Microsoft Hyperledger UN Join Blockchain Identity Initiative

Microsoft, Hyperledger, UN Join Blockchain Identity Initiative

Tech giant Microsoft and blockchain alliance Hyperledger have joined

blockchain-based digital identity initiative, the ID2020 Alliance. Announced during the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland yesterday, the alliance – which aid agency Mercy Corps and the U.N. International Computing Center have also just joined – aims to improve people's lives through provision of digital identities.

According to a press release, the group is developing solutions with a focus on user's direct ownership and control over their personal data using blockchain technology. At issue is the fact that over 1.1 billion people face not able to prove their identity, and thus struggle to access benefits and services. The situation also gives rise to more serious issues such as human trafficking, according to the World Bank. The initiative has now received a $1 million donation from Microsoft, as well as contributions from entities including Accenture and the Rockefeller Foundation. Accenture, one of the founding member of the initiative, announced a $1 million investment during the ID2020 Alliance summit last summer at New York.

David Treat, MD of the global blockchain practice at Accenture said:

"Decentralized, user-controlled digital identity holds the potential to unlock economic opportunity for refugees and others who are disadvantaged, while concurrently improving the lives of those simply trying to navigate cyberspace securely and privately."

The release explained that digital identity that is user-owned would include government-issued forms of legal identification and allow a seamless authentication process for people and institutions. "We are building an ecosystem of partners committed to working across national and institutional borders to address this challenge at scale," Dakota Gruener, the Executive Director of the ID2020 Alliance, noted. Last June, Microsoft and Accenture unveiled a blockchain prototype for ID2020, that is powered by a private version of the ethereum blockchain.

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Gold Market Mulling Blockchain for 200 Billion of Supply

Gold Market Mulling Blockchain for $200 Billion of Supply

Tech may prevent spread of conflict minerals, money laundering
Bullion joins commodities from oil to tomatoes in ledger push Gold Soars as Crypto Currencies Plunge.. Gold is going digital.

Blockchain technology may help keep track of the roughly $200 billion of the precious metal dug from remote mines, traded by middlemen and melted down by recyclers that’s sold each year to buyers scattered around the world. The London Bullion Market Association, which oversees the world’s biggest spot gold market, will seek proposals including the use of blockchain for tracing the origins of metal, partly to help prevent money laundering, terrorism funding and conflict minerals, according to Sakhila Mirza, an executive board director. “Blockchain cannot be ignored,” Mirza, also general counsel of the LBMA, said in an interview Monday. “Let’s understand how it can help us today, and address the risks that impact the precious metals market.”

Where Gold Ends Up

Jewelry and investment are the biggest sources of gold demand, followed by central banks.Markets in commodities from crude oil to diamonds and even tomatoes are looking at using the digital ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin — known to some as "digital gold" — to track ownership. Tracing gold supply is key to preventing metal that funds armed conflict from entering world markets, identifying owners and maintaining security from mine to vault.

The LBMA has pushed ahead with efforts to modernize a trade that until recent years relied on phone auctions to set a key benchmark price for the market. “For us, it’s a question of where the gold comes from,” Mirza said. The LBMA oversees a list of refiners approved to supply the London market. Its London Good Delivery List sets global standards for large gold and silver bars. The LBMA will also study tagging the metal and using other security features to ensure bars are exactly what they say they are, it said in a statement Tuesday.

“Everything that ends up in an LBMA good-delivery refiner needs to be tracked in the supply chain, regardless of whether it ends up as a large bar in a London vault, a kilo bar shipped to the Far East, or a coin owned by a collector,” Mirza said. “A lot has been done already but it’s still very paper-based. We now want to formalize it through an efficient and possibly technologically based solution.”

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Korean Crypto Exchange Korbit Halting Deposits from Non-Citizens

Korean Crypto Exchange Korbit Halting Deposits from Non-Citizens

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Korbit has barred non-citizens from depositing local currency – the Korean won – on its platform. Korbit stated in an announcement that its virtual account service will be terminated this month in order to introduce accounts attached to users' identities, as recently ordered by local regulators in a move aimed to calm speculation in the crypto markets, as well as money laundering. As part of that shift, foreign nationals will no longer be able to deposit funds to their accounts.

The firm said:

"If you are not a Korean citizen, the KRW deposit to the domestic virtual currency exchange will be stopped when you switch to the new KRW deposit method in January. [This] applies to both domestic residents and non-residents."

Korbit added that foreigners will not be allowed to deposit Korean won "at any domestic cryptocurrency exchanges" when the new system is implemented. According to reports, the government has previously indicated it would ban non-resident foreigners and minors from trading cryptocurrencies. Early this month, South Korea announced it would begin implementing the new regulations banning anonymous cryptocurrency exchange accounts on or around Jan. 20.

