Binance CZ Announces BNB Giveaway After Bitcoin Heist, Money Laundering Nightmares Persist

The recent unprecedented Binance hack that led to over 7,000 bitcoins being stolen sent shockwaves across the cryptosphere and besmirched the crypto exchange’s almost impeccable security record. And now CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ has announced a $1.2 million giveaway in Binance Coin (BNB) as a “thank you” gift to the company’s customers for being supportive during these trying times.

The platform which is considered to be the biggest of its kind in the world in terms of trade volume was forced to halt deposits and withdrawals moments after the theft, a predicament that left many of its users in limbo for several days before resuming operations on May 15.

How the Hack Occurred

Cybercriminals were able to compromise user accounts through multi-pronged attacks ranging from malware to complex phishing schemes. They were able to obtain sensitive information related to user accounts such as API keys and 2FA codes.

According to a statement released by Binance, the hackers were patient enough to wait until peak trading hours before executing the transfers to make the transactions less apparent.

They are believed to have obtained a list of verifiable data strings matching the breached accounts and this allowed them to bypass the exchange’s main security triggers.

The perpetrators were also able to avoid IP blacklisting by exploiting previously overlooked site-wide bugs. In light of this, the company announced security upgrades targeting 2FA and KYC validation processes as well as the platform’s user behavioral analysis system. 

The stolen funds were sent to 44 virtual wallets. A few days later, blockchain analysts noted a series of cryptocurrency transfers to seven other crypto addresses.

All clients affected by the hack are set to be compensated using funds from the agency’s Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU) which was set up in 2014. Approximately ten percent of all trading fees acquired by the company are deposited in the SAFU cold wallet which is used to compensate clients in the wake of such unfortunate events.

A Past Hacking Episode

Binance has in the past suffered hacker attacks and one of the most notable incidences occurred in March last year. Hackers used phishing techniques to obtain API keys to user accounts and simultaneously executed inflated buy and sell orders.

They specifically targeted the Viacoin digital currency to cause an artificial price increase by up to 10,000 times and then tried to purchase BTC coins at this rate using their own accounts through a process known as wash trading. The momentary price strike triggered the platform’s security system which halted the trades rendering the hack unsuccessful.

Outwitting the Fraudsters

Following the hack, Binance CEO CZ suggested a few ways to get back the funds and one of those was reversing the blockchain to undo the illegal transactions.

Although viable in certain circumstances, the idea was eventually canceled because it would compromise the stability of the BTC network. CZ revealed on Twitter that he had been in talks about this with industry stakeholders including Bitmain’s co-founder Jihan Wu before scrapping the idea.

Reversing the transactions would require undertaking a 51 percent attack on the bitcoin blockchain. This would mean incentivizing miners to join in the attack, but in the end, the risks would outweigh the benefits.

It could lead to an unwarranted fork, and inadvertently split transactions and the community. The number of blocks that had lapsed before the suggestion also rendered the idea highly impractical.

It’s easier to reverse transactions if only two or three have lapsed but in this case, tens of blocks had already been processed by the time the notion was conceived. In such a scenario, mind-boggling amounts of hashing power would be required to reverse the blockchain.

Have the Hackers Won?

The Binance hackers have been moving and intermixing the funds as observed on the blockchain using numerous wallets and if this continues for a sustained period of time there is a likelihood that the digital coins may never be recovered even if exchanges decide to blacklist all the addresses that handle the funds.

The cybercriminals in this instance were uncanny in their execution and avoided exchange wallets as was the case in the recent Bithumb hacking incident. Stolen digital assets that had been transferred to addresses controlled by other cryptocurrency platforms were frozen.

Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, has publicly stated that there is already some sort of an alliance between exchanges to help stop such funds from re-entering exchange platforms. He expressed hope that such a union will make the ecosystem more secure in the long run. 

As things stand, the funds are likely to become untraceable after hundreds of transfers and shuffling between wallets with “clean” BTC. As observed in past heists, sophisticated hackers usually employ complex tumbler techniques to throw off analytics systems.

They then wait for extended periods of time before withdrawing funds allowing interest in the subject to wane. Naturally, blockchain analysts lose interest after some time making such maneuvers less risky.

Other means used by hackers to launder illicit digital currency proceeds include buying gaming currencies like V-bucks using stolen funds and then reselling the same to players at discounted prices. According to a report by The Independent, the dark web is rife with such schemes where hackers buy and sell in bulk.

V-bucks are usually used by Fortnite players to purchase gaming weapons and advanced kits that give them to have an edge over other gamers. 

(Featured Image Credit: Pixabay)

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Source: Coin Central

This Week in Cryptocurrency: May 17th, 2019

Outside of a substantial pullback in the past 24 hours, cryptocurrency markets experienced considerable gains over the last week.

On the week, Bitcoin is up 13%, Ethereum up 34%, XRP up 24%, Binance Coin up 27%, Stellar up 31%, Monero up 18%, IOTA up 35%, NEM exploded 72%, Verge up 38%, and most other tokens were up double-digit percentages.

The cause of growth, however, isn’t certain. Some hypothesize the spike was due to the traditional New York Blockchain Week spike, others put on their make-believe economist hat and argued it was due to the escalating trade war between the United States and China, whereas some credited Facebook’s potential stablecoin.

May 17 TWIC

Bitcoin ETFs on the Horizon?: On Monday, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce spoke about the current regulatory climate for Bitcoin ETFs, highlighting her dissatisfaction with the SEC’s lack of regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrency. SHe was quoted saying “I thought the time was right a year ago — even longer than that … My first chance to comment on it was a year ago … Certainly, the time is right, but there are still questions floating around the SEC that need to be answered as much as possible by you all.” There are currently three ETFs at the top of the food chain:

  • Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (August 14) filed by NYSE Arca Inc.
  • Vaneck Solidx Bitcoin ETF (May 21) filed by Cboe BZX Exchange Inc.
  • Crescent Crypto Index Fund (no review date) just filed by United States Commodity Index Funds Trust.

Amazon’s Crypto Patent Spurs Whispers of Integration: Amazon recently filed a patent that has to do with cryptographic proof-of-work, and some of the crypto community is riled up in what might be too preliminary excitement. Although many people are hoping (*praying*) Amazon will integrate Bitcoin for its over 100 million shoppers, the patent seems to focus on mitigating malicious denial-of-service attacks using some sort of proof-of-stake mechanism to disincentivize the attack.

