BWM, Ford & Honda Led Group, MOBI, to Track Vehicle Identities Using Blockchain

BMW and Ford are some of the main participants in launching the Vehicle Identity Standard’s second installment in collaboration with the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI).

The days of incorrect mileage, false maintenance, and damage histories when buying vehicles could soon end after some of the largest automakers in collaboration with transportation and blockchain leaders joined forces in developing a blockchain-based platform that will help in tracking and protect vehicle identity.

The group has released the second version of the Vehicle Identity (VID) blockchain platform. Dubbed VID II, the new platform is a continuation of VID I, which was touted as a vehicle birth certificate. The new standard focuses on vehicle registration as well as maintenance traceability.

The new standard will enable vehicle registration between states and nations to connect easily via a secure, shareable, and trustworthy ledger. The maintenance traceability will also offer a tamper-proof history to insurance firms, government agencies, and buyers, eliminating vehicle information asymmetry. Andre Luckow, the Emerging Technologies head at BMW, said,

“At BMW, we strive to create seamless digital solutions. The reference architecture in the VID II standard is a crucial building block in transforming the frictionless and trusted mobility ecosystem.”

VID II was authored by different worldwide mobility leaders and renowned tech firms to enhance multi-stakeholder interoperability.

BMW and Ford are the VID II co-chairs with support from IBM, Honda, Accenture, Car IQ, Bosch, DMX, Denso, Quantstamp, Luxoft, and AWS.

Apart from offering a secure vehicle identity standard, VID II will also be used in the supply chain, electric vehicle charging, and autos financing, among others.

According to Cynthia Flanigan from Ford’s research and advanced engineering department, VID II would be a building block that will offer enhanced transparent, safer, and efficient registrations and maintenance of a vehicle. The standard will provide the seller and the buyer with reliable data and information to help them make informed decisions.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Top Argentinian Crypto Firm Purchases Second Largest Bitcoin Exchange In Brazil

Top Argentinian Crypto Firm Purchases Second Largest Bitcoin Exchange In Brazil

  • Argentina’s crypto firm, Ripio, is set to purchase Brazil’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, BitcoinTrade. Ripio aims to expand its market presence and the prevalence of digital assets across Latin American countries.

According to a local Argentinian newspaper Ambito, Ripio, one of the leading crypto firms in the country has purchased BitcoinTrade, reportedly the second-largest exchange in Brazil. The purchase aims to increase Ripio’s market presence and strengthen its operations across Latin America as the leading digital assets service firm.

Ripio, the largest digital asset exchange in Argentina, announced at the end of 2020 that it had reached close to 1 million active users on its platform. Having entered the Brazil market in 2019, Ripio boasts as one of the fastest-growing crypto companies in the country – a clear indication of why the purchase of BitcoinTrade is important. Sebastián Serrano, CEO at Ripio said,

“We have been following the growth of Bitcoin Trade for a long time and we are convinced that we will overcome greater challenges by working now towards the same goal.”

Launched in 2013, Ripio is one of the oldest, and heavily resourced crypto companies in the Latin American region with over 150 employees across the region. The company will expand its digital assets services to the region to increase the adoption of crypto, Serrano further said;

“We seek to expand access to the world of digital assets, building simple tools and enabling reliable information for decision making.”

BitcoinTrade, launched in 2017, grew to become the second-largest crypto exchange in Brazil in volumes and user activity. As of today, the company joins the Ripio family working to expand digital asset services to Brazilian and Latin American people.

The purchase is set to open up new horizons in the crypto ecosystem in Latin America, Carlos Andre Montenegro, founder of BitcoinTrade said,

“We are convinced that Ripio is the best company to extend the path we have built with BitcoinTrade in Brazil.”

Ripio joins Bitso, a Mexico-based crypto exchange, in the push to capture the hugely underdeveloped Brazilian crypto market. Bitso recently announced a $62 million funding round to expand its services across the Latin American region – with a keen eye on Brazil. Ripio also raised $44 million through VC investment including a $37 million initial coin offering (ICO).

