Ethereum Hackathon ETHDenver Partners With UNICEF on Blockchain Bounty System

Ethereum Hackathon ETHDenver Partners With UNICEF on Blockchain Bounty System


Upcoming Ethereum (ETH) hardware hackathon ETHDenver is partnering with UNICEF

on a blockchain bounty token system, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 31. The token aims to incentivize developers to create projects which promote social good, the press release notes.

ETHDenver — set to take place February 15-17 in Denver, Colorado — has partnered with UNICEF Ventures, UNICEF France and ETH startup Bounties Network on the prototype for what it calls a “positive action token,” the firm stated in the press release. While the token is yet to have a name — indeed, its creators are appealing to ETHDenver attendees to contribute to finding one — it forms part of an incentivization program dubbed “The Impact Track.” As ETHDenver Diversity and Impact Steward Nick Rodrigues has outlined, the program encourages developers to think systematically about the positive social impact of a given piece of

technical innovation:

“For example, if someone had a project where they happened to develop a way to shard more efficiently which therefore required less energy consumption, they would be meeting a sustainable development goal.”

As a non-monetary, value-driven community coin, the token cannot be redeemed for fiat currency, as the organizers report. Instead, users can use their tokens to get early access to future UNICEF and Impact Track events, mentorship sessions, incubator-style support, and similar offerings. ETHDenver has also pitched the token as “digital public acknowledgement of positive actions.”

In a separate blog post published Jan. 30, ETHDenver and blockchain startup MakerDAO (MKR) — creator of the Ethereum-collateralized stablecoin Dai (DAI) — have also announced the creation of an ETHDenver pop-up token economy based on an ephemeral “localcoin.” Hackathon attendees will reportedly each be issued with a unique “xDai” wallet, which runs on their phone’s default web browser and is pre-loaded with the localcoin, dubbed “buffiDai.” The coin is pegged to the Dai and redeemable for food, drinks and activities at the event, the blog post reports.

As previously reported, the positive action token represents just one of UNICEF’s many forays into the blockchain space. Last month, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced it would be investing $100,000 in six early stage and open-source blockchain companies working toward humanitarian goals. In February of last year, the organization appealed to PC gamers to use their computers to mine ETH and donate their earnings to a charity campaign for Syrian children.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.


Apple bans Facebook’s Research app that paid users for data

Apple bans Facebook’s Research app that paid users for data


In the wake of TechCrunch’s investigation yesterday,

Apple blocked Facebook’s Research VPN app before the social network could voluntarily shut it down. The Research app asked users for root network access to all data passing through their phone in exchange for $20 per month. Apple tells TechCrunch that yesterday evening it revoked the Enterprise Certificate that allows Facebook to distribute the Research app without going through the App Store.

TechCrunch had reported that Facebook was breaking Apple’s policy that the Enterprise system is only for distributing internal corporate apps to employees, not paid external testers. That was actually before Facebook released a statement last night saying that it had shut down the iOS version of the Research program without mentioning that it was forced by Apple to do so.

TechCrunch’s investigation discovered that Facebook has been quietly operated the Research program on iOS and Android since 2016, recently under the name Project Atlas. It recruited 13 to 35 year olds, 5 percent of which were teenagers, with ads on Instagram and Snapchat and paid them a monthly fee plus referral bonuses to install Facebook’s Research app, the included VPN app that routes traffic to Facebook, and to ‘Trust’ the company with root network access to their phone. That lets Facebook pull in a user’s web browsing activity, what apps are on their phone and how they use them, and even decrypt their encrypted traffic. Facebook went so far as to ask users to screenshot and submit their Amazon order history. Facebook uses all this data to track competitors, assess trends, and plan its product roadmap.

Facebook was forced to remove its similar Onavo Protect app in August last year after Apple changed its policies to prohibit the VPN app’s data collection practices. But Facebook never shut down the Research app with the same functionality it was running in parallel. In fact, TechCrunch commissioned security expert Will Strafach to dig into the Facebook Research app, and we found that it featured tons of similar code and references to Onavo Protect. That means Facebook was purposefully disobeying the spirit of Apple’s 2018 privacy policy change while also abusing the Enterprise Certificate program.

