Telegram’s Open-Sourced Blockchain Network (TON) Might Launch Without The Company

  • Telegram’s blockchain platform, TON, might be launched despite a court order that allowed the SEC to halt its $1.7 billion token sale.
  • A US court on March 24 ruled that Telegram tokens (grams) be deemed as securities as per an earlier request by the SEC.
  • Till then, the messaging company will not be able to proceed with its blockchain network launch.

The Telegram community, however, is determined to roll out TON and have since come up with suggestions to pioneer this network either way. Fedor Skuratov, who is the founder and previously TON Labs communications manager, is leading over 25 developers within this ecosystem. So far, one of the tabled possibilities is launching TON without the involvement of Telegram’s team or the firm as an entity. Skuratov noted that this strategy is among those in serious consideration, given TON’s open-source nature.

Technicality Aspects

Assuming the Telegram Community Devs proceed with this launch, some technical and legal aspects might present unexpected challenges. Skuratov is however optimistic that developers will be able to form a consensus as soon as the platform goes live. This is because the only requirements are the generation of a genesis block and 13 validators within TON’s network;

“Strictly speaking, no additional measures are required to launch TON by the community, except for a consensus within the community.

But in order to get recognized, we will need to come to an agreement with investors (at least, with a majority of them),”

Ideally, this approach is similar to hard forks with the only difference being TON’s main version has yet to go live. On the upside, Telegram had already published the nodes to facilitate TON’s launch. Furthermore, TON Labs, has been running its own similar testnet whose value is pegged to a consensus amongst the investors.

TON Investors Sentiments and Legality

This proposed path might sound like a good option but will be hard to implement given the unsettled atmosphere since September 2019. Investors who were expecting gram tokens based on their acquired TON ownership have become increasingly impatient. They had agreed to a postponement launch from October 2019 to April this year; it is now uncertain although Telegram filed a notice to appeal the latest court decision.

Given this development, TON investors are likely to be proposed an extension of the gram token allocation. Alternatively, they might be compensated up to a certain percentage of their investment.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Coinbase Wallet Users Can Now Earn Interest From DeFi DApps Directly In The App

The Coinbase Wallet has just integrated with decentralized finance (DeFi) apps in order to allow its users to lend crypto assets and track the growth of their interest straight from the wallet app.

As an announcement made by Coinbase on Wednesday says, Coinbase Wallet users are already putting millions into DeFi platforms through the wallet’s Dapp browser and WalletLink. Still, Coinbase wants to make their experience even more enjoyable. Until now, they didn’t have the option to compare rates from different providers, nor were they able to see the total of their balance with these providers with out leaving the app itself.

What Does the New Feature Bring?

According to the Coinbase announcement, the new wallet feature allows users who own a Coinbase wallet account to interact with lenders such as dYdX and Compound, which are both DeFi platforms. They can choose their coin and a smart contract provider in order to invest as much crypto as they want into one of the DeFi products.

As said before, they can view how much interest they’re earning and their total balance without having to exit the wallet. iOS users will have the new feature this week, while Android users will still have to wait a few more weeks.

DeFi Products Are Risky

Coinbase wanted to warn investors about the fact that DeFi products are quite new and present a risk. Caution was advised when using them. Here’s what the announcement reads exactly:

“Before you get started, please be aware that DeFi lending apps are relatively nascent and come with risks.

DeFi apps are programs running on the blockchain, and like any computer code they can potentially have bugs that cause you to lose money. Returns are not guaranteed and your deposits are not insured.”

Basic information and the definitions of minimum collateral or contract’s assets under custody are being provided for the wallet’s users to know better what contracts to choose. However, they’re still advised to do their own research in order to understand how the apps work and the risks they’re about to take.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Coinbase Loses Chief Legal Officer To US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Brian Brooks, the chief legal officer of Coinbase, has left the crypto exchange in order take the second senior role with the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

The announcement was made by the OCC on Monday. It says that Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, has appointed Brooks as deputy starting with April 1. Brooks used to be Fannie Mae’s general counselor, corporate secretary and executive vice president. He also worked as chief legal officer for Coinbase from September 2018. Mnuchin said the cooperation with him will improve the financial system’s security.

