Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry Creator Ubisoft Will Become Block Producer For Ultra’s Blockchain Gaming

Blockchain applications in the gaming industry have proven to be the most practical so far. Just recently, Ubisoft partnered with Ultra, a blockchain-oriented gaming platform. The move marks a major milestone for blockchain integration given Ubisoft’s prominence in the traditional gaming space.

The Game-Changing Partnership

According to Ultra, the collaboration with Ubisoft will be mutually beneficial given the latter will learn about blockchain tech in detail. Ubisoft has since been tasked the role of block producer within the UOS blockchain network. Ultra is also confident that Ubisoft’s trusted brand will be a plus to its fundamental value going forward.

Ubisoft will further provide 3rd party services that enable users to send transactions; this is through web-based services functioning real-time. The gaming giant is popular for the production of mainstream games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed placing it at a better position in terms of product implementation.

Ultra revealed that they are considering to upgrade Ubisoft to a Technical Block producer within their blockchain ecosystem. This simply means that Ubisoft will be able to contribute to its platform development and provide support to the existing infrastructure.

Blockchain and Gaming Future

The move by Ubisoft and Ultra has raised the hopes of leveraging blockchain tech on a bigger scale than stakeholders anticipated. As it stands, blockchain applications in the gaming space are mostly small scale and enterprise oriented. However, this seems to be taking a different turn despite the regulatory uncertainty surrounding blockchain tech and crypto tokens.

Given the current information, only speculations can be derived from the nature of this Ubisoft Ultra partnership. Some Fintech analysts are optimistic that Ubisoft will eventually begin developing games with blockchain tech as the fundamental layer. Ultra is also confident that this gaming giant is ahead of its competitors in terms of investing in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) for its products. Other prominent players that have partnered with Ultra include AMD, the graphics card producer. The firm however noted that its main goal in collaborations is quality over quantity.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Backed By Major Financial Institutions, SolarisBank Launches Subsidiary For Crypto Custody

SolarisBank has recently announced that it is has created a new unit called Solaris Digital Assets in order to offer crypto-custody services to clients. The German fintech company has been backed by recognized investors such as BBVA or Visa.

SolarisBank Launches New Crypto Subsidiary

The company located in Berlin is now working so as to offer custody solutions to clients that were already able to have access to digital banking services offered by the firm. SolarisBank received over $63 million from investors in order to start working on solutions in relation to the crypto space.

The cryptocurrency market has been evolving during the last years and custody solutions have been highly demanded by firms and investors all over the world. At the same time, regulatory agencies have been focusing in order to create clear regulations for crypto custody services.

The subsidiary of SolarisBank, Solaris Digital Assets, is planning to be compliant with all the regulatory requirements imposed by the German authorities. The main goal is to be able to offer crypto-related custody solutions to clients. The firm is going to be applying for a crypto license to offer custody to clients as soon as in 2020.

Despite the new products available for both large and retail investors in the market, custody remains as one of the most important topics for the industry.

At the moment, there are some partners that are testing the custody product created by the company and that would eventually be combined with other traditional banking services. This would be very useful to bridge the current gap that there is between the traditional financial market and digital assets.

In the past, SolarisBank offered services to Bitwala, Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange and many other companies involved in the crypto market.

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Author: Carl T

Bitfury Makes Strategic Investment In Shyft Network’s FATF Travel Rule Compliance System

Bitfury has recently acquired Shyft Network, a company that is working on decentralized identity solutions that would help the firms develop a data transfer product. Specifically, Bitfury is going to be investing in the travel rule solution that complies with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its legal framework.

Bitfury Invests In Shyft Network

According to the information released in a press release on December 5, the company will be working on solutions that would make it easier for exchanges to share information. Cryptocurrency exchanges must be compliant with the current rules imposed by the FATF in which they have to provide information about users trading on their platforms.

During this year, the Shyft Network has been working in order to build its network of partners and work on its team that included former FATF executives. There are already several companies working closely to Shyft and that want to participate in the testing of these solutions.

The new partnership and acquisition will include Bitfury’s subsidiaries called Exonum and Crystal. These are two blockchain-related firms that offer solutions to companies and organizations.

According to Joseph Weinberg, the co-founder of Shyft, crypto exchanges are working on a product that could be launched in early 2020. Furthermore, they are currently working with several countries in different regions to adopt an identity platform.

Regulations in the cryptocurrency market have always been a difficult topic. The current decision of Bitfury Group to acquire the Shyft Network could be related to the fact that Bitfury wants to be close to the development and implementation of systems that would help companies be compliant with FATF requirements.

