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Canadian Diamond Mining Company Hires New CEO, Turns To Blockchain

Canadian diamond exploration and mining company Lucara Diamond has appointed a new chief executive in a move towards modernizing the diamond industry with Blockchain technologies, the Financial Times reported today, Feb. 26.

The new CEO, Eira Thomas, will lead the company after its recent purchase of Clara Diamond Solutions for $29 mln, or 13.1 mln shares. Clara is a digital platform that utilizes both cloud and Blockchain technologies to “[ensure] diamond provenance from mine to finger,” according to the Nasdaq press release.

Lukas Lundin, chairman of Lucara, said,

“We believe that Clara will not only modernise the entire diamond sales process but unlock additional value for all participants across the diamond market.”

Blockchain systems are seeing increased use in supply chain management as they can streamline the process by permanently recording each transaction on the Blockchain, significantly increasing transparency.

Lucara’s turn to Blockchain comes a month after De Beers, one of the world’s largest diamond producers, launched a pilot Blockchain initiative also for tracking a diamond’s supply chain to ensure each diamond is conflict-free.

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Coinbase Informs 13K Affected Customers Of Imminent Data Handover To IRS

US-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service Coinbase sent an official notice Friday, Feb. 23 to approximately 13,000 of its customers whose information it is legally required to turn over to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The IRS had initially asked Coinbase in July 2017 to hand over even more detailed information on every one of its then over 500,000 users in an attempt catch those cheating on their taxes. However, another court order in Nov. 2017 reduced this number to around 14,000 “high-transacting” users, which the platform now reports as 13,000, in what Coinbase calls a “partial, but still significant, victory for Coinbase and its customers.”

On Friday, Coinbase told the around 13,000 affected customers that the company would be providing their taxpayer ID, name, birth date, address, and historical transaction records from 2013-2015 to the IRS within 21 days.

Coinbase’s letter to these customers encourages them “to seek legal advice from an attorney promptly” if they have any questions. Their website also states that concerns may also be addressed on Coinbase’s Taxes FAQ.

The ongoing legal battle between Coinbase and the US government dates back to November, 2016, when the IRS filed a “John Doe summons” in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

On Feb. 13, personal finance service Credit Karma released data showing that only 0.04 percent of their customers had reported cryptocurrencies on their federal tax returns so far this tax season.

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Pump and Dump in Crypto: Cases, Measures, Warnings

The pump and dump, an age-old scheme to quickly raise the value of a worthless asset and then selling it to reap the profits from the price increase. Not only is the pump and dump illegally under the securities laws, but it is also extremely popular in the world of Blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and digital assets.

How does it work

In a pump and dump scheme, the price of a worthless asset-usually a penny stock with a low market cap-is artificially inflated through well-planned marketing. False statements, misleading statements, a large number of social media posts, co-signs, and other chicanery are used to get the word out that a worthless asset is actually a hot buy that investors do not want to miss out on (the pump).

To support these claims, the price of the worthless asset is increasing rapidly due to the well-planned pump. Once investors get word about the worthless asset and see its price rising rapidly, more investors start to buy up shares of the stock.

This is when individuals who are in on the pump and dump scheme will sell or “dump” the shares of the overvalued asset. These individuals profit from selling the asset at or near its peak for many times more than the price they purchased it at. When they begin to sell their shares of the overvalued asset, the price of the asset tanks and corrects to a more accurate and appropriate valuation.

Internet for pump and dumps

Before the invention of the Internet, pump and dumps were much harder to organize. Individuals had to organize pump and dumps in person, via telephone, or via snail mail. Pump and dump schemes were often organized by “Boiler Rooms,” outbound call centers that were known for using dishonest sales tactics like promoting penny stocks to turn a profit.

With the creation of the Internet, it became far easier to execute a pump and dump scheme. These days, individuals converse in chat rooms, via messaging apps, and on Internet message boards to coordinate a pump and dump. With all the venues that the Internet provides to converse with each other, the Commodities Futures Trading Commision (CFTC) has become wary that pump and dump schemes could even sway professional investors into taking on an amount of risk that they did not intend to undergo.

CTFC virtual currency customer protection advisory statement

On Feb. 15, the CTFC released their first Pump and-Dump Virtual Currency Customer Protection Advisory statement.

“Customers should know that these frauds have evolved and are prevalent online. Even experienced investors can become targets of professional fraudsters who are experts at deploying seemingly credible information in an attempt to deceive.”

The advisory even quoted messages from an online chatroom coordinating a pump and dump, 

“15 mins left before the pump! Get ready to buy.” “Five minutes till pump, next message will be the coin! Tweet about us and send everyone the link to telegram (sic) for outsiders to see what we are pumping so they can get in on the action too!! lets (sic) take it to the MOON!!!!!”

In the scheme cited above, the entire pump and dump process only lasted eight minutes.

The CTFC warns consumers:

“Customers should avoid purchasing virtual currency or tokens based on tips shared over social media. The organizers of the scheme will commonly spread rumors and urge immediate buying. Victims will commonly react to the currency’s or token’s rising prices, and not verify the rumors. Then the dump begins. The price falls and victims are left with currency or tokens that are worth much less than what they expected. From beginning to end, these scams can be over in just a few minutes.”