What Does the OCC Do?

The OCC supervises and regulates US financial institutions and national banks. It was formed back in 1863 and is an independent entity that makes sure banks meet risk requirements and capital. Joseph Otting, who runs the OCC, was nominated and sworn by President Donald Trump back in 2017. About the collaboration with Brooks, he said that it will bring to the agency extensive banking, career and legal innovation. Here are his exact words about Coinbase’s former chief legal officer:

“He is a visionary thinker with a passion for service and a deep understanding of how the financial services industry supports our nation’s prosperity. We are fortunate to attract such an experienced and talented individual to join our federal agency.”

Brooks Supported the Development of a Private Digital Currency in the US

Brooks has been very vocal when it comes to the US creating a private virtual currency. He even wrote in the Fortune Magazine, back in 2019, that the digital dollar would be better built by private corporations. Furthermore, he conceptualize a process in which the public sector sets the monetary policy and the private space builds the actual technology for it. Here’s what a spokesperson for Coinbase said about Brooks and its future role at the OCC:

“Brian is an amazing and accomplished leader who has been invaluable in shaping the Coinbase legal and compliance programs, and helping policymakers and regulators better understand the opportunities and benefits of crypto. We’re always proud of Coinbase alumni who go on to serve in government, bringing a crypto-friendly perspective with them.”

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Author: Oana Ularu

Bitfinex Ordered To Freeze $860k Bitcoin Linked To BitPaymer Ransomware By UK Courts

A High Court in the United Kingdom has issued a freeze order on Bitcoin acquired via a ransomware attack against a Canadian-based firm. The proprietary injunction issued is a court order that prohibits an individual from handling their own assets until a proprietary claim case is heard and determined.

According to court documents about the ransomware case, more than 1000 computers belonging to the firm were attacked and their use disabled via a malware. The computers’ files were encrypted making it impossible to access them. The anonymous attackers asked for $1.2 million to be paid in Bitcoin so that they could decrypt the firm’s data.

The company had taken a cover against cybercrimes and the insurer negotiated with the attackers for a $950,000 payment made in the form of Bitcoin for the files to be decrypted. A tool was then given by the attackers to decrypt the data 24 hours after paying out the ransom. However, the firm still required 10 days for full restoration of its systems.

The firm’s insurers sought the services of blockchain analytic startup Chainalysis to determine the people behind the attack. Chainalysis found that majority of the Bitcoin paid out (96) had instantly been laundered via Bitfinex, a crypto exchange platform. The court then ordered Bitfinex to provide relevant information about the account that got the Ransom before Dec.18 last year.

Bitfinex did not comment on the details it handed over to the court when asked by Cointelegraph about the case. However, the firm stated,

“Bitfinex has robust systems in place to allow it to assist law enforcement authorities and litigants in cases such as this. In this case we have assisted the Claimant to trace the stolen Bitcoin and we understand the focus of the Claimant’s attention is no longer on the Bitfinex platform. It now appears Bitfinex is an entirely innocent party mixed up in this wrongdoing.”

The insurance firm’s legal counsel, Darragh Connell, confirmed that the case is still in court and the return hearings about the interim injunction is set in the near future.

Ransomware attacks have become a crucial challenge in the fight against cyber attacks and are becoming highly advanced as technology advances. Just last month, CyrusOne, a data analysis firm, was forced to part with $600,000 as ransom in a similar attack.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto Exchange OKEx COO Andy Cheung Resigns To Start A New Blockchain Business

Cryptocurrency exchange OKEx’s COO, Andy Cheung has resigned from his position in order to start a blockchain consultancy institute, BitWork. About his departure from the exchange, he said,

“My goal is to drive mass cryptocurrency adoption. But my contribution can be very limited in a cryptocurrency exchange. I decided, and we agreed amicably, that I can better achieve my goals with a new venture. Still, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have served OKEx.”

With BitWork, Cheung is planning to provide various solutions to the needs of the crypto market. Cheung explained,

“By helping more projects to get exposure and connecting them to different markets, we strive to facilitate mass crypto adoption.”