Sources tell us that Apple revoking Facebook’s Enterprise Certificate has broken all of the company’s legitimate employee-only apps. Those include pre-launch internal-testing versions of Facebook and Instagram, as well as the employee apps for coordinating office collaboration, commutes, seeing the day’s lunch schedule, and more. That’s causing mayhem at Facebook, disrupting their daily work flow and ability to do product development. We predicted yesterday that Apple could take this drastic step to punish Facebook much harder than just removing its Research app. The disruption will translate into a huge loss of productivity for Facebook’s 33,000 employees.

For reference, Facebook’s main iOS app still functions normally. Also, you can’t get paid for installing Onavo Protect on Android, only for the Facebook Research app. And Facebook isn’t the only one violating Apple’s Enterprise Certificate policy, as TechCrunch discovered Google’s Screenwise Meter surveillance app breaks the rules too. This morning, Apple informed us it had banned Facebook’s Research app yesterday before the social network seemingly pulled it voluntarily. Apple provided us with this strongly worded statement condemning the social network’s behavior:

“We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

That comes in direct contradiction to Facebook’s initial response to our investigation. Facebook claimed it was in alignment with Apple’s Enterprise Certificate policy and that the program was no different than a focus group. Seven hours later, a Facebook spokesperson said it was pulling its Research program from iOS without mentioning that Apple forced it to do so, and issued this statement disputing the characterization of our story:

“Key facts about this market research program are being ignored. Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms.”

We refute those accusations by Facebook. As we wrote yesterday night, Facebook did not publicly promote the Research VPN itself and used intermediaries that often didn’t disclose Facebook’s involvement until users had begun the signup process. While users were given clear instructions and warnings, the program never stresses nor mentions the full extent of the data Facebook can collect through the VPN. A small fraction of the users paid may have been teens, but we stand by the newsworthiness of its choice not to exclude minors from this data collection initiative.

Senator Mark Warner has since called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to support legislation requiring individual informed consent for market research initiatives like Facebook Research. Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a fierce statement that “Wiretapping teens is not research, and it should never be permissible.”

The situation will surely worsen the relationship between Facebook and Apple after years of mounting animosity between the tech giants. Apple’s Tim Cook has repeatedly criticized Facebook’s data collection practices, and Zuckerberg has countered that it offers products for free for everyone rather than making products few can afford like Apple. Flared tensions could see Facebook receive less promotion in the App Store, fewer integrations into iOS, and more jabs from Cook. Meanwhile, the world sees Facebook as having been caught red-handed threatening user privacy and breaking Apple policy.

Article Produced By
Josh Constine


Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements. Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network. Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes. Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions. Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancée Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

Google’s Latest Plan to Sell Your Data Will Leave you FURIOUS

Google’s Latest Plan to Sell Your Data Will Leave you FURIOUS
Giving our behavioral data to companies with this grand a scope will likely never be completely safe, but this is beyond reproach. 


One of the most invasive and unnerving realizations

that we must face in our new technological age is the fact that we are very literally being mined by the products that we use.

There is a great deal of convenience in the internet.  We can use it to travel around our city on even the busiest of days with ease.  We can order any number of dishes from any number of restaurants.  Heck, we can even rent an electric scooter to ride around town, leaving it where we like when we’re finished. But, as the wise have always told us, nothing in this life is free.  Sure, we pay for these services, and we pay to have access to the internet, but that’s not nearly all of the value that is being taken from us by the corporations whom we trust online.

Story Continues

Google, Facebook, and others have long been selling our online behavioral data to advertisers, in order for those advertisers to then weaponize their work in the most effective ways.  Google is literally telling Dupont and these other enormous chemical companies, what time of day is best for them to run laundry detergent commercials in order to maximize their weaseling into our pockets. Worse still; this game is played at such a high level that only Holy Rollers need apply for a seat.  That means that you and I are simply pawns in the game. Has that stopped forward-facing companies like Google from continuing this habitual debauchery?  Of course not.


And it’s getting worse. 