Coinbase CEO Waxes Optimism on Institutional Crypto Investing: Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, stated his beliefs that investments in the cryptocurrency space will grow due to a surge of institutional. He utilized the example of how his company Coinbase Custody was able to gather $1 billion in assets under management in twelve months since its launch. As for the top of the digital asset lists? Armstrong points to BTC.


What’s New at CoinCentral?

Uber’s First Political Advisor Looks to Tackle Mobile Voting with Blockchain:  Catch our exclusive interview with Bradley Tusk. Tusk advised several high-growth startups such as Uber, Lemonade, and Eaze on politics and regulation. He is a major proponent of mobile voting for local and national elections, and he thinks blockchain can help make it a reality.

Upgrading Ethereum: ETH 2.0 and the Quest for Scaleability: It is no secret that Ethereum’s roadmap has suffered many setbacks over the years, in no small part because of the extent of the innovation required. However, 2019 certainly looks like the beginning of Ethereum 2.0 and the start of a truly decentralized world computer.

How Blockchain Voting Works & Why We Need It: Digital voting has been a difficult challenge because it’s tough to verify that each ballot is valid while also keeping them anonymous. Blockchain voting could change that with its cryptography.


Same Song, Same Bet: In a classic Bitcoin maximalist versus ETH skirmish, Jimmy Song and Ethereum Co-founder Joe Lubin reiterated a bet from Consensus 2018 where Lubin said he would pay Song “any amount of bitcoin” that Ethereum’s dapps would have a substantial amount of users in five years.

The original conversation:

Yang Gang Gives the Crypto Crowd What It Wants to Hear: 2020 Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang commented that he envisions a future with blockchain. In line with his progressive pro-universal basic income stance and futurist undertones, Yang said, “I believe that blockchain needs to be a big part of our future. If I’m in the White House, oh boy are we going to have some fun in terms of the cryptocurrency community.” In April, Yang published a national framework for digital asset regulation, advocating for more clarity. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Source: Coin Central

Upgrading Ethereum: 2.0 and the Quest for Scaleability

Developers have long wanted Ethereum to serve as a decentralized world computer. To achieve this goal the network must maintain its current decentralized architecture while scaling by multiple orders of magnitude. The blockchain can currently handle just 15 transactions per second (tps). In order to serve the global population and the coming deluge of robots and autonomous devices, developers have a lot of work on their hands.

There have been numerous proposals in recent years. Many of these have found their way into Ethereum’s fourth and final stage of development, called Serenity which it is transitioning into this year. Such is the scope and novelty of this upgrade though that it has been colloquially referred to as Ethereum 2.0. In fact, this description in many ways is more appropriate as it represents an entirely new blockchain called the Beacon chain as well as a different consensus method.

We are going to take a look at the main parts of this groundbreaking upgrade.

Proof of Stake

Vitalik Buterin and other Ethereum developers have been talking about transitioning to Proof of Stake (PoS) since 2014. The motivation behind this change is to reduce the blockchain’s electricity usage and minimize the risk of node centralization and consensus attacks like 51% network attacks.

Ethereum is using a PoS system called Casper for the new Beacon chain. At first, the current Ethereum Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain and the new Beacon chain will operate concurrently. Developers expect to have the Beacon chain running towards the end of 2019. However, at first, it will simply involve validation, without any storing or processing of information.

During this phase, the blockchain will use Casper the Friendly Finality Gadget (FFG) to achieve and maintain finality. Finality simply refers to the recognition that once a block is added to the blockchain it cannot be reversed. The protocol randomly chooses pools of block proposers and committees from the qualified validators for finding and maintaining consensus.

Importantly, the Beacon chain brings with it a brand new crypto asset or ETH2. Validators will use the token for staking and earning rewards via the inflation rate. Holders of the current ETH token can exchange the two assets, upon which the original ETH token is burned.

For those wishing to perform validation and receive ETH2, they will need to download and use a client for the Beacon chain. There are currently eight different development teams working on bringing such clients to market.

Sharding

To remedy Ethereum’s low throughput, the blockchain will be split into approximately 1,000 smaller units called shards. This change, known as sharding promises to vastly increase Ethereum’s scalability, possibly allowing up to 15,000 tps.

In reality, this means that many transactions and smart contract executions can occur simultaneously. It is a design to circumvent the limitations of the traditional linear data processing of blockchains. Sharding does away with one of the original tenets of blockchains, namely that every full node verifies every transaction. In this case instead, only any transaction is only ever verified and confirmed by a subset of the nodes.

sharding

By splitting up the data load into hundreds of shards, throughput will be massively increased.

At certain intervals, a shard will record its current state of consensus on the Beacon chain through a mechanism called a crosslink. In addition, the crosslinks open up the ability for shards to communicate with each other.

Sharding will actually come to fruition in two distinct phases. Phase one, expected in 2020 will introduce simple data sharding while phase two, expected in 2021 will allow for cross-shard communications and asset transfers. As such we are still at least two years from the anticipated benefits of sharding, assuming there are no further development or implementation delays.

EWASM

Aside from scaling and consensus changes, Serenity also involves a total redesign of the Ethereum virtual machine (EVM). The EVM is responsible for running the computation of the smart contracts, dapps, and tokens within the Ethereum ecosystem. Currently, developers need to write their applications in an Ethereum-specific coding language called Solidity.

However, a new virtual machine called the Ethereum flavored Web Assembly (EWASM) removes this restriction and allows for the usage of many different languages. This should reduce friction and broaden the tent of Ethereum-based dapp developers and with it improve the overall ecosystem. One of the follow-on effects from this increased language breadth is that teams can now choose more secure languages with fewer attack vectors than Solidity which in turn decreases the risk for projects. Furthermore, core developers believe that the new EWASM will overall be far easier for building products atop Ethereum.

EWASM should go live on the Beacon chain in phase two in 2021 alongside cross-shard transactions.

Above and Beyond

The above represents just 50% of the Serenity Roadmap.

On the cryptoeconomics front, there is a quite radical proposal to introduce storage rent. This would mean that accounts would have ETH2 deducted from their accounts at every block according to the amount of data they are storing across shards. The basic premise is that the network is a public utility in that anyone can access and use it. As such, there should be an ongoing cost relative to the space occupied across the shards if only to discourage unnecessary and inefficient storage.

