NEM Group Launches ‘Interoperable’ Public Blockchain For Enterprise Users

Blockchain company NEM Group has announced the release of a new public blockchain called Symbol, per a press release today.

Symbol With Atomic Swap Capabilities

The project comes with enterprise-grade programmability and security. It will enable development teams and businesses to execute projects with minimal costs and without complexities.

Its hybrid chain structure layout will enable native compatibility with both public and private chain deployments, providing developers with the option of working with their preferred chain setup. Businesses would also be empowered to create permissioned ecosystems on private networks to store confidential information while still keeping in contact with public blockchains.

According to NEM, Symbol was created with interoperability in mind. The upgrade will see developers leverage on its state-of-the-art Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to easily integrate with existing systems and blockchains, making the shift much easier for them.

Symbol will also enable cross-chain atomic-swaps, allowing users to transfer digital tokens between the network and other blockchains. This is a major plus as atomic swaps allow users to send and receive data (usually a coin) without the presence of an intermediary.

NEM’s Symbol blockchain would also enable decentralized applications (DeFi), security tokens, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on its network. This feature dubbed “mosaics” would enable creating custom tokens, shares of stocks, signatures, votes, and others. Each mosaic would operate on a unique identifier, making it easy for the network to monitor its use.

Speaking on the launch, NEM Group’s CEO David Shaw said Symbol’s development results from key learnings the company gleaned from its NEM NIS1 public network. Symbol takes this further by providing a simple blockchain enterprise solution focused primarily on building use cases in the wider blockchain ecosystem.

Symbol would also be introducing what it termed a “delegated financial authority” protocol which would enable on-chain, multi-layer, multi-signature accounts. This feature would greatly streamline business processes like payroll management, according to CTO of NEM Software Kristy-Leigh Minehan. Minehan also said Symbol aims to reduce the chasm between public and private blockchains in the ecosystem.

NEM Group Moves Into CBDCs With Symbol

During the launch, the blockchain technology company said it is already moving into the central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) space announcing a partnership with LBCOIN– the world’s first blockchain-based digital coin collector issued by the Bank of Lithuania working on NEM’s platform.

LBCOIN first made a foray into the digital space working with NEM NIS1 in July 2020, with the Lithuanian apex bank issuing 4,000 LBCOIN, equaling 24,000 digital tokens and 4,000 physical collector coins. Symbol’s subsequent launch would see the digital coin collector migrate to leverage on the platform’s more sophisticated offerings.

The team says its NEM NIS1 protocol would still be operational catering to development teams, while its new Symbol blockchain would see enterprise-facing businesses.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Blockchain Coalition, Universal Protocol Alliance, Launches The First Tradeable Carbon Token

The Universal Protocol Alliance (UPA) has launched the first tradeable carbon token, according to a press release shared with BEG. This group comprises prominent players in the blockchain industry, including Bittrex Global, Uphold, Infinigold, Certik, and Ledger. UPA’s goal is to eventually digitize or tokenize every asset class in preparation for a new era of finance.

The newly introduced tradeable carbon token is dubbed ‘UPCO2’, represents a year of carbon dioxide or a similar reduction from ‘Verra-approved REDD+ voluntary projects in the world’s rainforests.’ This new carbon token is available for trading on the Uphold digital asset platform and marks the first of its kind to trade in a public blockchain ecosystem.

Democratizing the Global Carbon Market

Recent years have seen the demand for carbon skyrocket as the world became more environmentally aware of pollution’s looming risks. According to World Bank stats, the need for carbon credits is currently more than its supply by close to 4 times. Universal Protocol Alliance is among the groups that are presently working to offset this gap.

The UPCO2 token is built to democratize carbon demand and supply by introducing a global playing field for clearing prices, just like other commodities, including gold and oil. Each UPCO2 token will be backed by a Voluntary Carbon Unit (VCU), while Verra will issue the same certificate. This is the standard International Agency that permits the conversion of greenhouse gas to tradeable carbon credits.

