Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinbase Lists Four More Ethereum Tokens

The most popular US cryptocurrency exchange is continuing its promise to support Ethereum-based ERC20 tokens, adding four more of the coins to the Coinbase Pro platform.

Starting today, December 7, Coinbase Pro users can transfer their balances of Civic (CVC), district0x (DNT), Loom Network (LOOM), and Decentraland (MANA) to the exchange, and full trading will commence around 48 hours from today. The Coinbase announcement confirms:

“Once sufficient liquidity is established, trading will begin on each respective USDC order book. Trading will initially be accessible for Coinbase Pro users in the US (excluding NY), UK, European Union, Canada, Singapore and Australia.”

There are four stages of launch for each token. Beginning with the acceptance of transfers into the platform, then “post-only” will allow the posting of limit orders for a short time, before limit orders will start matching. After this point, full trading will become available. The Coinbase Pro Twitter account will be updated at each stage.

The four coins will, for now, only be available on the Coinbase Pro platform for advanced trading and not the standard brokerage platform at or within the firm’s mobile applications. Both services, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, are free to register, but trading fees vary.  Availability of the new coins for more countries could also be added later.

Coinbase plans to list even more ERC20 tokens “over time” and reveals:

“We are exploring the addition of many new assets beyond ERC20 tokens on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis.”

ERC20 tokens, says Coinbase, integrate easily with its existing infrastructure “particularly from a security standpoint,” but the exchange acknowledges there are other popular coins it is yet to support.

ERC20 token 0x (ZRX) and the Coinbase stablecoin USDC (USD Coin) were added by the platform in October 2018, followed by Brave Browser’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) in early November. With the addition of four more coins now in December, Coinbase is delivering on its ERC20 support plans announced back in March 2018, and more additions look set to follow.

Author: Melanie Kramer
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Bosch Doubles Down on IOTA Data Marketplace

One of the original participants of IOTA’s decentralized data marketplace, engineering and electronics monolith Bosch, has just upped the tempo with the 12th-largestcryptocurrency by market capitalization, explaining how its newfangled Internet of Things (IoT) device will play a vital role in the economy of the so-called “ambitious cryptocurrency.”

According to a post Monday by the IOT-focused arm of the German multinational, Bosch Connectivity, their Cross Domain Development Kit (XDK)—a “universal programmable sensor device” leveraging an armada of sensors to measure various ambient data including humidity, noise and light levels, and acceleration—will be now for the first time be able to simultaneously collect, upload, and sell data on IOTA’s decentralized data marketplace in fully open-source code.

Bosch Bullish on Data, Sees IOTA as Part of the Picture

Since being unveiled as a pilot program in November 2017, the Data Marketplace has been catapulted to become one of the MIOTA token’s prospective powerhouse usage cases—facilitating the purchase and on-selling of IoT data—a commodity the IOTA foundation maintains within years will become the “fuel of the future” collected by more than 75 billion devices.

Bosch, which reported $87 billion in revenues last year and has for decades nestled comfortably in the Fortune 500, seems to be equally bullish on the prospect of having a finger in the pie that is the fledgling, but burgeoning data economy.

Anticipating 20 billion connected devices by 2020, Bosch explained that it felt an affinity for IOTA’s vision of an “open and decentralized data lake that is accessible to any compensating party,” and closely mirrored the comments of the team behind the Berlin-based DAG, explaining:

Currently, data is mostly limited to the control of a few entities and not available for the broad masses. Therefore, not everyone can develop new use cases or business areas. Especially at this time when data is becoming increasingly important, IOTA presents a counterpart to the status quo with their Data Marketplace.

The German engineering heavyweight went on to shed light on how its flagship XDK IoTnode could double down on this shared vision—citing a number of potential use cases including data-monitored audit trails, and monitoring a machine’s operational status—visible to all stakeholders on IOTA’s Tangle.

Author: Jonnie Emsley
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For the Love of All That Is Holy, Do Not Take Out a Crypto-Mortgage on Virtual Land

On November 5, the distributed lending app RCN announced that it would begin administering peer-to-peer smart contract loans for the purchase of real-estate plots in Decentraland, the blockchain-based virtual world. Decentraland is an extremely promising project, and RCN’s loans are conceptually fascinating.

