US Defense Information Systems Agency Requests Information on Blockchain-as-a-Service

Blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) is one of the popular niches that stakeholders from other industries invest in to derive the value proposition of this new technology. The U.S Defense Department has now signaled that they are likely to join the bandwagon as per a request for information (RFI) published by its IT agency, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

The RFI, which is not to be confused with the request for proposal (RFP), seeks to equip DISA with a better understanding of viable options, should it chose to debut a BaaS for its ecosystems. It was published on Nov 4 and invited participation from potential prospects up to Nov 10, after which the policy will be deemed inactive on Nov 25. The publication reads,

”In support of our ongoing effort to create a new Blockchain as a service offering for our mission partners, DISA is conducting market research to ensure a better understanding of the capabilities available in the market place relevant to a Blockchain as a service offering which could be deployed on Z systems.”

According to the RFI, DISA’s main focus in this initiative is to identify viable products that would facilitate a permissioned BaaS that can eventually be scaled on a mainframe environment. The possible solutions must correlate with some technical fundamentals, which include scaling support, full auditing & reporting, governance, administration, and solution hardening, amongst others.

Prospects looking to take part in the RFI will be required to submit their responses in a whitepaper form. The document should feature details such as the respondent’s technical abilities, software identification, and licensing schemas that are available.

Notably, this is not the first time DISA has hinted at deploying a BaaS for its systems; the agency’s innovation lead Sherri Sokol had, in fact, touched on the matter during an interview with CGN back in 2019,

“We are looking at potentially offering something that would be secure, scalable and agile for the networks that our mission partners could create and manage on our infrastructure inside accredited DOD environments …

It would really just be the platform, infrastructure resource management, and monitoring, which are services that DISA already offers.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Anchorage & Tokensoft Collab to Bring Wrapped Coins to Ethereum; Zcash (ZEC) Is Up First

The growing popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi) has attracted many other digital assets to Ethereum, including Bitcoin, in a wrapped layer one solution. The latest to join the league is the privacy-centric coin Zcash (ZEC). The Wrapped Zcash is brought into the Decentralized ecosystem by Anchorage in association with Tokensoft.

Wrapped ZCash (wZEC) is the first asset launched by the “wrapped” project in association with Ethereum tokenizers Tokensoft and the qualified custodian Anchorage. The liquidity for the wrapped project would be offered by over-the-counter (OTC) liquidity provided by CMS Holdings.

However, Wrapped Zcash is not the first wrapped digital asset on Ethereum. Wrapped Bitcoin has been quite popular as the DeFi market continues to explode. A wrapped digital asset transfers the value of that particular digital asset onto the Ethereum blockchain by creating an ERC-20 token with a 1:1 value representation against the asset. Thus one Wrapped bitcoin would be equivalent in value to that of 1 bitcoin.

This allows for other digital asset holders to access the DeFi space and collateralize that asset instead of buying Ether and then collateralizing it. This also helps in increasing the liquidity of the DEX ecosystem.

Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn, Zcash founder and Electric Coin Company CEO, commented on their recent association with Anchorage and Tokensoft and said,

“I’m thrilled that there is such interest, and that people can, and do, innovate and deploy extensions on top of Zcash without the Electric Coin Company’s knowledge or approval.”

“I also agree that it’s great for people to have more alternatives to centralized exchanges (CEXs), and the way that CEX’s have to comply with arbitrary demands from their banks.”

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Author: James W

China’s Digital Yuan Trial in Full Force, DCEP Lottery Winners Using Digital RMB at 3,300 Stores

While other countries are still busy studying the opportunities and risks associated with central bank digital currencies (CBDC), like the US, China’s digital yuan trial is in full force.

People have already received the DCEP and started using it at convenience stores. Shenzhen metro ticket machine also has features to top-up metro cards with the digital yuan along with “DCEP accepted here” signs.

According to BlockBeat, nearly 2 million people in Shenzhen applied for the “Luohu Digital RMB Red Packet” lottery on the blockchain-based public services app operated by the Shenzhen government.

