Circle Collaborates With Signature Bank On USDC Integration

Circle Collaborates With Signature Bank On USDC Integration

Global payment technology company Circle announced a collaboration with Signature Bank to integrate Circle products and services into the bank’s suite of products.

Circle Picks Signature for USDC Reserve Deposits

The new partnership will enable the New York-based Signature Bank to be the leading financial institution for Circle’s USDC reserve deposits, per its press release.

Circle would also add its products into Signature’s blockchain-based real-time payment platform, Signet. Jeremy Allaire, CEO, and co-founder of Circle said,

“Adding a respected, forward-thinking financial institution to our USDC reserve network is another step forward in adoption and growth for the world’s fastest-growing digital dollar currency.”

The incorporation of Circle into Signet will bring about full integration of its products and services with the bank. Given that Signet offers real-time payment every day of the week, including weekends, the partnership will enable Circle’s customers to benefit from this special service.

Meanwhile, Signet’s speed of real-time payment during weekends is attracting many crypto industry players to the company.

Speaking on the development, Signature Bank President and CEO Joseph J. DePaolo disclosed that many of its digital asset-based commercial clients had demanded incorporating Circle into the Signet ecosystem. DePaolo added that the company would complete the integration of Circle in the Signet ecosystem in the coming months.

He equally said that the company would seize the opportunity to create future partnerships and tinker with the possible adoption of USDC stablecoin.

Circle had attracted partnerships from several global financial service firms in recent times because of the increasing usage of USDC.

In March, Visa Head of Crypto Cuy Sheffield tweeted that financial transactions can now be initiated and completed using USDC.

Circle’s USDC Growing Higher

The Boston-based Fintech firm is making waves in the crypto industry due to the growing adoption of USDC.

Earlier, the CEO of Circle Jeremy Allaire tweeted that the cryptocurrency industry will grow higher under the administration of US President Joe Biden. Allaire holds that Biden’s administration will be supportive because moderate politics benefit cryptocurrency.

Circle has continued to improve its service to enhance seamless transfer for customers. Earlier, the company announced the roll-out of a new Application Programming Interface (API) to enable users to convert USDC to USD through an automated clearinghouse (ACH) system in a seamless manner.

The first exchange to adopt the new API was FTX.

Speaking on the innovation, Jeremy Allaire said that Circle’s API provides a fast, reliable, and trusted infrastructure in connecting bank transfers to retails products with the aid of USDC.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

US Department of Education Is Exploring Blockchain-Based Solutions to Store Student Records

The U.S Department of Education is exploring blockchain technology, intending to “rethink” how distributed ledger technologies can be incorporated into the education system.

In current global pandemic times, various U.S. government departments are exploring blockchain technology to finding solutions regarding transparency, safe record-keeping, and decentralized information sharing. The U.S. Department of Education (Office of Educational Technology) became the latest department to join the bandwagon funding the “Education Blockchain Initiative (EBI).”

EBI is designed to help identify and evaluate ways that blockchain technology can improve data flow among educational institutions and employers while empowering individuals to translate educational outcomes into economic opportunities.

The project, launched by the American Council on Education (ACE), aims to find blockchain-based solutions to enhance the network and communication between and among students, learning institutions, and employers.

According to a statement from ACE, the EBI aims at identifying and evaluating new ways blockchain can improve the flow of data to institutions, students, and employers. Projects launched through the EBI will restore data control to the learner, “empowering them to control their identity and leverage the skills learned,” the statement further reads.

ACE is an organization that lobbies and creates “inclusive, dynamic, and resilient” public policy across postsecondary education centers to better the students. In line with finding blockchain solutions, the organization launched the ‘Blockchain Innovation Challenge’ in 2020 to overhaul the education and employment systems in the U.S.

Louis Soares, chief learning and innovation officer of ACE, stated the challenge would help the undeserving and minority students affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The solutions being created will also enhance student enrollment, improve the transfer of credits, and communicate between institutions and employers. Soares said in a statement,

“This includes finding new approaches to credentialing (and hiring) that leverage the potential of emerging technologies to improve communication among education and training organizations.”