And yet, for anyone attuned to financial history, the idea of blockchain loans for virtual real estate is pure nightmare fuel.

Many people now creating the blockchain universe were too young to get the full experience of the 2008 financial crisis, so allow me to share my own tale. When the crisis struck, I was in the final year of a PhD program, and through a chain of collapsing leverage that led right to the Iowa state budget, my teaching assistantship disappeared. I wound up cooking omelets in a greasy spoon and taking tickets at a parking garage, at age 30, while I finished my dissertation and frantically searched for a post-grad job.

It was, in short, NOT GOOD. And at the heart of it all, as we would learn over the subsequent weeks, months, and years, were real estate loans, based mostly on fiction and stacked into wobbly towers disguised as an impregnable fortress of Good Money.

Here’s the thumbnail version: For about a decade before the crisis, banks were handing out mortgages to anyone with a pulse. As memorialized in The Big Short, Miami pole-dancers were floating four or five houses as speculative investments. That was in part because loan terms were deceptive, but mostly because of something called a mortgage-backed security, which allowed Wall Street to put a bunch of shitty loans in a blender, then sell the resulting shit-frappe as a delicious, top-shelf investment (with some help from corrupt rating agencies and a real estate bubble).

RCN’s Decentraland loans evoke the conditions leading up to the financial crisis because they’re layering risk on top of risk in a way that could obscure what’s really going on.
Inevitably, the underlying loans went bad. And then the securities went bad, and then I went from teaching at one of the top public universities in the U.S. to flipping pancakes for a few months. A lot of people suffered much, much worse. The resulting distrust of the traditional financial sector was what drove nearly everyone in crypto for the first half-decade, including Satoshi Nakamoto themself, who embedded a headline about a bank bailout in the genesis block of bitcoin.

RCN’s Decentraland loans evoke the conditions leading up to the financial crisis because they’re layering risk on top of risk in a way that could obscure what’s really going on. To be clear, Decentraland is a very cool project, and buying parcels of their virtual land could be perfectly reasonable. Even without the true ownership promised by building virtual worlds on the blockchain, games like Second Life and Entropia Universe have shown that virtual real estate can have serious real-world value.

And the specific structure of the loans offered by RCN means they’re unlikely to directly create systemic risk. Though they’re called “mortgages,” the loans being requested on the platform right now are actually short-term—just three or four months. That makes them, even in a hypothetical crypto-future, less attractive for the sort of securitization that can make a shaky long-term loan seem like a good part of your retirement portfolio. Further, these are person-to-person loans, which you could argue makes them more faithful to crypto’s individualist ethos.

RCN’s loans also leverage a safeguard that’s unique to crypto. They’re built as Ethereum smart contracts that link directly to the land parcel being funded, meaning that if a borrower defaults, they automatically lose access to their virtual land. (It’s unclear, based on RCN’s announcement, whether a lender would get to seize that land, the way a bank would.)

But the default scenario is what makes this scary in an entirely new way. Much as bad loans through the early 2000s were based on fiction—falsified income statements, mass delusions about forever-rising real estate prices—the underlying assets being financed by these crypto-loans are not real, in several ways. Decentraland is, of course, virtual, so even with the addition of blockchain, parcels aren’t as guaranteed to retain value as real land or houses.

That’s especially true because Decentraland is still getting off the ground, so there’s no airtight guarantee that buyers will ever be able to actually use the virtual land they’re borrowing to buy. If Decentraland collapses, either as a project or just as something people think has financial value, loans made through RCN will go belly-up. Even if they’re not held by banks and disguised as risk-free AAA assets, the unwinding of a bunch of crypto loans could have broader impacts.

I’ll admit, that’s a reach. This is a very small-scale offering so far, with only two loans being requested via RCN at this writing. And the amounts, while surprisingly large for speculative virtual assets, aren’t that big in broader terms; a parcel of Decentraland will set you back the equivalent of between $1,000 and $2,000 in old-fashioned money.

