CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero spoke to BadChain founder Leo Leiman, who is ready to show off his blockchain-themed apparel in whatever conference he attends.
Leo Leiman, founder of BadChain, has attended numerous blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences in the last couple of years. By his count, he’s been to as many as 50 of them. The Malta Blockchain Summit in particular, he said, is “one of the best” he’s been to, with a great number of investors and foundations involved. “You can feel the money from the investor, because if you see someone in Russia who says he’s an investor, he has for example $100,000, but here it’s more true investors, and projects here [are] better than somewhere else,” he explained.
He said the very liberal attitude of Malta when it came to the blockchain industry made it a great venue for the summit. “It is like when Canada or the USA legalized marijuana. A lot of people go there… Here, it’s also, ‘Come here, it’s open, [to] companies for blockchain.”
Dressed up in Bitcoin-themed clothing, he is quick to offer his services. “I can make T-shirts for you, I can make rain coats, or like T-shirts with crypto,” he said, adding that he also designed rings embedded with the cryptocurrency one chooses.
The idea for such designs came from seeing the opportunities among those in the business. “A lot of guys in the industry are smart, and I think that they could be stylish also. And it was like how the idea was born. And I decided to do the merch. It was like this idea, I decided to do it one year ago, and I created a blockchain system for clothing also, just for fun,” he said.
Leiman sees his clothing brand also serving an educational purpose. “I have huge experience in this field, and I know how to make the young generation more happy because they can work everywhere… They can go to, for example, to Malta, and have good income. They can be in this industry, but they have to be smart a bit, smarter than others, but it is okay. It’s a really stylish industry. It is young, fresh,” he said.
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On November 20, the heart of the Russian Federation held the eighth Blockchain Conference Moscow. Its organizer is the Smile-Expo international company.
The large-scale specialized conference brought together 40 speakers from seven countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany, and China. 500 attendees came to hear their presentations and observe the products at the demo zone.
Within the conference, the experts shed light on the industry burning issues – cryptocurrency regulation, influence of digital assets on capital management, and the future of decentralized technologies. Bitcoin rate and its prospects appeared among the hottest topics for discussion at the main stage and on the sidelines of the conference.
“Bitcoin is the main marketer. If Bitcoin grows, so does the interest in it. The same situation can be observed in case Bitcoin drops,” thinks Evgeniy Romanenko, crypto economist and moderator of Blockchain Conference Moscow.
Conference: prospects of blockchain tech and crypto market
The eighth Blockchain Conference Moscow gathered Russian and crypto experts from the leading international companies: PwC Legal (Switzerland), Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (RACIB), Moscow-based GRAD Attorney Bar, Airalab, Center for Digital Transformation at Vnesheconombank, State Duma Financial Market Committee, the St. Petersburg community of blockchain developers, QIWI Blockchain Technologies, and MIOT Blockchain & Guilin Pharma.
One of the speakers was Aleksey Studnev, developer and CTO at Izetex PTE Ltd: the expert shared his opinion on the future of blockchain within the nearest decade.
“Cryptocurrency rate is information noise that has no impact on blockchain operation,” reckons Aleksey Studnev. He also claimed that the technology would follow the steps of the Internet and would become an indispensable feature of every smartphone. As reported by the expert, this would be the main aspect to affect the volume of the crypto market that would dramatically grow popular.
DarQube Founder Rostislav Haliplii told about the functionality of modern crypto exchanges and the role of artificial intelligence in trade on the crypto market.
“The primary target of AI technologies introduction into a DarQube platform is assisting traders in building revenue-generating strategies. AI can be applied to turn a good strategy into the brilliant one,” explains the speaker.
The conference consisted of two specialized sections – Fintech (cryptocurrencies) and Blockchain (tokenization and ICO). Among the top speakers, there were Gerbert Shopnik from Bitfury Group, Leader of PwC Legal Switzerland Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna, Michael Chobanian from UNA.io, Vice President at RACIB Valeriy Petrov, and Prof Simon Choi from China.