MOST OF THE data collected by urban planners is messy, complex, and difficult to represent. It looks nothing like the smooth graphs and clean charts of city life in urban simulator games like “SimCity.” A new initiative from Sidewalk Labs, the city-building subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has set out to change that.

The program, known as Replica, offers planning agencies the ability to model an entire city’s patterns of movement. Like “SimCity,” Replica’s “user-friendly” tool deploys statistical simulations to give a comprehensive view of how, when, and where people travel in urban areas. It’s an appealing prospect for planners making critical decisions about transportation and land use. In recent months, transportation authorities in Kansas City, Portland, and the Chicago area have signed up to glean its insights. The only catch: They’re not completely sure where the data is coming from.

This “appealing prospect” sounds a lot more like data harvesting for the sake of targeting us with more advertisements.

To make these measurements, the program gathers and de-identifies the location of cellphone users, which it obtains from unspecified third-party vendors. It then models this anonymized data in simulations — creating a synthetic population that faithfully replicates a city’s real-world patterns but that “obscures the real-world travel habits of individual people,” as Bowden told The Intercept.

The program comes at a time of growing unease with how tech companies use and share our personal data — and raises new questions about Google’s encroachment on the physical world.


Concerns over the use of this GPS data are obvious enough to understand, but a fun analogy awaits you anyway: Let’s say that Amazon puts a new Whole Foods store in your town, and Google isn’t happy about it for whatever reason.  Google has the power to reroute traffic to the area near that store to make it an unappealing commute.  Eventually, people will stop coming. Or, even crazier, if Google decided they didn’t want the location to even show up in their Maps app.  You could be literally lost, confused, and impaired while driving. Giving our behavioral data to companies with this grand a scope will likely never be completely safe, but this is beyond reproach.

Article Produced By
Andrew West

Andrew West is an Atlanta-based author who enjoys his pursuit of happiness to the fullest, whether it be craft beer, the great outdoors, or playing music.


Gaza’s Ruling Group Hamas Seeks Funding in Bitcoin to Combat Financial Isolation

Gaza's Ruling Group Hamas Seeks Funding in Bitcoin to Combat Financial Isolation


The militant arm of Hamas —

the de facto ruling authority of the Gaza Strip in Palestine — has appealed to its supporters to send it funds using Bitcoin (BTC). The appeal was made via the official Telegram channel of Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, on Jan. 29.

Hamas — which comprises social service arm “Dawah” and militant faction “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” is deemed to be a terrorist organization, in whole or in part, by several countries and international organizations — including the United States and the European Union. Russia, Turkey and China are among those major world powers who do not designate the group as a terrorist entity. In his message, Abu Obeida called upon “all lovers of the resistance and the supporters of our righteous cause to support the resistance financially using ‘Bitcoin’ currency,” adding that an exact funding mechanism for transacting the crypto would be announced later.

He continued:

“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means, but the resistance lovers in all the world are fighting these Zionist attempts and are seeking to find all possible support for the resistance."

Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, after winning a military conflict against the Palestinian nationalist political party Fatah — a struggle for power that ensued from the latter’s defeat in the parliamentary elections of 2006. The Gaza Strip notably continues to be subject to a land, air and sea blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in the wake of Hamas’ victory, which severely restricts the movement of people and goods.

Abu Obeida’s turn to Bitcoin comes in the immediate context of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to temporarily freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid — including $15 million a month to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants — from entering the Gaza Strip, in retribution for a recent flare-up in border tensions between Israel and Hamas. Aside from the Gaza Strip blockade, given Hamas’ designation as a terrorist entity in many Western countries, many global banks bar services to the group via their anti-money-laundering (AML) and illicit terror financing prevention mechanisms.

As reported, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last September that would establish a crypto task force to combat terrorist use of cryptocurrencies. A congressional hearing earlier that month had nonetheless concluded that while al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other such terrorist groups have all attempted to raise funds through crypto, their success has been limited — and that in many instances, fiat currencies provide more robust anonymity for illicit fundraising.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

UAE-Saudi Arabian Digital Currency ‘Aber’ to be Restricted to Select Banks at Start

UAE-Saudi Arabian Digital Currency 'Aber' to be Restricted to Select Banks at Start


The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) central bank (UAECB)

and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) have announced that the interbank digital currency they are co-developing will be called “Aber.” The news was reported by the national Saudi Press Agency on Jan. 29.

