Court rules Kik’s 2017 ICO violated U.S. securities laws

Court rules Kik’s 2017 ICO violated U.S. securities laws

A judge has ruled that the $100 million ICO conducted by the Canadian messaging platform Kik in 2017 violated federal securities laws.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Kellerstein has sided with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ruling that the Canadian technology firm Kik’s $100 million initial coin offering (ICO) violated federal securities laws.

On September 30, Judge Kellerstein responded to both parties’ requests for summary judgment, determining that Kik’s 2017 token sale meets the definition of a securities issuance according to the Howey test, as the ICO participants had a reasonable expectation of profit.

“In public statements and at public events promoting Kin, Kik extolled Kin's profit-making potential. Kik's CEO explained the role of supply and demand in driving the value of Kin: Kik was offering only a limited supply of Kin, so as demand increased, the value of Kin would increase.”

The judge noted the unique nature of the case, highlighting that he had no “direct precedent” to inform his determination due to the groundbreaking nature of distributed ledger technologies.

After analyzing statements from Kik’s executive’s and the firm’s business model, Judge Kellerstein likened Kik’s offering to a “common enterprise”, saying that the success of the firm’s digital ecosystem “drove demand for [Kik’s token] and thus dictated investors’ profits.”

Kellertsein’s order mandates that the SEC and Kik jointly submit a proposed judgment for injunctive and monetary relief before October 20.

The SEC brought its complaint against Kik in June 2019, arguing that the firm had violated securities laws by selling $55 million worth of KIN tokens to U.S. investors in 2017 (andthe remainder to overseas investors).

The SEC described Kik’s digital currency “pivot” as an opportunistic bid to turn its financial tides after losing money from its core messenger product for many years.

An October 30 statement from Kik asserts the firm “continue[s] to believe that the public sale of Kin was that of a functional currency and not a sale of securities.”

"While this is a setback for Kik, this decision does not impact the Kin Foundation, the Kin token, and the growing ecosystem of developers making Kin the most used cryptocurrency by mainstream consumers,” the firm added.

Australian government’s digital business plan includes $5M for blockchain

Australian government’s digital business plan includes $5M for blockchain

Australia’s Prime Minister has announced the Federal Government’s biggest investment in blockchain to-date, with two pilots set to receive almost $5 million.

The Australian government this week unveiled its $574 million Digital Business Plan that includes seven-figure grants for distributed ledger technology initiatives. 

Announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of next week’s Federal Government budget, the plan outlines $4.95 million in support for “two blockchain pilots directed at reducing business compliance costs.” Morrison said:

“The plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses, and backs the uptake of technology across the economy.”

Piper Alderman partner Michael Bacina told Cointelegraph that these two projects are important “to help demonstrate and unlock the value of blockchain":

“With blockchain adoption accelerating around the world, this funding is a very welcome boost to the Australian blockchain industry and our local expertise.”

As part of the plan, $480 million has been designated for various technological initiatives that could intersect distributed ledger technologies, including $183 million towards a new digital identity system, and $301 million for developing a single business register — allowing businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location.

National Blockchain Lead Chloe White from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources called the direct funding “a huge win for Australian blockchain today” adding that it “is the biggest investment the Government has made in the sector.”

Over the last eight months, White has been working closely with industry leaders to implement Australia’s National Blockchain Roadmap and announced two blockchain working groups for supply chain and educational credentialing. White noted:

“These pilots will complement the National Blockchain Roadmap, which is driving working groups on RegTech, supply chains, cybersecurity and credentialing.”

Throughout 2020, the government has shown a growing interest in distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain application. In September, the Select Committee on Financial Technology (FinTech) and Regulatory Technology (RegTech) published an interim report with over 50 blockchain citations. Submissions to the committee reported that blockchain's potential is “estimated at $175 billion annually within five years and $3 trillion by 2030”.

Organic growth? Bitcoin SV activity up 761% ahead of BSV conference

Organic growth? Bitcoin SV activity up 761% ahead of BSV conference

Bitcoin SV users appear to have got very excited ahead of the conference.

Active addresses and transaction counts on the Bitcoin SV network saw unbelievable growth in the two days leading up to the CoinGeek Live conference in New York this week.

Active BSV addresses grew from 110,000 on September 28, to 947,400 addresses today.

That's an astonishing growth rate of 761%, in just two days leading up to CoinGeek Live, which kicked off on September 30 at 9am New York time, and will run until October 2.

The spike in active addresses raised eyebrows on Crypto-Twitter. Bitcoin SV and Craig Wright antagonist Arthur van Pelt reposted SirToshi's chart that calls attention to the fact BSV has managed to overtake the Ethereum network in the middle of a DeFi boom. He said sarcastically:

"Seems legit. Organic Growth I think. Has nothing to do with #CGLive I bet'."

Bitcoin influencer ‘Holdlonaut’ responded with a facepalm emoji.

Transactions on the Bitcoin SV network more than doubled in the same period, from 715.6K to 1,751K today. That's growth of 145% in the 48 hours leading up to the conference. Average transaction values meanwhile, fell by two-thirds over the same period.

However, it’s possible the spike could simply be a coincidence, as the network does see some unusual bursts of activity on occasion. Active addresses spiked to over 1 million briefly on June 24, and transactions spiked to 5.5 million on July 10.

The CoinGeek Live conference is mostly an online affair and features speakers including nChain's controversial chief scientist Wright, Bitcoin Association President Jimmy Nguyen and Fundstrat Global managing partner Thomas Lee.

In his opening address, Nguyen said that Bitcoin SV has incentives to discourage bad behavior and noted that the original Bitcoin whitepaper mentions the word "honest" 15 times.

According to CoinGeek’s report on Nguyen's address, Bitcoin SV currently processes more 2,800 transactions per second on its mainnet, and is aiming for 50,000 in the near future. The forthcoming Teranode enterprise-tier protocol aims to have 1TB transaction blocks.

Nguyen said that Bitcoin SV is “the foundational rule set for an entire network,” and is “re-inventing the internet."

In somewhat related news, the Supreme Court of Norway has rejected Craig Wright's jurisdictional appeal. The Satoshi claimant had been trying to sue Hodlonaut for libel in the UK but will now have to go through Norwegian courts.

Hodlonaut said the court has awarded him another $6000 in costs on top of the $60,000 in costs already awarded:.

Institutional crypto platform Wootrade raises $10M in investment round

Institutional crypto platform Wootrade raises $10M in investment round

Institutional trading platform Wootrade has raised $10 million in a private fundraising round that will be used to expand its team and launch leveraged trading products.

Wootrade, a Taiwan-based liquidity provider platform and crypto asset exchange aimed at institutions, has concluded a $10 million private investment round led by Dragonfly Capital. 

