JPMorgan Piloting Blockchain-based Payment Solution in Asia

American investment bank and financial services provider JPMorgan, on Monday, April 12, launched ‘Confirm,’ a blockchain solution to reduce the number of rejected or returned payments.

‘Confirm’ Validates Transactions In ‘Near Real-time’

Following the launch, the US bank is now test-running the blockchain solution with 12 banks in Taiwan. The financial institutions include CTBC Bank, Taiwan Cooperative Bank, and First Commercial Bank.

As part of the test run, the banks were required to transfer money to Indonesia, using JPMorgan’s clearing solution – ‘PayDirect.’

Disclosing this development to the investing public, the banks which were used as case studies, according to JPMorgan, were able to request and receive confirmation of beneficiaries’ account information in ‘near-real-time.’

According to the US banking giant, there are numerous risks attached to transaction failures in the blockchain market, some of which are -a heightened risk of fraud, increment in cost from payment returns, and poor customer experience because of delays in processing payments.

Why this solution is timely for digital asset holders

In the blockchain industry, transactions are mostly seamless as cryptocurrency transactions are often done without problems. But there are instances where unsuccessful and failed transactions are recorded. In situations where failed transactions occur, one of the most common reasons is ‘fees.’

It is pertinent to note that the fees asset holders input in their transactions is collected by miners, who are shouldered with the responsibility of confirming transactions on the network.

These fees are used to determine the priority of each transaction as far as blockchain is concerned. Meaning that the higher the fee, the higher the level of importance placed on a transaction, and vice-versa. So, if the price an asset holder includes is too low, there are chances that miners will not consider such a transaction worthwhile to validate. And the most common consequence of this is rejection.

While no data is accessible at press time to confirm the rate at which traders experience failure in their transactions, there are indications most of the transactions that suffered rejection were because of the injected fee. More so, when a low price is used during the period that a network is experiencing congestion, there is a likelihood that it will not be successful. Due to how the blockchain is designed, miners are the only ones that determine every transaction’s status.

However, with ‘Confirm,’ JPMorgan brings a solution aiming to reduce failed transactions and increase successful ones.

Through a secure peer-to-peer network in the blockchain industry, trading entities can request an account’s validation before payment initiation. They can also respond to requests for account owner and status or participate as both a requestor and a responder.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Ledger Wallet And Shopify Face Class-Action Suit After Rogue Employee Leaks User Data

Crypto wallet provider Ledger and its e-commerce partner Shopify are in for a tough year.

Both firms are defendants of a class-action lawsuit filed against them following the aftermath of a phishing attack that saw a quarter-million of their customers’ details exposed online.

The lawsuit, which is the first of many, was filed by law firm Roche Freedman for John Chu and Edward Baton in California on April 6.

Shopify’s Employee Stole Customer Details

According to the 43-page document, the complaints allege that the defendants had been negligent in their duties of safeguarding customer’s personal details between April and June 2020.

The plaintiffs also ask for commensurate compensation for the damages incurred from the data breach and have asked the court to grant all relief allowed by law, including injunctive relief.

According to John Chu, he saw BTC and ETH worth over $267,000 stolen from his digital wallet, and Baton said that he lost $75,000 worth of XLM through phishing scams.

The duo claims to have been deceived by correspondence from the defendants.

Ledger and Shopify later identified the leak’s source as one of Shopify’s employees who shared full customer names, email, phone numbers, and shipping address on the database sharing website RaidForums. Following this, customers said they got strange calls and were threatened by unknown persons.

Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier tweeted to reassure customers of the safety of their funds. He also assured that no hardware wallet was affected by the attacks.

Even though it’s been almost a year, the plaintiffs insist that the companies failed to notify affected customers or admit the full scope of the breach.

Speaking to The Block, Kyle Roche said the investigation had begun since the news of the breach became public knowledge. He said experts in the data security and cryptocurrency fields were consulted before any action was taken against the defendants.

