Author: Rebecca Asseh

Smart Dubai, iBM launch gov’t-backed blockchain platform as-a-service

Dubai has rolled out the first government-endorsed blockchain platform as-a-service in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Smart Dubai, a government technological initiative, and IBM Corp. announced the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Platform—the first of its kind platform in the Middle East that will allow organizations in the country to test, build and launch blockchain-based products. The platform will utilize IBM’s enterprise-ready IBM Cloud, and will be developered United Arab Emirates. Once launched, the platform will be available for organizations in the UAE to test, build and launch blockchain-based products. This service will be delivered via an IBM Cloud environment built in the UAE.

In a statement, Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, director general of the Smart Dubai Office, said, “The Dubai Blockchain Strategy set a clear path for the emirate to have the world’s first fully digitized government by 2021.” The Dubai Blockchain Platform is part of the country’s objective towards “transforming the emirate into a full-fledged smart city that tops global competitiveness and happiness indexes,” according to the official.

The new Dubai Blockchain Platform will aid in integrating digitized services and experiences into citizens’ everyday lives. The technology will also be used to run all the transactions locally, and also lower operational costs. One of the first services that will migrate to the new blockchain platform is the Dubai Pay Blockchain Settlement program, which officially launched last September 23. The program allows entities to reconcile and settle payments with other government agencies in mere minutes instead of the usual 45 days.

The platform, which is powered by IBM‘s mainframe technology LinuxONE, will conform to the Information Security Regulation (ISR) standards issued by the Dubai Government. LinuxONE is capable of running more than 6.2 billion web transactions per day.

“Dubai has been a pioneer in blockchain technology since its inception, while other major cities around the world were reluctant to embrace it for city-wide implementation,” H.E. Dr Aisha noted, adding “The Dubai Blockchain Strategy set a clear path for the emirate to have the world’s first fully digitized government by 2021.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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First Islamic crypto exchange to launch in 2019 using Halal coins

The Sharia law governs many Islamic countries; therefore, it is important that every financial product is adapted according to the law. To this effect, ADAB Solutions has set in motion plans to launch the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE). The exchange hopes to trade $146 million daily and $4.4 billion monthly by 2020, and will be structured according to the principles of Shariah. FICE will be headed by the Department of Islamic Finance (DIF) and the Shariah Advisory Board (SAB).

The project is a means of creating an opportunity to include the Islamic world into the crypto space. To ensure that the exchange functions properly and according to Sharia laws, the DIF and the SAB will head the exchange. The duty of the board will include confirming that the tokens listed on the FICE are compliant, or “halal.” This will enable Muslims to participate in crypto activity without committing a sin.

ADAB Solutions already has initiated its Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The ICO was launched in August 2018 and will continue through the end of February 2019. ADAB tokens can be purchased for only US$0.10, and expectations are that the price will rise to US$11.50 at the end of 2022.

ADAB has seen a great opportunity in the Islamic finance market and aims to make the most of it. It is expected that the Islamic finance world will see a boom in the coming years. Currently, the market has grown about 10% to 12% yearly for the past 10 years and there is still expected growth. Analysts at Reuters have estimated that the Islamic finance market will be valued at $3.8 trillion in 2022 and will be spread across about 60 countries by that time.

The FICE was ranked as number one in the recently-published Coin Shark “TOP 10 ICO Projects That Became the Most Useful Ideas of 2018.” The project aims to reach at least 730,000 people in 2019 and over 1.8 billion Muslims in the world by 2022.

As cryptocurrency adoption continues to expand, it is important that it be able to serve people of all backgrounds and ADAB is poised to ensure that it is available to an important part of the global community.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Hitachi, State Bank of India to develop ‘future ready’ digital payments platform

Digital payments is coming to India, a country considered to be one of the largest cash dependent nations in the world.

This week, Hitachi Payments announced that it has entered into a joint venture with the State Bank of India (SBI) to establish “a state-of-the-art card acceptance and future ready digital payments platform for India.”

Under the deal, Hitachi Payments will invest 26% to SBI Payment Services Pvt. Ltd., and will also provide SBI with innovative solutions using its Internet of Things (IoT) platform Lumada.

Hitachi has been SBI’s technology provider for card and digital services since 2011. The new partnership between the two companies is going to oversee the development of a nationwide digital payments platform. The platform will be geared towards solutions for ecommerce and mass transit in India integrated with Point-of-Sale (POS) solutions.