Phase 1 winners of Blockchain Innovation Challenge announced

To pace up developments in the education space, the Blockchain Innovation Challenge is making awards totaling $900,000 in two phases. The awards target teams and projects that “put forward bold ideas to reorient the education and employment ecosystem” to improve information transfer across students, institutions, and employers.

On Feb 11, four Phase 1 winners were announced, including teams from Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, and Utah.

One of the winning projects, “Student 1”, collaborating with the Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, created learner records for a third of all Nebraska students involved with multiple behavioral, judicial, or state educational services.

Other winners include Texas Woman’s University, which is partnering with the University of Texas- Arlington to build a “shared credentialing platform” that enhances sharing educational records across institutions and training facilities.

A similar project, UnBlockEd, led by the University of Arizona and Georgia Institute of Technology, Fluree, and the John N. Gardner Institute, is developing an open and decentralized transfer exchange that will enhance credit transfer articulation for students transferring schools.

Powered by Fluree is the Lifelong Learner project, also sponsored by the Utah Department of Education. The project is developing a digital wallet to allow teachers to store and share information, including their credibility scores, licenses, and exemplars of practice with human resource departments and other management systems.

Still a long road ahead

While these blockchain developments move ahead to provide innovative solutions in the education industry, practical integration to real-life situations remains challenging. Brian Platz, co-CEO of Fluree, mentioned in a statement.

He explained that blockchain developments suffer from the supply-demand rhetoric across the education space. He noted that building a data-sharing platform and digital credentials is currently not in demand as employers rarely ask for them.

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Author: Lujan Odera

IOTA and Dell Technology Launch a Platform to Measures the ‘Trustworthiness of Data’

IOTA and Dell Technology Launch a Platform to Measures the ‘Trustworthiness of Data’

The partnership started back in 2019 when Dell Technologies launched its ‘Data Confidence Fabric.’ This demonstration paves the way for integrating systems on hardware and software devices for highly compliant institutions.

On Thursday, IOTA Foundation, a blockchain-based technology firm, announced its partnership with Dell Technologies to launch the world’s first demonstration, Alvarium, which measures data’s trustworthiness. Alvarium aims at improving the data sent out to apps and servers by providing a “measurable way of evaluating the confidence in the data.”

Dell Technologies started developing the project back in 2019 after the launch of the first Data Confidence Fabric. The project was subsequently passed on to the IOTA Foundation team, who added scalability, security, and blockchain properties to birthing Alvarium.

Alvarium maps data as it passes through every point, whether an IoT device, router, server, or cloud, and rates each point. The trust score ratings are built using “industry-specific requirements.” Once the trust ratings are made, the scores are broadcasted on the IOTA Tangle, ensuring transparency and permanence. Steve Todd, Fellow at Dell Technologies said,

“Data confidence is needed to manage data at scale, creating systems of trust in this data, so users at all levels understand the terms of use”

“Project Alvarium will create this transparency, and the more companies that integrate it into their processes and systems, the closer we’ll come to a future without data ambiguity.”

Blockchain smart contracts require external data to function properly hence the recent growth of decentralized oracles such as Chainlink. Alvarium aims to compete with these decentralized oracles in the future by offering institutions and industries a reliable oracle and a confidence score.

The statement confirms the demonstration will be held through a webinar on February 24th starting at 11.00 AM EST.

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Author: Lujan Odera

IGT Gets Regulatory Approval to Use Bitcoin & Crypto’s at Slot Machines

The world’s largest slot machines’ maker, International Game Technology Plc, is looking at offering cryptocurrency as a payment option on its casino games like Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks.

It has been only last year that the Nevada Gaming Commission made it easier for casinos to introduce cashless systems and now IGT has gained regulatory approval for using cashless wallets on slot machines.

The company received a patent this week for the means to transfer crypto between a player’s account on the gaming-establishment and an external crypto account, reported Bloomberg.