However, the lottery’s winning rate has been only 2.61%, as only 50,000 received 200 RMB ($30) from the government through the lottery, which brings the total DC/EP giveaway to RMB 10 million ($1.47 million).

The red envelope is basically the “digital renminbi,” which is under development. The wallet, meanwhile, has been already launched by China Construction bank at the end of August.

The idea here is to promote the demand for the new digital yuan as Dan Wang, the chief economist at Hang Seng Bank, told the South China Morning Post, the program is predicted to generate 50 million yuan in total demand.

These DC/EP will be spendable at 3,389 designated shops in Luohu this week, from 12th to 18th October 2020.

“China is doing blockchain airdrops using central bank digital currency. Technology moves forward. Don’t get left behind,” tweeted Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

According to him, although “Nothing beats bitcoin in terms of decentralization,” despite the being “fairly restrictive/centralized,” these CBDCs will “get the masses exposed to and comfortable with blockchain technologies.”

However, these centralized digital versions of fiat cryptos only give governments more power and control over their citizens.

While for cashless societies, the latest change of payment channel is just another way to move money around, what they miss is targeted stimulus policy, and helicopter money will be at a “much more granular level” in the future, said Dovey Wan of Primitive Crypto.

This further means easy seizure of personal wealth, all with just a few lines of codes.

“When retail has been so spoiled by the convenience of digitalization of fiat, and now into digital fiat, they can easily trade self-sovereignty and enslaved by the ultimate efficiency those central servers offer It’s more critical than ever for everyone to really own their keys,” she added.

Amidst this, the Ministry of Public Security of China has announced a nationwide “Card Breaking Campaign,” that could affect Chinese crypto OTC because while criminals in China use crypto to launder money, merchants also borrow and buy bank cards.

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Author: AnTy

7 Major Central Banks Collaborate to Release First CBDC Report, Highlighting Key Principles

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS), along with seven other prominent central banks, has published a report on the feasibility of issuing CBDCs to complement monetary policy. According to the 26-page document, CBDC’s should be based on foundational principles and core features that will enable the prospectus digital currencies to function effectively.

The report, which is dubbed ‘Central Bank Digital Currencies: Foundational Principles And Core Features,’ is a collaborative effort between the following:

  • Bank of Canada
  • Bank of England
  • Bank of Japan
  • European Central Bank
  • Federal Reserve
  • Sveriges Riksbank
  • Swiss National Bank
  • Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

It was published on October 9 and will mark the first of its series, given that the BIS is expected to advance the CBDC research in collaboration with central banks.

CBDC Foundational Principles & Core Features

According to the report, a functional CBDC will need to meet some criteria when it comes to the underlying principles and core features. It highlighted three principles which include;

  • Coexistence: CBDCs should co-exist with other types of money that already run today’s markets.
  • Innovation and Efficiency: Features should focus on promoting efficiency and innovation.
  • Do No Harm: CBDC introduction should not compromise the current financial or monetary ecosystems but complement them instead.

The 14 core features were, in turn, derived from these principles; some of the notable recommendations that were made include;

  • Secure and Resilient; To uphold the operational integrity of CBDC ecosystems.
  • Convenient; To enable seamless interaction with existing fiat currencies.
  • Value additional; To include the private sector and create a competitive environment for innovation.

The BIS co-chair and head of innovation hub, Benoît Cœuré, said that the newly released report would provide an opportunity to further delve into CBDC’s,

“A design that delivers these features can promote more resilient, efficient, inclusive, and innovative payments.

Although there will be no ‘one size fits all’ CBDC due to national priorities and circumstances, our report provides a springboard for further development of workable CBDCs.”

Recent months have seen a growing interest in the CBDC space; China, which piloted its digital yuan back in Q2, is now boasting close to $162 million e-RMB transactions. This initiative has particularly fueled the CBDC craze as other giant economies look to get a cutting edge.

