Software Provider Temenos Enables Crypto Trading for Banks

Banking software provider Temenos has announced a partnership with online digital asset firm Taurus to enable access to cryptocurrency for financial institutions.

Per its press release, the integration would make it easier for banks to offer cryptocurrency trading to their clients via Taurus’ platform.

Temenos Leveraging Taurus Blockchain Expertise

This will see Temenos’ banking clients exposed to a plethora of blockchain solutions like Taurus-CAPITAL (tokenization and lifecycle management), Taurus-PROTECT (hot, warm, cold digital asset custody), and Taurus-EXPLORER (API-based blockchain connectivity to ten blockchain protocols).

All this will now be accessible through the Temenos MarketPlace.

Temenos notes that Taurus was selected after a thorough review and evaluation process to help banks seamlessly integrate all forms of digital assets across cryptocurrencies, tokenized assets, and digital currencies.

Taurus will be integrated with Temenos’ next-generation core banking software called Temenos Transact.

Speaking on the occasion, Managing Partner at Taurus Sebastien Dessimoz noted that there had been an increase in demand for digital assets since 2020.

According to Dessimoz, Taurus’ blockchain expertise would aid Temenos clients in managing any digital asset and creating digital products easily.

Geneva-based Taurus received a securities license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to launch the regulated crypto marketplace dubbed the Taurus Digital Exchange (TDX).

Taurus said that TDX would enable investors and banks to trade tokenized securities, private assets, real estate, art, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and cryptocurrencies.

Taurus is a seasoned blockchain company as it offers services for cryptocurrencies, including staking and decentralized finance (DeFi), tokenized assets, and digital assets, all within its platform.

Taurus Integrates Aave

Taurus has continued to grow its product suite. In March 2021, the Swiss digital asset provider added DeFi protocol Aave to its asset infrastructure. The integration would enable banks and exchanges to deposit and borrow cryptocurrencies like Ether.

Aave, a DeFi protocol catering to both institutional and retail users, facilitates borrowing and lending of digital assets has experienced exponential growth alongside the broader crypto market.

Banks are gradually warming up to decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols like Aave, as the amount of funds locked up in DeFi protocols rises above the $80 billion mark, per DeFi Pulse.

In a research paper published earlier this month by Netherlands-based ING Bank, it was agreed that both centralized and decentralized financial systems need to co-exist to achieve success. The paper states:

“Although DeFi currently appears to be a domain on its own, we envision that centralized and decentralized financial services will converge at some stage as both have unique capabilities that are beneficial to the other. There is, however, the challenge for centralized institutions of making sure that their assets stay within countries that are white-listed.”

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Author: Jimmy Aki

R3’s Corda Releases Ethereum-Based XDC Bridge for Interoperability

Corda, a decentralized blockchain offshoot of software company R3, recently announced that it had built a decentralized bridge to permissionless blockchains on the Ethereum ecosystem.

XDC To Facilitate Exchange On Corda

The announcement sees them collaborate with permissioned hybrid blockchain protocol eXchange inFinite (XinFin) to improve the global trade finance space. XinFin’s utility token XinFin Digital Contract (XDC) would be used for payment settlement in the Corda network.

The interoperable bridge built by a team of former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employees designated LAB577 will make the Corda blockchain talk to other blockchain networks. This will greatly engender the transmission of private user data on the Corda network. The limited dataset will also make its way to the XDC secure network.

In a press release shared with us, Director of the team Richard Crook noted the importance of this Corda-XinFin interoperable bridge, saying that one of the blockchain’s trilemma would be put to bed.

“The first currency across is XDC, but this lays the groundwork to connect Corda to ERC-20s and other cryptocurrency networks.”

“What you would see here is the age-old challenge of interoperability being solved.”

R3 has been in the crypto space for some years. During its inception in 2015, the R3 team pointed to the potential blockchain technology like Bitcoin would bring to the financial sector. Even though large financial houses initially signed up for the project, fears about competitors getting their hands on company data saw interests wane.

This led to the creation of Corda- a system that enables data and value transfer between parties without giving out vital data. The Corda project has been hugely successful, and they created a payments platform that supported Ripple Labs’ XRP token in 2018.

KYC Will Come To XinFin

This innovation joins a growing number of new generation interoperable blockchains. Cosmos, a permissionless blockchain platform on the Ethereum network, recently launched its Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC).

