Iran Approves Crypto Mining Framework Amid U.S. Sanctions

The Iran economic commission has approved a cryptocurrency mining regulatory mechanism. This is according to an announcement made by the nation’s Chamber of Commerce. The long-awaited framework is set to be tabled in parliament for formal consent and ratification as a law.

Iran Embraces Crypto to Circumvent U.S. Sanctions

The Iranian government is slowly embracing cryptocurrencies which are now being seen as a viable means to circumvent crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. This is following the U.S. government’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

The U.S. instigated embargo prohibits companies registered within its areas of jurisdiction, countries such as China, and those within the E.U. from dealing with Iranian firms. The United States administration has also pressured international financial networks such as SWIFT to block the country from their systems.

The United States government has demonstrated its intransigence on the matter by slapping some major multi-national companies with sanctions. Zhuhai Zhenrong Limited, a Chinese state-run company is among the latest casualties. This latest development has drawn some bellicose remarks from the Chinese authorities amid escalating tensions. 

Such actions have forced some organizations such as the E-3 nations to develop an independent financial mechanism that connects to the Iranian economy. The system, however, also has its drawbacks.

Dubbed INSTEX, it was jointly developed by Germany, France, and the United Kingdom and was recently proclaimed operational. The U.S. has already threatened to place sanctions on countries involved in the project.  

To solve such issues, Iran is reportedly developing its own cryptocurrency which is said to be backed by gold. According to local news outlet Mehr News, the network is set to be launched soon.

Of course, there are some considerable hurdles to overcome for the country to successfully use cryptocurrencies for trade. As in the Venezuelan situation, a rising inflation could suppress the benefits. Recent statistics estimate the inflation rate in Iran to be around 50 percent.

In many related cases, the general populace tends to use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as a store of value and not as a medium of exchange. Lack of technological know-how also slows down adoption. 

That said, however, the Iranian populace is increasingly embracing cryptocurrencies. Subsequently, peer-to-peer platforms such as LocalBitcoins are gaining popularity.

Its crypto mining industry is also taking off due to the abundance of cheap energy resources. Miners from countries such as China are flocking in to take advantage of low energy costs. The electricity consumption price-rate in Iran is currently at about $0.03 per kilowatt-hour.

Iran is looking to regulate the crypto mining sector and have miners contribute to the local economy. A proposal to charge export rates is already being considered. 

Details of the just-approved mining industry framework have yet to be released.

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India, U.S. Governments Move to Rein in Facebook, Libra Cryptocurrency Project

The Facebook Libra cryptocurrency project is facing pushback from Indian lawmakers. According to Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg, the firm’s digital currency is privately-controlled and this fact alone makes the government particularly distrustful and unlikely to approve its use within the country.

The Reserve Bank of India has already prohibited financial institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies. An inter-agency committee was also recently reported to be working on a bill barring Indian citizens and businesses from possessing, mining, or trading in crypto.

The news comes at a time when Facebook is trying to mollify legislators that are skeptical about its private user data collection practices, especially in regard to its yet-to-be-launched Libra network.

The company is believed to have been betting on the Indian market to catalyze Libra adoption, at least initially, before its attempts were squashed.

The U.S. Government Is Skeptical About the Facebook Coin

Legislators in the United States are also wary about the potentially disruptive Facebook crypto project. Last week, the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell outlined a series of concerns surrounding the Libra cryptocurrency.

He said that the digital currency had the potential to destabilize the economy, cause large-scale data privacy issues and aid money laundering activities.

The widely publicized statement caused bitcoin’s value to plummet by approximately 12 percent within 24 hours.

According to Scott Galloway, a Professor of Marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business, there is good reason to be worried about Facebook’s cryptocurrency.

According to the analyst, Facebook’s foray into the remittance market would give the company too much power over people’s lives and there is a danger in allowing this to happen.

In his view, the company already controls the media and the narrative in a lot of social issues. Enabling the social media giant to also control money would inadvertently allow it and malicious third party actors to weaponize its platforms.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also added another twist to the regulatory debacle. Going by his latest tweets on the matter, Facebook and Co may be forced to register the Libra Association as a bank that operates under U.S. banking statutes.

Adding to the company’s woes, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just approved a $5 billion fine resulting from its 2018 data handling scandal.  There are also reports of a planned law that will prevent large tech companies such as Facebook from dabbling in digital asset ventures.

According to a just-released Reuters report, the House Financial Services Committee is currently drafting a bill that includes a fine of $1 million a day for firms found to have violated the rules.

The document apparently describes a large tech company as an enterprise whose annual revenues exceed $25 billion.

(Featured Image Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images)

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The World’s First Public Blockchain with Secret Contracts is Making its Case

Ever since the global interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain soared in 2017, the debate pinning public and private blockchains against one another in the context of practical adoption has persisted. Ethereum is undoubtedly the most popular public blockchain with over the majority of +2,400 Dapps being built on it since Ethereum went live in 2015, but the top Ethereum applications are still only seeing a few thousand transactions per day. 

When it comes to big business (e.g. the Fortune 1000), most companies are still in the testing and piloting phase of institutionalizing blockchain in their own day-to-day business. Furthermore, deciding whether to build your own blockchain internally versus using one that is purpose-built for enterprises, such as Hyperledger Fabric or Corda, has to be thought about keeping in mind short-term and long-term viability.