Developers also hope to take sharding to whole new levels through something called super-quadratic sharding. This means shards within shards. If technically feasible, then it would allow for exponential and perhaps unlimited scaling, all on-chain. Indeed it may well nullify any requirement for off-chain scaling networks like Plasma altogether. Such a design would allow for this near-infinite scaling without sacrificing decentralization and security.

quantum computing

zk-STARKS can make Ethereum 2.0 quantum-resistant.

Beyond the current iteration of the Serenity roadmap, developers are also hoping to integrate zk-STARKS. These are a zero-knowledge system that offers excellent privacy and scalability while also being fully resistant to advances in quantum computing. One of the key goals of Ethereum 2.0 is to be future-proof from the threats of these advances. zk-STARKS offer some of the highest levels of privacy by obfuscating amounts as well as the sender and receiver addresses. Furthermore, by allowing for the movement of computations off-chain, they promise to offer enormous scaling benefits.

It is no secret that Ethereum’s roadmap has suffered many setbacks over the years, in no small part because of the extent of the innovation required. However, 2019 certainly looks like the beginning of Ethereum 2.0 and the start of a truly decentralized world computer.

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Source: Coin Central

This Week in Cryptocurrency: May 10th, 2019

Bitcoin continued its growth despite a week of generally negative news for the crypto space, adding another 8.71% growth this week to its 10.35% growth of last week. Other winners on the week include Ethereum (up 2%), Chainlink (39%), ABBC Coin (46.75%), and Arcblock (116%).

However, this week’s markets were not all clear skies of green. The majority of coins in the top 100 were down around 8% to 15%. Binance Coin is down 17.61% in lieu of the ~7000 BTC hack on the exchange this week, and Cosmos down 24.88%.

coin prices

Binance Hacked for $40M, but User Fund are SAFU: On Tuesday, hackers jacked over 7,000 bitcoin (about $40M) from Binance, using a variety of attack strategies to conduct a large scale security breach. Binance released a statement that it will cover the $40M loss using corporate funds in its Secure Asset Fund For Users (SAFU), an internal insurance fund the firm made in 2018. Oh, and Justin Sun “offered” to personally cover the loss if CZ approves.

Facebook Rolls Back Crypto Ad Ban: This week, Facebook announced it will be lifting its restrictions on ads relating to blockchain technology, industry news, education, or events related to crypto targeting a June 5th update. Facebook’s January 2018 ban on ads promoting almost anything to do with cryptocurrency or blockchain has been a thorn in the side for many crypto companies in the past year. Some are also speculating that Facebook’s reason for lifting the ad ban is more strategic and has to do with the company building a stable coin to be used for WhatsApp and Facebook. ICO ads will still be banned.


What’s New at CoinCentral? 

Amazon Go Stores Are Ripe for Bitcoin Adoption: Amazon should be one of the biggest proponents of bitcoin adoption. Bitcoin enables Amazon Go stores to provide goods to people who don’t have debit or credit cards without having to waste money on store employees who currently need to handle the cash transactions. With the number of stores potentially reaching 3,000 by 2021, Amazon should want to cut costs wherever possible.

Facebook Loosens Ban on Crypto Advertisers, Including Itself: The updated policy “no longer require[s] pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency.” If you’re looking to advertise your hot, new crypto, though, you’re out of luck. The ‘book still requires an application and approval process for advertisers promoting cryptocurrency. And it continues to place a full ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Dark Web Enterprise Similar to Silk Road Shut down by FBI, Europol: Authorities in Germany have arrested the principal operators of one of the largest dark web marketplaces in the world dubbed the Wall Street Market.

Why Chinese Miners are in a Frenzy over Used Bitcoin Mining Rigs: The prices of used mining rigs have more than doubled since April. Bidding wars over the equipment are largely to blame for the trend. AntMiner S9 units, for example, retailed at $140 before the crypto market uptick but now cost upwards of $250. Some buyers are currently making $320 orders and this is pushing up benchmark prices.


Congressman Calls for Crypto Ban: On Thursday, Congressman Bradley Sherman called for the banning of cryptocurrency purchases by Americans, claiming cryptocurrencies will reduce the power of the U.S. dollar and undermine America’s sanctions over other countries, citing Iran as an example. It’s worth noting that the logic for this ban isn’t rooted in anonymity or corruption, but rather international policy. Bradley Sherman is a Democrat representing California’s 30th congressional district within the San Fernando Valley. Sherman said:

“I look for colleagues to join with me in introducing a bill to outlaw cryptocurrency purchases by Americans, so that we nip this in the bud, in part because an awful lot of our international power comes from the fact that the dollar is the standard unit of international finance and transactions.

“It is the announced purpose of the supporters of cryptocurrency to take that power away from us, to put us in a position where the most significant sanctions we have on Iran, for example, would become irrelevant.

“Whether it is to dis-empower our foreign policy, our tax collection enforcement, or our traditional law enforcement, the purposes of cryptocurrency – the advantage it has over sovereign currency – is solely to aid in the dis-empowerment of the United States and of the rule of law.”

Indian Crypto Exchange Coinome Might Shut Down: On May 9th, the popular Indian cryptocurrency exchange Coinome tweeted that it will be suspending all crypto trading on the platform on May 15th, 2019, and urged its customers to withdraw their assets as soon as possible. Cryptocurrency businesses have been in the crosshairs of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which executed a ban on cryptocurrency related businesses in 2018.

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Source: Coin Central

Uber’s First Political Advisor Looks to Tackle Mobile Voting with Blockchain

Bradley Tusk envisions a future where politicians lead for the majority of people, rather than just those who make it to polling places. Tusk, who advised several high-growth startups such as Uber, Lemonade, and Eaze on politics and regulation is a major proponent of mobile voting for local and national elections, and he thinks blockchain can help make it a reality.

In the past decade, there have been several initiatives to encourage people to vote, most of which ended up being only marginally effective. Many attribute low voter turnout, particularly that of local elections, to apathy. However, enabling Americans to cast their votes with a smartphone may change that.

Blockchain-powered mobile voting may be on the horizon. If we ever reach it, we may end up living in a world that caters to everyone capable of voting, not just those who actually go to their local stinky library to bubble in their ballot on dead trees.  

Many organizations exploring mobile voting have turned to blockchain. Blockchain offers the tangible tracking and identification verification many mobile voting skeptics are rightfully wary about, but most projects focusing on digital voting with the use of blockchain technology are poorly funded and at a lack of active supporters.

