Initiative Q Saga…is it a Crypto?

Initiative Q hasn’t even been launched yet, but it already has a reputation. Founded by former PayPal, the online payments giant, employee (and founder of Fraud Sciences Corp., acquired by PayPal in 2008) Saar Wilf, the startup is inviting select individuals to sign up early to its payment network and encouraging them to enlist their friends.

However, despite announcing that two million people from over 180 countries have already signed up to use the network once it launches, Initiative Q’s system is not offering a new cryptocurrency or blockchain. Yet even though it clearly states this on its website, it has been flagged as possibly ‘the next Bitcoin’ by certain members of the press.

Nevertheless, Initiative Q does offer crypto at least two important lessons. Firstly, its proactive marketing methods are arguably something crypto should try to emulate and build upon.
And secondly, the mistaken assumption that Initiative Q might be a ‘new Bitcoin’ reveals that crypto is still painfully misunderstood, and that it needs to work harder to communicate to the general public that it’s more than a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme involving digital money.

As founder Saar Wilf tells Cryptonews.com, the pre-building of a user base for Initiative Q – even before it has a product – is actually a key component of its payment system.
“The reason we’re not seeing a globally popular modern payment network is the “chicken and egg” barrier — no buyer will join a new payment network with no sellers, and no seller will offer a new payment option that no buyer uses,” he says.
As interesting as it sounds, this business strategy – which is also complemented by ‘free’ access for early signees to the yet-to-be-launched Q currency – has resulted in charges that the system is fraudulent.
For example, an extremely informal poll conducted on Twitter has found, at the time of writing, that 55% of cryptocurrency fans believe Initiative Q is a scam.

Meanwhile, comment pieces in such places as the Financial Times and Mashable have described the system as a pyramid scheme, given that it’s based around select people being invited to join and being offered free currency, all in the hope of making money out of the fact that they were early adopters.

However, Initiative Q denies all claims that it’s a scam. Earlier this month, it told Mashable that it wasn’t a pyramid scheme: “The key differentiator is that the potential future gains are a result of the currency becoming widely adopted, not from newcomers paying to join.”
And speaking to Cryptonews.com, founder Saar Wilf explains that its approach to recruiting users is directed at solving a fundamental problem affecting new payment networks, rather than at making money out of ‘greater fools.’

“Initiative Q’s ability to recruit a critical mass of buyers and sellers to adopt a new payment system, allows us to simultaneously upgrade the whole infrastructure end-to-end – something that no one was able to achieve so far,” he says. “This will make payments far simpler, faster, and cheaper.”

Initiative Q is not a cryptocurrency, as Wilf confirms.
“The main attribute of cryptocurrencies is the fact that they are decentralized and “auto-govern”. Q, on the other hand, will be centrally managed by an independent democratically-elected monetary committee separate from the Q company.”
Given this big difference, it becomes curious as to why the public and parts of the media have confused Initiative Q with crypto, although Wilf himself has an explanation:
“Since the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies increased significantly and rapidly about 12-18 months ago, they have received much public attention […] and consequently I think that the terms cryptocurrency and digital currency have erroneously become synonymous. Since Q is offering a new payment network and digital currency, and many hope it could someday have significant value, this comparison by lay people is to be expected.”

But as much as this explanation makes sense, it should be troubling for the crypto industry and community. If the public regards ‘cryptocurrency’ simply as ‘electronic money,’ then clearly crypto has failed at making its distinguishing virtues – decentralization and immutability – known outside of the industry.

And this is exactly why the whole Initiative Q saga should be a lesson to crypto, not because of suspicions that Q is a pyramid scheme, but because the episode reveals how much more work crypto has left to do to gain widespread adoption.


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Author: Simon Chandler
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A 7-Year Legal Fight Led This Dev to Build Unstoppable Ethereum Storage

“If you build it strong enough, the law will follow.”
That’s how Daniel Nagy, the leading developer behind Swarm – ethereum’s decentralized storage-layer – described his “takeaway lesson” after a seven-year legal battle over the hosting a file-sharing node.
A precursor to peer-to-peer file sharing service, Bittorrent, Nagy was running a DC node, a technology that is now “perfectly and completely obsolete,” according to the developer.
“I had a bit of a legal fight over it and I won,” he told CoinDesk.