Several jurisdictions have been creating clear legal frameworks for cryptocurrencies and crypto-related companies. This is expected to improve the relationship between companies and governments while protecting investors from scams and other fraudulent firms.

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Author: Carl T

EOS Network Downgraded To C- On Weiss Ratings For Centralization And Potential For Faking Activity

EOS network’s governance issues continue to haunt them as Weiss Ratings recently downgraded the network from B category to C-. Weiss Ratings also posted a Twitter thread explaining why they had to downgrade the project which was once hyped as “Ethereum Killer.”

Weiss Ratings in its tweet claimed that although the public sentiment was right behind the project in its hayday and the platform was known for being a fast, efficient and most important a decentralized ecosystem. However, in the past year, there has been a continuous decline in the decentralization aspect where major whales control the majority of the token flow which could be of a deep concern.

Weiss Ratings claimed that the top 100 EOS token holders who represented a meager 0.01% of the total token holders on the platform, has a whopping 68% of the voting power on the network. This means these whales can easily manipulate the network as per their will.

One of the main reasons that the EOS network was lightening fast compared to the likes of Bitcoin or Ethereum because the platform has locked the number of block producers to just 21 which means any update on the leader had to go through these 21 block producers. Compare it to Bitcoin which has over 9,000 nodes, thus each transaction on the network has to run through all these leaders to verify the authenticity of the transactions.

However, this feature which was considered as a boon for the network soon turned out to be a bane as it leads to centralization in governance. The recent case where it airdropped EIDOS token, which led to great congestion on the network. The congestion led to a very high operational fee and thus the whales who had the EOS tokens were able to pay for high transaction fees and hoard the EIDOS tokens.

Whales could Diverge Resources to Fake Activity

The Weiss Rating tweet also speculated that since the resources and control of the network are concentrated in the hands of very few, they could easily fake activities like doing a series of fake ghost transactions to heighten activity on the network.

This was even proven during the EIDOS airdrop when the network was registering transaction activity as high as 43 million per day, most of which were done towards gaining more free EIDOS. The EIDOS airdropped required users to send a minimum amount of EOS to an EIDOS wallet address and in return, an unspecified amount of EIDOS was sent back to users’ accounts.

EOS was trading at $2.75 at press time and has lost most of its gains from its yearly highs of $6.0. Looking at the string of controversies surrounding the altcoin, the team behind it would really need to rethink their strategy for the long run.

All of Today’s EOS Price Analysis, Chart Forecasts and Industry News

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Author: James W

Monero (XMR) Hash Rate up 190% after the RandomX but All Red in Price Land

Most recently, the Monero network successfully upgraded to a new mining algorithm aiming to be ASIC-resistant, RandomX.

This upgrade led to a surge of 190% in the hash rate of the Monero network. From 297 MH/s on Nov. 29, the day before the upgrade to 862 MH/s on Dec. 4. We are currently at just below 800 MH/s.

However, price-wise there isn’t much movement.

XMR is trading at $54, up about 1% in the past 24-hours, as per Coincodex. However, in the past seven days, it has been down 1.56% and 14.40% in the past month.

In the BTC market, XMR is down by 46.57% in the past 1 year. It is also down 91% from its all-time high of $593.

Punishing the ASIC Miners with RandomX

This proof-of-work algorithm uses random code execution along with memory-focused techniques to be resistant to application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC). ASIC is an integrated circuit chip customized for professional mining operational rather than general-purpose use.

Monero has been fighting against ASICs for a long time as the team believes these machines have a centralization effect on the network as only a few companies are able to manufacture them.

The upgrade as such is optimized for general-purpose central processing units (CPU) to make the network more decentralized and making it more difficult for those using graphic processing units (GPU) to mine XMR.

A Limited Life Span

According to Bran Cohen, who is known for writing the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, Monero’s efforts to be ASIC resistant is a bad idea.

“ASIC resistance just creates more centralization around manufacture when it inevitably fails,” Cohen said.

The second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum settled on its ASIC-resistant PoW algorithm Ethash in 2015 which its founder Vitalik Buterin said has been remarkably successful at resisting the ASICs.

However, according to him it also has its downsides in the way that they make 51% attacker cheaper and further believes these algorithms to have a limited lifespan.

Getting Delisted

Amidst this, another cryptocurrency exchange, Estonia-based BitBay announced that it is no longer supporting Monero on its platform. All users are asked to withdraw their XMR by May 20, 2020.

