Central Bank Innovation Will Mainly Hinge on Gold and Bitcoin

Financial institutions are looking for ways to expose clients to new assets. Gold and precious metals have always made their mark in this regard. Bitcoin is also on the shortlist, although it has yet to gain any widespread significant traction. Considering the digital asset’s current volatility, that may be for the best – at least for now – as major economies need stability more than anything else.

Bitcoin in the Financial Sector

Governments and central banks have very tough decisions to make. Their goal is to create financial stability. A monumental task in this day and age, as so many factors influence domestic economies. How things will progress is subject to much speculation. There is no unified global approach to speak of, which is also what makes these impending changes so interesting.

In Europe, the primary focus lies on improving overall competition. There will be a growing focus on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In what capacity that will be, remains to be determined. There is no active Bitcoin regulation in most of Europe. Nor will there be any time soon, which may or may not hinder the industry’s growth potential.

Across the ocean, things are very different in the US. Federal Reserve sources seem to pay more attention to gold and precious metals. Their dislike of Bitcoin has been well documented, mainly due to a lack of regulatory efforts. That doesn’t mean the overall interest in Bitcoin has declined. In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

Gold vs Bitcoin Debate Continues

For most central banks, two available paths have emerged. Either they create their own cryptocurrency or revert back to gold. Either option comes with advantages and risks. Central bank-issued digital currencies may not bring anything useful to the table. Going back to the gold standard lends more credibility to domestic fiat currencies.

Ever since the US Dollar decoupled from gold, it has lost its official backing. There is nothing giving the Dollar any real value as of right now. Banks, including the Federal Reserve, often criticize Bitcoin for not having intrinsic value. In hindsight, it sounds a lot like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

Who will win the race remains to be seen. Both gold and Bitcoin have their merits, value, and appeal. This is a different era of money in many different ways. Competition can come in different forms, yet coexistence will usually yield the best results. Whether or not central banks will see things in the same light, is impossible to gauge.

Should central banks revert back to the gold standard? How would improved fiat currency stability affect Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below.

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to Launch First-ever Blockchain Bond

A collaboration between the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the World Bank has resulted in an exciting new project – the world’s first blockchain bond.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia is not banking on Bitcoin, the country continues to showcase its willingness to embrace blockchain technology and all of the benefits that go along with it.

The latest move in that direction is not coming from some start-up hoping to spread global adoption, but rather from the World Bank who has instructed Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (CBA) to create and issue the world’s first blockchain bond.

Partnership Sets a Blockchain Precedent

According to CBA’s website, the Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument, aptly abbreviated to bond-i, will be “created, allocated, transferred and managed using blockchain technology” on a private Ethereum blockchain. Tech giant, Microsoft, has also been involved in the initiative as an independent reviewer of the bond-i.

The project combines the expertise of CBA’s Blockchain Centre of Excellence and the World Bank, a partnership which James Wall believes will be an industry gamechanger. Wall, the Executive General Manager of Institutional Banking & Markets International at CBA, said:

We take a collaborative approach to innovating and have a track record of partnering with other leading financial institutions, government bodies and corporates to innovate through blockchain. We believe that this transaction will be groundbreaking as a demonstration of how blockchain technology can act as a facilitating platform for different participants.

Wall explained how it’s not only financial institutions that will benefit from blockchain:

We are delighted to have partnered with the World Bank and fully support its vision of making innovative use of technology such as blockchain to increase the efficiency of financing solutions to better achieve their goal to end extreme poverty.