In the aftermath of that fight, Nagy – who founded of the Hungarian branch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation – joined the Ethereum Foundation, where he was inspired to look deeper into censorship-resistant technology.
In particular, Nagy’s experience in the courts initiated his work on Swarm, a hotly anticipated storage layer for ethereum, where he focuses on systems architecture and privacy-preserving cryptography.
With Swarm, Nagy is fixated on how to make decentralized storage robust enough that legal repercussions of this kind can’t happen – in what he describes as “an arms race” between developers and regulators.
“This is an arms race, and since we can develop stuff and the marginal cost of replication is zero, we will win this arms race, and I think everybody knows that,” he told CoinDesk.
An ethereum initiative that has been active since the early days of the platform, Swarm seeks to provide a mechanism for the blockchain to offload some of its historical data, as well as handle file-storage more broadly.
With an emphasis on “efficiency, speed, confidentiality, and security,” the decentralized storage-layer is built with the aim of rendering the cost of attack so inefficient that the legal system is forced to update itself in response.
According to Nagy, that’s because a fully robust network, “can actually inform decision making, even to the point of how law is interpreted by judges and enforcers.”

Unstoppable storage
Intended to provide a base infrastructure for a decentralized internet, Swarm splits information up between the computers of different network participants.
To protect this layer from censorship – what Nagy defines as taking information out of circulation – decentralization and privacy are vital.
For example, what developers call “redundancy” is key to how Swarm protects against censorship. This refers to the duplication of critical system components of a system – creating, in effect, a “swarm” of machines.
“If you have multiple channels of communication, multiple locations of storage, then censoring becomes more expensive because you need to find all of them and shut down all of them,” he told CoinDesk.
While it’s possible to store information in a transparent way on Swarm, much of Nagy’s work has focused on how to ensure sensitive information remains private, even when stored on someone else’s computer.
To do this, Swarm uses what is called “counter mode” encryption. If there’s a dispute, the protocol shares a small piece of encrypted data that can verify ownership without revealing any other information.
In order to access the stored information remotely, Swarm uses public and private key pairs.
As such, participants will host encrypted data chunks on their laptops, and in most jurisdictions, can do so with a degree of plausible deniability – also meaning that, because Swarm nodes don’t hold the keys to unlock data, they won’t be at risk of legal trouble.
According to Nagy, that’s important because attack-resistant storage is essential to healthy societies.

Future directives
The storage protocol is currently in public alpha, meaning that while still under heavy development, but today, anyone can run a Swarm node.
Going forward, the protocol will also offer incentives in the form of ether (ethereum’s native cryptocurrency) for participants in the Swarm network. This aspect is still being fine-tuned.
Additionally, according to Nagy, Swarm encryption has been designed to be “as smart contract friendly as possible,” in order to ensure that dapp developers can seamlessly integrate the technology.
That’s because while primarily intended to store smart contract information and other blockchain data in a decentralized way, Swarm has other, more far-reaching use cases on the horizon.
For example, the project has secured a number of partnerships over the past year, including video streaming startup Livepeer and Datafund, a privacy-centric data management protocol.
Nagy is also using Swarm to build a censorship-resistant social media platform called BeeFree, working with fellow Ethereum Foundation developer Dimitry Khokhlov. Their goal is to use the technology in a bid to create an alternative to platforms with heavier forms of censorship.
“We have access to a kind of shared pool of knowledge that humanity has accumulated, and if that is being censored, that makes us much much much dumber as a society,” Nagy said.


Source
Author: Rachel Rose O’Leary
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Companies Launch Crypto Pay Travel Pilots

Crypto-keen travelers in Japan may soon be able to use digital tokens to pay their way as they move around the country – with airport taxi services and luggage storage facilities in major cities launching crypto pay pilot initiatives.