Bradley Tusk

A young(er) Bradley Tusk. Photograph by Ruby Washington — The New York Times/Redux

Enter Bradley Tusk. Tusk spent his twenties and early thirties in high-level political positions such as the Communications Director for US Senator Chuck Schumer, Deputy Governor of Illinois, and campaign manager for New York City tech billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 successful re-election campaign.

Tusk, often applauded for his meticulous organization and ability to get things done in often stagnated political environments, brought his talents to the corporate and tech space by founding Tusk Strategies in 2011, a political consulting firm that has helped companies like Google, Walmart, and Uber run massive multi-jurisdictional campaigns.

Tusk recounts his political and entrepreneurial life in his 2018 book The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics notes that he “fell into tech by accident” when Travis Kalanick, the founder of a small (at the time) transportation startup named Uber, called asking for strategic guidance and help in fighting the taxi industry in New York City. As Uber’s first political advisor, Tusk helped Uber win its disputes in New York City and similar conflicts around the United States.

Tusk operates Tusk Ventures, where he invests in and provides political, regulatory, and media guidance to high-stakes startups. In addition to Uber, Tusk has helped many top-tier startups avoid death by politics in the sake of disruption. The list includes:

  • FanDuel and DraftKings (legalizing online daily fantasy sports),
  • Lemonade (big Insurance and fighting the strict New York Department of Financial Services to win an insurance license)
  • Eaze (making it simple, safer, and legal to get on-demand marijuana in select areas)
  • Bird (the myriad of issues plaguing the on-demand scooter industry)
  • Handy (in navigating the distinction between contractor and full-time employees)
  • Care/Of (in compliantly marketing the company via influencers)
  • Ripple (one of our beloved cryptocurrency industry’s darlings/devils)

If a high-performing startup gets embroiled in an existentially threatening sticky political situation, chances are Tusk gets a call.

The Tusk Ventures Portfolio as of 5/9/2019.

I got the chance to speak with Tusk in his New York office and discuss his thoughts on blockchain-based voting, the uphill battle ahead for cryptocurrency projects, and what startups can do to succeed in inhospitable political climates. The following article focuses on mobile and blockchain-based voting.

Mobile Voting: Unleashing the Masses in Action

Tusk’s affinity for mobile voting is likely rooted in his successful 2015 strategy for Uber. Uber faced a proposed bill in New York City that would cap its growth rate to 1% per year in the city – basically a sleeper hold on a high-growth startup.

Uber had two million customers in New York City, many of which much preferred Ubers to what they viewed as the outdated, unsafe, and often discriminating taxi cabs. Tusk’s team decided to mobilize Uber’s user base from within the app.

Uber

Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty)

Whenever a user opened Uber in New York City, a popup would quickly explain the issue and make it easy for them to advocate for Uber seamlessly. There was even a “de Blasio” option (idea credited to Kaitlin Durkosh) named after the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio, which if selected, showed people a twenty-five minute wait time and explained the problem. Then, it would ask users to email and tweet at their councilmembers to oppose the bill. Within a single week, 250,000 people did – roughly 10% of Uber’s NYC userbase.

The in-app information, combined with an aggressive advertising campaign that poked at the strings the taxi owners were pulling on the city government, put city hall in a vice.

Tusk was able to alchemize Uber’s massive user base into a political instrument that created ruckus not only for mayor Bill de Blasio, but also the surrounding representatives, officials, and 51 member city council that would be voting on Uber’s future. Representatives from city hall eventually agreed to drop the bill if Uber ended its campaign, which registered as a tremendous landmark success for Uber and Tusk Strategies.

Tusk also employed a similar strategy in a national campaign to help fantasy sports betting platforms FanDuel and DraftKings mobilize their 5 million customers (in the United States and Canada) by sending them geotargeted popups with their state senator and state reps, stating whether their stance on fantasy sports was good or bad.  If a state rep in a small county that is used to 60,000 people voting sees 40,000 new people registering to vote just because they want fantasy sports, they’re likely to try to appeal to them.

Bringing Mobile Voting to the Masses

Bradley Tusk helped startups like Uber, Fanduel, and Draftkings jump over the hurdles of the entrenched interests of politicians, lobbyists, and corporations, and good old fashioned political gridlock.

Given Tusk’s prior political involvement, first-hand accounts of political corruption and stagnation (after all, he worked with Rod Blagojevich at one point), and ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile voting for the interests of startups, it’s no shocker he’s a huge advocate for mobile voting.

“All of Uber’s users had smartphones, all we had to do is engage and mobilize them to keep the service they love using,” Tusk comments. “Mobile voting brings the election to where the people are, instead of demanding they go to local polls to have a say.”

Along with his wife Harper Montgomery, Tusk founded Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, a foundation with a mission to create a reliable and efficient way to vote with your phone.

Mobile voting is a powerful concept for two data-backed reasons:

  • It’s estimated that 80% to 95% of all adults in the United States own cellphones, 68% of them smartphones in 2015. Most people are tethered to their smartphones all day, using them for an increasing amount of needs such as banking, transportation, and even dating. Voting from your pocket isn’t nearly as foreign a concept as it was two decades ago, let when our voting laws were created in the 18th century.
  • Voter turnout in presidential elections has hovered around 55% since 1960. However, if you’ve been anywhere near social media platforms around election time, people don’t shut up about politics. Social media has helped stimulate and engage millions of people in political conversation. With 169.5 million people using Facebook in the United States (about 52% of the population), there is almost an equal population using Facebook regularly as there is that votes. Sure, this statistic includes many people who can’t vote (age, felonies, etc.,) but that doesn’t take away from how large a slice of the U.S. population (particularly the younger portion of it) is somewhat comfortable, if not immersed, in tech.

The case for mobile voting heats up even more when scoping local elections, where the per-vote impact of every person is much higher, but voter turnouts are pitiful.

For example, in the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor in New York City, only 691,000 out of 8.5 million people voted, 282,000 of them for the winner Bill de Blasi, who would later win the race with 8% of the total population’s vote. Essentially, it took 3.3% of New York City’s voting population to elect the mayor of the financial capital of the world and home to one of the most diverse communities in the world. Tusk was able to mobilize 250,000 people to oppose de Blasio’s Uber-antagonistic bill with a single app feature. 

Low voter turnout doesn’t necessarily make any winning politician a villain. It just means the system is broken and can be manipulated. Someone who is elected by a small percentage is going to run operations to try to benefit that percentage, if not the total amount of people that vote at polls. And 100% of a city’s population? Well, their voices simply aren’t as loud unless they’re on penciled in on a ballot. After all, the game for most politicians isn’t to be good in office – it’s to stay in office.