Serrano believes the two companies have enough market to share in Brazil, given the largely underdeveloped crypto industry in the country. He further said,

“Bitso and ourselves are the two really well-funded companies with access to venture capital. There are no companies in that position in Brazil. But, really I think the opportunity is about growing the entire Latin America market.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Mexico’s Second Richest Man Reveals his Bitcoin HODLing Plan

Mexico’s Second Richest Man Reveals his Bitcoin HODLing Plan

Ricardo Salinas Pliego calls BTC his “best investment ever” which he first bought seven years back.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the chairman at conglomerate Grupo Salinas has been a Bitcoiner long before he invested 10% of his liquid assets into the world’s largest digital asset last month.

Mexico’s second richest man recently revealed in an interview that he first bought Bitcoin in 2013 when the digital asset was worth just about $200.

However he sold all his BTC during the 2017 bull run at about $17,000 but he bought some again at a cheaper price because as he quipped, after all, “We always return to the scene of the crime.”

The billionaire calls Bitcoin his “best investment ever.”

As for the latest 10% of his liquid portfolio investment in Bitcoin, he doesn’t plan on selling anytime soon, at least not “for another five or ten years.”

This makes sense given that already Bitcoin has broken a new all-time high at $28,200 and we are just at the beginning of this cycle and institutions have just started to catch on. With many expecting $100k and $400k as the top of their cycle, and some even predicting $1 million per BTC in the future, HODLing is the best policy for a Bitcoiner.

According to Salinas, Bitcoin’s potential is in its feature as a store of value, unlike as a means of exchange which initially got him attracted to the crypto asset. Now that central banks all over the world are printing money and debasing fiat currencies, Bitcoin is emerging as a hedge against inflation. He said,

“What’s happening in Venezuela, in Argentina where fiat money is collapsing has become a scandal (…) It really opens your eyes to the problem of fiat cash.”

“Bitcoin is bits and bytes in the ether, but the good thing is that it cannot be debased and it cannot be confiscated that easily,” Salinas added.

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Author: AnTy

China’s Digital Currency to Roll-Out In A Second City After Successful Trials In Shenzhen

  • The second city in China is launching a lottery to test its digital currency/electronic payment (DC/EP) project, a local report states.

On Monday, local Chinese media The Paper reported that the district of Suzhou in Xiangcheng would launch a lottery to give away the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) in a bid to test the real-use cases of the digital currency. The ‘red envelop’ lottery is set to launch on December 12th across the city, a date known as Double 12 across China, and an end-year shopping festival.

The report said the lottery would be released similar to the one carried out in the city of Shenzhen in mid-October. In Shenzhen, the endeavor was a highly successful one, with over 50,000 participants winning 200 digital yuan each – totaling approximately $1.5 million. A later report confirms that over 95% of the digital yuan distributed were used in two weeks, stretching to over 3000 stores that accept the digital currency.

The city was chosen given the large prevalence of installed near-field communication (NFC) and QR code point-of-sales across merchant stores. Suzhou’s DC/EP trial is also set to introduce several new features not used in Shenzhen’s trial phase, such as the offline payment feature and the smartphone touch functions.

China’s DC/EP project will also launch a trial in Chengdu, which is preparing in anticipation by installing the NFC and QR codes point-of-sales. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) also announced plans to launch the DC/EP project in the Winter Olympics venue in 2022.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Cybersecurity Firm, CipherTrace, Files Second Patent for Tracking Privacy Coin Monero (XMR)

  • A cybersecurity firm, CipherTrace announced on Monday their second patent on tracing and tracking privacy-enabled cryptocurrency, Monero (XMR)

A press release shared to the BEG news desk confirms CipherTrace, a blockchain analysis, and cybersecurity firm, has filed its second “Monero tracing” patent – “Techniques and Probabilistic Methods for Tracing Monero.” The patent follows the firm’s registration of the “Systems and Methods for Investigating Monero” patent earlier in the month in a bid to trace and track the privacy-enabled cryptocurrency.

