Russia’s Fund Rostec Proposes To Implement Blockchain In All Data Systems

Government Owned Holding Conglomerate Proposes To Apply DLT In All Government Data Systems

Rostec, a Russian owned conglomerate on Friday, May 24 proposed a roadmap on applying blockchain in all the government data systems. This latest development by Rostec was reported by a Russian financial newspaper Kommersant.

The report indicates that a Rostec affiliate has reportedly developed a blockchain roadmap that is worth 85 billion rubles ($1.3billion) and lays claim to provide an economic impact of about 1.6 trillion rubles ($25.4billion) in five years.

A New And Exciting Project

Novosibirsk Institute of Programming System (NIPS), a structural body of Rostec presented the new project during a blockchain conference which was held in the Republic of Tatarstan on May 23.

Excerpts from the report also indicated that the absence effective regulation of cryptocurrency and blockchain is a major stumbling block to the adoption of the proposed roadmap. Major stakeholders, including the president of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, Yuri Pripachkin considered lack of regulation a major impediment to the adoption of blockchain technology.

He stressed that the necessary law should be put in place in late 2019, in other to achieve a visible result, while the roadmap is based on the hope that adequate regulation will start in 2021.

Cryptocurrency Regulation Is Not Our Priority

Russia is a major bloc in the European Economic scene, but much cannot be said about its exploit in the digital currency market. While countries like Malta and Cyprus are taking cryptocurrency regulation serious, so as to open the country up to digital innovation and ideas, Russia is not blinking an eyelid.

The Russian Federation, through its Prime minister, stated recently that the regulation of cryptocurrency is not their priority because the digital currency has lost its popularity and it’s no longer fashionable.

With the debate looming on how cryptocurrencies will be classified when it comes to tax, Russian regulators effectively replaced cryptocurrencies with Digital Rights Terminology.

Bitcoin Exchange Guide reported in June 2018 that the regulation will take effect in July last year.

Head of the State Duma Financial Market Committee Anatoly Aksakov stated that digital currencies will thus be addressed as ‘digital rights’. With the new legislation in place, any other terms, including views of digital money will be lifted from its legislation.

The regulatory boss also stressed that the main term by which everybody knows the digital currency will be removed. Although the new law did not place any form of restriction on crypto trading, it will effectively change their ‘’assets’’ into ‘’rights’’

On Initial Coin offering and the necessary regulations, Aksakov maintained that the State Duma Financial Market Committee is yet to determine how to go about it. He stated that their main goal and objective is to assess the potential risk associated with the offering before the committee decides on the way forward.

Cryptocurrency is fast becoming a mainstay in so many economies, with some countries like Iran thinking of adopting it as their official currency to fight the United States imposed an economic sanction.

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Telegram Open Network (TON) Crypto to Launch During Q3 2019 According to Source

According to an insider source, Telegram is all set to list its native token offering the ‘GRAM’ on a number of established crypto trading platforms such as Binance, Huobi, and OKEx in the near future. Not only that, the company’s $1.7 billion ICO is still one of the largest fundraisers of its kind till date.

  • Telegram’s soon to be released blockchain ecosystem is quite similar to Ethereum’s and is designed to host a variety of unique decentralized applications.
  • Earlier this February, an investor update report claimed that the TON project was nearly 90% complete.
  • Some of the big name players that invested in Telegram’s ICO include Benchmark, Sequoia Capital, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

As per an internal note sent to Telegram’s core investor base, the firm is looking to deploy its Telegram Open Network (TON) by the end of Q3, 2019. In this regard, it should also be pointed out that there had previously been doubts surrounding the ability of Telegram’s executive brass to execute a crypto project of this magnitude.

However, as things stand, it appears as though the messaging giant has been successful in testing out an early version of its blockchain and consensus algorithm (as laid out in the official company whitepaper).

On the subject of testing, an insider source at TheBlock that wishes to remain unnamed at the moment was quoted as saying:

“This reaffirms our belief that the TON virtual machine and the TON … Byzantine consensus algorithm are capable of meeting the goals stated in the original white paper,”.

As many of our regular readers may remember, a representative for Telegram had earlier issued a circular claiming that the Telegram Open Network was 90% finishedand that a test net launch could be expected in the coming few months.

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New SEC Rules Pose Tougher Challenges for Startups

People in the crypto industry always ask for more clarity from the U. S. regulators, that much is a fact. Unfortunately, the local regulators are known for dragging their feet for too long and never coming up with quick solutions. Last month, however, the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decided to publish a framework for investments in digital assets.

The paper was meant to create a more attractive environment for people to be able to invest. However, the reaction of the crypto community to the document has not been very good so far.

Most people believe that this new piece of regulation can make it easier for big companies like Facebook or Google to invest in cryptos while the life of startups will be considerably worse.

The Situation of Crypto Regulation In The US

At the moment, cryptos are very hard to regulate within the U. S. The SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce has already affirmed that some tests to know whether something is a security or not can lead to more trouble than answers, for instance.

This means, for instance, whether a crypto exchange can be able to offer a product without having to consult with the SEC first. These tests are, however, often hard to know whether you’ll pass because cryptos are such an emergent technology.

KIK, for instance, started a legal battle with the SEC in order to prove that its Initial Coin Offering was not a security sale. Unfortunately, the company has already sunk over $5 million USD so far, which is not being profitable for the company at all.

A Regulation Tailored For Facebook?

The truth is that this new piece of regulation is far from being very objective or useful. Why even issue it, then? The answer is: Project Libra is among us. The Facebook crypto project, often known as Facebook Coin, is in the works. This will be huge and mainstream, not some small company trying its luck in the market.

As this project will happen and will bring a lot of money even to the government (because of taxes), it is clear that the SEC is now eager to find Facebook some solution on the whole troublesome gray area in which the country is in.

The impact of a project like Facebook’s in the market is basically unseen so far, as it may be able to reach a higher market cap than even Bitcoin has (and Bitcoin has no owner, mind you, so it is harder to regulate).

Facebook has 2.38 billion active users. This is almost a third of everybody on the planet. Project Libra is certainly exciting for some people, although probably not too much for hardcore crypto fans, especially as Facebook does not respect individual privacy, but no one can deny that this is a huge project.