In a July 2020 blog post, Ledger tried unsuccessfully to explain the breach admitting that only 9,500 users were affected by the attacks.

It published another blog post in the opening weeks of 2021, notifying customers about the changes they will be initiated in a bid to protect client’s data better. The cold storage wallet provider also admitted that its earlier number of affected customers was way off and said that the culprit leaked roughly 272,000 customer data.

It said it was creating a 10 BTC bounty fund for information that could lead to the culprits’ arrest.

Roche Freedman Is Crypto’s Bane

Even as the adoption of crypto has grown in a little over a year, many issues have cropped up. One of the most prevalent being malicious attacks that led to losses of digital assets by crypto owners.

US law firm Roche Freedman has been quite active in the past year as cases of retail investors seeing their crypto assets stolen due to the negligence of their service provider have grown.

In a report by investigative outlet OffshoreAlert, Roche Freedman filed 11 class-action lawsuits against 42 defendants. According to the filing, the listed parties were said to have allowed the investing public to trade unregulated cryptocurrencies.

The affected parties included popular exchanges like Binance, TRON, KuCoin, BitMEX, and others. Their company chiefs were not left out, with Binance founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ), Brendan Blumer, Dan Larimer, Vinny Lingham, and BitMEX co-founder and former CEO Arthur Hayes made the list.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

NYDIG Files for a Bitcoin ETF with the SEC with Morgan Stanley as Authorized Participant

Bitcoin trading and custody services provider NYDIG has filed for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Morgan Stanley will serve as the proposed authorized participant, as per the NYDIG’s S-1 filing published on Tuesday. Authorized Participants are expected to sell shares to the public at prices that reflect the value of the Trust’s assets, supply and demand for the shares, and market conditions at the time of a transaction reads the document.

If approved, it will trade on the NYSE Arca exchange.

The investment objective of the Trust is to “reflect the performance of the price of bitcoin less the expenses of the Trust’s operations,” but won’t seek to mirror the performance of any index, says the filing.

The subsidiaries – NYDIG Asset Management LLC is the sponsor of the trust, and NYDIG Trust Company LLC would be the custodian of the digital asset.

“Shareholders who decide to buy or sell Shares of the Trust will place their trade orders through their brokers and may incur customary brokerage commissions and charges. Such trades may occur at a premium or discount relative to the net asset value (“NAV”) of the Shares of the Trust.”

NYDIG is the latest in the line of firms filing for a Bitcoin ETF [Accelerate and VanEck], which many are expecting to be approved this year, while JPMorgan strategists believe a Bitcoin ETF approval would have negative implications for the price in the short-term by eroding Grayscale’s GBTC’s effective monopoly status and causing a cascade of GBTC outflows.

No Bitcoin ETF has been approved by the SEC to date.

Just last week, the first publicly traded Bitcoin ETF was approved in North America by Canada’s financial regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

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Author: AnTy

Australian Crypto Payments Service Provider, Banxa, Set to Go Public in Canada

Banxa, an Australian based fiat-crypto payments service provider, is set to list on the Canadian Stock Exchange this December. The shares of this crypto startup will begin trading on the Canadian VC marketplace dubbed ‘TSX Venture Exchange,’ an ecosystem run by TMX Group, which is also in charge of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

According to the initial reporting by a local Financial Review Street talk section, Banxa will be listed on TSX Venture Exchange with an estimated market cap of $50 million. Notably, the firm had already received a green light from Canadian authorities to debut within this jurisdiction. Banxa touted the listing as the first of its kind for a crypto payments provider. Domenic Carosa, the founder and Chairman of Banxa, informed the publication that,

“Our TSX listing will make Banxa the first crypto Payment Service Provider (PSP) to be listed in the world, bringing well-needed transparency and governance to the crypto sector.”