Needless to say, we’re still a far cry away from where many experts thought we would be from a blockchain adoption perspective at this point, mid-2019. Scalability and speed have been a big issue for Ethereum, while the bull versus bear case wages on the currency side of things. Investors and blockchain projects alike are placing their bets on the blockchains that they think will not only sustain, but command global market share for years to come. 

So what exactly is needed to onboard big enterprises on blockchain as intended by the creators of all of these protocol-layer companies? And how can we the technology still adhere to increasing regulatory scrutiny and regulatory measures?

Issues with Public and Private Blockchains

The distinct blockchain advantages of transparency, immutability, and decentralization have their trade-offs when comparing public and private blockchains, in both permissionless (open) and permissioned (closed) settings. These trade-offs have been key factors leading to adoption issues, causing many to consider hybrid options with on-chain and off-chain solutions. 

At a high-level, public blockchains allow anyone to join their blockchain network to participate in transacting while making transaction data open for public, group verification in a trustless, decentralized network. However, the major issues with public blockchains have centered around transaction speed, scalability, and energy consumption. 

On the other hand, private blockchains limit transactions to authorized parties in a more-controlled, centralized environment enabling a faster, more scalable network. The main trade-offs with private blockchains revolve around required trust in the authorized, controlling entities as well as the inherent issues in centralized, private control of data, including vulnerabilities related to data manipulation and hacking. With Facebook trying to launch Libra in the next 12 months while dealing with plenty of privacy issues in historically, the argument for blockchain-backed privacy is stronger than ever

As one McKinsey report points out, “most commercial blockchain will use private, permissioned architecture to optimize network openness and scalability.” However, there are many use cases for both public and private blockchains across many areas, including voting, gaming, supply chain, and finance, which have many saying ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to which type of blockchain stands out as ‘best of breed’.

Quras aims to create the First ‘Best of Both Worlds’ Public Blockchain

As the blockchain industry continues to mature, we continue to see more innovative companies coming out with solutions that tackle the issues at the foundational, protocol blockchain level. 

Enter Quras, a public blockchain that uses secret, anonymous contracts. Tokyo-based Quras is working on a ‘best of both worlds’ blockchain, utilizing anonymous transactions in a smart contract to allow only the parties involved to view the transaction while the smart contract resides on a distributed and decentralized network. 

Today, blockchain projects have a limited amount of protocols for them to operate on, with each searching for the right blockchain protocol that has the options required to run their ecosystem. Services that require private functionalities are not able to run on public protocols while many private blockchains use cases are limited to value transfer. A lack of dApp adoption on the biggest blockchains suggests a misalignment of incentive mechanisms between users of the blockchain and the blockchain infrastructure provider. 

The most popular privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash, Monero, and Dash, each use their own technology, but none of them include smart contracts. While other great projects such as Origo Network, Enigma, and OasisLabs are looking to enable privacy on smart contracts, but only OasisLabs has its own protocol, with transaction traceability always being public. 

The team behind Quras thought through all of the current issue plaguing blockchain protocols and adoption issues in their 2.5 years development of the Quras blockchain. 

“Quras is flexible to project needs, allowing any project to build in required privacy filtering through the use of zero-knowledge proof and ring technologies to protect user transactions. Quras protects privacy for both users and enterprises, enabling many new use cases for major businesses that were hesitant in exploring blockchain for their own endeavors due to both scalability and privacy issues,” says Ken Misuma, CMO of Quras. 

With a current load capability to handle up to 1,000 transactions per second along with Quras’ plans to increase capacity, the blockchain is built to scale.

Aligning Incentives while Empowering Individuals

First implemented by NEM, Quras uses a ‘Proof of Importance’ algorithm to reward network users, rather than coin hoarders. Those deemed ‘important’ by the algorithm can produce blocks, receiving block rewards. Quras plans on distributing all transaction fees to users who retain a certain volume of QRS, the main value transfer in the QuUras ecosystem.

The Quras mainnet is set to release in Q4 of this year, much to the anticipation of their community which includes over 100,000 brand ambassadors and developers. While Quras has been working on making some major Dapp announcements, they have put in place the ample incentives to bring developers and token managers onto the Quras protocol. Quras plans on distributing 20-40% of gas fees to projects building on its blockchain. In turn, Quras gas can be used to pay for network services, such as data storage, smart contract execution and transaction fees.

“Since we live in the age of the individual, I think we have to protect individuals and their privacy,” says Shigeki Kakutani, CEO of Quras. “For example, all Facebook data is stored on the server, but from now on I think that it should be time to personally own even (your personal) data. (It should) not sit on a server somewhere.” 

Responsibly Bridging Big Enterprise to Blockchain Technology

The impact of a public blockchain with private, anonymous transactions is vast in protecting identity and transactions while having transparency in the process. This approach may also be key in luring big enterprises to finalize use blockchain for efficiency gains and real-world value creation without the baggage that can come with public and private blockchains. 

Adopting a digital ID allows for compliance with laws and regulations, opening the door for use cases in the modern world. Regulatory compliance is essential for adoption, so innovative technologies have to be flexible enough to operate in the current frameworks and forthcoming rules of the law. 

Using a digital ID makes it possible for users to control their identity in detail. This allows organizations to use distributed identifiers only when they have consent from their clients. With a higher privacy standard using anonymous technology, a safer private digital ID can be supported.

And this is exactly why blockchains such as Quras are well-positioned for big enterprise adoption. Industries that can benefit from the combination of blockchain and anonymity technologies include finance and the transactions of customer assets, government and the handling of electronic voting and smart city infrastructure, insurance, and the personal and asset data for insurance coverage, as well as healthcare, supply chain, gaming, and retail. 