Investors in the round include crypto notables including Haskey Capital, Three Arrows Capital, and DeFi Capital's venture wing. The newly raised funds will be used to expand the Wootrade team, and to support the launch of future products.

The platform is currently in closed beta, where roughly one dozen institutions and early investors are already driving seven-figure spot volumes for crypto assets on behalf of their 65,000 clients.

Wootrade expects to fully launch within six to nine months, and claims its liquidity will surpass that of top exchanges including Binance.

Wootrade will soon launch futures trading and a native governance token ‘WOO’. The platform is currently exploring distributing the token to its users based on retroactive activity.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Wootrade founder Jack Tan stated that Uniswap-style airdrop model is appealing because token issuers can “reward the people who should really have our tokens.”

“If you’re going to be a user of the platform, we definitely want you to have our token.”

SingulatityNET set to ditch Ethereum for Cardano citing speed and cost issues

SingulatityNET set to ditch Ethereum for Cardano citing speed and cost issues

This potential move will swap the native AGI token from ERC20 to Cardano

SingularityNET, the AI company behind the expressive robot Sophia, is “seriously discussing” a migration from Ethereum to Cardano, after announcing a collaboration with IOHK.

IOHK is run by the founder of Cardano, Charles Hoskinson, and drives the development of the blockchain platform.

SingularityNET is a full-stack AI platform that lets anyone create, share, and monetize AI services at scale. The potential move to Ethereum is driven by concerns around speed and costs that have been badly affected lately by demand from DeFi platforms, with gas cost peaking as high as $17 per transaction. The team also has doubts about the feasibility of Ethereum 2, which has been in development for the past few years but is still some way off being a practical solution.

“Current speed and cost issues with the Ethereum blockchain have increased the urgency of exploring alternatives for SingluarityNET’s blockchain underpinning,” said Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO and Founder of the SingularityNET Foundation. He said the partnership will help drive Caradano's development and  scale SingularityNET-based services:

“The transition of SingularityNET onto modern blockchains such as Cardano is a clear route to achieving scale and speed, and the completion of the fiat-to-crypto gateway will remove the requirement for end-users of SingularityNET-based services to deal with cryptocurrency infrastructure”

If SigularityNET goes ahead with the plan, it would swap its native AGI token from ERC20 to Cardano and completely ditch the Solidity programming language in favor of Plutus to create smart contracts. Dr. Goertzel took a swipe at Solidity's shortcomings saying:

“As a Turing-complete language without simple dedicated mechanisms for creating more limited Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs), Solidity presents significant challenges to the formal program verification and the analysis methods that are critical to safety and security on today’s Internet.”

Dr. Goertzel believes the future is multi-chain, so there’s a good chance the team may not move away from Ethereum completely. In an interview with IOHK’s Charles Hoskinson he said that being a decentralized project it was up to the community and market to decide:

“If the Cardano portion works much much better.. then everything should migrate there," he said. "If it turns out that the Ethereum portion is more useful for some purposes, the Cardano portion is useful for some purposes, then so be it, right?”

SingularityNET has a big vision for the future, with one of the important aspects something called  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) — a hypothetical machine intelligence that has the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can.

The network aims to create an ecosystem where a variety of different AIs can collaborate and outsource tasks to other AIs. For Dr. Goertzel, diversification and decentralization of AI is very important since most AI projects are owned by large tech companies. He hopes that Cardano will accelerate this process:

“Cardano’s thoroughly formalized functional programming foundations have potential to provide a rich and flexible basis for implementing advanced aspects of the SingularityNET design — but just as critically, they have strong promise to provide a secure and reliable basis for the network’s operations basic and advanced alike.”

SingularityNET claims to be the first platform to allow different AIs to communicate with each other and share data while connecting developers and users. The company is also behind the most sophisticated and expressive robot to date, Sophia, and have applied for citizenship for the robot with the Maltese government.

Crypto prediction markets turn against Trump after first debate

Crypto prediction markets turn against Trump after first debate

Emerging Ethereum-powered predictions platform Polymarket produced six-figure volume amid the first presidential debates.

The first debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential election had no clear winner, but crypto-powered prediction platforms are having a field day. 

Election futures on crypto derivatives exchange FTX boomed, with the platform’s CEO reporting more than $4 million in open interest trying to pick the winner between Democrat Joe Biden, and Republican Donald Trump. On FTX, Trump’s brash debate performance got a big thumbs down and drove a 10% crash in the price of futures contracts backing his re-election.

Price of TRUMP futures on FTX: FTX

Volumes on FTX are amplified by leverage. On predictive platforms that do not offer leverage, more modest six-figure volumes were recorded. Polymarket saw more than $100,000 in volume flow into its ‘Will Trump win the 2020 U.S. presidential election?’ market on September 30, with sentiment similarly shifting against the incumbent president over the course of the debate. Almost 55 percent believe Trump will not win the election.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Polymarket founder, Shayne Coplan, said the platform was designed to find answers to issues “people really want to know about rather than just things that they want to speculate:”

“The beautiful thing about markets, in my opinion, is their ability to aggregate information and synthesize it into accurate forecast. That’s what price discovery is — aggregating everyone’s opinions and knowledge and synthesizing it into one metric. And that can have incredible social and informational value.”

Polymarket is built on Ethereum (ETH), however, is exploring Matic as a scaling solution for the interim leading up to the launch of ETH 2.0. Transactions executed on the platform do not carry fees and Polymarket is non-custodial.

The platform uses an automatic market maker (AMM) for price discovery, with all market participants effectively trading against the AMM’s liquidity pool. Ideas for markets can be submitted from Polymarket’s users, and are curated by firm’s executives to ensure that the terms and conditions pertaining to specific markets are “unambiguous.”

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey takes aim at Coinbase's apolitical stance

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey takes aim at Coinbase's apolitical stance

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has called out Coinbase for seeking to suppress political activism and suggesting employees who think differently should leave.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has taken major U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase to task over its open letter to employees published on Sep 28. 

The letter, written by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, explained why the firm intends to avoid political and social distractions, and instead focus on its core mission of building an open financial system for the world.

The new direction has met with strong support in some quarters and pushback from others.

In a Twitter post to his 4.7 million followers, Dorsey argues that “Bitcoin (aka crypto) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system.” He goes on to add that the exchange cannot simply ignore social issues as this will leave its customers behind:

Dorsey has long taken an active involvement in the cryptocurrency space, and Twitter itself has been criticized for favoring progressive over conservative political views in its moderation process. But Dorsey's opinion urging greater political engagement was not well received by the crypto community with the overwhelming number of replies agreeing with Armstrong’s approach.