The proposal essentially strengthens know-your-customer (KYC) rules already in existence for exchanges and banks, and will require cryptocurrency exchange users to connect a bank account with identifying information in order to deposit or withdraw funds. Last week, local financial authorities stated that cryptocurrency investors would face fines if they did not switch their virtual accounts to ones with identities attached.

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Bitcoin price plummet sees investors swap cryptocurrency for solid gold

Bitcoin price plummet sees investors swap
cryptocurrency for solid gold

Jumpy bitcoin investors turned to traditionally safe assets such as gold

or register with your social account, would like to receive lunchtime headlines Monday – Friday plus breaking news alerts by email. Anxious bitcoin speculators have sought refuge in gold amid a price plunge in the cryptocurrency. Sales of gold coins surged fivefold last week at Frankfurt-based trader CoinInvest, with phones ringing off the hook and emails pouring in from nervous investors looking to cash out.

CoinInvest director Daniel Marburger told the Standard the surge in demand has continued. "It is a constant flow into gold," he said. Although bitcoin recovered to $11,700 (£8,430) on Monday morning after plunging to $10,000 (£7,187) last week, investors are still nervous, according to Mr Marburger. "Bitcoin could not make a clear counter-trend last week and gold is on a run at the moment with 7 per cent gains since its December lows," he said.

What is Bitcoin?

According to Mr Marburger, speculators are seeking safety from the "crazy volatility" of the cryptocurrency, whose value has collapsed 40 per cent in the past month. "Gold has a sustainable track record over decades and is an asset you actually hold in your hands. People are looking for something to touch rather than an investment where only the belief in it is the value," he said. "Bitcoin has proven one time more than it is based on speculation." Some experts maintained that the cryptocurrency will stabilise in the longer term.

Benjamin Dives, CEO of London Block Exchange, which plans to launch a direct sterling-to-bitcoin exchange, said bitcoin's volatile week was not a cause for concern. "[Some investors] may not be comfortable with the markets moving [downwards] and so are ‘cashing out’ to invest in traditionally stable assets, such as gold," he said. "These people are likely new to cryptocurrency exposure or, as is standard in the investment industry, were just ensuring profits in the short term. The result for cryptocurrencies is a dip in the market, which is natural and healthy."

He added that the exchanges actually prove the cryptocurrency's concrete value. "As the market matures, we can be sure of more stability in the future and that is when these investors will be looking for a re-entry point. Unfortunately for them, their transition to gold may cause them to miss out on the gold rush," he concluded. A year ago, in January 2017, one bitcoin was valued at £900. Many economists remain sceptical about its worth.

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Indian Banks Suspending Bitcoin Exchange Accountsmore

Indian Banks Suspending Bitcoin Exchange Accounts

Bitcoin exchanges are under fire in India,

as many of the nation’s top banks have suspended or greatly curtailed functionality on exchange accounts. State Bank of India (SBI), Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank have all taken strong action toward crypto exchanges, either closing accounts or severely limiting functionality. The banks cite the risk of dubious transactions, according to local reports.

The news follows the request of advocate Bivas Chatterjee who recently filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Calcutta to impose immediate regulations on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the Ministry of Finance referred to Bitcoin as a ponzi scheme before the end of last year. The international mood toward Bitcoin has continued to tighten, particularly with US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin stating that the G20 nations will begin working together to make sure that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are properly regulated.

Bitcoin Laundering Less Than One Percent of All Transactions

A recent report from the joint Bitcoin analysis team of FDD and Ellicit,

a Bitcoin forensics company, indicates that less than one percent of all Bitcoin transactions involve money laundering. The report, written to help analyze the flow of funds and the danger of money laundering, has indicated that money laundering isn’t nearly the problem some critics of cryptocurrency believe.

The report states:

“The amount of observed Bitcoin laundering [is] small and darknet marketplaces such as Silk Road and, later, AlphaBay are [generally] the source of almost all of the illicit Bitcoins laundered through conversion services.”

The report also indicates that the vast majority of illicit transactions using Bitcoin were processed in Europe, receiving more than five times as many illicit transactions as North America.

AML processes must improve

The report suggests that the best way to combat such illicit activity is through more stringent anti-money laundering (AML) measures. The report states that the only way to manage the illicit transaction is for “Financial authorities in all jurisdictions [to] increase AML enforcement.”