Let’s look at the +$7 trillion healthcare industry for example, which is very fragmented, burdened with poor consumer service and a lack of transparency around price, quality, and safety of products and services. Today, medical data cannot be easily shared between health practices, let alone country lines, due to various regulations and an inability to anonymous consumer data. With privacy being implemented at the level of transaction initiation and contract interaction, mass medical data harvesting can be conducted securely and ethically. 

The Future is Bright 

The convergence of traditional industry and blockchain is inevitable, but it will have to be done in a compliant way that does not sacrifice the stability, privacy or protections that the free enterprise world has today. 

Luckily, many exciting companies are seeing to it that the convergence will have sooner versus later, and we can finally enter into the ‘web 3.0’ era for good. 

Quras is aiming to be the blockchain built for collaboration and mass adoption, developing for the future with a strong sense of sensibility when it comes to what is needed today.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Simon Bogdanowicz and the Quras team for help with this article. 

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This Week in Cryptocurrency: July 26th, 2019

Another week, another seven days of volatility. However, unlike last week’s completely red market summary, this week was a mixed bag. 

The Losers: 

The Winners: 

Price Table
# Coin Price Marketcap Volume (24h) Supply Change (24H) Price Graph (7D)
1 $ 9,857.00 $ 175.71 B $ 19.39 B 17.84 M -1.13%
2 $ 219.71 $ 23.52 B $ 6.80 B 107.06 M -0.47%
3 $ 0.321479 $ 13.75 B $ 1.30 B 42.83 B 2.24%
4 $ 94.25 $ 5.93 B $ 2.87 B 62.83 M 0.66%
5 $ 320.13 $ 5.74 B $ 1.51 B 17.91 M 6.49%
6 $ 4.58 $ 4.66 B $ 3.29 B 1.02 B -0.24%
7 $ 28.94 $ 4.50 B $ 211.02 M 155.54 M -1.14%
8 $ 1.00 $ 3.56 B $ 33.78 B 3.56 B 0.09%
9 $ 163.05 $ 2.92 B $ 580.90 M 17.91 M -1.37%
10 $ 0.062145 $ 1.93 B $ 127.22 M 31.11 B 5.22%

A message from our sponsors: This Week in Crypto is brought to you by 3Commas, one of the largest cryptocurrency trading bot and trading automation tool platforms. 3Commas allows users to build their own custom trading bots or use one of the many user-submitted bots. CoinCentral readers can snag 10% off membership plans with this link for 10% off. You can catch an exclusive interview with the 3Commas team here as well. 

Venezuela Possibly Using Crypto to Avoid U.S. Sanctions: The Maduro regime is being accused of escaping U.S. sanctions by collecting taxes from airline travelers and then converting the fiat to BTC, sending it to international regime accounts in countries like Bulgaria, Russia, and China in exchange for their fiat. The report in a regional publication noted that a Florida-based company called Jetman Pay would work in cahoots with Venezuelan government agency Sunacrip to do the conversions for airline taxes from travelers purchasing tickets from Maiquetía International Airport. This is one potential instance that a government is attempting to circumvent a U.S. financial blockade through cryptocurrency. 

Former Token Foundry CEO Takes ConsenSys Founder Joseph Lubin to Court: Harrison Hines, the former Token Foundry CEO, is seeking relief for alleged fraud, unjust enrichment, unpaid profits, and breach of contract. The summons details that the relief sought is  “Monetary damages in the amount of $12,827,000 on the contract, quasi-contract and fraud claims plus $404,783 in unpaid profits.” Token Foundry was essentially a “spoke” to the ConsenSys hub that handled vetted token sales, with at least four live sales on the Token Foundry Marketplace. 

IRS Sending Cryptocurrency Holding Taxpayers: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it has started to send letters to cryptocurrency holders advising them to pay back taxes regarding their holdings. These letters are meant to be “educational letters” and are being sent to more than 10,000 taxpayers by the end of July. 

What’s New at CoinCentral?

How Blockchain Can Save Our Privacy Before It Disappears: Our personal privacy is under siege by veiled government surveillance programs and the countless tech company Trojan Horses.

NOIA Network’s Domas Povilauskas on Building the New Internet: When thinking of the Internet, few people dive deep enough to understand how it works. The “Information Superhighway” has created trillions of dollar in value, facilitated the spread of globalization, opened the doors to education for billions, and changed entire generations. However, the Internet, according to the NOIA team, is still extremely inefficient – and they want to change that. 

Amrit Kumar on Smart Contract Security, Blockchain Sentiment, and the Future of Zilliqa: Decentralized app (dApp) platforms seem to be running into issue after issue lately. Many have trouble scaling while others have seen some nasty bugs due to smart contract vulnerabilities. The Zilliqa team is aiming to turn that around. Zilliqa implements sharding, alongside its own programming language, Scilla, to bring forward a more secure, scalable blockchain.

Why China Wants to Ban Cryptocurrency Mining: China is looking to ban cryptocurrency mining and regulators in the country are seeking public opinion on the matter. The nation is home to the world’s biggest mining-pools and hardware manufacturers.

Facebook Accused of Moving Fast to “Break Things” During Senate Hearing: Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee hearing earlier this week, the former PayPal executive was in the hot seat for two days as legislators sought answers to some far-reaching questions. The project which has already been tagged a national security issue by the secretary of the treasury, Steven Terner Mnuchin and censured by U.S. President Donald Trump faces a series of regulatory hurdles before it can be approved.