The vice president of venture capital firm Founders Fund, Mike Solana, did not agree with Dorsey opposing “a corporate trend away from polarizing political statements and dramatic displays of culture war pageantry”. Solana contrasted this apolitical approach with Twitter’s business model and suggested Dorsey was “a man who makes hundreds of millions of dollars fueling political polarization.”

Adam Draper, the son of famed crypto investor Tim Draper, praised the Coinbase approach, comparing Armstrong to Michael Jordanfor his single-minded focus on advancing the virtual currency sector:

“This is thought leadership. We get things done when we are all focused on a unified mission. Brian is Jordan in his prime right now. If anyone is selling shares of Coinbase, I’ll buy.”

Dorsey wasn’t entirely without support however:

Coinbase has offered any employee who fundamentally disagrees with Armstrong’s position a severance package of up to six months. The email added: “it’s always sad when we see teammates go, but it can also be what is best for them and the company.”

Chainalysis and Texas firm win million-dollar IRS contract to crack Monero

Chainalysis and Texas firm win million-dollar IRS contract to crack Monero

The IRS has named the winners of its bounty program to track transactions on privacy tokens and layer-2 protocols.

On Wednesday, the IRS awarded two $625,000 contracts looking for tracing tools for privacy token Monero and Layer 2 protocols. The winners were blockchain analytics firms Chainalysis and Integra FEC.

The IRS initially publicized its quest for a privacy-busting analytics solution at the beginning of the month. An IRS representative told Cointelegraph that the agency had selected the two winning firms out of a field of 22 proposals received, though the only rationale the representative gave for the agency’s decision was “comparative analysis was used.”

Chainalysis is among the leading firms in crypto analytics and routinely wins such contracts with a range of government agencies. Integra FEC is a relatively unfamiliar name, despite millions of dollars in contracts with, for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission for “Other Scientific and Technical Consulting Services.”

Integra FEC had not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment as of press time.

As governments ramp up their interest in crypto tracing, the field of firms working on crypto tracing is likely to expand. In mid-September, the U.S. Treasury blundered with sanctions on a Monero wallet that turned out to be a payment ID.

Cardano's real competition is not who you'd expect, says new Cardano Foundation CEO

Cardano's real competition is not who you'd expect, says new Cardano Foundation CEO

Hint: It's not a blockchain company.

Frederik Gregaard, the incoming CEO of the Cardano Foundation, shared his perspective on FinTech's competitive landscape and major technology trends with Cointelegraph.

Discussing competition, Gregaard said that the protocol's biggest opponents do not come from within the blockchain space:

“I think the biggest competitor, it's really the largest technology companies today around, the large tech platforms such as Google, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, those kind of players”.

Gregaard believes that social media-based big technology providers have morphed from supplying their customers with meaningful tools to essentially owning and manipulating their users. He went so far as to call them “an addictive, mental, manipulative technology environment — that is where social media is. It's not just a tool waiting to be used, it has its own goals.”

In his view, distributed technology represents the opposite of that, with Blockchain enabling users to wrestle back control of their data and identity:

“You don't really feel today what's actually happening on the Internet. But everything you do is being monetized. And what is being populated in front of you right now is slowly moving you towards a certain direction. And I think when society figures out that nothing in this world is free, they suddenly end up with the blockchain."

In Gregaard’s view, blockchain technology allows for the construction of a society where an individual does not need to trade their digital sovereignty for the services provided by technology companies. In addition to “liberating” individuals from tech giants, Gregaard feels that the mass adoption of blockchain technology may help bring the people of the world closer together.

He opined that in order to incite this level of change, major blockchain protocols like Cardano (ADA), Algorand, and Tezos (XTZ) should put aside their differences and work together. Gregaard believes that the real danger is not that one of these platforms will lose to a competitor. It is that the blockchain space as a whole may otherwise never reach mass adoption:

“I think the market is super-big. And if we start fighting about it, one or two companies, which technology stack are they choosing to do that DApps on? I think we are missing the boat. We need to start looking much like the whole population and the whole economic system: how do we build that?”

Gregaard admitted that odds may be stacked against decentralized disruptors. Tech giants have trillions of dollars at their disposal, and he said “there's a big chance that we won't get there”. Still, Gregaard believes that the technology Cardano is building is powerful enough to stand a fighting chance.

KuCoin hack unpacked: More crypto possibly stolen than first feared

KuCoin hack unpacked: More crypto possibly stolen than first feared

The KuCoin hack is the first high-profile case of a decentralized exchange being used to launder stolen funds.

Cybercriminals have continued to come up with new, innovative attack vectors that a lot of prominent crypto platforms are still falling prey to. For example, Johnny Lyu, the CEO of Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin, stated on Sept. 26 that the exchange had been on the receiving end of a major hack that resulted in the firm’s Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and ERC-20 hot wallets being affected. Commenting on the hack, Charlie Cai, the media manager at KuCoin, told Cointelegraph:

“Following the incident, KuCoin is acting quickly and transparently to deal with it. We are trying our best to mitigate the impact of the incident by working with many blockchain projects, security firms and crypto exchanges.”

In all, it’s estimated that KuCoin lost upward of $200 million in customer funds. However, despite the security breach, the price of most premier cryptos, as well as DeFi tokens, barely showcased any negative action despite the fact that major hacks, such as this one, have traditionally resulted in market-wide sell-offs.

On a more technical front, Cai highlighted that a total of 130 million of the stolen digital tokens had already been secured or in the process of being recovered by the KuCoin security team. In this regard, Cai further stated that Tether (USDT) had successfully frozen a total of 22 million USDT stablecoins that were compromised while Velo Labs, too, announced that it will redeploy and replace each of the VELO tokens that were transferred as part of the heist. He added: “The 122 million VELO tokens (about $75.7 million) that were affected will be invalidated.”

Similarly, some of the other tokens that the company claims to have secured since the matter came to public notice include Silent Notary (SNTR), Covesting (COV), Orion Protocol (ORN), KardiaChain (KAI), NOIA Network (NOIA) and Opacity (OPQ).

Red flags addressed by KuCoin

Earlier this year in March, KuCoin was in the midst of a number of controversies. The crypto exchange was facing the possibility of a class-action lawsuit that claimed KuCoin provided its customers with “false and/or misleading statements.” Similarly, as part of another suit — Chase Williams v. KuCoin — it was alleged that the exchange was dealing unlicensed securities, which is illegal.

Furthermore, around the same time period, the KuCoin team announced to the world that it would be undergoing a massive corporate restructuring that saw the firm change its trademark from one Seychelles-registered entity to another. Not only that, but the firm also appointed a new director who previously had no major role at the exchange. It’s still unclear, meanwhile, as to where exactly KuCoin’s actual headquarters are located.

