From Call Centers to Cryptos: India’s Scammers Don’t Seem to Stop

As cryptos gain ground in India and Bitcoin price spikes, Indian scammers are likely to make the most of the opportunity.

India is the hub for call center scams. Call it a lack of strict regulatory measures to stop such activities or the scammers’ resilience to start over every time their business is busted, but call center scams have only grown more prevalent in the country.

With cryptocurrencies slowly gaining ground in the subcontinent, groups of scammers are also taking advantage of Indians’ increased interest in digital assets.

The founder and CEO of a blockchain and cryptocurrency research company Crebaco, Sidharth Sogani, told Cointelegraph that so far, multi-level marketing schemes and “fixed return” crypto investment schemes are the most common.

Sogani said that new and inexperienced cryptocurrency users often choose to overlook the technicalities of these investment schemes and put in their funds right away in order to make a quick buck. 

Individuals operating these scams also target rich people with black money who cannot deposit their funds in bank accounts or invest in other assets.

Upon receiving the funds, the scam operators launder the money in other countries, Sogani stated. 

Between 2017 and 2019, Indian investors have lost almost $500 million to scams operated within India and abroad. 

Cointelegraph also reported that scammers are targeting rich Indian businessmen to steal huge sums of money in one fell swoop. Two such businessmen lost $50,000 and $3 million to crypto scams.

Sogani stressed that it was crucial for Indian regulators to step into the crypto space and create laws that can safeguard crypto users from scams. As cryptocurrency prices start to rise again, there will be more scams as people invest due to a fear of missing out. He said banning cryptos will not solve the problem as people will still continue to invest directly in cash:

“I believe a compliance framework is necessary for all crypto projects willing to operate in India. Once that is done, things will improve. Users will learn about crypto and awareness will rise only when the government tells them that this ecosystem is regulated.”

World’s Biggest Business Intelligence Firm Buys 21K BTC for $250M

MicroStrategy confirms it has made Bitcoin its primary treasury reserve asset as institutional uptake takes a dramatic bullish step forward.

The world’s largest publicly traded business intelligence company MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR) has formally adopted Bitcoin (BTC) as its primary reserve asset.

In a press release issued on Aug. 11, MicroStrategy confirmed it had purchased 21,454 BTC for $250 million.

MicroStrategy: Move “reflects our belief in Bitcoin”

Michael J. Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, commented in the press release:

“This investment reflects our belief that Bitcoin, as the world’s most widely-adopted cryptocurrency, is a dependable store of value and an attractive investment asset with more long-term appreciation potential than holding cash.”

The move marks a watershed moment for institutional uptake of Bitcoin, and did not go unnoticed by commentators.

“I suggested 6 months ago, we are now starting to see businesses owning Bitcoin as a marketable security on their balance sheet,” well-known commentator Preston Pysh responded on Twitter.  

“MicroStrategy Adopts Bitcoin as Primary Treasury Reserve Asset.  Just. Getting. Started.”

1-month MSTR stock price performance

1-month MSTR stock price performance. Source: Nasdaq

Originally announced on July 28, the move has nonetheless had a noticeable impact on MicroStrategy’s stock price, which has gained 5.7% since.

Barry Silbert, CEO of crypto investment giant Grayscale, also praised the company’s decision.

He tweeted:

“MicroStrategy, a $1.2 billion company, just turned itself into a publicly-traded bitcoin play. Smart.”

Report: Regulators Reject CZ’s Application to Become Shareholder in Troubled Bank

Alleged attempts to bring Binance CEO CZ on as anchor shareholder in a troubled Liechtenstein bank have reportedly been blocked by regulators.

Liechtenstein’s Financial Market Authority (FMA) has reportedly pulled the plug on an alleged application to bring Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao on as a major shareholder in a distressed domestic bank.

As reported by Swiss financial news outlet Inside Paradeplatz on Aug. 10, the FMA rejected the purported application and also declined to approve an extension for further expert opinion that could intercede to save the rumored deal.

In November 2019, Zurich-based commercial lawyer Wolfram Kuoni had reportedly addressed Union Bank AG’s shareholders, claiming:

“The FMA is likely to accept Binance as shareholder. However, given that [Union Bank] as of now in default of the [FMA] order regarding own funds, FMA has made it clear that Binance must file to application for approval as shareholder and pay in amount of CHF 15 million ($15.17 million) to escrow account for a later capital increase by the end of November." 

Union Bank has notably been mired in severe financial and legal difficulties. One of its reported early backers, Ukrainian entrepreneur Konstantyn Zhevago, has been on an international wanted list for alleged fraud and money laundering since December 2019. 

Seeking new shareholders to salvage the institution’s future, Kuomi had allegedly hoped to relaunch Union Bank AG as a platform for crypto customers.

In private correspondence with Cointelegraph, a Binance representative wrote that “Binance did not try to put CZ (Changpeng Zhao) on the board.” 

The representative added that “Binance was not rejected by the Liechtenstein Financial Marketing Authority (FMA) as reported for an ‘application for Union Bank to bring on Binance as a major shareholder.’”

Previously, Binance’s chief financial officer Wei Zhou had categorically denied the rumored application by the exchange to become a shareholder, saying it was inaccurate. 

An official statement published yesterday by Union Bank AG indicates that at an Aug. 7 general meeting, “the shareholders of Union Bank AG resolved to voluntarily liquidate the bank.”

The reason for the liquidation was the bank’s failure to meet the capital adequacy requirements of the European Capital Adequacy Ordinance . 

According to the statement, the bank failed to meet these requirements because no shareholder that could have contributed the necessary funds, and would be acceptable to the FMA, could be found:

“In recent months, the Board of Directors has intensively reviewed various options that would have permitted the continuation of operational banking activities under a new anchor shareholder and with a significantly higher capital base. It was not possible to renew the group of shareholders, although intensive negotiations were held with interested parties, some of which have also gone through the regulatory approval process.”

Responding to earlier reports into the alleged deal, Binance’s CFO said at the time that the exchange “"would be open to exploring a partnership with Union Bank and its new investors. Binance is committed to adding safe and reliable fiat channels to drive crypto adoption around the world.”

Today’s comment from Binance appears to uphold a hard and fast line between any rumored initiative to bring on CZ as an anchor shareholder and the exchange itself.

Inside Paradeplatz’s report today characterized the purportedly attempted deal with CZ as having been Kuoni’s “last remaining chance” to save the bank. 

The deal purportedly faced significant regulatory pushback as CZ had reportedly aspired to supply the funds by converting his illiquid crypto holdings into francs via a complex process, which included the creation of a new entity called the CL1 Foundation. 

The FMA’s decision to reject the alleged application was drawn on its conclusion that five out of five criteria for reputable bank management had not been met. 

As of press time, the FMA has not replied to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Bitcoin Price Rises in Tandem With Central Banks’ Balance Sheets — Data

Charts show a pleasing correlation between central bank Coronavirus fallout and Bitcoin returns, with anticipation building around an investor influx.

Bitcoin (BTC) is becoming investors’ favored escape from fiat misery and punitive economic policy — and central banks are only helping.

In a tweet on Aug. 11, popular commentator Holger Zschaepitz described Bitcoin as the “new darling” for those seeking shelter from hurdles such as negative interest rates.

Bitcoin primed to become “fastest horse”

The past few months have seen the United States Federal Reserve, in particular, intervene in traditional markets, buying huge swathes of control at a cost of trillions of dollars added to its balance sheet.

As the money printing expanded, so did Bitcoin’s value, Zschaepitz noted.

“Bitcoin is the new darling among investors in time of negative real rates and as the price of cryptocurrency follows the combined balance sheet of Central Banks,” he summarized.

Zschaepitz linked to favorable Bitcoin exposure in German mass media outlet Die Welt, which highlighted belief in Bitcoin over gold and silver by Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”

Kiyosaki is famous for his Bitcoin support, continuing elsewhere last week as the largest cryptocurrency topped $12,000.

“GOLD is up 35% in 2020. S&P only 3%. Silver is still the best, still 30% below all time high. Best because it is limited in quantity, used in industry and still affordable for those with tight budgets,” he tweeted

“The sleeper is Bitcoin. I suspect it is about to become the fastest horse.”

Central banks’ balance sheet versus BTC/USD

Central banks’ balance sheet versus BTC/USD. Source: Holger Zschaepitz/ Twitter

Last week, Raoul Pal, CEO and founder of Real Vision, highlighted that Bitcoin was the only asset to outperform central bank balance sheet rises.

Fed keeps 3% “junk” bonds

The relationship with ballooning central bank debt thus shows Bitcoin delivering on its original premise — to shield users from risk engineered by the parties in control of the currency.

As Cointelegraph has often reported, the release of the Bitcoin whitepaper coincided with a now-infamous article in the United Kingdom newspaper, The Times, which contained a front-page headline “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks.”

Meanwhile, data from the U.S. Fed underscores the extent of this year’s interventions — at present, a staggering 3% of its corporate bond holdings are rated “BB,” commonly known as “junk” status.

The numbers form part of the Fed’s Coronavirus response package, which has itself come under repeated heavy criticism from pro-Bitcoin parties. Among them is RT host, Max Keiser, who has accused the U.S. of returning the country to a state reminiscent of the Middle Ages, something he calls “neo-feudalism.”

Cyprus SEC Blacklists 7 Investment and Crypto-Related Websites

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission blacklists another batch of allegedly illegal firms offering crypto and FX trading.

Cyprus, a major international business center and tax haven, is warning investors against several suspicious websites offering foreign exchange and digital currency investment.

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning against seven firms that have apparently been operating illegally.