Tough Times for Tron: Justin Sun, Tron’s Founder, issued a public apology on Weibo, saying he “sincerely apologizes to the public, media, officials and regulatory authorities” for his over-marketing, in particular with his upcoming charity lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett. “My intention of having the lunch with Buffett was because of my admiration for him and my enthusiasm for charity,” notes Sun. “It was simple, but also with self-interest to promote the blockchain industry and my project. But my immature, naive, and impulsive conducts with my big mouth have turned it into an out-of-control and failed over-marketing hype and led to a significant series of unexpected consequences.” It appears that these messages were coming from a downtrodden and sickly Sun, as the entrepreneur noted, “I had my darkest moment with sickness and tiredness. I suffered the biggest drama ever in my life from people’s doubting and questioning. I didn’t sleep all night yesterday, and deeply reflected on my memories and was introspective for my behavior and words—I felt ashamed for my over-marketing.”

Michael Terpin Vs. AT&T Escalates: A Los Angeles federal judge rejected AT&T’s request to dismiss the claims filed by Michael Terpin in 2018, which claimed AT&T enabled the theft of $24 million of his cryptocurrency by hackers that accessed Terpin’s SIM card. Terpin is seeking $200 million in punitive damages and $24 million of compensatory damages.

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Facebook Accused of Moving Fast to “Break Things” During Senate Hearing

Libra project head, David Marcus, has had the uphill task of mollifying skeptical lawmakers.

Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee hearing earlier this week, the former PayPal executive was in the hot seat for two days as legislators sought answers to some far-reaching questions.

The project which has already been tagged a national security issue by the secretary of the treasury, Steven Terner Mnuchin and censured by U.S. President Donald Trump faces a series of regulatory hurdles before it can be approved.

Facebook Attacked by Legislators

During the Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Sherrod Brown, a senior member of the Banking Committee accused Facebook of working fast to undermine American democracy. He said that the company simply couldn’t be trusted with people’s bank accounts because it has in the past failed to win their trust.

He also poked holes in the argument that Facebook will only have one vote as a member of the Libra Association with no overriding rights. Brown underscored that the conglomerate is also notably the only company in the group with a reach of over 2 billion users.

The politician underlined the gravity of Facebook’s data privacy issues by asking the Libra project leader if he and his team would accept to receive a hundred percent of their compensation in the cryptocurrency.

Marcus proclaimed that the Libra network was not built to compete with bank deposits. 

Senator Mike Crapo, who heads the Banking Committee, also asked the FB exec to explain why the company chose to register the project in Switzerland instead of the United States.

The Facebook exec responded by highlighting that the country is a major international banking and trading hub and thus a fitting location for the global project.

Marcus emphasized that the move was not at in any way aimed at skirting U.S. regulatory statutes. He reiterated Facebook’s commitment to address all concerns before proceeding with the venture.

Also on the list of Libra critics was Senator Brad Sherman. He lambasted the crypto network and likened it to the 9/11 tragedy, stating the following.

“The most innovative thing that happened this century is when Osama bin Laden came up with the innovative idea of flying two airplanes into towers. That’s the most consequential innovation, although this may do more to endanger America than even that.”

The seemingly united stance against the launch of the Facebook coin dampened hopes of it becoming a major crypto market catalyst. Bitcoin’s value dropped by almost 10 percent within the next 24 hours as a result.

The Facebook project is also facing resistance from European leaders. French and German finance ministers have already called upon the European Union to regulate the network.

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Why China Wants to Ban Cryptocurrency Mining

China is looking to ban cryptocurrency mining and regulators in the country are seeking public opinion on the matter. The nation is home to the world’s biggest mining-pools and hardware manufacturers.

Its leadership is, however, distrustful of cryptocurrencies and is currently considering a ban due to a melange of factors. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), crypto mining is unsafe. The agency also says that it has the potential to cause substantial damage to the environment.  

Authorities in the country are cracking down on illegal mining operations which have been on the rise since the recent cryptocurrency market boom. 

Over a dozen suspects were recently arrested in China’s Jiangsu province. The electricity-theft syndicate was found to be running an extensive crypto mining operation with 4,000 miners. The local power company is said to have incurred losses running into tens of millions of Yuan due to the shady setup.

Authorities in China are also grappling with the construction of illegal crypto mining farms in Sichuan Province. Electricity tariffs in the region are usually among the lowest in the country during the rainy season. The area has over 25 operational hydroelectric dams which generate cheap power during this time.

Although illegal mining schemes are becoming a major headache for the authorities, the Chinese government also wants to ban cryptocurrency to stem large-scale capital flight.

The Sino–U.S. Trade War and the Attempt to Mitigate Capital Flight

The Chinese and U.S. governments are embroiled in a trade war which is threatening to undermine China’s economy and its national currency.

With major industries in recession and the economy at its most vulnerable, there are fears that an increase in cryptocurrency mining and trading could, at this juncture, trigger massive capital flight.

The saber-rattling has led to an economic slowdown in China. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country’s economic growth outlook for 2019 has cascaded to 6.2 percent from 6.6 percent last year. It is expected to contract to 6.0 percent in 2020.

The bleak economic situation is believed to be driving the adoption of popular decentralized digital currencies such as bitcoin which are perceived have better value-retention in the long term as compared to fiat currency.