Panel discussions with top speakers
The event consisted of a panel discussion titled ‘Regulation of blockchain and digital financial assets’. The most experienced Russian crypto experts and lawyers took part in it.
Among them, there were lawyer and expert on international financial and corporate law Maxim Pervunin, Director at OECD Centre RANEPA (the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration) Antonina Levashenko, Partner at Nektorov, Saveliev & Partners (NSP) Alexander Nektorov, lawyers Alexey Sinitsyn and Maria Agranovskaya, and Advisor to the Federal Chamber of Lawyers of the Russian Federation Helen Avakyan.
“Development of documentation that meets the standards is important, it should also reflect emerging aspects and provide new terminology. Another vital step lies in its application,” thinks Maria Agranovskaya from Moscow-based GRAD Attorney Bar.
The experts discussed cryptocurrency influence on capital management and obstacles on the way of digital money development. The panel discussion was part of the Fintech section. Meanwhile, Blockchain section specialists took part in the panel discussion titled ‘Evolution of the blockchain technology – period of experiments’.
Demo zone: Mining 2.0 and cutting-edge hardware
Attendees had an opportunity to visit a traditional demo zone to observe products and services of the event participants – Cryptoferma, FAP LLC, DiPlex, GIXCUP.IO, DarQube, Hotmine, NRGMiner, AS1C, Mining-LAB, Bitferma, Quantium, Pacific, WattsOn, and GoWeb.
Particularly, Hotmine presented its equipment for heat generation by means of mining. As reported by the company representatives, heat produced by such devices will be a basis of the future mining.
At the booth of the manufacturer of 51ASIC mining equipment, attendees had a chance to take a look at ASICs, hardware wallets, control boards, power units, main bodies, and cables.
The leader of the Russian mining market WattsOn showcased its new product – ASIC BITMAIN ANTMINER S15. The company also announced the launch of a new pool.
Attendees had a possibility to ask the demozone participants any questions concerning their products, partnership conditions, and even their forecast of a Bitcoin rate.
“Our company was working during Bitcoin’s first and second fork. We witnessed the period than Bitcoin skyrocketed from $175 to $1000, and then from $2000 to $16 000. Everybody poses us the same question – when will it shoot for the moon again? Here is my point of view: as soon as the next halving comes about, Bitcoin will dramatically rise,” commented a Hotmine representative.
Blockchain Conference Moscow was organized by Smile-Expo, an international company with a 12-year experience in this sphere, which is 250+ events, 356 000+ attendees, 500+ speakers, and 500+ top exhibitors.
Smile-Expo is an organizer of major conferences dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The company has been holding the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference series across the globe since 2014. The events took place in 25 countries.
The sponsors of the eighth crypto event Blockchain Conference Moscow are the leading industry companies: DarQube (Silver Sponsor), TAAS Capital Fund (Investment Partner), Hotmine (Mining 2.0 Sponsor), Kaplink (Investment Partner), MMGP.RU (General Media Partner), WattsOn (Exclusive Sponsor).
For more information about the event and news in the cryptocurrency universe, visit the official website of Blockchain Conference Moscow.
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Another mainstream financial company has seen the light. Calastone, a global funds network based out of London, is going to switch its entire fund trade clearing services system to the blockchain. According to a report by Reuters, the transition is expected to take place next May.
Calastone’s move will put all of its services on a shared ledger. It will allow the company to automate nine million messages, reportedly worth more than $217 billion, that are sent back and forth between counterparties each month. Reuters points out that the company processes mutual fund trades for more than 1,700 financial companies, including Schroders, Invesco and JPMorgan Asset Management.
Under the current operating system, three distinct messages are required when an enterprise wishes to purchase a fund. The first places the order, the second provides the receipt and the third confirms the purchase price. Calastone’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Tomlinson, states, “The more you can automate, the more you de-risk, you more you streamline, the more you speed up.”
By switching to the blockchain, the company anticipates that the entire global fund industry – not including the U.S. industry – could save as much as $4.3 billion annually, per data Calastone received from the Deloitte audit company. This savings is possible by allowing companies to optimize trading and settlement processes and would a welcome relief to an industry that has seen higher costs due, in part, to the financial crisis of 2008.