This raises a question: is the regulation unfriendly to startups and ICOs because it was tailored for Facebook. Maybe. In truth, it is hard to say, but there are some hints of that. The regulation is considerably less favorable to ICO projects, for instance than projects from companies which are already large.

The SEC Regulation

Take this example: both the Facebook project and the Basic Attention Token (BAT) can be used to reward people from watching ads. The BAT tokens, however, are more likely to be deemed a security than Libra because they used an ICO to raise funds.

If some token, when it was raising money, was able to gather more money than it was needed for the basic structure, according to the SEC, it is more likely to be a security. Tokens will be also more likely to be seen as securities when there is the promise of a future business involved or when people expect to buy them in order to profit. This basically described ICOs.

Another point is to market broadly the token (such as BAT was) against offering the product only for people who want to use it, as Facebook will do. If you do it like BAT, your products are more likely to be considered a security.

Obviously, part of the reason why the SEC choose this legislation is to avoid risks for investors. ICOs are a sort of a gamble. If you already have the product done, it is fairly safer. However, it should be considered how this can harm the startups.

It was also considered a negative point by the community that if an asset is prone to rise in value (such as Bitcoin and most cryptos), it is more likely to be considered a security. This could be because the SEC is afraid that cryptos will take fiat’s place, so they only want currencies which are inflationary and do not pose a threat to be used.

Not A Good Piece of Regulation

Our conclusion is that this piece of regulation sent out by the SEC is not actually very good. It encourages successful communities to create their own tokens but it simply abandons the smaller ones.

While it is understandable that regulation is needed, as 80% of the ICOs were unprofitable last year, the truth is that the regulation cannot be too harsh on small companies. The important goal here is to protect both the startups and the investors so that they both can get what they want.

Now, the crypto community will have to prepare for Libra and all the other projects that will still appear. If the community is not strong, these projects from megacorporations will take the whole market by assault and decentralization will only be a far away dream.

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CoinMarketCap Sponsors Major Israeli Soccer Team, Beitar Jerusalem Football Club

CoinMarketCap (CMC), known widely as one of the main data providers for the crypto market, has started a new sponsorship. Now, the company is sponsoring the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, a well-known soccer team from Israel.

Yossi Benayoun, one of the most famous players of the team, is a Bitcoin investoras well, so it looks like the company found the right team to sponsor.

The CEO of CMC Luke Wagman has affirmed on social media that the new uniform with the sponsorship has brought some good luck for the football club, which won his first match in Madrid by 2-1 against Atlético Madrid. He also affirmed that it was very exciting to see the crypto world getting so much attention as it is right now.

According to another blockchain exec, Alexandre Dreyfus, this is just the beginning and more crypto-related sponsorships will happen in the near future.

More Soccer Clubs Are Embracing Cryptos

This is, obviously, just a single example of how to merge the crypto world and pop culture. There are several other clubs out there which are also embracing cryptos. BlockTV, for instance, has recently reported that cryptocurrencies are slowly starting to take over football as several clubs are starting partnerships with blockchain-related firms.

Gibraltar United, for instance, is a football team which is paying some of its players using cryptocurrencies, which is known as a novel way to pay salaries. This can be good as some players have struggled to open bank accounts in the country and also to pay fewer fees and taxes over the money that they get from the company.

The truth is that this integration between BTC and the mainstream is here to stay. When Bitcoin is finally mainstream, it will not go away anytime soon.

Paris Saint-German (PSG), too, has embraced crypto. The powerful French football team has already announced plans to have its own cryptocurrency, which will be created in a partnership with Socios, a Malta-based company focused on creating this kind of solution.

At the moment, PSG is one of the richest clubs in the world. It was the club, for instance, which made the most expensive transaction in the history of European football when the club paid $263 million for Neymar, a Brazilian football star who was playing for the Barcelona Football Club at the time.

According to Dreyfus, which is the CEO of Socios, the company is focused on having many teams on board of their new initiative. West Ham United, for instance, was an English club that was added to this list this year.

Bitcoin Is Slowly But Steadily Gaining Mainstream Traction

What can be seen from these developments is that Bitcoin is finally getting some real traction in the mainstream market, something that was being awaited for a long time by investors.

Several blockchain-related football projects were launched since 2017 and, while not all of them were a complete success, the truth is that most of them are pretty interesting initiatives.

Aside from all the ones cited in the article so far, we got Galo Coins from the Brazilian football club Atlético Mineiro and a crypto project headed by Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho), one of the most important Brazilian football players ever.

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BlockShow Becomes Festival of Decentralized Technology

Blockshow is an international blockchain conference which is set to occur on November 14 and 15, 2019 in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands Expo. It has announced a change in concept, going from being a conference on blockchain to a Festival of Decentralized Technology. Nine conferences will be held during this period, which include the following:

  • Money
  • Trading
  • Gaming &DApps
  • Investment and Startups
  • Business
  • Development
  • Regulations
  • Marketing and PR
  • Privacy and Security

The goal of BlockShow is to being more innovative thought to the conference by expanding each topic. Each topic will have its own curated program where everyone will be on the same page. This step will encourage discussion and allow for the audience to explore the subject more thoroughly.

The list of guests who will be part of BlockShow Festival 2019 is prestigious and includes some notable figures. This includes Justin Sun who is the founder and CEO of Tron and the CEO of BitTorrent, CrisDuy Tran, who is the director of QRC Group, Ted Lin, the chief growth officer at Binance, Mike Kayamori, the CEO and co-founder of Quoine and many others.

With the new format, the main speakers can be part of all nine sectors and answer questions, such as how to work with legislators to drive them to adopting blockchain and how to fight scams that exist in the crypto currency industry.

Each year, this event hosts competitions between startups, and the previous participants have raised more than $1 billion combined. They include notable startups like Bancor, which is a decentralized liquidity network and Electrify Asia, a retail electricity marketplace.

For 2019, BlockShow has stated it will provide a bullish boost for the startups with a competition EXP20. Startups will compete to impress investors where they could win financial support along with other support. They may win meetings with private investors and receive tickets and exhibition booths along with a stage performance. New conferences will be announced from BlockShow in the next few weeks.