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Keep Calm And Hodl? CNBC Guest Tells Bitcoin Critic to Piss Off’more

Keep Calm And Hodl? CNBC Guest Tells Bitcoin Critic to ‘Piss Off’

The mainstream media debate over Bitcoin

as a success or failure approached live comedy this week after a “brawl” broke out between guests on a CNBC panel. In an exchange which ended an edition of the network’s increasingly notorious Fast Money segment, regular contributor and RiskReversal.com editor Dan Nathan told Evercore ISI technician Rich Ross to “go piss off” after he criticized Bitcoin’s performance.

Ross had previously maintained that Bitcoin was a poor investment choice in the past few months due to its near-50% fall this week. Traditional stock investments, on the other hand, had allegedly fared better, with Ross giving the example of Boeing’s 200% gains since 2016. As Zerohedge notes, reproducing the unedited version of the exchange, Ross had failed to note Bitcoin’s annual gains of over 1000% in 2017 alone. Nathan labeled him “glib” to deride it. “You’ve been wrong, so don’t say that I’m glib,” Ross retorted before Nathan weighed in with the fateful remark:

“You don't know what I've done, you don't know what my call is, so go piss off, seriously.”

The episode continues Fast Money’s somewhat bizarre approach to Bitcoin reporting. In December, the segment made headlines for suddenly switching allegiances to become extremely bullish on altcoin Bitcoin Cash. At the time, its dedicated Twitter account began publishing material which strongly criticized Bitcoin, telling respondents to “deal with” the rise of Bitcoin Cash instead. That style of content has since not made a return.

Yale Prof. Shiller Thinks Bitcoin’s ‘Bubble’ Could Actually ‘Linger 100 Years

Yale economics professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller has admitted

in an interview with CNBC Thursday, Jan. 18., that he now “doesn’t know what to make of Bitcoin ultimately” after earlier calling it “the best example of a bubble”. In fresh comments Thursday, several months after he told host Brian Kelly it was Bitcoin’s “story”  not its value that had sparked public interest in it, Shiller told reporters “it [Bitcoin] has no value at all unless there is some common consensus that it has value. Other things like gold would at least have some value if people didn't see it as an investment,” repeating a common narrative that investment in Bitcoin is like the 17th-century Tulip Mania. Though he admitted his uncertainty as to what Bitcoin’s fate will be, Shiller overall remains sceptical,

stating:

“[Bitcoin] might totally collapse and be forgotten and I think that's a good likely outcome but it could linger on for a good long time, it could be here in 100 years.”

Bitcoin’s two-day slump this week has partially recovered to challenge $12,000, making it worth over 160 percent more than when Shiller made his previous bubble claims in early September, 2017.

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How to make smart investments in cryptocurrency

How to make smart investments in cryptocurrency

The price of Bitcoin rose over 1000% in 2017,

meaning every $1 invested turned into $1000 in just 12 months. Bitcoin isn’t done yet, and other cryptocurrencies are now seeing similarly rapid growth. This bundle helps you make the most of this remarkable trend, even with a small initial investment. You’ve probably seen on the news recently that the value of Bitcoin has reached an all-time high. But many other digital currencies are expected to see even bigger growth in the coming years. The Complete Cryptocurrency Investment Bundle shows you how to make money from this trend with five in-depth courses. You can get the bundle now for $24 at the PopSci Shop.

The price of Bitcoin rose over 1000 percent in 2017, meaning every $1 invested turned into $1000 in just 12 months. Bitcoin isn’t done yet, and other cryptocurrencies are now seeing similarly rapid growth. This bundle helps you make the most of this remarkable trend, even with a small initial investment. Through concise video lessons, you learn about the underlying blockchain technology and how to purchase your first coins.

The courses also help you assess the market, store your coins securely, and invest in emerging currencies like Ethereum. The final course even shows you how to earn free coins with Steemit. Along with the video courses, the bundle includes an audiobook, meaning you can keep learning on your way to work.

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What Is Blockchain?

What Is Blockchain? 

All of a sudden, blockchain is everywhere.

The technology, which was invented in 2008 to power Bitcoin when it launched a year later, is being used for everything from copyright protection to sexual consent (yes, really).Considering the daily churn of news around blockchain, not to mention the skyrocketing value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that rely on the technology, you may be wondering what the hell blockchain actually is. It’s actually a pretty simple concept, though things quickly get more complicated the harder you look. With that in mind, here are a few different ways to wrap your head around blockchain, from straightforward definitions to far-reaching metaphors.

How Does Blockchain Work?

To start, here’s the simplest explanation with no metaphors or hyperbole. In the language of cryptocurrency, a block is a record of new transactions (that could mean the location of cryptocurrency, or medical data, or even voting records). Once each block is completed it’s added to the chain, creating a chain of blocks: a blockchain. Because cryptocurrencies are encrypted, processing any transactions means solving complicated math problems (and these problems become more difficult over time as the blockchain grows). People who solve these equations are rewarded with cryptocurrency in a process called “mining.”