Published by the CySEC on Aug. 6, the warning document says that none of the listed companies belong to an entity that has been granted approval for providing investment services. The list notes fxg.market, 247firstinvest.com, keyoncapital.com, procloudoptions.online, cryptotradecentr.com, fxgrowcapital.com, and meritkapital.net.

One of the blacklisted websites, cryptotradecentr.com, positions itself as a multinational fintech company providing a wide range of trading services. The allegedly fraudulent firm offers trading of forex and contract for differences on shares, indices, commodities, as well as cryptocurrencies on its main page as of publishing. 

Claiming to be headquartered in Australia and Luxembourg, Crypto Trade Center says that it is licensed and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier, a major financial regulator in Luxembourg.

The CySEC has been actively monitoring global investment services to protect investors from fraudulent offerings. In May 2020, the authority blacklisted another bunch of crypto and forex exchange-related websites including a company known as “Binance Capital Options.”

According to online reports, Binance Capital Options has no connection with the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance. Instead, the firm was a clone website scam that aimed to defraud investors using corporate details of a legit company. On its website, Binance Capital Options still claims to be regulated by the CySEC.

Bitcoin Price Is in ‘Early Main Bull Phase’ Circa Q4 2016 — Willy Woo

Q4 2016 is the name of the game under current conditions, Woo says, but institutional investor presence makes this year very different.

Bitcoin (BTC) is copying what it did a year before its $20,000 all-time highs and the new bull market has been here for over a year already.

That was according to popular statistician Willy Woo, who this week shed further light on Bitcoin’s current price gains.

Woo: Bitcoin “early main bull phase” began recently

In a series of tweets on Aug. 10, Woo continued a debate begun by Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song, who himself debated the topic in the latest issue of his Tech Talk blog post series.

“Yes. The bull market really started April 2019,” Woo responded, continuing:

“What’s started recently is the early main bull phase, it’s Q4 2016 all over again, but different dynamics and themes at play.”

BTC/USD hit $12,000 twice in recent days, managing to hold support at $11,500 in a long-awaited show of strength that has given many analysts cause for long-term optimism. 

Despite failing to flip $12,000 to support, Bitcoin remains firmly bullish, both sentiment and technical fundamentals-based evidence suggests.

For Woo, the composition of the market formed a major difference in maturity between this year and 2016 — maturity which historically has dictated both price trajectory and volatility.

“One of the themes is the legitimisation of BTC for large institutional funds, and also the easy accessibility to buy crypto for the masses with the likes of square cash, paypal, and not to mention the one I’m working on LVL which is real regulated banking integrated with crypto,” he continued.

Woo said that he expected sovereign wealth funds to adopt Bitcoin during the current bull cycle, and continue during the next.

He concluded:

“I think this cycle BTC gets to prove itself as a legit macro asset bucket for traditional investors, while the cycle after this it overtakes gold to be the significant digital SoV for a digital age.”

Bitcoin logarithmic growth curves chart

Bitcoin logarithmic growth curves chart. Source: LookIntoBitcoin

Macro investor eyes 10x returns this cycle

The prognosis chimes with conclusions made by macro investor Dan Tapeiro, who predicted that Bitcoin would seal dramatic gains of five to ten times its current value during this bull cycle.

“Tremendous long term Log Chart of #Bitcoin projects up 5-10x on this run,” he tweeted uploading five-year price performance, adding:

“Just breaking up NOW. Should last a few years as 2.5yr consolidation is fantastic base for catapult up. Break of old highs will have explosive follow through. Time to sit and be patient.”

In May, fellow analyst Positive Crypto argued that Bitcoin had in fact been in an “accumulation” phase for almost 900 days — and that the consolidation would soon be broken, which subsequently happened weeks later.

Meanwhile, a survey by quant analyst PlanB revealed increasing bullish sentiment among investors, with over 50% believing that BTC/USD would trade above $100,000 by December 2021.

Bitcoin’s price action was “perfectly on track” vis-a-vis his stock-to-flow model, he added previously.

Russia’s New Crypto Analytics System to Track Dash and Monero

Dubbed “Transparent Blockchain,” Russia’s new crypto analytics system is designed to fight illicit activity related to crypto.

A major financial watchdog in Russia is developing a new cryptocurrency analytics tool to trace major cryptos like Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy coins.

Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service, a federal service combating money laundering and terrorist financing, is reportedly planning to build a new analytics platform for tracking cryptocurrency transactions via artificial intelligence, or AI.

Dubbed “Transparent Blockchain,” the new system is designed to track the movement of digital financial assets and identify crypto service providers to fight illicit activity related to digital assets, local news agency RBC reports Aug. 10.

According to the report, the new system is able to “partially reduce anonymity” of transactions involving major coins like Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Omni (OMNI) as well as privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Dash (DASH) and Monero (XMR).

As reported, the financial regulator has successfully piloted a prototype system to fight drug trafficking. The system was developed in collaboration with a major Russian research institute, the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the report notes. 

The project has reportedly been funded by extra-budgetary resources so far but would require additional funding. According to preliminary data, Russian “Transparent Blockchain” will require about 760 million rubles ($10.3 million) from the federal budget from 2021 till 2023. The targeted customers of the new platform reportedly include major financial institutions like Russia’s central bank.

The news comes shortly after Russia officially passed its major cryptocurrency-related bill “On Digital Financial Assets.” Set to be adopted in January 2021, the new law prohibits the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a payment method. Earlier in August, Russia’s lawmakers passed new amendments to the law “On National Payment System,” banning anonymous deposits to major online wallets like Yandex, WebMoney, PayPal and Kiwi.

Mitsubishi Launches Blockchain Platform for Metal Trading

The metals and minerals subsidiary of Mitsubishi has launched a blockchain platform to digitize metal trades.

The metals and minerals resource trading subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation RtM Japan Ltd, has launched a blockchain platform named ECO for precious metals trading.

Developed by Mitsubishi in partnership with the American blockchain company Skuchain, the platform is built on top of Skuchain’s EC3 platform for blockchain-based supply chain management and finance.

According to the official announcement, ECO will ease metal trades between counterparties by generating, managing and executing invoices and trade confirmations. 

For the start, Mitsubishi will only bring its “most valued customers” on the platform but it plans to soon expand and implement ECO to cover a wider portion of its supply chain system. 

Using the ECO platform, trading parties will be able to sign trade documents and upload them on the blockchain. They can then share the signed documents with others in real-time and hide any commercially sensitive information that they do not want to reveal.

The company said it will be adding more features to ECO in the future to solve other crucial supply chain challenges in the metal trading industry.

Mitsubishi Group has been proactive in the blockchain space.  Cointelegraph recently reported that Mitsubishi’s financial subsidiary Mitsubishi UFJ Group, or MUFG, was collaborating with LayerX to promote digitization for companies and government agencies. It was also reported last month that the financial giant is planning to launch its own stablecoin.

Earlier this year, the company was included in the Singapore government’s 16-company alliance to drive trade digitization through the use of blockchain technology.

Australian Hacker Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for $300K XRP Theft

An Australian woman is facing more than two years in prison after stealing more than $300K in XRP tokens in January 2018.

A judge has sentenced Australian citizen Kathryn Nguyen to a maximum time of 2 years and 3 months in prison for her role in stealing more than 100,000 XRP tokens in January 2018.

According to an Aug. 11 report in Australian publication Information Age, Nguyen was sentenced over the theft of more than $300,000 in XRP two years ago. She was initially charged in Oct. 2018 and pled guilty to fraud charges the following August.

Chris Craigie, the judge presiding over Nguyen’s case, said it was a “difficult and troubling decision” to send her to prison. The Australian national will reportedly be eligible for parole in October 2021.

First Australian crypto fraud case

Nguyen was one of the first people to be charged with the theft of crypto assets in Australia.

In January 2018, she reportedly hacked into the email of a 56-year-old man with the same last name as her and stole all his XRP holdings before releasing control of the account two days later. This was at a time when the crypto asset was near its all-time high of $3.84.

Nguyen reportedly transferred the XRP holdings to a Chinese crypto exchange where she swapped the tokens for Bitcoin (BTC), sending them to multiple wallets in what may have been an attempt to launder the funds. According to local news outlet 7News Sydney, authorities in China were only able to recover roughly $9,000.

XRP falls out of favor

The value of XRP has since dropped to $0.30 as of this writing, making the amount of crypto stolen now worth approximately $30,000.

What Would the Re-Election of Alexander Lukashenko Mean for Crypto?

A contested election between president Alexander Lukashenko and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya leaves the future of crypto in Belarus in limbo.

Protests have erupted in Belarus following the country’s presidential election on Sunday, but the possible continued presidency of Alexander Lukashenko may be good news for crypto.

Lukashenko reportedly won re-election against opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in a landslide victory with more than 80% of the vote on Aug. 9. However, officials from many nations and within Belarus are condemning the election results as flawed, with reports of falsified ballots. 

‘Europe's last dictator’

The president of the eastern European nation has served since 1994, during which time he has made a number of statements in favor of blockchain technology since legalizing cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings in Dec. 2017. 

In an April 2019 video of Lukashenko addressing a crowd, the president proposed using excess energy from the country’s first nuclear power plant — scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 — to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and sell them. 

His words were met with laughter from the audience, but Bitcoin bull Anthony Pompliano responded to them by saying “every country will be mining and every country will be holding Bitcoin.”

Crypto legislation

Belarus has not been at the forefront of cryptocurrency and blockchain discussions around the world, but the nation has implemented a few legislative changes. 