Mathew Le Merle, the chairman of UPA, explained that supporting projects through credit purchases prevents deforestation in areas like the Amazon and Congo Basin. He went on to highlight the value proposition of UPCO2 carbon token as an asset of the ‘future’ investor,

“For a new generation of investors looking for more than mere financial return, UPCO2 offers attractive social, economic, and environmental benefits. At a key moment for climate change, UPCO2 allows people worldwide to do good for the planet and potentially do well for themselves.”

A Lucrative Macroeconomic Outlook

In the future, there is a likelihood that combating climate change will be among the dominant discussion points across the globe. World Bank stats indicate that only 22% of emissions are compensated for by humanity; meanwhile, the percentage of countries that operate in regulated carbon markets has grown from 40% to 70% within the past four years.

Uphold CEO and Co-founder of the UP Alliance, JP Thieriot, emphasized this trend noting the underlying potential of the UPCO2 carbon token,

“Combating climate change is likely to become the dominant economic issue of the next 20 years.  The UPCO2 Token allows people everywhere to participate in this hugely important – and potentially lucrative – new market, as well as do the right thing for the planet.”

Notably, the Voluntary Credit Units offer some perks compared to the regulated credits, including global recognition and the ability to retain value until used or retired as compensation for carbon footprints.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Arca Labs Rolls Out Ethereum Based Fund After SEC Approves Digitally Transferrable Securities

According to a press release on Monday, July 6, 2020, Arca Labs, a digital asset investment firm, becomes the first-ever company to trade an SEC-registered Ethereum-based fund, ArCoin.

The bizarre case of the U.S Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) refusing to register a Bitcoin ETF gets even stranger as the securities regulator approved the trading of digitally transferable securities, in a first of its kind. ArCoin, the digital securities built on Ethereum blockchain, has become the first asset of its kind to be successfully registered under the Investment Act of 1940.

Arca Labs further plans to build more digitally transferrable assets that will be compliant to SEC’s laws in what they term as “portfolio of complimentary ’40 Act financial products”. Each ArCoin will represent a share in Arca’s U.S Treasury Fund, which is 80% interest-bearing, short-duration, U.S. Treasury securities.

A Groundbreaking Announcement

The blockchain world is looking at more regulated assets with this latest SEC approval giving a sense of a possible ETF approval in years to come. Rayne Steinberg, CEO of Arca Labs, referred to the announcement as “groundbreaking and transformative” in connecting the digital asset market to traditional finance. The CEO stated,

“It is truly exciting to be pioneering new digital investment products through our Arca Labs division that marry best practices used in traditional finance with the many potential benefits of digital and blockchain technology—this is the next stage of development for the digital ecosystem.”

The Benefits of ArCoin

The purpose of this Ethereum 1401-standard token is to combine the qualities of traditional finance regulation to the resilience of blockchain technologies. This digital innovation will enhance the overall security, provide regulatory oversight and transparency, otherwise lacking in the traditional field. Jerald David, the president of Arca Capital Management LLC, parent company to Arca Labs, said:

“ArCoin offers enterprises the opportunity to manage their business operations, treasury management, and payments with greater efficiency, less cost, faster settlement times, and direct tracking of all transactions.”

BEG reported Arca’s plans to launch the Blockchain traded fund (BTF) back in February to tokenize U.S Treasury bonds and bills.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ripple Execs Meet With Central Bank Of Brazil Officials in ‘Closed to the Press’ Meeting

Ripple Inc.’s, Brad Garlinghouse held a ‘closed to the press’ meeting with Brazil’s Central Bank officials on May 30th to discuss “institutional matters” in the South American country. Top officials from both Ripple and the Central Bank of Brazil held the meeting at 1700 hrs to 1800 hrs. What could be the motive behind the closed-door meeting?

Ripple Executives meet with the Central Bank of Brazil Officials

According to the Agenda of Authorities of Banco Central do Brasil website, the schedule of Roberto Campos Neto, the central bank’s president, showed he met online with Ripple executives on Saturday evening last week. While major details on the meeting remain unrevealed to the media, the agenda only hinted at “institutional matters”.