Justin Merriman Getty Images

Tusk, along with many Americans disillusioned with the current American political system, is eager to explore mobile voting to change things. “The idea isn’t to get rid of the old ballot-box system,” comments Tusk. “It’s to utilize modern technology to expand our democracy and incentivize our leaders to lead for the majority instead of a small few people that actually filled out a ballot.”

Estonia, for example, has allowed its citizens to cast ballots from a computer with an Internet connection anywhere in the world since 2005, and the government claims 30% of Estonia’s estimated 1.3 million people use the system to cast votes electronically.

The United States has a history of very close elections, which usually end enmeshed in scandal in this writer’s lovely and totally never dysfunctional birthplace of Broward County, Florida.

Mobile voting, in its lofty ideals of precision, rapid tracking, and tamper-proofing, would encourage more people to vote. For the abysmally low voter turnout in local elections, mobile voting would be a gamechanger for underrepresented populations.

Additionally, the technological preferences of voting demographics will look much different in a few election cycles. If anecdotal evidence is of any value here, we Millennials might be either very opinionated or politically apathetic, but as a unit we are generally too busy, lazy, or distracted to go out and vote in a local election, unless of course there’s some level of social media clout in the form of a trendy I Voted sticker. The verdict is still out on whether Gen Z will survive its mumble rap and Tidepod-eating phase, but it tends to be even more hooked on smartphones than Millennials.

If the option to vote via smartphone were available, chances are voter turnout numbers would be bolstered by younger crowds, and politicians would need to find a way to cater to the needs of the voters rather than lobbyists and campaign funders.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Tusk said “We’re working with these guys to help us get it right. But my view is less that the greatest threat to our democracy is the risk of hacking. The greatest threat to our democracy is that nobody votes.”

The Current State of Blockchain Voting

The frontrunners of the blockchain voting initiative are inevitably going to be the projects implementing their products as opposed to just blowing hot air in the form of whitepapers.

Today’s executions of blockchain voting companies seem fairly paltry in the scope of national elections, but they are worth noting.

Voatz seems to be ahead of its lackluster pack of competitors in taking charge to spearhead blockchain voting. Voatz raised a $2.2 million seed round led by Medici Ventures, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Overstock.com (see tZero.)

Voatz

The project’s blockchain-based voting system was recently implemented in West Virginia, primarily to enable military personnel and ordinary citizens to vote using their phones. Tusk Montgomery funded the small pilot with $150,000. In the 2018 primary election, two of the state’s 55 counties used Voatz and only 13 people cast their vote using the system. In the 2018 midterm election, the number of counties offering Voatz voting grew to 24 and nearly 150 people voted – about an 11.5x growth rate in just a few months.

Voatz was also used in Denver, Colorado’s municipal election on May 7th, 2019.

Agora, another blockchain voting company, is also sometimes referenced in the mobile voting discussion. Agora’s site claims its digital voting protocol was partially deployed in Sierra Leone as an International Observer to run a study showcasing blockchain for voting. The site continues to note that the voting protocol was “partially deployed to record votes from a sample of polling stations on an immutable blockchain ledger,” leading to results that provided accurate results from the studied areas days ahead of the manual tally processes.

sierraleone

However, the case study link to “Access the Results” goes to a “Not Secure” site Chrome warning, and then sends the searcher to an Italian hotel’s website. This is one of the more popular projects exploring blockchain voting, something that needs to be as airtight, transparent, and secure as possible.

The company also found itself in hot water after what CEO Leo Grammar called a “bout of miscommunication and a few PR mistakes made on our behalf.” Agora essentially exaggerated the project’s role, claiming the entire election was run on blockchain as opposed to simply just being a concurrent study on a limited sample size, akin to that of a science fair project.

Other projects in the space include Votem, Democracy Earth, Follow My Vote, and Boulé, which currently appear to be rudimentary concepts with landing pages promoting the blockchain voting concept as opposed to bona fide projects politicians (or journalists) can sink their teeth into.

Blockchain Voting’s Long Road Ahead

Every movement has its pioneers. Mobile voting has enormous implications for the United States and the rest of the world, but it’s also a precarious journey littered with booby traps and hostility.  

Fighting the Old Guard as a Poor Orphan Baby

Many blockchain-voting companies are enlisting in an incredibly steep uphill battle, operating from mostly empty coffers and vague schemes for monetization.

First off, no politician who has spent their life mastering the art of raising campaign money, getting elected, and staying in office is likely willing to welcome something as fundamentally ground shaking as having millions of people that usually don’t vote to start voting from their phone. Not only will the incumbent politicians be throwing their careers into the tides of fate, but they’ll also be giving a technological advantage to a new wave of politicians capable of engaging and mobilizing new hordes of voters.

Congress

Congress doing Congress things. Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Those who like things the way they are – in other words, every current politician, interest group, union, major donors, and anyone else who has no interest in making it easier for people to challenge their power – will raise a host of objections to mobile voting,” Tusk writes in his book.

Second, it’s going to take an enormous amount of resources to go about tackling the establishment, especially with its stockpiles of campaign money, taxpayer money, and deep connections with people that have mastered the inside and outside game of politics. Additionally, battling the established voting processes isn’t as simple as attacking a single fortified castle; it means waging war on thousands of strongholds across state lines. While the governments of the thousands of states and cities might have different priorities, they still march under a single tune.

“[Mass mobile voting is] going to mean changing laws in each state to allow for mobile voting, developing a model set of election rules, policies, and procedures that can be adapted for each jurisdiction, finding a few jurisdictions willing to conduct a pilot program to give the idea a try, and convincing major social platforms, as well as the device developers themselves, to help out by constantly reminding their users to vote,” notes Tusk.

A lack of good monetization options reduces a project’s access to funding from investors, and altruism alone likely isn’t enough to uproot one of the strongest political systems of all time.

The Blockchain Voting Manipulation Argument

It’s not a stretch to assume a two-party political system with a shady history with gerrymandering, corruption, voter intimidation, manipulation via media (and recently social media), and ballot stuffing won’t have masters of the political dark arts find ways to manipulate mobile or blockchain-based voting.

The blockchain itself may be immutable, but there are still many points of failure that could be exploited in a variety of its use cases. The exploitation itself isn’t so unnerving, because let’s face it, political strategists have had a few centuries to find ways to outsmart the current political system. What is unsettling, however, is if a mobile voting system were compromised, it would be done so at scale and likely hard to detect until too late.