An Important Tool in Combating Poverty

Reducing poverty has been an essential part of the World Bank’s vision. A testament to this is the fact that it issues between US$50-US$60 billion in bonds every year in a bid to encourage economic sustainability. A key component of this seems to be disruptive technology, like blockchain. Denis Robitaille, who is the World Bank Group Chief Information Officer, said:

Helping countries transition to technology-led development is key to our goals of reducing poverty and promoting lasting development. This is at the heart of the World Bank’s Innovation Lab and this pioneering bond is a milestone in our efforts to learn how we can advise our client countries on the opportunities and risk that disruptive technologies offer as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

LBN Fintech Village Bitcoin Blockchain

More Than Just a Supporting Technology

Blockchain technology has come into the light as a beacon of hope for a more streamlined and efficient way of doing transactions and storing records. The fact that the data stored is immutable and traceable makes it an ideal tool for banks and other organizations offering financial services.

Sophie Gilder, Head of Blockchain, Innovation Labs, CBA

We know blockchain has the potential to revolutionise financial services and markets, and this transaction is a significant step towards that future state. By working collaboratively with the World Bank, we were able to find solutions to technical and legal considerations to make this ground breaking transaction a reality. This project further solidifies CBA’s position at the forefront of blockchain technology and we are excited to build on this, in partnership with our clients.

There is no confirmed date for the launch of the bond-i but once it has been introduced, it will be distributed on a blockchain platform duly run by the World Bank and the CBA.

Do you think that more major banks will be following in CBA’s footsteps? Let us know in the comments below!

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Crypto Twitter Clamors for Binance to Add XRP as Base Currency

Since its launch in July 2017, Binance has gone on to become a giant among cryptocurrency exchanges. At press time, the exchange reports a 24-hour trade volume of nearly $1.15 billion according to TradingView. Currently, the platform offers trading through the following base currencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETC), Tether (USDT), and its own native cryptocurrency, Binance Coin (BNB). Now, the XRP community is launching a grassroots campaign to get XRP added as a base currency.

On Thursday, Twitter user @C3_Nik took the community’s plea directly to Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao:

Since then, the tweet has been retweeted more than 1200 times and has received over 1500 likes. In addition, the tweet has shown up on more than 160 different crypto-related websites, carrying the message even further.

Respone to the tweet has been overwhelmingly positive, with many users outlining a number of reasons why Binance should add XRP as a base currency:

  • Cheaper and faster than other base currencies
  • It would bring more users to the exchange
  • FOMO

FOMO? Absolutely. While Binance has yet to add XRP as a base currency, other exchanges are beginning to see the light. Last month, India’s Unodax became the first crypto trading platform to include the token as a base currency. That same month, Singapore-based Bitrue launched with XRP as a base currency as well and – in an industry first – it was announced that San Francisco-based DCEX would be the first exchange to launch with XRP as its exclusive base currency.

Weiss Ratings Jumps on the XRP Bandwagon

It isn’t only the XRP community that thinks the addition of XRP would be a good move for Binance. Based on a Twitter poll in which 78% of the nearly 7600 respondents indicated that XRP was the best cryptocurrency for moving funds between exchanges, Weiss Ratings’ Juan Villaverde was convinced to give it a go and was hooked. He later thanked the community:

It goes further than that, however. Not only was Villaverde convinced of the merits of XRP for moving funds between exchanges, but Weiss Ratings also echoed the community’s sentiment that adding the token as a base currency on Binance was a no-brainer:

Currently, Binance has yet to respond to the community’s request, but with the XRP community growing daily and becoming increasingly vocal, how long will it be before Binance can no longer afford to ignore their request?

Do you think Binance should add XRP as a base currency? Let us know in the comments below.

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South Korean Police Raid Shinil Group Over Alleged Shipwreck Cryptocurrency Scam

Earlier this week, police in South Korea raided the offices of Shinil Group, a Seoul-based company that claimed to have discovered the wreck of the Russian battleship Dmitrii Donskoii. Previously, a travel ban had been placed on CEO Choi Yong-seok as well as other executives within the company as part of a probe into allegations of a cryptocurrency scam.

The Shinil Group Debacle Continues

One of the stories gripping South Korea by storm revolves around Shinil Group. This Seoul-based company has made some very big claims a few weeks ago. It claims they found the wreck of a Russian warship which sunk in 1905. Video evidence regarding this discovery has been shared with the world.