Hong kong-based BitWork will consist of a team of experienced blockchain experts that will offer exchange partnerships, advisory, marketing management, branding and public relations, fundraising, and event management services to cryptocurrency and blockchain projects.

Cheung has been with OKEx since its launch and oversaw its operations, marketing, and public relations. The exchange confirmed his departure from the company on Twitter and wished him well on his endeavor,

“Mr. Andy Cheung no longer works as COO for OKEx. We appreciate Andy’s contribution and wish him all the very best in his future career,”

“OKEx will continue to provide top-class crypto service as well as building the blockchain community.”

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Author: AnTy

Lisk’s Lightcurve Blockchain Studio To Layoff 40% Its Workforce To Reduce Burn Rate

The blockchain project Lightcurve has made the decision to lay off 40 percent of its employees in order to enable moving forward in the market. It is worth mentioning that Lightcurve is part of the open-source platform Lisk, which is powered by a cryptocurrency called LSK and is among the top 100 largest cryptos in the space.

Lisk’s Lightcurve Blockchain Project Reduces Its Staff

Volatility in the cryptocurrency market continues to show its effects on different crypto and blockchain projects. The CEO and co-founder of Lisk, Max Kordek, said on Discord that Lightcurve had to fire 21 employees considering they had to reduce costs. The company had 53 employees that will now become 32.

They will not only help in reducing costs but they will also be focusing on keeping talent in the research and backend development sectors. Meanwhile, frontend development, marketing, and other operations would be downsized.

This staff reduction would also allow the company to become ‘more agile,’ considering a large degree of the funds were going to human resources. Lightcurve is currently based in Berlin, Germany, and the remaining employees will continue with their jobs at the firm.

This is not the first time that a blockchain and a crypto-related company decides to reduce its number of employees. Circle, for example, informed back in May this year that they were reducing staff by 10 percent. This represented 30 employees at that time.

Furthermore, the blockchain firm ConsenSys decided at the end of 2018 that they were reducing the number of employees to rebalance their priorities. After this lay off of around 10% of its staff, the company announced a new roadmap for ConsenSys and a change in its business strategy. And just recently they are parting ways with operations in India and the Philippines.

Chainalysis is another firm that decided to lay off 20% of its workforce to remain profitable while operating in the market. Huobi Global laid off Australian employees back in Feb.

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Author: Carl T

ECB: Central Bank Digital Currencies Could Be Used To Improve Payment Systems

A digital currency could be used by the European Central Bank (ECB) in order to improve payments around the world. According to a document released by the ECB, adoption of this digital asset could be accelerated due to the lower cash usage in several countries.

ECB Analyses Effects Of Digital Assets

As reported by Reuters, the ECB is analyzing the effects of creating a digital currency that would make international payments cheaper. This would only be implemented or planned only within Europe and if payments across the continent remained too expensive.

Considering that the digital currency could have large implications for financial, monetary and economic stability, the implementation of this currency should be carefully studied and assessed.

This document is expected to be presented to Finance Ministers of the European Union on Thursday.

At the same time, Christine Lagarde, the president of the ECB, explained at her first hearing before the European Parliament that central banks may adopt a digital currency.

Mrs. Lagarde has always been very positive about digital assets and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). When she was the president of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) she has supported different researches on the matter and showed they were open to discussing positive and negative aspects of CBDCs if implemented.

According to Lagarde, users will be able to use central bank money for daily transactions. Nevertheless, there are some risks that must be assessed in terms of monetary policy and how it could affect the real economy. This is in line with what the aforementioned document explains.

The European Central Bank has established negative interest rates in the economy in order to promote economic growth through spending rather than through investment and savings. Some banks are already passing these negative interest rates to clients.

The ECB is also a key player in Europe’s economy considering that it has been working as a lender of last resort to banks in all the continents.

There are several countries that have already analyzed the possibility to implement CBDCs in the economy. Some of these countries include the UK, Ukraine, Canada and Uruguay, among others.