Based on the aforementioned findings, people have started to question the legitimacy of KuCoin’s operations, with some even going as far as saying that the platform might be one big exit scam. Addressing these concerns, Cai stated: “KuCoin a genuine platform backed by famous VCs. As early as 2018, we got an investment of $20 million from IDG and Matrix Partners. IDG is very ‘picky’ when investing in crypto exchanges.”

Cai then proceeded to highlight KuCoin’s cash flow streams, claiming that in August 2020 alone, $13.35 billion was traded via the company’s spot trading platform, while $13.51 billion was traded on KuCoin’s futures platform.

Security experts weigh in on the matter

To gain a more holistic view of the entire situation, Cointelegraph reached out to John Jefferies, the chief financial analyst at CipherTrace — a crypto-focused security firm. He pointed out that most of the cryptocurrencies stolen from KuCoin were ERC-20 tokens that can be easily laundered through DeFi protocols.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that following the KuCoin hack, the miscreant proceeded to transfer thousands of dollars worth of Synthetix Network Tokens (SNX) to Uniswap — the largest decentralized exchange by total value locked. It’s estimated that the hackers transferred at least $1.2 million in SNX tokens through four separate transactions. On the subject, Jefferies stated:

“This was the first high profile case of a DEX, Uniswap, being used as a money mixer. Unlike centralized exchanges, a DEX can’t freeze funds — only specific projects can. Another significant impact here is that the theft of the tokens directly impacted the firms of these stolen tokens, such as Crypterium and Tether because the hack included CRPT tokens and Tether on both EOS and Ethereum blockchains.”

Madeleine Kennedy, senior director of communications at Chainalysis — a global cryptocurrency analytics company — pointed out that her firm has found that more than $275 million in crypto funds have most likely been compromised, which makes this one of the largest hacks of a cryptocurrency exchange in recorded history. Additionally, Chainalysis announced that it was expanding its presence across the APAC region in the aftermath of the hack.

Providing her take on how exactly the hackers were able to successfully facilitate this operation, Kennedy pointed out that they attempted to swap as many ERC-20 tokens as possible at decentralized exchanges before the funds were frozen by the smart contracts or forked to reverse the transactions:

“Some funds were deposited to exchanges, some to coin swapping services, and more to DEXs, but much of the funds remain unspent. Relevant addresses are labeled in Chainalysis Reactor, KYT and Kryptos, and we are continuing to monitor their movements.”

A laid-back attitude?

Despite the major strides that have been made by crypto security researchers over the past couple of years, platforms like KuCoin’s still fall victim to such attacks. However, this latest hack raises a concern as some may question if the crypto industry is doing enough to protect itself.

Jefferies pointed out that, as things stand, only the largest exchanges in the world have the security maturity of traditional financial institutions, which are typically subject to security rules and audits. In this regard, he firmly believes that until smaller virtual asset service providers are able to display the same level of rigor as their financial service counterparts, it would not be uncommon to see such types of incidents taking place. Elucidating his thoughts on the matter:

“Trusted VASPs such as Bitgo, Coinbase, and Bitgo have undergone the grueling System and Organization Control, SOC2, audit which includes security, confidentiality, processing integrity, privacy and availability.”

It’s worth mentioning that over the course of the last few years, the security industry has developed several security standards to enable customers to decide who to trust with their assets. Auditing procedures such as SOC2 and ISO 27001 provide rigorous external validation of technologies and processes. Binance and, for example, claim to adopt ISO 27001.

On the subject, Dyma Budorin, a co-founder and the CEO of Hacken — a crypto-oriented cybersecurity firm — told Cointelegraph that a majority of exchanges today are like black boxes, i.e., no one knows how their private keys are managed: “Only a few crypto exchanges like Kraken, Gemini and Binance are investing a lot of money to prove proper internal controls over their personal private keys management protocols.”

A similar opinion is shared by Tom Albright, the CEO of Bittrex Global — a cryptocurrency exchange — who believes that too many exchanges these days treat security as an inconvenience, adding:

“As more and more mainstream investors get involved in crypto, there will be more vulnerable participants in the ecosystem, and exchanges have to do even more to protect these customers and help them protect themselves.”

Blockchain will stay a buzzword until everyone unites behind one chain

Blockchain will stay a buzzword until everyone unites behind one chain

Having the world use one distributed ledger will support technical uniformity, interoperability of applications and a more honest planet.

Despite being, perhaps, the biggest tech buzzword of the last decade, blockchain technology has largely remained just that: a buzzword. While its best-known implementation, Bitcoin (BTC), has become a household name, the technology that underpins it remains little more than a mystery for most.

By and large, this can be attributed to slow progress in the adoption of the technology for consumers and businesses, caused by divided attention. Rather than a collective push to build advancements only on the Bitcoin blockchain, we’ve instead seen a clamor to build too many alternate blockchain platforms.

Resources that could have been used to scale the Bitcoin blockchain and develop new applications of its underlying technology have instead been applied to proliferating thousands of competing digital currencies and hundreds of alternate blockchain or distributed ledger technologies, driven by the pursuit of quick riches from launching a new venture’s own coin yet diversified by little more than three-letter ticker symbols.

And so, our understanding of blockchain technology and its immense potential has largely failed to progress beyond its original use case for peer-to-peer electronic cash. Despite promises of a future in which smart contracts, identity management systems and data are all powered by the Bitcoin blockchain as part of everyday life, progress remains quantified solely by lines on trading charts.

Transactions in a broader sense

In large part, this is because people embraced too narrow a view of Bitcoin, thinking its blockchain was only intended for transferring monetary value. At its base level, a blockchain is simply a distributed data ledger used to permanently record transactions in an open, chronological, verifiable manner.

When thinking about transactions, particularly as they pertain to blockchain technology, it’s easy to focus solely on payment transactions. But data transactions are a foundational aspect of modern life — in business, economics, law, politics, etc. Transactions that exchange information are everywhere around us. Yet how we deal with information transactions and the tools we use to manage them have failed to keep pace with the digitization of the rest of our lives.

And with blockchain, our understanding of transactions must broaden further.

Every communication, every contract, every task, every process and every payment can ultimately be distilled to a data transaction, similar to how every activity on the internet is ultimately broken down into data packets to be transmitted across the World Wide Web.

As with blockchain, the internet initially developed from a first use case of the underlying data network: email for researchers over the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET. Building upon the TCP/IP communications protocol implemented over ARPANET, internet pioneers developed and scaled the internet to become the critical infrastructure it is today. Essential to realizing that vision was a commitment to a foundational common protocol, without which the openness and interconnectedness of the internet that transformed the world as we know it would not have been possible.