Regulations

As the market for cryptocurrency continues to grow, government organizations give the burgeoning market the attention that it needs to develop. This includes releasing detailed reports like the CFTC Primer on Virtual Currencies, holding hearings with Congress, and giving consumers all the available information they have to mitigate the chance that the consumer will be susceptible to fraud or manipulation.

Pump and dump schemes are illegal and considered securities fraud by the SEC. In most regulated markets like the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, they are illegal as well. The CTFC is even offering a 10-30 percent bounty for any pump and dump whistleblowers who are able to lead the CTFC to monetary sanctions of $1 mln or more.

However, pump and dump schemes aren’t illegal on cryptocurrency exchanges. Cryptocurrency exchanges are not regulated; there is no piece of the legislature about cryptocurrency exchanges. So even though a pump and dump is unethical, it is not officially illegal (yet).

Cointelegraph reached out to anti-money laundering (AML) specialist Joe Ciccolo, founder of BitAML-a company that provides anti-money laundering solutions for digital currency startups. When asked about the legal status development of pump and dumps in the cryptocurrency market, and if it is possible to whistleblow in an unregulated industry, Ciccolo said:

“The CFTC, like other financial regulators, will continue leveraging existing enforcement resources. Whistleblower programs, a common regulatory tool, have generally worked remarkably well at putting crucial and credible information into the hands of investigators. The CFTC has rightfully prioritized consumer education and protection by focusing on detecting and deterring fraudulent activities, such as pump and dump schemes, while not stifling early innovation in the crypto space.”

Case: market manipulation on Bittrex

A well-planned pump and dump could earn investors over 100 percent return on investment. In one case, an altcoin pumping group was able to pump a coins price by over 950 percent. At 11:40 a.m. on July 2 the moderator of the chatroom announced that the next pump would take place in 20 minutes on Bittrex. 15 minutes later, the moderator announced that the pump and dump would take place in 5 minutes (12:00 pm). At 12 p.m. the moderator announced the name of the coin, SLS, and sent a link to the relevant market on Bittrex. At the start of the pump, the SLS coin was worth .0046 BTC ($11.61 based on July 2 price). At the height of the pump, SLS was worth .0438  BTC ($110 based on July 2 price), and after the dump, SLS was back at .0059 BTC ($14.90).

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Image source: Altcoin Pumping Group 2/2 Telegram Chat

In November of 2017, a Business Insider investigation revealed that traders were coordinating pump and dumps on Bittrex and Yobit via the messaging app Telegram. Shortly afterward, Bittrex issued a statement:

“A general statement about market manipulation tactics:  Bittrex actively discourages any type of market manipulation, including pump groups.  Consistent with our terms of service, we will suspend and close any accounts engaging in this type of activity and notify the appropriate authorities.”

Following the announcement, pump groups on Telegram warned their members that Bittrex would be cracking down on manipulative behavior. One group-Trading signals for crypto-canceled their pump and dumps due to Bittrex’ policy change. Another group-Fake Pump&Dump Hunter-was interested in knowing if Bittrex’s announcement was a scare tactic or if it had actually been enforced. Fake Pump&Dump Hunter requested that any user who had their account suspended by Bittrex get in contact with them.

 

Pic3

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Image source: Business Insider

Pump and dump groups often have thousands of members. At one point, Trading signals for crypto had over 7,000 members. Some members are professional investors and pump organizers who invested in the coin way before the date of the pump; others are retail investors, who find out which coin is being pumped at the same time the pump begins.

Four CTFC warnings

Although the cryptocurrency industry is maturing and taking the necessary steps to merge with the traditional banking and finance system. Blockchain and cryptocurrency is still in its Wild West phase. Due to a lack of regulation and consumer protections in the cryptocurrency markets, there are still enough opportunities to pull off fraudulent and manipulative schemes like the pump and dump. That is why it is always better to do independent research of the assets you are interested in investing in, and to only take on an amount of risk that allows you to sleep comfortably at night.

To protect investors against manipulative markets, The CTFC’s advisory also gave consumers the following warnings:

  • “ Don’t purchase digital coins or tokens because of a single tip, especially if it comes over social media.
  •   Don’t believe ads or websites that promise quick wealth by investing in certain digital coins or tokens.
  •   Do not participate in pump-and-dump trades; market manipulation is against the law and many participants end up losing money.  
  •   There is no such thing as a guaranteed investment or trading strategy. If someone tells you there is no risk of losing money, do not invest.”
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Learning Automated Crypto Trading Strategy: 4 Steps to Earning

In February, Cryptense, a full-stack Blockchain company, introduced a new decentralized platform for creating and executing cryptocurrency trading strategies automatically: Kryll.io. The company has also came up with an explainer on how you can earn big using its solution.

Drag ‘n’ drop strategy blocks

The first step to earning online with Kryll platform is to create a strategy depending on your preferable markets, the cryptocurrencies you are interested in, and your level of involvement. The strategy can be very simple or extremely advanced – it’s up to you to decide.