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Author: Carl T

Argentinians Can No Longer Buy Bitcoin with Credit Cards Per Country’s Central Bank Notice

Cointelegraph reports that the fiscal regulator has taken drastic measures in order to protect the foreign exchange reserves of Argentina which has been under immense stress following months of high inflation rates which has led to the slump in the country’s currency, the peso.

The new measures were contained in a communique from the banking authority which included various sectors whereby credit card usage was either limited or banned.

The part that dealt with the crypto sector stated,

“Acquisition of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: It is prohibited to purchase BTC with this payment method. The only remaining alternative for this investment is to do so with funds transferred from a bank account.”

At the moment, it is still not clear if the prohibition by the central bank were meant only for credit cards or if it also affects debit cards. The mentioning of bank transfers brings the notion of peer-to-peer transactions provided that no foreign money enters into Argentina.

The central bank is hopeful that through introduction of restrictions in various sectors, it can have a tight grip on foreign exchange affairs. At the start of this week, the banking authority reduced the maximum dollar purchase limit for its citizens to only $200. This represents a decrease of 98% from the earlier $10,000 that was set at the beginning of October. At the time these measures were introduced, the value of Bitcoin trading increased sharply and the measures introduced are meant to deal with this phenomenon.

Bitcoin, although being seen as volatile in nature, has increased in value by about 150% from the start of the year. This means that it represents a better store of value in Argentina than the peso under the current regime of volatile inflation rates. The restriction on the usage of the US dollar within Argentina can easily be circumvented by adopting a crypto that is widely accepted like Bitcoin or Ether.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Aeternity DApp Blockchain to Help Monitor Medical Cannabis In Uruguay

Aeternity, a blockchain application, is set to be used in order to track the supply chain of legal cannabis in Uruguay. Both medical and recreational drugs from the producer Uruguay Can, will be tracked. The company will also combine blockchain with the internet of things technology to track the product.

According to Pablo Coirolo, the CEO of Aeternity Americas, the goal of the company is to be the first business to offer this solution for cannabis producers in the region. He affirmed that Aeternity technology is ideal to be used in these situations, as it can track the cannabis from the seeds to when they arrive at the store.

Now, the service will start to be implemented. Initially, the expectation is that implementation will be concluded by January 2020. During the middle of 2021 the process is expected to be optimized and completed.

This is a pretty important to the business of cannabis in Uruguay. In fact, the country was the first one in the world to completely legalize the production and sale of cannabis-based products, starting at the end of 2013.

The CEO of Uruguay Can, Eduardo Blasina, affirmed that the company is proud to be the first company to completely track their supply of cannabis. No other company in the local industry has done the same and this can benefit the consumer, as they will feel more secure about the products that they using. Tracking supplies is becoming a trend in the world and they are dedicated to using it.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Alfa-Bank and X5 Retail Group Utilize Waves Blockchain To Release Bank-as-a-Service Platform

Alfa-Bank has recently started a partnership with the X5 Retail Group in order to launch a new blockchain-based platform that will be used for liquidity. This new platform is going to be called Distributed Treasury and Cash Management (DTCM) and its main goal will be to enable the bank to let clients manage payments, deposits and loans with a liquidity pool.

This new service is being marketed as a bridge between corporations and the Bank-as-a-Service (BaaS) of the company.

Denis Dodon, the director of innovation and development of the institution, affirmed that the main difference between the company’s product and what other companies are offering right now is that they do not only give clients a channel to send orders but help them to completely change the logic of how the process works.

The new model is expected to give window for more customization. With the Waves blockchain, they can employ smart contracts and use the technology for a diversity of situations.

Svetlana Demyashkevich, the CFO of the X5 Retail Group, has recently affirmed that the partnership will be the benchmark for future interactions between clients and banks and that the Alfa-Bank has made a huge step forward.

She also affirmed that her company is set to use the new technology to optimize how the process of trading is done. With the help of this technology, communication and payments will be considerably simpler. Among other benefits shown by the CFO were the unified treasury application provided by the bank and how improved data management can be used to cut risks and costs.

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Author: Gabriel Machado