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Over 50,000 Investors in Brazil Conned Out of $210 Million Plus by Crypto Pyramid Scheme

The Brazilian police recently arrested criminals in connection with a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme worth more than $200 million. The gang defrauded about 55,000 Brazilians by promising enormous profits afterward, local news media outlets reported on May 21st.

The crypto market experienced a bull run, and as a result, it spurred many Brazilians to indulge in crypto-investment schemes. Brazil’s Federal Revenue Service announced that the criminals took advantage of crypto newbies and persuaded them to invest in cryptocurrency and open crypto wallets to get a 15 percent return on all the money they invest.

In a program against crypto-schemes known as “Operation Egypto,” the Brazil tax agency merged with the police to estimate the amount of money that was lost as a result of the crypto scheme, who they say amassed to about $200 million involving 55,000 Brazilians. The “Operation Egypto” undercover activity has been side-lined to catch the cartel.

Brazil’s official stated that they lured the victims with a promise to pay 15 percent of any money they invest in the scheme in the first month.

The local media news outlet in Brazil called Correido Do Povo quoted Delegate Eduardo Dalmolin Boliis of the federal police’s Office of Corruption and Financial Crimes saying that,

The problem with this company is that it was acting without authorization.”

Notwithstanding, an official statement by the government of Brazil stated that the trading of cryptocurrency is considered not illegal, but the company that staged the scam operated without authorization.

It is necessary also to know that that employees of the pyramid schemes used the people’s investments to buy luxuries and other things including cars and precious stones, which all impounded by the Brazilian government. Additionally, according to some reports, these employees also use the investments of the Brazilian people involved to buy and sell other cryptocurrencies.

No doubt, cryptocurrency has been a subject of the hack, and many of such cases occur almost every day. The Brazilian government has also ensured that adequate measures will be taken to curb such occurrence again. The government has also guaranteed the optimum protection of its citizens against such schemes, but will not ban authorized crypto-investments in the country.

The news of the hack in Brazil comes at the time when the United States stood against a Ponzi scheme that was connected to cryptocurrency that also declared to be backed by diamonds. The Ponzi scheme took funds worth $30 million. Although the mind behind the system Argyle Coin, Jose Angel Aman, is now being prosecuted for running a Ponzi scheme after using the funds he got from investors to buy diamond worth millions of dollars.

On this case, Eric I. Bustillo, the director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, stated:

As alleged, Aman operated a complicated web of fraudulent companies to continually loot retail investors and perpetuate the Ponzi schemes as well as divert money to himself. The SEC’s diligent investigative work uncovered the Ponzi schemes, and our goal is to bring justice to the harmed investors.”

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Swiss Post Partners With Blockchain Startup on Temperature Monitoring Shipments Solution

Switzerland’s national postal service Swiss Post has cooperated with blockchain firm Modum to further develop a temperature monitoring solution for shipments. The news was reported by Swiss logistics news site Die Post on May 7.

Die Post reports that Swiss Post has cooperated with Modum, a blockchain and Internet of Things(IoT) technology firm, as a technology partner to launch a smart service. Dubbed ThermoCare, the service is for monitoring the temperature of packages, enabling sensitive goods to be tracked, analyzed and recorded over the full course of their travel route.

The solution is reported to be aimed at optimizing the transport of pharmaceutical goods in particular, as well as offering promise for the food industry.

ThermoCare leverages Modum’s thermo-monitoring technology in order to ensure that specially packed goods — in ThermoCare boxes — are kept within a specified temperature range during transport. Alongside temperature control, the solution also offers temperature monitoring via a Modum sensor, which logs and records the temperature of the goods in real time.

Temperature data can reportedly be accessed at any point during a delivery consignment by an employee scanning the package, removing the need to open or unpack goods for quality control.

Any temperature deviations can thus be tracked immediately, allowing for the parties involved to determine which location or organization is responsible for any slip in quality management.

Swiss Post and Modum’s partnership is reported to be a long-term cooperation, Die Post notes.

As previously reported, Swiss Post and state-owned telecoms provider Swisscom announced in December 2018 their partnership to develop a 100% Swiss blockchain infrastructure.

The new infrastructure was designed as a permissioned, blockchain to be operated jointly by two entities, with its key premise being to provide a service that retains all data within Switzerland, and can thus meet the security requirements of banks.

Last year, IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk launched their global blockchain  shipping solution, which generates a distributed, immutable record on the fly for critical data across the supply chain. The solution, dubbed TradeLens, integrates IoT and sensor data to enable the monitoring of variables such as temperature control and container weight.

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Uber has decided to become the largest technology company

Uber has decided to take a gigantic step in its vision to become the largest technology company in the segment of the ‘unicorns’ that manages to impact its output to the stock market, as they did in a recent past Alibaba and Facebook.

Wall Street will undoubtedly witness one of the most anticipated investment events of the year since its intention to go public was announced by the largest car-sharing company in the world.

Although there are serious doubts about its performance in recent years and the feasibility or not of profitability in its shares after its IPO, it is worth remembering how the company came to this moment and what kindnesses and weaknesses it has as a listed company. , in order that its investors see profitability in their bet capital.

History

Uber was born in 2009 by Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick, who decided at the beginning to finding UberCab, the need Camp had for the difficulty of getting a taxi in San Francisco.

The service originally started with the offer of black cars on request for well-heeled customers. In this way, it expanded rapidly and entered a significant number of cities and countries around the world. Five years after launching the service, passengers had requested a billion trips, and Uber had already become a symbol of the revolution in the transport services market.

Currently, Uber is a global company and its demand for services from the company is growing. As a result of its growth, due to the impetuosity of covering markets and innovating, it has generated a series of conflicts in various cities, with sectors of taxis, legislators, and regulators in many cities worldwide.

Also in 2017, the company was immersed in a series of ethical and legal scandals about discriminatory practices, which led to the departure of its founder Kalanick.

Economic Data

For many investors who decide to bet capital on a company, the first question is whether the company is profitable.

In view of the failure of its closest competitor, Lyft, after its IPO at the end of March of this year, we bring to the table a series of figures that can help us understand how Uber is doing at this moment when quoting on the Stock Exchange.