As is the case with most shipwrecks, it is difficult to distinguish truth from fiction. Shinil Group claims the shipwreck has a cargo containing 200 tons of gold. Through a subsidiary, the group went on to issue a new cryptocurrency. Said new currency is linked to the potential value of the shipwreck in question. Valuing this digital currency properly is very difficult. Company officials claim a fifty-fold increase in value is not out of the question.

Level-headed investors are convinced Shinil Group is pulling a major scam. A lot of details are not adding up for the company. Discrepancies in the estimated value of the treasure shared with the public and documents sent to the government raise a lot of questions. To date, it remains unclear if there even is a shipwreck at the suggested location. Even if so, there is no guarantee any valuable cargo is still on board.

Tarnishing the Crypto Reputation

The business model of Shinil Group’s subsidiary seems very strange. Creating a new cryptocurrency related to a “value” that doesn’t even exist yet is always controversial. If the company salvages the treasure and then gets speculators to invest in it, the story is very different. For some reason, the firm has not opted for this latter option.

Ventures like these show the cryptocurrency industry in an extremely negative light. Critics of Bitcoin – and cryptocurrency in general – often erroneously claim that it is predominantly used for criminal activities and this sort of debacle only adds fuel to the fire.

How the Shinil Group debacle will play out, is anybody’s guess. The firm has a lot to answer for and isn’t providing much credible evidence to back up its claims. That does not automatically make this venture a complete scam. The initial promises associated with issuing the cryptocurrency, however, may be very difficult to uphold.

Do you think that Shinil Group is trying to pull a fast one on the crypto community? What do you think about South Korea’s response? Let us know in the comments below.

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Major Singaporean VC Firm to Launch $10 Million Cryptocurrency Investment Fund

An early-stage Singaporean VC firm is set to launch a $10 million investment fund designated for blockchain technology startups and cryptocurrencies.

Continuing the Trend

Back in March 2018, LiveBitcoinNews reported that fintech companies consider the venture capital in Singapore to be sufficient. According to a report from Singapore Business Review, the government provides appealing incentives for investors:

In Singapore, the government is seen to provide attractive incentives to VCs to encourage risk-taking, including reduction of regulatory red tape, protection of intellectual property, and allocation of public money for early investments. –Reads the report.

Now, a few months later, a major Singapore-based venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures has announced that it is set to launch a $10 million fund designated for investments in cryptocurrencies and in blockchain technology startups.

The fund, which is dubbed LuneX Ventures, is going to focus on investing in early-stage companies throughout the world, including security providers and cryptocurrency exchanges. According to Reuters, the fund is just one among a cluster of similar ventures which are investing in the field of cryptocurrencies.

LuneX founding partner Kenrick Drijkoningen

LuneX founding partner Kenrick Drijkoningen told TechCrunch that, even though market prices are down significantly from their December 2017 / January 2018 highs, he believes that this is the right time for the fund:

Despite the fact that public markets are down, the amount of talent that’s moving into this space is exciting. There are young entrepreneurs who are passionate about this space and want to build an ecosystem

Investors in LuneX Ventures will purportedly include high net worth individuals as well as family offices.

A Welcoming Environment

The city-state has managed to establish itself as a proponent of blockchain-based technologies and cryptocurrencies. In March 2018, the Managing Director of Singapore’s Central Bank, Ravi Menon, recognized the potential of the technology and even identified its strongest use case, according to him.

This is the challenge that Singapore’s Project Ubin has set itself to solve: to use blockchain technology to enable entities across jurisdictions to make payments to one another without intermediaries; with greater speed and efficiency; and at lower risk and cost. – He said.

Later that month, the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) and the Fintech Association of Japan (FAJ), entered into a partnership through a signed memorandum to work closely together on joint fintech projects.