The operators of a nationwide baggage storage service and a Ethereum ERC 20 protocol token say they have partnered with stores, guesthouses, tourist information centers and storage facilities in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as businesses on the island of Hokkaido – a popular destination for domestic and international tourists. Partner companies agreed to take part in a pilot scheme whereby travelers settle their luggage storage bills using digital tokens rather than Japanese yen.

The coin’s operators say their token, NinjaCoin, has recently been listed on British exchange platform Mercatox.

Meanwhile, per Bloomberg, Hinomaru Limousine – a Tokyo-based airport pickup service with a fleet of some 500 vehicles – has begun on an ambitious three-month pilot whereby customers can pay for their rides in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum, travelling from either Narita or Haneda, the country’s two busiest airports to the metropolitan Tokyo area.
The company’s pilot is being conducted in conjunction with Remixpoint, the operator of Financial Services Agency-licensed exchange platform Bitpoint.

Remixpoint is one of Japan’s largest energy companies, and last month announced it would begin integrating Bitcoin pay “to address growing demand” – allowing Bitcoin customers access to a range of discounts and special offers.

Last year, Peach, a Japanese budget airline, made headlines all over the world when it announced that it intended to begin accepting bitcoin ticket purchases – although over a year later, the airline’s crypto pay service is still yet to materialize.

However, cryptocurrencies find their way into the travel industry not in Japan, only.
As reported in October, local government authorities in Australia have given their blessing to a deal that will see cryptocurrency exchange giant Binance invest USD 2.5 million into TravelbyBit, an Australian crypto startup – potentially opening the door for crypto pay options for travelers at international airports.

Earlier this year, the company announced that “travelers from all over the world are now able to pay using digital currency at Brisbane Airport, the world’s first digital currency airport.”

In January, TravelbyBit published a story about Robert, an eighty-year-old Singaporean Bitcoin investor, who traveled Australia on crypto.


Source
Author: Tim Alper
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Where Will Bitcoin be Ten Years From Now?

When Bitcoin was born ten years ago, the world was torn by financial crisis.
It was 2008. Major governments had piled up massive debts. Lehman Brothers failed, triggering a chain reaction of even greater failures in the banking system. Governments responded by printing unlimited quantities of money. And Bitcoin was born as Satoshi’s indignant response to the mess they created.

The dream: To create a peer-to-peer system of electronic cash, killing three birds with one stone:
First, Bitcoin would unshackle money from the control of those who created the financial crisis.
Second, it would replace their behind-the-scenes deliberations and manipulations with the first-ever form of money that has a built-in monetary policy.
Third, the monetary policy would be stable, predictable and completely transparent — visible to everyone.
That was the dream. But it has not been the reality.
Bitcoin will more closely resemble a store of wealth (like gold) than a system of electronic cash.

Here’s what happened …
When Bitcoin creators looked at fiat money, there was little desire to sort out the good from the bad. Instead Bitcoin’s specs were deliberately designed to be the exact antithesis of every critical aspect of existing monetary policy. Specifically …
1. Fiat money supply is unlimited and forever expandable. Bitcoin’s money supply is strictly capped and immutable.
2. Access to fiat digital money is dictated by banks. Bitcoin is free for everyone and anyone to use as they see fit.
3. The fiat money system is made up of multiple gatekeepers and asset custodians that have to be regulated by a central government and trusted by the people. Bitcoin’s code stipulates that there are no gatekeepers, custodians, regulators or governments in the mix. In fact, there’s supposed to be no authority whatsoever.

That was the theory. But in practice, these design choices have taken a heavy toll on the Bitcoin network over time:
1. Since Bitcoin is scarce, most people are usually reluctant to spend it. Instead, they simply hoard it in the expectation that, with time, its value will always go up.
2. Since there is no formal authority, there has emerged an oligopoly of miners who control the minting of most new Bitcoins.
3. And since Bitcoin lacks adequate governance rules to select custodians, certain groups of developers have seized control over most of the network’s development.

So, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s now evident that Bitcoin was an overreaction to the financial crisis and to the monetary system that allowed the crisis to occur.
End result: Instead of functioning as an efficient peer-to-peer system for transferring cash, Bitcoin is evolving into a store of value like gold. But unless dramatic changes are made, that could wind up being its only function ten years from now.
What’s worse, if current trends continue, Bitcoin could become an asset that’s mostly mined by an oligopoly of large corporations in the East … but mostly owned by large financial institutions in the West. (See “What might happen if China declared war on Bitcoin?”)

The good news: Like gold, Bitcoin still retains the potential to rise dramatically in value. Moreover, the fact remains that Bitcoin introduced the first public, open, digital asset the world has ever seen. Bitcoin was the first successful experiment with Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). And in recent years, that revolutionary technology has evolved rapidly.
So, what comes next? Looking ahead to the next ten years, we can see how …
DLT could contribute not only to the evolution of money and the stability of monetary policy … it could also enhance economic productivity, political governance, social cohesion and more.
DLT could revolutionize democratic elections, transform the world of lending and massively disrupt social media. So, the potential for cryptocurrencies to change the world is big, much bigger than originally expected ten years ago.
In fact, whether or not Bitcoin can deliver on its original promise is now a moot point. Other cryptocurrencies are rising to the occasion to fulfill the original dream … plus much more.

Yes, the invention of Bitcoin broke the ice.
• It unleashed teams of developers and thinkers who are passionate about a decentralized digital cash system, who are fixing the deficiencies of Bitcoin and fine-tuning their algorithms to create a currency for the masses, and …
• More recently, it has also unleashed a parallel trend of a very different kind: Regulators and gatekeepers of the traditional financial system see the handwriting on the wall. They have become increasingly aware of the powerful advantages that DLT could bring to the table. And they are already looking for ways to adapt, adopt — or co-opt — the new technology to modernize the existing system.

Depending on which of these prevails, there are two possible scenarios on how cryptocurrencies evolve over the next decade:
Scenario A. Decentralized DLT
Public open ledgers and their native cryptocurrencies begin to replace the fiat currency system. Instead of saving, spending or investing dollars, euros or yen, people begin to do all of those things with cryptocurrencies like EOS, Cardano, Ripple, Stellar or Holo.
A growing share of the population transitions from government-issued currency to public cryptocurrencies. They are attracted to crypto by handy, practical distributed applications (dApps), powered by free and open cryptocurrencies.
This activity is not controlled by government or government-regulated institutions. It’s governed by the consensus of each community.
Initially, governments resist. But eventually, they accept the new reality. They realize they can no longer control the monetary system the way they used to. Instead of bucking the trend, they begin to recognize these new forms of money as legal tender.
No currency emerges as the sole winner. Rather, a select group of cryptocurrencies becomes dominant, thanks to superior technology, the most practical applications and the broadest mainstream acceptance.

Scenario B. The Centralized DLT Scenario
Governments of the world’s largest economies — the U.S., the European Union, China and Japan — lead the way toward adopting Distributed Ledger Technology. If not, smaller countries take the lead and the larger ones follow. They realize that digital money is the wave of the future. And they see that the single, most-efficient form of digital money is based on DLT.
BUT instead of creating open, decentralized systems, they focus on digital money systems that mimic the fiat system already in place. Yes, the technology is similar. But the governance is not: The new kinds of money remain under the direct control of central banks.
For political leaders who crave more power and control, it’s a massive upgrade: Government agents gain the ability to directly monitor every single transaction in the system. They are empowered to freeze accounts with a few clicks of a mouse. And once various kinds of property are digitized, a government decree to confiscate assets of targeted groups can be executed in seconds.
The technology is still distributed ledger. But instead of opening the network to everyone (a permissionless system), those who wish to join must first get the government’s OK (a permissioned system). And instead of relying on the rules embedded in the code to ensure fairness (a trustless system), participants must accept the authority of the rulers (a trusted system).
In a country with strong democratic traditions and judicial protections, this would not be of immediate concern. The government is expected to act in the best interests of the people. It’s assumed it will use its new digital superpowers strictly against rogue actors.
But in countries already leaning toward autocracy or with no independent judiciary to speak of, the picture goes from dark to darker: Governments use centralized DLT to snuff out whatever individual freedoms remain.