  • Uber’s gross reserves have been increasing. That is, the number of Uber users who spent on the application grew by 2018 by 44% compared to the previous year.
  • Uber obtained a turnover of 11270 million dollars, with a net profit of 997 million dollars. Its revenue growth has slowed down, given that revenues in 2017 had more than doubled compared to 2016.
  • In addition, spending continues to increase and reached $ 14,300 million last year, which means an increase of 19 percent since 2017.
  • The net loss margin has decreased from 131.9% in 2014 to 25.8% in 2018.
  • Uber has had slow growth and begins to level after its explosion in 2017. By 2018, the number of monthly users increased by 34 percent compared to the previous year. For 2017, this same number increased 51 percent.
  • Uber Eats tripled revenues from 587 million dollars in 2017 to 1,500 million dollars in 2018.

While its macro numbers are somewhat uncertain and not entirely optimistic, Uber has a great advantage over its closest competitor Lyft, as it is a global company that operates both in America and Europe and also its business is diversified beyond the simple transport service to scooters, bicycles, autonomous vehicles and recently delivery of courier and meals at home.

The Shadow Of Lyft.

As we have mentioned, the shadow of Lyft is a subject that is very worrying to investors, but Uber can perfectly make a difference and based mainly on its diversified range of services offered.

In addition, if we compare growth and performance data between the two companies we can find quite marked differences that are important to take into consideration.

  • The US transportation giant has seen a very dynamic increase in revenues in recent years: 209% in 2017 and 142% in 2018. The rate of revenue growth slows, but it is still higher than the growth rate of operating costs, which leads to an improvement in margins.
  • The gross margin increased from 21.6% in 2014 to 50.1% in 2018.
  • In the case of Lyft, both the gross margin and the net loss margin were 42.3% in 2018. Uber continues to reduce losses over the years.
  • Lyft had extraordinary compensation in actions due to the IPO for 1100 million dollars. Uber is estimated to be a figure of around 1850 million dollars, something that worries the market.
  • In addition, the revenue from the provision of shared-trip services per driver in the Uber case was at the level of $ 2,354 in 2018, and for Lyft was $ 1,135.
  • The raw data of reservation with the driver indicates us an image of 10,641 dollars for Uber and 4,263 dollars for Lyft “.
  • The Lyft IPO on March 29 was seen by many as a prelude to the departure of Uber, larger and more awaited.
  • Uber seems to be well positioned within the industry due to its wide geographical reach and its expanding offer. On the other hand, Lyft is operating only in the US market. And it’s not even a leader there (Uber has a market share twice as big).

IPO- Price Of The Shares.

This 2019 promises to be the year of the IPOs. Already successful cases like Pinterest that has gained 60 percent since its release, Zoom with a value increase in more than double and PagerDuty with 90 percent, undoubtedly prepare an optimistic scenario for Uber despite the losses for more than 30 percent generated by his closest rival, Lyft.

The price of each share of Uber will be between 44 and 54 dollars and will be identified with the name UBER in the New York Stock Exchange, which is estimated to begin operations in mid-May. Finally, it has been adopted by a conservative strategy. The company will put a total of 207 million shares on the table and will have a lower valuation than previously.

The on-demand chauffeur company plans to raise around $ 9 billion in its initial public offering of shares.

It is expected to be valued between 80 billion and 91 billion dollars, considering options for the purchase of restricted stocks and shares. This figure is higher than the valuation of 76,000 million dollars given by private investors in August and eclipses rival Lyft, whose valuation was only 24 billion dollars.

Uber is located in the third box of the most valuable IPO in the United States, behind Alibaba in 2014 with 167 billion dollars and Facebook in 2012 with 104 billion dollars, hence its importance and impact on the markets.

Uber will leave three percent of its shares available for its drivers to agree to buy at the price of the initial public offering.

Uber at the time of going public, faces a great job challenge at its doorstep, with multiple protests in the United States and Europe from its drivers who demand labor benefits and the derogation of their status as a contractor, something that could cost the company billions of dollars in salary compensation.

In addition, the 32% decline in the price of Lyft, its closest competitor and point of reference for many because of the similarity of the companies hours before their departure, reflects the concern about Uber on the part of investors, about the ability or not of the company to be profitable.

For now, in the short term, it is more than evident that Uber and Lyft will not generate profits, more than their founders and investors in the years of initiation, given that the heavy investments that are being disbursed to diversify the business will not yet bear immediate fruits.

However, starting from the previous point, once Uber manages to consolidate and fight with the strong competition to enter the new business segments to which it is betting, they will perhaps allow to balance the scales and generate profit for both its employees and its investors.

In this regard, Uber is demonstrating to change its policy and be even more sincere with its employees, as The Wall Street Journal mentions, citing internal sources, where the company’s employees have consulted their Chief Financial Officer about the feasibility of selling or to stay with the company’s stock, which has left a neutral position beyond exhorting employees to keep their shares.

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Theta Labs’ Video Streaming Network Closes Funding Led By Samsung NEXT and Blockchain.com

Theta Labs, the company behind the Theta Network, has recently closed a new strategic funding round that was led by tech giants such as Samsung NEXT and Blockchain. Other companies that participated in the funding round include Uphonest Capital, Wei Fund, Igen Fusion Capital, and many others.

Theta Labs Receives Support From Samsung NEXT and Blockchain

One of the largest non-custodial cryptocurrency wallets in the market, Blockchain, has decided to invest in Theta. According to a recent report released by Forbes, Samuel Harrison, Managing Partner at Blockchain, explained Theta could drive real user adoption and act as a novel way to on-ramp users into the crypto ecosystem.

Theta Labs, Inc. CEO, Mitch Liu, commented about the work they are doing with Samsung and Blockchain:

“We’ve been working with Samsung and Blockchain for some time now, and with this new funding round, we look forward to aligning our strategic interests and invest in Theta project’s success. We’re building a deep relationship with these two world-class companies, and with this additional investment, Theta is now fully funded through 2021 and beyond.”

This would help the company to execute its go-to-market strategy and its vision to build a decentralized global data delivery platform.

Users can share their excess bandwidth and resources in order to receive rewards through a decentralized video delivery protocol. Thus, Theta users can earn up to $16 per month that can be used to cover a typical video platform’s subscription. The project has already processed more than 2.7 million on-chain transactions that represent 60 video segment micropayments each.