More Chinese investors are also reportedly selling the Yuan for stablecoins.  According to a recent revelation by XBTO CEO, Philippe Bekhazi, the digital currencies are slowly becoming a new fad among the country’s entrepreneurs.

The Chinese government is already attempting to curb capital flight through monetary transfer policies and ramping up operations against black-market forex trading. Stablecoins are, as a result, emerging as a new way to shield funds from trade-war instigated economic turbulence.

(Featured Image Credit: Pixabay)

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NOIA Network’s Domantas Jaskunas on Building the New Internet

When thinking of the Internet, few people dive deep enough to understand how it works. The “Information Superhighway” has created trillions of dollar in value, facilitated the spread of globalization, opened the doors to education for billions, and changed entire generations. However, the Internet, according to the NOIA team, is still extremely inefficient – and they want to change that. 

From a bird’s eye view, NOIA has designed a distributed peer-to-peer content delivery network (CDN) administered by a blockchain. The team believes this to be a much more effective solution than the current protocol that runs the Internet. 

The problem, as explained by NOIA, is that the Internet as is wasn’t designed to be this way – it just happened. The natural lack of structure led to a fragmentation that is responsible for upwards of $700B a year in outage costs for enterprises according to an IHS study.  

We connected with Domantas Jaskunas, a Co-Founder at NOIA Network, to elaborate on how he sees NOIA changing the infrastructure of the Internet as we know it. 

Let’s talk about the Internet as of today. Most people are online almost 16 hours a day but have little to no idea how it functions. Could you run us through the current Internet architecture and its routing protocols? 

It is important to understand that the internet is a network of networks. It is just cables that run across the world, provided by your ISP who then connects to other ISPs and so on. It’s a large tangle of networks using physical cables running across the world. It is operated by thousands of different institutions in order to be functional. 

These institutions should have a common protocol. Commercialization of the Internet began with universities then to private ISPs, as a network of networks. 

Boarder Gateway Protocol was introduced in 1994. This allows a path from one computer to another including websites to television to social media and essentially anything and everything on the internet. The routing protocol and data currently functions in a series of “hubs.” Currently, users do not have a choice of which hub is used and ultimately, ends up at the main server where the data is hosted. 

The problems?

The BGP protocol only works on a very “local view” on the network, sending traffic to those hubs. Using the information from each other, autonomously governed, data is stored across the internet. This doesn’t include packet laws, latest measurements, security features, and is a simple protocol showing a direction towards a destination. No one is responsible for delivering traffic, performance, and non-intelligent routing, specifically. 

90% of all internet traffic is routed using BGP. This also results in huge financial losses for major companies and is inefficient. 

It costs Technology companies, Enterprises, and Internet Service Providers upwards of $700B. Where does this money go? 

An IHS Study is very broad and includes a very broad picture of why internet creates complexity for a lot of companies. Includes direct network and internet outages, for example. It affects productivity, texting, software, slow experiences, services, etc. This is an annual number which becomes exponential. 

Companies and enterprises will install and will use private service providers which adds another cost because the public internet can be too risky. These solutions are still not enough. Regardless, at some point, all enterprises are reliant on public internet where their private cannot be covered. So, access points MPLS Protocol which costs hundreds of times more are used but this is also outdated. 

Let’s talk about the future of the Internet. How is going online in 10 years going to be different than today? 

The programmable Internet is based on the idea of openness, resource sharing, and balancing. Regular Internet users can contribute and use the programmable Internet by sharing their Internet connection. Once NOIA application is installed, the user’s connection will become a part of the new Internet and user will get access to the best Internet connection possible given his Internet plan, location and other details.

This would let users make their internet fast, guarantee the best gaming and television experience and get rewarded for contributing and using the Programmable Internet.

Regular user contributions can bring traffic decentralization and make Internet balanced and effective. This brings more traffic to faster, better networks and fosters competition between Internet Service Providers which leads to innovation and evolution of Internet Infrastructure.

IPV6 expanded the size of data packets. This allows for custom data headers. This adds a place for editing data including routing information. Segment routing is increasing such as Cisco (among others) is doing today. The majority of the hardware will support segment routing over the next 5 to 10 years. There is no technical reason why this is not possible in order to support segment routing. Worldwide segment routing is the future environment and the IPV6 protocol. Currently, there is no such thing as a database internet using BGP protocol. 

Editor’s note: In the blog announcement, Bill Norton broke it down into simple terms: “Much like Waze routed cars to alternative routes to bypass congested highways, machine learning will dynamically adjust the topology of contributed network segments to optimize routing for its participants. The entire community benefits from better Internet connectivity, and blockchain handles the settlement between participants.”

We use distributor ledger technology allowing for all segment routing databases and running our nodes. The user experience is exponentially improved by seeing all available connections to use for transit. This is a solid base for programmable internet. 

After this is achieved, an economy needs to be created and enabled. By combining all of the aforementioned, our model is a decentralized internet transit exchange, i.e. DITEX. This offers a financial incentive which offers an “opening up” of the internet so segments are open and shared in order to perform “smart routing” with machine learning and algorithms. 

Could you tell us a bit about the founding team behind NOIA? Why is this the best team to solve this challenge?

We started a year and a half ago. Our testnet has been performing for about one year in order to release this technology now. Our team has recently added Bill Norton as a late-stage founder. We have a team of experts at the highest level in the U.S. and globally. 

How is NOIA going to impact the internet? 

We connect different independent networks by programming segment routing language. We are connecting the internet with smart routing and an alternative routing system. 

This provides maximum utilization for the internet including safety, security, performance, and solves critical problems associated with the current internet architecture associated with the BGP. 

