bitFlyer Europe Integrates PayPal To Bridge the Fiat-Crypto Gap For European Traders

bitFlyer Europe, the subsidiary of one of Japan’s largest crypto exchanges, has integrated PaPal, which will allow its European clients to deposit and purchase tokens directly from their PayPal accounts.

According to the official announcement, the integration between the giant online payment platform and bitFlyer will play a major part in bridging the gap between the crypto space and fiat for European crypto enthusiasts.

Although bitFlyer Europe currently allows wire card transfers, one to three days is required for clearance. PayPal integration will allow customers to make near-instant deposits.

The announcement states that bitFlyer Europe customers can henceforth deposit euros from PayPal directly to their wallets and trade different cryptos. The statement also said that no extra charges would be passed onto the customer. Jacek Bastin, bitFlyer Europe manager in charge of business strategy, clarified:

“bitFlyer charges no handling or processing costs on top of the fees charged by PayPal.”

Since PayPal has about 340 million users globally and handles approximately 35% of the total eCommerce dealings within Europe. It is expected that the integration will help in exposing a wide array of European netizens to the bitFlyer platform, as well as to the crypto world in general.

Without going into details, Bastin revealed that bitFlyer Europe is working on several projects to ensure crypto trading becomes more accessible and secure to everyone.

bitFlyer has embarked on several activities to expand its reach globally with the firm opening branches in Europe and the United States in the recent past. Integration with PayPal is an effort by the firm to attract more crypto enthusiasts and worshippers to its platform.

PayPal has also been gearing up to enhance its innovation by using cryptos as well as blockchain technology. In June this year, PayPal announced it was hiring crypto and blockchain engineers, and it is alleged that the platform is looking on ways it can enable crypto buying for its worldwide users.

In a letter to the European Commission, PayPal stated that it was carefully assessing the worldwide developments in the crypto and blockchain spheres.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Subsidiary to Top Austrian Mobile Network Provider, Launches Crypto Payments for 2500 Merchants

Austrian leading mobile service provider, A1 Telekom Austria Group, announced its subsidiary, A1 Payments, will be accepting digital currency payments like Bitcoin and Ethereum. On Monday, a posted blog stated the firm’s new payment system would allow individuals as well as corporations to transact with thousands of merchants across Austria.

BEG announced A1 Payment’s plans to get into the digital currency payment back in August 2019, with the Head of A1 Business Marketing, Markus Schreiber, saying then:

“With our pilot operation in the A1 shops, we are testing the demand and acceptance of digital currencies in Austria.”

A1 Payments pilot included several cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, Dash, Litecoin (LTC), and XRP. However, the main launch has begun with the inclusion of the first three, and more tokens to be added in the future.

The digital payment system also allows other cashless options for merchants, including bank credit cards and payments via online platforms such as Alipay.

Similar to other crypto payments intermediaries, A1 Payments provide the payment terminal, take care of its maintenance, and the processing of payments. This means that all the trades by crypto users in merchant shops or towards corporations will be settled in EUR. Hence the receiving counterparty does not need any knowledge in digital currencies to accept them.

The Austrian company aims to offer seamless payments across their customers, enabling “companies with only one terminal to accept digital currencies alongside conventional payment methods.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Volvo Invests In Blockchain Traceability Startup Circulor To Track Cobalt Supply Chain

Volvo Cars Tech Fund, a subsidiary of Volvo, announced its investment in blockchain traceability firm Circulor on July 8. The popular carmakers have used Circulor’s traceability solutions previously for tracing cobalt used in their batteries. The use of blockchain became a necessity amid growing concerns over the questionable condition of the laborers and the use of child labor in cobalt mining.

Volvo believes the partnership with Circulor would help in finding sustainable solutions. It is also planning to use this traceability solution for carbon emissions from their cars.

Martina Buchhauser, the chief procurement officer at Volvo, commented on their partnership and how it would help them in the long run. She said:

“We are committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials, and our partnership with Circulor has been instrumental in that regard. By supporting Circulor’s ongoing development, we can expand the use of blockchain technology in our operations and contribute to a more sustainable business.”

Volvo cars were the first carmakers to implement global traceability for cobalt used in its batteries, and currently, all their batteries are traced via this blockchain solution.

In recent years top carmakers like Volvo, Mercedes, BMW, and many others have been implementing blockchain solutions in their car production. A few of them are focused around the data collected from these vehicles, while a few others have incorporated blockchain for traceability of raw products as well as after-sales services. Blockchain has been a big hit in supply-chain management, be it in the food industry or car industry.

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Author: James W

India’s Tech Giant, TSC, to Launch ‘Quartz’ Crypto Trading Solution For Institutions

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a subsidiary of India’s largest tech firm, Tata, announced the launch of a crypto solution enabling traditional financial institutions to offer digital asset services to customers.