Three Ripple executives and board members accompanied CEO at Ripple Inc., Garlinghouse – Ben Lawsky, Member of the Board of Directors of Ripple, Eric van Miltemburg, Senior Vice President, Global Operations, Ripple, Luiz Antonio Sacco, Vice President of Global Operations and General Director for Latin America at Ripple.

Brazil’s central bank was led by Roberto joined by João Manoel Pinho de Mello, the Financial System Organization and Resolution Director, and Otavio Ribeiro Damaso, Regulation Director.

Both, Ripple and the Central bank of Brazil officials have remained silent on the conference discussions. Could the bank be looking at a possible central bank digital currency (CBDC) or settlement platform?

Brazil’s QR based instantaneous payment system

The most sensible explanation for the meeting may be to discuss the QR-based payment system that the central bank is developing. PIX, the non-crypto payment platform will offer P2P ad B2B payment solutions within the country aiming to reduce the transaction costs and speed of transactions.

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Author: Lujan Odera

IOHK Reboots Byron Codebase, A Big Step Towards Cardano’s Shelley Blockchain Upgrade

IOHK Team has released a statement that the Byron upgrade is now complete. As per a press release, the upgrade will allow a seamless changeover to the Shelley mainnet. The upgrade will now make Cardano (ADA) be fully decentralized.

The new Byron upgrade or reboot that is set to be rolled on Mar. 31, 2020. This is the most significant software upgrade on Cardano since it was launched back in 2017.

IOHK Team explained that the new release means the entire design of all elements within the Cardano (ADA) blockchain. The upgrade will enhance various elements such as the Cardano’s node performance, the wallet backend, the Cardano wallet as well as Daedalus wallet itself.

The team stated that one of the most significant aspects that come with the Byron reboot is the reorganization of all the logics of the interaction among the blockchain components. The fresh release will make the codebase modular, which will separate the ledger, components of the network node as well as consensus. As a result, this will allow “any one of them to be changed, tweaked, and upgraded without affecting the others.”

The new release means that Cardano (ADA) network is increasingly moving just inches to the launching of the Shelley mainnet. The upgraded Byron network, the system will now have the capacity to support every Shelley feature in addition to various future developments.

The fresh node update is set to be launched to more cores as well as relay nodes on top of the Cardano mainnet for the coming few weeks. This will be followed by more reboot improvements as well as a Daedalus beta in the future.

[Also Read: IOHK Releases Ouroboros Hydra Protocol to Improve Micropayments on Cardano Network]

IOHK CEO, Charles Hoskinson, explained that the release of an upgraded Byron will enhance the overall performance of the Cardano network. He also explained that the upgrade will also improve the transaction throughput capacity. The network is also going to handle an increased demand as well as more transactions every second.

Hoskinson also expounded that the new codebase will allow the Cardano system to be operated using less costly computational equipment that has a weak internet connection. Hoskinson also said,

“I am extremely proud of the IOHK developer team’s endeavours to rewrite the Byron era node from the ground up. Their work represents a significant investment in the network-critical infrastructure required to support the Shelley era of Cardano as we move forward on our mission to build a global-scale financial and social operating system.”

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Author: Joseph Kibe

MakerDAO Partners With Payment Processor Simplex To Create A Fiat On-Ramp For Dai

In a press statement released on March 3, renowned DeFi player MakerDAO stated that it has inked a deal with Simplex, renowned payment processor, to develop a fiat-on-ramp for its decentralized stablecoin, Dai, Cointelegraph reports.

The new deal means that it is now possible to purchase Dai using both debit and credit cards from Simplex’s partner companies. Gustav Arentoft the business development head in Europe for Maker explained that the partnership will be beneficial to users now and in the future. He said:

“Having Dai integrated into Simplex is a benefit to current and future users, […] it gives them a straightforward fiat on- and off-ramp with access to the industry’s biggest players.”