Crook noted that the XDC-powered bridge between Corda and other DLT-based platforms would incorporate more inter-chain enabled assets in the coming months.

But even as the blockchain protocol values decentralization, XDC co-founder Atul Khekade notes that the platform ensures that regulatory guidelines are being followed.

Khekade said that all intending validators would need to undergo regulatory know your customer (KYC) protocols to be eligible. This will see them lock 10 million XDC tokens (valued at $300,000) to become a validator, and they must duly attach a KYC node to the network.

The need for regulatory goalposts is increasing by the day as the crypto industry continues to attract institutional demand. A growing number of criminal elements have become attracted to the crypto space, forcing global regulatory bodies to clamp down on crypto activities in some regions.

Like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), regulatory agencies have since directed crypto-facing businesses to incorporate necessary security protocols obtainable in the traditional financial space.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Human Rights Foundation Provides Grants to Bitcoiners to Boost Education and Software Development

Human Rights Foundation Provides Grants to Bitcoiners to Boost Education and Software Development

  • Human Rights Foundation (HRF) releases its latest Bitcoin development grants.
  • The $70,000 grant was dispersed to four teams focusing on education and software development.

The Human Right Foundation (HRF), a New York-based nonprofit organization, gave its latest round of Bitcoin development grants on Tuesday. The organization focuses on boosting the adoption and development of Bitcoin solutions globally, the latest grant focusing on software development and education efforts in the space.

According to a report, the HRF grant was released to four teams. Muun wallet, a lightning network-based wallet, and Jesse Posner, a Bitcoin core developer, received $25,000 to build software solutions on Bitcoin.

Jesse Posner, a former Coinbase employee, is developing the Discrete Log Contracts (DLCs), threshold signatures, and adapter signatures. The solution aims to reduce the data backlog on the Bitcoin blockchain by computing most data off-chain. Apart from offering scalability, Posner stated the DCL would also improve the contracts’ security on the blockchain.

Muun wallet, on the other hand, is a Bitcoin Lightning Network-based wallet that allows penny-transactions while reducing on-chain transaction fees. The Argentinian firm aims to make crypto accessible to everyone through fast and low fee payment channels. Muun wallet founder Dario Sneidermanis said,

“Being Argentinians, we’ve seen first-hand why this is sorely needed, maybe a little bit earlier than the rest of the world, so it’s important that organizations such as the HRF are paying attention to this.”

Independent journalist Janine, known for the Block Digest podcast and open-source incubator Blockchain Commons, will receive $15,000 to further blockchain education and training.

Janine, an internet privacy and blockchain advocate, has been at the forefront of gatekeeping privacy in the crypto ecosystem. She runs a blog, This Month in Privacy, a monthly roundup of developments and news on Bitcoin, internet privacy, and cybersecurity. Speaking to Coindesk, Janine said she might use the grant funding to launch new avenues to give the blog a multi-media component, teasing the launch of a Q&A series to speak on the web privacy, including Bitcoin.

Finally, Blockchain Commons, a non-profit, open-source Bitcoin and blockchain incubator, will use its funding to enhance Bitcoin education while helping human rights activists worldwide with decentralized financial tools.

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Author: Lujan Odera

UK-Based EXMO Exchange is ‘Updating its Anti-Hack Software’ After Suffering a DDoS Attack

UK-Based EXMO Exchange is ‘Updating its Anti-Hack Software’ After Suffering a DDoS Attack

  • U.K based cryptocurrency exchange, EXMO, is updating its anti-DDOS attack software following Monday’s attack on its systems.

EXMO, a leading crypto exchange in Europe, suffered its second attack in less than two months reporting a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on Monday. The exchange has since started to improve its anti-DDOS attack software, warning users the exchange’s services “may be unavailable” during the update, a tweet sent out today reads.

EXMO announced midday on Monday (local time) that their servers were down due to a DDOS attack. Services on the exchange were temporarily unavailable for hours, as the attack affected the company’s entire infrastructure, a spokesperson said. At the time of writing, the exchange is back up running, but some services have been withheld. The spokesperson further added,

“Now everything is running properly. Unfortunately, with a splash in market activity, which undoubtedly drives a positive change, many negative phenomena are back. DDoS, which we’ve faced, is just one of them.”

DDOS attacks refer to a coordinated malicious effort to disrupt regular traffic to a website. These attacks are becoming more prominent in the crypto industry, with top crypto exchanges such as Binance and BitMEX suffering these attacks recently.