How will Bill Norton impact the progress of the project? 

Bill has pushed our project to the major league of Silicon Valley projects. To have him on board means we are doing something significant in the industry. 

What is NOIA Cache? 

A peer-to-peer content delivery network (CDN). This was released over 6 months ago. CDN is the first application running on the testnet, open-source, etc. 

How will NOIA compete with Amazon, Microsoft, and CloudFlare? 

These companies privatize their internet. Their internet is private and they still lack solutions in certain regions and countries. 

NOIA uses the existing infrastructure. We are democratizing the public internet which spans the globe. In fact, we are offering our services to these companies.  

What role will blockchain play in internet decentralization? 

 A more accurate description is Distributed Ledger. This is the only way for the internet to be decentralized as a public database for this new routing system. This isn’t owned by our company, it is public. 

How will NOIA make money? 

To utilize Segment Routing, we are developing the software for data packet programming. It’s basically one of the first in the world (or the first) such software available as a service for individuals and Enterprises. This software works in combination with router softwares which supports Segment Routing protocol and this forms a basis for traffic routing in Programmable Internet. 

In order to grow the number of users and contributors, NOIA will be focused on providing a good UX/UI in terms of Programmable Internet usage and integration into the existing IT infrastructures. 

To do that, we’ll be releasing an application for individual users and businesses. Both applications will give access to Programmable Internet and serve as “gateways”.

We have two categories of customers:

  • Individuals: We’re developing an app for every Internet user to speed up their Internet and share their connections to get rewarded.
  • Businesses: It essentially will be a SaaS platform which will provide all tools needed to connect all wanted end-points in companies infrastructure and setup, manage, analyze network connectivity. That part we’re planning to monetize. 

It’s a good way to differentiate the private business from open-source distributed ledger project. The core of the project is the ledger and the exchange. Those will be decentralized and NOIA company will only get value being a token holder. But in terms of the product, the software itself, the UX/UI part, it will be monetized for Enterprises as a service. 

Anything else you’d like our readers to know? 

Everyone should understand that NOIA is creating a sustainable token economy revolving around the sharing-and-using internet connection, a next-generation internet. This model is tied to the NOIA token. 

Thank you!

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Amrit Kumar on Smart Contract Security, Blockchain Sentiment, and the Future of Zilliqa

Amrit Kumar, Zilliqa President and Chief Scientific Officer

Amrit Kumar Zilliqa

Amrit Kumar

Decentralized app (dApp) platforms seem to be running into issue after issue lately. Many have trouble scaling while others have seen some nasty bugs due to smart contract vulnerabilities. The Zilliqa team is aiming to turn that around. Zilliqa implements sharding, alongside its own programming language, Scilla, to bring forward a more secure, scalable blockchain.

This week, CoinCentral’s Steven Buchko had the pleasure of speaking with Amrit Kumar, the President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zilliqa. They discussed blockchain privacy, advice for the industry, and the issues in the smart contract landscape today, among other topics. Read on below:

In a ​recent interview, you mentioned that you started out as a postdoc researching privacy-enhancing technologies for blockchains. What are your thoughts on the current landscape for those technologies and the privacy coins implementing them?

Privacy-preserving and privacy-friendly technologies have definitely made their way into blockchains. 

Several projects such as Monero, ZCash, and MimbleWimble are good examples which have implemented privacy technologies in different forms. They can help anonymize the sender of a transaction, hide the amount transacted among, etc. 

In parallel, we are also witnessing a lot of tooling being developed specifically around zkSNARKs – a privacy-preserving technology to prove the knowledge of certain secret data. With zkSNARKs and similar cryptographic primitives, the reach of privacy is being pushed beyond simple payments to running smart contract transactions. It is interesting to see that many of these privacy technologies can actually be used for other purposes such as scaling. 

zkSNARKs are being adopted by several projects to be used for scaling and not necessarily for privacy. This clearly shows that many of the underlying primitives in privacy coins have much broader applications than just privacy.

Regarding smart contract development, what issues do you see in traditional programming languages like Javascript, and why do you feel that even Ethereum’s Solidity still falls short?

It’s important to recognize that ten years on, the blockchain industry is still largely in the process of determining and establishing the best practices – be it the best infrastructure to use for a particular use case, or in this case, the best programming language to design smart contracts. That being said, in this nascent stage, the current infrastructures we have at our disposal are but a work-in-progress.

Legacy programming languages, especially Javascript, have the benefit of being regarded as the “gateway” language for newcomers looking to acquire skills in coding. Widely known and applicable to different areas of computer science, Javascript significantly lowers the barriers to entry for an area of the field that’s regarded as highly complex. With its emphasis on usability, the use of Javascript as a native programming language on any platform will be highly beneficial as a project looks to build up their community as they onboard new developers. 

Similarly, a language like Ethereum’s Solidity was equally designed with usability in mind, making it the most popular programming language for smart contract design. 

However, history has shown that the language itself was not designed with safety in mind. With incidents such as the DAO and Parity hacks, where wrongfully-inputted code resulted in the loss of significant amounts of money, we can see that greater security is needed at the language level. 

With mainstream adoption as the long-term goal of every project in the space, a greater emphasis needs to be made on developing secure-by-design infrastructures. In order to enable far-reaching solutions enabled by smart contracts, be it in the financial services sector or healthcare, where significant volumes of currency or sensitive data are transacted, security ​must​ come first.