And therein lies the issue with the development, so far, of blockchain technology. In a rush to capitalize on a growing wave of speculative investment, the numerous new attempted blockchains and distributed ledgers to emerge after Bitcoin have brought with them different variations of blockchain protocols, forcing competition not just on the price of their competing digital currencies but on entire network rulesets and ecosystems.

Hundreds of different competing systems aren’t just inefficient — they undermine much of the transformative advantage of blockchain, which is to eliminate data silos, enable easy transacting with anyone and create a single source of information truth. Had hundreds of competing digital communications networks proliferated in the 1990s rather than consolidated around a single, ubiquitous internet with one World Wide Web, the immense value creation and information awakening that resulted would likely look very different today.

We didn’t let that happen with the internet, so why should blockchain be any different?

It’s time to get serious about the future of blockchain technology. It’s time for one world, one chain.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Jimmy Nguyen is the founding president of the Bitcoin Association, the global industry organization that advances the Bitcoin SV digital currency and blockchain. A well-known advocate for Bitcoin, he was most previously the CEO of nChain — a leader in the research and development of enterprise-grade blockchain solutions. Jimmy also had a 21-year career as an intellectual property and digital technology lawyer, and was a partner at three major U.S. law firms.

Maduro claims crypto will play role in fighting sanctions against Venezuela

Maduro claims crypto will play role in fighting sanctions against Venezuela

Crypto garnered another mention in one of Maduro's bombastic speeches.

The President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro says that the country's government is now looking at diverse cryptocurrencies as a potential way of avoiding sanctions.

On Sept. 29, Maduro presented a new bill that intends to help the country overcome the impact of United States’ sanctions. 

As part of the bill, Venezuela will study the possibility of using various cryptocurrencies in both domestic and foreign trade. Maduro claimed that the new anti-sanctions bill involves both private and state-backed crypto initiatives like Venezuela’s oil-pegged cryptocurrency, the Petro:

The anti-sanctions bill is the first response [...] to give new strength to the use of Petro and other cryptocurrencies, national and global, in domestic and foreign trade, so that all cryptocurrencies of the world, state and private, could be used. This is an important project that is under development.”

According to online reports, the new bill is now being reviewed by Venezuela’s legislative body, the National Constituent Assembly.

The latest news apparently demonstrates that Venezuela’s crypto interest is not limited to the country’s national cryptocurrency Petro, which has been positioned as a major tool to evade U.S. sanctions.

Maduro’s new claims come shortly after Venezuela’s government issued an official regulatory framework for mining of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). On Sept. 23, Venezuela's National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities issued the first decree to regulate all crypto mining activities, outlining specific requirements for miners like an obligation to join the so-called “national mining pool.”

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Maduro used to support no cryptos other than the state Petro.

In late 2019, Maduro announced that the country's retirees and pensioners will be paid their Christmas bonuses in Petro. The Venezuelan government reportedly turned pensioners’ monthly bonus into the Petro in late 2018.

Officially rolled out in February 2018, the Petro became the world’s first national oil-baked cryptocurrency. The coin is purportedly designed to attract foreign investment as well as avoid sanctions by the U.S. government. However, the token is not available for purchase anywhere outside of Venezuela.

Bitfinex will offer 6.2% interest on three popular coins

Bitfinex will offer 6.2% interest on three popular coins

Holders of these coins have a new way to get passive income.

Crypto exchange Bitfinex is now offering a way for holders of three different cryptocurrencies to earn up to 6.2% annual interest.

According to a Sept. 30 announcement, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) holders are now eligible to earn up to 6.2% annual percentage yield (APY) through a partnership with Celsius Network, while XRP holders can earn up to 4.91% APY. The lending platform, which currently has more than $1 billion in coins from roughly 150,000 users, said it would allow interest on the tokens to be accrued daily, with rewards paid in weekly intervals.

“We expect this offering to appeal to customers that have bought Bitcoin as a long-term store of value, and who also want to earn on their assets while they hold,” said Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino.

The exchange is offering BTC, ETH, and XRP holders better APY rates than the average for fiat savings accounts, making Bitfinex competitive in some respects with banks. Though many traditional investors still view banks as a less risky venture than crypto, their interest rates rarely exceed 1-2%. On the other hand, cryptocurrencies frequently fluctuate more in price in a day, than the annual interest rate at Bitfinex so there are swings and roundabouts.

Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky has often said the lending and borrowing platform’s goal is to “bring 100 million new people into crypto.” Currently, customers can earn up to 15.89% APY on rewards for 12 stablecoins using the platform.

Coinbase launched a similar system for crypto traders to gain 2% APY on their Dai (DAI) holdings and 0.15% for USD Coin (USDC) holders. The exchange said rewards on both stablecoins offer a means to passively generate income on crypto assets “with yields on savings accounts and government bonds at record lows.”

Bitcoin vs. USD: why only a weaker dollar will push BTC above $20,000

Bitcoin vs. USD: why only a weaker dollar will push BTC above $20,000

Investors should keep an eye on the tight inverse correlation between the strength of the U.S. dollar and Bitcoin.

A widespread debate among investors is the correlation of Bitcoin (BTC) with other markets. A high degree of correlation between the equity markets and Bitcoin has existed, particularly in the last few months. In other periods, gold and Bitcoin appear to move in tandem.

However, the correlation that should be watched the most is the dollar since the global economy is based on the strength or weakness of our world reserve currency, the United States dollar.

Weaker USD drove up Bitcoin prices in Q2, Q3 2020

BTC/USD vs. Gold vs. DXY 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

BTC/USD vs. Gold vs. DXY 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

The chart above shows gold, Bitcoin, and dollar values since the crash in March. The orange line is gold, the blue line the U.S. Dollar Currency Index (DXY), and the regular price of Bitcoin is shown by the black line.

The sudden impact of the global pandemic increased the demand for U.S. Dollars, surging heavily in March as seen by the large blue spike. This spike caused the other markets to tumble as the price of Bitcoin dropped by 50% to as low as $3,700.

However, since this massive crash, the DXY has been weakening day-by-day. This sudden weakness of the dollar caused other “safe haven” assets to rise significantly over the past six months. Bitcoin has increased 185% since the crash of March while Gold rallied 31%.

But despite the general downtrend still intact, the U.S. dollar has seen a relief bounce in early September as a bottom construction was made. A bullish divergence was created to mark the start of the temporary bottom pattern, after which the 92.75 level was reclaimed as support for further continuation upward.

U.S. Dollar Currency Index 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

U.S. Dollar Currency Index 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

This relief rally reached 94.60 points and caused other assets to drop substantially. Hence, more weakness in the commodity and crypto markets should be expected if the DXY continues toward 96 points.