In March, a state authority in Belarus asked lawmakers for the authority to seize cryptocurrency from criminals. The country’s central bank is also reportedly setting up a program to allow commercial and state-owned banks to launch tokens and conduct business as crypto exchanges.

USDA Proposes Blockchain Ledger for Organic Product Supply Chain

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing the department utilize DLT to trace the supply chain of organic products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed amending its rules on organic products to include implementing blockchain technology to trace its supply chain.

According to an Aug. 5 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency said it expects electronic tracking systems, including digital ledger technology (DLT), will play an “essential role” in the traceability of its supply chain of organic products.

“DLT can provide secure, verifiable, transparent, and near-instantaneous tracking at the item level in complex supply chains,” the report stated. “Critically, DLT can also protect confidential business information and trade secret information by automatically restricting sensitive information to authorized entities.”

However, the agency acknowledged that utilizing an emergent technology like DLT would require additional time and development before a system could be implemented in the organic food industry. 

“Barriers to widespread adoption of an electronic tracking system include inadequate access to technology and connectivity in rural areas, acceptance of universal electronic standards (interoperability), and distribution of costs,” the proposed amendment stated. 

Test cases for supply chains

The USDA report did not mention blockchain technology by name, but cited several pilot programs as references, including Walmart using blockchain traceability systems for mangos and pork, Swiss-headquartered food retail giant Nestlé testing a public blockchain for its milk supply chain, and U.S.-based seafood firm Bumble Bee Foods monitoring the supply chain of yellowfin tuna from Indonesia.

Any individuals, businesses, or organizations participating in the global organic agricultural product supply chain that are not currently required to be certified under USDA’s existing program can review the proposed rule and submit comments before October 5.

Ethereum Classic’s Leadership Says They Don’t Need Charles Hoskinson’s Bailout

ETC quickly sidelines an interesting offer from Charles Hoskinson.

Cardano (ADA) founder Charles Hoskinson recently offered to help the troubled Ethereum Classic (ETC) community, but it came with a major condition. The community would first have to institute a decentralized treasury system, similar to Hoskinson’s Cardano and many other blockchain projects. If the community did not accept his terms, Hoskinson felt like his help would have been a waste of time and money:

“It's not worth my company's time or our strategies to pivot for a grant or a one off payment to go and bail us out. If there is a treasury system, it means that I can be in the business of building open source innovations and open source software and bringing these things to market and be paid to do that patent free and open source.”

Ethereum Classic recently suffered multiple 51% attacks, leaving the project’s fate uncertain. According to Hoskinson, his Cardano development company, IOHK, has done quite a bit of research in the proof-of-work space and may have a way to prevent similar attacks from occurring on the network in future.

IOHK has developed a hybrid proof-of-work, proof-of-stake protocol that also employs a periodic checkpoint system to prevent hostile network reorganizations. Hoskinson still has a 15-man team working on this project, but he is not willing to make any future commitments unless Ethereum Classic leadership accepts his terms.

Despite leaving the Ethereum project to work on Cardano, Hoskinson believes that it is still his moral obligation to help the project.

Yet Hoskinson lamented that despite him helping the Ethereum Classic community in the past, he has been treated unfairly by its leadership. Terry Culver, CEO of ETC Labs and ETC Core, released this statement to Cointelegraph in response to Hoskinson’s offer:

"As an open-source, decentralized community, we welcome all ideas and appreciate that so many people in the blockchain community have reached out to us. That said, we're not waiting for someone else to step in. We are a focused team who are passionate for ETC, and we will work diligently to ensure a bright future for ETC."

Apparently, the ETC community feels it has enough internal resources to deal with the difficult situation before them.

DeFi Tokens BAND, LINK, Outpace Bitcoin Price by Gaining 100% in 10 Days

Strong growth in the DeFi sector led Band Protocol (BAND) and Chainlink (LINK) to gain more than 100% over the past few weeks.

This week Bitcoin (BTC) price is making waves as the digital asset finally pushed above the $12K mark, but prior to this move, altcoins have been strongly outpeforming BTC for weeks. 

Two of the most notable performers are Band Protocol (BAND) and Chainlink (LINK) as both surged by 348% and 88% in the past ten days. Each functions as an oracle blockchain network that supplies data to Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications.

Since the start of August, BAND price rose from $3.9 to as high as $17.78 and in the same period, LINK surged from $7.6 to $14.45 at its peak on Aug 10.

BAND and LINK performances side by side

BAND and LINK performances side by side. Source: TradeBlock

What’s behind the DeFi token pump?

The primary factor behind the strong rally is the explosive growth of the DeFi sector. 

DeFi applications allow users to carry out various financial activities like trading, loans, and also earning interest from crypto lending. 

In order for DeFi platforms to run seamlessly, they need to fetch market data from various websites and blockchain networks and this is where orcacles come into use. Oracles are required within smart contracts to obtain necessary data to run DeFi platforms. Hence, when the DeFi sector expands, the blockchain networks providing oracles benefit from it. 

A TradeBlock research paper explains:

“Oracles allow for off-chain data to be integrated with the smart contract parameters that exist on public blockchains. In the figure below, we compare price gains between ChainLink (LINK) and Band Protocol (BAND) over the past three months.”

Data from Defi Pulse shows that since June 1, the total value locked in DeFi apps surged from $1.048 billion to $4.76 billion. As more capital has entered the DeFi market, the demand for oracles also increased.

The main difference between Band Protocol and Chainlink is that the former is based on Cosmos, and the latter operates on top of the Ethereum network. Cosmos is a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain, while Ethereum is in the process of moving over to PoS through ETH 2.0.

BAND has seen substantially larger gains than Chainlink over the past several weeks due to a large gap in valuation. Currently, LINK is valued at over $4 billion, whereas, BAND is valued at $308 million despite its 348% gain.

Researchers at Messari explained that BAND followed a similar path as Chainlink, which spurred its growth. They said:

“BAND has recently taken a page straight out of the LINK handbook with a slew of partnership and integration announcements, including a Coinbase Pro listing. Up over 32x on the year, its relative valuation play and anchor to LINK has worked so far.”

The timeline of BAND’s rally

The timeline of BAND’s rally. Source: Messari

Will demand for oracles increase?

Kelvin Koh, co-founder of Asia-based venture capital firm Spartan Black said he expects BAND to continue its upward momentum. Over the next 12 months, Koh said he anticipates BAND to close the valuation gap. He said:

“Despite BAND’s significant re-rating YTD, it is worth noting that its circulating market cap is still only 5% of LINK’s while FD market cap is 10%. This is fair currently given BAND’s nascent stage but I expect the valuation gap will continue to close in the next 12 months as BAND scales.”

Since BAND and LINK are based on differing blockchain networks, they will also likely support separate DeFi ecosystems based on Ethereum and Cosmos.

IOTA Revs Its Engines for Mainnet Upgrade Launch

Chrysalis is barely a week away from going live.

The IOTA network is preparing to launch the first phase of Chrysalis, also known as IOTA 1.5, on its mainnet sometime next week.

According to a tweet published by the IOTA Foundation, the upgrade will allow the network to process 1,000 transactions per second, and will institute 10-second confirmation times.

In June, the foundation also released the latest version of its node software, Hornet. This paved the way for IOTA 1.5 following a community-driven stress test, which resulted in a stable network with more than 150 nodes. Testing showed that the upgraded network consumed 10 times less memory than IOTA’s previous node software.

In May, a decentralized social media team called Society2 began work on an IOTA-based DeSM framework. This project aimed to enable a new standard in privacy, control, and interoperability between social media platforms.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, another team based in Madrid released an Iota-based platform to help combat the coronavirus.

Compound Gets Ready to Deploy Decentralized Oracle

Open Price Feed could be a big step forward for Compound.

The Compound protocol is set to introduce Open Price Feed — a decentralized oracle whose crypto market prices will allow the project’s lending system to function.

The Open Price Feed is currently being tested on a variety of networks. It has operated for almost two weeks on the Ethereum (ETH) Kovan and Ropsten testnet for almost two weeks, and its price feeds have been available for 10 days on mainnet. On Ropsten, a proposal to use the new price feed locked in on Aug. 6.

Compound developers are calling the community to test the new system in order to integrate it into the protocol as quickly as possible. The system has been continuously audited as each new feature was integrated.

The system relies on price reporters and posters. The reporters will be exchanges, initially just Coinbase Pro, who will regularly sign price data with their public key. Posters, on the other hand, will be responsible for publishing this signed data to the blockchain. Posters are permissionless, meaning that anyone could become one if they wish.

In addition to Coinbase Pro, the system also uses the on-chain Uniswap V2 price feed as a fallback. Called the anchor price, it acts as a sanity check on input from other exchanges. If the price being reported deviates over 20% from a 30-60 minute time-weighted average of Uniswap prices, the off-chain data will be ignored. 

The time-weighted average is required to protect from potential attacks on Uniswap, especially those involving flash loans.

Other price data providers are expected to be onboarded via governance by COMP token holders. It is also possible that after some time and enough price data reporters, the system will stop using the Uniswap fallback.

In June, Compound launched its protocol token, which gives holders the ability to participate in the protocol’s decisions. About 50% is set to be distributed to users of the protocol through a somewhat controversial liquidity mining incentive. The rest remains allocated to previous Compound investors and the team, though none of it is held by the company.

Through this distribution, the protocol is no longer being operated by Compound Labs, Inc. The introduction of a permissionless oracle is an additional measure to reduce Compound’s reliance on its founding team.

Mobile Crypto Scam Targets Wealthy Indian Investors

Scammers are going to greater lengths than ever to acquire other people’s crypto.

