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

Cryptocurrency Lending Firm Cred Files For Bankruptcy After ‘Irregularities in Funds’

Cred, a united States-based crypto lending firm, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection giving a rude shock to its customers. The legal team of Cred filed the bankruptcy papers on November 7th in the District of Delaware. The legal filings revealed that the crypto lending firm had estimated assets worth $50-$100 million while their liabilities stand at $100-500 million.

Looking at customers’ reactions who are now worried about their funds, it is apparent that the firm did not keep customers in the loop of things. The bankruptcy announcement comes in the wake of the October 28 announcement about stopping the inflow and the outflow of funds from the platform for two weeks.

In its official statement, the firm noted that the decision to file for bankruptcy was finalized to safeguard the funds and maximize the value of the platform for its creditors.

Customers Suspect Criminal Proceedings

The customers who have their funds locked with Cred believe that the firm is hiding something and believe it could be under investigation for financial fraud. These rumors were fueled by the statements made in a tweet from the official Twitter account of the company. After prohibiting the inflow and outflow of funds, the crypto lending platform on Twitter said that the suspension was because of an ongoing criminal investigation about possible “irregularities in the handling of specific corporate funds by a perpetrator.”

The suspension, along with the shady explanations, hardly convinced anyone, and shortly before their bankruptcy announcement, their trading and wallet partner Uphold terminated all associations with the lending firm.

Cred later cleared that the fraudulent activity that led to the criminal investigation did not compromise any customer info or their funds. However, many users complained about not being able to access their funds in the wake of funds inflow and outflow suspension. Cred wrote on Twitter,

“No Cred systems or customer information have been compromised. We are on track to deliver a more comprehensive update in the next 7 – 10 days.”

To which a user replied,

“The funds we invested with Cred still safe with this chapter 11 bankruptcy?”

The consumers now have to wait for the court proceedings to complete the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing before getting their hopes high.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

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

IOHK and The UN Launch $10k Hackathon to Fight Hunger & Climate Change Using Cardano

  • IOHK announces a partnership with the United Nations.
  • The Cardano-developer will launch a hackathon targeting the millennium development goals (MDG).

The Input-Output Hong Kong (IOHK) development team is partnering with the global humanitarian organizations, the United Nations (UN), launching a hackathon to end poverty, hunger and solve climate change. The hackathon will have a top prize of $10,000, aiming to incentivize developers to make the humanitarian millennium goals more achievable.

IOHK aims at improving the overall blockchain impact in international development using the Cardano blockchain. The hackathon proposal submission period opens on Saturday, and entries must be finalized by October 18 at 11:59 MDT. The selections will then take a week before results are released on 24th October, on the 75th anniversary of the launch of the United Nations – United Nations day.

Participants can submit any Cardano-based solutions on any of the new 17-millennium development goals set in 2015, including ending extreme poverty and hunger, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change. A pool prize of $10,000 worth of ADA, Cardano’s native token, will be released to incentivize projects to build.

The winning projects will be judged by a panel from the IOHK and UN employees, determining “an idea’s technical prowess, scalability, and social impact, as well as its financial and volunteer support.” The statement further states,

“The winning ideas will be able to seek the advice of experts from both the UN and IOHK to ensure that they are implemented in the most impactful way.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

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

US Bank Regulators to Roll Out Uniform Rules for Crypto & FinTech Firms; Streamlining Licensing

  • In efforts to ease the regulatory process for payment services and crypto firms, the United States is set to introduce a unified set of regulations that will be used in about 48 states.

As per a press statement shared with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, money services businesses based in the United States, composed of crypto firms, will in the near future enjoy easy regulatory processes. The press statement explains that the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) is set to launch a group of state regulators which will oversee all the licensing work.

CSBS will bring together 48 state regulators who have agreed to come up with a unitary set of supervisory rules. Until today, crypto-based firms as well as payment service companies were forced to adhere to numerous individual state regulations.

About 78 firms will benefit from the fresh simplified format and according to an official at CSBS, these companies move more than $1 trillion per year combined. The enactment of the unified state regulations will help ease operations across many states.

John Ryan, CSBS’s CEO, stated that the new initiative will come with numerous opportunities which will help businesses operating in the country to expand their services. Ryan also quipped that the new model will work safely just like in the old regime.

He explained that the states will not be giving up their authority but will realize efficiencies through sharing of information. Ryan also explained that although states will be sharing information, every state has the right to conduct and independent examination when the regulators deem it necessary.

The new initiative comes after several complaints were filed by crypto and fintech firms as they try to get a solution on having a state-by-state supervisory regime that delayed the licensing process. CSBS embarked on testing various approaches to determine what could work well in efforts to come up with a lasting solution. The current unified approach led to promising results which culminated in the establishment of a pilot initiative last year.

Western Union’s Rosemary Gallagher whose firm participated in the pilot program praised the initiative saying it will lead to a faster licensing process.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

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