EXMO has been a victim of successive attacks in as many months as hackers stole 6% of the exchange’s crypto assets in December. The hacker made away with $10 million worth of cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, XRP, ZEC, USDT, ETC, during the December heist.

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Author: Lujan Odera

ConsenSys Rolls Out MetaMask for Institutions to Bring DeFi to Crypto Funds & Custodians

Ethereum software company ConsenSys has announced a new offering of MetaMask that allows institutions, including crypto funds, custodians, and professional traders, to access decentralized finance (DeFi).

MetaMask is a popular Ethereum wallet with over 1 million monthly active users who recently introduced a token swap feature and increased privacy level.

With DeFi space exploding in 2020, growing to over $14 billion, “Custody providers increasingly seek exposure and access to the diverse, decentralized finance opportunities,” noted ConsesnSys.

According to the firm, professional trading firms’ current process to use the attractive DeFi protocols is inefficient; they are introducing an institutional-grade version of MetaMask.

ConsenSys is working with the digital asset security provider Curv which also announced Curv DeFi for institutions that will integrate MetaMask. Curv Co-Founder and CEO Itay Malinger said,

“Since there is no reliable and secure institutional solution for DeFi, organizations are reverting to retail-level use of MetaMask or custom integrations with individual apps as a workaround.”

“We believe by combining our unique multi-party computation (MPC)-based security infrastructure with MetaMask we will be able to play a significant role in the institutional adoption of DeFi.”

Curv is ConsesnSys’s first launch partner, and it will be collaborating with other custodians and professional trading firms.

Scams Promoted via Google Paid Ads

In other news, MetaMask informed its users about the new scam targeting crypto users – rotter seed phrase attack. These malicious pre-phishing scams are being promoted via paid ads on Google linked to fake versions of wallet websites.

In this attack, a malicious website mimics the original wallet’s website and imitates its onboarding flow. Toward the end of the fake onboarding process on the fake website, the user is instructed to backup their seed phrase previously generated by the scammer.

The user is then taken to the wallet’s real website, where they are instructed to install the wallet and import the rotten seed phrase whose access is with the scammer who waits for the user to add funds to their wallet and then drains the accounts.

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Author: AnTy

ConsenSys Acquires JPMorgan’s Ethereum-based Quorum for an Undisclosed Amount

Blockchain software startup ConsenSys has acquired Quorum, JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain unit, for an undisclosed amount.

The investment banking giant has also made a strategic investment in ConsenSys, the company established by the co-founder of Ethereum, Joseph Lubin, in 2014 to help build applications running on top of the second-largest blockchain network. Lubin said,

“Even before the very first block on Ethereum was mined, and ConsenSys was formed, we’ve collaborated with JPMorgan on Ethereum proofs of concept and production systems.”

There is a “commercial arrangement” for ConsenSys to support JPMorgan in their projects.

Quorum blockchain, which will remain open-source, was built internally at JPMorgan using the Ethereum network. The blockchain is used by the bank to run the Interbank Network — a payments network that already involves over 300 banks, which will continue to operate using the platform.

The Quorum team will remain at JPMorgan, and the transition will happen over the next year before it starts working on other blockchain projects.

“We believe a platform like Quorum could thrive better in the hands of a software and services-oriented organization,” said Umar Farooq, global head of blockchain at JPMorgan.

“Acquiring a blockchain sort of misses the point,” said Samantha Radocchia, author of the book “Bitcoin Pizza” about this development.

Earlier this year, ConsenSys underwent a restructuring to separate its software business form venture activities. As we reported recently, ConsenSys also owned the source code of popular Ethereum wallet MetaMask.

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Author: AnTy

Ledger Hardware Wallet to Issue Exploit Fix to Prevent Users from Sending BTC on Accident

According to a blog published by Mo Nokhbeh, a crypto software researcher, the Ledger Wallet app is in danger of exploitation due to a vulnerability that has persisted on the platform since 2019. According to Mo, a user can send Bitcoin (BTC) instead of other Bitcoin forks such as the BTC testnets, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash etc. without their knowledge if even if they had selected the ‘forks’.

To use the Ledger hardware wallet, a user must install the corresponding app on to the USB drive allowing users to hold different types of digital currencies. However, only one app is able to be open at a time to ensure security and total isolation of the apps.

