IBM Granted Blockchain Gaming Consensus Patent For Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Tech giant IBM has secured a blockchain-based gaming protocol patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent, which was published today, was granted to IBM last week; and focuses on the multi-player games that are played online.

Notably, IBM had filed for the patent back in 2018 and has previously hinted at a blockchain use case for gaming, especially through Non-fungible token (NFT) innovations, which can be used assets in a game.

Dubbed the ‘Gaming consensus protocol for blockchain,’ this patent is part of IBM’s vision to create a blockchain ecosystem that supports transactions within MMO games with a big user base. Per the patent’s proposal, the participants in a particular multi-player game can leverage IBM’s blockchain consensus protocol to harmonize the game’s flow. The patent reads,

“In one embodiment, the consensus algorithm is provided as a service from the game network to any blockchain network; thus blockchain networks can delegate consensus to a distributed network of game clients within the gaming peers.”

Other than using the consensus to select subsets for transaction verification within a game, the patent also outlines that participants might receive some incentives based on their fees.

“These fees may be distributed between the participants of the consensus round (i.e., participants/users associated with each gaming peer) as an incentive, be used to maintain the network infrastructure or any other purpose that serves the gaming network and the players.”

While the patent states that participants will only leverage the consensus to order transactions, smart contract execution will remain on the blockchain unless the gaming peers have enough computing power.

“In some embodiments, smart contract execution could be moved to the massively multiplayer online gaming network if the gaming peers have sufficient computing power to perform the additional task of executing the smart contracts and if the business case allows it in terms of security and confidentiality.”

Target ecosystems include popular games such as Fortnite, Warzone, or Call of Duty; notably, this development comes as the blockchain gaming space continues to bloom.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Kraken Opens Trading For Japanese Users, Becoming 1st Exchange to Enter Japan Organically

Kraken, one of the leading crypto exchanges based in the United States, has relaunched its trading services for Japanese customers under its expansion plan in the Asia Pacific region.

Japanese customers would be able to access Kraken’s spot trading services, to begin with, according to the announcement on October 22. The exchange would offer spot trading services for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The exchange would offer crypto-to-crypto trading pairs along with JPY-denominated pairs for trading.

Kraken claimed that it is the first foreign exchange to organically enter the Japanese market without acquiring any local exchange.

Customers Could Make Deposits in 5 Crypto Assets

The re-launched trading services in Japan by Kraken has been done under its expansion plans in the region. To encourage more customers to join the platform and make it easier for them to trade using the platform, the exchange would offer deposits in 5 crypto assets along with local JPY deposits and withdrawals. The local fiat deposit and withdrawals would be available via SBI Sumishin Net Bank.

Before its current relaunch in Japan, Kraken had already launched its Japanese customers’ services back in 2014. By 2018, it had shut its operation in the country, citing the rising cost of operations and expanding in other geographical locations.

Kraken acquired the ‘Crypto Asset Exchange Service Provider’ license last month on September 8th and started registering user accounts by September 18.

David Ripley, COO of Kraken, expressed his joy in re-entering the Japanese markets and said that Japan is a dominant crypto market, and it would prove to be a crucial point for the exchange in its expansion plan in the region. He said,

“In today’s challenging economic environment, more people are turning to cryptocurrencies to hedge against volatile markets and use cryptocurrency as a store of value.”

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Author: Hank Klinger

Ripple Looks For Options In Europe & Asia As the US Lags Behind In Clear Crypto Laws

  • Ripple Inc. could be leaving the United States, Executive Chairman at the company, Chris Larsen, stated on Tuesday.
  • The digital payments firm is looking for options to relocate, including Singapore, Japan, the U.K, or a friendlier country to crypto as the U.S. struggles with regulation policies in the field.

In an interview with Fortune Magazine’s Jeff John Roberts during the online LA Blockchain Summit on October 6th, Ripple Inc.’s executive chairman and founder, Chris Larsen, spoke of possible relocation. The U.S. to “crypto-friendlier nations.” As one of the largest crypto firms in the country, Ripple feels undone by the lack of regulation or policies in place and is looking at options in Europe and Asia.