A joint statement from the banks has reportedly outlined that the use of Aber will be limited to financial settlements using distributed ledger technologies (DLT) “on a probational basis and [for] exclusive use by a limited number of banks in the two countries.” While news of the two countries’ plans for a digital currency for cross-border interbank settlement has previously been reported, this appears to be the first official indication of the currency’s name and initial circulation scope.

The banks clarified that the currency’s issuance falls within a proof-of-concept framework, aimed at:

“[…] studying the dimensions of modern technologies and their feasibility through practical application and the determination of their impact on the improvement and the reduction of remittances costs and the assessment of technical risks and how to deal with them.”

The statement did not determine an official launch date for the currency’s pilot issuance, but outlined that it would initially be focused on technical aspects. The announcement also reported that if “no technical obstacles are encountered, economic and legal requirements for future uses will be considered.”‏

The two countries said bilateral issuance is important as they consider that while national central systems for remittances and domestic transactions have proved their solidity to date, some aspects of international remittances require further development. The Aber project aims to ascertain whether a digital currency could be supportive of this development, the

statement adding:

“The project will also enable considering the possibility of using the system as an additional reserve system for [a] domestic central payments settlement system in case of their disruption for any reason.”

Issuance of Aber reportedly forms part of a seven-point bilateral cooperation plan between UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, negotiated in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Saudi-Emirati Co-ordination Council Jan. 17. As reported, the UAE is looking to join the list of leading destinations for blockchain firms in 2019 by establishing a new pro-crypto legal framework. In Saudi Arabia, customs authorities have recently concluded a pilot scheme linking their cross-border trade platform “FASAH” with IBM and Maersk’s “TradeLens” blockchain infrastructure.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

North Europe’s Largest Conference Moontec Set to Welcome Top Enterprise Blockchain Projects

North Europe’s Largest Conference Moontec Set to Welcome Top Enterprise Blockchain Projects


The Moontec conference is set to welcome speakers

from companies including Maersk, IBM, and Revolut to Tallinn, Estonia on 26 November for a two-day event that will emphasize the development of workable blockchain solutions for business.

Such a forward-thinking information society as Estonia provides the ideal setting for blockchain projects as it works to attract the cutting-edge of innovation. Citizens in Estonia, now not even limited to residents since the advent of E-Residency, have access to a digital identity which can encompass various facets of their day-to-day life. Since Estonia introduced licensing for companies operating in crypto less than a year ago, there have been nearly a thousand successfully issued licenses. Such moves have helped to position Estonia at the top in terms of providing a conducive environment for blockchain entrepreneurs, along with other popular locations such as Malta, Switzerland, and South Korea.

Interest shown towards blockchain in Estonia has never been higher and this year’s Moontec is dedicated to discussing the biggest challenges facing the nascent technology nowadays. These are issues surrounding regulation, market adoption, and crucially finding application in real-world practice. This reflects a notable shift in the space from a focus on exploring the manifold use cases, to building practical solutions for business. It is likely that this will be where blockchain starts to realize its full potential; many top businesses, such as those sending thought leaders to Moontec, are investing money into developing blockchain projects.

Moontec thus hopes to stimulate discussion and help to clarify the wider, general goals of blockchain in enterprise. By contributing to a discourse that helps build consensus for a stable vision of blockchain development, attendees and speakers alike can help foster progress towards functional applications. Support from the highest levels of Estonia is self-evident with the former Prime Minister, now Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, due to be in attendance. Opening the event with a speech is Ott Vatter who is Deputy Director of the E-Residency programme.

So the message coming out of Moontec 18 is already clear: let’s work as a community towards building the best practical blockchain applications for business. There is also a clear message from Estonia as the pioneering Baltic nation continues to send positive signals to businesses. They say they are committed to aiding this process as much as possible and will innovate to help entrepreneurs from all corners of the world. It is self-evident that they are currently doing this to great effect. Moontec will to this end be a crucible for wider progress in blockchain for enterprise.