Bharat Kaushal, managing director of Hitachi India explains, “India is progressing towards becoming a knowledge economy with technology as the pivot. Hitachi is aiding in the development of India’s social infrastructure as well as giving a fillip to the economy. This mutually beneficial partnership with the financial giant SBI will allow us to widen our footprint pan India.”

Hitachi’s Lumada platform was implemented as the base platform for Mizuho Financial Group, a Japanese firm last year. The Lumada platform functions over a blockchain proof-of-concept (POC) network. Hitachi reportedly has about 55,000 ATMs and 850,000 point of sale (POS) devices under management in India. Hitachi is also a part of the multi-project open source collaborative effort hosted by The Linux Foundation.

On the other hand, SBI is a founding member of BankChain, a blockchain for banking research consortium. SBI has also been developing a blockchain solution since 2017 for managing know-your-customer (KYC) protocols. SBI is the largest commercial bank in India and has a 23% market share of assets market. The bank also serves over 420 million customers and maintains over 6 million POS terminals across the country.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Renewable energy trading in Singapore runs on blockchain

The Singapore Power Group (SP) has initiated a marketplace, powered by blockchain, for renewable energy certificates (RECs).

In a statement, the utilities provider said the blockchain-based platform, which was unveiled at the ASEAN Energy Business Forum, will help SP increase transparency and efficiency in its processes in REC transactions.

Samuel Tan, chief digital officer at SP, said, “Through blockchain technology, we enable companies to trade in renewable energy certificates conveniently, seamlessly and securely, helping them achieve greener business operations and meet their sustainability targets.”

The new trading system will enable various organizations trade in RECs, which are considered tradable, non-tangible energy commodities. According to information on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “RECs are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource.”

SP’s blockchain-powered marketplace will support local, regional and international RECs, as well as different supply options such as types of sellers and renewable energy sources.

The platform will match buyers and sellers automatically according to their preferences, helping companies achieve their sustainability targets, according to the utilities provider. So far, SP has already signed its first contracts with City Developments Limited (CDL) and DBC Bank (DBS), while solar developers including Cleantech Solar Asia, LYS Energy Solutions and Katoen Natie Singapore have also agreed to place their solar assets on the SP marketplace for sale of RECs.

With its blockchain-powered marketplace, SP hopes to help big and small organizations achieve their green targets while also strengthening cross-border sustainability efforts.

This is not the first time Singapore involving itself in blockchain-powered energy solutions. Early this month, a decentralized peer-to-peer electricity network that would allow its users to produced and trade renewable energy was announced by SkyLedger. States like Nevada are also involved in blockchain powered energy. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada announced earlier this month that it will be implementing the blockchain in its energy credit tracking system.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Germany’s Deutsche Börse completes settlement trial on blockchain

The German central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, has partnered with the operator of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to successfully test the application of blockchain technology in securities settlement. The pilot project utilizes the Hyperledger Fabric and the Digital Asset (DA) blockchain platform.

Deutsche Bundesbank and Deutsche Börse partnered in March 2016 to create a blockchain based project called Blockbaster, which stands for blockchain based settlement technology research, which seeks to develop “a conceptual prototype” for transferring and settling securities and fiat currency.

According to the two firms, the DA-based platform was tested extensively in 30 scenarios while the Hyperledger Fabric-based prototype fulfilled all basic regulatory features required for financial transactions, including Know-Your-Customer (KYC), confidentiality of transfers (need to know principle), and participation of admitted peers only (permissioned network0).

Berthold Kracke, CEO of Clearstream Banking and head of Clearstream Global Operations at Deutsche Börse Group, explains, “The tests have shown that blockchain technology is a suitable basis for applications in the field of settlement and other financial infrastructures.”

The prototypes were developed over a two-year period and functioned as a sandbox for testing blockchain-based securities settlement. Following the trial, the central bank and Deutsche Börse Group concluded that decentralized solutions should be tailored to fit the needs of the financial market.

“During the time of the project we have encountered a further development of the basic technologies which always renders test results as outdated since the technology has already improved,” the report noted. “Providers of blockchain or DLT-based solutions improve their offers and increasingly develop specialized software to serve particular use cases. There seems to be a trend towards products highly customized for individual use cases.