The “What if Quantum Computing Derails Our Political System?” Argument

Quantum computing, often referred to as the “crypto killer,” is a looming existential threat that would render blockchain-based voting useless. Quantum computers are able to perform calculations that would otherwise be theoretically impossible for today’s computers in a reasonable time frame, which means anything from molecule simulation (quantum chemistry means potentially finding cures for diseases within days rather than years or decades), logistics optimizations, and cracking cryptographic codes.

Bitcoin, for example, is incredibly stable under current computing, but quantum computing would crack it like Humpy Dumpty, who legend has it once sat on a great wall and had a great fall. A traditional computer today would need to perform 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 basic operations to derive a Bitcoin private key from a public address, or 340 undecillion (340 billion billion billion billion).

Using Shor’s algorithm, a significantly large quantum computer would need just about 2,097,152 operations to crack a private key, a much more manageable number than a one with the word “billion” four times in its name.

Many high-powered quantum computers are still years away. However, the argument that utilizing a blockchain-based e-voting system as a primary voting method of our democratic system takes a stern gut punch by quantum doomsayers. Whether quantum computing will pose a threat to the quantum-resistant blockchain projects, the idea alone is confusing and techy enough to spin into an anti-blockchain voting campaign.

Final Thoughts – Building a Mobile Voting Foundation for the Future

The theory of digital voting with the use of blockchain technology seems to be picking support, but it is going to have trouble materializing without adequate talent and capital to bring it to life.

However, this is just the case for today. Americans likely aren’t going to be convinced to support something that already sounds confusing and too techy to elect our leaders, especially if our only data points are thirteen people using blockchain to vote with their phones in West Virginia.

But, that’s exactly what these projects are right now – data points. “This is probably a ten- to twenty-year project, and it’s going to mean having rock-solid answers to […] concerns about hacking, especially as concerns about foreign interference in U.S. elections via Facebook, Google, and Twitter only grow,” Tusk wrote in his book and reinforced in our conversation. “The more instances we have of successful blockchain-based mobile voting, the better the argument for it will be in the future.”

We likely won’t see mobile voting or voting on the blockchain in upcoming national elections, but for now, it’s about collecting data points that demonstrate that it is feasible. If anything, today’s successful blockchain-voting projects will serve as much-needed ammunition for future generations that will take the torch of liberty and ignite the path between our archaic political system and the technology of tomorrow.


Featured image by Buck Ennis

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Why Chinese Miners are in a Frenzy over Used Bitcoin Mining Rigs

Chinese crypto miners are in a frenzy over pre-owned bitcoin mining devices following the recent price upsurge that saw the lodestar digital coin’s value rise from sub $4,000 figures to just over $5,000 within 48 hours.

The sudden change in market trajectory has revived the use of previously discarded miners as mining profitability rises to sustainable levels. According to a new Diar report, miners raked in just over $290 million in April, an almost 30 percent increase compared to earnings posted in March.

And now, according to Coindesk, the prices of used mining rigs have more than doubled since April. Bidding wars over the equipment are largely to blame for the trend. AntMiner S9 units, for example, retailed at $140 before the crypto market uptick but now cost upwards of $250. Some buyers are currently making $320 orders and this is pushing up benchmark prices.

There is credible suspicion that some wholesalers are stockpiling as they wait for rates to go higher. The trend could create an artificial shortage if left unchecked.

The situation is further exacerbated by the slow production of new equipment by manufacturers. Companies are taking their time before shipping larger consignments and it may be months before things get back to normal.

Bitmain’s AntMiner T17, for example, was released in April but shipping will begin this month and prioritized on a first bought, first served basis. It features a 40 TH/s hash rate, improved stability and a 55J/TH power consumption efficiency.

MicroBT which recently launched its WhatsMiner M20S mining hardware is also set to ship about 1,500 units this month. The device has a computation rate reaching 70TH/s. According to the company’s founder, Zuoxing Yang, shipments of over 10,000 units will most likely begin in July and August.

As such, secondhand mining device traders are taking advantage of the window period to substantially increase their sales margins.

Miners Maximizing Profitability using Used Rigs

Michael Zhong, a crypto analyst at TokenInsight explains that the main goal for most miners is to attain a payback period of approximately 200 days. This for them is a safe bet given the tempestuous nature of the crypto ecosystem. The objective is also highly achievable using used mining devices since they are low-priced.

The reality, however, is that the trend is pushing up equipment prices and increasing the payback period beyond the expected 200-day mark.

The Sichuan Wet Season

The current rush in China to acquire crypto mining machines has been catalyzed by the Sichuan province wet season. The region is a major draw for miners because of its cheap power usually available during summer.

It recurrently has an abundance of cheap hydroelectric energy during this time because of the heavy rains. The reverse occurs during the dry season when Chinese miners migrate to other locations in the country. Before the bitcoin price boom that occurred in 2017, it was estimated that over 70 percent of bitcoin’s hashrate stemmed from farms located in Sichuan province.

The region is supplied by four major rivers, Jialing, Tuo, Min, and Jinsha (or Wu), which power its hydroelectric facilities. Energy costs fall significantly during the wet season reaching $0.01 per kWh but easily exceed $0.04  per kilowatt during the dry season. Summer begins in May and ends in August.

According to analysts, the number of mining machines in Sichuan is likely to hit the one million mark this time round, subsequently increasing the mining hashrate on crypto networks. Bitcoin’s hashrate is expected to exceed the all-time high record of 60 terahashes per second as the season stretches on. The network’s current load is at approximately 50 TH/s.

The Bitcoin Halving Event

Bitcoin’s halving event is going to happen in approximately 12 months from now and most likely on May 24 next year. It will lead to a drop in mining reward per block from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC. The event will have a significant effect on the cryptosphere as mining difficulty will increase substantially causing profitability to decrease.

This will cause heightened demand for the digital coins in circulation, thereby increasing their value. The price of bitcoin is expected to climb as the event draws near.

Miners expect that the halving phenomenon will boost their digital asset fortunes.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

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Dark Web Enterprise Similar to Silk Road Shut down by FBI, Europol

Authorities in Germany have arrested the principal operators of one of the largest dark web marketplaces in the world dubbed the Wall Street Market. Three men, Tibo Lousee, Jonathan Kalla and Klaus-Martin Frost, aged between 22 and 31 were apprehended following investigations by authorities in both the United States and Europe.