How can two starkly different scenarios be enabled by the same technology?
Remember: All technology is inherently neutral. It can be tool of evolution or a weapon of destruction; a blade for harvest or for war.
DLT is a prime example. It’s one of the most revolutionary technologies on the planet. It can help enhance individual freedom, guarantee property rights and build wealth. Or, it can be used by authoritarian governments to install a draconian surveillance state.
Ten years from now, which will it be? A lot will depend on which scenario prevails: Decentralized DLT or centralized DLT?
My guess is that, for now at least, we could wind up with an unholy mix of both. But in the longer term, decentralized DLT will always have two major advantages:
First, DLT derives its greatest power from voluntary mass participation. But centralized DLT represses that mass participation. It’s contrary to the essence of what DLT does best.
Second, even if governments can create their own form of cryptocurrency that’s fully under their control, it will be almost impossible for them to ban decentralized DLT networks.
In the end, the same dynamic that ultimately makes democracies stronger than dictatorships will also make decentralized DLT stronger than the centralized alternative.


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Author: Juan M Villaverde
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Spain is Preparing for Crypto Fiesta

Could Europe’s next big crypto adopter be Spain? And might the country’s growing escalation of interest one day eclipse the region’s biggest blockchain powers? Evidence suggests that a wave of crypto fever has quietly washed over Spain in 2018 – leaving crypto pioneers very optimistic about what the future holds.

Why the sudden rush of positivity? Well, for a start, some 10% of the surveyed Spaniards claimed their own cryptocurrency holdings, the fourth highest number in the European economic bloc, according to an international survey by ING, a Dutch financial giant, carried our between 26 March and 6 April 2018. That figure is nothing to sneeze at: France and Britain lag far behind with ownership rates of only 6%. Also, 32% of the surveyed Spaniards said that they “expect to own cryptocurrency in the future,” while almost 40% added that cryptocurrencies represent the future of online expenses and investment. A minority, yes, but not an insignificant one.

In fact, the Spanish government’s recent decision to begin taxing crypto earnings may well be proof that crypto trading is as alive and well in Spain as it is in other early crypto-adopting nations like Japan.
Spain’s central bank has also talked of creating its own digital currency. The bank recently issued a report stating that “digital currencies and blockchain technology could benefit Spanish monetary policy and financial infrastructure.”
Media outlet Infobae stated that the bank was essentially proposing creating a Spanish answer to Venezuela’s Petro – a state-owned cryptocurrency.

Crypto pay is also on the ascendancy in Spain.
Jordi Calabia is a cryptocurrency investor in Barcelona. He told Cryptonews.com:
“I remember going to a cryptocurrency-themed sushi bar a few years ago. It was by the seafront in the Costa Brava town where my parents live. It was fun, but quite gimmicky – and I think it has since closed down. This year, though, I have seen a lot more serious businesses in and around Barcelona start accepting Bitcoin and altcoins – from shops to restaurants that cater to tourists to the kind of places that only locals frequent.”
Per a report in CMD Sport earlier this year, Spain has now welcomed its first crypto-friendly gyms – CrossFit centers in Madrid and Granada, operated by a company named Singular Box, where customers can pay membership fees in Bitcoin and other tokens. The news outlet quotes Singular Box’s owner as saying, “Cryptocurrencies provide one less barrier for new athletes who want to come and train with us. More and more people are making use of this financial technology. [The reaction from members] has been very positive. The feedback has been good.”
Other gyms across the country have reportedly followed suit.