Over the past few years, the payments firm has faced increased scrutiny from U.S. government authorities, especially the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The securities authority has, in the past, raised claims that XRP is a security claiming Ripple should apply for a securities license – a claim Ripple has vehemently denied.

While the pursuit from the SEC could be welcome, a lack of regulation or laws governing crypto payments or blockchain innovation is key in Ripple’s decision to move from the U.S. Speaking on the issue, Larsen said,

“The message is blockchain, and digital currencies are not welcome in the U.S. You want to be in this business, you probably should be going somewhere else. To be honest with you, we’re even looking at relocating our headquarters to a much more-friendly jurisdiction.”

Larsen also said that while the move from the U.S would not completely overrule jurisdiction from the authorities, Ripple would “feel relief” to have another country be the company’s chief regulator. Circle did just this last year.

The move has raised support from some of the top cryptocurrency influencers, including TechCrunch, Crunch Base, and XRP Capital founder, Michael Arrington, who tweeted the lack of crypto regulation in the U.S. a “disaster.” Supporting the tweet, Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, wrote,

”Strongest internet companies built in the US, in part b/c of regulatory clarity. We have that opposite with blockchain + digital assets. Responsible players like Ripple aren’t looking to avoid rules; we want to operate in a jurisdiction where the rules are clear.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

‘Warning Shot’ for DeFi: BitMEX Charges are ‘Incredible Bearish’ for this Burgeoning Sector

Prosecutors in the United States filed criminal charges against BitMEX, accusing it of violating the federal Bank Secrecy Act.

The CFTC has been investigating one of the biggest derivatives exchanges for some years now. Still, the effect of this news on the prices of digital currencies is expected to be bearish but only in the short term.

It will actually be bullish in both medium and long term and “likely be a boon for other regulated futures exchanges that offer significant leverage. Gambling is gambling,” said Bill Barhydt, co-founder & CEO at Abra.

But while regulation will help the market at large, it may not be such a good thing for the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector.

Time for DeFi Providers to Wake Up

According to Barhydt, it is actually a “warning shot” for DeFi service providers who think registrations don’t apply to them, “That’s pure nonsense. Lawyer up now.”

With the DOJ talking about the BitMEX co-funders to “soon learn the price of alleged crimes,” which will be paid in “fines, restitution, and federal prison time,” — it’s time for DeFi providers to wake up.

“DeFi services are not sufficiently decentralized today to have no central off switch. That means the companies behind them are at risk. Oracles are another problem…Set your alarms for the moment of truth,” Barhydt said.

As we saw only recently during the KuCoin hack, several crypto projects froze the stolen funds, putting a big question mark on the decentralized nature of them all, which wasn’t even the first time.

Given that DeFi has the highest beta, “flight to safety” is another reason why the BitMEX incident is not bullish for DeFi, said trader and economist Alex Kruger.

Moreover, while the authorities are going after managers individually over the criminal allegations, for the market, smart contract creators and promoters won’t be far fetched, regardless if it is even true, he added. And what the market thinks matters.

A Small Winter for DeFi

Over the past few months, the DeFi sector grew immensely, from about $1 billion in mid-June to $14.6 billion earlier this week, as per Debank.

For the past few weeks, DeFi tokens have been cooling down, with yields significantly lower than they were a month ago.

While the impact of the news on the price of Bitcoin and altcoin might be over, we could see “relative weakness across DeFi.”

As seen in the past 24 hours, the cryptos lost 4% to 12% compared to the DeFi ones, which are down 10% to 25%.

As we reported, a small DeFi winter has also been expected.

“Most DeFi bluechips trade like classic bubbles bursting,” said trader Qiao Wang who sees it more like the spring 2013 bubble, meaning this won’t be a multi-year nuclear winter, because of the strong and improving fundamentals, total market cap of these tokens still small, and more brrrr likely to come next year.