Kryll offers functional blocks that can help you. One of them, Market Trends, provides market information including price fluctuations, demand versus supply analysis, machine learning based market predictions and other options. In your strategy you can also include your preferable trading actions, such as buying, selling, splitting amounts into subsets, and many others.

Kryll’s most interesting feature is Signals, a combination of recent tips coming from professional traders, Telegram channels or social networks. Notifications by text messages or emails will inform you on the latest market developments, for example, if BTC, Ripple, ETH or other currencies are growing and receiving positive feedback on Twitter.

Proof-test your strategy

How can you test the strategy that you have built to see if it is right for you and your purposes? The best way to do so is testing your strategy against the market. Kryll allows you to safely execute your strategy before using it in the real world. Using the test environment in the platform, you’ll be able to test over the previous six months of recorded data.

Another option is to test the strategy as it was actually running on the market. This option will show how your brainchild performs in the real-time trading environment and, at the same time, will protect you from real world losses in case of mistakes.

As soon as you are confident enough with your chosen strategy, you can start implementing it to build some confidence. For example, you can buy a new coin at a market price and then optimize it using the tools Kryll provides.

Trading 24/7, night or day

If your strategy proves to be successful, the time is right to use the best Krylls feature, which is 24/7 trading. Kryll.io supports exchanges around the globe, including Bittrex, Poloniex, Coinbase, Cryptopia, Binance, HitBTC, and many others. The company also has several dedicated servers in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Cryptocurrencies are bought and sold on many various exchanges and sometimes at different prices. It’s possible to profit from the very tiny fluctuations between buy-price quotations. Kryll founders promise their software will allow to execute trading strategies in the most efficient way.  

There are many risks associated with trading, and you might be worried of cyber security, especially if you are executing your strategy automatically. Luckily, Kryll’s servers are under permanent DDOS protection. The startup founders also plan to have an external security audit every quarter.

Sharing with the community

With Kryll, you can earn while sharing your knowledge and ideas with other people on the platform. “We think collective intelligence is a huge asset that’ll make all of us more successful in the trading market,” the company said in its white paper.

The platform will offer a marketplace section where users can share their strategies for a fee. People with excellent insights can help their fellow traders and generate some profit at the same time.

The marketplace will also feature chats on different strategies, where people are able to interact, collaborate and give advices to each other. Users will rate strategies featured on the marketplace according to their efficiency.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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S&P Global Platts Launches Blockchain Network To Track Oil Data In UAE

S&P Global Platts, one of the leading independent providers of information for the commodities and energy markets, announced that it started the deployment of its Blockchain solution that “will allow market participants to submit weekly inventory oil storage data” to UAE’s Fujairah Oil Industry Zone (FOIZ) and the regulator FEDCom, according to a release published on Feb. 22

According to Platts’ release, the Blockchain-based innovation will facilitate and secure the “unstructured process” of communication between terminal operators. The technology will reduce the need for manual data management by the regulator FEDCom and improve the quality of data by automatically validating the numbers, which will help avoid human errors.  

The joint Platts and Fujairah oil storage reporting system is the first commercial implementation of Blockchain technology in the energy business to go live, Platts claims in its release.

In November 2017, BP, Shell and other traders have established a consortium with plans to develop a Blockchain-based platform for energy commodities trading by the end of 2018.

Earlier in 2017 Cointelegraph reported about major oil industry regions considering Blockchain technology as a solution to stabilize oil prices as well as to provide transparency for the industry players and to reduce the amount of manual work in the energy sector.

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Blockchain Platform Makes its 3D Objects Creating Software Open to Everyone

The Cappasity project, founded by a team of 3D technology experts in 2013, is going to launch a Blockchain-based platform for creators and buyers of 3D content. The project has already raised $4.9 mln from its investors in total. Today Cappasity is cooperating with Intel and Nvidia and has launched their platform in China with the help of Alibaba to provide 3D product imaging solutions for around 750 mln users.

A brave new world of 3D model exchange

Although the idea of putting augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) startups on the Blockchain platform is not surprising for the crypto community, the question of monetization of AR and VR tools, apps and platforms is still the most intriguing one.

The Cappasity team suggests a business model of a 3D objects marketplace that reveals some interesting findings.

Firstly, a user may create a 3D model of a real object with Cappasity’s 3D scanning system, (which is already represented on the company’s website). Earlier, the project launched its free 3D digitizing software Easy 3D Scan, which allows users to create 3D models and works with any camera.

Secondly, users will be able to sell or lease the 3D object to other members of the platform, creating a virtual economy ecosystem. According to the project’s business model, a content creator will get up to 85-95 percent from every deal that he or she makes on the Cappasity platform. ​The​ ​rest​ ​will be​ ​held​ ​by​ ​the​ ​platform​ ​as​ ​a​ ​fee​.

“3D technologies enable businesses to tangibly increase sales. Considering the luxury segment, when retailers implement a 3D demonstration of goods on their websites, it raises revenues by 30 or even 40 percent,” said Kosta Popov, Founder and CEO of Cappasity, in an interview to Coinspeaker.

According to Popov, this phenomenon happens because online customers receive more information about goods and therefore it becomes easier for them to make purchasing decisions. For example, 3D pictures can show additional information such as the quality of materials.

The future is coming!