USD in 2016 and 2017 fueled the Bitcoin cycle

BTC/USD vs DXY 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

BTC/USD vs DXY 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

The previous cycle highs were hit in 2014 and 2017 for Bitcoin, through which credible data can be derived from the correlation between the U.S. Dollar and Bitcoin.

Throughout 2017, the U.S. Dollar showed significant weakness across the boards, as the EUR/USD pair rallied from 1.03 to 1.25 too. During this uncertainty and instability of the U.S. Dollar, Bitcoin had its peak rally from $1,000 to $20,000.

More interestingly is the fact that Bitcoin’s peak high is surrounded by the cycle low of the DXY index.

Since then, the DXY index has been showing some strength. Through this strength, the Bitcoin bear market was fueled until the previous months.

A substantial weakness of the DXY index is causing the price of Bitcoin and Gold to continue rallying. Is history going to repeat itself?

Dollar weakness after the bubble lead to a 600% surge in Gold

DXY Index vs. Gold 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

DXY Index vs. Gold 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

What can be derived from the chart above is the strength of gold since the dot com bubble popped in 2000. During the first stages of a potential crash is the liquidation phase when all markets drop as gold also corrected 30% in 2000. This is the hunt for liquidity to cover losses on the equity markets similar to what has been witnessed in March 2020.

However, since the USD showed weakness in 2000, gold has been showing tremendous strength as a safe haven, which would have increased your portfolio by 600%.

In the same period, the EUR/USD pair rallied from 0.85 to 1.60 in 2008. The momentum then flipped as investors flew to the USD as a hedge during the credit crisis.

But in the current times of uncertainty with negative interest rates, increased debt levels, and deflation, Bitcoin is also doing relatively well.

Of course, a potential drop by 25-35% could occur in the first stage of the crisis just like in March. But Bitcoin and gold would benefit significantly afterward as safe havens against a weakening dollar, which is precisely what happened in December 2017 as BTC hit its all-time high of nearly $20,000.

The simple reasoning for this is that confidence in governments will also drop during times of economic uncertainty, e.g. the corona pandemic or systematic risk. Given this uncertainty and exponentially growing debt, the U.S. central bank has one option: devalue the currency, which means further weakness for the dollar.

In other words, the prophecy of six-figure prices can become a reality if the dollar’s weakness continues into 20201.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Crypto finance firm Swipe launches Visa DeFi lending card

Crypto finance firm Swipe launches Visa DeFi lending card

Borrowers in the U.S. can now get funds with a DeFi-powered Visa card by Swipe.

Swipe, a Binance-owned cryptocurrency debit card provider, is expanding its offering with a new crypto Visa card that allows users to borrow funds using blockchain technology.

Dubbed the “LendFi Visa Card,” the new product deploys major decentralized finance protocols to provide “near-instant access to lending balances.” The card is integrated with the LendFi app — a decentralized lending platform that is connected with the borrower through their mobile device. At launch, the platform will support major DeFi protocol Compound, a spokesperson for Swipe said.

According to an announcement, the new blockchain-based lending platform approves loans for users and disburses them to accounts. The LendFi App also offers a stablecoin aggregator so users can deposit various stablecoins to spend via their card.

Swipe developed the card with California-based payments company Marqeta. Marqeta vice president of business development Salman Syed said that the card enables lenders to issue a loan directly onto a card, which extends the company’s efforts to “remake the lender-borrower relationship.”

Virtually-issued LendFi Visa Cards are available for borrowers in the U.S. by downloading the LendFi app, signing up and completing identification procedures. After applying for a LendFi Visa Card virtually, users can order a physical card. The card will also offer 4% cashback on all purchases.

Cryptocurrency lending is one of the most important use cases for the DeFi industry. In contrast to traditional finance, DeFi lending does not need a central party or a middleman to approve and distribute loans, as DeFi loans are issued through a distributed system and decentralized applications. Still, decentralized lending is associated with certain risks as it is still not 100% secure.

RSK announces enterprise spin-off to focus on blockchain integration tools

RSK announces enterprise spin-off to focus on blockchain integration tools

IOVLabs believes the missing link is the developer-friendliness, not the type of blockchain.

A new enterprise initiative launched by IOVLabs, the company behind the RSK Bitcoin sidechain, seeks to simplify blockchain development for governments and enterprises.

The joint venture, called Extrimian, was established with Argentinian software provider Grupo Sabra to create the RSK Enterprise Cloud platform.

The blockchain-as-a-service platform is designed to allow governments and businesses to develop decentralized solutions and set up permissioned networks with ease. The platform is said to help integrate blockchain DApps into existing infrastructure used by enterprise and government entities.

Guillermo Villanueva, the CEO of Extrimian and co-founder of Grupo Sabra, told Cointelegraph that the focus of the initiative differs from existing offerings:

“There are many Blockchain-as-a-Service offers, but they focus on solving the problem of deploying permissioned networks. Our vision is that the key problem to solve is the connection and integration of the systems that the Enterprise already has to these new technologies.”

Villanueva believes that existing companies have a narrow focus on their niche — cloud providers focused on cloud-based solutions, while blockchain companies focus solely on the blockchain stack. He continued:

“After many years of dealing with the complexity of developing real world applications for the Enterprise segment using the blockchain technological stack, we realized that there was a missing piece, something that facilitates the development and operation of decentralized apps, that easily integrate to the rest of the technology that enterprises and governments already have.”

Villanueva clarified that Extrimian is not seeking to create a separate blockchain platform. Its users would be able to choose between a few existing enterprise blockchains, including RSK, Ethereum and Hyperledger Besu. The toolset will be usable on cloud platforms like Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services, with more integrations expected later.

Due to the nature of the software, Villanueva explained that its focus is not on convincing companies to make the initial foray in blockchain. “Our platform is intended for big, medium and small enterprises and governments who have a problem, have researched possible solutions and have selected blockchain as a platform for their solution,” he said.

The idea for the platform was apparently driven by RSK’s own experience in designing enterprise applications. The project participated in several pilot projects, including a blockchain-based payments service for Argentinian banks and an energy trading initiative.

“The Argentinean Central Bank pilot was one of multiple implementations we’ve delivered that gave us a clear understanding of the real requirements of the enterprise segment,” Villanueva explained.

In addition to enterprise, RSK is currently pushing for decentralized finance use cases on its smart contract blockchain with integrations of Chainlink oracles and an Ethereum bridge.

French police arrest terror financing ring that used Bitcoin coupons

French police arrest terror financing ring that used Bitcoin coupons

The terror financing ring reportedly bought cryptocurrency coupons in licensed tobacco shops across France.