South Korea announced this week that it will also pilot it’s ‘digital won’ in 2021, although they are yet to settle on whether a CBDC will be necessary. Likewise, the latest BIS CBDC report’s contributing members did not signal that their respective jurisdictions will be launching CBDCs.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

KuCoin Hack Update: 11 Crypto Projects Freeze the Stolen Tokens

Over the weekend, KuCoin lost about $275 million in BTC, XRP, BSV, XLM, TRX, stablecoins, ETH, and other ERC-20 tokens in a security breach. As we reported, the cryptocurrency exchange took full responsibility for the hack, obviously, and promised to cover all the losses through its Insurance Fund.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao believes this to be an “inside” job given how “incompetent” the hacker is.

Since then, the exchange has been in touch with the industry partners.

But what’s’ even more shocking, yet not surprising, has been the response of the crypto projects to this hack.

KuCoin has released the suspicious address list and asked the related parties to add them to the blocklist. The Crypto project did them even better by replacing the tokens altogether.

The most recent update came from Ampleforth, a stablecoin with an elastic supply that announced today that $14 million AMPL, 10% of its circulating supply, was stolen by KuCoin hackers, has been disabled by upgrading the contract.

“A contract upgrade was quickly deployed to disable transfers from the attacker,” tweeted the AMPL Organization, adding: “All of the stolen AMPL remain locked in full.”

AERGO, the hybrid blockchain project, also found the “fix” today. Out of the 13.3% of the Aergo supply on the exchange, 66.8M AERGO ERC-20 tokens are in the hand of the hacker, for which, AERGO will deploy a new smart contract and migrate AERGO to the new contract.

Tether has also frozen the stolen tokens — they were actually the first ones to take this step, the same day as the hack. Paolo Ardoino, the CTO of Bitfinex and Tether, said the millions worth of USDT tokens have been “successfully frozen.”

Frozen USDT involved 13 million EOS-based USDT, 20 million ETH-based USDT, 1 million Omni-based USDT, and another 1 million Tron-based USDT were frozen.

Tether is actually infamous for taking such steps, which runs in double digits.

Other projects that made the same move include Velo Labs that will re-deploy and replace each (122 million tokens worth $75.7 million) VELO.

VIDT_Datalink freezes the 14.49 million VIDT tokens (worth about $7.2 million) and Covesting 3.12 million COV tokens (worth about $600K).

Silent Notary has announced that they will re-issue new SNTR and replace 78.9 billion affected SNTR tokens (worth about $90K) along with NOIA Network replacing about 81 million affected NOIA tokens (worth about $5 million) via a new smart contract.

Orion has already completed the Token SWAP of 3.82 million ORN tokens (worth about $9.5 million) and KardiaChain of 525 million KAI tokens (worth about $10.2 million) while Opacity is accelerating the planned Token SWAP.

With these moves, more than 50% of the stolen funds have been frozen by the protocols behind the stolen cryptos.

“If you can freeze it, it isn’t “crypto,” It’s completely fucking centralized,” commented Dan Held, growth lead at crypto exchange Kraken.

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Author: AnTy

Reserve Bank of Australia Sees No Rush in Launching A CBDC; Aussie Banknotes Are Working

As other nations are rushing to launch central bank backed digital currency dubbed CBDC, Australia is not joining the bandwagon.

As per the Australian local news platforms, the Reserve Bank of Australia recent payments paper indicates that the bank is taking a cautious stand when it comes to CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins.

According to the australian central bank, there is no urgent case or need to introduce a CBDC in the country. The regulator argues that the country has an efficient, real-time payment platform which eliminates the need of a CBDC.

In addition, the regulator notes that the use of cash for transactions is decreasing in the country as Australian citizens are getting rid of banknotes just like in other countries like Sweden.

According to the central bank, despite the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the demand for cash has gone up. In this regard, RBA has committed to continue making it easy for Australians to access banknotes “for as long as Australians wish to keep using them.”

The Reserves Bank’s paper also explored the projects being carried in China, Sweden and Canada – some of the countries which have taken the CBDC initiatives proactively.