“2021 will be great, IMO,” he added.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin HODLer Cynthia Lummis Wins Senate Primary in Wyoming

Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) has won the first round of the US Senate race. On Tuesday, she won her state’s Senate GOP primary and is now one step closer to replacing retiring Sen. Mike Enzi (R).

Lummis, who served four terms in the House, will now be facing Merav Ben-David but is about guaranteed to fill the seat.

She is a bitcoin holder, which is no surprise given that her state of Wyoming is leading the US in integrating blockchain technology and cryptocurrency into the regulatory framework.

In an interview with CoinDesk, a few months back, she revealed that she continues to hold onto her first Bitcoin that she purchased in 2013 as she is a “HODLer.” Lummis has never sold and remains a buyer, as it is the way to protect her future.

An advocate of bitcoin, she believes in the current macro environment, “we need stores of value that are decoupled from the economy,” and that is bitcoin.

In the 21st century, where the central bank is printing money and declining the value of the US dollar, “cryptocurrencies may be on the uptick,” she said.

Unlike all the interest towards central bank-backed digital currencies, Lummis is very much clear on this very front as well as she explained how that is a matter of convenience instead of targeting being a store of value.

“As long as a dollar-based digital currency is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S., as opposed to something more scarce, then I don’t think it can add value,” she said.

According to Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics, it is “amazing” that she believes in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have given that “Cynthia is most likely going to be Wyoming’s new senator.”

“Anyone who thought that America wouldn’t eventually embrace Bitcoin is crazy. Bitcoin values and core constitutional American values have a lot in common,” he added.

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Author: AnTy

USPS Patents A Blockchain-Based Mail-In Voting System Despite President Trump’s Critics

The United States Postal Service (USPS) might have a blockchain-based plan for the U.S mail-in voting suggestion. According to a patent made public by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office on August 13, the USPS had filled an intellectual property application for a blockchain ecosystem dubbed ‘Secure Voting System’ back in February.

Interestingly, this development coincides with President’s Trump recent sentiments towards shutting down the USPC, a move that could ultimately stall mail-in voting.

The USPS patent features blockchain as a fundamental tech that will serve as a means towards a ‘trustworthy’ 2020 election in the U.S. Ideally, this blockchain voting ecosystem should leverage the aspects of reliability and security to enhance voting logistics as well as data transmission and storage of the same. The patent notes that registered voters will receive a computer-readable code, which in turn ought to confirm their identity and ballot information. The patent reads,

“The system separates voter identification and votes to ensure vote anonymity, and stores votes on a distributed ledger in a blockchain.”

Industry stakeholders, including Hedera Hashgraph Technical Lead, Paul Madsen, have since weighed in on the USPS blockchain-focused mail-in voting patent. In his opinion, such a move would be beneficial to everyone involved in the election process, but most importantly, to voters.

“The votes of individual voters would be recorded, either on the blockchain or effectively timestamped and then recorded elsewhere – and so both help to mitigate the risk of double voting, or vote manipulation as well as give the voter confidence through the transparency of the process.”

Successful Blockchain-Based Voting in the U.S

While the stakes are higher on U.S 2020 elections, the use of blockchain cannot be ruled out given the tech has been used in other instances. Some notable events in which stakeholders voted through blockchain include delegate selection for the Republican National Convention in the states of Utah and Arizona.

It was also used for absentee ballots in the 2018 West Virginia elections in representing the military who are overseas. Now that the USPS is looking to join this bandwagon, its Inspector General Office (OIG) has suggested other areas like supply chain, identity services, device, and financial management where it could further leverage blockchain.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

U.S Banks and Big Tech Ask the OCC for More Clarification to Issue Crypto Services

The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has received over 90 responses from various stakeholders’ in the financial services sector on its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) issued last month.

This independent bureau which operates under the U.S Treasury made highlights in July after it was approved for banks within its jurisdiction to act as crypto custodians. From the responses on the ANPR, some banks including PNC and the U.S are actually interested in scaling operations into the crypto scene.