Meanwhile, a network of holistic health clinics with branches in Almería, Granada, Jaén, Málaga and Córdoba last month told Diario Bitcoin that it had begun accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum payment because it “believes cryptocurrencies are the future of commerce in all industries.”
And a house owner in Tarragona earlier this year sold his apartment for 40 BTC. Mister Piso, the real estate agent that conducted the deal, said that Bitcoin pay enabled “a much speedier and more effective transaction than traditional payment methods,” and actively advised the owner to request a crypto-only payment.
Eurocoinpay, a Spanish crypto pay platform based in León, last month announced it was in talks with some of the country’s biggest high street retailers, including El Corte Inglés and Zara, as well as overseas brands such as Decathlon and French hypermarket chain Carrefour.

El Economista states that the platform – Spain’s first of its kind – will potentially allow users to make in-store purchases with commission rates of 0.25%. One news site said the initiative would allow customers to “basically buy a dress in Zara paying in [cryptocurrencies], without having to go through the usual set of intermediary companies.”

Even though businesses are becoming increasingly crypto-friendly, if digital tokens are to go mainstream in Spain, private individuals will probably take them there.
A plethora of Spanish universities have begun offering cryptocurrency and blockchain-themed courses this year in response to growing demand – and have been inundated with applicants. These include the University of Navarra, the ESADE Business School and the Instituto de Empresa Business School in Madrid, some of the most prestigious business institutions in Europe. This year has also seen tertiary education establishments in Seville, Pozuelo, Cantabria, La Rioja, Pamplona and Barcelona begin offering blockchain and cryptocurrency training.

Calabia notes:
“There are communities of crypto and blockchain enthusiasts who meet up every week here in Barcelona. One I know of is thousands of members strong. People remember the time of the peseta, before the euro, when sudden currency fluctuations were common. Crypto offers Spaniards an alternative to government-controlled or Brussels-regulated currencies. A lot of people just don’t trust governments to make sound financial decisions. That’s why a lot of us are now keen to make investments in cryptocurrencies.”
Asked if she thought Spain’s rising crypto-enthusiasm represented a groundswell of interest, Cadiz-based IT expert Marta Castillo told Cryptonews.com, “Yes. Many ordinary people are starting to dabble. They talk about crypto a lot, and people are becoming much more knowledgeable about blockchain and token-related matters. I think 2019 will be a very interesting year in Spain for this sort of technology.”


Source
Author: Tim Alper
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Bitcoin and Altcoins Consolidating Gains Above Key Supports

Bitcoin price
A fresh correction wave was initiated from well above the USD 6,600 level in bitcoin price . BTC/USD traded below the USD 6,575 level and tested the USD 6,550 support (the previous resistance). The price is currently consolidating and it seems like there could be a renewed upside above USD 6,580 in the near term.
On the flip side, if there is an extended downside correction, the price may perhaps test the next major support at USD 6,500. The overall price action is positive as long as bitcoin is above USD 6,550 and USD 6,500.

Ethereum price
Ethereum price also corrected lower recently and traded below the USD 220 level. ETH/USD tested the USD 215 level and it is currently consolidating. If it stays above USD 215, there might be an upward move above the USD 220 level.
If not, the price could slide further towards the USD 208 support, which was a significant barrier for buyers previously and now it is likely to hold losses.

Bitcoin cash and ripple price
Bitcoin cash price started a sharp downside correction below the USD 600 level. BCH/USD is down more than 4% and it is currently heading towards the USD 570 support. If there are further losses, the price may well test the USD 550 support. On the upside, an initial resistance is near USD 600, above which the price may retest USD 630.
Ripple price is slightly under pressure as it failed to stay above the USD 0.530 and USD 0.525 support levels. The next major support awaits near USD 0.500 where XRP/USD will most likely find a strong buying interest. On the upside, the previous supports at USD 0.525 and USD 0.530 might act as resistances.

Other altcoins market today
Despite the recent correction in bitcoin, a few small cap altcoins traded higher between 5%-8%, including POLY, WAX, BAT and NPXS. Out of these, POLY is up around 8% and WAX gained roughly 7%.
To sum up, it seems like bitcoin is correcting recent gains, but there are many supports on the downside between USD 6,560 and USD 6,500. If there is a downside break below USD 6,500, there are chances of a sharp decline in BTC/USD. Similarly, ethereum must stay above the USD 208 and USD 202 support levels. If not, there is a risk of a fresh bearish wave below USD 200.