This would allow players to move BTC and other crypto assets into their digital wallets on a slot machine through their phones. Company spokesman Phil O’Shaughnessy said,

“IGT secured this patent to bolster its industry-leading patent portfolio in anticipation of any possible future direction in regulated gaming involving cryptocurrency.”

Going the crypto route certainly makes sense especially to attract the younger gamblers. According to IGT, a third of guests at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas are between the ages of 21 and 40.

Now that Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins prices have started rallying like crazy, everyone wants a taste of cryptocurrencies.

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Author: AnTy

Vietnam Prime Minister Puts “Blockchain Technology” on its Priority List

Vietnam Prime Minister Puts “Blockchain Technology” on its Priority List

It is to ensure they “actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” states the order.

Amidst the on-going price action and institutional attraction the digital asset industry is getting, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed an order which places cryptocurrency as one of the top four technologies on priority.

The order dated Dec. 16, 2020, prioritizes four fields of technologies viz. digital technology domain, physics, biotechnologies, and energy and environment sector.

Under the digital technologies domain, the government has included blockchain technology.

Other technologies part of this section includes Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Big data analytics, Cloud computing, Quantum computing, Next-generation network technology like 5G, 6G, other, Virtual reality, Augmented reality, Intelligent, and Adaptive cybersecurity, Digital twin, Plant simulation technology, and Precision Agriculture.

The prioritization is “for research, development, and application to actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” so the country can get a headstart and not be left behind.

As per the order, ministries, cities, and relevant organizations “shall base themselves on this Decision” to orient and prioritize allocating resources for research, development, and technology application.

All the required parties have to start acting on it from the date of the issue of the order and report to the Prime Minister.

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Author: AnTy

Thailand Excise Dept to Adopt Blockchain In 2021; Boosting Collection Efficiency

Blockchain technology sees significant increases in adoption, particularly from companies looking to leverage it and streamline their operations. Beyond companies, there has also been an increase in government blockchain applications. In Thailand, the official tax agency is hopping on the trend.

Streamlined Operations to Benefit the Bottom Line

The Thai Excise Department plans to use the blockchain to improve its revenue collection capabilities, the Bangkok Post reports.

Per the report, the move became necessary following the agency’s resolve to work on its tax collection modalities rather than increase taxes in a downturn.

Lavaron Sangsnit, the agency’s Director-General, says the agency could use the technology to assess tax liability for imported products and assess other government agencies’ revenue collection. Like other countries in Asia, Thailand is expecting a drop in income due to the impact of COVID-19.

The government projects a drop in tax revenues for 2020, with 530billion baht ($17.5 billion) expected to come in for the fiscal year. This marks a 3.3 percent reduction from the 548 billion baht ($18 billion) that it got last year. Looking to streamline operations and improve collection efficiency, the Department will now move into blockchain.

This isn’t the agency’s first foray into blockchain. Last year, the department developed a new, blockchain-based tax refund method for oil exporters. At the time, former Director-General Patchara Anuntasilpa said the system was one of the three changes that the agency planned to incorporate in the near future.

Patchara highlighted that the future tax refund system would require oil exporters to pay excise taxes and only claim refunds after they had shipped their products. With blockchain, the Excise Department would be better suited to inspect tax payments and shipping processes.

The Director-General added at the time that the Department was also working on using blockchain for the distribution of playing card licenses and annual fee payments for liquor and tobacco.

Collaborating With Other Departments

Now, with countries looking to get back on their feet following the coronavirus, Thailand is also making changes to its entire tax system. Going into the 2021 fiscal year, the Revenue and Customs departments are also expected to incorporate blockchain for their operations. The Director-General added that the technology could help thoroughly assess each government department’s revenue collection, integrating all that data into a single database.

Thailand is one of the most blockchain-friendly countries globally, with the technology seeing rapid adoption in both the private and public sectors. With banks focusing on improving cross-border payments and the government using the technology to streamline revenue collection, the Southeast Asian country is taking payment efficiency more seriously.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Ethereum Developer ConsenSys Partners with Thailand’s Central Bank & French Bank for Retail CBDC

ConsenSys has joined the Bank of Thailand as its technology partner to develop and test a prototype for central bank digital currency (CBDC). Other partners include SCG and Digital Ventures (DV).