A large goup of accomplaces allegedly financing a jihadist network in Syria have been arrested after a sting operation by French police — despite choosing cryptocurrency coupons in an attempt to cover their tracks.

In a statement, police said that "constant surveillance of these networks prompted terrorist organisations to seek more opacity by using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin," as reported on Sept. 30.

Since 2019, the 29 accomplices have allegedly been supporting the operations of an  Al-Qaeda affiliate terror organization, called “Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.” 

The network’s architects are reportedly two French jihadists in their mid-20s, who are both thought to be in northeastern Syria at present. Both were sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia in 2016.

The 29 members of the network were busted after being caught purchasing cryptocurrency coupons worth between 10 and 150 euros each ($12–$176) on multiple occasions in recent months from tobacco outlets across France.

These outlets, known in French as tabacs, were last year integrated into crypto coupon services to encourage the adoption of cryptocurrencies by the French public.

Today’s report on the financing of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham notes that there are currently around 24,000 licensed tabacs across the country. 

Alongside the coupons the defendants allegedly used to credit their Syrian accomplices’ Bitcoin (BTC) accounts, these tabacs support a range of small payments services like cashcard top-ups and money coupons. These services, notably, don’t require proof-of-identity.

The anti-terror prosecutors' office has claimed that the use of cryptocurrency coupons by the network represents a turn away from the more prevalent choice of cash to support nefarious activities.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, a range of militant groups, most of which are defined as terrorist organizations by some countries, have increasingly turned to cryptocurrencies to support their fundraising activities. Most of these organizations are financially isolated, with many global banks barring services to them using illicit terror financing prevention mechanisms.

Indian man arrested on charges of crypto fraud via 'Morris Coin' scheme

Indian man arrested on charges of crypto fraud via 'Morris Coin' scheme

A 36-year-old man from Kerala was arrested under charges of cryptocurrency fraud.

District police have arrested a 36-year-old man from the Malappuram district of the south Indian state of Kerala on charges of operating a cryptocurrency scam.

Nishad has been charged under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act by the district police chief U Abdul Karim.

A team led by police inspector P Vishnu seized several documents from Nishad’s house and alleged that he has duped thousands of people from across India of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Nishad, who is also the managing director of a Bengaluru-based startup Long Rich Technologies, allegedly lured investors into investing in the cryptocurrency “Morris Coin.”

According to the police, the investors were promised a daily return of 270 rupees (~$3.60) for 300 days if they deposited a minimum amount of 15,000 rupees ($200) into  Morris Coin. 

The scheme suggested that the investors would be able to exchange Morris Coins after the 300-day lock-up period. Investors were reportedly promised added benefits for bringing more people to deposit funds into the scheme.

The police said that Morris Coin was not listed on any exchanges, making it impossible to exchange the coin. They also claimed that the company does not have any registered offices.

Even the Morris Coin ICO website has no information about team members or developers, nor does it give any insight into what the project is about. Nishad, however, claimed that Morris Coin was operating in compliance with the law. 

The police plan to reach out to investors in Morris Coin to record statements and further investigate the case.

Cointelegraph tried reaching out to Long Rich Technologies and Morris Coin but received no immediate response.

At $10,600, Bitcoin price is on track for its second-best quarter ever

At $10,600, Bitcoin price is on track for its second-best quarter ever

Data shows Bitcoin should seal both its best Q3 on record and its second-highest lifetime quarterly close on Sep. 30.

Bitcoin (BTC) is on track for its best third quarter ever, data shows as Q3 2020 has just one day left to go.

According to price records from on-chain analytics resource Skew, this year should produce Bitcoin’s strongest Q3 in its history.

BTC price challenges Q2 2019 close

BTC/USD traded at around $10,680 at press time on Sep. 30. That number comfortably beats any other Q3 close on record, the next highest being last year’s $8,310.

What’s more, Bitcoin may seal the second-best quarterly close of its lifetime — but that depends on whether it can stay above Q2 2019’s $10,590.

“One more day to go and still looking like second-best quarterly close for bitcoin but it's a close call with Q2 2020,” Skew commented.

Bitcoin quarterly closing prices summary

Bitcoin quarterly closing prices summary. Source: Skew/ Twitter

Bitcoin has stabilized in a $1,000 trading corridor since losing momentum after hitting $12,500 in August. The opinion is mixed for the short term, and concerns remain that BTC/USD may still drop to fill the last remaining CME futures “gap” at $9,600.

“There’s a rangebound structure with the upper resistance zone at $10,800,” Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe summarized in an update on Tuesday.

If BTC/USD fails to crack that resistance, he said, it was “very likely” that support levels lower down would be tested, notably $10,600, with potential for $10,400 and $10,200 to come into play. 

Long term bulls in charge

Zooming out, however, the picture more conspicuously favors bulls. As Cointelegraph reported, long-term behavioral patterns remain true to form for Bitcoin, with this week proving no different.

Difficulty ribbon compression, a metric designed to quantify suitable BTC/USD entry points, has left its lower green “buy” zone for the first time since March.

Network fundamentals also speak to overall strength, with difficulty itself at all-time highs and set for another upwards readjustment of around 3% in three days’ time.

Hash rate, a measure of the estimated computing power being directed to mining, is also trending back towards its highest-ever levels.

Among traders, however, discussion remains of potential near-term lows, including a dip below the CME gap toward $9,000.

Bitcoin exchange reserves down $5B in 2020 hints at whale accumulation

Bitcoin exchange reserves down $5B in 2020 hints at whale accumulation

Bitcoin exchange reserves dropped by $5 billion in the past year, showing signs of accumulation.

The Bitcoin (BTC) reserves of exchanges are continuing to drop, which suggests retail investors and whales might be accumulating.

According to data from CryptoQuant, all exchanges’ reserves dropped to 2.4 million BTC, which is equivalent to $25 billion. In contrast, in October 2019, exchanges had around 2.8 million BTC, currently worth $30 billion.

Bitcoin reserves on all exchanges throughout the past year

Bitcoin reserves on all exchanges throughout the past year. Source: CryptoQuant

There is a clear decrease in selling pressure from whales and retail investors

The reserves of exchanges increase when investors deposit Bitcoin. Typically, deposits or inflows are considered selling pressure, because traders have to send BTC to exchanges in order to sell.

Hence, when exchange inflows decline, it often signifies that the appetite to sell BTC by investors is declining.

Another chart from CryptoQuant depicts the trend of net inflows of Bitcoin into exchanges in the same timeframe.

Throughout the past two months, net inflows have generally remained in the negative 20,000 BTC level. Net inflows sharply dropped in recent weeks, specifically as BTC sharply rebounded from $10,300 to above $10,700.

