Monthly Archives: abril 2019

//abril

Indian government again discussing ban on cryptocurrencies: report

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

A report from The Economic Times on Friday, citing anonymous “government officials aware of details” said that a number of government departments in the country have backed the idea of a complete ban on the issuance and trading of cryptocurrencies. The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Central Board of Direct Taxes, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and the Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority are all in favor of the ban, the officials said.

A draft bill, dubbed “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019,” has also reportedly been shared with certain government departments. While it is not clear what “official digital currencies” refers to, the country’s central bank was previously researching launching a digital rupee. A final bill, based on feedback from the consulted departments, is expected to be proposed to the next government in May following the national elections, the sources indicate.

The country’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs has reportedly provided feedback to the DEA, arguing that most cryptocurrencies are run as Ponzi schemes to defraud investors. The ministry has, therefore, recommended cryptocurrency-related prosecutions take place under the country’s Prevention of Money laundering Act for the time being, as the introduction of the crypto bill will take some time.

Another piece from the same news source says that the CEO of the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) Authority, Anurag Agarwal, also said: “When it comes to investor protection, the IEPFA has to take a stand against certain things. Against Ponzi schemes, we are taking a stand. We think that cryptocurrency is a Ponzi scheme and it should be banned.

India’s decision on the legality of cryptocurrencies has been a long time coming. As far back as April 2017, the government set up an interdisciplinary committee to investigate the issue, which was said to be discussing imposing a ban on “private cryptocurrencies” last October. However, the committee was then not in favor of an outright ban, but was rather considering possibly legalizing cryptocurrencies with tough rules attached. Until a final decision is made, the country’s crypto industry is in limbo. Since last year, banks in India have been barred by the central bank – the Reserve Bank of India – from serving cryptocurrency firms and exchanges.

Since then a number of exchanges have filed legal petitions to overturn the RBI ban, and the matter is slowly passing through the Indian supreme court, which has delayed announcing the decision several times while it awaits an opinion from the government. The next hearing is scheduled to take place in July.

Alternative credentials as institutional ‘imperative’

(Article published by Doug Lederman with same title in Inside Higher Ed)

The use of alternative digital credentials to certify learning will erode the value of the traditional postsecondary transcript, and colleges and universities that fail to embrace them will “experience a slow decline in relevance and market position,” asserts a new report from an international group focused on online and open education.

The report, “The Present and Future of Alternative Digital Credentials,” was produced by a working group established a year ago by the International Council for Open and Distance Education, which represents 186 institutions and groups in more than 60 countries. Its members — which in the United States include institutions like Colorado State University Global Campus, Drexel University Online and the University of Maryland University College — advocate for the use of technology-enabled education to increase access to higher education.

Given that membership, it isn’t surprising that the group’s assessment of the importance and likely impact of alternative credentials is as insistent and urgent as it is. Skepticism about alternative credentials abounds in large pockets of traditional higher education, and many brick-and-mortar institutions will probably be just fine whether or not they embrace newfangled certifications.

Inside Higher Ed’s own 2018 report on alternative credentials and new pathways to degrees — while covering much of the same ground — steered clear of warnings that the typical college or university will be made irrelevant by the emergence of such credentials, though it acknowledged their fast-growing spread and potential to attract students and satisfy employers.

The international council’s report goes much further in envisioning alternative credentialing’s ability to break higher education’s historic stranglehold on preparing people for work. “Higher education institutions are being challenged in their role as the dominant credentialing player in society,” the report states. “By providing a fully digital, information-rich record of workplace-relevant skills and competencies in the near future, the use of [alternative digital credentials] will seriously challenge the validity of traditional university transcripts making them obsolete and, in the long-term, irrelevant,” the authors write. Colleges that do not embrace them will face the same fate, it suggests.

The report does not dismiss outright the impediments that are widely seen as impeding the spread of adoption of alternative credentials now, including limited employer acceptance and the lack of a common infrastructure. But it asserts that these problems are being addressed and that institutions that wait too long to decide how — not whether — to engage with alternative credentials may not be able to catch up.