Nonetheless, my knees quake when I contemplate the future this small thing might portend, because it’s part of a broader romance unfolding between crypto and Wall Street. Some elements of that seem fairly innocuous—for instance, “security tokens” would simply use blockchain to make trading traditional stocks and bonds more efficient. But other things, such as the push for a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund (ETF), could open the door to major banks and other institutions building complex financial products on the back of what is still a pretty risky asset.

That should give everyone in the blockchain world at least a moment of pause. Taking our financial fate back from big banks and professional investors shilling complex, risky investments was the entire point of bitcoin. Decentraland and RCN are conducting an interesting experiment, but extreme care needs to be taken with anything with even a whiff of systemic risk.

Because I really don’t want to go back to frying eggs for a living.

Author: David Z. Morris
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$215,000 Worth of Virtual Land Bought With What Can Be a Smart Contract Based Mortgage

Someone has spent $215,200 on some tokenized pixels on the screen, as much as an actual house in some of the world’s most expensive cities.

Each pixel is a 10×10 square meters virtual land where you can build all sorts of things in a virtual reality world called Decentraland.

Things like “a casino, watch live music, attend a workshop, shop with friends, test drive a car, visit an underwater resort, and more – all within a 360-degree, decentralized virtual world,” we’re told.

Decentraland has now partnered with Ripio Credit Network (RCN), another project running on ethereum that uses smart contracts in the lending process.

RCN was created by Ripio, described as one of the biggest crypto company in Latin America with 200,000 users. They say:

“Ripio main product is their mobile wallet that operates on Bitcoin, Ether and local currency: users can receive, store, buy / sell and send cryptocurrency, and also make digital payments from their mobile phones, and also request micro-loans to finance their purchases.”

The micro-loaning aspect will now extend to mortgages for Decentraland pixels, with a statement further explaining as follows:

“To apply for a LAND mortgage, the purchaser simply has to complete a brief application form including the transaction details and deposit at least 10% of the total value of the parcel in question.

Once the user requests a mortgage on the Decentraland marketplace, a new loan is automatically published on the RCN dApp. As long as the parcel remains available (“on sale”), any lender is able to lend funds and fulfill the request.

This action creates a smart contract that locks the parcel and transfers the land’s ownership to the borrower (i.e. the mortgage requester).

The requester will immediately find a “pay” button on the Decentraland dApp. Once this user decides to repay the mortgage, he becomes allowed to demand the land’s full ownership by using the “claim” feature on the Decentraland dApp.

If the borrower does not repay the mortgage amount (up to 7 days after the loan expiration date), the lender is allowed to request the mortgage back using the same feature.”

The dapp tells us the lend functionality is not available in our region (London). So we could not test-run it to get a proper feel from the end user’s perspective.

What one notices, however, is that there are requests for ARS loans, that being Argentine Pesos. As well as MANA, the Decentraland token, and RCN, the token of the smart contract based lending framework.

The charged interest rate looks stupendously high, with these being short term loans. In addition, the smart contract part is probably more backend where it concerns fiat lending, but where the entire operation is natively digital, then this becomes a self-executing mortgage.

One feature of a mortgage is monthly installment payments. Here they could be employed through new subscription models especially with tokens, like weth (eth itself tokenized), but as stated we could not quite see how it works exactly.

“Decentraland is dedicated to making the exciting new world of virtual reality decentralized—ruled by open standards as opposed to one central organization.” Decentraland CEO, Ariel Meilich, said before adding:

“This partnership will help us fully commit to that mission, as the buying and selling of land—the basis of all the exciting things our users can create in VR—will not just be decentralized, but done on the leading global blockchain-based credit network.”

Making it a somewhat interesting financial service where natively digital aspects are concerned.

In that sort of situation, the smart contract itself can know when the mortgage is paid or otherwise, with ownership so automatically changing.

Making this a smart mortgage that doesn’t really need much human involvement and does not require much level of trust, but still of course contains the usual risks of default.

Here, however, the risk is minimized as you automatically get the land. So there are no jurisdictional issues, courts, and so on. With the only question being: for just how much can you sell the re-possessed virtual world.

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