At Zilliqa, we’ve tried to address this problem by developing our own smart contract language, Scilla, which was designed with functional programming language principles in mind. In so doing, developers will be able to leverage mathematical proofs in order to ensure that their contracts are provably correct. 

This is only one approach, and I’m certain that there will be many others, as more projects look to develop far more security-oriented solutions. While we cannot downplay the value of languages such as Javascript and Solidity, and how they’ve largely shaped the trajectory of smart contract development, it’s clear that our path as an industry doesn’t end there. 

As we look to establish best practices going forward, language designers will be able to glean from past experiences and develop even something better – a language that provides better security while allowing for expressivity and tractability.

Sharding is at the crux of Zilliqa’s design. We know that higher throughput is a significant value-add, but what are some of the potential downsides?

zilliqa scaling

Zilliqa implements sharding to improve scaling. | Source: Zilliqa

If you compare a sharded architecture with a non-sharded architecture (such as Ethereum in its current form), there is a drop in decentralization for sure, as in a sharded network only a subset of nodes from the entire network processes a given transaction. However, if the size of that subset of nodes is sufficiently large, then the level of decentralization should be acceptable. Zilliqa, for instance, requires that number to be 600 nodes.

You released the Zilliqa mainnet this year. Which dApps excite you the most?

Unstoppable domains is a project running on the Zilliqa mainnet which I am really excited about, particularly from the user experience perspective. They are building a naming registration service to replace long hexadecimal account addresses with simple human-readable names. This project is important to make it easier for the non-blockchain crowd to own blockchain-backed assets and transfer them around.

unstoppable domains

Unstoppable Domains create human-readable Zilliqa wallet addresses. | Source: Unstoppable Domains

Other than Zilliqa, which blockchain projects interest you the most?

Within a rapidly developing space, it’s been exciting to witness the ongoing research and development across the industry. In the past few years, there’s been a lot of exciting developments being made in the respective Bitcoin and Ethereum ecosystems when it comes to areas such as governance, scalability, and consensus algorithms. More specifically, however, I’ve also been interested in some of the more recently-launched projects that are shifting towards more privacy-oriented offerings as well as layer-2 (off-chain) solutions.

On ​Twitter​, you’ve emphasized the importance of critical feedback. What pieces of critical feedback do you have for the blockchain industry?

As a researcher and an academic at heart, I find that critical, albeit constructive, feedback is necessary to facilitate growth. Ongoing, consistent improvement should be the goal. 

That being said, having entered this fast-paced industry where entrepreneurship, innovation, and technical excellence are so valued, it’s easy to forget that we’ve only just started.

While it’s difficult to separate the speculation of cryptocurrency prices from the meaningful technological developments being made in the space, people do need to remember that there’s more to cryptocurrencies than price and that there’s more to blockchain than just the value of a project’s token. 

Within an inherently volatile space, where cryptocurrencies are still treated as a speculative asset, it can be frustrating to many that a lot of the work being done behind the scenes isn’t always translated to the price movements of a token, and I understand that. However, it also bears consideration that there are larger macroeconomic factors at play, be it regulatory developments or even regulatory sentiments as a whole. 

The entrance of traditional players in the space can equally shift prices, as we saw with Facebook’s launch of Calibra and the launch of the Libra Association. Ultimately, it all boils down to sentiment. 

Beyond this, it’s important to remember that disruption is a two-way street. We might be changing the way things are done in certain industries, but by partnering with traditional leaders in these verticals, they add the legitimacy and contribute to the wider attitudinal shifts taking place on a grand scale. In partnering with legacy companies or publicly listed organizations, this means taking a more measured approach to how announcements are shared and news is disseminated throughout the space.

What’s next for Zilliqa?

Last month, we announced our first foray into the payments space by way of our partnership with Xfers, a FinTech payments solution provider. As one of the leading payments platforms for online businesses and end-users in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as the first non-government company in Singapore to become accredited by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a Widely Accepted Stored Value Facility (WA SVF), we’re excited to be supporting them as they explore the potential of distributed ledger technology in this next phase of transaction growth.

Beyond this, we have some exciting announcements in the pipeline for this month, so watch this space! 

On the tech front, we have a tech-heavy roadmap for the next 8-12 months working on improving the infrastructure that we have already built by adding new features to it. We will also be working very extensively on toolchains and making dapp development on Zilliqa as easy as possible.

Thank you, Amrit, for your time and insight!

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This Week in Cryptocurrency: July 19th, 2019

Cryptocurrency Market Update

Ouch. But we’re used to it! 

This wasn’t the best week for cryptocurrency markets in recent weeks, but the volatility isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. If you’ve been following cryptocurrency markets for a while, a 10% change in either direction in a day isn’t much to blink over.

Anyway, let’s do a roll call of this week’s casualties:

However, a few projects managed to escape the slaughter. V Systems, a newcomer to the game, saw a 22.1% uptick. 