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Author: Aayush Jindal
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Ethereum’s Technology “Underrated”: ex-Google CEO

The former CEO of tech giant Google, billionaire Eric Schmidt, said during a private event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global in September that Ethereum, “in its technical use” is “underrated.”

Details from the private event have remained largely unknown until a video recording from the event was published to YouTube this week by Village Global.

In a fireside chat with Tyler Cowen, a well-known author and economist, Schmidt was asked about his opinion on a variety of subjects ranging from Antarctica, to human life expectancy, and blockchain technology.

When asked whether he thought “blockchain” was overrated or underrated, the engineer and ex-Googler explained that he believes it is overrated “in the public format.” From a technical perspective, however, he said that he believes it is “underrated.”
Cowen followed up by asking Schmidt what problems blockchain technology might solve, to which Schmidt replied that “blockchain is a great platform for bitcoin and other currencies, and it’s a great platform for private banking transactions where people don’t trust each other.”

He followed up by praising the potential of the Ethereum platform more specifically:
“I think the most interesting stuff that’s going on are the beginning of execution on top of blockchain, the most obvious example being the capability of Ethereum. And if Ethereum can manage to figure out a way to do global synchronization of that activity, that’s a pretty powerful platform. That’s a really new invention.”

In July, Speaking at a blockchain conference in Morocco, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said that Google missed its chance to be a leader in blockchain, while he has been mining Ethereum and making “a few pennies and dollars since”.
Interestingly, the cryptoverse also learned something new about the current CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, earlier this week when it was revealed that Pichai’s 11-year-old son is mining ether on the family’s home computer.

Moreover, Pichai had to explain to his son “how paper money actually works,” while adding that “I realized he understood Ethereum better than how paper money works.”


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Author: Fredrik Vold
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New Exchange Security Ranking Released, Hackers Target Gate.io

In a new ranking of cryptocurrency exchanges by the level of security they provide, the US-based crypto exchange Kraken comes out as number 1, judging from criteria like reliability of key storage, technical security, as well as how it handles user’s personal data. The ranking comes out just as news broke that hackers may have been able to hijack bitcoin transactions made on cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io.

The assessment tool that ranks exchanges by the security they offer was developed by cyber security firm Group-IB as a way to determine the appropriate insurance premiums for users who wish to insure their holdings on exchanges through a service known as CryptoIns.

As a result of Kraken’s high score, users of that platform received the lowest insurance premiums when they insure their crypto holdings. Following Kraken came the major crypto exchanges Bittrex and Coinbase Pro with the second lowest insurance premiums.
Chinese crypto exchanges OKEx and Huobi Pro, as well as Japanese exchange Coincheck, a victim to a major hack in January, were deemed to be among the riskiest exchanges to use, the ranking revealed.

In addition to technical aspects, the ranking looked at how the exchanges handled know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) procedures.
“This assessment focuses on open source data — white papers, information about founders, security policies. In some cases, with founders’ consent, the assessment includes penetration testing using social engineering methods aimed at the network compromise through the most vulnerable link at any organization— humans,” Group-IB wrote in an update on its website.

In a previous ranking of exchanges by rating agency ICORating, Kraken again stood out as one of the most secure exchanges, coming in at second place. On the first place was Coinbase Pro, while BitMex secured the number three spot. Other notable exchanges on the list were Binance on 17th place, HitBTC on 18th place, and Bitfinex on 54th place.

The new security ranking comes out just as news broke that hackers have successfully breached the website StatCounter.com and inserted malicious code in its site-tracking script.
According to Matthieu Faou, the malware researcher who first noticed the breach, hackers may have been able to hijack bitcoin transactions made on cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io, as reported by ZDNet on Tuesday.