According to a report by Goldman Sachs, the software AR/VR market will achieve $35 bln in revenue by 2025 with 60 percent of VR/AR software revenue driven by the consumer. However, it is not even necessary to wait for 2025 to realize that 3D solutions are impacting the world right now.

In November 2017, Cappasity announced its collaboration with NVIDIA. The startup has started working on the special version of Easy 3D Scan(R) software that will rely on NVIDIA’s toolkit, leveraging its latest graphic cards.

Cappasity has successfully raised $2.4 mln from angel investors since 2014 and launched its platform and 3D digitizing software in 2017. In the first phase, the company sold 295 mln Cappasity Tokens (CAPP), raising over $2.5 mln in capital from the sale of the cryptocurrency.

On Feb. 22, 2018, the project starts its second phase of crowdsale. The token sale hard cap is $20 mln: $10 mln allocated for private token sale and $10 mln for token sale. Cappasity is also planning to perform an airdrop.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Indian Software Firm, Canadian Research Institute Partner To Promote Blockchain In India

India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Canada’s Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) to collaborate on Blockchain education and training in India, tech news outlet CIO reported yesterday, Feb. 22.

BRI tweeted a photo of their co-founder, Don Tapscott, signing the MoU alongside Sanjay Tugnait, CEO of consulting firm Capgemini Canada, and Sangeeta Gupta, VP for NASSCOM:

NASSCOM and BRI together will establish the Centre of Excellence in India, designed to foster the adoption of Blockchain technologies in education, government, and startups, according to Indian information platform Inc42.

Raman Roy, Chairman of NASSCOM, said that the new alliance aimed at fostering India’s Blockchain environment will “help enhance our vision for a digital economy:”

“We believe Blockchain is a transformative technology for businesses. It is imperative that we identify and explain key application opportunities, issues, strategies and approaches that enable companies and governments to capitalize on this emerging technology.”

In relationship to the partnership, Don Tapscott said, “We need to create an awakening in India, showcase the power of Blockchain,” CIO reported.

A misinterpretation of the Indian Finance Minister’s warnings of a crackdown on cryptocurrencies that finance illegal activities as instead a ban of crypto in the country caused the crypto markets to slump in early February.

In a second misinterpretation of crypto news from India, India’s December 2017 tax policy for cryptocurrency was wrongly reported in the media as a new, strict policy earlier this month, causing the crypto markets to dip again amongst the confusion.

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Global Mutual Funds Could Save “$2.6 Bln” With Blockchain Tech, Shows Calastone Research

UK-based global funds network Calastone has released research on Thursday, Feb. 22, showing Blockchain could save mutual funds up to $2.6 bln.

In a press release issued Thursday, the company, which uses digital solutions to automate funds investment and save on costs, said the Blockchain technology holds “significant value potential” for the industry.

The numbers released by Calastone represent the tangible, financial value that a blockchain enabled distributed market infrastructure can deliver, through stripping-out many of the remaining inefficiencies currently embedded in the system, resulting in increasing cost, risk, operational and regulatory pressures,” it states.

Traditional finance has continued its public lauding of the promise Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, represents for ageing infrastructure and legacy practices.

Last week, Cointelegraph reported on the bullish tone coming from the T3 Conference in Florida, during which financial advisors called Blockchain a “sociological innovation” and highlighted its benefits beyond the strictly financial.

Calastone’s findings come in conjunction with outsourced research into its own market impact since 2009. Digitization, it says, is responsible for the company saving the global funds market £458 mln ($635 mln) in that period.

In 2019, the proof-of-concept for “Blockchain-enabled distributed market infrastructure” will give way to its core network technology migrating onto the Blockchain, which will in turn enable savings to the tune of $2.6 bln for mutual funds worldwide, the company says.

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Major Banks Partner With R3 Blockchain Alliance To Launch Pilot Trade Platform

An initiative involving R3, a Blockchain consortium made up of over 100 financial institutions, trade finance platform TradeIX, and a group of leading global banks announced the pilot launch of their trade finance platform, according to a press release Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The press release explains that the solution is based on R3’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) product Corda. The end goal of the initiative, called Marco Polo, lies in developing a “fully interoperable” open-source trade finance network which intends to eliminate or at least simplify existing paper processing across supply chain processes.

The concept viability was proven during a continued testing in cooperation with ING, BNP and Commerzbank, according to Ivar Wiersma, head of innovation at ING Wholesale Banking.

“The industry has been looking for solutions to simplify and digitize trade, making supply chain ripe for the benefits of blockchain technology,” said Connie Leung from Microsoft, R3’s partner since 2016.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Blockchain Alliance R3 also announced the foundation of a Legal Center of Excellence (LCoE), a group of law firms aimed to educate attorneys around the world about new Blockchain technologies.

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Beverages Gone Blockchain Announce New CEO And Spinoff After Second Nasdaq Delist Notice

After Nasdaq gave a delist notice Friday, Feb. 16 to Long Blockchain Corp. for low market capitalization, the company, previously a soft drinks brand, has decided to make a last ditch effort at preserving its original beverage business. Long Island Brand Beverages LLC (LIBB) is officially breaking from its parent company Long Blockchain Corp. (LBCC), according to a press release given to GlobeNewsWire on Tuesday, Feb. 20th.