Price Table
# Coin Price Marketcap Volume (24h) Supply Change (24H) Price Graph (7D)
1 $ 10,465.00 $ 186.46 B $ 30.14 B 17.83 M -0.65%
2 $ 219.09 $ 23.45 B $ 9.82 B 106.97 M -2.28%
3 $ 0.318708 $ 13.66 B $ 1.71 B 42.83 B -1.16%
4 $ 96.78 $ 6.07 B $ 4.10 B 62.73 M -4.45%
5 $ 301.60 $ 5.40 B $ 1.79 B 17.90 M -4.54%
6 $ 29.03 $ 4.51 B $ 502.70 M 155.54 M 0.52%
7 $ 3.98 $ 4.05 B $ 2.95 B 1.02 B -3.06%
8 $ 1.00 $ 3.57 B $ 42.71 B 3.56 B 0.14%
9 $ 140.80 $ 2.52 B $ 544.00 M 17.90 M 4.53%
10 $ 0.057989 $ 1.81 B $ 119.99 M 31.11 B -1.41%

G7 Agrees: Libra and Crypto Have Significant Concerns: In comments to CNBC’s Squawk Box, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin said, “There was a clear agreement from all G7 finance ministers and central bank governors that Libra, in particular, raises some very significant concerns, and cryptocurrencies more broadly,” adding, “before any of us let these go through, we’re going to make sure those concerns are satisfied.” While the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors reached consensus (ha!), it’s still unclear whether there will be an international decision in regards to regulation of digital assets. Mnunchin also commented, “first of all let me be clear, we very much support financial innovation and anything that lowers payment processing costs, especially cross-border.”

BitMEX Under Investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): The people planning to invade Area-51 aren’t the only ones about to be probed. The  U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is currently probing Seychelles-based cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX. Earlier this week, cryptocurrency antagonist Nouriel Roubini denounced BitMEX claiming that it “may be openly involved in systematic illegality.” According to Bloomberg, the CFTC investigation is “ongoing” and won’t necessarily lead to misconduct allegations.  

Top Cryptos Pronounced Dead: A report by CoinTelegraph noted five tokens pronounced “dead” for a variety of reasons. The list includes Emercoin, NEM, Bitconnect, Bitcoin Diamond, and Universa, for reasons running the gamut from theft, Ponzi Schemes (you know which one this is), low liquidity, and lack of liquidity.  

Jeremy Allaire Added to Power Lunch Time with Warren Buffett: The upcoming lunch between Tron CEO Justin Sun and billionaire Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett has grown to include the CEO of Circle, Jeremy Allaire. Sun seeks to help Buffett, a vocal Bitcoin skeptic, see the light for cryptocurrency’s ability to impact the world positively, as well as an asset class worth exploring. The $4.6 million lunch also includes Litecoin creator Charlie Lee and will take place at Quince, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in San Francisco. 

What’s New at Coincentral?

Facebook Libra Project Already Facing Resistance, Major Hurdles Ahead: There have been concerns that its Libra platform will be used to gather financial information about its users. Facebook has made an effort to mollify data privacy fears by publishing a communiqué which emphasizes that consumer data will not be shared with third parties.

What Is Blockstack (STX)? | The First SEC-Qualified Token Offering: Blockstack is a decentralized computing network and ecosystem for decentralized applications (dApps). The project recently made headlines as the first token sale in U.S. history to receive clearance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The team has been together since 2013, however.

Iran is Looking to Allow Regulated Cryptocurrency Mining: Abdol Nasser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran has announced that the government is working on a framework that will allow regulated cryptocurrency mining.

3Commas Sees an Automated Trading Cryptocurrency Future: As the cryptocurrency market continues to entice new and old traders, teams are building projects to facilitate the process of buying and selling digital assets. One such company, called 3Commas, is one of the largest in the space to provide trading bots and trading automation tools.

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Iran is Looking to Allow Regulated Cryptocurrency Mining

Abdol Nasser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran has announced that the government is working on a framework that will allow regulated cryptocurrency mining.

According to the official, lawmakers are drafting policies that will require miners to pay for electricity at export rates. He has also mentioned that it’s in the government’s interest to have mined digital currencies channeled back into the Iranian economy.

The move will pressure mining enterprises into making a positive contribution to the economy which has been battered by a wave of crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

Hemmati has, however, warned that mining of cryptocurrencies whose value is tethered to that of the national currency, the rial, or assets such as gold will be barred. Iran is currently experiencing an incursion of miners looking to take advantage of its cut-rate electricity fees.

The low cost of power in the country is as a result of extensive government subsidies and expansive oil reserves. The Iranian administration spends over $40 billion a year on energy subsidies alone and has vast oil reservoirs second only to Venezuela.

These two factors have pushed down energy consumption costs considerably. As a result, the average rate per kilowatt hour in Iran is about $0.03, but it exports electricity to neighboring countries at a cost of about $0.8 kWh.

The Incursion of Miners Is Forcing the Government to Change Policies

Reports of miners flocking in from China, Spain, Ukraine, France, and Armenia have been circulating since December last year when the crypto winter was setting in. Energy consumption has reportedly surged by over 6 percent as a result of mining activities.

As such, the government is taking the rise of mining-farms seriously and has apparently identified over 100 cryptocurrency mining-zones. It has threatened to cut off power supply and seek legal action against infringing entities.

The Iranian leadership has traditionally allowed some religious establishments such as mosques to use electricity for free but the mining mania has prompted the government to rethink this policy due to abuse.

Viral images of mining rigs installed in mosques and government buildings have triggered a re-examination of the free electricity policy.

Cryptocurrency Trading is Still Banned in Iran

There has been some policy incertitude in regard to the legality of crypto mining and trading in Iran. This is largely due to a flurry of contradictory remarks made by Iranian politicians.

Nasser Hakimi, the deputy governor for new technologies at the Central Bank has offered some clarification on this and emphasized that The Supreme Council on Countering Money Laundering clearly prohibits trading in digital currencies. He has underscored that crypto mining is still allowed.

(Featured Image via Pixabay)

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