A new cryptocurrency scam in India is targeting wealthy individuals using a fake mobile app.

According to India TV News, cybercriminals are targeting high income individuals across India. Victims receive messages through social media groups asking them to sell and buy Bitcoin through a mobile app.

This app, which supposedly acts as a crypto exchange, is actually entirely fraudulent. Once a user’s Bitcoin is deposited on the fake exchange, the scammers stop responding to queries from the victim and disappear.

Manan Shah, founder and CEO of Avalance Global Solutions, said that an unidentified man lost over $50,000 while dealing with one of the fake platforms. One of the most significant cases involved another unnamed Indian businessman who was scammed out of the USD equivalent of $3 million.

Sumit Gupta, co-founder and CEO of local crypto exchange CoinDCX, believes that more fraudulent crypto services will appear as Blockchain-based assets continue to grow in popularity throughout India.

Cointelegraph previously reported that Indian police have registered a case against five individuals suspected of involvement in a cryptocurrency scam that has defrauded investors since 2017.

Despite operating for several years, the scammers are only believed to have made off with a modest bounty of $34,200.

Crypto OG HempCoin Relisted by Bittrex After Year in the Wilderness

HempCoin Founder and CEO, Tim Renzetti, tells Cointelegraph about the token’s journey so far and plans for the future.

HempCoin (THC), one of the first 30 cryptocurrencies ever created, has been relisted by cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex. Before being delisted in 2019, HempCoin was a top-100 token on CoinMarketCap, trading over $10 million a day.

HempCoin founder and CEO Tim Renzetti spoke to Cointelegraph about the coin’s rejuvenation and his plans for future development of the platform.

Renzetti first discovered crypto in 2013 and started the HempCoin blockchain as a community project in December of that year. This preempted the farm bill of 2018, which paved the way for the legalization of cannabis in the United States. He said:

“My initial thought on crypto was that eventually industries and divisions of the economy would each gravitate towards one particular crypto. This would help maintain the value within each as, for example, if the oil industry collapses then the agriculture industry wouldn’t. I wanted HempCoin to be the Agriculture Coin, representing a 2 trillion dollar industry worldwide.”

Bittrex picked up HempCoin and listed THC on its exchange in March 2014. However, by the end of 2014 Renzetti had moved on to other non-crypto-related business ventures, in the belief that the project and community would tick along nicely without him.

He revisited the project in early 2017, when interest in all things crypto was starting to explode, and put together a direction and future plan that the community could work with.

During the crypto-boom of 2017, HempCoin soared in value, aided by an enhanced social media presence. It broke into the top-100 coins on CMC, hitting a peak market cap of $170 million in January 2018 and trading over $10 million per day on Bittrex.

Renzetti had big ideas to expand HempCoin by adding a seed-to-sale supply chain traceability platform called HempTRAC. This would have been aimed not just at the cannabis industry, but encompassing the whole of the agriculture and farming sector, he says:

“In 2018 I wanted to change our technology to have a data platform on the THC blockchain and brought on a project manager to help facilitate this change. Because I am not a coder and did not have a dev team I searched for teams that offered this solution.”

He settled on Komodo for its technical capabilities and security, and made agreements with Komodo and Bittrex to facilitate the change. Komodo was to create the new THC technology, while Bittrex was to migrate the code and convert old THC for new THC. At the time, over two-thirds of the total THC supply was held in customers wallets on the exchange.

“I paid both companies for the change and started the process,” said Renzetti “Unfortunately it fell foul of Bittrex’s developing legal and regulatory position. They announced THC was to be delisted which rocked our community.”

Renzetti has spent the last year trying to get relisted on Bittrex, acknowledging that the major exchange listing was always HempCoin’s biggest asset. Meanwhile, Bittrex has been limiting the coins that it supports in the U.S. and moving tokens to its Bittrex Global platform.

As of July 2020, HempCoin had finally been relisted with Bittrex Global. Renzetti now hopes to develop or fund the completion of the HempTRAC platform.

“The HempTRAC platform will encompass all facets of data pertaining to the agriculture/farming industry worldwide. We have many farmers waiting to utilize our platform to make it easier to manage the production supply chain.”

Price Analysis 8/10: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, LINK, BSV, LTC, ADA, BNB, CRO

Bitcoin price continues to decline at $12,000, but altcoins have taken advantage of the range bound action by rallying higher.

Traders prefer to trade a trending market as it generally moves in one direction and the retracements offer low-risk entry opportunities. This is because a trade that follows the major trend carries a greater possibility of earning profits than one in a volatile market. 

As several cryptocurrencies started a trending move in July, web traffic to the crypto exchanges also increased by 13%, according to data from ICO Analytics.

Daily cryptocurrency market performance

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

The derivatives market also comes alive when the underlying market is trending as professional traders use leverage to make quick profits using the futures and options route. This could be one of the reasons for the sustained increase in Ethereum (ETH) options open interest over the past three months.

Several reasons can be attributed to the start of a trending move in an asset class. Max Keiser believes that capital fleeing Asia is one of the main reasons for the sharp rally in Bitcoin (BTC). 

Let’s analyze the charts of the major cryptocurrencies to find out whether the uptrend is likely to resume or is it time for a correction to start.

BTC/USD

The bulls are attempting to push Bitcoin above the overhead resistance of $12,113.50, which is a positive sign. This suggests that the bulls are not booking profits yet, which is frustrating the traders who have been left out because they are forced to buy at higher levels.

BTC/USD daily chart

BTC/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

Both moving averages are sloping up and the relative strength index is in the overbought zone, which suggests that bulls are in command.

A breakout and close (UTC time) above $12,113.50 is likely to resume the uptrend. There is a minor resistance at $12,304.37 but that is likely to be crossed. Above this level, the uptrend can reach $13,000 and above it $14,000.

Contrary to this assumption, if the bears aggressively defend the $12,113.50 level, the BTC/USD pair might correct to the 20-day exponential moving average ($11,052). A strong bounce off this level will increase the possibility of a break above the overhead resistance. 

However, if the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA, it will signal weakness. Below this level a retest of the $10,400 level is possible. A drop below this support will signal that the bears are back in the game.

ETH/USD

Ether (ETH) has been trading above the breakout level of $366 for the past few days, which is a huge positive as it shows that the bulls are not hurrying to liquidate their positions. This suggests that the bulls expect the uptrend to continue.

ETH/USD daily chart

ETH/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

Both moving averages are sloping up and the RSI is in the overbought zone, which indicates that the path of least resistance is to the upside. A breakout and close (UTC time) above $415.634 will signal a resumption of the uptrend towards the next target of $480.

However, if the bears defend the $415.634 resistance, the ETH/USD pair might spend some more time inside the range.

This bullish view will be invalidated if the bears sink the price below $366. Such a move will suggest a weakening momentum that can drag the price to the 20-day EMA ($351). A break below this support could signal a deeper correction to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of $304.367.

XRP/USD

XRP is currently trading inside a falling wedge pattern, which usually acts as a bullish setup. If the bulls can push the price above the wedge, the uptrend is likely to resume with the first target at $0.346727 and then $0.432105.

XRP/USD daily chart

XRP/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The correction from $$0.326113 has been healthy as it has pulled down the RSI from deeply overbought levels. Both moving averages are sloping up, which suggests that the bulls have the upper hand.

This bullish view will be invalidated if the bears sink the price below the wedge and the 20-day EMA ($0.267). Such a move will be a negative sign that can drag the XRP/USD pair to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of $0.244472.

BCH/USD

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) dipped to the 20-day EMA ($284) on Aug. 7 and again on Aug. 10, which suggests that the bears are attempting to sink the price back below the breakout level of $280.

BCH/USD daily chart

BCH/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

If they succeed, it will be a huge negative as it will indicate a lack of demand at higher levels. Such a move could result in a fall to $260 and then to $245.

However, the 20-day EMA is gradually sloping up and the RSI has been sustaining above the 60 level, which suggests a slight advantage to the bulls.

If the bulls can push the price above the downtrend line, it will signal advantage to the bulls. Above this resistance, a rally to $353 is possible. A breakout of this level could resume the uptrend to $400.

LINK/USD

Chainlink (LINK) dipped on Aug. 7 to $9.05 but the bears could not sustain the lower levels. By close (UTC time), the price had recovered sharply from the intraday lows, which shows aggressive buying by the bulls.

LINK/USD daily chart

LINK/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

This move seems to have caught the aggressive bears on the wrong side, and they were forced to cover their short positions as the price broke out to new highs, which resulted in a strong rally on Aug. 8 and 9. 

The LINK/USD pair rose to a high of $14.4586 on Aug. 9, which is just below the 200% Fibonacci extension level of $14.8537. The bears are likely to mount a stiff resistance in the $14.4586–$14.8537 zone and the RSI has also risen into the deep overbought zone, which suggests a minor consolidation or correction.

Contrary to this assumption, if the bulls continue to buy at higher levels and push the price above the resistance zone, a rally to 261.8% Fibonacci extension level of $17.4319 is possible. 

BSV/USD

The bulls are struggling to push Bitcoin SV (BSV) above the $240 resistance, which suggests a lack of demand at higher levels. However, on the downside, the bulls are buying the dips to $214.

BSV/USD daily chart

BSV/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The 20-day EMA ($216) is flattening out and the RSI is gradually falling, which suggests that the bulls are losing their grip. If the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA and the $214 support zone, a drop to $200 is possible. 

On the other hand, if the BSV/USD pair rebounds off the 20-day EMA, the bulls will once again attempt to push the price above $240. If successful, a move to $260.86 is likely. 