Nasdaq had threatened to delist the formerly named Long Island Iced Tea Corp. in October 2017. The company renamed itself to Long Blockchain Corp. in late December 2017, seeing an almost immediate 500% increase in stock price, which helped it avoid being dropped by Nasdaq.

Long Blockchain Corp. announced yesterday in their press release their intent to pursue a complete spin-off of the original beverage brand by the second quarter of 2018. While the company’s name change has been ridiculed in the crypto community as a way to make a quick buck, former CEO Philip Thomas said in the press release that it was part of the plan all along:

“It was always our intention to spin off our beverage business following our shift to Blockchain technology and we believe that it is currently the appropriate time to take such action. Shamyl has shown great initiative and leadership since joining the team, and his appointment as CEO and our planned spin-off will allow the Company to execute on a clear, focused Blockchain strategy.”

The press release announced that Shamyl Malik, a veteran of financial technology, will be taking the reigns as new CEO of Long Blockchain Corp  to develop and invest in globally scalable “on-chain” blockchain technology solutions.

LIBB, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Long Blockchain, will split from Long Blockchain in the most appropriate manner: a “hard fork” if you will, which will allow stockholders equal claim to LIBB stocks and LBCC stocks at the time of the spin-off.

“It is anticipated that the spin-off will provide shareholders the opportunity to capitalize on both the Company’s new Blockchain business and the value to be created by LIBB’s ongoing growth. Stockholders will own the same percentage of LIBB as they currently own in the Company,” stated Philip Thomas.

LIBB isn’t the only company to change its name to include the word “Blockchain”, potentially as a PR stunt. In January, 2018 at the Securities Regulation Institute, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a warning specifically to companies that are hopping on this bandwagon, saying that the SEC will increase scrutiny in such cases.

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Could Blockchain Booking System See Hotel Prices Tumble?

An upcoming Blockchain-based travel bookings platform is hoping to offer a win-win for holidaymakers and hoteliers. Concierge.io claims its NEO-based system would eradicate commission fees for vendors, while also allowing them to interact directly with customers.

Hotels versus hotel booking websites

The company’s goal of cutting out middlemen comes amid an intensifying battle between hotels and third-party booking websites. Reuters recently reported that accommodation providers are aggressively offering incentives to guests who don’t go through intermediaries.

This fight has been rumbling on for years. In 2015, one disgruntled hotelier told the Daily Mail that a booking website had “taken over his business”- with commission rates for big players such as Booking.com and Late Rooms ranging between 15 and 25 percent. Others, such as Airbnb, charge fees to both vendors and guests.

According to Concierge.io, these fees are being passed on to customers “more often than not” and eliminating them altogether would bring the cost of a hotel stay down considerably.

Earning customer trust

The new platform is planning to make Blockchain accessible to the public by accepting traditional payment methods such as debit and credit cards, as well as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, NEO and Litecoin in the future. Despite fiat payments attracting transaction fees from merchants, the start-up’s executives have written in their white paper non-crypto users will “still see considerable benefits in comparison to using already established platforms.”

These benefits could extend beyond the bank balance. Concierge.io argues its system will offer safety through an AI-based dispute system, meaning any discrepancies in booking or issues with poor customer service can be resolved without leaving the marketplace.

The company’s goal of transparency could also prove advantageous for vendors and customers alike – especially when it comes down to the perennial issue of reviews.

At present, hard-working businesses can see demand diminish because of malicious and untruthful reviews, while the public has a tough time distinguishing between fake and real testimonials. In December, a Vice journalist exposed flaws in TripAdvisor’s system by using fabricated reviews to transform a fictitious restaurant into London’s top-rated eatery on the booking website.

Concierge.io’s thinking is that Blockchain brings “transparency and honesty to the review system,” meaning vendors cannot pay for manipulated feedback and only genuine customers can leave remarks.

Anticipating growth

The platform says its app will target millennials aged 18 to 35, while its complementary web offering is aiming to reach over 35s. Hotels and resorts are not the only vendors Concierge.io is trying to reach, as trip and tour operators are also accommodated on its system.

System reliability is always a concern for vendors, with the platform opting to use the NEO Blockchain instead of Ethereum because of its scalability. The team behind Concierge.io says NEO has a proven track record of handling 1,000 transactions per second (TPS), with the prospect of 10,000 TPS in the future enabling it to “compete for a strong market position.”

The second and third quarters of 2018 will see Concierge.io’s beta application and web platform released, with promotions designed to develop partnerships with major hotels and resorts. An initial launch in Australia and southeast Asia is planned for the end of the year, with expansion into Europe and the Americas expected in 2019. As for the future, taxi bookings and car rentals could become available through the system if the market demands it.

All eyes now are on the sale of CGE tokens. The platform says a whitelist sale of 10 mln tokens sold out within three hours, while a pre-sale offer for a further 10 mln was snapped up within four-and-a-half hours. The main sale for the remaining 45 mln is penciled in for March 31.

As Concierge.io gears up for launch, international consultancy firm Deloitte is predicting Blockchain could leave travel companies with no choice but to alter their business models. It said: “The tech behind cryptocurrency is becoming more than a buzzword in travel.”