Burkhard Balz, a member of the executive board, Deutsche Bundesbank, explained, “During this project, Deutsche Bundesbank and Deutsche Börse learned a lot about the usage of this technology and its concrete implementation. We expect the rapid development to continue, and also see the potential in using it for high-volume applications. The approach of a permissioned architecture, which takes into account the requirements of the financial sector from the outset, has proven to be right.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Blockchain hardware wallet offers crypto-to-crypto trading

Blockchain, one of the oldest software wallet in the crypto industry, has announced its new hardware wallet. Formerly known as Blockchain.info, the crypto wallet company announced its new custom hardware wallet, Blockchain Lockbox on Oct. 25. The Blockchain Lockbox is designed to allow users to store their crypto holdings offline and still have easy access to their online account. The hardware wallet is available for preorder with a $99.99 price tag.

The new Blockchain Lockbox was created by French hardware wallet maker, Ledger, and for now will be only compatible with the company’s online software wallet. Lockbox currently only supports Bitcoin Cash (BCH), as well as BTC and ETH, although the team is considering adding support for more crypto assets.

Peter Smith, CEO and co-founder of Blockchain, explained that the hardware wallet was created to make trading easier with an all-in-one account. Aside from storing fund offline, Lockbox will also be able to facilitate crypto-to-crypto trades through Swap.

Existing Ledger customers can pair their Nano S wallets with the Blockchain wallet, enabling them gain access to the inter-wallet trading feature of Blockchain as well as manage their funds online and offline. Smith explained, “The Lockbox is a reflection of what our companies both do best. We’ve created an elegant software and hardware integration that offers more functionality than previously existed in our space.”

Information on Ledger’s blog reveals that users can begin to make pre-orders of the Lockbox, and the first batch of shipments is expected to go out in November. Also, customers who place early orders will get a limited edition of the Lockbox (in blue). Ledger president Pascal Gauthier commented on the partnership between Blockchain and Ledger saying, “Our partnership with Blockchain is the first of its kind, but as two companies hyper-focused on crypto security, it’s one that’s a natural fit.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Securities chief reveals Taiwan’s plan to regulate ICOs

Taiwan’s regulators are taking a bold step towards regulating initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country.

Wellington Koo, the chairman of Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), has revealed that investing in ICOs will soon be easy and safe in Taiwan. The chairman revealed the commission is in the process of drafting regulations that will simplify the ICO process for investors and will make digital tokens liquid as stocks. According to the Taipei Times, the FSC has plans to set up the regulation by June of 2019. The regulatory body has already started a review process under which different types of token offerings would qualify to become regulated products.

During a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Finance Committee, Koo confirmed that the FSC has no intention of regulating utility tokens. Koo was quoted by the news outlet as saying, “The commission has no intention of curbing the creativity and productivity associated with cryptocurrencies if they are not used as securities.”

Koo made the remarks after Chinese Nationalist Party legislator William Tseng addressed the issue of Taiwanese government’s plans for regulating ICOs during a question-and-answer session. According to the FSC chairman, a regulatory framework will grant investors will have access to better products and reduce fraud, saying, “The more we regulate, the more this new economic behavior wanes.”

Koo has shown a great deal of support for the crypto sector as chairman of the FSC. In 2017, he refused to place outright bans on crypto related activities. He told the Taiwanese parliament that he preferred Taiwan to be an enabling environment for the development and adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Taiwan is not the only country taking positive actions towards ICOs; South Korea might also lift its ICO ban sometime this year. Lee Hye-hoon, the chairperson of The National Assembly Special Committee while speaking at the 2018 Korea Blockchain Expo revealed that the ban may be lifted in the “near future.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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South Korea’s FSC warns against investing in crypto funds

This week, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has issued a warning to the public regarding crypto funds. In its warning, the South Korean watchdog pointed at the cryptocurrency funds and mutual funds have similar structures, which may result in investors into assuming that such funds are legal investments under the South Korea’s Capital Markets Act.

The FSC is mandated by the law to approve and register funds that raise capital from the public. Since cryptocurrency funds are neither approved nor registered, the FSC writes, “Therefore, cryptocurrency funds are subject to Capital Markets Act violation.” The regulatory body also revealed that it has plans to take cautionary measures to protect investors from financial harm after consulting with the relevant authorities.

