• Thai Bank Launches App For Instant Cross-Border Payments Powered on blockchain

    Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) has partnered with Ripple to create a mobile application powered by blockchain to deliver instant, low-cost cross-border payments.Per a Jan. 8 blog post from Ripple, the app — known as SCB Easy —  was demoed in December during Ripple’s annual customer event, Swell. The demo reportedly demonstrated its ability to send cross-border payments in seconds.SCB’s senior vice president of commercial banking, Arthit Sriumporn, announced on-stage:“It is so difficult to send and receive money today. People must physically go to a bank branch, fill out long and complicated forms and wait for payments to be received—with no transparency. With our service, their loved ones from abroad can transfer payment and receive money immediately.”Following this, Sriumporn showed the app in action, sending a payment to a recipient’s bank account within 40 seconds.SCB is also working with Ripple to offer cross-border EMVCo QR payments. QR payments are popular throughout Asia, and leveraging this capability will allow SCB to offer customers micro-payment services in addition to remittances.A recent survey conducted by PwC shows that 86% of China’s…

    Jan 9, 2020
  • Bahrain to Provide Fast-Track Setup Program for Fintech Startups

    The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) has introduced a new program to attract more startups to the country.According to a press release on Oct. 29, the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain has introduced a fast-track setup program for startups looking to do business there.The new initiative will provide an expedited entry process covering visa requirements, residency and business registration processes. It also offers guidance from the country’s incubators and accelerators, as well as access to grants and financial supports.In its statement, the EDB lauds Bahrain as a better place to do business than its neighbors and notes its accepting policy toward the cryptocurrency and open banking industries. The EDB stated:“The Kingdom’s pioneering, agile and flexible regulatory framework allows it to regulate emerging technologies – such as open banking and cryptocurrencies – in a way other jurisdictions simply cannot. Thanks to this, Bahrain has earned a reputation as the region’s de facto test-bed for cutting edge technologies.”Middle Eastern countries look to blockchain in pivot away from hydrocarbonsVarious countries in the Middle East are competing to become the leading…

    Nov 4, 2019
  • Crypto Extortion on the Rise, Says Academic Study

    Crypto-based extortion –  basically the process of using spam-flinging botnet armies to “ransom” dirty pictures and compromising information in exchange for bitcoin  –  has turned virtual crime into child’s play.Speaking this week at the Advances in Financial Technology conference in Zurich, an international team comprised of researchers from the Austrian Technology Institute and security provider GoSecure sampled a population of email spam and found that the extortion process was quick, easy, and very lucrative.Using public data hack info, the researchers found that a single instance of the popular Necurs botnet launched over 80 campaigns and in the 4.3 million emails surveyed by the team. In almost all cases the criminals had no incriminating information on the victims.The team said that the botnet was surprisingly lucrative. By renting a botnet for $10,000 per month, the extortionists have been making at least $130,000. Compared to most extortion schemes, the spam campaign is incredibly simple, largely due to its employment of cryptocurrencies, said GoSecure’s Masarah Paquet-Clouston.As such, the researchers expect crypto-backed email extortions to increase.“If you look at traditional [product] spam, it’s much…

    Oct 23, 2019
  • Swiss Central Bank to Explore Use of Digital Franc in Settling Trades

    Switzerland’s central bank and the SIX stock exchange will study how financial traders can use a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to settle trades of tokenized assets.A statement from the exchange’s subsidiary, SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), on Wednesday indicated that the exchange has partnered with the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of International Settlement’s Innovation Hub Centre on a proof-of-concept for the study.Part of the effort includes the exploration of technical options such as the digitization of the Swiss franc on the SDX platform and connecting with the Swiss Interbank Clearing System.SDX expects distributed ledger-based tokenized assets and CBDCs to lower counterparty risk and release financial innovations, according to the announcement.SIX’s Thomas Zeeb said:“Our proof of concept on the subject of digital central bank money for financial market participants on DLT platforms will not only provide technological insights. but will also send an important signal to all market participants to take steps to explore DLT technology and digital assets.”SIX has been notable for its financial innovation, particularly with its listings of numerous crypto-based exchange-traded products. Last week, fintech firm Amun…