The company has already partnered with different companies such as Samsung VR, MBN, CJ Hello, and many others. According to Forbes, SILVER.tv, Samsung VR and other companies will be reducing their content delivery (CDN) costs, which will allow for increasing incremental revenue and improve viewer engagement.

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Blockchain Firm Raises $6 Mln From Major Energy Companies, Saudi Aramco Subsidiary

American blockchain startup Data Gumbo Corp. has raised $6 million from major energy companies, including the venture wing of Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco. The news was published by energy-focused news outlet Worldoil on May 8.

In a Series A equity funding round, Data Gumbo ostensibly raised $6 million from companies such as Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, the venture subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, and Equinor Technology Ventures, the venture subsidiary of Equinor, a Norwegian multinational energy operator. The new investment purportedly brings Data Gumbo’s total funding up to $9.3 million.

The funds will be used for developing Data Gumbo’s commercial blockchain network and adding to the company’s technical, sales, and marketing teams. The investors purportedly expect Data Gumbo’s blockchain-as-a-service platform to improve oil and gas supply chains by eliminating disputes and enabling automated payments, as well decreasing reconciliation times between supply chain counterparts.

Daniel Carter, Senior Investment Director at Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, said that “distributed ledger technologies have the potential to bring win-win efficiencies between industrial companies and their suppliers.”

Recently, the Russian prime minister welcomed an initiative to use blockchain in agreements over gas supplies by the country’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom. The blockchain-based platform reportedly intends to allow data sharing between all the participants of a certain contract, as well as to improve the security of data.

In March, seven global oil and gas firms, including American industry giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, partnered to form the Oil & Gas Blockchain Consortium. The initiative intends to conduct proofs of concept in order to explore and apply the benefits of blockchain, as well as contribute to global adoption of the tech.

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Major Crypto Traders Meet to Establish Industry Blacklist, Standards

A group major cryptocurrency traders is considering the idea of creating a blacklist of counterparties engaged in nefarious activities in the crypto space, Bloomberg reported on May 8.

At a meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, a group of traders from 35 digital assets firms including such industry players as trading firm DRW Holdings Inc.’s Cumberland crypto unit, Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Holdings, and tech startup Ripple proposed to create a blacklist for parties who reneged on trades and engaged in dubious activities.

Some reportedly suggested to create an accreditation for companies as approved by the association of crypto-related businesses known as the Crypto OTC Roundtable Asia (CORA). Darius Sit, a Singapore-based managing partner at crypto trading firm QCP Capital, reportedly argued that:

“A community-wide effort to improve compliance standards would prevent liabilities that might stem from trading with bad actors or dealers that trade with bad actors. A self-governance initiative like this is also something that regulators are keen to see.’’

The meeting was held the same day that leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance experienced a major security breach, wherein hackers were able to withdraw 7,000 bitcoins (BTC) worth $40,705,000 at the time. In a letter on Binance’s website, CEO Changpeng Zhao stated that the bitcoins were withdrawn from its hot wallets, which contain only 2% of the exchange’s total bitcoin holdings.

In late April, Jonathan Levin, the co-founder and COO of analytical blockchain startup Chainalysis, claimed that at least 95% of cryptocurrency crimes investigated by law enforcement involve bitcoin. Levin, however, noted that the transparency of cryptocurrencies is helping law enforcement to build cases against suspects quicker than in traditional finance, namely because investigators no longer need to rely on obtaining records from foreign banks.

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$1 Billion Blockchain Investment for FinTech Project Figure Technologies

Figure Technologies, a committed blockchain lending startup company, created by Mike Cagney, also the former Chief Executive Officer, recently lands a $1 billion credit line on a blockchain.

Figure Technologies was created to remove home equity landing structure through the use of improved technologies. No doubt, the company is achieving great strides with its recent $1 billion investment.

The company announced on Thursday that it landed $1 billion investment in conjunction with Jefferies and WSFS Institutional Services on an asset-based financing structure that is based on blockchain technology.

The asset-based financing structure is situated on Provenance.io, which is a blockchain-based platform created by Figure in 2018 to actualize, fund, and sell HELOCs to banks and asset managers.

It is important to note that Jeffries may use occasionally loan Figure and this deal is part of the changing funding memorandum held by the home equity lines of Figure.

However, Figure’s closing of $1 billion credit line on its blockchain-based platform was aimed to revolutionize HELOC lending. There is a maximum amount of loan that can be lent and paid back again on credit lines.

Figure, however, stated that it has been in collaboration with Jefferies and WSFS – a sector of WSFS Bank, a trustee for Jefferies – for the past 6 months to create the asset-based financing structure on Provenance.

The CEO of the Securitized Markets Group at Jefferies Brain McGrath stated:

“We’ve already experienced the benefits of financing on Provenance.io. We’ve gained full transparency into the underlying assets, real-time access to loan performance and the process of accepting collateral has less friction than off chain.”

Figure stated that it created more than $59 million of HELOCs on blockchain last month. This is in-line to offer each of its customers 5-day funding that it promised earlier.

Figure has achieved other feats, and its CEO Cagney stated his intentions to make use of blockchain, Artificial Intelligence to improve the home equity in all measure.

Cagney emphasized the plan to announce home-improvement loans, HELOCs, and sale-leaseback products for retirements; as of now, the company has procured a capital of $120 million for this plan.

It is also essential to know that if Figure’s potential securitization deal ends, it will be termed the first security transaction backed by assets with loans created on a blockchain platform, according to WSFS’ senior vice president and director of corporate trust, Kristin Moore.

Figure’s growth is immense, and at the moment, the company boasts of 100 employees in offices in California, Nevada, Montana, and Utah. The company offers two services at the moment: Figure Home Equity Loan and Figure Home Equity.

No doubt, the present $1 billion blockchain investment can help Figure actualize its goals of creating a fast home equity access to its end customers.

Mike Cagney also added:

“With the financing facility now in place, Provenance.io can support the entire end-to-end financing of loans, from origination to funding to servicing and to financing. It paves the way for the first securitization on the chain, which will demonstrate the massive cost savings, risk reduction, and liquidity benefits blockchain delivers.”

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Blockchain Bond Regulations Coming Yet This Year in Germany

Germany Could Work On A Crypto Regulatory Framework Throughout 2019

According to a recent report released by the news outlet Handelsbatt, Germany is planning to introduce new regulations for blockchain bonds and digital assets. European countries still lack a regulatory framework for digital assets and blockchain technology to expand.