LTC/USD

Litecoin (LTC) has roughly been trading between the $56–$60 level since Aug. 2. This suggests a balance between demand and supply. However, as both moving averages are rising and the RSI is in the positive zone, the advantage is with the bulls.

LTC/USD daily chart

LTC/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

If the LTC/USD pair rises above $60, the advantage will shift in favor of the bulls. Above this level, a rally to $65.1573 is possible. This is the critical level to watch out for because, if the bulls can propel the price above this level, the momentum is likely to pick up.

Conversely, if the bears sink the pair below $56 and the 20-day EMA ($54.83), a drop to the critical support at $51 is possible. A break below this support will signal a possible change in trend but if the bulls buy the dip to this support, the pair might remain range-bound for a few more days. 

ADA/USD

Cardano (ADA) turned down from the $0.15–$0.1543051 resistance zone on Aug. 9, which shows that the bears are aggressively defending this zone. However, the upsloping moving averages suggest that the path of least resistance is to the upside.

ADA/USD daily chart

ADA/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

If the ADA/USD pair rebounds off the 20-day EMA ($0.1379), the bulls will make one more attempt to scale the price above the zone. If they succeed, a rally to $0.173 and then to $0.20 is possible.

However, if the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA, a drop to the $0.13 support is likely. A bounce off this support could keep the pair range-bound for a few more days. A break below $0.13 is likely to shift the advantage in favor of the bears with the next support at $0.12.

BNB/USD

Binance Coin (BNB) has been trading inside the tight range of $21.7628-$22.93 for the past three days, which shows uncertainty among the bulls and the bears about the next directional move. 

BNB/USD daily chart

BNB/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

While the bulls are buying the dips to $21.7628, the bears are defending the overhead resistance at $22.93.

However, the moving averages are sloping up and the RSI remains in the positive zone, suggesting advantage to the bulls. If the bulls can push the price above $22.93, a move to $24.4588 and then to $27.1905 is possible.

Contrary to this assumption, if the bears sink the price below $21.7628, a drop to the 20-day EMA ($21) is likely. A break below this support will signal a possible change in trend.

CRO/USD

Crypto.com Coin (CRO) remains in an uptrend but it is facing resistance near the highs at $0.176596. Hence, it is likely to consolidate between $0.176596 and $0.154322 for a few days.

CRO/USD daily chart

CRO/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The RSI is showing signs of forming a bearish divergence, which indicates that the momentum is weakening. If the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA ($0.159), it will indicate profit booking and a break below $0.154322 will shift the advantage in favor of the bears.

This assumption of a correction will be invalidated if the CRO/USD pair continues higher and breaks above $0.176596. Above this level, the next level to watch out for is $0.20.

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.

Market data is provided by HitBTC exchange.

Bitcoin’s Hash Rate Remains Flat Despite Major Price Rally

Bitcoin’s hash rate seems to be feeling the consequences of the drama at Bitmain.

Bitcoin (BTC) mining activity doesn’t seem to be reacting to the recent price rally that took the asset from approximately $9,000 in early July to almost $12,000 at time of publication.

According to data from Coinmetrics, hashrate spiked around July 7 and has remained largely flat amid fluctuations to the downside. 

Bitcoin Hashrate (green) vs. Difficulty (red), 7-day average

Bitcoin Hashrate (green) vs. Difficulty (red), 7-day average. Source: Coinmetrics

The hashrate represents the sum total of all miners attempting to find hashes that would create new valid blocks. There is generally a strong correlation between hashrate and price, as a higher BTC value increases the profit margins for each individual miner. 

Since July, hashrate growth appears to have slowed down as the difficulty saw its first decline since early June. The trough in hashrate in mid-July, right after a significant difficulty increase, suggests that the balancing mechanism overshot. Difficulty was set too high for the available hashrate, slowing down block production.

While for most of July Bitcoin’s price remained steady, it crept up until a dramatic rally took it to highs of $11,500 in the second half of the month. Hashrate is sitting below all-time highs even as two weeks passed since the major leg of the rally.

During protracted rallies, hashrate tends to trail price as the supply of new miners is constrained by physical supply chains. However, the industry is currently experiencing additional disruptions stemming from the power struggle at Bitmain. 

As Cointelegraph reported previously, shipments of new mining devices are being halted for at least three months. 

News of the disruption broke amidst the ongoing struggle for company dominance between Bitmain’s two co-founders, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan. Bitmain is one of the biggest manufacturers of ASIC devices, though competitors like MicroBT have been hot on their tail since the start of 2020.

As delivery of new devices is halted, a significant chunk of the ASIC supply is being restricted. At the same time, the rally rendered the old S9 series of miners slightly profitable at electricity prices of $0.04, according to Asicminervalue.

As Bitmain competitors scale their operations up and old miners are gradually turned back on, it is likely that the hashrate will resume growth.

Russian Rail Network Could Join the Blockchain Adoption Wave

Russia may soon have a Blockchain-powered railway if Sergey Vinogradov gets his way.

An advisor to Russian Railways, the country’s national rail operator, praised the rise of blockchain technology and hinted that it could be implemented as part of the country’s rail network.

According to Vgudok, Sergey Vinogradov, the general director of the Scientific Research Institute of Railway Transport, Blockchain may have a place in the national transport system. In fact, Vinogradov believes the rail network could be managed using Blockchain-based smart contracts in tandem with a predictive system for managing the maintenance of container trains.

He also feels that a future blockchain-based platform could help logistics firms, buyers, and sellers to purchase cargo spaces across Russia’s rail transportation network. He commented:

"The [blockchain] solution allows you to exclude operations for transshipment and storage of goods and to abandon specialized trucks, which cost two to three times more than multi-purpose trucks. The shunting and sorting work with the rolling stock will be significantly reduced."

Russia recently passed a major bill related to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), titled “On Digital Financial Assets”. This bill finally provided a legal status to crypto, though it did not allow for digital currencies to be used as a form of payment.

Public VC Funding: Stopgap or Future Solution for Blockchain Startups?

As private investors withhold seed funding from blockchain enterprises, venture capital firms armed with public funds are filling the void.

Securing seed money for blockchain startups is a tricky business in normal times, but with a pandemic raging, it’s really touch-and-go. Private investors have been walking away from startup deals lately, looking to conserve working capital in uncertain economic times. But fortuitously, governments and government-like entities have been rushing in to fill the gaps.

Richard Fetyko, founder of altFINS — a blockchain startup that enables crypto investors to screen, analyze and trade digital assets across exchanges — told Cointelegraph that he had an investor lined up to provide development and launch funding for the platform, “but then Covid rolled in.” The investor, experiencing liquidity problems in his core real estate business, effectively pulled out days before a contract was to be signed. 

Slovakia provides seed funding

Eventually, altFINS was able to find new funding through VC firm Crowdberry, which was partnering with the Slovakian government’s sovereign fund, Slovak Investment Holding. Some governments seem to recognize that “supporting startups is an important stage in economic development — and that it will eventually be reflected in the economic growth rate,” Fetyko told Cointelegraph. 

There are tradeoffs for the startup, of course. Crowdberry’s valuation of altFINS was 7% less than the aborted deal’s earlier valuation, but that had less to do with private versus public funds than it did the upheaval caused by the pandemic, said Fetyko. However, the startup received $1 million in capital, which was twice the number it was offered by the first VC firm. 

Jean-Marc Puel, senior partner at LeadBlock Partners — a VC firm focused on European enterprise blockchain startups — told Cointelegraph: “Public funding in a time of crisis is a big plus, especially when access to private capital is drying up.” He added: 

“This applies across the startup ecosystem, not only to the blockchain ecosystem. I see public capital and private capital as complementary in a start-up funding journey. On top of COVID-related support, public capital is currently a catalyst to boost early stage investments in blockchain startups.”

Speaking about VC deals in general, Michal Nespor, partner at crowdinvesting platform Crowdberry, told Cointelegraph: “The Covid-19 crisis accelerated the withdrawal of traditional VC funding from riskier [funding] phases or new deals.” This has created an opening for those investing public capital — as well as private funds, he added. “We see increasing deal flow from companies who had an offer from traditional VCs which were put on hold or withdrawn after the break-out of the pandemics.”

An ongoing trend?

Fetyko told Cointelegraph that he expects to see more publicly funded VC firms working with blockchain startups. “It’s an ongoing trend in Europe,” and not just in Central and Eastern Europe, as was recently reported. The European Commission’s European Innovation Council, for instance, has a large allocation for startups, including those in Western Europe, he said. 

But the movement toward publicly funded VC firms is less pronounced in the United States where VC funds have been around longer, are better connected and are more strongly capitalized. “Various programs have been created to support early stage investing in Europe,” said Fetyko. Things may be different in the U.S., which has a longer-standing, larger VC infrastructure. Nespor added: “As a general rule, we see less-developed capital markets, such as central and eastern Europe, as likely to be nurtured by public capital.” This is largely a consequence of the lack of private capital “appetite” for the VC risk-return type of investments in such countries.

The idea is to “support projects like ours,” added Fetyko, who cautioned that “this is not free money.” There is an equity allocation, which dilutes the founders’ equity, and the platform and its public partners expect a positive return on their investment. 

There is more scrutiny and required transparency with government-funded VC firms, too. “They can request financials at any time,” said Fetyko. They can inspect contracts with the startup’s outside contractors, for instance, “and they can come into offices unannounced and review documents.” A privately funded VC firm also expects quarterly and additional reporting, but it isn’t as intrusive overall.

Many still believe, too, that the advice and talent level in large, traditional VC firms is likely better. But Nespor believes that “there are examples of well-run and successful publicly backed VCs with partial provision of private capital in Europe.”