According to a spokesperson at the firm, the new solution, dubbed “Quartz Smart Solution for Crypto Services,” will offer the best security services and compliance structure to allow seamless cryptocurrency trading. According to a press release on TCS official blog, the Quartz solution is explained as

“a next-generation, digitally-powered offering for banks and investment firms to provide secure and seamless cryptocurrency trading to their clientele.”

The solution offers an array of features to financial institutions and banks, including support for multiple cryptos, a link to fiat currency exchange, and a digital asset transfer platform.

The project is the brainchild of Quartz, a startup incubated by TSC, which builds decentralized ledger solutions to traditional finance problems. The smart solution aims at providing the “best-in-class hardware security module” to beef up security and verification of transactions.

The platform integrates multi-signature feature wallets and provides the infrastructure to build secure OTC exchange desks. Finally, a close audit and blockchain forensic checks ensure that transactions made on the Smart Solution for the Crypto platform are appropriately verified and authenticated.

Crypto is spreading into the traditional finance world with hedge funds and investment institutions taking the risk and placing big bets in the industry. R Vivekanand, Global Head, Quartz, TCS concurs on this analogy stating his company is ready to take on the challenge of providing these services.

“We are excited to offer them our robust, secure, and scalable solution for trading, storing, and transfer of these assets,” Vivekanand said.

“We believe Quartz is well ahead of the curve in providing such a solution that allows customers to transact in multiple cryptocurrencies and digital assets, backed by best-in-class security features.”

India is taking a step forward in blockchain, and the Supreme Court lifted digital asset development after the recent blanket ban on crypto by the Royal Bank of India (RBI).

Throughout 2019, TCS announced a number of development strategies and projects in the blockchain arena, including Quartz integration of RippleNET allowing banks and financial institutions to transfer funds freely; and the security settlement platform to enable cross border transfers.

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Author: Lujan Odera

LG CNS Testing AI & Blockchain-Based Facial Recognition Tech For Contactless Digital Payments

LG CNS, the IT subsidiary of the electronic good manufacturer is testing an AI-based facial recognition system for making digital payments, as reported by IT Times on 23rd April. The IT Times report also noted that the company is already testing the new tech on its employees. The firm has been testing the new technology since March.

LG’s facial recognition tech makes use of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and cloud technology. The testing phase of the tech on company employees saw them using it for making payments in the cooperate canteens and restaurant in blockchain-based cooperate currency.

The facial recognition scans the face to detect the customer than match it with the data available on the blockchain and later charge them from their cooperate account. All these processes happen simultaneously in a matter of a few seconds.

Is Facial Recognition Based Payment Gateway Secure?

Blockchain-based data storage networks might be considered as secure, and a contactless payment system might sound convenient, but Trent Lapinski, a whitehat hacker disagrees. Lapinski explained that decentralization might sound fancy and secure to many but one must understand that privately owned and developed blockchain networks are not truly decentralized. He explained that a couple of code changes in the blockchain code could potentially corrupt the network and hijack the data easily.

Since blockchain is used to store data, its authenticity and security depend on immutability and if that is bypassed, it could be used to run havoc on the people who trusted the system in the first place.

Blockchain Being Increasingly Used By Mainstream Tech Firms

Mainstream tech firms are showing an increasing interest in the decentralized techs and have invested in multiple ventures based on blockchain technology. IBM is one such firm that has not just invested heavily in multiple blockchain ventures but has also emerged as a choice for a blockchain infrastructure provider to enterprises.

Similarly, for the LG Group CNS, the AI and Blockchain-based facial recognition is not the only blockchain venture they are working on. Last year in July, the firm revealed that they are looking forward to introducing blockchain in supply chain management for school cafeteria lunches, where they would put the data of the food items including their origin, where they were processed and when they were packaged to ship, to make it easy for anyone to check the origin of their food with a simple barcode scan.

LG CNS has also partnered with the blockchain subsidiary of internet service provider Kakao to develop infrastructure which is mutually compatible. LG is planning to narrow the gap between public and private blockchain which would not only make them more widely usable but also bring down the cost of the infrastructure significantly.

Lee Joon-won, solution business development manager at LG CNS, talked about the company’s interest in the decentralized tech and what they intend to achieve through these investments. He said,

“It is expected that blockchain-based community currency will be used by a lot more people as it becomes more convenient when it meets AI.

As non-face-to-face technologies are applied recently, a blockchain that increases transaction reliability will be used more widely.”