Germany Plans Blockchain Regulations

According to the blockchain correspondent for the current ruling coalition, Thomas Heilmann, it is very important for the country to embrace a blockchain supportive regulation. There are just a few countries that have a clear regulatory framework for blockchain technology and are receiving lots of investments from blockchain-related firms.

In general, Germany has been a conservative player in the cryptocurrency market, even when Berlin has attracted a large number of startups and firms dedicated to the crypto space. Now, authorities seem to be more aware of the benefits related to digital assets and to have a clear legal framework for companies to operate.

According to the report, the legal changes will be focusing on the tokenizing process which is currently done on paper. At the same time, they are also trying to solve some of the issues that are currently arising from the weak regulatory landscape.

Frank Schaeffler, the blockchain expert of the German Free Democratic Party, commented:

“The national government has finally woken up. Now things need to moe fast. Crypto issuers and investors are looking for a regulated financial marketplace for their activities which we can present on the international stage. Germany has the change to adopt a key position here.”

Switzerland is one of the countries with a clear regulation for digital assets and virtual currencies. The country is working in order to be able to attract as many investors as possible to help the market expand. Malta has also created very friendly regulations for digital assets and blockchain tech.

The European Union (EU) has yet to implement regulations for the crypto market. However, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), said that central banks in the continent shouldn’t be focusing on regulating virtual currencies but they should focus on taking care of investors.

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Multi-Dealer Brokerage Platforms

The worlds of traditional finance and cryptocurrency have consistently butt heads. However, the opportunity to become a central place for both types of trading is an appealing concept to consumers. Will the atmosphere cause a new level of competition, or will these two sides of the same coin work together?

Multi-Dealer Platforms Move To The Forefront Of Both Crypto And Traditional Finance

  • Fidelity announced bitcoin trading business launch to come in the next few weeks.
  • Michael Moro, Paul, Bialobrzewski, Jeff Dornan, and other speak on the competition to become a one-stop shop.

The cryptocurrency market is filled with tons of competition as it is, but the concept of becoming the one-stop shop for consumers is starting to gain traction. Financial institutions and cryptocurrency firms are going outside of their typical services to entice the consumers of their competing industry, according to a report from The Block on May 9th.

A prime example is found in the new opportunity that Fidelity is offering. Fidelity recently announced that their bitcoin trading business will be launching in the next few weeks, though they are one of the biggest names in traditional asset management. This motion alone pushes the company into the cryptocurrency industry as well.

Most of the time, over-the-counter trading desks are necessary for large investors to trade their coins unless they trade on their own. While OTC trading desks are meant to be helpful, they are plagued with their own troubles, like finding the right buyers and sellers at the best price. As traditional brokerage enters the market too, like Fidelity and Tagomi, the evolution of cryptocurrency is mirroring the progress that other asset classes have made.

Considering these changes, it should not come as a surprise that multi-dealer platforms are starting to rise in popularity, taking center stage for both the crypto market and traditional finance. Paul Bialobrzewski, the CFO of the DV Chain trading firm, spoke with The Block, saying that there are multiple players working to offer crypto brokerage services, but the changes have been occurring for the last few years already. He added,

“Fidelity is obviously coming to the game a little bit later but they’re taking a more measured, more institutional approach to this.”

With crypto OTC trading, a firm or other entity will come to the desk so they can sell a predetermined value of Bitcoin or another asset. The desk would end up being the buyer but would impose a fee. As Reuters’ writers Anna Irrera and Jemima Kelly pointed out, there is a risk with this infrastructure, since these transactions are rarely audited and there’s a chance of one of the sides of the transaction defaulting. Furthermore, OTC traders are not the most technologically advanced players in cryptocurrency; many of these desks conduct their interactions on online messaging systems like Skype.

Hoping to correct some of these concerns, traditional brokers are entering the space and bringing their capital management model in as well. Instead of connecting a buyer and seller to each other, a multi-dealer platform can just worry about the best prices and settle up later. Jeff Dornan, the CIO of Arca, pointed out that the individual that comes in and solves this issue will end up being the one that gains the most benefit in either industry.

Michael Moro, the CEO of Genesis Global Trading, chimed in on the matter as well, telling The Block that he sees this solution as being “the partnership route,” rather than a competition between multiple first. Moro added that the current state of the market has been “much more friendly than competitive.”

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FinCen Reveals Regulatory Document

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCen, has just decided o issue a new guide on the “Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Certain Business Models Involving Convertible Virtual Currencies”.

According to the agency, this new guide will be used in order to explain to companies and investors how money transmission using virtual tokens can be done within the regulation. This includes several kinds of crypto-related software like P2P exchanges, crypto wallets, wallet providers, etc.

As it happens when any new piece of regulation surfaces, the community was very quick to be full of opinions about it. Several influencers spoke about the document, some defending it, others against it.

Emin Gun Sirer, for instance, was one of the people who deemed the document as “bad news”. According to him, this could get in the way of the development in the crypto industry and could have repercussions for major wallet apps, Initial Coin Offering issuers and decentralized exchanges.

Some Believe That The Changes Won’t Be So Bad

Others, however, were somewhat less worried about the new document. One of them was Marco Santori, the Chief Legal Officer of Blockchain.com. According to him, FinCEN is a big data agency and they just want to “stop the bad guys”, they don’t care about the users, so they will not be so affected.

Exchanges and wallet providers, however, will be more affected by the changes because the document states that they would need to provide some information, for instance, but it is nothing that would change the development so much. Also, non-custodial wallets would not enter the regulation, which makes wallets like Ledger, for instance, free of it.

This, he affirmed, is great news since the users will not be considered money transmitters themselves in this new situation, only the custodians of their wallets in case they use this kind of option.

Santori also took some time to speak about what this actually meant for exchanges. According to him, exchanges would possibly be the most affected parties in the regulation because they would have to send data to FinCen about the transactions which are being made.

One problem is that the exchanges do not really have to know when they are sending money to other custodial wallets or non-custodial ones. Because of this, it is very hard to implement and it could cause some issues.

