Binance’s Educational Platform Opens Up Government Approved Office in Shanghai

Binance, one of the most popular crypto exchanges in the crypto-verse which also has many subsidiaries including Binance Academy (a blockchain and crypto-centred educational portal) is all set to open its first office in Shanghai, China. Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the CEO of the exchange confirmed the same on Twitter.

This can be seen as a major milestone for Binance given there have been many rumors of them unofficially running an office and even some reports of them being investigated by the authorities (which the exchange has denied time and again). CZ has been trying to strike balance with the authorities for quite some time now, but given China’s stance on crypto exchanges forced Binance to shift their operating base outside the country.

The Begining of a New Chapter for Binance

According to the local news report, the major milestone would see Binance Chain’s core team working with Lingang Xinyefang and Lingang Innovation Management College in order to set up a research institute in Shanghai province. The focus of the research institute would be to develop various use cases for blockchain technology, for which China seems to be really bullish.

Today marked the official signing ceremony where the local authority seal of approval took place and the possession of the office was handed over to Binance. While CZ has often propagated that in modern times physical headquarters and office does not make much of a difference given the technology has made it possible to function without the need of one. However, given China’s notorious and passive stance towards crypto service providers despite being bullish on blockchain make this event indeed historical for Binance.

Does Binance’s Office Approval Suggest China’s Softening Stance on Crypto?

The answer is a hard NO. China has been tip-toeing about their approval for crypto for quite some time, but it seems it would be quite difficult to see China’s softening regulatory stance on cryptocurrency. This has been evident on many occasions in the past, be it them calling Bitcoin the best use case of blockchain, in the wake of PM’s call for accelerated blockchain adoption, but the very next day they took a U-turn and said that Bitcoin still has many flaws which would be overcome by their national CBDC.

Very recently they have blasted cryptocurrencies for being volatile and how it could never become an instrument of finance. Even the recent Binance approval for research is strictly for blockchain purposes only. While there is still no confirmation on the launch date of national digital currency, which many speculated to be in line for launch since October 2019.

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Author: James W

EOS Block Producers Reach ‘Strongest Consensus’ In Approval Of Worker Proposal

The EOS Worker Proposal, which is famous for being very controversial, was announced by the most important EOS block producers that it went into its first execution stage and is supported by many participants to the network.

One of the leading EOS block producers, EOS Nation, reported that many Eosians agreed to support the new proposal and nothing could have changed their mind. On March 24, it also announced that a number of 34 both active and standby producers approved the EOS Worker proposal. It seems that until now, this is the strongest consensus achieved by any proposal in the EOS Mainnet.

The Eosio.wps System Launched

The March 24 first multi-signature approval launched the eosio.wps account that stores funds needed for new operations on the system. After this approval and the MSIG execution, eosio.wps will receive 50,000 EOS tokens in transfers from eosio.names, while the 3rd MSIG is going to deploy the Worker proposal smart contract to the same account, namely eosio.wps. After the 4th approval, the new proposal will have the whole network’s voting system reconsidered.

A Proposal Surrounded by Controversy

According to the new scheme and outlines, anyone can make a proposal on how the EOS blockchain should work, in exchange for a small EOS fee. After that, the block producers, regardless if they’re active or standby, need to vote on the proposal with +1, -1, or 0. In order to pass, a proposal has to gather 20 points. Here’s what the co-founder and CEO at Block.one, Brendan Blumer, had to say about the strategy employed by EOS:

“Socially authorising the BP’s to direct token-holder funds into projects without a clear or measurable return of value is risky, and may open the door to corruption and external scrutiny.”

Many voices don’t agree with him, but it remains to be seen how things are going to work for the EOS Worker Proposal in the future.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Monex Shareholders to Receive BItcoin As Year-End Benefit; A Step Towards Adoption

The Tokyo-based financial service company Monex, which is also behind the crypto exchange Coincheck, has made an announcement on March 23 that it will give its shareholders Bitcoin (BTC) as a gift for the 2019 benefit.