An issue arises with BTC and its corresponding forks for example if your Litecoin app is open and live and you’d wish to send LTC, the wallet will prompt a confirmation of a Bitcoin transaction while the interface presents it as an LTC transaction to a Litecoin address. If you accept the confirmation, a fully valid BTC transaction will be sent out of your wallet instead of the cheaper altcoin forks.

Read More >> Data Breach at Popular Hardware Crypto Wallet Ledger Affects Million; Trezor Fires Shots

Interactions with Ledger

Mo has been vocal to the Ledger team on the vulnerability of their platform, but claims his cries fell on deaf years with the issue persisting for the past year and a half. In a response posted on Decrypt, a spokesperson from Ledger said the delays were mainly due to the communications channels the security researcher used. The spokesperson said,

“The researcher contacted us through many means—mainly Twitter DMs. The appropriate medium for bug bounty remains the dedicated email address [email protected] Due to this, our point of view on this timeline differs, and we are genuinely sorry for the miscommunication.”

However, Nokhbeh denies the claims saying the only time he sent a Twitter DM was recently in June 2020 after a number of failed tries through the official channels.

Read More>> Crypto Hardware Wallet Ledger: ‘Funds are Safe’ After ‘BigSpender’ Vulnerability Found

Solution to the Ledger App vulnerability

In a statement focusing on the possible exploits, Ledger said the vulnerability arose as a tradeoff between security and usability especially for the Bitcoin network. While the external security of the wallets remain solid, Ledger allows Bitcoin forks/derivatives that follow the same derivation path as the top crypto to derive public keys or sign Bitcoin transactions. It reads,

“Some BTC forks use the same derivation path as BTC. If we prevent these forks from using the BTC derivation path, this would simply prevent users from using the Ledger Nano S/X with these forks.”

The statement further states the solution to the issue has been released in a new update warning users when their intended and confirmation transactions do not match.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Brave Partners With iOS Firewall Developer, Guardian For Privacy-Enhanced Internet Browsing

Brave Software partners with iOS VPN creator Guardian Firewall + VPN, to integrate their technology to build the safest, fastest, and most private web browser on Apple devices. The privacy-focused firms aim at providing maximum security for your data and unwavering control over your data while using the “Brave Firewall + VPN, powered by Guardian”.

The new Brave Firewall + VPN is an iOS-only device built in the Brave browser app to offer users a more private, safer, and up to 6x faster browsing experience. According to the statement on Brave’s blog, the new app allows users to set up a firewall and VPN on the iOS browsers as well as protect users from data tracking apps installed.

Over the past few years, data privacy and safety has become a key requirement for most browser users. Brave browser, built on a blockchain, offers users full control over their data and incentivizes users using attention-based tokens, BAT, when they interact with privacy-preserving advertisements.

This new Firewall + VPN enhances the security and safety of private browsers by encrypting data sent over the internet by blocking any unauthorized tracking, encrypting any incoming data to the device, and blocking ads.

Brave Browser has witnessed significant growth over the past few years reaching 15 million monthly and 5.3 million daily users on the platform. This shows an increase in people wanting to keep their affairs private and data secure without the prying corporations and governments spying.

Speaking on the launch of the Firewall + VPN application, Brendan Eich, CEO of Brave Software said, the users are moving towards more “privacy-default rather than surveillance default” browsing platforms and apps.

“We evaluated over a dozen VPNs and chose Guardian because of the shared focus on user privacy of our two companies and the technical capabilities of Guardian,” Eich said.

“The Firewall + VPN is a crucial part of the Web experience that our users have wanted, and we’re thrilled to bring this capability to Brave.”

The partnership brings together like-minded privacy-focused ideas from Brave and Guardian promising protection of the privacy of users against the big companies selling data. Will Strafach, CEO at Guardian said, on the partnership,

“By integrating Guardian’s technology with Brave’s browser, we offer a powerful solution for a much-improved Web experience that’s three to six times faster than conventional browsers, and much safer and more private.”

The firewall comes at a premium of $9.99/ month or a flat annual rate of $99.99. While right now you won’t be able to pay for the service in Basic Attention Token (BAT), developers intend to have that feature live by the end of the year.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Blockchain Analyzer, CipherTrace Rolls Out Predictive Risk Scores To Flag Risky Transactions

CipherTrace, a blockchain tracing firm, is launching a new software with real-time analytics and predictive risk-scoring, which can help exchanges freeze crypto transactions whose source of origin is dubious or associated with someone with a recorded criminal history. The software would analyze the transaction before its confirmation on the blockchain.