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Russian Blockchain Association To Launch ‘First’ Guarantee System For ICO Funding

The “first” guarantee system for Initial Coin Offering (ICO) investments is set to launch in Russia in 2018, local media outlet Izvestia reported Feb. 19.

The system, dubbed ICO-hub, is being developed by Globex Bank, which is a subsidiary of state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB) bank, together with the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (RACIB), and the CrowdHub platform.

According to Alexander Mineev, Globex’s head of e-commerce and remote banking services development, the ICO-hub project is expected to be launched for testing in March, 2018.

For those looking to raise funds via ICO, the ICO-hub system makes it possible to accept both crypto and fiat — an escrow account is opened with Globex for accepting fiat money, and a CrowdHub wallet opened for accepting cryptocurrency.

An escrow is a system in which a financial instrument or asset is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction.

Mikhail Lapin of consulting service Bell Integrator told Izvestia that the use of escrow accounts for ICO projects would provide both parties guarantees, as well as minimize the risks of a deal breaker or fraud. The head of Russian tax firm TSK countered the idea in a comment to Ivestia, pointing out the lack of a mechanism for legal protection of investors’ rights, given the current absence of legislation around cryptocurrency in Russia.

Earlier this month, Russia’s Ministry of Communications published requirements for those running ICOs, demanding they have at least $1.7 mln in nominal capital and a license issued by the Ministry in order to launch an ICO.

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Illicit Uses of Cryptocurrency Gaining Attention Around the World: Expert Take

In our Expert Takes, opinion leaders from inside and outside the crypto industry express their views, share their experience and give professional advice. Expert Takes cover everything from Blockchain technology and ICO funding to taxation, regulation, and cryptocurrency adoption by different sectors of the economy.

If you would like to contribute an Expert Take, please email your ideas and CV to [email protected].

The growing concern about the rise of cryptocurrencies use in illicit activity all around the world is getting louder and louder – almost competing with stories about cryptocurrency volatility.

Over sixty financial investigators from the Interpol and Europol organizations of over 30 countries in January attended a cryptocurrency workshop to discuss measures that can be taken to combat the misuse of cryptocurrencies by criminals.

According to Rob Wainwright, head of Europol, as much as $5.5 billion USD was being laundered through cryptocurrencies annually.

While Blockchain provides a public ledger of all crypto transactions, criminals are using cryptocurrency tumblers or cryptocurrency mixing services to obscure the trail back to the fund’s original source.

Dark Web Poll Results

Source: Recorded Future

Newer cryptocurrencies such as Cloakcoin, Dash, PIVX, and Zcoin have built in mixing services as a part of their Blockchain network. Monero, drug dealer’s favorite crypto, provides anonymity without tumbling services due to its privacy-centric Blockchain design. Therefore more effort needs to be placed upon the monitoring cryptocurrencies with privacy or mixing services features, crypto mixers and tumblers since they can impede tax collection, anti-money laundering practices, and law enforcement agencies.

In the aftermath of this workshop, many regulatory agencies around the world, including the US, EU, Japan, and Australia, stepped-up their fight against  “financial crimes” utilizing cryptocurrencies.

European Union (EU)

The 45 member committee of the European Parliament will launch an investigation into money laundering and tax evasion related to the digital economy that thrives in the shadows of tax havens. On February 7 2018 the EU Parliament voted to create a committee provisionally entitled Taxe 3, that will investigate for the first time tax privileges established under citizenship programs or non-dom regimes offered by Portugal, Italy, Malta, the United Kingdom, Cyprus as well as crown dependencies and overseas territories.

Since the power to levy taxes is central to the sovereignty of the EU Member States, which have assigned only limited competences to the EU in this area, Taxe3 will need to be confirmed by a plenary vote in March in order to undertake the financial crimes inquiry within the next twelve months.

United States (US)

The US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regulates cryptocurrency exchanges under existing legislation for money transmitters.  It also requires US holders of a financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts (including crypto denominated accounts) to file a foreign bank account report titled FinCEN 114 if the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.  FinCEN has indicated that it is “aggressively” pursuing cryptocurrency tax evaders and platforms that lack strong internal safeguards against money laundering– even those located outside of the US.

Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) – IRS-CI indicated that it bolstered its staff by ten additional new investigators to make it easier to track down cross-border crypto tax evaders.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – The ICE indicated that it uses undercover techniques to infiltrate and exploit peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchangers who typically launder proceeds by using mixers.

Japan

Financial Services Agency (FSA) – FSA began inspecting all cryptocurrency exchanges after hackers stole $530 million worth of digital money from Coincheck exchange in one of the biggest cyber heists on record.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) – AUSTRAC on December 13 2017 amended its Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 to combat money laundering and terrorism financing using cryptos. Under this amendment, crypto exchanges are required to identify customers more stringently and report suspicious transactions. AUSTRAC is currently consulting the industry seeking feedback on the newly introduced draft rules.

The views and interpretations in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cointelegraph.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA is an international tax attorney and CPA who frequently writes about tax, legal and accounting issues for TaxNotes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.