If you’ve always wanted to own some cryptocurrency, a new app might be a good way to get your hands.f you own any cryptocurrency, what you really have is the private key (basically just a long password) to its address on the blockchain. With this key you can withdraw currency to spend, but if you lose the key there’s no way to get your money back. Each account also has a public key, which lets other people send cryptocurrency to your account. Information on the blockchain is also publicly available. It’s decentralized, meaning it doesn’t rely on a single computer or server to function. So any transactions are instantly visible to everyone. That brings us to our first metaphor: the public ledger.

Blockchain Is Like a Public Ledger

If you send Bitcoin (or some other cryptocurrency) to a friend, or sell it, that information is publicly available on the blockchain. Other people may not know your identity, but they know exactly how much value has been transferred from one person to another. Many people see blockchain as an alternative to traditional banking. Instead of needing a bank or some other institution to verify the transfer of money, you can use blockchain and eliminate the middle man.

“The Internet of Value”

Building off the idea of a public ledger, another popular way to describe blockchain is as the internet of value. The idea is pretty simple: the internet made it possible to freely distribute data online, blockchain does the same thing for money. Instead of relying on newspapers, television and radio (which are mainly controlled by big corporations), the internet gives everyone a voice—for better or worse. Blockchain and cryptocurrency make it just as easy to transfer money across the world by bypassing traditional middlemen like banks and even governments.So you’re ready to buy some cryptocurrency. Maybe you’ve been reading up on blockchain technology…

Blockchain Is Like Google Docs

Here’s a clever metaphor for blockchain from William Mougayar, the author of The Business Blockchain: blockchain is like Google Docs. Before Google Docs, if you wanted to collaborate on a piece of writing with someone online you had to create a Microsoft Word document, send it to them, and then ask them to edit it. Then you had to wait until they made those changes, saved the document, and sent it back to you.

Google Docs fixed that by making it possible for multiple people to view and edit a document at the same time. However, most databases today still work like Microsoft Word: only one person can make changes at a time, locking everyone else out until their done. Blockchain fixes that by instantly updating any changes for everyone to see. For banking, that means that any money transfers are simultaneously verified on both ends. Blockchain could also be used in the legal business or architecture planning— really any business where people need to collaborate on documents.

Blockchain Is Like a Row of Safes

Here’s another useful explanation from online forum Bitcoin Talk. This one does a really good job of explaining how public and private

keys work:

Imagine there are a bunch of safes lined up in a giant room somewhere. Each safe has a number on it identifying it, and each safe has a slot that allows people to drop money into it. The safes are all made of bulletproof glass, so anybody can see how much is in any given safe, and anybody can put money in any safe. When you open a bitcoin account, you are given an empty safe and the key to that safe. You take note of which number is on your safe, and when somebody wants to send you money, you tell them which safe is yours, and they can go drop money in the slot.

 

After rising from under $1,000 to almost $20,000 in the past year, Bitcoin crashed spectacularly…

Blockchain Is Like DNA

Finally, this one, from Robin Chauhan on Medium, is a little far out, but I like it. Blockchain is a record of transactions, spreading across the internet as more people use cryptocurrencies. Similarly, DNA is a record of genetic transactions and mutations that spread as life expanded across the earth. Both become more complicated over time as our DNA evolves and new blocks are added to the blockchain.

Each blockchain (Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple) is like as a distinct species (human, chimpanzee, etc.). A blockchain can also be forked (like with Bitcoin Cash) to create a competing currency in the same way that two distinct species can share common ancestor. Of course, changes to DNA don’t happen easily—scientists believe it takes about a million years for a genetic mutation to catch on—and building a blockchain isn’t easy, either. The process of evolution and natural selection is a little bit like mining, a complicated series of steps that creates something incredible.

Chuck Reynolds

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New Debit Card Helps to Unlock Your Digital Currency

New Debit Card Helps to Unlock
Your Digital Currency

The common question you hear from any doubter of digital currencies

and their future in our world is “what is the use case?” Often, people look at Bitcoin and see its shortcomings as a medium of transfer, and use that as their justification for being short digital currencies. Spending Bitcoin or any other digital currency is not currently all that easy. It takes time to convert back into fiat currency, and there is often a large fee. A Singapore-based company Paycent aims to make it easier for buyers and sellers to use their digital currency. Right now they are in the process of releasing the integrated debit card which gives customers the capability to unlock their funds instantly.