Emphasizing business fundamentals over growth?

Others, such as Alex Mashinsky — CEO of crypto lending platform Celsius Network — argue that while private VC firms might offer better valuations and links to Silicon Valley investors, publicly funded VC firms, by comparison, emphasize business fundamentals over growth and offer more long-term staying power. Presenting an alternate view, Tim Draper, special limited partner and board member at VC firm Draper Goren Holm, told Cointelegraph:

“No. I would bet that you can’t find a single government VC who can outperform my team. They would do better to just pay the fee and carry and put their money with us.”

But with private VC funds drying up in parts of the world — like in Central and Eastern European countries — amid the COVID-19 crisis, it can be argued that public capital can help plug the gaps through entities such as the European Investment Fund. But according to Draper:

“I always believe in getting any group to be able to fund startups. But the private sector, if not regulated out of existence, should be making the investment decisions. Big government managed funds-of-funds have done okay, but when governments go after investing in individual startups, they make decisions by committee and are usually a disaster. Governments taking the role that the private sector should play usually leads to crony socialism.”

According to Fetyko, while altFINS’ funds were ultimately provided by the government of Slovakia, it was VC firm Crowdberry that was actually selecting the startups that would be funded, and only about 5% were eventually supported. 

Private funding still critical

Puel doesn’t view public funding of blockchain startups as a long-term solution for a prosperous blockchain industry, however. He stated: “The sector cannot rely on public funding to thrive and will have to attract the larger pools of private capital.”

Elsewhere, blockchain funding via initial public offerings is now getting more attention with deals that are more transparent and better in terms of the quality of the underlying assets, noted Nespor, though this is not ideal for every business model. Community funding is gaining traction for business-to-customer business models, while “high tech plays and B2B models are more likely to remain in very specialized VC hands.” Regarding IPOs specifically, Puel told Cointelegraph: 

“Funding dynamics for blockchain start-ups are no different from the rest of the tech ecosystem. Private venture capital remains the preferred funding option to support the growth of start-ups, their product development and/or geographical expansion. As the blockchain ecosystem matures, we will certainly see a rising number of blockchain start-ups looking to raise capital through IPOs.” 

Are publicly funded VC firms built to last?

All in all, given the liquidity pressures on traditional VC firms as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we might expect to see more public capital for early stage blockchain enterprises, particularly in undercapitalized parts of the world. “Especially in the seed phase of companies — the riskier development phase of a company — we expect more public funding to be available as opposed to private funding post coronavirus,” Nespor told Cointelegraph.

And while publicly funded VC firms sometimes lack the expertise and contacts of traditional Silicon Valley firms — and also demand more financial scrutiny — they can often compensate by offering repetitive, patient capital. Also, it’s too early to tell if public money is more stable, Fetyko told Cointelegraph, adding that he hopes the investor will be available again when the need for the next capital round emerges.

Facebook Goes All-In On FinTech With Launch of New Subsidiary

Facebook is determined not to take “no” for an answer when it comes to FinTech.

Facebook Inc. has launched a new subsidiary group to promote “payments and commerce opportunities” with David Marcus, Libra’s co-creator, in charge of the division.

The subsidiary, called Facebook Financial or “F2” will run its payments projects, including a planned Facebook Pay, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

The division appears to be incorporating Facebook’s previous adventures in FinTech under a single umbrella, with Marcus reportedly being in charge of both Novi, the wallet for Libra previously known as Calibra, as well as recent attempts to bring payments to the WhatsApp messenger.

The launch of a dedicated division suggests that the company intends to fully commit to the payments industry, in the continuation of several years of efforts to integrate payments into Facebook’s apps.

Former CEO of Upwork, Stephane Kasriel, will be payments vice president under Marcus.

Commenting on the news, Marcus said: 

“We have a lot of commerce stuff going on across Facebook. It felt like it was the right thing to do to rationalize the strategy at a company level around all things payments.”

Despite efforts to create a blockchain-based currency, the division’s immediate goal will reportedly be introducing payments via WhatsApp in developing countries like Brazil and India.

The company is facing strong regulatory backlash under all fronts, as accusations of monopolistic behavior add to a history of regulator mistrust toward Facebook’s entry to payments.

Even the non-crypto payments on WhatsApp were suspended by Brazilian regulators in July. Libra, on the other hand, had to forego many of its initial features in a bid to please authorities.

President Macron Could Leverage Blockchain to Transform Lebanon Aid

Blockchain technology has the potential to bring transparency to the deployment of financial aid.

Israeli blockchain startup Orbs has published an open letter to French President, Emmanuel Macron. This letter promotes the use of blockchain technology to manage foreign aid following the tragic explosion in Beirut on August 4.

Blockchain’s transparency and accountability could help reassure both private donors and governments that the financial aid they provide is being deployed effectively, it says.

Catastrophic events such as those in Lebanon tend to spur pledges of much needed humanitarian aid from around the world.

President Macron of Lebanese former colonial power, France, wasted no time in visiting the area and urging world leaders to accelerate aid packages to provide timely relief. However he also noted the need to ensure aid went to legitimate groups working on the ground and didn’t end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

Sadly, history provides us with a litany of cases in which well-intentioned aid is not put to the best use.

Of course, blockchain has the unique ability to enable multiple parties who don’t necessarily trust each other to work together in a transparent manner.

To this end, Orbs has been working with the Hexa Foundation to promote the potential benefits of blockchain technology in managing and distributing foreign aid to various governments and organisations. It has even built a prototype, which it says can be developed to create a fully customizable solution.

As Cointelegraph reported, earlier this year Orbs developed an app encouraging people to self-quarantine as the COVID-19 pandemic started to take hold.

Web Traffic on Global Crypto Exchanges Surged 13% in July

Crypto analytics startup ICO Analytics reveals the fastest growing crypto exchanges and DeFi protocols in terms of web traffic.

Global crypto exchanges have reportedly seen a significant increase in web traffic in July as cryptocurrency prices gained momentum.

According to data from crypto analytics startup ICO Analytics, web traffic on global crypto exchanges increased by 13% on average in July 2020. 

Illia Kmez, head of content at ICO Analytics, told Cointelegraph that centralized crypto exchanges added 26% in web traffic since December 2020. In order to provide calculations, the startup analyzed web traffic of around 100 exchanges including international trading platforms and exchanges that only operate in one country, Kmez said.

While the average stands at 13%, some crypto exchanges have recorded a more notable monthly increase, with traffic surging over 60% ,as was the case with YoBit.net and KuCoin.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, reportedly saw 24.9 million visits in July, with traffic surging nearly 10%. Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange and wallet service in the United States, recorded 22.5 million visits during that month, with traffic seeing an 18% increase.

Not everyone is a winner 

Other popular exchanges like BitMEX and OKEx saw their traffic drop in July. According to the data, BitMEX’s traffic dropped 1.6%, while OKEx saw a 6% decline.

Web traffic dynamics of crypto exchanges in July 2020

Web traffic dynamics of crypto exchanges in July 2020. Source: ICO Analytics' Twitter

Uniswap is the largest DeFi protocol by web traffic

In another Aug. 9 tweet, ICO Analytics provided similar statistics regarding decentralized finance, or DeFi. According to the data, decentralized exchange Uniswap is the largest in terms of web traffic with more than 1.4 million visits in July. Uniswap is ranked the ninth largest DeFi environment in terms of total value locked in the protocol, according to data from major industry website DefiPulse.com.

According to ICO Analytics, DeFi liquidity provider Balancer Pool saw the largest increase in web traffic, up 193% in July.

ICO Analytics also noted that, despite significant growth of DeFi markets-related traffic, none of DeFi platforms have reached the level of top 20 centralized exchanges.

Earlier in July, crypto market analytics firm Messari said that DeFi makes up only 1.5% of the entire crypto market. As of press time, total value locked in DeFi markets accounts for $4.7 billion, according to DefiPulse.com.

Why Binance’s New Debit Card Fails to Fulfill Satoshi’s Vision

Binance’s debit card process makes it a more of a centralized bank-like institution than the decentralized tech dreamed by Bitcoin’s creator.

Satoshi Nakamoto years ago envisioned an ecosystem that would be independent of the centralized financial system that dominates the global economy today. His creation sparked a global community of enthusiasts and an entire industry surrounding blockchain — the solution enabling individuals to turn their money away from centralized legacy institutions and toward transacting on a decentralized, distributed ledger. The ultimate goal was a world in which people could pay for goods and services with these novel financial instruments.

Many payment companies and exchanges already claim to offer services that enable crypto users to buy goods and services with cryptocurrency. Upon further analysis, however — like with Binance’s new debit card offer — it’s clear their crypto payment solutions don’t deliver on the blockchain, adding more intermediaries and opening users to the same harm that could befall them digitally using traditional payment methods. 

How the crypto payment process works

Currently, there are two mainstream methods of processing a cryptocurrency-fiat transaction. One method involves the intermediary accepting cryptocurrency and converting it into fiat at a locked-in, instantaneous exchange rate and then delivering fiat to the merchant or vice versa. The second method involves first liquidating the user’s crypto into fiat in the user’s account before it reaches the intermediary and then sending the fiat payment to the intermediary to complete the transaction. The first method takes place on the blockchain, while the second does not.

Numerous payment platforms offer one of the two aforementioned types of transactions. Even the giants are mulling over jumping into the game. PayPal has weighed the idea lately of offering crypto payments to consumers, which could lead the way to increased stabilization of the volatility often associated with Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. But it remains to be seen exactly how these payment providers plan to process the transactions — whether they would technically allow consumers to pay in crypto or in fiat on or off the blockchain. That’s an important difference to crypto users.