It’s safe to say that Singapore’s proactive and fairly friendly approach towards the field of cryptocurrencies is shaping it as a reliable and reputable destination.

What are your thoughts on Singapore’s new investment fund? Do you agree with its founding partner that the time is right despite current crypto market conditions? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, LuneX Ventures

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TRON Acquires the Blockchain.org Domain for Data Aggregation Purposes

The TRON project continues to attract a lot of attention. After successfully acquiring BitTorrent Inc, the blockchain project is moving further ahead. Acquiring the blockchain.org domain is a very important milestone for this team. It will serve a new purpose for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.

Another Acquisition for TRON

Advancing the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency is a multi-year process. For TRON, their vision is to decentralize the internet as people know it today. A lot of services are currently centralized and can benefit from newer technologies. The project’s acquisition of BitTorrent Inc is an important first step in achieving that big goal.

Earlier this week, TRON acquired the Blockchain.org domain name. This is an iconic name and extension and will score very high in the search engine results. Instead of turning it into a TRON hub, the domain will offer many different services. As a data aggregator and search engine, the revamped domain will be completely blockchain-oriented.

Big data plays an increasing role of importance in the technology industry. Blockchain.org will offer big data analysis pertaining to the distributed ledger industry. What that will entail exactly, has yet to be determined. Aggregating up-to-date information from different reliable sources is always a big challenge.

Another Acquisition for TRON

Improving the Blockchain Landscape

It is evident all blockchain projects need to keep evolving. Collecting valuable feedback from the community and catering to tits wishes is the number one priority. TRON aims to do exactly that through its newly acquired platform. Properly analyzing the messages community members attempt to convey can lead to new innovative developments.

Blockchain technology is still in the early stages of development. Hundreds of projects are competing for market traction. Most of those ventures will ultimately fail, which is only to be expected in the technology sector. Whether or not TRON will fall into this category, remains to be seen.

This new acquisition is also beneficial to blockchain enthusiasts. By aggregating the news, users will be properly informed about new and ongoing projects in the industry. These days, there is still a lack of proper understanding of how the technology works and what it can be used for. Slowly but surely that situation is changing in a positive manner.

What do you think of TRON’s acquisition of Blockchain.org? What’s next for Justin Sun? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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Cybercrime Center in UK Urges Crypto Enthusiasts to Beware of Fraud

Even though the price of Bitcoin is nowhere near it’s December 2017 numbers, interest in the crypto industry is still high, for both fans and fraudsters alike.

As a way to circumvent political and economic volatility in countries like South Africa and Venezuela, or simply as a way to “hodl” and grow your investment for the future, virtual currencies seem to be the best way forward for a number of people.

Some countries, like the United Kingdom, are already leading the way in fostering mass adoption for both blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. They even have a specialized task force focused on evaluating the risks and advantages of the industry. In addition, they are training their police force in the intricacies involved in dealing with virtual currencies in their investigations.

LBN_Deep Web Carding PayPal Fraud Bitcoin

Crypto Fraud Is a Problem

However, the cryptocurrency community in the UK is not without its problems. The Financial Times recently reported that June and July this year saw a total of £2.1 million lost in cryptocurrency scams.

London’s Action Fraud recently released data showing that 203 people lost an average of just over £10,000 over the two months. The director of the organization, which is the police’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center, Pauline Smith, said:

The statistics show that opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of this market, offering investments in cryptocurrencies and using every trick in the book to defraud unsuspecting victims.

It is important to highlight the fact that virtual currencies are not the cause of these crimes, that honor belongs to dodgy fraudsters that think up these scams to get people to part with their hard-earned money.

While the industry has a well-known, and inaccurate, reputation as being the preferred payment for illicit activities, some evidence shows that this is not the case. Yes, you can use Bitcoin to buy drugs but you can also use fiat money, which was the case for all of the years before Satoshi created the first digital currency.