The Aussie crypto startup has been operational for around six years and now enjoys the backing of heavyweights, including OKGroup, Alium Capital, and Alex Waislitz’s Thorney. Some of its clients include prominent exchanges and digital wallet providers like Shapeshift, Abra, Kucoin, OKEx, and Binance. Banxa has raised around $5 million pre-IPO, holding its series A funding earlier in the year.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Nexus Mutual Expands Beyond DeFi, Now Provides Insurance Cover for CeFi

DeFi insurance provider Nexus Mutual has announced Custody Cover’s launch for the users of centralized exchanges and custodians. This means users can now purchase the insurance cover for the funds put into an organization to safely keep their crypto assets’ private keys on behalf of them.

It will cover the users if the custodian gets hacked and the user loses more than 10% of their funds or if withdrawals have been halted for more than three months. Initially, six custodians are supported: BlockFi, Nexo, Celcius, inLock, Ledn, and Hodlnaut.

Nexus Mutual’s second and the latest product aims to “provide protection outside of the DeFi space.” In the long-term, the idea is to cover risks both in and outside the crypto space.

“Having trustless coverage for CeFi services is hugely market expansionary for DeFi,” said the head of research at the crypto fund, The Spartan Group.

A building block for the broader ecosystem, Custody Cover is working towards encouraging more widespread adoption and DeFi onboarding by helping protect newcomers, said the team. A partner of the crypto fund, The Spartan Group, noted,

“Given the amount of assets sitting with CeFi lenders, this move could scale Nexus’ active cover by a multiple of current cover. Potentially very accretive to NXM over time.”

This DeFi project has about $100 million in TVL (total value locked), while its token NXM is trading at $23.90.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Finance Firm, Amber Group, Partners With BitGo As The Custodian For Institutional Investors

Global crypto finance service provider Amber Group announced BitGo Trust as its qualified custodian for its institutional investors and traders.

Amber Group is a renowned name when it comes to high-frequency trading and crypto financing for institutional investors. The firm is trying to use its industry experience in partnership with the BitGo to expand its offerings. The firm wants to expand its market reach to next-generation cryptocurrency traders as well as high net-worth investors.

Amber says BitGo is the right custodian partner

Amber Group says it chose BitGo for its collaboration because of the company’s user policy controls, compliance tools, and battle-tested institutional-ready custody used in securing customers’ assets.

Another major factor that swayed Amber Group towards BitGo is the benefit of issuance. Last year, BitGo launched the most expansive and comprehensive insurance policy for digital assets, including the $100 million as protection against assets held in custody. It provided a certain level of assurance of digital assets protection that isn’t common in the industry. The assurance of funds protection is one reason why Amber Group choose BitGo as a partner in this new project.

BitGo is offering protection for funds held in its custody via the European marketplace and a syndicate of insurers in the Lloyd’s of London.

The clients who buy Excess Specie Insurance, as it is called, will stand as Dedicated Customer Loss Payee in the insurance policy, which offers an extra level of insurance protection.

The partnership will transform future finance

Chief executive officer of BitGo, Mike Belshe, has commented on the partnership. He said the partnership with Amber couldn’t have come at a better time, as Amber group has a leading edge in crypto innovations. Belshe further stated that the team at Amber was carefully selected, and they are all seasoned professionals, which is why the partnership with the firm is great.

He further reiterated that BitGo would be providing the custody infrastructure, liquidity, and security necessary for the transformation of future finance via the collaboration.

The Chief executive officer of Amber Group, Michael Wu, has also commented on the development. He pointed out,

“As we scale our operations into more jurisdictions, we prioritize partnering with reliable and well-reputable infrastructure providers like BitGo.”

He further said that the Amber group’s daily operations require the successful implementation of rigorous security measures. The company must choose the right partner committed to asset protection more than anything else in the industry.

Amber was founded in 2017 and has grown to become a top crypto-finance service provider, with more than 200 institutional clients worldwide. It has received funds from institutional partners like Coinbase Ventures, Fenbushi Capital, Blockchain.com, Dragonfly Capital, and Polychain Capital.

Amber says it’s committed to bringing professionalism and more transparency to the cryptocurrency market.