Bridging the gap between fiat and digital currencies

The overall goal of the company is to make it possible for mobile and cashless payments to be accepted anywhere. Blockchain is the underlying technology that enables this advancement, and the team has worked hard to bridge the gap between fiat and digital currencies. The new Paycent integrated debit card is the key to bringing digital currencies into our day-to-day life. It has no yearly maintenance fees if the card is active and in use. You don’t need to hold a PYN token to get it. A user will pay only one time fees for card activation and delivery with any digital currency.

Pre-registration for the debit card has started on Jan. 15, and only 20,000 cards will be delivered in this first batch. The selling point for many of the early users of this card will be the low fee of 1.5 percent, paid in PYN tokens, which is much superior to the current transaction fees on most digital currencies. The hybrid wallet along with the debit card is planned to be live in the first week of March and it is currently available for registration on the Paycent website. Once operational, the card will work at more than 36 mln points in over 200 countries. Users will be able to convert any digital currency to fiat in real time basis and can use it via Paycent card at online and offline stores and cash withdrawal at ATMs globally.

More money and better transparency

Paycent has set themselves apart in a few ways. One is the manner in which they are conducting their ICO. Rather than releasing all of their tokens at once, the team at Paycent decided to release them in eight phases. The company says, there are two major benefits to this method. First, it helps the protocol by proving the concept along the way, which would then result in more money being earned. It also increases transparency and aligns incentives within the network better. Users are motivated to buy earlier by giving bonus Paycent tokens (PYN) of varying amounts to each phase.

The ICO commenced in November and has proven to be a success. Phase one of the ICO was successful, with 80 percent of tokens distributed to over 14,000 different contributors. Paycent’s end goal is to help users worldwide enter the cashless world. The true potential of a company like this comes from the fact it can create an infrastructure that users who have never had access to banks will be able to engage with. In this regard, it is an inspiring goal with limitless market potential. The original mission of Bitcoin was to create a new financial system that wasn’t dependent upon any single authority, and this might finally be possible with Paycent.

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Gaming Blockchain Platform Helps Investors Find Best Project to Invest in

Gaming Blockchain Platform Helps Investors Find Best Project to Invest in

The gaming industry is experiencing a significant boom

as emerging innovations are causing people to spend more time on gaming platforms especially with multiple gamers systems. These developments and attractions are playing important roles in placing the gaming industry as one of the most advanced markets, with revenue exceeding $116 bln in 2017.

The bigger stage is opening for the industry with the popularity of decentralized technologies. One of the first who saw the opportunity are the creators of Game Machine.The project can be described as a global open platform where gamers, investors and developers can work together, complement each other and help the whole industry to grow faster. While developing the project team considered all the parties. For gamers, they offer in-game items for their favorite titles. As for the developers, the system will provide them an opportunity to focus on the segments of their target audience, raise funds for products and start an ICO. Also, the valuable project search for investors was simplified. Briefly summarizing, Game Machine unites all the participants of the market.

Analytics for investors

Focusing on the investment opportunities within the industry, a new project Game Machine implements Blockchain technology through its Proof-of-Authority (or Proof-of-Gamer) protocol. One of the best advantages for investors is that Game Machine token holders will be able to sell their tokens to gamers and developers for a better price. They also will get a chance to choose only high-quality products to invest as they can see how many users are really interested in the projects which are located on the crowdfunding platform.

Other benefits that accrue to investors within the project includes the opportunity of being invited to the special club with exclusive big discounts and sales for the majority of crowd sales from crowdfunding platform. Top-tier investors will be able to get a part of all tokens, released by every project. Game Machine already boasts of a working product with more than 60,000 registrations, having more than 40,000 in-game items withdrawn and over 500 mln GMC tokens mined. Hence the release of the Open Beta version which was being focused upon by the Game Machine team for several months. The platform consists of a miner and a store of items for popular games such as CS:GO and Dota 2. Gamers all over the world are showing great interest.

App release and token sale

Game Machine team is focused on releasing its first version of the app for advertisers and also for investors. The mobile version of Game Machine Client for Android is already out and the iOS version is in development now and is scheduled for launch in March 2018. Further, we will see the team set up a product for exchanging tokens and also the creation of an API for the third party resources for the platform. As you see, the Game Machine team is planning a serious work during this year. Also, the project is looking for the developers to join the crowdfunding platform and already has some agreements.

In its currently active token sale which runs until Jan. 31 2018. After the end of the tokensale, Game Machine is going to release its tokens on three grand exchanges. On this very moment project has raised $1.5 mln. The main aim of the team is to take a big segment in the growing game industry market and to unite all the participants.

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