As per the announcement, the CBDC will be tested and issued using ERC20 smart contracts. In partnership with Atato, it will “architect a solution using its Enterprise Ethereum stack, including ​Codefi​ and ​MetaMask​.” Charles d’Haussy, Director of ConsenSys in Hong Kong, said,

“A retail blockchain-based CBDC represents a new technology for the issuance of central bank money, where tokenized central bank money is accessible to the general public, and in this case businesses piloting the solution.”

The company that develops for the second-largest network Ethereum and funds the ecosystem startups is also helping French bank Societe Generale in its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot research.

According to the announcement, ConsenSys will work with the bank’s digital arm, SocGen – Forge, and will provide its expertise regarding issuance and management, delivery versus payment, and cross-ledger interoperability of the CBDC. Jean-Marc Stenger, CEO, SocGen said,

“We are pleased to partner with ConsenSys, a company who is a key player in the development of distributed ledger technology globally and offers many of the infrastructure and development tools used by the blockchain community.”

SocGen – Forge is also working with Banque de France on CBDC experiments and recently issued a EUR40 million bond that was settled with a digital euro.

These aren’t the first instances of ConsenSys being involved in CBDC experiments; it has been reportedly helping the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on a CBDC pilot to facilitate cross-border payments between commercial banks as well. Ken Timsit, Global Head of Enterprise Solutions at ConsenSys, said,

“ConsenSys is committed to advances in the CBDC space and has assisted six central banks around the world on CBDC projects.”

In August, it also acquired Quorum, JPMorgan’s blockchain platform on which the bank’s stablecoin JPM Coin is built, which is expected to see its first commercial use this week.

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Author: AnTy

IOTA Tangle Tech Project Funded by Japanese Govt, to Build DLT-based Maintenance Solutions

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a national research and development organization under the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industries in Japan, announced a strategic partnership with IOTA Foundation to create risk-based maintenance (RMB) systems across industries using artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs).

In a press release shared with BEG, IOTA Foundation will team up with Best Materia, IMC, High-Pressure Institute of Japan, The Society of Chemical Engineers Japan, OMC, Lloyd’s Register, and Yokohama National University in the project. The project aims to provide solutions in the 170 Trillion Yen ($1.5 Trillion) domestic social infrastructure conservation market to build durable and secure infrastructure across industries worldwide.

The AI-driven RMB systems built by IOTA Foundation will be integrated across various industries in Japan to target more countries in the future. The project will assess the damages and risks involved in maintenance – using past maintenance data to predict which parts in industries, factories, and plants need maintenance.

As a software solution (SaaS) service, the RBM solutions will provide a decentralized data service built on IOTA Tangle, a distributed artificial intelligence system, and digitization and sharing infrastructure for data.

As Japan struggles to solve its aging problem across the country, the launch of AI-powered solutions will be vital in replacing current RBM specialists who manually carry out the maintenance schedule. Shigemitsu Kihara, CEO at Best Materia, hopes the integration of IOTA Tangle protocol will enable secure collection and storing of RBM related data, “which is the key to the AI system’s accuracy,” he said.

With blockchain-based RBM systems in place, plants and industries will benefit significantly in mitigating risks from the machines’ maintenance, etc. This will further reduce “unplanned outages, improve plant availability and lower costs” by reducing the manual influence and unnecessary repairs.

According to the release, over 30,000 industries require AI-powered RBM systems in Japan alone. The cost to integrate the project is estimated at 30-50 million Japanese Yen each – totaling 900 billion Yen (~$7.9 billion) to 1.5 Trillion Yen (~$13.2 billion).