South Korea, like India and China, has taken a rigid stance on cryptocurrency. According to reports, the FSC is currently scrutinizing a crypto fund issued by crypto exchange Zeniex, following requests made by investors. In January, the South Korean government had investigated six banks in the country as part of its effort to track and ban the use of virtual bank accounts for anonymous cryptocurrency trading. The Virtual Currency Anti- Money Laundering Guidelines was also launched, and, since then, the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) have been inspecting banks to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

Also, South Korea’s financial authorities had place a ban on all types of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in September 2017. However, the commission is reportedly considering whether its should start allowing digital token crowdsales in the country.

Since the South Korean watchdog is very active in monitoring the crypto industry, a new department is being set up by the FSC. In July, the FSC announced that a Financial Innovation Bureau will be created and dedicated to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The department will focus primarily on developing policy-making initiatives for the country’s blockchain and fintech industry.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Synthetic Minds rounds up $5.5M in Pantera Capital-led funding

Synthetic Minds, a smart contract security startup out of San Francisco, has raised $5.5 million in a funding round backed by blockchain investment company Pantera Capital and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. The money raised will go towards a technology analyzing blockchain networks for coding bugs.

The startup, founded in 2017, had just graduated from the Y Combinator accelerator program, where it launched the first version of its technology. Synthetic Minds utilizes program synthesis, a computer science method used by organizations like NASA to ensure the safety of mission-critical software in the space station as well as the Mars Rover, according to Venture Beat. Using this method, which falls under a discipline called formal methods, Synthetic Minds designed an automation technology that the startup claims can “analyze (read) and synthesize (write) computer code better than humans can.” Synthetic Minds revealed that, “Eventually, using program synthesis we will be able to offload most of the programming for mission critical systems to software, leaving humans free to do high-level architectural design.”

According to Saurabh Srivastava, founder of Synthetic Minds, the startup’s goal is to bring “automation to coding…Specifically, our code analysis tools read code better than humans, and we are getting close to automation that can write code better, as well. Our long-term mission is make software creation accessible to everybody, especially non-programmers.”

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, said Synthetic Minds is already in position to provide a safe and enterprise-grade smart contract platform utilizing program synthesis, noting, “We believed in the team at Synthetic Minds and their expertise to build hard tech that will further grow adoption of smart contracts, both in the public and enterprise domains.”

Pantera has been involved in several funding rounds for major blockchain projects, the latest of which was with Synthetic Minds. The blockchain investment company recently launched its third crypto fund, with over 90 investors committing $71 million to the fund. Pantera also has investments in Zcash, Bakkt and ShapeShift, among others.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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HK Stock Exchange wants crypto firms placed under Securities Law

The Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX) published a report recently that focused on blockchains and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the securities industry.

The report, published on October 18 and written by the Chief China Economist’s Office and Innovation Lab at HKEX, stated that FinTech firms utilising cryptocurrency should be subjected “to the governance by the Securities Law.” According to recent reports, HKEX might be thinking about a change in business strategy, and the blockchain sector might just be the answer.

HKEX is the world’s sixth-largest stock exchange and Asia’s third-largest operator by market cap. The research paper released by the exchange detailed the need for finance and crypto to be bound by similar legal frameworks. HKEX noted that there is a need to apply the existing laws of finance to companies in the FinTech industry due to their resemblance to traditional services. The report also stated that regulators need to keep up with the pace of financial technologies. What the report suggests is that digital assets could be monitored by an existing security regulatory framework, while the blockchain could be integrated into the investment, trading, clearing, and settlement industry.

The HKEX research paper also proposes that Hong Kong regulators integrate AI and Big Data into its system to establish an effective regulatory technology (RegTech) system, which could be enhanced to include Know Your Customer and identification controls. A functional RegTech system would enable crypto and blockchain startups approach auditing and legalities faster. They would be able to put their business documents online to gain approvals rapidly.

The report also noted that blockchain has different regulations in different jurisdiction and that the “principle of consistency requires that […] the issuance of digital currencies and digital funds must be governed under the existing securities regulatory framework.” The report additionally stated that pubic fundraising should be subjected to the Securities Law.

There were also concerns on the possibility of a large-scale deployment of the blockchain posing a risk. The authors of the report expressed, “As each node has a ledger of the whole chain, any successful hacking will not only expose data of the hacked node to theft but also expose all data in the full ledger to potential replication.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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