    Oct 10, 2019
  • UNICEF Launches Cryptocurrency Fund to Back Open Source Technology

    UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has launched a crypto fund to receive, hold and distribute donations of bitcoin and ether in its aim to back open source technology for children around the world.UNICEF said in an announcement on Wednesday that in a first for United Nations organizations, the Cryptocurrency Fund will receive contributions in cryptocurrency and grant out in the same digital currency form.The organization added the first contributions to the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund come from the Ethereum Foundation and “will benefit three grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund.”It said the three grantees that will receive the initial donations are Prescrypto, Atix Labs and Utopixar, focusing on the areas of “prescription tracking, matching investors and those needing funding, and community tokens and engagement.”Aya Miyaguchi, executive director of the Ethereum Foundation, said in a keynote speech at the DevCon event that 100 ether, worth about $18,000 at its current price, has been sent to the UNICEF via the new partnership.“This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “If digital economies and currencies have the potential…

    Oct 9, 2019
  • Oil and Gas Giant Pilots New Blockchain Platform From Modex

    Blockchain startup Modex announced the launch of its blockchain-based database platform for simplified blockchain deployment, which will be piloted by Dietsmann, a major oil and gas firm.Simplifying blockchain adoptionOn Sept. 19, Modex announced the release of its latest product, the Modex Blockchain Database platform (Modex BCDB) which simplifies the way companies can deploy blockchain technology projects.According to the announcement, Modex BCDB enables companies to start blockchain projects in just a few hours, instead of days or even months. Mihai Ivascu, CEO and founder of Modex said:“With the launch of Modex BCDB, we’re excited to usher in a new era of enterprise blockchain adoption. We’ve developed Modex BCDB specifically with enterprise needs in mind in order to counteract the high barriers to adoption that have typically kept businesses on the sidelines.”In an interview with Economica, a Romanian local newspaper, Ivascu said that he was having several discussions with the Romanian Bank of Commerce (BCR). At this stage, the BCR is not yet using Modex’s solutions.DietsmannOil and gas giant Dietsmann, which was founded in 1977 in the Netherlands, is one of the…

    Sep 23, 2019
  • Popular Smartphone Apps Are Adding Crypto Capabilities

    News of Japan messaging giant Line’s September 17 launch of an app-connected crypto exchange is captivating lots of attention in the crypto and tech industries this week. Other initially non-crypto apps are also entering the market, adding native tokens, tipping functions and cryptocurrency wallets, illustrating a growing trend toward mainstream crypto acceptance and awareness.Naver’s Line Launches Built-In Crypto ExchangeFor almost anyone living in Japan, or Asia in general, popular messaging app Line is a household name. Line was launched in Japan in 2011 by Korean search engine company Naver Corporation, in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The tech was a byproduct of improvised communications during telecommunications infrastructure damage resulting from the disaster.The Bitmap exchange can be accessed directly through the Line app.Line’s freeware app began as a rather simple service, but exploded in popularity soon after, evolving from a simple SMS for sending cute stickers and chatting, to a digital wallet, video on-demand, digital comics and games juggernaut in the Asian market and beyond. Just this month, the expansive trend has taken new ground with the launch…

    Sep 20, 2019
  • Coffee Industry Taps IBM Blockchain Solution to Track Supply Chain

    A group of global coffee companies is aiming to launch a blockchain platform to track coffee using an IBM-developed app by early 2020.Building on IBM Food Trust PlatformFarmer Connect, a tech startup developing farm-to-client traceability tools, has teamed up with the world’s top coffee firms such as Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Smucker’s to apply blockchain to coffee supply chain tracking using the IBM Food Trust Platform, it was announced on Sept. 18.According to a news release by Farmer Connect, the startup has worked with IBM to build the “Thank My Farmer” app, which provides consumers with detailed data about coffee products, including origin and pricing.The first version of the app will be available to test users in select markets operated by the group of partners before the service is launched to the entire coffee community in 2020.Big coffee expected to benefitOther participants include Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, ITOCHU Corporation, RGC Coffee, Beyers Koffie and Swiss coffee trading firm Sucafina. Following the launch of the app, the company plans to expand to other commodities.Rajendra Rao, general manager for IBM Food Trust, expressed confidence…