“Failure to take progressive action in adopting alternative digital credentials by the university sector will erode our position in the market as non-higher education institutions create a confusing array and proliferation of digital credentials,” the report concludes. “In addition, individual institutions which fail to adopt alternative digital credentials will experience a slow decline in relevance and market position.”

Volkswagen to track minerals supply chains using IBM blockchain

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Volkswagen Group has announced it will use blockchain tech to track its mineral supply chains.

In order to “responsibly source” minerals such as cobalt (used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles), it has joined an open industry collaboration, which also includes Ford as a member. Currently, miners and consumer brands rely on third-party audits and “laborious” manual processes to comply with widely accepted industry standards for sourcing their minerals, VW said.

Using blockchain technology to track supply chains will help the firm meet responsible sourcing standards set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by providing a permanent record of mineral movements to aid the compliance process.

For the effort, VW will use a new permissioned platform, developed by the group on IBM Blockchain – which is built using Hyperledger Fabric – to enable the tracking of minerals across the global supply chain.

The collaboration, formed earlier this year, also includes as members cobalt mining company Huayou, LG Chem (a unit of South Korean conglomerate LG Corp.) and raw materials supply chain auditing firm RCS Global.

VW said in its announcement: “Participants in the network, validated by RCS Global Group for compliance with responsible sourcing standards, can contribute and access immutable data in a secure and permissioned way to trace and record the flow of minerals across the supply chain in near real-time.” The automaker further said that the group aims to expand membership to include other industries, including aerospace, consumer electronics and mining operations.

La UIB y SmartDegrees realizarán estudios conjuntos de investigación sobre la tecnología blockchain

La Universidad de las Illes Balears (UIB) y SmartDegrees han firmado el 15 abril un acuerdo de colaboración académica, científica y cultural, con el objetivo de desarrollar programas de estudio conjuntos, intercambio y cooperación en el campo de la investigación sobre la tecnología blockchain, especialmente relacionado con el registro y certificación de títulos académicos.

El convenio, firmado por Llorenç Huguet, rector de la UIB, y José María Fuster, presidente de SmartDegrees, contempla estudios conjuntos de investigación, realización de seminarios, coloquios y simposios y otros programas y actividades que se acuerden entre las partes.

El carácter innovador y disruptivo de la tecnología blockchain abre enormes posibilidades en todos los sectores, en particular, en la educación superior. Su utilización en los títulos académicos permite transformar la titulación en el mercado de trabajo y en la sociedad, con los siguientes beneficios para los titulados:

  • Garantiza la inmutabilidad del título, evitando el fraude.
  • El titulado es propietario soberano de sus datos y decide cómo, dónde y cuándo mostrarlos.
  • Facilita la puesta en valor del título, agilizando su compartición con plataformas de trabajo, reclutadores y terceros.

La creciente tendencia del aprendizaje continuo y por competencias, junto a las plataformas de trabajo digitales y el aumento del fraude en los títulos, hacen necesario disponer de tecnologías seguras, descentralizadas y que faciliten la portabilidad de los certificados de títulos académicos.

La colaboración con la Universidad de las Illes Balears permitirá aprovechar estas oportunidades, ampliando el servicio que presta SmartDegrees de certificación y registro de títulos académicos en plataforma blockchain, desde julio de 2018 para varias instituciones de educación superior y que está extendiendo a otras universidades de Europa y Latinoamérica.

Acerca de Universidad de las Illes Balears

La Universidad de las Illes Balears es una universidad pública, innovadora y comprometida con la mejora de la sociedad, a través de la investigación, la docencia y la divulgación del conocimiento en los diversos ámbitos.

Acerca de SmartDegrees

SmartDegrees fue creada en agosto 2017 con capital 100% español, con el objetivo de ofrecer servicios de registro y certificación de títulos en blockchain, para ayudar a los titulados universitarios en el mercado de trabajo, impulsando servicios alrededor de la titulación y garantizando la validez de los títulos.