Rumor: PayPal Exploring Acquiring Crypto Companies, In Talks with Bitcoin Custodian BitGo

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Author: Ali Raza

Cashaa’s New Joint Venture, UNICAS, to Roll Out 22 Physical Crypto Banks in India

U.K. based cryptocurrency firm, Cashaa partners with India’s banking service provider, United Multistate Credit Cooperative Society, as the latter, introduces banking transactions using cryptocurrencies to 22 physical locations in northern India. According to a blog post on Medium, the two financial firms will operate under a joint venture, UNICAS, to launch the products in December this year.

The UNICAS venture will allow users to invest in cryptocurrency, real estate, gold, and other physical assets directly, buy crypto using cash at any of the 22 physical locations, and take up loans against their digital assets. Cashaa plans to open over 100 physical locations across India in 2021, currently stationed across three states – Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, with a combined population of over 140 million.

The Indian based bank will provide the physical locations and licenses necessary to operate in the country while Cashaa joins in with experience in the crypto space. Mr. Dinesh Kukreja, Managing Director of United Multistate Credit Co. Operative Society, will lead UNICAS as the joint venture’s chief executive.

“We are the first regulated financial institution in the world with physical branches where users can access crypto products,” Kukreja, CEO, UNICAS.

Kukreja stated the project would allow the company to “scale and offer customized financial and crypto products for the local Indian markets.” The banking location will be reconstructed as crypto launches, allowing crypto transactions using the rupee and asking for loans using your crypto assets.

At launch, the banks will allow transactions, buying, and selling of six cryptocurrencies, including – Bitcoin (BTC), Cashaa (CAS), Ethereum (ETH), Binance (BNB), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).

However, there still is the dark cloud of regulation from the Indian government following the Supreme Court’s ruling – overturning the blanket ban of cryptocurrencies imposed by the Royal Bank of India (RBI). Kumar Gaurav, Founder & CEO of Cashaa, said the confused nature of the government could be the reason “most Indians are not aware or are miss guided about cryptocurrency as an online product.”

“They tend to trust what they see or what the government recognizes and recommends,” he continued. “Also, India is still largely a cash-based economy despite a Demonetization drive. With UNICAS Crypto lounges we intend to address both issues which are slowing the process of cryptocurrency adoption in India.”

The joint venture aims at rapidly expanding its reach across India – targeting over 100 branches serving cryptocurrency customers in 2021. With the traditional finance world merging with the innovative crypto industry, Kukreja aims the partnership will “bring enormous transformation to both Indian fintech and the crypto industry.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Mobile Crypto Wallet BRD Hits 6 Million Users; Sets Target on 10M by Early 2021

Bread, (BRD), a Zurich based crypto wallet provider, announced on Oct 6 that the platform has hit 6 million users globally. These numbers have been particularly driven by the high adoption rates in Latin America and India; the firm is now optimistic of hitting the 10 million mark within the first phase of 2021.

BRD has been in the game since 2015, but only skyrocketed its user acquisition this year. As recent as July, the digital wallet provider was only doing 550,000 Monthly Active Users and it took close to five years for the firm to hit 1 million. It now seems that the COVID-19 pandemic was a much-needed booster for this startup. The firm’s user base has been growing by about 1 million every 2 months.

According to BRD’s CEO Adam Traidman, the pandemic is causing most people to dig deeper into the fundamentals of existing systems, hence the reaction to optional markets such as crypto,

“It’s causing a lot of thinking about money and finances. People have had a lot more time over the last six months to look at their investments and as a result of that, we found that for cryptocurrency in general, but especially for BRD’s business, we’ve been growing dramatically.”

Niche Markets

Adam went on to highlight that BRD’s dramatic growth has resulted from two groups of users; millennials and those affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first group, which happens to be very speculative and tech-savvy leverage platforms like Robinhood, access traditional markets instead of brokerage firms. The latter mostly compose of individuals looking to hedge for inflation or currency devaluation in shaky economies like Argentina and Venezuela.