With the OCC still at the initial stages towards rulemaking, some figures in the industry believe that now is the best time for innovators to give their input to the agency. Prominent firms that aired their views on the OCC ANPR for digital currency policies include Visa, Facebook’s Novi, Stripe, ConsenSys and Google which even suggested that the OCC should incentivize FinTech developments through hackathons, pilots and innovation competitions.

Industry Stakeholders Take!

A few issues appeared to have been more common for most of the stakeholders who gave their feedback before the August 3 deadline. The American Bankers Association (ABA) which wrote a letter as part of its contribution mainly highlighted the need for a consensus in taxonomy and terminology amongst other areas for the integration to happen seamlessly. The ABA letter reads,

“Effective policy analysis on crypto assets is essential to maintaining banks’ capacity to innovate, but it may be inhibited by the lack of common terminology. A common taxonomy and understanding of crypto assets’ risks and features, broadly consistent and coordinated across all the relevant regulators, is essential to fostering prudent innovation within a sound risk management framework.”

User protection policies were also highlighted in terms of privacy and security given the delicate balance needed to maintain some fundamental aspects of cryptocurrencies. Coin Center’s Research Director, Peter Van Vulkenburgh, was of the opinion that banks can actually provide privacy and surveil their clients’ activities through private coin and other features within crypto ecosystems. These sentiments on privacy and security were also echoed by MasterCard’s Tina Woo as she went to highlight the underlying potential,

“We believe cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology hold the potential to enhance operational resiliency, improve auditability, and enable new functionalities.”

Finally, an interesting perspective was raised by 3rd party crypto service providers which appear to be in favor of banks sub-contracting for critical crypto services. BitGo which has been a crypto custodian for over a year is one of the stakeholders’ who are of this view. Interestingly, the firm has the backing of payments giants Visa and MasterCard which are both eyeing the crypto card market and have been making strategic moves in the recent past. Ky Tran-Trong, Visa’s VP for Global Regulatory Affairs, confirmed this position,

“Our objective is to enable digital currency users to spend from their digital currency balance using a Visa debit or prepaid credential anywhere Visa is accepted.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

CAOF to be Lead Plaintiff in Block.one ICO Lawsuit After Others File Inaccurate Data

A United States Court Judge Kaplan has now ruled that the class action suit brought against EOS developer Block.one ought to be represented by a lead plaintiff. This was after five of the investors of Block.one ICO displayed a lack of goodwill and commitment to make them the lead plaintiff of the case.

“Raises further concerns that the application is being driven by the lawyers, rather than the plaintiffs.”

The lead plaintiff often brings forth the interests of other plaintiffs in court in the case of a class-action suit. Hence, they get to pick the attorneys to handle the suit as well as picking up the legal tab. In this case, Judge Kaplan was keen to highlight that the case drags on for years which is potentially lucrative for the lead plaintiff’s attorneys.

CAOF declared the biggest Block.one loser

Law firm of Grant & Eisenhofer P.A has been chosen as the lead counsel in the case. This was decided upon by the Crypto Assets Opportunity Fund (CAOF) and rubber-stamped by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. This was after an August 4th hearing was able to confirm the losses suffered by CAOF and determined that they were the biggest losers.

The Williams Group that had filed a similar suit however had their motion shot down after the Judge deemed the evidence submitted inaccurate and unsubstantiated. Their trading data didn’t quantify how much they really had lost from the ICO. Data submitted indicated that they had lost more tokens than they acquired in the Initial Coin offering.

In a similar scenario, plaintiff Token Fund I, was incorporated only 2 days prior to filing the motion to lead the class action. They failed to produce intricate details of their previous trading activities, especially with Block.one.

The motion clarifies that considerations such as previous collaborations amongst group members and how they intend to move forward with the class action have to be made when a group makes an application for lead plaintiff.

Notably, Block.one launched an ICO last year raising north of $4 Billion. They were later on involved in a legal tussle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that saw them remitting $24 million in fines. They have been implicated in several class-action suits for allegedly issuing unregistered securities.