    Sep 19, 2019
  • Wells Fargo to Pilot DLT-Based Cross-Border Settlement Platform

    American financial services company Wells Fargo & Company is planning to launch a pilot of a distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based internal settlement service in 2020.In a Sept. 17 press release, Wells Fargo described a DLT-based platform designed to perform internal book transfers of international payments within its global network using digitized cash. The company claimed that it has already successfully tested the concept of money transfers between the United States and Canada.Achievement of nearly real-time money transactionsThe impetus for the idea was the realization of nearly real-time money transactions with no impact on the underlying account, transaction postings and reconcilement infrastructure with cross-border transactions. DLT will also ostensibly help the company to eliminate the need for third parties and cut transfer time and transaction costs.Lisa Frazier, head of the Innovation Group at Wells Fargo, said that the company has seen increased demand for further reduction of friction regarding traditional borders, with DLT being able to aid in the issue. Frazier stated:“We believe DLT holds promise for a variety of use cases, and we’re energized to take this significant step in applying the technology to banking in a…

    Sep 18, 2019
  • BIS Economist Proposes DLT-Based Financial Market Monitoring

    An economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has proposed new ways of supervising financial risks through distributed ledger technology (DLT).In a recently released working paper, economist Raphael Auer made the case for so-called embedded supervision, which would automatically monitor tokenized markets. This would purportedly eliminate the need for the collection, verification and delivery of companies’ related data.New forms of transparency and data credibilityPer the report, DLT and smart contracts can facilitate the development of financial markets through new forms of transparency and data credibility, and eventually exclude middleman-based data verification. To achieve these goals, embedded supervision aims to use machine learning or artificial intelligence, relying on the trust-creating mechanism of decentralized markets for regulatory purposes. The paper further explains:“If DLT-based markets were to develop, this would change the way assets are traded and how they are packaged into complex financial products. Since the information contained in the blockchain is verified by decentralised economic consensus, it could replace current processes for data delivery and verification.”Auer states that, for regulators and lawmakers, it is necessary to establish auxiliary frameworks that…

    Sep 17, 2019
  • Bitcoin Lightning Network vulnerability poses risk to scaling

    Lightning Labs has reportedly confirmed the existence and exploitation of Bitcoin Lightning Network vulnerability.The peer-to-peer payment network is responsible for providing low-priced and quick Bitcoin payments, but due to this bug incident, it might not be prepared for huge payments.A well-known Blockstream developer Rusty Russell in August exposed the bug on the mailing list. Russell revealed the bug’s details partially, stating that some security issues have been found in several lightning projects and these issues might lead to loss of money.What is the Bitcoin Lightning Network vulnerability?The complete specifications of vulnerability are likely to be released by the end of this month, giving the users almost four weeks for up-gradation to a secure version of the software.However, this precaution is quite late. Lightning Labs also warned its users that Lightning Network is still in its initial stages.Please upgrade to the latest versions, as they are not at risk. These are:• lnd 0.7.1• c-lightning 0.7.1• eclair 0.3.1— Lightning Labs(@lightning) September 10, 2019Who is at risk of Bitcoin Lightning Network vulnerability?Although, not all users are at risk as the bug only affects…

    Sep 16, 2019
  • IBM Now Holds 6 of 11 Seats on Hyperledger Blockchain Steering Board

    IBM has doubled the number of its employees on the technical steering committee (TSC) of Hyperledger, stoking concerns about the tech giant’s influence on the enterprise blockchain consortium.Six out of the 11 2019-2020 TSC members announced last week are IBM employees. Five work at Big Blue itself and one, Mark Wagner, is a senior principal engineer at Red Hat, an IBM subsidiary. By comparison, the previous year’s TSC had only two IBM representatives and the same number of total seats (Wagner served on the committee, but IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat did not close until July 2019).The new committee will begin governing after the new TSC chair is elected next week.While IBM has long played a major role in Hyperledger, having contributed the code for Fabric, the consortium’s biggest and oldest project, the election results rattled some participants from rival firms.Todd Little, a blockchain platform architect at Oracle, wrote in the TSC mailing list:“It is very clear that IBM now controls the TSC and is that the direction Hyperledger wants to take?”At stake is the direction of one of the…