Cobertura en los medios: Europa PressLa Vanguardia, Economía de Hoy20 Minutos, Gente Digital

India’s Federal Bank teams up with Ripple for international payments

(Article published by Michael K. Spencer with same title in Medium)

Ripple had announced in Jnauary 2019 that it surpassed 200 partners as it adds 13 financial institutions as customers for its payment network, RippleNet. Ripple consolidating traditional financial markets is an interesting use case for blockchain for the real world.

Federal Bank in India has partnered with blockchain payments company Ripple to facilitate cross-border payments, according to reports. Here we are talking about Private bank, Federal Bank Ltd. in India.

Ripple bills itself as a frictionless way to send money globally. Ripple has been aggressive with partnerships yet it’s still debatable how well it’s performing. In a world where three billion people are connected online, Ripple feels more like a real-world blockchain pioneer than a decentralized crypto with XRP.

India like China has a complicated relationship to crypto. It isn’t known if the partnership will include cryptocurrency or not, especially since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, issued a statement saying it wouldn’t support the digital currency.

The announcement that Ripple has over 200 partners reflects the recently rapid growth of their network of users of their xRapid and xCurrent products, especially among traditional financial companies and banks. So Ripple is essentially a live use case of blockchain tech for remittances and cross-border payments. I’d say that in 2019 the verdict is still out.

The confusion between Ripple and XRP really is a sour point of how companies that are totally centralized pretend to have a decentralized aspect. This is the same dynamic that Block.One has with EOS. A certain category of blockchain entrepreneurs decided to play both sides and it’s always made me leary of Ripple and EOS as actually innovative projects.

Regardless of the specifics this deal shows India is very pro blockchain. Central banks around the world are looking to bring a digital equivalent of their fiat dollars on the blockchain. We live in a world of banking consortium sand enterprise blockchain systems where places like Japan and China are leading the charge in blockchain integration. It’s great to see Ripple partnering with India.

XRP has been declared centralized because the plurality of XRP is in fact owned by Ripple, which created it. However this business model might after all be appropriate for partnerships with banks who might trust this arrangement more. It’s entirely likely Ripple might not be what we think it is.

XRP is currently ranked 3rd on Coinmarketcap.com with a price of USD $0.31 and a total market cap of nearly $13 Billion or 17.8% of Bitcoin’s own market cap. For the future of blockchain adoption Ripple and XRP bear watching. Do you think RippleNet has a good future? How do you see the relationship between Ripple and XRP?

US Energy Department eyes blockchain to prevent power plant cyberattacks

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) unit announced that phase two of an electric grid security project has been launched in partnership with decentralized cybersecurity startup Taekion, formerly Grid7.

The laboratory provided a grant of $1 million to Taekion last year, and now as part of the second phase of the project, the startup will research on how blockchain technology can be used to secure a power plant, by keeping all sensor, actuator and device transactions on a distributed ledger.

“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security,” NETL said, adding that, when the storage of key information is decentralized, “there is no single point of failure.”

In an example of how a cyberattack could take place on a power plant, the lab said a system could be compromised so that it appears operational when it has actually been shut down by hackers, potentially “leaving millions without power.” Such an attack took place at a power plant in Ukraine in 2016, the laboratory said, which caused widespread power outages during the winter months.

NETL said: “The applications being developed in the NETL-managed project have the potential to thwart such attacks by preventing hackers from altering the plant’s operational information.”

Taekion plans to work on other applications, too, that would help secure energy transactions to protect process data at power generation facilities, increase grid reliability and integrate a more decentralized energy infrastructure.

The project is part of the energy department’s Office of Fossil Energy Sensors and Controls program and is funded through the department’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

This is not the first time that the department has looked to explore blockchain for technological improvements. Last year, it partnered with BlockCypher to develop solutions allowing energy transactions to be settled across multiple blockchains.

The department also recently announced federal funding of up to $4.8 million for universities working on R&D projects, including those related to blockchain.

PewDiePie is going all in on blockchain

(Article published by Michael K. Spencer with same title in Medium)

In the world of social media there is now a trend of major creators leaving mainstream platforms for more decentralized content channels.