Article Produced By
Bob Keith

Chronic crypto nut and freelance writer/editor for longer than I care to remember. Have finally found a home here at Crypto Disrupt.


NYSE Operator Partners With Blockstream to Launch Crypto Tracking Tool for Investors

NYSE Operator Partners With Blockstream to Launch Crypto Tracking Tool for Investors


The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has partnered

with major global blockchain firm Blockstream to launch its Cryptocurrency Data Feed product, as ICE Data Services tweeted on Jan. 24. Founded in 2000 in the United States, the Intercontinental Exchange is a global company that owns exchanges for financial commodity markets and operates 23 global exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

According to the announcement, ICE’s new crypto data service enables real-time and historical data for more than 60 cryptocurrencies from major trading markets and exchanges worldwide. Blockstream has introduced the product under the name “Crypto Feed V3” on its Twitter, claiming that the updated service now includes more than 30 venues across over 400 crypto and fiat trading pairs. The new partnership intends to provide global investors with a comprehensive tool to monitor data for the most actively and widely traded cryptocurrencies, the company wrote.

The Cryptocurrency Data Feed includes a number of crypto market monitoring services such as price discovery, historic data and full-depth market by price and by venue insight, as well as round-the-clock market overview including a calculated accumulated volume, the volume of weighted average price (VWAP) and others. In addition, the new service is backed by ICE’s Secure Financial Transaction Infrastructure (SFTI) tool, which claims to eliminate downtime for investors and enable immediate notifications in case of an emergency. ICE had previously announced its plans to launch Bakkt, regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets, in August 2018.

As reported on Dec. 31, 2018, ICE released an update to the launch timeline for Bakkt — which had previously been a targeted Jan. 24 launch date — in accordance with consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Recently, Bakkt has announced that they are hiring for a number of key positions at the company, mostly looking for developers at director and senior levels. Previously in mid-January, Bakkt had also acquired certain assets in futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

Altcoin What is an altcoin?

Altcoin | What is an altcoin?


These days, everybody talks about altcoins.

Indeed, bitcoin is no longer a profitable coin to mine if you don’t have the specialized hardware. Therefore, people are looking for easier coins to mine. And with the large choice available, it’s not that simple to find the best altcoin to mine. But let’s start at the beginning: What is an altcoin?

Definition of altcoin

What is altcoin? The term altcoin, or alt coin, comes from ALTernative COIN (I also read about alternate coin sometimes). While some people use this term to define cryptocurrencies in general, I prefer to keep it as an alternative to bitcoin. Indeed, bitcoin is the first digital currency and, as such, is the reference. And all the newcomers are alternatives.

Bitcoin alternatives

Bitcoin is not the only crypto-coin anymore. Indeed, since 2009, many new coins have hit the market. And all these new coins are alt coins. And the first alternative currency is the namecoin, which is based on the decentralization of domain name registration. The first clone of bitcoin, litecoin, is available since October 2011. And there are more than 700 cryptographic currencies available on the market today. While many of them are not worth much (or are simply scams like onecoin), some of them could make you rich!

Founding principles of altcoins

In the cryptomoney industry, there are founding principles each coin has to respect, such as decentralization and total transparency. Therefore, a true cryptocurrency always has a blockchain, or chain of blocks. And its code is generally available to the whole community. Furthermore, the community is in charge of all major decisions on the future of the currency, which should respect the specifications defined when creating the currency. As a result, if you find a “crypto-currency” that has neither a block chain nor free software available, it’s NOT an altcoin. But it’s most certainly a scam to extort money from you, using the reputation of the bitcoin.

What altcoins to invest in?

While you could buy many coins from many unknown altcoins, it’s a risky investment. Therefore, if you want to buy altcoins, you should focus on the currencies which have a daily trade volume of at least 100,000 USD. To play it safer, you could invest in the most serious alt-coins, with a daily exchange volume of more than a million dollars such as ethereum, ripple, litecoin, monero, Factom or Zcash. Since the currencies are dynamic, you should study their prices regularly before buying altcoins. And don’t forget to invest only what you can afford to lose!