Over the past few years, regulators and governments worldwide, including the United States and Russia, have been working on solutions to tracking XMR. According to the statement, over 45% of the darknet transactions are completed using privacy coins – with Monero leading the line, only second to Bitcoin (BTC).

Monero gives the user total anonymity through a privacy-by-default blockchain, unlike other privacy-based blockchains, ensuring no user can be deliberately or accidentally be traceable.

In September, the crypto intelligence firm announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a forensic tool to track and trace Monero. At the time, CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans confirmed the product has been in the works for a year stating,

“Our research and development team worked for a year on developing techniques for providing financial investigators with analysis tools. There is much work still to be done, but CipherTrace is proud to announce the world’s first Monero tracing capability.”

The latest patent will allow CipherTrace to build unique solutions and a toolkit to help regulators and law enforcement officials easily trace private cryptocurrency. The patent covers many features, including forensic tools to explore the XMR transactions, statistical and probabilistic methods to clustering likely owners, transaction visualization tools and methodologies for gaining intelligence about XMR transactions and node operators, etc.

This will exacerbate money laundering across the virtual asset service providers (VASPs) such as crypto exchanges and custodial services. Monero’s privacy makes it difficult for these VASPs to take on the compliance risk due to the high possibility and risk of money laundering. Over the past year, several exchanges have delisted XMR due to these challenges, including OKEx, Upbit, and recently Switzerland-based ShapeShift.

While CipherTrace works to remove the anonymity that cryptocurrency assets offer, the privacy of the crypto users’ identities will not be disclosed, the statement reads.

“We do, however, identify the Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) that are commercial companies operating cryptocurrency businesses.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Household Net Worth Rises to a Record $119 Trillion Level in Q2

The net worth of American households and non-profit organizations surged in the second quarter to the highest level ever, thanks to the rebound in stocks and fiscal stimulus following a record drop in the previous quarter.

Household net worth increased by 6.8%, or $7.6 trillion, to a record $118.96 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report. This was the largest quarterly gain since 1952. This is also about $380 billion more than the net worth at the end of 2019.

This increase came despite a record drop of $7 trillion in the previous three months, quarter first, caused by an economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the same period, the level of federal government borrowing also soared as lawmakers responded with massive fiscal relief. Additionally, the value of equities increased $5.7 trillion from the prior quarter, while real estate advanced about $458 billion.

In the first quarter, the pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns sent the economy into a recession, which was the deepest since the 1940s. This resulted in a record decline in the household net worth in the first quarter of 2020.

Since then, the economy has been seeing a gradual recovery. Not to mention, the S&P 500’s quick recovery to pre-pandemic levels in mid-August and fresh highs this month. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained about 1.5% away from its February peak, Nasdaq jumped 23% higher than the previous ATH.

However, not every American benefited from this growth, as about 45% of the US population doesn’t own equities, according to a June 2020 survey from Gallup.

In the second quarter, in comparison, Bitcoin recorded over 42% returns.

The housing sector also experienced a V-shaped recovery as pent-up demand and record-low mortgage rates boosted sales, but again, one-third of households don’t own a home.

Consumer credit excluding mortgage debt decreased $69 billion during the pandemic, for the first time in four years.

Low-interest rates that the Fed has announced to keep near-zero through 2023, meanwhile bolstered corporate borrowing during this period. While firms’ debt increased at an annualized rate of 14%, federal debt outstanding swelled at a rate of 58.9%.

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Author: AnTy

Tether to Add Layer 2 Solution, ZK-Rollups, to Reduce Congestion On Ethereum’s Network

Tether announces plans to integrate ZK-Rollups, a second layer solution using zero knowledge proofs to bundle up transactions as one to reduce the burden on Ethereum-based USDt transactions. Integration of Layer 2 solutions is becoming an ever growing concern for Ethereum users after the recent spike in gas fees in tandem with DeFi market growth.