Julien Hammerson, CEO of Calastone, told the Financial Times yesterday that funds are currently “hampered by continually rising costs and threat of competition, ultimately rendering the current system economically and operationally unsustainable.” The company has asserted that, by implementing blockchain technology, the mutual fund industry alone could save as much as $2.6 billion.
Calastone is just the latest to make the leap to blockchains. Last month, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, a global post-trade market firm, began testing a new platform that is based on distributed ledger technology. DTCC is behind the Trade Information Warehouse, an event processing system that is used for about 98% of all credit derivatives transactions around the world.
Some traditional finance pundits are still too hesitant, or too naive, to understand the value of the blockchain. They continue to hold on to yesterday, arguing that blockchains aren’t secure, that they’re exposed to the risk of fraud and that there is a risk of data being lost. Of course, just a few key words can put those arguments to rest – Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo (guilty of both losing data and of scamming customers) and Marriott.
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First, there was the initial coin offering (ICO), which has run into more problems than anyone could have imagined. Then, an alternative was created that would reportedly be safer and more legitimate than the ICO, the security token offering (STO). Already, STOs are falling out of favor and China has wasted no time to let everyone know that STOs won’t be allowed.
Speaking during a recent wealth management forum hosted by the Municipal Bureau of Finance (MBF), the bureau’s chief, Huo Xuewen, stated that STO fundraisers are illegal. He warned, “I will issue a risk warning to those who promote and issue STO tokens in Beijing. My advice is to only engage in such offerings when the government has legalized them.”
In an STO, crypto tokens are offered for sale in order to raise capital. This is similar to the ICO model, but what makes the STO different is that it allows the token purchaser to earn a piece of the profits of the company.
China was one of the first countries to implement a complete ban on ICOs. The country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), issued its ban in September of last year, which caused a number of exchanges to halt their operations. As has been shown, 86% of the ICOs launched last year are now trading below their initial value. If it weren’t for controls in place to deal with ICOs, the amount of money misplaced would be astronomical.
China is also looking to rid the crypto ecosystem of airdrops, free distributions of digital tokens. The country asserted that airdrops were nothing more than an action meant to circumvent ICO restrictions. Regulators have also moved to hold accountable those ICO projects that have moved out of the country, but which still target Chinese investors. The VP of the PBOC, Pan Gongsheng, said at the time, “Any new financial product or phenomenon that is not authorized under the existing legal framework, we will crush them as soon as they dare to surface.”
These actions may be seen by some as nothing more than an attempt on the part of the government to control the crypto ecosystem. They’re correct – to a point. The idea isn’t necessarily to control the entire spectrum but, rather, to allow it to grow in accordance with financial regulations and guidelines. The only way to get rid of the “Wild West” mentality that is keeping cryptocurrencies from reaching greater adoption is through controls. Since some – too many – scammers and even crypto developers have already proven that they don’t have to follow ethical or moral guidelines, the only way to bring them under control is through regulations.
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The cryptocurrency sell-off has a number of investors singing the blues. More than a handful of individuals bought into crypto following Bitcoin Core’s (BTC) massive price gains last year, expecting to see the same explosive growth in 2018. It hasn’t happened; in fact, the numbers are down significantly from the beginning of the year with many digital currencies losing as much as 75% of their value. However, instead of looking at this as a glass-half-empty scenario, it needs to be seen as a glass-half-full situation that is going to produce great things for cryptocurrency.
Many people have forgotten why cryptocurrency was created. They have become blinded by the dollar signs, hoping to be able to convert a few Bitcoin into a new Lamborghini or oceanfront party house by seeing substantial returns. What was presented by Satoshi Nakamoto about ten years ago was designed to be a currency, a form of money that was peer-to-peer, not controlled by a central bank and which allowed for instant transactions. A currency is only good if it can be spent; as long as there are any obstacles that prevent it from reaching widespread mainstream adoption – such as massive volatility – it can never flourish.