Article Produced By

Top 10 Messenger App Telegram Plans Blockchain Platform Launch in March: Sources

Top 10 Messenger App Telegram Plans Blockchain Platform Launch in March: Sources


Global messaging app Telegram plans

to release the mainnet and token for its blockchain-based Telegram Open Network (TON) platform as early as March 2019. The news was revealed to Cointelegraph by a source close to Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov today, Jan. 23. Telegram — which reportedly counts 200+ million active users per month, placing it among the top ten most popular messaging apps worldwide — raised almost $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds last year for both Telegram and its forthcoming platform TON.

Cointelegraph’s source has emphasized that Durov was reluctant to confirm a concrete date for TON's release and that the March estimate remains subject to change. According to a separate report from Russian business media outlet The Bell, Durov’s team has told investors that TON is 90 percent ready, but that delays are possible, due to the “innovative nature of the development.” As reported, details released so far have suggested that TON will aim to function as “new way of exchanging data,” and will be powered by the platform’s native cryptocurrency, dubbed “Gram.”

As reported in May, 2018, the staggering success of Telegram’s pre-sales prompted the company to subsequently decide to cancel a public ICO that had been slated for later in 2018. Despite rumors that the Russian billionaire and former owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich backed the project, only two entrepreneurs — co-founder of payment service Qiwi, Sergei Solonin, and co-founder of dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann, David Yakobashvili — have publicly confirmed their investments to date.

Following news that TON was “70 percent ready” last October, the government of Iran stepped up its restrictions on the messaging app, declaring that any cooperation with the app to launch its Gram token would be considered an act against national security and a disruption to the national economy. Iran has enforced a spate of bans against Telegram since April 2018. The app has also notably been blocked in Russia — Durov’s birthplace — since April 2018, officially due to Durov’s refusal to share the app’s encryption keys with authorities in compliance with a local telecoms law. According to data at the time of the block, around 10 million of Telegram’s users are based in Russia.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

Hodler’s Digest Jan 2127: Top Stories Price Movements Quotes and FUD of the Week

Hodler’s Digest, Jan. 21–27: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week


Top Stories This Week

CBOE Withdraws BTC ETF Rule Exchange Request From SEC Amid Gov’t Shutdown

The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s (CBOE) BZX Equity Exchange has withdrawn its request for a rule change from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to list its Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF). A CBOE spokesperson told Cointelegraph that U.S. government shutdown was the reason for the withdrawal, as the end of the review period is approaching with no government agencies able to operate fully. The CBOE will instead re-submit the filing for an ETF — which was backed by investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX — at a later date.

Bank of International Settlements Believes Bitcoin Must Depart from Proof-of-Work

According to new research from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), Bitcoin’s problems can only be solved if the cryptocurrency departs from a proof-of-work system. The BIS research states that once Bitcoin’s block rewards fall to zero, the resulting transaction fees will not be sufficient to sustain mining expenses. While the study does not the existence of second-layer solutions like the Lightning Network, it notes that the only true remedy is a complete departure from proof-of-work to avoid an unusable network slowdown.

US State of Wyoming Introduces Crypto Defining, Custody Legislation

The state of Wyoming has introduced a bill that will both define cryptocurrency assets, as well as allow banks to provide custodial services for cryptocurrencies. According to the legislation, crypto assets would be placed into one of three categories — digital consumer assets, digital securities and virtual currencies — which means they would be defined as intangible personal property, granting virtual currencies the same treatment as money. Banks that provide 60 days written notice to the commissioner will be able to service as qualified custodians for digital assets if the bill passes.

John McAfee Claims to Flee Country to Escape IRS, Conducts Presidential Campaign From Boat

Crypto entrepreneur and advocate John McAfee claims that he has fled the country this week in order to escape an indictment by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and will be conducting his 2020 presidential campaign from a boat in international waters. According to McAfee, a grand jury had been convened against him by the IRS. McAfee also added that he has not paid U.S. taxes for eight years, speaking already from a boat in an unknown location from which he will use proxies to conduct his campaign.