A renowned firm within the DeFi sector, MakerDAO, is firm behind the decentralized stablecoin Dai that operates on the Ethereum network for smart contracts. By publication time, DeFi Pulse, DeFi data website, indicated that the decentralized finance applications have a total of $967.4 million locked in them where $550 million, approximately 56%, is locked within MakerDAO’s protocol.

Simplex holds the coveted European Union license for financial institution and boasts of more than 100 partners which support about 13 divergent cryptos as well as 19 various fiat currencies. At the moment, Simplex supports Bitcoin, Binance USD, Nano, Binance Coin, Dash, Tron, Litecoin, Ether, XRP, Cosmos, and Bitcoin Cash.

Simplex has also partnered with different crypto exchange platforms such as OKEx, Binance, OKCoin and KuCoin to enable card payments.

A spokesperson from Simplex stated that MakerDAO started the contract negotiations and many such contracts are lined up from different crypto-asset teams that are keen on creating on-ramp distribution channels. The spokesperson also explained that the partnership will have a positive effect on demand as well as the price as has been the case with other cryptos that the network has been added to.

DeFi solutions have been on the rise in the recent past and DeFi Pulse indicates that the assets locked in these apps has risen by more than 186% in comparison to an year ago.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Cred and Litecoin Foundation Partner To Offer Up To 10% Interest on LTC Collateral

A press release from February 10th announces that the Litecoin Foundation and Cred have closed a partnership to offer interest on Litecoin (LTC) collateral.

This means Cred customers will be able to stake their coins and this way, earn an annual percentage rate of up to 10%. The partnership also enables holders of LTC to lend the cryptocurrency they’re holding at lucrative rates, just like it’s happening with decentralized finance (DeFi) Ethereum solutions.

See Benefits after a Six Month Commitment

In order to benefit from the interest, customers will have to be with Cred for a period of 6 months. The monthly interest will be paid in either crypto or a fiat currency. The other Cred partners are BitBuy, Uphold and Bitcoin.com. They will facilitate the credit as well. The Litecoin Foundation’s director Alan Austin explained why the partnership is so important for Litecoin by saying:

“Strong use cases should be one of the most important considerations when evaluating cryptocurrency. In addition to Litecoin’s reliability, use for payments and excellent liquidity, the ability to earn interest at attractive rates through Cred’s platform further strengthens this use case.”

Some Partnership Funds will Support the Development of Litecoin

Some of the funds obtained after the joint initiative are going to be used to support the development of Litecoin. Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin has already volunteered to make a 1% donation for the Foundation. As for Cred, the company has a crypto-based borrowing and lending platform. It’s also trying to create a credit accessing and maintaining history that’s available worldwide, by using the LBA token in order to supply the interest rate premiums. Cred was founded by Dan Schatt, the former executive at PayPal.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Refundo Rolls Out Federal, State Tax Refund Payouts in BTC, BCH, ETH, and XRP

According to a press release from tax service provider Refundo, American taxpayers will be able to receive their federal tax refunds in Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH) and XRP, aside from Bitcoin (BTC).

Before these cryptocurrencies were added, 141 million Americans could receive their tax refund only in Bitcoin (BTC), so Refundo thought, it’s time to make some additions. In May 2019, it launched the CoinRT product that allows people to receive tax refunds in BTC, the product that was created in partnership with BitPay, the crypto payment processor.

CoinRT Is Very Easy to Use

Taxpayers just need to create their RefundoCoinRT account, after which they’re being given a unique account and routing number that they have to put on their tax return, together with the background details of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) regulations and their BTC, XRP, BCH or ETH wallet address.

As soon as the IRS or the state makes a direct deposit of the tax refund into their account, Refundo takes over to process the refund and to deposit cryptocurrency in the designated crypto wallet. This service costs only $34.95 and only needs to be paid once.

