Bitcoin Industry Weekly Overview for August 21 – 28

News and Analysis
28.08.2016

This week was abundant with events, the most important of which for us at ForkLog was the 2 years anniversary of our magazine. It was two years ago, on August 25, 2014, when the forklog.com domain was registered, and soon afterwards the very first piece of content was published.

As for other events in the crypto-world, you may find out about them in our weekly overview.

Exchanges

Another birthday company of the week is Bitstamp, which celebrates five years of operation. However, no anniversary is an excuse for halting operations, and exchange operators agree with that by making reasonable or, at times, unexpected decisions.

Thus, GDAX added Litecoin, the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Two currency pairs are currently available: US residents may trade LTC for USD, while others have to settle for LTC/BTC.

Meanwhile, Poloniex has announced delisting 27 cryptocurrencies as of September 5, leaving the community confused, as the list includes altcoins like DAO, Dashcoin and Mintcoin, whose market cap stands at $1.22 million.

The Bitfinex drama is also coming to an end. The exchange’s administration has signed a letter of intent with the online investment platform BnkToTheFuture seeking to compensate customers with equity.

BnkToTheFuture will be providing a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through which qualifying token holders can contribute their tokens in exchange for an equity interest in compliance with their individual jurisdictions.

Disappointing news came this week from Turkey, where the country’s leading cryptocurrency exchange BTCTurk was forced to halt operations after the exchange’s bank partner refused to continue their cooperation. Currently the exchange attempts to repay the users, however, having all its its bank accounts frozen could make this process longed than expected.

Wallets and Payments Services

Trezor has become the first HD-wallet to add Ethereum, according to its page on GitHub. However, no official announcement from the development company, SatoshiLabs, has been issued so far, so the date of official release is yet unknown.

Meanwhile, Cryptobuyer, a Venezuela-based cryptocurrency brokerage, today announced that Dash, a rapidly growing digital currency, has joined Bitcoin to its platform due to soaring demand. Notably, the Venezuelans who lack computers or cell phones with internet access may use the services from Cryptobuyer’s local partner, TigoCTM, a network of cryptocurrency ATMs’s.

The Ethereum Foundation made available a new version of the cryptocurrency’s wallet and Distributed application’s browser, Mist. It comes with support of the Coinbase Buy Widget, a quick FIAT gateway that allows the instant purchasing of up to $5 worth in cryptocurrency. Currently, the function is available only to the US residents, and requires a Coinbase account.

Banks and Corporations

According to The Financial Times, several major global banks have partnered on a blockchain project aimed at creating a means to clear and settle transactions worldwide. BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Santander and UBS – the latter of which first disclosed its work on a so-called “settlement coin” last year – are hoping to launch a commercial-grade blockchain system by 2018. The banks are working with blockchain startup Clearmatics, based in London.

Possibly we may expect that other financial institutions from around the globe might join the initiative, including those from Africa. Thus, the manager of South African Reserve Bank Lesetja Kganyago has said that the institution is researching blockchain and interested in innovations the technology may bring about.

Japan’s largest bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG), and tech giant Hitachi are now working on a blockchain proof-of-concept aimed at e-check management. The prototype system, according to the two companies, seeks to create a digital platform for “issuing, transferring and collecting electronic checks”. A full-scale version of the system could see wider release in 2018.

R3CEV is also on the march, as the consortium has patented a new blockchain product dubbed Concord, which is intended for Wall Street infrastructure. The solution is a universal platform linking markets and markets and digitizing functions of middle and back offices. This would allow banks to get rid of administrative expenses and save billions. The platform’s alpha version is expected for release in mid-2017.

It all forces financial analysts and economists to watch blockchain technology closely and change their predictions as to the future of the world’s financial system.

Particularly, financial analyst Kirill Yakovenko has recently stated that, over the next few years, cryptocurrencies will walk out of shadows as new international financial tools emerge.

“Within the next two or three years, blockchain-based technologies will find their place in the inter-bank relations; supersede the existing inter-bank messaging systems (SWIFT, in particular); and will become an integral part of securities trading. As for cryptocurrencies in the traditional sense of word, they are most likely to walk out of shadows, and, together with blockchain technology, will experience serious development,” Yakovenko believes.

Companies

Bitshares Munich IVS, which owns BlockPay, has announced an ICO to raise funds for development of BlockPay, p2p messenger ECHO, and anonymous payments syetms Stealth. The crowdsale is scheduled for 2016 and 2017. The campaign will feature a pre-ICO this August, and the ICO per se in 2017 to distribute 100 million BlockPay tokens overall.

Hyperledger project has announced the new line-up of its technical steering committee. The new lineup retains R3CEV’s CTO Gendal Brown; Tamas Blummer, chief ledger architect at Digital Assets Holdings; Hart Montgomery, researcher at Fujitsu; Mic Bowman, engineer at Intel; and Christopher Ferris, IBM Open Technology CTO. The list of newcomers includes Arnaud Le Hors, senior technical lead for IBM; Binh Nguyen, IBM blockchain fabric chief architect; Dan Middleton, Intel venture technical lead; and representatives for DTCC, Salesforce, and the London Stock Exchange.

US-based technological startup Chronicled Inc. has announced the launch of an Ethereum-based open ledger for the Internet of Things. The ledger is intended for storing unique codes of physical entities with built-in NFC and BLE chips.