The sell-off is a good thing. It is helping a great number of people to begin to take cryptocurrency more seriously. It is eliminating the get-rich-quick scammers operating through initial coin offerings (ICO) and new – but worthless – digital tokens that provide no utility.
It has also produced a market that is, on some levels, cleaner than before. Despite wild fluctuations, price volatility has been less than what was seen last year, meaning there is more stability in the markets. This is going to help produce an ecosystem that is able to thrive and provide the results that everyone should desire to see – a world that accepts digital currency as a legitimate currency and which removes the ability for central banks or countries to whimsically manipulate prices.
Those behind Bitcoin SV are not looking to create a cryptocurrency that sees its price head to the moon one day, only to come crashing back down the next. Instead, the goal is to create a sustainable cryptocurrency that is a viable alternative to fiat. Despite the actions of some individuals to try and derail the train from the tracks, Bitcoin SV has been able to remain true to the original Satoshi’s Vision and create a cryptocurrency that is not only looking at the long-term prospects, but which, in a sea of wanna-be digital currencies, has true, tangible utility value.
Japan’s chief financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), will reportedly roll out a new set of regulations targeting initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. According to Japanese news outlet Jiji Press, the financial authority wants to impose new regulations to protect investors in the crypto space.
Citing the increased fraudulent activities relating to ICOs, FSA believes it is high time they took appropriate actions to provide order and protection for the public. In the proposed regulations, all businesses offering crypto-related services in the country will be required to register with FSA before starting operations.
FSA plans to submit the proposed bill in January 2019, during the ordinary parliamentary session. The proposed bill will seek to revise the financial instruments and exchange law as well as the payment services law, according to the report.
The Japanese FSA is not the only financial authorities to want regulations for the ICO space. In the recent months, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been busy in trying to regulate ICOs. Though it has taken a conservative and traditional approach on ICO, U.S. securities regulator has made a milestone in shaping the ICO industry. Last month, authorities in Thailand also tightened its grip on ICO regulation to create order in the industry.
Different jurisdictions worry that if proper regulations are not set for ICOs, fraudulent activities will cause significant effects on the economy. They have a good reason to worry. According to a recent report by Diar, a cryptocurrency and blockchain research company, ICO fraudulent cases have raised $12 billion, twice more than what was reported in 2017.
In the report, Diar stated that the amount raised by the ICO does not justify their operations. The report also noted that most of the ICOs either get unlisted or they do not have the funds needed to stay in business. More than 60 percent tokens that completed their ICOs in 2017 and 2018, raising over $2.3 billion in the process, have yet to be listed on any exchange.
The report also noted that a good number of these ICOs have ended up being scams. ICO owners conduct an exit scam after collecting millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors. In the last two years, exit scams caused by ICOs amounted to $100 million.
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The South Korean government is looking at imposing a tax on cryptocurrencies, and regulation for initial coin offerings (ICOs).
The Korea Times reported that Finance minister nominee Hong Nam-ki, during his confirmation hearing, had issued a prepared statement enumerating the taxation plan, which will take into account practices elsewhere in the world.
Hong said, “A task force consisting of experts from relevant government agencies including the National Tax Service and the private sector will be formed to examine overseas examples and hammer out the taxation plan.” Currently, according to him, there was “no internationally agreed regulatory framework” for cryptocurrencies, which he called “a new phenomenon.”
He also expressed concerns of “such lingering problems as the market overheating and investor protection. Therefore, we need to be careful in building the regulatory framework.”
Hong said that ICOs, which were prohibited in the country in September 2017, will be considered for regulation instead, with other markets to be monitored before a decision is made.
“We will determine our policy orientations on ICOs with relevant agencies after reviewing the results of the financial regulator’s market survey and getting feedback from experts,” Hong said. The survey had local blockchain companies providing their input on the matter.
Hong had made similar statements in support of allowing ICOs, as chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination. The country’s National Assembly is also recommending the lifting of the ban, after which regulations could be legislated.
Cryptocurrency exchanges in the country have enjoyed preferential tax rates, being classified like venture companies, but the government indicated last October that higher rates were coming for such firms.