It looks like the shareholders will get BTC worth 500 yen ($4.53) as of this month’s last day, plus the existing shareholder benefit. Only those who own a Coincheck crypto wallet account will receive the BTC gift. Here’s what was further mentioned about the event and its recurrence:

“Please note that it has yet to be determined whether granting the cryptocurrency BTC as a part of shareholder benefits will continue for the fiscal year 2020 and after.”

BTC in Addition to Monex Points

As said earlier, the BTC will come as an addition to the already existing Monex points benefit. It should be noted that in April 2019, it was also announced that Monex Points can be exchanged with cryptocurrency. As a matter of fact, Monex decided to give shareholders that have Coincheck accounts BTC valued at 500 yen ever since September 2019, when the interest in cryptocurrency spiked.

As a matter of fact, Monex was in the news back in February this year, with its efforts to enter the crypto industry and for participating to a $16.7 million funding round for CoolBitX. Furthermore, in November 2019, the US Monex subsidiary Tradestation made the announcement of a crypto brokerage platform launch taking place with the help of the Trade Station Crypto division.

Monex’s Home Country Highly Efficient as Far as Crypto and Blockchain Adoption Goes

Japan, which is where Monex is based, as mentioned earlier, is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to adopting and regulating both blockchain and crypto. Only a week ago, the Japanese Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, the Brokerage SMBC Nikko Securities company and the trading firm Mitsui & Co. have announced their collaboration with LayerX, a blockchain startup, to create a blockchain-based assets company named Mitsui & Co. Digital Asset Management.

More than this, the financial arm of the automotive giant Toyota also talked about a blockchain-based platform for vehicles and IDs, project in which the Toyota Blockchain Lab is obviously very involved.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Weibo Data Breach Has 538M Users Personal Information Up For Sale on Dark Web for BTC

According to PingWest, a Chinese technology publication, Sina Weibo, which most consider it the Chinese version of Twitter, had a data breach that caused 538 million records of its users to be exposed.

A platform user discovered on March 19 that 538 million Weibo users’ phone numbers were for sale on the dark web. The price for 172 million of these phone numbers was only 0.177 Bitcoin (BTC), which is about $1,150 at the moment. It seems the cyber-attackers gained access to information such as usernames, passwords, locations, ID numbers, Weibo posts, and other information details of the platform’s users without any problem.

Users’ Personal Information Circulating on Telegram

The Director of Information Security at Weibo tried to explain what happened by saying the phone numbers got leaked as a result of a 2019’s brute-force attack, resulting in users’ personal data ending up online. The police were informed about the breach and Weibo has an investigation underway.

Later on the same day, it was discovered on a gray market that was trading the personal data of these users on Telegram. The Telegram group has online bots that help with acquiring social media accounts’ personal information with the help of keywords as long as people are willing to pay.

Many Personal Details Can Be Revealed

Information such as records of hotel stays, express deliveries, phone numbers, and email addresses are easy to find online with the Telegram group. Just by inputting let’s say, a number from Tencent QQ, which is one of the biggest platforms for instant messaging in China, personal data like phone numbers, the account’s password and the user’s home address will be revealed. The essential information is blurred until a payment has been made to the Telegram group.

How Much Does Accessing Personal Data Cost?

With 0.00678 BTC or 0.358 Ether (ETH), a person interested in personal data can purchase 260 points. An inquiry costs 10 points, whereas the information associated with a social media account costs 50 points.

In case buyers don’t hold cryptocurrencies at all, they’re recommended to make a purchase of BTC or ETH from Paxful, LocalBitcoin, LocalEthereum or Huobi. Ever since the news about Weibo broke out, the Telegram group has seen over 28,000 new buyers.

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Author: Oana Ularu

US-based FinCEN Regulated CoinZoom Launches Crypto Exchange and Visa Prepaid Card

A crypto FinCEN regulated crypto exchange launched its own debit card with which digital asset holders can make payments for services and goods using their digital assets.

CoinZoom is based in Utah and made on Wednesday the announcement that it’s going to start onboarding new retail and institutional clients, also that it will provide a Visa debit card that converts crypto into US dollars instantly, making payments the same way.