On Sep. 26, Cointelegraph reported that large whale clusters emerged at $10,407. Whale clusters form when whales accumulate new BTC and do not touch the new holdings. Clusters usually indicate that whales are beginning to accumulate in a new area.

Considering the accumulation trend and the resilience of BTC above $10,000, investors likely have little appetite to sell.

All exchange Bitcoin net inflow

All exchange Bitcoin net inflow. Source: CryptoQuant

Due to the confluence of the lacking willingness to sell BTC at current prices and consistent accumulation, BTC is on track for a strong quarterly close.

Another possible reason behind the steep fall in exchange net flows might have been large-scale hacks. Most recently, KuCoin was reportedly hacked for $150 million after the private keys of hot wallets were compromised.

BTC on track for its second-best quarterly close 

According to Skew, Bitcoin is en route to see its second-best quarterly close. BTC closed the second quarter at around $9,140. It would have to stay above $10,600 to secure the second-best quarterly close.

The quarterly closing prices of Bitcoin since 2014

The quarterly closing prices of Bitcoin since 2014. Source: Skew

There are several reasons behind the strong performance of Bitcoin throughout the third quarter. Most notably, BTC rallied in tandem with gold and stocks after the U.S. approved a stimulus bill.

The initial kick start of a market-wide recovery from the stimulus, combined with a low-interest-rate environment, created a favorable macro backdrop. The analysts at Skew said:

“One more day to go and still looking like second best quarterly close for #bitcoin but it's a close call with Q2 2020.”

Throughout the year’s end, there are three key fundamental and macro factors that could buoy Bitcoin’s sentiment, namely the weakening U.S. dollar, the prospect of a stimulus package and vaccines.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar is continuing to show weakness against reserve currencies, in the likes of the yen, yuan and franc as the Fed has doubled down on its average inflation targeting strategy. 

But while the prolonged weakness of the dollar might put the U.S. stock market at risk of underperforming against other markets, it should directly benefit Bitcoin and gold, which are priced against the USD.

Government investment firm develops blockchain health passport in Singapore

Government investment firm develops blockchain health passport in Singapore

Singapore continues to apply blockchain in its public administration.

In a pandemic era of unprecedented health data collection and surveillance, Singapore is turning to blockchain technology for the infrastructure that can make it work. 

Government-owned investment firm SGInnovate and Singaporean startup Accredify have jointly developed a new blockchain-powered digital health passport, according to a report on Sept. 30.

Development work on the application, which allows personal medical data to be stored in a blockchain-secured digital wallet, began in May. 

A successful pilot in July showed that the app was capable of managing and verifying digitized healthcare documents — including COVID-19 discharge memos, swab results, immunity proof, and vaccination records — more than 1.5 million times.

For the pilot, the health passport app was introduced as a new feature in the Singapore Manpower Ministry's FWMOMCARE app. The latter is a mobile application which was launched in May to help monitor and report migrant workers’ daily health status during the pandemic.

SGInnovate is funded by Singapore’s Ministry of Finance and has a track record of engagement with the blockchain space

The digital health passport app has been built on the Open Attestation platform — an open-sourced framework for notarising documents using the blockchain, developed by the Singapore government's CIO office, GovTech. 

SGInnovate’s deputy director of venture building, Simon Gordn, has said that “as the pandemic tested Singapore's healthcare sector, we identified a gap in the large-scale management of medical records.” “We wanted to quickly build a solution that enables a trusted authentication process,” he added.

In a joint statement, SGInnovate and Accredigy have said that the app will remove reliance on paper-based documents, which can be lost or tampered with. SGInnovate explained:

"Digital Health Passport leverages blockchain technology to generate tamper-proof cryptographic protections for each medical document. Users can automatically verify the digital records via a mobile app and present it to officials via QR code, for a quick and seamless verification process." 

The company underscored the key advantages of blockchain technology in the field of healthcare data, insofar as it offers greater transparency, security and privacy for managing sensitive documents.

As previously reported, various companies and organizations worldwide have been exploring blockchain solutions for digital health passports and digital identity management as they attempt to open up their economies during the pandemic.

Crypto Finance Conference to host industry experts in-person in January 2021

Crypto Finance Conference to host industry experts in-person in January 2021

Physical crypto events come back, but with a set of strict COVID-19 measures.

As the world is battling to recover from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a major cryptocurrency event in Switzerland prepares to take return to a physical format.

Crypto Finance Conference (CfC), an international crypto event held in St. Moritz, will take place from Jan. 20–22, 2021, and feature speakers from key industry firms and institutions like Winklevoss Capital, Swiss National Bank, the European Parliament, Ledger and others. Cointelegraph will serve as the main media partner for the CfC St. Moritz 2021.

The upcoming conference is the fourth annual iteration of CfC and will be different from previous events — the conference will prioritize the health and safety of attendees with a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy.

Available on the CfC website, the strategy outlines a wide set of preventive measures for pre-event and on-site safety like mandatory face masks, strict cleaning and disinfecting policies, and social distancing rules. The strategy also limits the event capacity to 250 people and requires the guests to use the SwissCovid app for contact and symptom tracing.

According to CfC organizers, the measures come in line with requirements from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. CEO of CfC St. Moritz Nicolo Stoehr said that “physical encounters and personal exchanges are more necessary than ever and will be possible under strict hygiene rules.”

The CfC St. Moritz 2021 website states that the conference preparations “are in full swing.” 

“The challenges caused by COVID-19 require additional efforts, which we as the organizer are happy to take on. We believe that the unique experience at CfC St. Moritz is not possible without physical interaction and personal exchange — and are even the more sought after, particularly if appropriate measures are in place,” it reads.

Confirmed speakers at CfC St. Moritz 2021 include major industry figures like CoinShares CSO Meltem Demirors and Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano. The event will also feature European Parliament Member Eva Kaili and Thomas Moser, an alternate member of the governing board at Swiss National Bank. Other speakers include Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier, Winklevoss Capital’s Jane Lippencott, and XBTO’s Philippe Bekhazi.

The application-only conference will host a number of keynote speeches and panel discussions on important industry topics like cryptocurrency regulation, central bank digital currencies and stablecoins, as well as crypto investment strategies. The event will also be available online.

Crypto events going virtual amid the 2020 pandemic

The CfC St. Moritz 2021 will purportedly be among the first global crypto events featuring physical encounters after most events in 2020 went online or were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortly after the World Health Association officially labeled the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic on March 12, a number of major crypto conferences like Consensus announced their plans to move conferences from physical sites to online. BlockShow, a global blockchain event powered by Cointelegraph, partnered with San Francisco Blockchain Week to host the first-ever online trade show called Unitize in July 2020.