Here is a demonstration:

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Author: Silvia A

Binance.US to Add Tezos (XTZ) Staking on April 16; No Action Needed To Start Earning

Binance.US, the US subsidiary of the Binance crypto exchange is all set to launch Tezos staking service on its platform from April 16. As per the official announcement, the Tezos staking services will be activated by 9.00 EST on Thursday.

Tezos staking has gained a lot of traction from around the globe in recent months and Binance being a leading exchange service provider had the Tezos staking facility on its global platform. The announcement also clarified that Tezos holders on the platform would not have to go through any complex procedures to start earning rewards. The exchange will be solely responsible for determining the rewards for Tezos holders.

Binance.US would take an hourly screenshot of Tezos holders on its platform to determine the reward for the customers. The process will be quite similar to other staking services available for different tokens on the platform. Binance would calculate the staking rewards on a daily basis, however, the allocation of rewards will be done on a monthly basis. At preset Binance.US support a couple of major Tezos trading pairs namely XTZ/USD and XTZ/BUSD, which are available on the Binance.US mobile application as well as website and API.

How Staking Services Help Customers Earn Reward

Binance as a global exchange offers a number of services, be it a fiat-crypto gateway to make trading easier or staking of various tokens without having to run a full node and earn a reward for staking those tokens. The global Binance platform introduced staking services on the platform towards the end of 2019, while its US counterpart introduced staking services in early 2020.

A users can avail the rewards by simply holding the available staking tokens in their exchange wallet for a certain period of time, the longer the staking time, bigger is the reward. Currently, there are two tokens available for staking, one being Algorand, and another being ATOM. With the Tezos listing on April 16th, the Binance.US would join the likes of Coinbase and Kraken who are offering Tezos Staking services.

Binance has become a giant crypto ecosystem in itself, right from having its own utility token BNB which was one of the best-performing assets in 2019 to have their own blockchain. The platform has also been on an accusation spree out of which CoinMarketCap is the latest one which created a lot of noise in the decentralized space on whether acquiring an independent crypto data monitoring services would be good for the crypto ecosystem. Recently, it was also revealed that Binance uses a significant portion of its profit for acquisition.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Shell Subsidiary Creates Virtual Power Plant Using Blockchain in Germany For Renewable Energy

On March 12, the Royal Dutch subsidiary of Shell, Sonnen Group, made the announcement that it’s working with the Energy Web Foundation (EWF) to create in Germany a blockchain-based virtual power plant (VPP).

This VPP will include a distributed network comprising of energy storage systems for residential areas in order to reduce the curtailment of renewable energy in Germany and to absorb the excess of wind power. Since the country is going to shut down its nuclear energy and coal plants in the near future, the demand for green energy has increased. However, this led to renewable energy being wasted.

The VPP Will Absorb the Excess Wind Power

The VPP built by Sonnen will support the power grid in the region by absorbing the excess of wind energy stored across Sonnenbatteries. Sonnenbatteries are networked by the use of distributed ledger technology. Sonnen will execute transactions through smart contracts, transactions for which the fees will be processed in the Dai (DAI) stablecoin. By averting the power grid’s overload, the VPP aims to make it easier for Germany to expand its production of renewable energy.

Sonnen is at Its 3rd Launch in Germany

Micha Roon, EWF’s CTO, said that implementing a blockchain-based approach for reducing the wind energy curtailment is a futuristic vision. Meanwhile, the Sonnen eServices’ managing director, Jean-Baptiste Cornefert, made this statement:

“With a flexibility market for renewable energies and the automatic exchange of supply and demand, we are realizing the next step towards a smart grid that can deal much more flexibly with fluctuations from renewable energy.”

The Blockchain Used More and More by German Clean Energy Producers

The power sector in Germany is increasing day by day. More and more clean energy producers are looking into blockchain-based tech. For example, on March 9, Unibright (UBT) the blockchain tech provider, made the announcement that it has closed a partnership with Wasserkraft Mittelrhein, a German energy startup, to create a decentralized network that generates electricity and uses the Unibright Framework.

The power buoys made by Wasserkraft are over 36 feet in length, weighing more than 7 tons. Each of them generates enough energy for 100 households to function normally for 12 months.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Blocknox, Boerse Stuttgart Subsidiary, Expands Crypto Custody To Institutional Investors

Boerse Stuttgart subsidiary Blocknox has expanded its crypto custody services to institutional investors, says an announcement made on Tuesday.

Blocknox is already known for offering crypto custody assets services on the escrow basis, but now it has made the same service available to Boerse Stuttgart BISON app’s users and the BSDEX digital assets exchange. The company’s plan is to expand its services even more, behind its own offerings, by safeguarding cryptocurrencies and other types of digital assets for institutional investors, asset managers and banks included.