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RMIT University Launches Australia’s First Blockchain Course

RMIT, an Australian public research university, has launched Australia’s first university Blockchain course, according to Business Insider Australia.

The 8-week course, entitled “Developing Blockchain Strategy”, was designed by RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub and partners with consulting firm Accenture and fintech hub Stone & Chalk. The online course description promises a practical program that goes beyond the conceptual aspect of Blockchain: “You won’t just get a theoretical understanding of blockchain: you’ll learn how to use it.”

Jason Potts, the director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub, tells Business Australia Insider that:

“It’s one of those things where a whole lot of different technologies have come together to contribute to it working […] Much of this course is designed to help executives and business leaders to understand not just how this new technology works, and understanding what’s actually behind it, but also how it reflects business models and business strategy.”

The general manager of Stone & Chalk, Alan Tsen, sees the strong connections between fintech, banks, and Blockchain means that this kind of course is needed:

“Banks are already behind blockchain technology in a big way […] There is a real demand for blockchain training and a skills gap in the market that needs to be addressed.”

RMIT’s course isn’t the first time that Blockchain and academia have found an intersection. UC Berkeley offers an interdisciplinary course on Blockchain, and a separate Southern California study will be released in June on the potential Blockchain career pathways for students.

In December 2017, Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) announced that they be the world’s first securities exchange to use Blockchain to replace their current equity processing system.

In January of this year, the Brisbane Airport reported its plans to make its entire airport terminal cryptocurrency friendly, with stores and restaurants located in the terminal able to accept Bitcoin, Ether, and Dash.

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Wyoming Passes Bill To Relax Securities Law For Some Blockchain Tokens

The US state of Wyoming has passed a bill Feb. 19 allowing certain Blockchain tokens to bypass securities regulations if they meet three key requirements as of July , 2018.

House Bill HB0070 was sponsored by seven representatives and five senators of the Legislature of the State of Wyoming. The bill passed the Wyoming House of Representatives unanimously in its third reading with the approval of all 60 members.

The move comes as US regulators at the national level seek to crack down on illegitimate offerings from the cryptocurrency and Blockchain space, placing emphasis on the need to monitor the market for the sake of protecting investors.

According to the new bill, if tokens are offered in Wyoming — or simply to the state’s residents — via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) or otherwise, the tokens will not need to be registered as securities in the state if they conform with the following three statutes:

“(i) The token has not been marketed by the developer or seller as an investment;

(ii) The token is exchangeable or provided for the purposes of receiving goods or services; and

(iii) The developer or seller of the token has not entered into a repurchase agreement of any kind or entered into any agreement, arrangement or scheme with the principal intent and effect of manipulating or attempting to manipulate the price of the token on a secondary market.”

HB0070 is one of two cryptocurrency-related projects sponsored by the twelve-member group currently making their way through the state legislative system.As Cointelegraph reported Monday Feb. 19, Wyoming Senate Bill 111 seeks to exempt crypto from state property tax obligations, in place since March, 2014.

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Blockchain-based Artificial Neural Networks To Save Thousands Of Lives From Medical Errors

When we consider quite how far medicine has developed worldwide in the past century, it could be easy to become complacent and assume that we have advanced our treatment methods and capabilities as far as possible. However, a 2016 study revealed some quite shocking statistics regarding healthcare mistakes; namely, that 250,000 US citizens were killed every year from medical errors, such as misdiagnosis or incorrect dosage administration by healthcare professionals. This technically puts it at the third largest killer in the US, behind heart disease and cancer. Estimates of the economic costs of these mistakes reach up to $20.8 bln annually. With human error being one of the main causes of medical mistakes, the healthcare industry is now able to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) for help.

A key player in advancing the use of AI in healthcare is Skychain, a project which aims to use Blockchain to train and use AI systems in medical care. Their white paper states that they aim to control 70 percent of the projected $200 bln medical AI market (estimated by IBM), through their ‘distributed open network’ system of artificial neural networks (ANNs), which can diagnose patients and prescribe the relevant treatments. They aim to “provide an opportunity to engineer, teach and host neural networks and provide paid access for independent specialists and organizations.” By using smart contracts, they hope to unite many individual parties (healthcare big data providers, independent AI developers, crypto miners and the consumers– doctors and patients) to create one effective solution.

Developers can submit ready-made ANN templates for doctors to choose from when diagnosing a patient. Once the networks have analyzed the data and returned the diagnosis information to the doctor, the developers and miners who provided the computing power will receive financial remuneration.

Setting up these symbiotic relationships will involve medical institution laboratories with large datasets, looking to set up and train their own neural networks (which can then also be used by others). They can offer these datasets for ANN training by developers. These developers can use a ‘SkyConstructor’ interface, and using a ready-made ANN template can edit it to meet the requirements of the institution once uploaded into Skychain. Once the ANN has completed the learning process, it can be published. Skychain uses the analogy of the wildly popular Uber taxi service: ANN developers are the drivers, doctors and patients the passengers, and the computer and servers of miners the cars.