PewDiePie ditches YouTube and Twitch streaming for DLive’s blockchain platform. He has nearly 94 million YouTube subscribers. He’s one of the most known video creators on the internet in 2019. The 29-year-old Swedish content creator, real name Felix Kjellberg, has signed an “exclusive” live streaming deal with the platform, DLive announced in early April, 2019.

“Personally, I think it’s really cool to have a creator based website actually putting creators first. I’m really excited about DLive and I’m excited to finally be live streaming again,” said PewDiePie.

Influencer marketing and blockchain has a great future

With the rise of Dapps and new kinds of content, marketing and influencer marketing experiences on decentralized architectures, the world is about to change.

Starting April 14, PewDiePie will stream weekly on DLive, a decentralized community built using the Lino blockchain, according to the announcement. On his official DLive channel, PewDiePie also saidthat he will support content creators on the platform by donating up to $50,000 to a maximum of 100 creators.

In an era of Twitch and gaming revolutions in the form of new platforms related to Apple, Google and Snapchat, it’s an exciting time to be a video creator. DLive is yet another one of these blockchain content experiments.

So here are totally novel incentive ecosystems. Apparently as reported, DLive offers an estimated 90 percent of the profits from every subscription or gift, while the other 10 percent is put into a pool that rewards viewers with in-house Lino Points. Said points are actually cryptocurrency coins existing on the Lino blockchain and may be rewarded to viewers for watching, commenting, sharing, etc.

 

The intersection of streaming, creators, influencers and blockchain is obviously going to be huge.

Is the YouTube of the blockchain coming?

PewDiePie on YouTube is the platform’s ninth biggest earner, taking $15.5 million in 2018. The fact that he would choose to pivot to a new decentralized platform bodes well for the intersection of content and blockchain. PewDiePie has always been a fierce advocate for the value that creators bring with their hard work, time, and effort, and he believes in DLive’s vision. Our livestreaming platform has the potential to forever change how creators are represented in this industry, and we’re proud to have PewDiePie help us lead this charge. — Lino Network’s co-founder

Lino raised $20 million in February 2018 to build a “YouTube on the blockchain” in a private token sale led by ZhenFund.

The announcement also comes at a time when PewDiePie’s reign as the proverbial King of YouTube may be coming to an end, with Indian record label and film production company T-Series currently battling for the top spot, so he might be ready to try something different.

GenZ is really into YouTube, Twitch and the like, with dozens of new competing platforms that with better incentives could take marketshare away from them eventually highlighting new values of young people who are more crypto friendly and more willing to trust new platforms.

A few years ago this would have been hard to imagine happening. How could a YouTube star give up being in the spotlight to support a blockchain rewards system?

For blockchain adoption in content & marketing this could be a game-changer.

“Personally, I think it’s really cool to have a creator based website actually putting creators first. I’m really excited about DLive and I’m excited to finally be live streaming again,” said PewDiePie.

Unlike other platforms, DLive does not take a cut of fees if a watcher donates to a streamer or subscribes to a stream. YouTube and Twitch can take up to 30–50 percent of the revenue generated by a content creator. Who would you rather support, a platform that puts creators first or platforms that monetize their top influencers?

At the end of the day young people have more decentralized value systems and this could change how blockchain is adopted for mainstream consumption such as video, streaming and micro video content as blockchain architecture platforms begin to mature.

Trade organization ICC eyes blockchain adoption for its 45 million members

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

The world’s biggest business organization is making blockchain technology available to its 45 million members, including Amazon, Coca Cola, Fedex, McDonald’s and PayPal.

The 100-year-old International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has partnered with Singapore-based blockchain startup Perlin to improve supply chain processes at member firms, making them more traceable and transparent. The ICC will help members spread across 130 countries to connect to Perlin’s blockchain platform and benefit from the application of the nascent technology.

Perlin, now an official ICC technology partner, will offer free access to its blockchain platform during the early stages of the project, and will focus on “practical, efficient and scalable blockchain traceability and transparency systems for value chains,” as per the announcement.