    Sep 10, 2019
  • LG May Launch Its Own Blockchain Phone: Report

    Consumer electronics giant LG may be looking to launch its own blockchain smartphone.A report earlier today from Korean media outlet Chosun said “LG is likely to respond to Samsung’s innovation initiative,” a major brand competitor. In the report, Chosun further claimed LG is having difficulty separating a potential blockchain phone from Samsung’s previous releases.Earlier this year Samsung released its Galaxy S10 in multiple models complete with its Blockchain Keystore. The S10 is fully compatible with ERC-20 tokens, dapps, and recently, bitcoin.“LG has been struggling to apply blockchain to smartphones without any dissimilarity,” a Chosun source continued. “I think Samsung is trying to prepare differently in the blockchain field, just as LG responded with a dual-screen when Samsung Galaxy came out with a foldable phone.”Chosun also said LG has completed market research on dapp and blockchain providers. Earlier this summer, LG applied to trademark “ThinQ Wallet” in the United States. The patent states ThinQ is purposed for a transaction, settlement, and e-money services.LG and Samsung may be the major name brands in the field but they aren’t alone.Sirin Labs’ Finney blockchain smartphone began…

    Sep 10, 2019
  • 5 Facts About Bitcoin You May Not Know

    Lots became self-proclaimed bitcoin traders and investors. Even then, quite a lot have remained ignorant about a few facts. 

    Sep 9, 2019
  • World’s ‘First’ Blockchain Smartphone to Become Available in New Market

    Finney, the world’s purportedly first blockchain-enabled smartphone, will soon be available for purchase in Bangladesh.According to a report by local newspaper The Daily Star on Sept. 9, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission approved the phone for import in August and it will be available on the Bangladeshi market in October.Mobile Phones in BangladeshFinney’s launch in Bangladesh comes amid a trend of growing smartphone ownership in the country. According to a 2018 report from global research firm GSMA Intelligence, by 2025, 75% of the population (138 million) will have smartphones, while 41% (73 million) will be mobile internet subscribers.Per GSMA, the increasingly urbanized population has been buying more smartphones as cheaper devices come to market, and in this regard, Finney’s price is more comparable with high-end phones available in Bangladesh. Finney debuted last year with a cost of $999, while the Samsung Galaxy S10 is available on local phone market MobileDokan for 74,900 taka ($894).Built-in blockchain and wallet featuresSwitzerland-based Sirin Labs developed the phone following one of the five-largest initial coin offerings of 2017 ($157.8 million). The phone features a built-in…

    Sep 9, 2019
  • Mastercard Joins Blockchain Software Firm R3’s Marco Polo Network

    American financial services giant Mastercard has joined blockchain software company R3’s Corda-powered Marco Polo Network for trade finance.In a news release published on Sept. 3, Mastercard revealed its participation in the project, a collaboration of R3 and Irish tech company TradeIX that launched in 2017. The initiative provides a multi-asset class platform that offers broker-dealer services and multicurrency transactions, among other services.The company’s Mastercard Track platform for business-to-business global trade has collaborated with Marco Polo in an attempt to facilitate further development and more working capital finance solutions.Jacques Levet, transaction banking head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at BNP Paribas — one of the Marco Polo Network members — said:“Better flow of information across the whole value chain has the potential to drive significant benefits for all network members.”Recently, Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank by total assets, joined the Marco Polo Network. Standard Bank will now develop trade finance solutions alongside major global financial institutions such as BNP Paribas and ING.In April, Marco Polo onboarded three new members for piloting and evaluation purposes, including financial services firm BayernLB, Frankfurt-based bank Helaba,…

    Sep 5, 2019

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