When it comes to Sweden, the RBA says that the country has witnessed a significant decrease in the use of cash for a number of years hence the need for Riksbank to come up and test the use of e-krona.

In Canada’s case, the country’s central bank has been preparing itself to provide CBDC when the opportune time comes. The Canadian central bank has envisioned two scenarios when CBDC can be beneficial – a collapse in use of fiat money for normal transactions as well as a threat to the country’s monetary policy as a result of growth and development of privately issued digital money.

The RBA’s report also touches on Facebook’s Libra stating that it still remains a dream and is following closely on whether it be granted regulatory approval to operate in various jurisdictions.

The Australian central bank also opined that the Chinese CBDC project which is at an advanced stage is largely informed by the popularity of private-sector e-money wallets like WeChat and Alipay.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Aviatrade Selling Gulfstream’s G650ER $40 Million Aircraft for Bitcoin

  • Aviatrade is selling its aircraft inventory for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The aircraft sales firm is now accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for its latest $40 million airplane. Gulfstream’s latest flagship product, G650ER, that has just come into the market, can be purchased with the digital currency.

According to Aviatrade’s president Philip Rushton, using cash to buy a plane would be subject to cross-border restrictions in some countries, especially when it involves a million-dollar purchase.

As such, adding digital currencies to its payment options opens it for more potential clients.

The six-year-old plane is currently at the Gulfstream’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, undergoing routine inspections after traveling through New Zealand and Asia.

The extended range version of the G640 can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles between cities like New York to Nairobi and Los Angeles to Sydney. The aircraft that began as G650 and had less than 1200 hours on it has two Rolls-Royce BR725 engines powering it to enable speed of Mach .925.

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Author: AnTy

Russia Missing the ‘Unique’ Opportunity to Invest in BTC as it Focuses on Hoarding Gold

While on one side, Russia is regulating digital currencies, on the other hand, Roskomnadzor, a federal executive body responsible for overseeing the media, is banning the crypto, fiat, and e-currencies exchange monitoring website Bestchange.

While the site is blocked by RKN, Bestchange advises people to use the blocking bypass tools like VPN, mirror site, and extensions to access the site. Other crypto sites affected include ProstocCoin and CryptoRussia.

The step has been taken by RKN because these sites promote the use of other currencies besides the ruble in the country. This is because the money can only be issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, and the introduction of other funds in the Russian Federation is not allowed, states the court document.

The court found these websites guilty of allowing the use of Bitcoin to purchase goods and services which violate Federal Laws. Besides the preventing financing of terrorist activities with Bitcoin, it also states the decentralized nature of bitcoin’s issuance eliminates the “possibility of its regulation.”

Amidst this anti-cryptocurrency move, economist Vladislav Ginko wrote that the country is missing the “unique” chance of stacking bitcoin as Russia focuses on gold hoarding with “the looming severe sanctions from the United States may provoke a cascade selling out of Russia’s debt.”

Ginkgo is a former vice-rector of Moscow-based Jewish University, currently an analyst and lecturer at Russia’s leading state think-tank, Presidential Academy.

He points out how some of Russia’s elite believe new sanctions are almost inevitable while the share of foreign investors plummeted from 34.9% in March this year to 29.8%. Russia’s central bank has also slashed the key rate to 4.25%.

In response, Russia’s state has become the biggest buyer of domestic produced gold. In August, Russia’s banking system accumulated 97.7 tons of gold, up 21% from one month earlier.

However, according to Ginko, the banks should invest in bitcoin instead, as some Russian elites also believe. Some of them reportedly bought BTC in January 2019 when BTC was around $3,500. He said,

“The current price of Bitcoin is not $500,000 yet, but $11,700, which means a 330% return for less than two years. Russia may miss an opportunity to catch a lucky ‘Bitcoin ticket’ to the future, and instead of it falls into the gold trap.”