CoinZoom is FinCEN Registered in the US

CoinZoom is a FinCEN registered business that offers money services. It’s regulated by the agency in most US territories and states, which means it has to respect the local laws, including the ones concerning know-you-customer (KYC) and consumer protection. More than this, it also has a money transmitter license in the same country and another one in Australia as a digital currency exchange.

CoinZoom supports the most important cryptocurrencies like the Bitcoin (BTC) and the Ether (ETH), which are paired with the US dollar and provide an asset class fiat gateway. Furthermore, its platform runs a selected proof-of-stake (PoS) coins staking facility that gives holders rewards.

CoinZoom Can Also Be Used as a Remittance Solution

CoinZoom’s CEO and founder, Todd Crosland, said the exchange already has an Apple iOS trading app available and can be used as a remittance solution. Here are his exact words on the Visa debit card news:

“CoinZoom is not only the first U.S. cryptocurrency exchange to provide a Visa card to its customers, but also offers … industry-first features like ZoomMe, CoinZoom’s free Peer-to-Peer crypto and fiat payment system.”

Coinbase Also Released Its Own Visa Debit Card

Let’s not forget that last year, Coinbase, the famous crypto exchange that’s also based in the US and registered with FinCEN and even MSB, has released its own Visa debit card too. However, only its users from the EU and the UK can use it. On Tuesday, Coinbase made the announcement that the same card is now integrated with Google Play.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Central Bank of Sweden, Riksbank, Seeks to Host BIS Digital Currencies Research Hub

Riksbank, which is the central bank of Sweden, has already started to test its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) ever since February, and now would like to host the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) digital currency innovation hub.

The announcement was made on March 6. If Riksbank is sure to host the innovation hub, it should co-finance the event and have it taking place in Sweden. As a result, it has proposed the Sveriges Riksbank Act in which it asks Riksdag, the parliament of Sweden, to approve its financing for international organizations activities.

$3.1 Million per Year if the Hub Is Established in Sweden

A permission for Riksbank to co-finance international organizations activities has been forwarded by Riksbank to the parliament. The cost of this would be 30 million Swedish kronas (about $3.1 million) a year, but only if the BIS decides to have a hub in the country of Sweden. In January 23, the central bank had an amendment referral proposal circulating, proposal that says most of the referral bodies such as stakeholders, organizations and authorities should support or object the proposal.

Other Hub Locations Are in Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong

All through 2019, the BIS has played an active role in determining where the BIS Innovation Hub should take place so that central banks from all over the world bolster the financial and global payment system. Some some of the Hubs are located in Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Switzerland is known for actively performing research on CBDCs and the hub’s distributed ledger technology (DLT). Sweden wants to host the BIS innovation hub seeing the payment services’ digitization has increased in the country.

Riksbank Making Progress When It Comes to Issuing Its Own CBDC

The more the Riksbank is progressing to issue its own CBDC, the more being included in the BIS innovation hub becomes important because it brings an advantage when a comparison between it and some other central banks is being made. The e-krona’s pilot platform started working back in December 2019. For it to run, Riksbank collaborated with the Ireland-based firm Accenture.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Toyota Blockchain Lab To Focus On Expanding Partnerships To Drive DLT Adoption

Japanese automaker giant Toyota has announced various blockchain enterprises which are meant to digitalize and revolutionize the automotive sector.

As per a press statement released by the company, Toyota Blockchain Lab has conducted various successful trials where one of them aims at tokenizing the vehicles as well as ownership rights within the blockchain technology.

Toyota Blockchain Lab was started in April last year with the task of integrating blockchain within the giant Toyota’s infrastructure. The press release reiterated this initiative revealing that various enterprises are in the works while some collaborations are being forged.

At the moment, Toyota is utilizing blockchain technology for its clients as well as vehicle initiatives. The company revealed the ‘value digitalization’ where the aim is to increase financing techniques through asset tokenization in both vehicles as well as owner rights. The press statement stated:

“Toyota Blockchain Lab has been examining plans for promising applications for use and promoting demonstration trials while accumulating Group knowledge. It is also engaging in global collaboration with Group companies, including Toyota Research Institute.”