The software, if it works as advertised, could prove to be a big boon for exchanges who fall prey to scammers often using their platform to launder scammed cryptocurrencies. The software would help different business entities from avoiding any such transactions.

Cybercriminals often launder cryptocurrencies by using mixing tools or gambling websites to help obscure stolen funds. However, the blockchain tracing firms like CipheTrace have also made significant progress and can trace the source of the criminal funds despite them using these tactics.

The newly developed predictive risk scoring tool is one such example of the progress made by the blockchain tracing firms. The tool is expected to reach the clients by July end.

The Timing Could Not Have Been Better

The launch of the crypto transaction freezing tool comes just days after a massive collaborative attack on Twitter, which resulted in the hacking of more than 100 prominent Twitter accounts, including that of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Kanye West and many more crypto-related accounts as well. The scammers tweeted a bitcoin address asking followers to send Bitcoin to these addresses to get it doubled in return.

While the scam looked evident from a distance but given they were tweets from famous people with millions of followers, scammers managed to siphon $120,000 in Bitcoin before Twitter and exchanges like Coinbase sprung into action and started freezing transactions. In contrast, Twitter disabled tweets from all blue tick account for a few hours.

John Jefferies—a chief financial analyst at CipherTrace, explained how the newly developed tool would enable exchanges and business entities to steer away from any suspicious transaction entering into their system. He explained that transactions would be scored using a money monitoring system. He said:

“Exchanges, [crypto] ATMs, [over-the-counter] desks, hedge funds, and other [virtual asset service providers] use our software to score transactions as they flow into their platforms. By ingesting data from the blockchain, our AI scores transactions from low to high money laundering risk based on whether the funds have been tainted.”

“When transactions enter the mempool, CipherTrace can see these risky transactions and know where they came from before they are written to the blockchain. This allows our customers to ‘see into the future’ and stop the funds while they’re on route to a [virtual asset service provider].”

If the CipherTrace tool detects a transaction involving any address involved with suspicious activity, then the tool would deem it risky and place it under one of the categories, namely criminals, dark market, gambling, malware, ransomware, or mixer.

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Author: James W

Coinbase Building Relationships with Law Enforcement; CEO Advises to Use Privacy Coins

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is selling its blockchain analytics software to the U.S. Secret Service, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as per the official public records. The contract was first spotted by TheBlock.

The U.S. Secret Service is a federal agency that investigates financial crimes.

The contract was awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for four years. Signed on May 9, 2020, the contract, which is worth $183,750, will end on May 11, 2024.

Last month, as we reported, Coinbase was looking to sell its analytics software to two other U.S. government agencies — the DEA and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But they haven’t contracted any rewards, and these contracts are now “inactive.”

Well, it Helps Build Relationships with Law Enforcement.

Coinbase Analytics, previously known as Neutrino, an intelligence agency acquired by Coinbase in 2019, has been the center of controversy for its involvement in the Italian spyware firm Hacking Team.

After the latest news of Coinbase selling its software became public, its co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong took to Twitter to share that the reason behind the acquisition was “we don’t like sharing data with third parties when we can avoid it.”

He also shared how the acquisition didn’t go very well, and since then, they have parted ways with some of the company’s team members to rebuild it in-house that helped the company “recoup costs.”

This software helps Coinbase “build relationships with law enforcement, which is important for the industry, especially if you want more fiat in the world to flow into crypto over time,” Armstrong said.

He echoed the company’s comments about the software compiling just “publicly available data” and “organizing it to make it more useful.”

And if you Want Privacy, use Privacy Coins

According to Coinbase CEO, privacy coins, which he is a fan of, are there “if people want true privacy.”

Coinbase is about maintaining “relationships with both the traditional financial world and the new crypto world.” This bridge is the “only way we’re going to get to a truly crypto-to-crypto economy which can have all sorts of new improvements (including better financial privacy),” said Armstrong.

But the crypto community remains wary of the exchange, and Armstrong’s explanation didn’t help bring their anger down.

However, Jake Chervinsky, General Counsel at Compound Finance, argues that there is no point in wanting financial privacy from public blockchains because analytics services are here to stay.

“Don’t expect the Constitution or the courts to protect your privacy either: the prevailing view is that there’s no right to privacy in bitcoin transactions under the 4th Amendment (for now). The only person responsible for protecting your privacy is you,” he said.

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Author: AnTy