In an email sent to BEG’s desks, Holger Köther, Director of Partnerships at IOTA Foundation, praises the open-source and distributed risk-based maintenance system. Holger hopes the IOTA Tangle platform will enhance data collection on the project and further stating,

“Digitalizing the risk-based maintenance (RBM) systems for safer and more efficient industrial plants is only one of many applications where IOTA will be used in the future.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Blockchain Technology to Grow the Global GDP by $1.76T In the Next Decade: PwC Report

  • China set to benefit the most from blockchain technology growth in the next decade with a protracted $440 billion boost in its GDP during this period.
  • This represents 25% of the total protracted global GDP boost from the innovative technology – set at $1.76 trillion by 2030.

A research report from a ‘big 4′ accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), “Time for Trust,” explores blockchain technology’s global socio-economic impact in the next decade. Targeting 2025 as the tipping point for the technology. If adopted at scale, PwC experts and researchers see a $1.76 trillion impact from the technology by 2030. This represents 1.4% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the world.

The report focuses on blockchain’s practical use in five key areas – provenance, payments and financial instruments, identity, contracts, dispute resolution, customer engagement – and how they deliver value in building transparent and efficient solutions across all industries.

According to the report, Asia is set to witness blockchain technology’s greatest impact, China leading the growth with a $440.4 billion projection. Japan and India expected to witness a $72.3 billion and $62.2 billion increase, respectively.

The United States is expected to witness a $407.2 billion increase in GDP from blockchain innovation growth in the next decade.

PwC report further states blockchain’s role in enhancing transparency and traceability as the sector with the most growth potential – projected to grow by $$961.6 billion by 2030. Anthony Bruce, Partner, and Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader, PwC U.K, praised the potential of blockchain innovation in providence and traceability in the healthcare industry, stating,

“For healthcare organizations, blockchain can ensure patient safety is at the heart of the pharmaceutical supply chain. It has the potential to give patients confidence in the authenticity and origin of drugs.”

Payments and securitization of wallets are also picking up the pace and is expected to grow by $433.2 billion in the next decade. The U.S is expected to lead global growth in this period and is expected to experience a $136.3 billion GDP growth from blockchain-based payment systems, with China coming in a close second at $104.6 billion.

“Blockchain has the potential to cut costs, speed up transactions and promote greater financial inclusion by streamlining cross-border and remittance payments,” Lucy Gazmararian, Crypto, and FinTech Advisory, PwC Hong Kong said.

“These powerful innovations will transform the payments infrastructure.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

FinTech Revolut to Leverage Fireblocks’ Wallet & Network Tech to Launch New Crypto Services

Revolut, the mobile-only trading app, has announced that it would be utilizing Fireblocks’s technology to offer a new range of crypto services. Fireblocks is popular for helping big institutions to shift cryptocurrencies between exchanges. However, neither of the two firms revealed exactly what these new crypto services would be.

Fireblocks currently support three exchanges, namely Huobi Global, OkCoin, and Bithumb. Big companies use Fireblocks technology to move funds between smart contracts both on and off-chain without logging in and out of each exchange.

Revolut started as a mobile banking service offering cross-border remittance services starting in 2018. In the beginning, the mobile banking app allowed only the purchase and sale of bitcoin; however, now it offers multiple digital assets.

Revolut this year expanded to the US as well, which expanded its user base significantly. It is being believed that its recent association with Fireblocks is only going to help it scale its crypto services further.

As per Revolut’s yearly financial report released in August this year, the customers on the mobile banking app held $121 million in crypto by the end of 2019, seeing an increase of 2.5 folds from 2018. In the financial year of 2018, the total amount of crypto held by the mobile banking service stood at $48 million.

Ed Cooper, Revolut’s head of crypto, commented on their association with Fireblocks but did not reveal any detail of the partnership and how both the firms plan to scale bitcoin services.

“Fireblocks will enable us to add more advanced crypto features rapidly, ” they are also exploring “all the new experiences that we can offer our customers shortly.” He added,

“Wish I could give more info here. They haven’t announced the services yet, but Revolut is planning to announce this themselves in the next few weeks.”

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Author: James W