Token sale

The ICO will begin on Feb. 26 2018, with a total sale of 36 mln Skychain tokens (SCH) available, at one SCH = $1. They will be continuing their roadshow by exhibiting at various conferences around the world, including Blockchain conferences in India and Russia. According to their roadmap, by June 2018 “the Skychain infrastructure is fully built, and early participants connect to it: healthcare data providers, medical AI developers, and hospitals.” They aim to be fully established by June 2019 and become “the leader in the medical AI market.”

The team behind Skychain boast an impressive display of experience. Founder Genendy Popov has over a decade of experience in programming and extensive education in computing, and Chief Technology Officer Ivan Svistunov has vast experience as a software architect within Blockchain.

Human doctors vs. machines

Skychain claims their mission is to save 10 mln lives from error-related deaths within a decade. Ahead of the full launch, the Skychain team has created a prototype of the system, along with its source code. There is also a video demonstrating the system, for those who wish to learn more.

Skychain also ran a demonstration of their AI diagnostics system on Feb. 20th, comparing it to face-to-face doctors. Both attempted to diagnose melanoma, breast cancer and heart disease, and the team claims that there were instances of higher accuracy with the AI system. The team has provided a video of the demonstration. If the results can be verified this will be an extremely exciting step forward in healthcare diagnostics.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Bank Of China Files Patent For New Blockchain Scaling Solution

The commercial, state-run Bank of China, not to be confused with the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has filed a patent with the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) for a solution to scale Blockchain technology systems, according to local news outlet tech.ifeng.

The bank originally applied for the patent on Sept. 28, 2017, with a Zhao Shuxiang indicated as the patent’s inventor, but SIPO only released news of the patent on Feb. 23, 2018.

The patent contains a method for compressing Blockchain data that seeks to solve the problem of storage space in new blocks without compromising on traceability and immutability.

As described in the patent, the amount of data stored in in new blocks would be reduced in the following way: when a full-size node receives a compression request from a client, it compresses transaction data from multiple blocks into a single “data block”, which would then be temporarily hosted on a different data storage system.

This data would then be run through a hash function with the data block hash value, and the compression transaction would map the relationship between the compressed block, the data block, and the compression event, which would all be recorded on the Blockchain.

While China has been one of the stricter countries globally in terms of cryptocurrency regulation, having banned Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and foreign exchanges from operating within the country, the South Korean Finance Minister spoke earlier this month of a need to cooperate with China in the sphere of Blockchain during a meeting with the governor of the People’s Bank of China.

Earlier this week, Chinese multinational PC company Lenovo also filed a Blockchain-based patent for verifying the integrity of physical documents, but with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), rather than China’s SIPO.

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Company To Link Gold Trade Payment Methods With Cryptocurrency Techniques

KaratBank is creating a new Blockchain-based cryptocurrency based on the ancient legacy of gold. Whilst not readily used in trading today, gold has traditionally been viewed as a safe and secure investment. Combining this historical method with the most modern, cryptocurrency, may not seem like a likely partnership. However, a new company is doing just that.

KaratBank claim that they take the advantages of gold trading and apply it to cryptocurrency. They highlight that gold is a trusted means of investment worldwide, is limited in quantity (which can push up value) and is also stable in price. By linking each of their KaratBank Coins (KBC) to a physical weight of deposited gold (in the form of CashGold – 24 carat gold embedded on a bank note), each token has a stable, trusted value. KaratBank Coins are based on the Ethereum Blockchain protocol allowing for use of smart contracts. The team describe the coins as ‘the foundation of a strategy to promote the development, infrastructure and distribution of a safer, more trustworthy payment means.’ KBC is linked to KaratPay, an online payment platform.

Their whitepaper describes KaratBank’s end goal as ‘The KaratBank Coin is designed to be used as a generally accepted electronic payment means for all who consider gold as a traditional, true, secure and value-stable medium.’ There are many advantages to KBC listed: its links to reliable 24 carat gold prices; the ability to exchange for CashGold at any time; real-time exchanges from any location at any time; the ability to use other popular crypto such as Bitcoin to purchase KBC; free and borderless transfers; and the low service charges for using KaratBank. These advantages have not gone unnoticed, as KBC payments steadily become more and more accepted around the world for transactions.

Reassuringly, KaratBank are in cooperation with Karatbars GmbH, (who already have an established community of nearly 500,000 users worldwide who have collectively invested $120 mln), meaning that the growing number of companies worldwide accepting Karatbars as payment will also do so with KaratBank Coin.

The pre-ICO has already begun and will continue until March 21, with the main ICO beginning March 22 (1 KBC = $0.05). By April 18, the team aim to have KaratBank Coin listed on one major exchange. By 2020, they hope to have 2 percent market penetration, and market capitalisation at $500 mln.

For a start, KaratBank CEO Harald Seiz has forty years of experience in financial consultancy. He is also founder and managing director of Karatbars International GmbH, bringing his extensive knowledge of the relationship between gold and cryptocurrencies to KaratBank. His expertise has been recognised by the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade, who have awarded him a Senatorial Degree. The rest of the management team also have extensive management credentials from various financial companies across Germany, and the advisory staff boast experience from Karatbar operations in Dubai to the UK.

The knowledgeable team and proven success record with Karatbars indicates an exciting time for this company, and possibly a revolutionary new way of currency investment by marrying traditional investment methods with new innovations.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.