Statcounter.com is a service similar to Google Analytics, and companies loads the now-breached site-tracking script to view their website analytics.
“We contacted [StatCounter], but they haven’t replied yet,” Faou told ZDNet.
However, it appears that Gate.io removed the StatCounter script from its website once it became aware of the breach, although no statement has been issued by the exchange.
“Gate.io doesn’t use StatCounter anymore, thus Gate.io customers should be safe now,” Faou confirmed. It remains unclear how many, if any, bitcoin was actually stolen before the breach was discovered.


Source
Author: Fredrik Vold
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Bitcoin and Ripple Could Resume Bullish Moves

Bitcoin price
There were positive moves in bitcoin price above the USD 6,350 level recently. BTC/USD traded above the USD 6,400 resistance to enter a bullish zone. However, the price failed to clear the USD 6,450 level and later it started a downside correction.
The price is currently consolidating near the USD 6,450 level and it seems like it could climb higher once again. If it corrects further lower, buyers might appear near the USD 6,390 and USD 6,350 levels. On the upside, a break above the USD 6,450 resistance could push the price towards the USD 6,500 hurdle.

Ethereum price
Ethereum price also moved higher and broke the USD 197 and USD 199 resistances. ETH/USD also spiked towards the USD 204 level before retreating back to USD 200.
The price is currently testing the USD 200 level, below which it could test the USD 198 level. If there are further declines, sellers are likely to take control for a push towards the USD 190 level in the near term.

Bitcoin cash and ripple price
Bitcoin cash price is slowly moving higher, but it is still struggling to clear the USD 430 resistance. BCH/USD may gain traction if there is a break above the USD 430 and USD 440 resistance levels. The main supports on the downside are USD 420 and USD 410.
Ripple price remained in a bullish zone and moved above the USD 0.455 resistance. XRP/USD traded close to the USD 0.460 level and it is currently consolidating gains. If there is a break above the USD 0.460 resistance, the price may climb towards USD 0.475.

Other altcoins market today
A few small cap coins traded higher today and gained between 5%-12%, including RVN, BAT, ZRX, WAX, SRAT and CNX. Out of these, RVN gained around 10% and BAT is up roughly 7%.
Overall, bitcoin is slowly recovering and if there is a strong move above the USD 6,450 resistance, buyers are likely to take control. On the other hand, if BTC/USD fails to stay above USD 6,400, it could decline back towards USD 6,300. Major altcoins like ethereum and ripple are also trading with a bullish angle and they might trade steadily higher.


Source
Author: Aayush Jindal
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US Sees Nationwide Crackdown on Crypto by SEC

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly launched a nationwide crackdown on what it deems to be pontential misconduct involving cryptocurrencies.
According to three undisclosed sources who spoke with Politico, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations has been asking professional investment advisors, who manages more than USD 100 million, for information about initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

According to Politico, the so-called investment advisors include large institutional investors like private equity funds and hedge funds that are operating in the cryptocurrency space.
One issue the SEC is reportedly looking into is that of custody for cryptocurrency investors. In the world of traditional finance, third party custody solutions are normally mandatory to use for professional money managers. However, the lack of such solutions in the cryptocurrency space means many firms have come up with their own solutions, thus operating in a legal grey area.

Another problem is that the lack of regulatory clarity means professional money managers to a large extent don’t know how they should report their crypto activities to the SEC in order to stay compliant. However, according to Gail Bernstein, general counsel at the Investment Adviser Association, the best thing they can do is just to think of crypto investments as any other investment “through the lens of their fiduciary duty and compliance programs.” He told Politico, that “typically, after a sweep of this type, the SEC staff will publish its findings and observations, and that can provide very helpful guidance for advisers as they consider their compliance obligations.”

In other words, investment advisors dealing with crypto investments for clients better hope the SEC will choose someone else to set an example for the rest of the industry to learn from.

Last year, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that the agency will “police this area [cryptocurrencies] vigorously and recommend enforcement actions against those that conduct initial coin offerings in violation of the federal securities laws.”


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Author: Fredrik Vold
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