ZK Rollups is an implementation built on top of the Ethereum network, leveraging zero knowledge proofs to bundle up transactions and send them, improving scalability on the blockchain. ZK, or zero knowledge is required of the transactions. This hence reduces computing and storage resources for validating the block by reducing the amount of data held in a transaction.

Speaking on the integration, CTO of Tether, Paolo Ardoino, named ZK-Rollups as the most comprehensive and most preferred second layer solution on Ethereum as it works on-chain.

Tether is working on reducing the amount of transactions conducted on the Ethereum blockchain in a bid to decongest and probably reduce the fees. Recently, the stablecoin was added on OMG Network, also a layer 2 solution, as a sidechain to help in scaling Ethereum and reduce the skyrocketing transaction fees.

The growth of Tether’s demand has been majestic over 2020 as Tron and Ethereum both hold more USDt than the Bitcoin network. The token set an all-time high market capitalization as reported by BEG after a frenzy across the DeFi space caused a spike in demand.

The demand of USDt – as the largest stablecoin – has seen it flip the number of transfers and transactions made on the largest blockchain, Bitcoin. According to a Coinmetrics report, the 7-day average adjusted transfer value of Tether broke the $3 billion mark, finally reaching $3.55 billion compared to Bitcoin’s $2.94 billion as of Aug 25.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ethereum Fees Crashes 80% Much Like Transaction Count as ETH Price Retreats

The most popular USD pegged stablecoin Tether that is the second biggest gas guzzler on the Ethereum network recently adopted OMG Network for the settlement.

This integration between Tether and Layer 2 solution for Ethereum – OMG Network is expected to result in a reduction of fees and confirmation times, which has become extremely important in recent times because of the skyrocketing fees and congestion on the second largest network.

In the first half of August, USDT transfers accounted for 14% of all fees spent on Ethereum. Out of the total $12.9 billion supply of USDT, $8.6 billion (66.6% of all supply) is issued on Ethereum. Just this week, 1 billion TRC20 USDT coins were also swapped into ERC20.

The primary reason meanwhile for the jump in the cost to transact on Ethereum is DeFi applications such as Uniswap, as per ETHGasStation.

ETH25 Leaderboard

This week, the average transaction fees on Ethereum jumped to its all-time high at $6.6 but since then it has dropped 80% to around mid-July levels which as Santiment puts it is a “nice opportunity for significantly cheaper on-chain operations.”

ETH Trans Fees

The immense growth in stablecoins and DeFi usage has been having an adverse result on Ethereum.

As we reported, the debacle of the DeFi experiment YAM. Finance was the real culprit for pushing the Ether fees so high, that wasn’t seen since the launch of the platform in 2015.

The average gas price that has also jumped over 260 Gwei has also come down to about 110 Gwie level, as per Blockchair.

However, the gas usage continues to hit a new all-time high which means the usage of the network hasn’t slowed down, close to hitting 80 billion per day.

This could be because of the transaction count on the network, which dropped to 612k today, down from over 1.2 million on August 10, inches away from the all-time of 1.34 million on January 4, 2018, during the peak of the last bull run.

blockchair eth

Much like these metrics, the price of Ether also took a fall. ETH dropped over 13.5% to $380 in line with Bitcoin falling under $11,400 which has been because of the strengthening US dollar index. At the time of writing, Ether has been trading at $392, still in the red but up 198% YTD.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Mom, Hester Peirce, Secures Second Term as SEC Commissioner Through 2025

The US Securities and Exchange (SEC) Commissioner Hester Peirce, aka “Crypto Mom,” has been confirmed for a second term that will last till June 5, 2025, by the US Senate in a voice vote.