Hong said, “We will do our utmost to nurture blockchain technology as nine out of the 10 business types classified as blockchain-related businesses by Statistics Korea excluding the crypto exchanges can be still acknowledged as venture companies.”
The exchanges, however, have recently benefited from the government’s clarification that banks need not worry of legal issues when dealing with cryptocurrency-related businesses, as long as the usual anti-money laundering/know-your customer (AML/KYC) requirements were met.
South Korea is a member of the G20 forum, that recently issued a joint declaration calling for regulation of cryptocurrencies in line with standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), of which the country is also a member.
Thailand’s Revenue Department has begun tests for tracking value-added tax (VAT) payments through blockchain.
The Bangkok Post said that the test VAT payments are being done in the department’s innovation laboratory. If successfully implemented for actual government operations, the country would become the first to be able to probe tax cases via distributed ledger technology.
Department Director-General Ekniti Nitithanprapas had first announced the initiative last month, which he said would make the agency’s investigations more efficient and accurate, with immutable data on the blockchain having to reconcile with each other. Specifically, the department wants to avoid issuing VAT refunds based on erroneously submitted or fabricated data.
Aside from blockchain, the department is exploring the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) so as to better detect fraudulent practices, which Ekniti said would encourage more people to properly declare taxes.
Among other blockchain-related initiatives of the Thai government is the creation of a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), running on the R3 Corda platform, and overseen by the Bank of Thailand (BoT), the country’s central bank. Issuance of the digital government currency would be to “enhance efficiency of the Thai financial market infrastructure.”
Another BoT project is the use of blockchain for selling scripless government savings bonds.
As part of the Thai government’s growing awareness of blockchain in the economy, it has moved for better oversight to prevent fraud, with the issuance of a royal decree last May requiring cryptocurrency-related companies to register with local authorities.
In connection with this, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission recently advised investors to not trade with the Q cryptocurrency exchange, due to its lack of a license as a “digital business operator.”
Blockchain has been used elsewhere for other government processes, specifically, elections. It was announced last week that South Korea’s National Election Commission was collaborating with the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT in testing out a blockchain-powered surveying system that could eventually be used to count votes nationwide.
Similar systems have been implemented in the South Korean province of Gyeonggi-do and the Japanese city of Tsukuba, which have been able to hold referendums on local community programs. The U.S. states Maine and West Virginia have also seen proposals for blockchain-powered elections.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are getting better at protecting their assets. Security has improved greatly this year, making it more difficult for thieves to break in and steal crypto. Those efforts have resulted in the mindless cyber thugs out of North Korea to give up on attacking the exchanges, going after individuals, instead.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, the number of crypto attacks on individuals has risen substantially in the past several months. The news outlet talked to the CEO of South Korea-based Cuvepia, a cybersecurity firm, who indicated that the company had recently uncovered more than 30 attacks. He added that it’s possible that a number of attacks have not been caught, which could put the actual number of heists or attempted heists at more than 100.
The founder of cyber warfare research company IssueMakersLab, Simon Choi, adds that the transition to individual attacks is a direct response to heightened security on the exchanges. He adds, “Direct attacks on exchanges have become harder, so hackers are thinking about alternatively going after individual users with weak security.”
Choi explains that the majority of the attacks have been conducted against wealthy South Korean citizens because “[the hackers] believe that if they target CEOs of wealthy firms and heads of organisations” then “they can take advantage of billions of won in virtual currencies.”
Another cybersecurity analyst, FireEye’s Luke McNamara, also pointed out that “it’s possible from previous intrusions they’ve been able to collect information” about “people using these [cryptocurrency] exchanges. He states that “when [the hackers] understand and know the targets” then “they are able to craft lures specific to those organisations or entities.”
There have been indications that the hacks aren’t just being led by crooks simply looking for an easy payday. Reports started circulating a couple of weeks ago that the North Korean regime could be behind the attacks. As sanctions create a weaker government, North Korea government officials could be turning to thievery, crypto money laundering and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in order to attract funds to continue keeping the citizens under control and to line their own pockets.
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