Decentralized exchanges, however, are unregulated. They will not need to have any kind of license because they do not control the funds, they only work as intermediaries for people that want to settle trades. So-called decentralized exchanges which settle the trades, are not so decentralized and will be regulated.

The Situation With Lightning Nodes And ICOs

Another very important aspect involved Lightning nodes and the fact that some people affirmed that they would need to have money transmitter licenses. According to Santori, people are just being silly. He does not believe that the nodes will need licenses as they will be set up by users, not big companies. To make them need the licenses would make them unviable.

He also talked about Initial Coin Offerings. According to him, ICO sellers would be considered money transmitters in some situations, but not in all of them. Software development and deploying the software, he affirmed, is not regulated but transmitting money is, which is the point of the whole situation.

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Pulling Apart Bitcoin and its Blockchain – Francis Pouliot Does Just That

Speaking on behalf of the Bitcoin exchange company – BullBitcoin is its CEO and co-founder – Francis Pouliot and during TNW 2019, he took to the stage to give a strong technical overview of Bitcoin’s underlying network, along with showing just how it works on a fundamental level. While also taking the time to explain just what this blockchain is capable of achieving.

It was during this same talk that Pouliot gave a refresher course on the kind of core values and primary objectives set out by Bitcoin within its white paper and technical activity.

When it comes to the more emergent properties of the underlying blockchain and cryptocurrency, Pouliot took the time to illustrate the values that really set it apart from others – such as its resistance to censorship, the provision of a trustless system of transaction validation, the creation and preservation of digital self sovereignty, and lastly, its fundamental immutability.

It was during this same presentation that he highlighted the kind of monetary properties of Bitcoin, explaining with a good focus on the creation of a decentralized system of scarcity which was in-built, the level of fungibility that is possible between peers as well as the in-built liquidity of the token.

Along with the discussions around the core values and functions of the Bitcoin, Pouliot discusses the properties of the platform overall, which included discussions over its features like the provision of smart contracts, integration usability by individuals, peer to peer payments as well as the kind of measures when considering security of both users and their transactions.

To sum it all up, Pouliot decided to wrap up by conforming to the crowd, what his own opinions were regarding cryptocurrencies and the technology which works to underpin them.

“I do not consider Bitcoin to be part of the blockchain space. I consider the two to be different,” he went on to conclude.

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Digital Modelling Language Fully Functional on Hyperledger Blockchains

Digital Asset, an industrial blockchain firm is making moves to integrate its smart contract modeling language into Hyperledger Sawtooth.

Hyperledger Sawtooth is a modular platform/framework for the construction, deployment and running of distributed ledgers. These distributed ledgers provide a digital record which does not have a central implementation or authority maintaining it.

The blockchain-inclined company Digital Asset is merging a unique smart contract modeling language with the Hyperledger Sawtooth framework.

The news, which was announced recently, is quite the landmark as this is the first time a project linked to the Hyperledger consortium will be uniting with DA’s Digital Asset Modelling Language (DAML), for the purpose of exposing the later to more industries and customers.

Sawtooth To Pave The Way Into Other Industries

The CMO of Digital Asset as well as the Head of the Hyperledger marketing committee, Dan O’Prey, revealed that DA did not choose Sawtooth by chance to be the first point of integration for DAML; instead, it made a decision after a lot of factors were taken into consideration. According to O’Prey;

“Sawtooth has been getting a lot of traction in markets outside of what has initially been our core focus: financial services and particularly market infrastructures. So this is a great way for us to expand the reach of DAML into other industries.”

A Greater Future In The Works For DAML

While it is now common knowledge that Sawtooth is first for DAML, O’Prey has more plans up his sleeve. He stated that his firm is:

“having conversations with various others within the Hyperledger framework and other platform providers.”

Once this is secured and bagged, the next thing to do would be to conclude arrangements with Hyperledger Fabric and its principal platform partner, IBM. O’Prey added;

“Our goal is to get DAML as far and as wide as possible and obviously Hyperledger Fabric has a very large user base and community of developers around it. So certainly this is high up on the list of where we would like to see support for DAML.”

DAML Integration Vital For Smooth Collaboration Of Multiple Projects

In the opinion of the Chairman of Hyperledger’s technical steering committee (TSC), Dan Middleton, the DAML integration plays a significant role of allowing “multiple projects to work together,” an important part of Hyperledger’s vision and Sawtooth’s design.

In view of the possible integration partnerships that are expected to surface in the coming weeks, a “DAML Integration Kit” has been designed by DA to become a part of its open source software development kit (SDK) so that DAML’s smart contract “rule engine” can easily be introduced into other platforms.

By reason of this, the development of smart contracts can be done using conventional programming languages like C++ or JavaScript:

“Our goal is to make it as self-service and easy as possible so that anyone can integrate DAML into whatever DLT platform, blockchain platform, database, cloud service or even public chain in the future,” O’Prey noted.

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Bloomberg Questions Blockchain’s Hype Based on Current Utility and Unproven Nature

If you have been around for quite some time in the crypto industry, you may have participated in the crypto craze of 2017. That year was, by far, the time in which tokens were the most hyped. However, since the bubble exploded last year and all hype turned into despair when investors lost a hefty amount of money, people are not that optimistic anymore.

Noah Smith, a Bloomberg columnist, is one of them. He has recently published an article in which the claims that all the hype was wrong and that Bitcoin and the crypto world may still change the world, but not in any people originally thought.

He starts the article by affirming that, despite all the signs, people threw four times more money in the industry last year than they did in 2017. Was this investment worthy? He has his doubts.

Several companies like CoinbaseRobinhood CryptoDfinityCircle and others received a lot of money last year. Some of these investments, he affirmed, will eventually pay off. According to him, even if Bitcoin never actually recovers from his lows, other cryptos may easily take its place and exchanges will continue to prosper while there are people interested in trading.

He affirmed that even if all the prophecies of cryptos becoming widespread do not actually turn into something tangible, cryptocurrencies may still retain some of their value because there will be always people with high tolerance to risk trading them.

In the second worst case scenario, he affirmed, cryptos could become like a “digital casino” for people who are bored with the stocks market and want something more exciting.

The worst case scenario, as he sees, is that cryptos will eventually become a relic of the past, a promise that was never fulfilled and that people will simply abandon them. Even in this case, the technology might still be used.