According to a statement released by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police (BKA), the suspects were arrested during crackdowns in the states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. Inter-agency coordination involving the country’s ZIT unit which specializes in cybercrimes, Europol and the FBI helped bring down the operation.

A Brazilian national, Marcos Paulo De Oliveira-Annibale, 29, was also implicated in the illegal enterprise and is currently in custody. He has been charged by a Californian court for his role as a moderator. Annibale reportedly also acted as a public relations officer for the platform and regularly promoted it on social media sites such as Reddit. The suspect apparently operated under the alias “MED3LIN” among others.

The Wall Street Market’s mode of operation was similar to that of the infamous Silk Road. Authorities estimate that the platform was at least the second biggest of its kind in the world before it went down.

Servers, Cash and Cryptocurrencies Seized

The network’s server infrastructure which consisted of nodes in the Netherlands, Germany, and Romania was seized during the raids. A gun, about €500,000 ($560,000) in cash, as well as hundreds of thousands worth of cryptocurrencies were also found.

According to Georg Ungefuk, a spokesperson for the ZIT and Frankfurt’s prosecutor’s office, the dark web platform was only accessible via the encrypted Tor network. He disclosed that the suspects had attempted to pull off an exit scam just before the authorities closed in.

They put the network under maintenance mode and transferred funds from clients’ escrow accounts to those under their control. The operation is believed to have netted them over $30 million in illicit proceeds.

One Wall Street Market user told the Deepdotweb that the administrators had tried to blackmail him by threatening to reveal sensitive information about him to the FBI if he did not pay a certain amount of money in cryptocurrency as ransom.

The cybercriminals were apparently planning to ditch the operation and go into hiding when the authorities swooped in. Access to the site is currently prohibited. The following banner is up as indicated by Germany’s BKA agency.

Sellers on the Wall Street Market mainly dealt in illegal paraphernalia that included drugs, hacking tools, forged documents, and stolen financial information.

Access to the site is currently prohibited. (Image Credit: BKA)

Sellers on the website mainly dealt in illegal paraphernalia that included drugs, hacking tools, forged documents, and stolen financial information. The network apparently took a commission of between two and six percent on sales. Many transactions were conducted using privacy-centered cryptocurrencies, a process that made it harder for the authorities to track down the masterminds and users on the network.

Bitcoin and Monero were the main cryptocurrencies used to fulfill trades. The Wall Street Market had over 5,000 merchants dealing in illicit items and more than a million clients. Over 50,000 items were listed for sale on the marketplace.

The three German suspects currently face charges in both the United States and Germany. Germany’s prosecutor’s office has, however, clarified that a successful prosecution in the country means they won’t have to face trial in the United States. They face a jail time of between one and 15-years if convicted. 

The authorities are currently following up on other leads stemming from the investigation. According to DEA Special Agent-in-Charge, Chris Nielsen, “The case sends a clear message to those breaking the law and attempting to hide behind the illusion of anonymity.”

Another Recent Dark Web Marketplace Takedown

Last month, another dark web marketplace called “Sinmed” which operated under a bigger dark net network called “Dream Market” was shut down after authorities carried out a sting operation targeting its administrators.

Three men Chester Anderson, 44, Jarrette Codd, 41, and Ronald MacCarty, 51 were arrested and charged in the United States. A raid on their base yielded one of the largest drug seizures in New Jersey’s history. Illegal drugs found included counterfeit Xanax, methamphetamine, and heroin. Like the Wall Street Market investigation, both the FBI and Europol were involved.

Anderson, Codd, and MacCarty apparently ran a drug distribution network sprawling over 40 states. They received payments in cryptocurrencies and laundered the funds using debit cards. Law enforcement agencies began following the group’s activities in 2017 after receiving an alert from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office about suspiciously huge ATM withdrawals occurring in the New York area.

(Featured Image Credit: CNN)

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Facebook Loosens Ban on Crypto Advertisers, Including Itself

Earlier today, Facebook announced a change to its ban on cryptocurrency and blockchain advertising, effective immediately. The updated policy “no longer require[s] pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency.”

If you’re looking to advertise your hot, new crypto, though, you’re out of luck. The ‘book still requires an application and approval process for advertisers promoting cryptocurrency. And it continues to place a full ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The company states the goal of its stringent ad policy is a commitment

“…to preventing misleading advertising on our platforms, especially in the area of financial products and services. Because of this, people who want to promote cryptocurrency and closely related products like cryptocurrency exchanges and mining software and hardware, will still have to go through a review process.”

Facebook Is (Finally) Listening to the People

In January last year, Facebook suddenly banned all advertising relating to cryptocurrency. Like a stack of dominoes, Twitter and Google shortly followed suit. As you can imagine, crypto folks weren’t pleased, and honest companies who relied on Facebook marketing took a hit.

Five months later, the social media giant changed its tune, allowing cryptocurrency ads only if the advertisers were pre-approved by Facebook’s ads team. The results have been less than ideal. There has been a flood of applications but a limited number of approvals as a result.

Zuckerberg et al. are now flip-flopping once again. According to the policy announcement, the change is in response to the feedback that the company received about the previous application process. It seems as if the Facebook crew is finally taking users’ criticisms to heart.

Or Is It Just Helping Itself?

The ban lift comes suspiciously after a Bloomberg report detailing that Facebook would be announcing a new stablecoin cryptocurrency as early as next quarter. But that fact isn’t anything new.

Although a lot remains secret about the mysterious crypto project, we know that it began a little over a year ago. Coincidentally, Project Libra (the project’s codename) started around the same time that Facebook first banned crypto-related ads.

Because Facebook isn’t hosting an ICO for its stablecoin, we can expect an abundance of ads promoting it to hit our newsfeeds soon.

Unfortunately, Facebook controls the destinies of its competitors. As cryptocurrencies, they still need to pass through the company’s new ad approval policy.

In the past, Facebook has been ruthless to competing apps. The company has routinely copied features from popular competitors and sneakily gathered data from the apps utilizing its API. It’s more than likely that cryptos competing with Facebook’s new coin won’t get approval.

Facebook copying snapchat features

Facebook has mercilessly copied Snapchat’s innovative features. | Source: Business Insider

The jury is still out on whether Facebook’s new advertising policy is as crypto-friendly as it appears. Many thought that its application process would spur a resurgence of honest companies advertising their blockchain products on the platform, but that hasn’t been the case…yet. 