The reason behind delisting the coin was its privacy feature — Monero uses ring signatures to obfuscate the identity of individuals.

“The decision was made to block the possibility of money laundering and inflow from external networks,” the exchange said explaining as a licensed exchange they need to comply with the market standards and regulations.

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Author: AnTy

Liquidity Provider B2Broker Expands Its Crypto CFD Service, Now Offering 100 Pairs

A liquidity provider platform called B2Broker has recently expanded its liquidity offerings. Now, the platform will offer 61 new crypto pairs of contracts for difference (CFDs). These new CFDs will be offered for both crypto exchanges and companies that work in the forex industry.

The new products are set to include most of the major cryptos in the market and they will be paired against popular fiat currencies. They include USD, EUR, RUB, GBP, JPY, CAD, AUD, and NZD. Some unlikely pairs were also added, too, by pairing prominent cryptos such as Bitcoin and Litecoin with precious metals like Gold (XAG) and Silver (XAU).

According to the press release, B2Broker was also the first company of its kind to launch 39 cryptocurrency-based CFD pairs, using the leverage of 1:5. Now, the company has over 100 different pairs that can be acquired by its clients.

Arthur Azizov, the CEO of the liquidity company, has affirmed B2Broker has constantly tried to improve its liquidity over the years and that now they are in an admirable position to offer additional pairs and let the clients have an even larger set of options. This will help the company in becoming a global leader in the industry.

He explained that the company can provide liquidity via most of the major providers in the industry, such as PrimeXM xCore, MT4 and MT5, OneZero Liquidity Hub and others. This enables brokers to access the platform and use these services independently on the kind of platform that they use to work.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Is Braiins Stratum V2 Update The Answer To Bitcoin Mining Becoming Fully Decentralized?

The company that’s behind one of the largest mining pools for Bitcoin (BTC), Braiins, has recently presented a code that looks promising when it comes to decentralized mining.

The specification is called Stratum V2 and can greatly improve the way in which Bitcoin mining works. More than this, it can bring more security to mining pools and have them function more efficiently, especially for entities organizing miners all over the world. While its aim is to improve Bitcoin mining pools differently, the main benefit that it brings is that it reduces mining pool centralization, which is the most pressing problem with the Bitcoin.

Many People Are Supportive of the Plan

Jimmy Song, the Bitcoin developer, and influencer had this to say about Braiins’ plan:

At the same time, the Bitcoin developer for Square, Matt Corallo, who’s also a designer for the protocol, has recently written in a Reddit AMA that:

“This is huge for mining centralization. Instead of being focused on the centralization of pools (which is the world we’re in today), we can focus on the centralization of actual miners [and] farm owners!”

Corallo revealed the BetterHash project last year, a project that is planning to combat centralization in mining pools. Today, Braiins together with Corallo are working together to create the ultimate protocol to fix the issues with mining pools.

How the Mining Power Is Being Distributed and Why It Is Problematic

Mining can be very difficult for those who are doing it individually. When the Bitcoin had just appeared, those who were mining for it all over the world were connecting to mining pools in order to make more money. After long hours of mining, if one of them was getting lucky, the entire pool was benefiting. With time, mining pools that are weighted turned into a safer and more profitable method as far as earning and redistributing the profits based on the contributory mining power goes.

However, recent data revealed by Blockchain.info is indicating that just 3 mining pools are controlling more than 50% of the Bitcoin’s mining power, centralizing it for just a few people. This is a serious problem, as when a miner from a mining pool wins a block and the 12.5 Bitcoin reward, the mining pool is deciding which transactions to go into that block. Experts worry that centralized entities may be tempted to use all this power in order to censor the transaction they’re not found of.

Stratum V2 is Modeled of Corallo’s Better Hash

Stratum V2 is trying to support the “job negotiation” model of BetterHash, changing the connection between the mining pool and the miner. This means that miners and not mining pools decide which transactions to go into blocks. More than this, miners would also be allowed to vote for protocol updates. This wouldn’t necessarily be a silver bullet when it comes to mining centralization, but at least mining pools censoring Bitcoin transactions would simply be opted out.

Luke Dashjr, the veteran Bitcoin coder, has said on Twitter,

Stratum V2 Is Not Only Fighting Decentralization

Decentralization is not the only problem Stratum V2 is addressing. Mining pools would also be provided an incentive to adopt the protocol because this would save more money and prevent the attacks aimed at causing them to no longer get rewards. What Stratum V2 does is transferring data in a more efficient manner and making it more difficult for the mining pool hash power to be stolen. This is what Braiins’ co-CEO Jan Capek had to say about this:

“Last but not least, we have addressed the security aspects by allowing fully encrypted and authenticated communication using the current state of the art technology called ‘Noise Protocol Framework’.”