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Author: Lujan Odera

USMC Bans Crypto Mining Apps From Govt Issued Phones Due to Privacy & Security Issues

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) released a memo on Tuesday in guidance to all holders of government-furnished equipment (GFE) mobile phones. The memo further prohibits the installation and use of these mobile phones from a select group of apps, including mining cryptocurrencies apps.

The set prohibition laws come up as a security and privacy concern for the Marine Corps, the memo states. Some of the major categories of apps forbidden from the installation on the GFEs include gaming, dating, gambling, security/monitoring bypass tools, rooting or jailbreak tools, and bitcoin/cryptocurrency mining applications. The statement reads,

“Users will not see or be able to install prohibited applications to their GFE device from Google Play or the Apple Store. If the user has an app installed that later becomes prohibited, it will be automatically removed/blocked by the management server.”

No direct reason is offered for prohibiting crypto-mining tools or any other apps rather than they raise security and privacy concerns to the USMC.

“The collection, use, and disposition of information for account creation or made available through mobile applications (e.g., physical locations, significant life events, images, videos, etc.) is a privacy and security concern.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

BTC Matured from Retail-Roots to Larger & More Conservative Institutional Investors Allocating

“11 years from its inception, Bitcoin continues to lock in its network effects,” states Coinbase’s H1 report that points out how the world’s leading digital asset storing $176 billion in value weathered a macroeconomic shock that saw it crashing to $3,800 only to rise back to $10,000.

All this while achieving a wide distribution of holders and growing its hash rate and security via mining, which “reinforced its staying power in the first half of 2020.”

The first half of 2020 also saw increasing direct institutional allocation to digital assets, maturing from its retail and crypto-fund roots.

Coinbase also saw more substantial and more conservative institutional investors allocating in bitcoin for the first time as part of their alternatives strategy.

“We saw a noticeable uptick in our institutional business’s growth in H1 and continued to add leading university endowments, traditional multi-strategy hedge funds, VCs, and large family offices to our roster of clients buying digital assets directly.”

According to Coinbase, investors are still in the early days of untangling the relationship between macroeconomic policy and crypto but are increasingly turning to BTC.

This also means the rising demand for prime brokerage. Just this week, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks, ex-chief legal officer at Coinbase, declared that banks can now hold bitcoin.

A “heightened interest” was noted among fintech and brokerages in adding crypto capabilities to their product suite in H1, a trend expected to “accelerate in the coming years.”

Eventually, the San Francisco-based crypto exchange, which is planning to have an IPO by the end of this year or early next year, sees all modern financial services businesses wanting to provide their clients with digital assets as the asset class continues.

Hot Trends of 2020

Through all the ups and downs in the first half of 2020, crypto derivatives gathered more stream than the spot market.

Daily open interest in BTC futures rose 30.0% in H1, from $2.6 billion on January 1st to $3.5 billion on June 30th, while daily futures volume was down 12.9% for the period.

BTC options meanwhile saw steeper gains, with open interest rising 236.0% in H1 from $305 million on January 1st to $1.0 billion on June 30th. Daily options volumes also rose 90.1%, with CME Group being a “strong catalyst” for this growth.

Currently, the majority of crypto derivatives volume is supported by unregulated trading venues based in Asia and Europe. While they have proven initial demand for these products, “regulated venues will play an increasingly significant role,” just like it has been in the spot market, Coinbase said.

2020 is also the year of USD-pegged digital assets, which grew 104.6% in H1 with Tether and USDC being the most significant gainers. Stablecoins provide lower transaction costs and ease of on-chain movement.

“Coinbase continues to see that when clients are given a choice, many prefer to keep their assets – including their fiat currency – on “crypto rails.”

Stablecoins bridge the gap between the traditional financial system and the crypto economy — which has been the focus of growing number startups in H1, a trend that Coinbase expects to “continue and for crypto dollars. To play a key part.”

The growth of stablecoins was further driven by decentralized finance (DeFi), a new paradigm that Coinbase believes “will be extremely powerful long-term,” but is still in its infancy.

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Author: AnTy