What crypto users want, and what Binance’s card offers

Crypto enthusiasts, as well as regular consumers who like to pay in crypto, value the secure nature of blockchain, which, on top of the clear security benefits, doesn’t include the hidden administrative feeds that credit cards do, such as chargebacks or non-purchase credit card fees. 

There are also personal reasons consumers choose to purchase with crypto: the advantage of having full control of their money on a blockchain, an element that is arguably missing from non-blockchain means of storing or transferring financial assets where banks have control. This is the foundation and spirit of cryptocurrency ownership for many crypto users. Some crypto payment solutions available to crypto users, however, have diminished this foundation by the way in which they execute transactions.

Most recently, Binance announced a partnership with Swipe, in essence acquiring the company. Through the acquisition, Binance account holders can now be issued a Binance-branded Visa card. Binance’s Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, explained:

"To achieve our mission of making crypto more accessible to the masses, off-ramps are a key component as well. By giving users the ability to convert and spend crypto directly, and have merchants still seamlessly accept fiat, this will make the crypto experience much better for everyone.”

According to the company’s marketing, the card can then be used to purchase goods or services from merchants that accept Visa, giving the impression that the consumer is paying the merchant with cryptocurrency — but there’s a catch. Upon deeper analysis, it’s clear the account holders are not really buying anything with cryptocurrency nor are they making the purchase on the blockchain. This payment method only makes it appear as though the consumer is paying using cryptocurrency. In actuality, the charge is to the customer’s fiat account.

A source close to Binance explained that if the fiat account is empty, Binance’s system converts cryptocurrency from the user’s crypto account into fiat currency. The converted fiat currency is then deposited into the fiat account and used to make the purchase with the Binance debit card. In the transaction, Binance sends the converted fiat currency to the card company to complete the payment process. So, technically, the payment never truly involves paying with crypto or on the blockchain.

Why Binance’s card offer causes crypto contradiction

There are two conceptual problems here. First, the crypto liquidation process into fiat currency through Binance, which is similar to banking mechanisms, is out of the control of the user, negating the foundational spirit of owning cryptocurrency instead of holding cash at a bank — not to mention the unnecessary redundancy it creates by adding Binance, Swipe and Visa as additional intermediaries in the transaction process.

Second, by sending the payment through traditional credit card rails that are not on the blockchain, the user loses the security benefits of paying on the blockchain. Essentially, the whole process places Binance in a sort of bank-like position rather than a facilitator of payment between the user and the merchant, which is what Visa or Mastercard serve in this example.

To satisfy the crypto community’s hunger for a truly decentralized digital currency, users need to know they are paying in crypto, and not be deluded by the promise of it. This means crypto payment platforms need to ensure they are accepting the payment as crypto and not converting the crypto to fiat before sending payment to merchants — an act that undermines the element of transaction transparency to the user.

The most cryptocurrency-user-friendly approach would involve accepting cryptocurrency and instantly locking in a rate that the user will see before paying. Such a mechanism would restore transparency and grant the user full control of the digital currency, while also ensuring that the transaction stays on-chain, thereby reaping its benefits.

These may seem like negligible details, but to a cryptocurrency owner, it can make a world of difference. The entire reason for which users get into crypto revolves around control of the currency and the multitude of benefits of running transactions on a blockchain for both the consumer and merchant. For exchanges and crypto payment providers, the key is to stick to the crypto and blockchain way, rather than creating an illusion. This is true to Satoshi’s vision.

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.

Joshua Tate is the CEO of ForumPay. Josh is a seasoned executive officer with more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, practitioner and legal professional. Prior to founding ForumPay, he founded and launched multiple companies in diversified industries such as fintech, media, real estate and energy. Josh concurrently holds positions as director, CEO and general counsel of several companies and provides a wealth of experience in both fintech and traditional finance. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

Bitcoin Price Suddenly Drops by $500 in Seconds to Fill Futures ‘Gap’

A bounce off $11,500 saves investors from serious pain but $12,000 remains a problematic level to flip to support.

Bitcoin (BTC) dropped several hundred dollars in seconds on Aug. 10 as $12,000 once more proved too hot to handle. 

Cryptocurrency market daily snapshot Aug. 6

Cryptocurrency market daily snapshot Aug. 6. Source: Coin360

BTC price finds new focus at $11,700

Data from Cointelegraph Markets and Coin360 showed BTC/USD nosedive 4% during Monday trading, bouncing off $11,500 and since returning to $11,700.

In doing so, Bitcoin neatly filled the latest gap in CME Group’s Bitcoin futures markets, which lay just below $11,700. 

BTC/USD 1-day price chart

BTC/USD 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

A classic move, Cointelegraph predicted on the day that markets would likely attempt to go lower on short timeframes to fill the gap, in line with standard behavior.

The event caused a dramatic spike in liquidations on derivatives giant BitMEX, data from monitoring resource Skew confirms.

BTC/USD liquidations on BitMEX

BTC/USD liquidations on BitMEX. Source: Skew

Analyst: $13,000 will follow a $12,000 breakout

For Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe, the sudden dip suggested that Bitcoin was returning to the pattern of behavior seen in recent months. 

“Smaller timeframe chart explaining what just happened. Essentially, we're back into the ranging gameplan,” he told Twitter followers. 

“Ranging” within a certain price corridor has become a feature of BTC/USD in 2020, with recent gains upending a protracted period, which slowly narrowed to point — a process known as compression.

Going forward, lower levels could see a retest, with significant support just above $10,000 still apt to form the price floor, Van de Poppe thinks.

“Larger timeframe; still expecting such a scenario,” he continued. 

“If we break $12K however, I assume we'll see $13k.”

Attention will thus now focus on bulls’ ability to cement $12,000 as a support zone, something which has yet to occur on any meaningful level for Bitcoin. 

Nonetheless, the latest weekly close marked the highest since January 2018 and the initial fall from Bitcoin’s all-time highs of $20,000.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

‘Capital Flight out of Asia Is Taking Bitcoin Express’ Says Max Keiser

Bitcoin is one of the few ways to move an entire fortune abroad, Bitcoin bull Max Keiser says.

Capital flight out of Asia is one of major reasons for Bitcoin (BTC) hitting new 2020 highs in August, a major Bitcoin advocate believes.

Max Keiser, a famous American broadcaster and known Bitcoin bull, is confident that rising tensions in Asia are one of factors for Bitcoin’s rally up to $12,000.

“You can’t take it with you, unless it’s Bitcoin”

In an Aug. 10 tweet, Keiser argued that Bitcoin is a solid method to move big amounts of money abroad while crossing borders. According to Keiser, a number of people in Asia are using Bitcoin to move their money out of the continent as geopolitical tensions risk affecting markets. “Capital flight out of Asia taking the Bitcoin express,” Keiser wrote.

Comparing Bitcoin to gold — one of the world's most popular safe-haven assets, Keiser argued that Bitcoin is one of the few ways to move a fortune abroad. Keiser said, “You can’t take it with you, unless it’s Bitcoin - then you can take IT ALL with you. (Something near impossible with gold).” The news comes amid reports of Chinese citizens illegally crossing into the United States with $28,000 worth of gold bars.

Security law triggers Hong Kong to dump gold for “something else”

While Keiser did not clarify exactly which situation he was referring to, the Financial Times reported on Aug. 7 that Hong Kong’s wealthy are moving large amounts of their gold out of the financial hub after Beijing imposed a new national security law on the city in July 2020.

Joshua Rotbart, head of J Rotbart & Co, a Hong Kong-based gold dealer and storage provider, reportedly said that after the national security law was passed, there could be “immediate response from Hong Kong residents” asking to store gold “somewhere else.”

Earlier in July, Cointelegraph reported that major global banks like Credit Suisse and HSBC were limiting services to Hong Kong clients amid the ongoing protests over China-backed national security law.

Last week, another Bitcoin bull, Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, predicted that Bitcoin will eventually become a bigger market than gold thanks to its superior digital nature.

Q&A: How Blockchain Could Transform the Art Industry

Blockchain is transforming industries left, right and center — but how could this technology benefit the art world?

4ARTechnologies

The art world has had a tough time lately. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many galleries and museums to close, with sales of premium pieces also affected.

But there could be a solution that helps the industry get back on its feet and achieve much-needed digitization: blockchain. Here, we talk to Niko Kipouros, founder and CEO of 4ARTechnologies, about how this technology could transform the way we purchase and own artwork — and even ensure that the provenance and authenticity of masterpieces are never doubted.

1. What are the biggest challenges facing the art industry right now?

The surge of the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered galleries and museums, while exhibitions, art fairs and auctions have either been postponed or moved online. The art world ground to a halt. It became immediately visible that all players in the art market are vulnerable to physical distancing measures implemented to slow down the spread of the pandemic. If people are not allowed to leave their homes or attend big events, then what is left of the business models of exhibitions, art fairs and auctions?

Everyone in the industry is now aware that the art market as we know it will never return. Digital tools can help us overcome restrictions on physical operations.

2. Can blockchain solve any of these issues? Does the art industry really need blockchain?

Blockchain opened the space within the existing art system. What blockchain brings to the art industry is unprecedented security and accountability, along with introducing decentralization on an institutional level.

Operating in the sphere of art, blockchain allows for the decentralized, immutable storage of data and documentation while enabling the automation of many daily art handling tasks.

The technology can’t do it alone, but it provides a secure, verified information foundation on which solutions and services can be built.

3. How does the tokenization of art work? Does this mean that an everyday consumer could partly own a renowned masterpiece?