The firm also stated that some of the aspects it is working on are ID sharing as well as digitalization of clients’ contracts as some of the areas the blockchain technology will be employed. The firm also cited that it will overhaul its supply chain where blockchain will be used to record as well as share data regarding the parts manufactured as well as shipping. Other potential applications comprise vehicle transaction details for tolls, electric charging as well as parking. Blockchain is also expected to be used for car-sharing, Decrypt reports.

The press statement also gave details about the Toyota Woven City initiative which will be powered through hydrogen as well as smart technology. The Woven City project was launched in January and is set to weave together various technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain. The announcement stated that this will be a great opportunity to build a city from ground-up where future technologies will be the driving forces for all the city’s infrastructure.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

France Court Declares Bitcoin a Fungible Asset Like Money in a Crypto Ownership Dispute

Bitcoin has been declared a fungible intangible asset, which is an interchangeable good, in the Commercial Court of Nanterre, reported local media Les Echos.

First, in France, the court decision allowed the legal nature of bitcoin, which was recently also declared a “Recognised Form of Investment,” by an Australian Judge in a Court Case Judgment. Hubert de Vauplane, lawyer specializing in Kramer & Levin says,

“The scope of this decision is considerable because it allows bitcoin to be treated like money or other financial instruments. It will therefore facilitate bitcoin transactions, such as lending or repo transactions, which are growing, and thus favor the liquidity of the cryptocurrency market.”

The decision came in a case due to a disagreement among the French exchange platform, Paymium and the English alternative investment platform, Bitspread. Paymium basically loaned 1,000 BTC to BitSpread in 2014, prior to the Bitcore Core’s hard fork in 2017 resulting in a new cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

This causes one to inquire the possession of rights among debtors and creditors prior to and after the split. Here, the dispute is over the ownership of the Bitcoin Cash and if the BCH coins received in a one-for-one parity after the fork should be returned by the borrower to the lender as well.

The Tribunal as such treated the lawful structure of bitcoin as a fungible asset as money putting bitcoin lending under “customer loan” (not consumer credit). Under customer loans, the ownership of goods loaned to the debtor for the duration of the loan is also transferred. As a result, BCH was declared by the court to be the debtor’s property, like the remittance to the investor.

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Author: AnTy

Zabo Raises $2.5M From Moonshots Capital, Tezos To Bring Crypto Into The Mainstream

The crypto software company Zabo, which claims to directly connect bank accounts and crypto wallets, has just raised $2.5 million in funding so that it can start adding new customers and building its engineering team.

Based in Dallas, Zabo announced on Thursday that its funding round is complete and that it hosted participants like the Tezos Foundation, Digital Currency Group (DCG), Castle Island Ventures and CoinShares. Moonshots Capital led the round and is known as an early-stage investor that also led the funding for the Slack messaging platform.

Zabo Connects Bank Accounts to Crypto Wallets

Zabo claims it can directly connect bank accounts to crypto wallets by using code. The software company will use the new funding to improve its engineering capabilities and to gain more customers. It claims its technology went through tests and has been used with many apps, personal finance management tools, tax software and decentralized finance platforms included. Here’s what the general partner of Moonshots Capital, Craig Cummings, had to say about Zabo:

“[Zabo] built an incredibly important piece of technical infrastructure that will enable cryptocurrency financial services to touch billions of people.”

The Process that Connects Banks and Wallets Simplified

The co-founder of Zabo, Christopher Brown, made a statement in which he says his company’s success has grown as a result of the simplified solution for connecting banks and wallets it offers. It’s a well-known fact that many of the other attempts of connecting crypto to traditional finance are technologically complicated, so Brown says that:

“Zabo solves this by dramatically reducing the complexity. We enable leading financial services companies to swiftly and easily integrate into hundreds of leading cryptocurrency wallets with just a few lines of code.”

Another $1 Million From Ken Seiff’s Blockchange Ventures in 2018

The other co-founder and Zabo’s president, Alex Treece, said his company helps traditional financial entities deal with cryptocurrencies, making it possible for more compelling products to be built, in order for the new generation of clients to be served. The software startup has also raised $1 million from Ken Seiff’s Blockchange Ventures in a pre-seed round from 2018.

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Author: Oana Ularu