The “Crypto Mom” nickname was bestowed upon her by the crypto community for her support of the cryptocurrency market. Just last month, during her testimony in the nomination hearing, she maintained that stance as she said crypto is “clearly going to be here to stay, and I would like us to set up a regulatory framework that works well for crypto.”

Pierce wants to work on SEC’s “attitude towards innovation,” which she said is highlighted in their consideration of crypto.

Earlier this year, she proposed a three-year safe harbor for blockchain companies that conduct token sales. Here, she talked about SEC oversight and adherence to disclosure standards while allowing the firms to develop a network and work toward decentralization before being subject to the Howey test.

She is also an advocate for the approval of a bitcoin ETF, which has been rejected numerous times on the round of price manipulation. In February, in a dissenting statement, Pierce objected to SEC’s approach to these products and that “it evinces a stubborn stodginess in the face of innovation.”

As we reported, with the potential of SEC Chairman Jay Clayton moving to the US Attorney’s office, Pierce is also speculated to be the next SEC Chair.

“On behalf of our 4,500 dedicated colleagues, we applaud their long-standing commitment to investors and look forward to their continued work to advance the SEC’s vital mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation,” Clayton and fellow commissioners congratulated Pierce and Caroline A. Crenshaw.

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Author: AnTy

USD-Pegged Cryptos & BTC Continue to Rise in Contradiction to the Falling US Dollar

The US dollar is not having a good start in the second half of 2020.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of leading currencies, has fallen 9.5% since the March high. July was the currency’s weakest monthly performance in a decade after USD fell to a two-year low.

Source: TradingView

This weakness has been tied to the market, expecting further easing of US monetary policy, a lack of agreement among lawmakers on further fiscal stimulus, and falling bond yields.

Dollar’s loss, however, has been turning out to be good for other asset classes. Gold has hit a new all-time high at above $2,000. Bitcoin is also up 58% YTD at around $11,400, and this could be the time to stack more sats. Trader Scott Melker said,

“This is arguably the most pivotal moment we have seen for the United States Dollar since it bottomed in 2008. This channel has been intact for over 10 years. If it breaks down, hide yo’ kids and buy a metric ton of Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin’s gains have also been attributed to the dollar’s fall, and the digital asset is further expected to benefit from USD weakness.

“If the dollar continues to depreciate, there is a high probability that Bitcoin will continue to rise,” said Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx.

Crypto also addresses frictions such as settlement and transparency, which were “assumed” to be “very hard to solve before,” said Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. “Crypto is up 80% while USD is down 3% YTD.”

Fueling the Rise of Stablecoins

Another interesting facet seen in the crypto market while USD continues to lose its value is the increase in the demand of USD-pegged cryptos.

Stablecoins have had a rapid rise following the crypto crash in March, which was spurred by a massive sell-off in the global equity markets, which led to a huge rush into cash and a global shortage of dollars. Coin Metrics in its joint report with Bitstamp says,

“Moving into stablecoins allows investors to effectively keep money parked on the sideline without having to completely cash out into fiat currency and incurring fees. This rush to safety likely accounted for a significant portion of the increased stablecoin demand following March 12th.”

Stablecoins are back on the rise, with Tether in the lead, which added more than 400 million to its supply in just three days, to a total of over 11.5 billion.

USDT Supply
Source: CoinMetrics

Another driver behind this growth is the use of stablecoins as a medium of exchange, given their ease of international transfer. An increase in these types of payments could be due to hyperinflation in many fiat currencies following the March crash.

The transfer value of these fiat-pegged cryptos reached over $5 billion on July 27th, led by USDT-ETH, USDC, and DAI.

Stablecoin Transfer Value
Source: CoinMetrics

According to Coin Metrics, this continued rise in stablecoins is likely to help introduce more new users into the crypto ecosystem.

“Stablecoins could be the gateway that helps spur crypto’s global adoption, and boost usage of BTC and other crypto assets along the way.”

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Author: AnTy