Refundo Customers Will Be Allowed to Access Their Refunds Seamlessly

The CEO of Refundo, Roger Chinchilla, says customers of his company will be able to access their refunds seamlessly. These were his exact words, as outlined in the press release:

“We love new technology and we’re always looking for opportunities to help our customers get access to their tax refund in a seamless manner and however they see fit. When we launched support for Bitcoin last year, we knew we were just getting started. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly faster, lower cost, and fit the need of the underbanked. We are pleased to be able to support BCH, ETC, and XRP and look forward to adding other cryptocurrencies in the near future.”

The other great news here is that other cryptocurrencies are going to be soon added to Refundo.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Ethereum Foundation Grants Nimbus $650,000 To Help Develop ETH 2.0

A press release sent out to the public on January 28th indicates that Nimbus was recently awarded a grant of $650,000 by the Ethereum Foundation that would enable it to continue working on the Light ETH 2.0 Client. The main goal of this project is to enable embedded devices and smartphones to operate nodes that are smart contracts capable.

Nimbus was launched by Status in March 2018 as an infrastructure project. In the beginning, it had been imagined as a project that would provide better admittance to the Status application that is installed on all modern smartphones. But as time progressed, the scope of the project was stretched out with the aim of transforming it into something that would be good for the entire Ethereum community.

Jacek Sieka, the current Nimbus Head of Research had a one-on-one with Cointelegraph and stated that:

“The R&D performed by the Nimbus team is not specific to Status or The Status Network, but rather designed as a public good for anyone to use, change, and benefit from.”

Nimbus was started as a collaborative effort between Gitcoin, the Ethereum Foundation, and is co-funded by Status. The money awarded to Nimbus as a grant is set to be used into getting it ready into a state where it can start being produced.

The upcoming project milestones, according to the project map indicate that testing is the next phase, which will then be followed by the final release of a client that will be capable of supporting the beacon chain from Ethereum.

About Nimbus

As is the case with the already existing ETH clients such as Parity and Mist, Nimbus is expected to enable its users to link to the Serenity network that is about to be released by Ethereum.

The main difference between Nimbus and the existing clients lies in the form of support that it will provide to all devices. It’s a client that intends to provide support to a broad range of devices, and not just servers and computers.

As things stand at the moment, the ETH blockchain has been seen to take up too many resources, making it unfriendly for use in smartphones.

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Author: Daniel W

Bitfinex Partners with Bitrefill to Integrate Instant Bitcoin Payments Via the Lightning Network

A press release on December 4th highlighted the services one could leverage from participating within the Bitfinex and Bitrefill ecosystem.

Notably was the number of services available; Bitrefill’s crypto gift cards come with an option of over 2000 catalogs. These are based on consumables like entertainment, dining, travel and the crypto compatible gaming space.

The B2B Bitfinex-Bitrefill Ecosystem

This FinTech innovation will most likely disrupt existing relationships between business owners and their clients.

Basically, once users have done their payments through the Bitfinex and Bitrefill, the two crypto-oriented firms will in turn settle the request via lightning network. Just recently, Bitfinex announced that they had integrated BTC to the lightning network; it is therefore no surprise that the pioneer digital currency for this ecosystem is Bitcoin.

John Carvalho, Bitrefill’s Chief Communications officer, noted that the move will steer Bitcoin and Lightning network to new levels of applicability and adoption;

“This collaboration signals a new era for Bitcoin commerce. We will continue to work closely with Bitfinex and other businesses to develop Lightning solutions and products that make living on crypto a reality, eventually removing dependability on fiat rails,”

Bitrefill Partnerships with Crypto Exchanges

The crypto payment solution provider is still at its early phase of product implementation. So far, the firm has only partnered with Bitfinex exchange although plans are underway for expansion once the BTC gift cards run smoothly via Bitfinex.

Carvalho however said that Bitrefill is looking to work with other stakeholders in blockchain and crypto as well; this will be majorly done in 2020 as they on-ramp more users to their services and lightning network.

Bitfinex is currently working to scale up the portfolio of digital currencies within the lightning network. After the BTC integration, the firm is now looking to include the likes of Tether Gold and Tether (USDT) which are both stablecoins.

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Author: Lujan Odera