John Denton, secretary general of the ICC, said: “In collaboration with Perlin, which leads the field in blockchain and distributed ledger development, we can help facilitate practical and truly disruptive transformation for businesses across every conceivable industry sector.”

Perlin is already working on blockchain pilots with major firms, including one with sustainable materials producer Asia Pacific Rayon (APR). The pilot, called “Follow Our Fibre,” aims to provide transparency to APR customers across the supply chain by allowing them to monitor key stages of production from planting to delivery.

The pilot will provide “permanent data on a secure blockchain database” to help ensure that APR is in compliance with relevant regulatory and industry-based standards and certifications, the firm said.

The Paris-based organization and Perlin are also working on other projects, including the ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative – created to raise awareness of the “economic and social harm” of counterfeiting and piracy.

Coinbase launches crypto Visa debit card for UK and EU customers

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has launched a Visa debit card allowing customers in the U.K. and EU to spend their cryptocurrencies directly from their Coinbase accounts.

The San Francisco-based firm announced the news in a blog post, saying that with the “Coinbase Card,” customers will be able to spend their bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC) and other cryptocurrencies “as effortlessly as the money in their bank.” The exchange said it will “instantly” convert cryptocurrency to fiat currency, such as the British pound (GBP), when customers complete a transaction using the debit card.

The card supports all crypto assets available to buy and sell on the Coinbase platform, and customers can use them to pay for everyday purchases, such as a meal or booking tickets, according to the announcement.

With previously available products of this type, customers had to pre-load a specified amount of cryptocurrency onto the card in order to spend, Coinbase said.

The exchange has also launched an app for the card on both Android and iOS platforms, enabling customers to select which cryptocurrency wallet they will use to fund their spending. The app also offers “instant” receipts, transaction summaries and spending categories.

For the first 1,000 customers, Coinbase said it will waive the card issuance fee of £4.95 ($6.48).

PaySafe, a U.K. payment processor, is the issuer of the cards.

In a similar development last month, banking startup 2gether said it was launching a prepaid Visa debit card that allows users to spend cryptocurrencies. With the 2gether card, customers will be able to pay with either euros or any of the following seven cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH, XRP, bitcoin cash (BCH), EOS, Stellar (XLM) and litecoin (LTC).

The SEC wants to hire a ‘crypto securities’ advisor

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking to hire yet another “crypto specialist.” According to a job posting on USAJobs, an official government jobs portal, the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets plans to hire the new legal expert in order to help develop a “comprehensive plan” to address crypto and digital asset securities.

One of the key responsibilities of the new hire would be to apply their “knowledge of federal securities laws to digital asset securities and crypto matters, i.e., broker-dealer, exchange, clearing agency and transfer registrations, exchange product applications, sales and trading practices, etc.”

The successful candidate would also serve as the division’s lead representative in the SEC’s FinTech Working Group and as a liaison with the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s (FSOC’s) Digital Assets Working Group. They will also serve as the division’s point of contact for U.S. and international regulators, market participants and the public, according to the ad.

Regarding basic requirements for the role, the applicants must possess a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree, and must also have an active membership of Federal Bar Association and be in “good standing.”

They must also have 4 years of post J.D. work experience as a practicing attorney, with focus on interpreting and applying laws governing the securities industry, in particular, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, among other regulatory areas.

The role may be offered initially for a two-year trial period and offers a salary in the range of $144,850–$238,787 a year.  The closing date for applications is April 12.

The job posting appears a notable one, marking a likely further step by the SEC toward clearing regulatory gray areas for the cryptocurrency industry in the U.S. Last June, the agency appointed its first-ever crypto czar, Valerie Szczepanik, as associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance and senior advisor for digital assets and innovation. Szczepanik is charged with coordinating “efforts across all SEC Divisions and Offices regarding the application of U.S. securities laws to emerging digital asset technologies and innovations, including initial coin offerings and cryptocurrencies.”

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