Be Alert and Aware

London’s police department reported that these fraudsters are tempting their victims with promises of easy money which can be made through their crypto trading site, of course. In addition to funds deposited, these thieves steal credit card details and other sensitive information before closing up shop and moving onto the next victim.

This comes in the wake of so-called clone firms popping up in another attempt to swindle people out of their crypto.

Smith doled out some advice to investors:

It’s vital for anyone who invests or is thinking of investing in cryptocurrencies to thoroughly research the company they are choosing to invest with.

Therein lies the key. Investigate the company you’re choosing to entrust your money with before you do so, and remember that cryptocurrencies don’t scam people, people scam people.

Do you think that investors are spending enough time researching the industry? Let us know in the comments below!

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Facebook’s David Marcus Steps Down from Coinbase Board to Avoid ‘Conflict of Interest’

Something big must be going on at Facebook. David Marcus, VP and current lead of Facebook’s blockchain research team, announced earlier today that he was stepping down from Coinbase’s board of directors.

Nearly three months to the day after Facebook announced the launch of its blockchain initiative, project lead and former head of Messenger, David Marcus, has announced that he is stepping down from Coinbase’ board of directors.

According to a statement provided to CoinDesk, Marcus explained that he was stepping down “because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain.”

Marcus was appointed to Coinbase’s board of directors in December 2017. Speaking about the appointment at the time, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong cited the former PayPal president’s expertise in the “payments and mobile space” as one of the primary reasons for the appointment, stating:

[David Marcus’] experience will add breadth and depth to the Coinbase board and will help the leadership team as the company focuses on becoming the most popular and safest place to buy and sell digital currencies.

The move has sparked much speculation among the crypto community, especially in light of a Coinbase spokesperson’s vague and somewhat cryptic comment that Marcus was stepping down to “avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

What is Facebook Up To?

That is the million dollar question. Whatever it is, Facebook is playing it pretty close to the vest. What we do know, however, is that Facebook’s blockchain team recently met with Stellar as part of its effort to explore the potential applications of blockchain technology for the social media giant.

Given that it already appears to be laying the groundwork for a foray into banking, it could be that Facebook plans to use blockchain technology to give traditional banking a run for their money by launching their own decentralized payments network.

According to Business Insider, a spokesperson for Stellar told the publication that “it would make sense for Facebook to record payment transactions on a distributed ledger like Stellar.” With other merchants connected to the ledger, the platform “could rival the Swift payments network that connects banks and allows for money transfers.”

CNBC Crypto Trader host and founder of Onchain Capital, Ran Neu-Ner has some additional theories as well:

Now it’s your turn – what do you think Facebook is up to? Will Coinbase somehow be a part of it or will Facebook become a competitor? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Flickr/Loic Le Meur

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I Want My Bitcoin Cash! Chinese Trader Sues OKCoin Crypto Exchange for Blocking Release of BCH

Chinese cryptocurrency investor ‘Feng Bin’ is suing crypto exchange OKCoin for blocking him from accessing 38.748 BCH received during last year’s hard fork.

OKCoin Sued by Chinese Investor Over Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Dispute

A Chinese cryptocurrency investor going by the pseudonym Feng Bin has filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin over its refusal to allow him access to 38.748 BCH – currently valued at more than $23,000 – that he received during the August 2017 Bitcoin fork. He is reportedly seeking compensation in the amount of 171,182.50 CNY ($25,000).

According to China’s LegalWeekly, leading up to the fork, OKCoin had posted the following on its website:

If you hold bitcoins on the platform, the platform will give users Bitcoin Cash equal ownership in accordance with the user.

However, the plaintiff (Feng) is claiming that in December 2017, when Bitcoin Cash was trading as high as $4000 or more, he tried to withdraw the BCH he had received during the fork but was unable to do so as he “found that there was no ‘button’ to extract the [BCH] that the platform promised.”