Braiins is still in the finalizing phase for some features. For example, it’s trying to decide what algorithm should be used when hiding the data. The Stratum V2 is going to be available for tests soon, whereas its specification draft is now under review. Capek said it may take up to 12 months or more for the mining pools to start working with the protocol.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Blockchain In Retail Market Expected To Grow By 60% Through Next Five Years: Report

  • Research & Markets is an analyst research group, which recently evaluated the blockchain industry.
  • The report suggests that Asia and Australia are positioned to be leaders over the next five years.

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As blockchain technology reaches countries around the world, retailers are starting to take note as well. Considering this interest, an analyst group called Research & Markets has recently released their report on the trends of blockchain around the world, covering the next five years. According to this data, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the retail industry’s use of blockchain technology will reach 60.4% from now until 2024.

Much of the discussions on this matter are predicted to involve solutions using smart contracts, when it comes to adopting blockchain technology. Billing, supply chain management, and inventory management are expected to be automated with the use of smart contracts, along with other internal business operations.

By using smart contracts for the automation of payment processors, companies are able to save money as they eliminate the gateway operators that ordinary charge massive fees for these transactions. The use of smart contracts also allows companies to spend less time and money on auditing and accounting.

The report states that Asia will continue its role as a major player in the retail industry, as it hosts multiple startups for e-commerce. Australia also stands to be a solid competitor, as Research & Markets draws attention to a new pop-up store by Alibaba. This store is presently backed with blockchain transactions.

There’s already been a few financial services companies in Australia to team up with IBM and the Scentre Group for a pilot program, which would use a private blockchain to record retail lease bank guarantees. The Scentre Group is a shopping center operator.

In Russia, the analysts drew attention to their recent experience with Dixy, a food retailer with low costs that has already used blockchain tech for the purpose of tracking products from suppliers and factoring firms. Factoring firms are third parties that help businesses raise funds by purchasing discounted invoices from the business.

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Author: Krystle M

IRS is not Infringing Privacy By Requesting Data From Crypto Exchanges, Judge Decides

A federal court from California has recently decided that the requests made by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to the cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp in a specific case were not illegal. According to the judge, most of the arguments provided by William Zietzke, who filed a lawsuit against the IRS, lack merit.

Zietzke argued that the IRS is overstepping its bounds by asking crypto exchanges to provide data about the transactions made by their clients. In his case, he asked for a refund after overestimating his long-term gains back in 2016.

During the investigation to see if he was right, the IRS discovered that he had failed to inform about a Bitstamp account that he had at the time. This prompted the government agency to request Bitstamp to give data about Zietzke’s holdings, as well as the public keys related to all of his transactions. The information was deemed important to aid in the investigation of whether he was concealing money or not.

The argument of the investor is that the IRS acted in bad faith and he presented six arguments, five of which were denied. One of them was approved, however. The summons was considered “overbroad” because it looked for both relevant and irrelevant information about the case. The IRS should have only asked for information that could be directly linked to the case.

All of the other arguments were refuted, however, which gives more strength to the IRS in future cases in which the government entity decides to summon crypto exchanges to provide information about their clients.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

New Cisco Patent To Secure 5G Networks Using The Blockchain Technology

Cisco, a giant from the network technology industry, has recently been awarded with a new patent by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. The new patent details how to use the blockchain technology to secure data in 5G networks. According to the document, which was first submitted in June last year, a blockchain platform can be used to integrate wireless networks.

The idea is that Cisco will manage the data sessions between the user’s device and the virtual network. This way, the patent describes how this platform could be used to support “network slices”, which are the architecture that supports several independent networks as they use the same infrastructure simultaneously. According to the filing,

“This service-oriented architecture supports network slices, which employ an isolated set of programmable resources that can implement individual network functions and/or application services through software programs within a respective network slice, without interfering with other functions and services on coexisting network slices.”

Cisco is far from being the first company to explore this niche. Several companies are starting to use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology together with the blockchain. Companies such as Bosch, Chronicled, BNY Mellon and Filament are all using the Hyperledger blockchain in order to protect their IoT products and achieve more decentralization and efficiency.

In related news, Cisco has recently started a new partnership with SingularityNet, an intelligence services provider. The partnership was made to decentralize AI systems and to improve their efficiency using the blockchain.

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Author: Gabriel Machado