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Author: AnTy

Liquid Exchange Set To Delist Zcash (ZEC) And 28 Other Privacy Enabled Cryptocurrencies

Japan’s crypto exchange, Liquid, has delisted the privacy-enabled Zcash (ZEC), along with 28 other coins in order to comply with Singapore’s regulations. The exchange plans to get an operating license in Singapore, hence with the swift changes made.

The Electric Coin Company (ECC), a non-profit organization overlooking the development of the Zcash public blockchain, however, dismissed the delisting: claiming ZEC is compliant with regulatory authorities.

Liquid Delists ZEC to Comply with Singapore Laws

In a tweet sent out on Friday, July 24, 2020, ECC said Liquid had notified them of their plans to shut down buying, selling, and trading of ZEC on the platform in compliance with Singapore’s laws. This follows a frenzy across Korean and Singapore based crypto exchanges delisting privacy coins due to the FAFT Travel rule notice issued at the tail end of 2019.

However, there is no official communication from Liquid exchange yet. We will follow up with the full list of delisted cryptocurrencies on the exchange.

Also Read: Coinbase Delists Privacy-Focused Cryptocurrency, Zcash (ZEC), In The U.K.

A Rash Decision to Delist?

According to the statement put out by the ECC, Liquid has made a rash decision to quickly gain the Singaporean license.

The argument revolves around whether privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Zcash (ZEC) and Monero (XMR) are regulatory compliant. ECC believes so. Jack Gavigan, the products and regulations head at the ECC, wrote a blog post in March 2019 explaining how ZEC can be AML/CFT compliant.

He explains that personal finance privacy is essential in the growing digital world, hence the need for privacy enabled currencies. On being compliant, Jack states that ZEC can be as quickly regulated as cash is regulated today. He wrote:

“The techniques and processes that have been honed and perfected over decades to detect and discourage the use of cash for money laundering and terrorist financing can be applied to Zcash, including customer due-diligence checks, record-keeping, and making Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) when appropriate.”

No other exchanges in the 28 have been revealed yet. The ECC is willing to help exchanges understand how to become compliant with AML/CFT rules while trading ZEC in the future.

See More: BitOasis Removes Privacy Coins Zcash & Monero Without Notice to Users

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Author: Lujan Odera

Polkadot Is Now Fully Decentralized After Governance Removes Web3 Foundation Admin Rights

Polkadot (DOT), a blockchain aiming at scalability, security, and connecting other blockchains, is now fully decentralized following a successful vote through community governance. The majority sees the blockchain drop admin rights by Web3 Foundation to introduce a token governance system on the platform.

A tweet sent out at 8.03 AM GMT, Gavin Wood, co-founder of Parity Technologies, lead developer of Polkadot, confirmed the transition to a permissionless network at block #799,302 opening up a new governance future for the community.

The enacted governance proposal introduces an improved “community governance system,” which allows DOT holders to vote and influence decisions on the development of the Polkadot blockchain directly. The governance system also enables the community to vote on changes on the DOT token, such as the recent redenomination proposal of the genesis tokens.

The permissionless blockchain also dropped the admin rights held by Web3 Foundation, making the blockchain fully decentralized. To fully release the blockchain to the community, the vote also struck off the “Chain Candidate 1 (CC1)” tag for its mainnet network.

From Permissioned to Permissionless

After being in the works for the past three years, the Polkadot mainnet finally launched in May, limiting some features to agents and the admin. This permissioned proof of stake (PoS) blockchain allowed Web3 Foundation to take charge of the blockchain in case of a problem or maintenance issue on a newly launched mainnet.

Over the weeks, the community governance has gained more power from the admins through the proof of stake, with nearly 200 validators currently controlling half the DOT supply.

In 2020, the developers and Web3 Foundation have taken massive strides in ensuring the blockchain becomes decentralized. Chainlink selecting to build on Polkadot (only after Ethereum), the development of a Bitcoin Parachain that brings BTC and BTC-backed assets on Polkadot and the launch of staking services – supported by Coinbase and Bison Trails – shows a bright future for the blockchain, Gavin said.

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Author: Lujan Odera