Blocknox Has Been a Custodian in Germany for Over 1 Year

Talking about Blocknox and its plans, this is what the company’s managing director and Boerse’s chief digital officer, Dr. Ulli Spankowski, had to say:

“As a pioneer in Germany, Blocknox has already been operating as a custodian of cryptocurrencies for more than one year. Now we want institutional clients to benefit from our experience and set-up as well. They can use Blocknox’s reliable custody as a building block for their own services around digital assets.”

Besides, the firm said it already created and deployed a multilevel type of security concept for protecting the assets under its custody.

Blocknox Applying for a Custodian License

Germany has introduced in January new rules for the crypto services providers in the country. Blocknox mentioned it already applied for a license so that it can offer custody services provisionally. Furthermore, it wants to submit a final application before the deadline for becoming a regulated provider of financial services passes.

Spankowski thinks that functioning according to the new rules makes everything more professional in the crypto industry, which can encourage many other institutions to enter the same market. He may be right, as perhaps institutions that haven’t decided to function in the crypto space until now didn’t do it because the regulations were unclear.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Coinbase Custody Becomes First Custodian With SOC 1 and SOC 2 Security Evaluations

The crypto custody subsidiary of major US-based crypto exchange Coinbase has managed to obtain 2 new security evaluations.

As per a press release from February 12, Coinbase Custody got a SOC 1 Type 2 and a SOC 2 Type 2 report from Grant Thornton, a major US-based accounting firm. This means Coinbase Custody is now able to prove that it complies with many of the security and reporting regulatory standards.

What Information Do SOC Reports Provide?

The Grant Thornton official website says that SOC reports provide information on how strong and present the financial, information and operational controls are in an organization. SOC 1 gives information related to the financial reporting of any organization and are intended for auditor-auditor communications.

On the other hand, SOC 2 gives more information about availability, security, privacy, processing integrity and confidentiality. The Type 1 SOC 2 and SOC 2 reports describe the controls’ design, whereas Type 2 reports cover the effectiveness of controls for a testing time period of 6 months.

Coinbase Custody Will Renew Reports

Coinbase Custody has stated that it’s going to renew its reports. The news about the evaluations arrives soon after in January, Coinbase has a established an Ireland identity in order to make its cryptocurrency services available to European institutions. There are other crypto services providers that went to obtain SOC certificates. For example, at the end of January, US-based crypto custodian and exchange Gemini was granted the SOC 2 Type 2 evaluation by Deloitte.

What Does Cryptocurrency Custody Mean?

The greatest advantage of crypto assets is that they can be under independent custody. Institutional investors and financial markets need a higher level of security standards in order to achieve self-custody. Rohan Barde Hai, a researcher for Blockchain Zoo, explained in September last year how important custody solutions are for institutional investors. The more the crypto market is maturing, the more traditional institutions decide to join it.

For instance, after the new Anti-Money Laundering laws have been instated, 40 banks in Germany asked regulators to approve their digital asset custody services, which means the adoption of crypto is on the rise.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Chinese Smartphone Retail Giant Invests In Decentralized Cloud Storage Firm, Monsoon Blockchain

A subsidiary of D.Phone, one of the largest Chinese mobile phone retailers, has made its first steps into the blockchain space by acquiring a minority stake in Monsoon Blockchain, a US startup.

It seems Dixintong Technology Group and Monsoon Blockchain signed the purchase on January 7. The company’s founder and chairman, Donghai Liu, said this will allow Dixintong to explore blockchain-based and other new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G.

Many Phone Companies in China are Exploring the Blockchain Space

Since President Xi Jinping has expressed its support for blockchain technology, many telecommunication services providers in the country have started to be more and more interested in it. For example, China Telecom and China Mobile are now part of the state-backed consortium Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN). More than this, most major Chinese carriers have started to offer cloud services and 5G data plans to their customers. When it comes to the Dixintong project, Liu had this to say about it:

“There will be great potential for blockchain adoption given the support from the Chinese government. That is one of the biggest reasons why we want to form a partnership with Monsoon Blockchain.”

Monsoon Touts an ETH-Based Protocol

Monsoon Blockchain is thinking about running an Ethereum (ETH) – based protocol for smart contracts to have a marketplace for potential clients and cloud service providers. The protocol will be blockchain-based and peer-to-peer. The company has collaborated in the past with Oracle, IBM and Alibaba. With Dixintong, it’s planning to bring more users onto the protocol. Dixintong is not only selling mobile devices, but also data plans and licensed virtual services, so it has access to billions of Chinese users that Monsoon can reach to.

When it comes to Monsoon’s role, this would be to assign unique identities to smartphone users on the blockchain platform, for them to benefit from data services at low costs as a result of the optimized cloud services solution.

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Author: Oana Ularu