OKCoin Sued by Chinese Investor Over Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Dispute

OKCoin Denies Withdrawal, Claims Plaintiff Missed Deadline

Upon contacting OKCoin about his inability to withdraw his Bitcoin Cash, Feng claims that he was told:

The claim ‘button’ was a program that automatically executed BCH input to user’s account. You cannot claim BCH anymore as the program has been removed from our platform. If you didn’t withdraw it at the time, it will be impossible to make [a] later withdrawal.

Feng denies that any withdrawal deadline was ever announced by the exchange:

I have been paying attention to the announcement of the Okcoin currency release. In all the announcements, there is no declaration of the deadline for receipt and the removal of the program.

OKCoin to Contest Lawsuit

For its part, OKCoin fully intends to challenge Feng’s claims and questions the legitimacy of his claim to the Bitcoin Cash holdings. They are citing the lack of trading activity on Feng’s account in 2017 as “abnormal” given the market conditions, even going so far as to allege that the lawsuit was potentially part of some “malicious scheme” on Feng’s part.

Do you think that Feng’s claim is legitimate? If you received Bitcoin Cash on OKCoin’s platform from last year’s fork, did you ever see any mention of a withdrawal deadline? Keep the conversation going in the comments below.

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4 in 10 Americans Will Never Invest in Bitcoin, Says Latest Crypto Study

In 2017, rising cryptocurrency prices introduced a lot of new people to Bitcoin and altcoins. Even so, not everyone is convinced this is a wise decision. A new study by Gem and Harris Insights shows four in ten Americans don’t care too much about cryptocurrency.

Crypto Investing is Still Risky

Despite the overall positive sentiment associated with Bitcoin, some key struggles remain. It has become apparent the world’s leading cryptocurrency is a speculative investment vehicle first and foremost. This makes it very appealing to investors, even though not everyone thinks along the lines. Americans, especially, have been resistant to recognizing the future potential Bitcoin and altcoins bring to the table.

A new study by Harris Insights and Gem depicts the current mindset of Americans. Over four in ten respondents admit they aren’t investing in cryptocurrency. They are not doing so now, nor will they ever. That is a very disappointing outcome, albeit one that is also easy to explain. Volatility in the cryptocurrency industry works both ways and creates a lot of uncertainty.

Throughout most of 2018, prices of all cryptocurrencies have declined significantly. A lower price should, in theory, get more users excited about investing in Bitcoin. That is not the case, as it further illustrates how quickly money can be lost in this industry. The current lack of active Bitcoin regulation isn’t helping matters much either.

Gem founder and CEO Micah Winkelspecht offers his own insights into the study’s results:

We find that younger people with less income are more willing to put money in crypto. […] My guess is that crypto is of the digital age. And the younger generation is of the digital age and used to doing everything on the internet.

He continues:

The cryptocurrency space is still in its Wild West phase, so there’s potentially some of that going on. […] When you have less to protect, you are more willing to take the risk.

Positive Industry Developments

While 41% of Americans may not currently be willing to invest in Bitcoin, that could change in the not-so-distant future. A lot of positive developments are taking place in the cryptocurrency industry. Most of these changes will make investing in Bitcoin and altcoins more straightforward and approachable.

Speculators don’t have to buy Bitcoin directly to invest in it. The launch of Bitcoin futures has introduced another viable investment vehicle. While a Bitcoin ETF has not yet been approved, numerous exchanges offer margin trading features. It is a different way of “betting” on how Bitcoin will evolve, albeit with additional risks and rewards.

In the end, a small study among Americans only tells part of the story. Interest in Bitcoin isn’t waning. While investing may not seem too appealing in the US, other countries are not passing up on these opportunities. Numerous regulatory changes across the world will bring more legitimacy to cryptocurrency. That will, in turn, affect the public’s opinion on Bitcoin, even in the United States.

Do you think that US investor interest in Bitcoin will increase? What will it take to bring it about? Let us know in the comments below.

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