consuming. They can also be purchased with an in-game currency, which can be bought with real money.

Activision actually recorded an increase of $596 million in in-game spending earlier this year. A large chunk of this comes from this free version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Warzone.

In this game, players fight among 150 other players to be the last team standing. All the progress is saved to the Activision account of the player, and losing the account means they no longer have their character, ranking, and items.

In one case, the hacker demanded $400 from the victim to prevent their data, including bank information and posted a bitcoin address.

This bitcoin address has received a total of 1.2 BTC, worth about $12,000.

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Author: AnTy