Bithumb Crypto Exchange Looks to Reverse Merger to Take Company Public in US

Blockchain Exchange Alliance, a Singapore-based holding firm that has a controlling stake in crypto exchange Bithumb, is looking to acquire a publicly traded company in the U.S. According to media reports, Blockchain Industries — a publicly traded company — has signed a binding letter of intent with the Blockchain Exchange Alliance, which would in effect be the first instance of a crypto exchange going public if the reverse merge proves to be successful. An unnamed source added that the combined company plans to eventually “uplist” from the OTC markets to the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets are slightly down at the end of the week, with Bitcoin trading at around $3,581, Ripple at $0.31 and Ethereum about $115. Total market cap is around $119 billion. The top three altcoin gainers of the week are Obitan Chain, ALBOS and Bittwatt. The top three altcoin losers of the week are PlayerCoin, Hercules and Bitspace.

Most Memorable Quotations

“The next bull run will decide which public blockchains persist for the next 100 years. I believe Bitcoin is currently the *only* sure thing,” — Alistair Milne, United Kingdom-based investor and entrepreneur

“Institutional investors are pretty picky. They're very intelligent investors, but then they also require an ecosystem of sophisticated trading strategies and tools […] They need derivatives, they need options, they need to get a short sell, and if our markets can get these things, what will happen is that you'll no longer see this massive volatility,” — Charles Hoskinson, founder of altcoin Cardano (ADA)

“1) Either the innovation finds practical utility followed by years of steady and sustainable commercial progress and integration into the economic fabric (e.g., the Internet); or

2) The invention fails to achieve broad adoption and its commercial applications as medium of exchange are limited (e.g., the Segway),” — Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq Inc. “When it shot up high, I said I don't want to be one of those people who watches and watches it and cares about the number. I don't want that kind of care in my life […] Part of my happiness is not to have worries, so I sold it all and just got rid of it,” Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, on selling all of his Bitcoin

FUD of the Week

New Research Indicates $16 Million in Cryptocurrency Stolen in Cryptopia Hack

According to an analysis by blockchain infrastructure firm Elementus, as much as $16 million in Ethereum and ERC20 tokens was stolen in the recent hack of New Zealand exchange Cryptopia. The exchange had originally reported that the losses were significant, without naming a specific number. According to the Elementus data, funds were transferred out of both core and secondary wallets from Jan. 13 to 17, while Cryptopia alerted police and the public about the hack by Jan. 15. Elementus’ investigations have found that around $15 million remains in the two wallets purportedly under control of the hackers, while about $880,000 has already been cashed out.

Accused in Iceland Bitcoin Miner Heist Receives 4.5 Year Prison Sentence

The Icelandic man accused of stealing Bitcoin mining equipment has received a four-and-a-half year prison sentence. Sindri Þór Stefánsson had been arrested in Amsterdam after reportedly flying to Holland with a stolen passport. Along with six other accomplices, Stefánsson received jail time after being convicted of the theft Bitcoin mining equipment reportedly worth $2 million, as well as two other attempted heists that took place December 2017 and January 2018. The group’s target was Nordic IT company Advania, to which all seven defendants will now pay compensation of 33 million Icelandic Krona (about $273,000).

Suspect Arrested in 11 Million IOTA Theft Case After International Police Collaboration

A 36-year-old individual suspected of the theft of over $11 million in IOTA, as well as fraud and money laundering, has been arrested by the United Kingdom’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit. The Hessen State Police in Germany, the UK’s National Crime Agency and Europol also helped with the arrest, following a search warrant carried out in Oxford, U.K. The suspect has reportedly stolen more than $11 million in IOTA from over 85 victims since January 2018 by using a malicious IOTA seed generator to lead users to private keys that he controls.

Article Produced By
Molly Jane Zuckerman

Molly Jane is a Russian Literature major from California with a background in writing. She joins Cointelegraph after working as a freelance journalist and blogger.