The tokenization of an asset — in our case, an art piece — makes it available to be traded and handled digitally. Artworks can be tokenized in two different ways: either a single token per art object or multiple tokens to allow for fractionalized ownership.

The single token option is only relevant for art collectors and those who want to better manage their collection. Far more groups, from the arts as well as the finance industry, are exploring the creation of a larger number of tokens for a single artwork.

The excitement there is based on two important aspects. For one, it allows previously untradable artworks to be made available to the art market, which is especially beneficial to public institutions that continuously lack funding.

Even more interesting, an artwork can be owned by a large number of people through blockchain-based tokenization, making art and art collecting far more accessible and more democratic.

These digital frameworks also allow for completely new ways to own and enjoy art. 

In a pilot project of ours known as ARTCELS, tokenholders gain access to enjoy and share the tokenized collection in a virtual reality showroom within the 4ARTapp. We are seeing a surge in demand for these models, and we are certain that in the future, many collectors will only hold a portfolio of artwork tokens — a purely virtual collection.

Why have one piece of art on your wall when you can choose from the whole collection and enjoy it the same?

4. What else can be digitized in the art industry?

The art industry is ripe for digitization. Most of the business is still done as it was 30, 40, or even 50 years ago.

Registering artworks, creating artist catalogs, condition reporting, updating or transmitting documentation, and tracking movements: All the processes that are part of the logistics chain in the art industry can be digitized.

As we have seen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even major international exhibitions can be digitized. The art world is in urgent need and just waiting for creative solutions.

5. What about cryptocurrencies? Are they part of this digitization?

Cryptocurrencies offer qualities that a global market like the arts always requires: fast peer-to-peer transactions, little regard for borders and minimal losses. They also solve the double-spend problem to facilitate transactions that were previously secured by more complex, expensive escrow solutions. Or you can create automatic participation models for artists, content creators and communities so they get reimbursed for their efforts.

In the future, we will also support peer-to-peer 4ARTcoin transactions, including artwork purchases, within the 4ARTapp. Even more important are our campaigns to have other networks, galleries, museums, exhibitions and online platforms accept the 4ARTcoin. As with all of our efforts, while we may believe very strongly in its advantages, we require partners and like-minded innovators to make it happen.

6. Blockchain is difficult for many to understand. How does 4ARTechnologies plan to achieve mainstream adoption?

As with all new technologies, especially revolutionary ones, it is not necessary for users or customers to understand how they work in full detail. Very few know how most everyday devices really work, be it microwaves, cars, the internet or even currency.

What adopters of a technology are interested in are the benefits — how these innovations can provide new possibilities and solutions.

The technologies, including blockchain, that our company is deploying are cutting-edge and very complex, but the benefits — being able to store information and documents immutably, being able to automate and simplify daily tasks, and being able to communicate and transmit information securely — are easy to understand and will bring about mainstream adoption.

7. There used to be a plethora of blockchain projects in the art industry. Many of them have already disappeared. How do you set yourself apart from the competition?

Previous ventures had two major issues: a lack of reliable artwork identification and a small scope for their solutions. A digital certificate or document is essentially useless, with or without blockchain, if it cannot be directly and reliably linked to the physical artwork.

This is the first roadblock that kept other ventures from finding acceptance and success.

With the 4ARTapp, we have implemented this functionality in a way that can’t be manipulated and that does not require the object to be marked with a sticker or chip. 

If you have ever seen an art forger at work, these things would never stop them.

With our solution, we use the artwork itself as the key to its documentation and history.

To gain adoption within the art world, solutions need to be wide ranging and usable by many. Most have only focussed on the collector, and some on logistics, but essentially none on the artists. We offer benefits to all art world participants, with increasing value the more the 4ARTapp is used.

Connecting the global art community is the next big revolution, and we are happy to lead the way!

We are proud to say that 4ARTechnologies has been recognized for its vision in both the “CV VC Top 50 Report,” which lists top blockchain projects in Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, as well as in the “CV VC Global Report” as the number one blockchain project in the art industry. On Sept. 02, I will take part in a panel discussion organized by CV VC, which will be livestreamed, on the topic of how blockchain is shaping the art industry.

8. How does 4ARTechnologies’ plan for insurance work?

We have been in partnership with Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, and its subsidiary Ergo Insurance for over a year. The goal of our pilot project is to create wholly new, purely digital solutions for artwork and transport insurance, based on our verification and condition reporting technologies.

Through their utilization, the individual or company looking to insure their artworks can do so quickly, easily and specific to their requirements. The insurer can significantly reduce the structural costs associated with art insurance and therefore offer far more attractive rates and services.

To give you a simple visual: An art collector uses their mobile device and the 4ARTapp to scan the microscopic surface structure of an artwork once per year. That detailed condition report, which takes mere minutes, is sent over to the insurer with all the relevant documentation within the 4ARTapp, quickly and highly securely.

The insurer does not have to use expensive experts to evaluate the condition and risk factors, rather they can do so automatically. The immense cost savings can be offered to the client in the form of favorable rates or other incentives.

The client has a better service at lower costs, and the insurer has far more accurate data on which to base its risk evaluation — a win-win situation through digitization.

9. Counterfeiting and establishing the authenticity of artworks have been big challenges for the art world. What does this platform do to address that?

The challenge of art forgery is what brought blockchain to the attention of the art world. However, without a secure link between the physical artwork and the digital information, blockchain alone cannot solve that challenge.

This is why we have developed our patented Augmented-Authentication-Technology. 

With our technology, everyone can easily and quickly create a digital fingerprint for an artwork, using nothing but a mobile device and the artwork itself.

With the identification being fast and absolutely tamper-proof, we can begin to use the capabilities provided by blockchain.

What we, or anyone, cannot solve is questionable authenticity for older artworks.

However, we have now initiated a new era of digital provenance, one where artists can register their works themselves and create a reliable, highly detailed, lossless history from the very first minute of the artwork’s existence.

For artists of today and tomorrow, the question of originality will no longer be relevant.

10. As blockchain and crypto become more widely used, where do you think the art industry will be in 10 years?

Blockchain offers a new platform for working with traditional art. This, to me, looks like a very promising partnership.

What’s more interesting and challenging is to think about what blockchain has to offer to contemporary and digital artists interested in code and data. How can it deal with new questions of authorship, copy, identity and so on?

Questions of society are always reflected and discussed in art. I am looking forward to trying to bridge this gap, and blockchain technology gives us the tools to do so.

Learn more about 4ARTechnologies

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

China: Loudi City Mayor Promotes Blockchain to Fight Crime

Blockchain is making further inroads with municipal authorities in China, as the mayor of Loudi supports its use to combat crime.

The mayor of Loudi, a city in China’s Hunan province, has characterized blockchain technology as a powerful “weapon” that can effectively tackle crime.

At a meeting of Loudi’s Municipal Public Security Bureau on Aug. 10, Mayor Yang Yiwen responded to reports on the progress of a trial blockchain project that is currently being conducted by the bureau and a local technology firm. 

The project combines blockchain technology with multi-party computing and big data to improve trusted data exchange and information traceability across a collaborative network. 

This network unites telecommunication network operators, banks and public data from various municipal departments, such as water and electricity.

At the meeting, officials from the Municipal Public Security Bureau reported on the trial’s progress, with a focus on the potential of the blockchain-powered system to crack down on illicit activities. 

The tech firm, Hunan Chain City Digital Technology Co. Ltd., reported on the project’s design concept and related issues, and also provided demonstration of the system in prototype.

In response, Yang Yiwen said that blockchain technology, together with big data, could be used as a weapon to effectively combat crime. Blockchain, together with big data, can increase the accuracy, depth and breadth of coordinated investigations, he said. 

The mayor pledged to actively seek further support for the project in the province, and to strive to make the city of Loudi the first in the country to use blockchain as a crime-fighting technology.

China’s blockchain sector booms 

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, China’s blockchain sector has seen significant growth in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New statistics indicate that there are 84,410 registered blockchain firms, of which 29,340 are in operation. The Guangdong Province in Southeast China currently has the highest number of blockchain startups, with Yunnan Province in the southwest coming in second. 

China’s ambitious nationwide project, the Blockchain-based Service Network, has just today launched a new English-language website seeking to attract international developers.

IP Australia and National Rugby League Use Blockchain Against Fake Products

The intellectual property rights issuer of Australia will use blockchain to help NRL fight the sale of counterfeit merchandise.

Australia’s top-tier rugby league, the National Rugby League, along with IP Australia will trial a blockchain-based application to curb the sale of counterfeit products.

IP Australia is an agency of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science that orchestrates and regulates the issuance of intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs and plant breeder's rights in Australia.

Genuine products will be tagged with trust badges

According to a ZDNet report, the new application uses blockchain to enable trademark owners to link their products to the government register. It acts as proof of their products’ authenticity, their origin and helps them control the use of their mark. 

As part of the trial, NRL will link two of its online merchandise stores NRL Shop and Savvy Supporter with the platform. Doing so will attach a “trust badge” to each of these websites which will be visual proof for their customers that the websites have been verified by IP Australia. Customers will also be able to view information regarding the registered trademark by clicking on the trust badge.

Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, said that they can use the application to prevent the counterfeiting of Australia-made products. It “is a great example of how new technologies can be applied in very practical ways to grow the economy and create local jobs,” she added.

The “trust badge” initiative of IP Australia is part of the agency’s Smart Trade Mark platform which they are trialling across various industries to improve tracking and tracing of authentic products and minimize the sale of counterfeit products. 

IP Australia is also working with Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to test the use of their blockchain application.