Several blockchain-based projects are being created right now using the decentralized ledger technology and some of them are very interesting. The technology is currently being used in shipping, some experimental voting systems and in document verification and contracts. However, most projects are still very early in their development.

What If Cryptos And The Blockchain Fail?

He does cite some skeptics which are not too fond of the possibilities, though. Kai Stinchcombe, for instance, from True Link Financial, wrote in 2017 that nobody would care about the blockchain in ten years. According to him, it is cheaper to simply use intermediaries for all the things that the blockchain can do.

People like him, Joseph Abadi and Markus Brunnermeier, two specialists which wrote about decentralized systems last year, argue that it is impossible for something to be decentralized, correct and cost-effective at the same time. Some aspect would eventually suffer.

Institutions are reliably correct because the existence of their businesses depends on this. If a bank steals the money from people, it will not be around for long, in their vision. They criticized Bitcoin for spending too much energy (and, therefore, money) in order to establish trust, so these alternatives are not cost-effective at all.

They also criticize them for dividing too much and for not having any kind of control. If a bank steals from you, you can just go to court and you at least have a chance, if someone steals using the blockchain, there is no way to get the money back.

The columnist also cites Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurityexpert. According to him, the blockchain technology requires people to replace trust in the institutions with trust in the technology. If institutions can fail, though, technology can fail even more easily.

If you want an example, he affirmed, just see how many exchanges are hacked yearly. Wallets are hacked all the time, too, and if you ever lose your private keys, your money is gone. A smart contract bugs and your money is gone as well. There are several ways to get burned from using the blockchain.

The Conclusion: The Revolution Will Not Happen, But Blockchains Can Have a Future

The main conclusion of the author is that the blockchain revolution will not happen as everyone seemed to think back in 2017. According to him, blockchain ecosystems are less decentralized and independent than they think. Just think about all these development teams, they often work as the arbitrators of the systems.

Also, technology does not protect anyone from scammers and bad actors. Bitfinex was recently ripped off by Crypto Capital, which held its funds. Now, all the users of the company will end up paying the price for this.

His conclusion was that even if the blockchain is a very important technological advancement with the potential to change some things, it will not change the whole world alone and it has not proved itself yet. It is still an expensive solution immersed in chaotic competition and fraud, as well as technical difficulties and human error.

Sure, this is a very stark vision of the future of the blockchain, but it is always good to have some more negative visions in order not to get too carried away with the idea of using the blockchain technology as the ultimate panacea.

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OpenCerts to be Officially Used by Singapore in Issuing Educational Certificates

As from this year, the government of Singapore will officially issue blockchain digital certificates to students from about 18 different educational establishments.

This would be made possible through OpenCerts, a collaborative project that uses blockchain technology to give and authenticate certificates.

About OpenCerts

OpenCerts is the result of an alliance between the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE), Government Technology Agency (GovTech), the Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and also SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) which is a national program created to help the people of Singapore with skills and opportunities to help them throughout life.

The platform is an open-source project built on the Ethereum blockchain, that is hoped would completely change the issuance and substantiation of certificates, ensuring privacy and security but also significantly dropping expenditure surrounding the use of regular paper-based certificates.

Why Blockchain?

The Director of NP’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office, Patrice Choong, has explained that using this platform not only eradicates the use of an actual printed document but also, because it uses blockchain technology, removes the need for anyone to have to verify the certificates due to the nature of the technology. This way, any certificate actually issued using OpenCerts is as authentic as can be.

The Ngee Ann Polytechnic together with GovTech initially started the OpenCerts platform as a way to tackle the challenges that came with the issuance of physical certificates and successfully awarded its graduates with certificates using OpenCerts. Every year, NP has to issue about 10,000 physical certificates, always going through the trouble of printing and stamping each one.

Furthermore, the institution has also noted that it receives about 2,000 different requests for the verification of these certificates every year. The use of OpenCerts directly solves this problem by easing up their processes.

Other Institutions Using Blockchain for Certificates

According to a report released earlier this year, the University of Bahrain has concluded plans to use BlockCerts – a blockchain platform for the building of applications that help with the issuance and verification of academic and professional credentials and certifications – to issue diplomas.

MIT is another institution that uses Blockcerts to issue diplomas to guarantee ease and authenticity. Blockerts is a platform like OpenCerts and according to its development team:

“Blockcerts provides a decentralized credentialing system. The Bitcoinblockchain acts as the provider of trust, and credentials are tamper-resistant and verifiable. Blockcerts can be used in the context of academic, professional, and workforce credentialing.”

 

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Myanmar’s Central Bank Urges Citizens Not To Partake In Bitcoin Or Crypto

Myanmar Recommends Citizens Not To Use Cryptocurrencies After Several Scams

The Central Bank of Myanmar is warning users about virtual currencies after a series of scams that took place in the market. The information was released by the news outlet The Irrawaddy on May 3. One of the reasons the Central Bank of Myanmar is worried about virtual currencies is due to the reason that inexperienced users could lose money while trading these digital assets.

Myanmar Warns Crypto Investors About Dealing With Virtual Currencies

According to the news site, the central bank of the country informed that they have been receiving reports about several scams that targetted users that did not know about how to deal with digital assets. The monetary authority of the country informed that Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Ether (ETH) can be traded in the country using Facebook profiles and other sites.

At the same time, the central bank explained that virtual currencies are not authorized in the country, but there is no legal framework to regulate them or ban them. This is why users can still deal with virtual currencies as desired.

During a conversation with The Irrawaddy, U Than Lwin, a former deputy governor at the central bank, explained that the lack of protection for consumers and the difficulty of taking legal actions against these digital assets are some of the reasons why users should avoid dealing with digital assets.

On the matter, U Than Lwin commented:

“The price [of virtual currencies] is unstable all the time. Trading cryptocurrencies could result in losing everything you invested in them. It’s like gambling.”

This is not the first time that Myanmar warns its citizens about the dangers of dealing with digital assets. Back in 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed that there were users in rural areas targeted by crypto fraudsters. Although they do not support the expansion of digital assets, they are working and embracing blockchain technology for different use cases.

South Korea and China decided to ban Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) back in 2017 with the intention of avoiding scammers and fraudulent projects to gather funds from their citizens.

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