“Chip companies, physical IP creators, and brands can now register and verify their BLE and NFC chips on a public blockchain”, said CEO of Chronicled Ryan Orr.

Currently, the startup has supplied around 10,000 of NFC and BLE chips.

According to Business Insider UK, the United States’ biggest telecom company Verizon Communications is experimenting with blockchain technology. The patent’s description suggests that the company has developed a blockchain storage of keys over three years of development. Implementation of such system in combination with smart contracts may provide a wide range of new opportunities in using digital content. For instance, musicians or writers will be able to get paid immediately as a user starts reading a feature or listening to a song.

Monetary Authority of Singapore has proposed a unified license for payment service providers, including cryptocurrency companies. The plan is to combine rulings in the Payment Systems Act and the Money-changing And Remittance Business Act. Both of these legislative guidelines revolve around stored value and remittances. As innovations seem to cross the dividing line between these two “sectors”, it makes sense to create a unified regulatory framework.

Meanwhile, bitcoin investment startup Keza has been acquired by Satoshi Citadel Industries, a Philippines-based Bitcoin company that recently has been aggressively pursuing new business models in the digital currency sector.

“We are thrilled that the Keza app is being relaunched with such an amazing team… Keza was built for emerging markets users who do not have access to global capital markets, which makes the Philippines a perfect match,” Simon Burns, Keza CEO said.

Decentralized social network Steemit claims it’s receiving an “unprecedented traffic level” comparable to that of early Facebook and Reddit. According to the statement, there are over 21,000 new post appearing on the website every day, whereas the number of votes for the entries exceeds 70,000.

With just a few weeks to go to the launch of DECENT‘s crowdsale, the project’s team has announced it changes the system of DCT tokens’ distribution. The overall quantity of coins to be issued has also been revised. According to the DECENT team, while the decision is a strategic one, it was made after taking into consideration “many suggestions from the community” as well.

Coinbase has announced it expands the geography of its mobile service for credit and debit cards. Now, European users can also use their cards to buy Bitcoin or Ether at Coinbase. The company stated that 40% of all cryptocurrency transactions using plastic cards are conducted with mobile gadgets, so they strive to make the service accessible in as much countries as possible.

Persons

Distributed Lab founder Pavel Kravchenko continued his discourse on blockchain and its applicability in a blog post on Medium, where he listed the industries that, in his opinion, can freely do without it

Having stated earlier that big businesses wasn’t actually ready for using blockchain, Pavel now presented a sort of an investor’s guide describing the basic problems of decision-making and offering assistance as to whether the technology is really required.

“I receive requests to implement blockchain projects every day. However, quite often I feel that blockchain is not needed at all. There are other types of architectures available and Blockchain — with native coin and very desired ICO :) — is only one of them,” Kravchenko wrote.

Ukraine

In Ukraine, blockchain-based services continue penetrating politics. Thus, e-Vox team has announced a blockchain service intended for voting at the city council of Balta, as the project’s coordinator Alexei Konashevych told ForkLog.

The voting outcome registered in a decentralized database would allow for systematic analysis of data and showing the efficiency stats for the decisions the city council makes. Blockchain protocol would protect the data from internal and external intrusions.

Meanwhile, Gennadi Dikiy, the mayor of Ukrainian town Bila Tserkva, has filed a bill on using blockchain-based platform Auction 3.0. The working version of decentralized online auction is underway in several Ukrainian cities. Each launch is accompanied by public attention and clarification of how the system works, how it cuts corruption risks, and what it may give to users. The bill will be reviewed by the Bila Tserkva city council shortly.

Russia

Friday, August 26, Russia’s deputy minister of finance Alexei Moiseev stated that the ministry denounces any direct ban of bitcoin. He noted that the cryptocurrency bill will be subject to amendment after a series of meetings with experts.

This meeting might be a consequence of an earlier meeting at the Russian president’s administration chaired by the president’s internet counselor German Klimenko. The meetup’s attendees discussed blockchain’s prospects in Russia and possibility of its statewide implementation.

Moscow authorities even proposed to implement the technology in their project called Active Citizen.

“Moscow is ready to become a platform for using blockchain technology. As a pilot project, we’re offering the Active Citizen project. We want, on the one hand, to pilot the technology and realize how viable it is for such purposes. On the other hand, we want to shake off this skepticism of the citizens,” stated Andrei Belozerov, deputy director of Moscow’s IT Department.

Russian politics also got involved in blockchain and bitcoin affairs. Russian Party of Growth has confirmed it started accepting bitcoin donations. However, it will be entitled to use them only once the cryptocurrency law passes. Absence of regulatory framework causes the party to use the personal wallet of Dmitri Marinichev, internet ombudsman and parliamentary candidate.

China

Russia’s government isn’t the only one to delve into cryptocurrency and blockchain. Thus, the Chinese government has created a working group to study blockchain, accelerate development and implementation of the technology in the country’s economy, and to prepare for the Global Blockchain Summit to be held in Shanghai this September.

It is yet unknown whether the working group is tasked to control usage of the technology, yet it is remarkable that China’s largest search engine Baidu has removed all advertising related to bitcoin and other virtual currencies without any prior notice. The advertising’s removal was brought to light by two biggest Chinese exchanges, OKCoin and Huobi. Baidu provided no comments so far.

 

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