When’s the last time you’ve seen a blockchain-related company advertise on your newsfeed? That might change in the near future. 

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Amazon Go Stores Are Ripe for Bitcoin Adoption

Amazon Go is opening its first New York store this week at Brookfield Place downtown, CNBC reports. The 1,300-square-foot storefront will join the eleven other Amazon Go stores that have already opened around the United States. Unlike many of its other locations, however, this cashier-less storefront will accept cash as one of its payment options.

Amazon Go’s Unbanked Discrimination

Soon after launching its first cashless stores, Amazon Go faced criticism that the company was excluding the 8.4 million U.S. households who don’t have access to banking services. This group of people, termed the unbanked, are unable to use the Amazon Go app because of its debit/credit card requirement.

Graph of U.S. unbanked 2017

About one-quarter of the U.S. population is either unbanked or underbanked. | Source: FDIC

Regarding cash payments in Go stores, Steven Kessel, senior vice president of physical stores, emphasized to Amazon employees,

“We’re in earlier days but it’s an important focus for us and we’ll continue to extend those methods with our stores.”

Several cities are considering passing laws to force stores to accept cash. Massachusetts already has the legislation in place, and Philadelphia created a ban on cashless stores in February. Other major cities are following suit with San Francisco, New York, and Chicago all thinking about similar laws.

Staying Cashless With Bitcoin

While banning cashless stores like Amazon Go may seem like a good idea in the short-term, it’s nonsensical as a long-term solution. The world is moving into the digital space and companies shouldn’t face punishment for innovating in that regard.

Supporting the unbanked is a noble cause, but these cities are approaching the problem in the wrong way. Instead of forcing businesses to accept an antiquated currency, we should help those without bank accounts get access to banking services. Or even better, introduce them to Bitcoin.  

Wordwide unbanked population that could benefit from Amazon Go accepting bitcoin

Serving the unbanked population should be a worldwide goal for Amazon. | Source: The World Bank

It’s been brought up ad nauseam in the blockchain community, but Bitcoin is necessary to keep unbanked individuals relevant in a digital society. If banks aren’t going to provide them with the tools they need to buy goods and services in a cashless society, Bitcoin will.

It’s a Win-Win Situation

Amazon should be one of the biggest proponents of bitcoin adoption. Bitcoin enables Amazon Go stores to provide goods to people who don’t have debit or credit cards without having to waste money on store employees who currently need to handle the cash transactions. With the number of stores potentially reaching 3,000 by 2021, Amazon should want to cut costs wherever possible.

Unfortunately, bitcoin transactions aren’t a priority for Amazon nor Amazon Go stores right now. The e-commerce giant has been hesitant to implement cryptocurrency payments, but rival Rakuten is taking a more progressive approach. The Japanese online retailer has been accepting bitcoin payments since 2015 and is set to launch a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet in June.

On the other hand, Amazon doesn’t provide any way to pay with cryptocurrency. Your only options for crypto transactions are third-party providers like Moon which utilizes Bitcoin’s Lightning Network via Chrome plugin.

Supporting bitcoin payments in Amazon’s Go locations would not only demonstrate the company’s desire to serve the unbanked but would also promote their branding as one of the most forward-thinking companies in the world – a title that’s slowly slipping away towards competitors Alibaba and Rakuten.

Feature Image Source: CNN Business

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This Week in Cryptocurrency: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a good Friday…so far. The majority of the top 100 coins are in the green, a handful of which are in double digits, which is a refreshing sight after the past few months.

As of writing, Bitcoin is up 10.35% on the week, Ethereum 9%, XRP 5%, Bitcoin Cash 11%. Other big winners include Cosmos (40%), ABBC Coin (26%), Clams (22%), and CasinoCoin (38%). Cryptocurrency markets


Facebook Seeking Supporters for Its Potential Cryptocurrency Service: The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is currently “recruiting dozens of financial firms and online merchants to help launch a cryptocurrency-based payments system.” This is a part of a blockchain initiative Facebook’s team internally calls “Project Libra,” and it’s expected Facebook will create a stablecoin supported by fiat. With 2.38 billion monthly active users in the first quarter of 2019, Facebook is poised to make some major waves in crypto and general finance. “Payments and commerce are Facebook’s only way out from its freemium, advertisement business model,” commented Henry Liu, a former Facebook employee and managing partner of an enterprise blockchain investment firm called YGC.

$42 Million Spent in Cryptocurrency Lobbying in Q1 2019: A reported 40 entities spent a total of $42 million to lobby for bitcoin and blockchain in the United States in Q1 2019. The highest lobbying rollers were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($16.4 million), Ernest & Young, and Accenture. Taxing as noted as some of the top elements in cryptocurrency lobbying.


What’s New at CoinCentral?

Deconstructing #DeFi – What Does Decentralized Finance Mean for Crypto’s Future?: Beyond the hype, the DeFi movement offers up some intriguing potential. It aims to create a truly decentralized financial system, one which doesn’t need the traditional banking system.

NYSE Parent Company Buys Crypto Custodian Company to Push Bitcoin: Stifled by regulatory objections and delays, Bakkt has been forced to wait on the sidelines to be knighted as a legitimate figure.

Crypto Hacker Groups Get More Sophisticated, Exchanges and Authorities Fight Back: Although the situation is foreboding, the authorities and cryptocurrency trading platforms are getting better at stopping cybercriminals and thwarting hacking attempts.


68% of International Millionaires Expected to Invest in Crypto by 2022: A survey by Devere Group, a Dubai-based financial consulting firm with over $10 billion in assets under advice, found that 68% of international high net worth individuals have invested or are planning to invest in crypto by the end of 2022. The threshold to qualify someone as a “high net worth individual” was set at 1 million British pounds (~$1.3M). DeVere Founder and CEO Nigel Green noted the main factors that would drive these individuals to watch cryptocurrency include that crypto is borderless, increasing digitalization, real-life solutions such as providing services for the roughly two billion unbanked people, involvement by institution investors, and acceptance by a younger generation.

JAGUAR LAND ROVER

Credit- Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover Announces IOTA Integration: On Monday, Jaguar Land Rover announced an upcoming integration of IOTA smart wallets in their Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Velar vehicles. This integration will allow Jaguar Land Rover vehicles to “tip” each other for various on-road actions, such as reporting accidents, ride sharing, and changing lanes. The news gave IOTA an 8% bump for the day.

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