Also Read: Bitcoin Scales Just Fine As A Store Of Value Says MicroStrategy CEO

BRD’s recent success is a culmination of fundamentals, including its non-custodial crypto wallet that allows users to retain control of their digital assets. According to the firm, this saves the hustle of a lengthy registration process, limiting most people from being onboarded into a financial ecosystem. BRD users can also use their bank accounts or Apple Pay to acquire cryptocurrencies. The startup has had quite successful funding rounds, with the latest being a series B that raised $15 million back in Jan 2019.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Chainlink Acquires Cornell’s DECO Project, to Enhance the Privacy of Data on Oracles

Chainlink, the decentralized oracle provider, has acquired Cornell University-based project DECO meant to enhance the privacy of oracles used on blockchain networks. Oracle-based data plays a critical role in maintaining the blockchain network, and with growing cases of hacks and ransomware, strengthening the accuracy, security, and privacy of the Oracle systems would eventually enhance the network of blockchain itself.

Dr. Ari Juels, one of the staff at Cornell University who was involved with the DECO project, has been hired by Chainlink as the chief scientist for the project. Jules would be responsible for overseeing the integration of DECO.

DECO was part of Cornell’s Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, and it would help Chainlink in minimizing the privacy issues for the data that it offers for smart contracts. The integration of DECO would make Chainlink oracles more secure and private. Chainlink oracle provides an external source of data for smart contracts, which are crucial given, crypto prices change quite often.

The integration of DECO to Chainlink protocol would allow proving the origin and state of confidential data without compromising on user’s privacy. If we look at the real-world example, the integration would let the user see the info posted by a particular account, but won’t reveal any other detail about the same. Chainlink also believes DECO could be used more broadly, especially for the defi ecosystem, and make data oracles safe and secure to use for everyone.

Sergey Nazarov, a Chainlink co-founder, commented on their recent integration and said,

“DECO enables a large expansion in the quality and breadth of data that can now be made available to public blockchain systems. There are lots of private data associated with real-world collateral, like the state of an invoice, or ownership of the real estate, or some other insured asset.

DECO-enabled Chainlink oracles will be able to prove to a smart contract that the state of the asset is solvent, without disclosing private or personal ownership information onto a public blockchain.”

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Author: James W

Chain Swap: Tether Moves 1 Billion USDT from Tron to Ethereum Amid the DeFi Frenzy

Tether, the stablecoin provider, has moved 1 billion USDT coins from the Tron blockchain to Ethereum’s ecosystem which has been burgeoning, given the increased activity in DeFi. Basically, the whole process involves a swap from the TRC20 token standard to ERC20; an initiative that was coordinated together with a 3rd party according to the Twitter announcement by Tether.

The 1 billion USDT moved by Tether comes as a big blow to Tron blockchain whose supply will now reduce to 3.3 billion. As for Ethereum, its supply increased from a prevailing 7.5 billion to 8.5 billion, a move that will probably scale DeFi growth even more. Notably, Tether’s USDT supply went up by over 2 billion within the recent crypto market bull-run, bringing the total to over 13 billion.

Tether was also keen to highlight that the swap will not affect the current USDT supply but simply initiate a shift in the operating blockchain network. Going by the prospects on Ethereum, the move appears to have been motivated by DeFi activity where the USDT coin has found a niche based on its ability to preserve value in such a volatile ecosystem.

As for the 3rd party exchange involved in the swap, Tether did not disclose which crypto exchange it had tasked with this process. However, data from crypto transfer tracking metric Whale Alert, suggests that Binance might have actually been the 3rd party mentioned in Tether swap tweet. This is based on an alert that $600 million USD was transferred from Binance to Tether’s treasury.

With congestion at all-time high in Ethereum’s network, the latest move to increase USDT supply on this blockchain might not play out very well. Tether, however, operates in a total of 7 blockchains with the latest launch being on the Omisego network. It is this diversity that will probably come in handy should Ethereum’s congestion prove unsustainable.

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Author: Edwin Munyui