Stellar Lumens given green light for trading in New York

In a boost for the cryptocurrency market in New York, Stellar Lumens has been approved for trade by the New York Financial Regulators.

This is the first time Lumens has been given the go-ahead in New York, which many may find slightly surprising, especially since Fortune describe it as “now the seventh or eighth most valuable cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of more than $4.3 billion.”

itBit has added it to their exchange. Chad Cascarilla, the co-founder and CEO of itBit’s parent company Paxos, told Fortune that the move away from the virtual currency being viewed as a security was a key reason for it being added to their platform.

He said: “That’s why we’ve added them to the exchange… If they were a security, you’d have to go through a different process.”

It will be interesting to see if this now leads to other exchanges, including CoinBase, taking on the cryptocurrency.

It is widely viewed as the leading exchange in the US and currently offers trading in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin, although there are plans to also add Ethereum Classic to the mix.
Stellar, the company that created Lumens, was founded by Jed McCaleb in 2014. He also founded rival cryptocurrency Ripple.

This news had a significant impact on Stellar Lumens price, with Fortune reporting that it “rose more than 5% ahead of itBit’s news.”

While speaking to Fortune, Cascarilla added that he is not worried about the fluctuations in the price of cryptocurrencies currently.

He is quoted as saying; “The interest and the adoption from institutions and large firms that have a lot of credibility is very real.

“That might not be reflected in the price today, but from what I see, will certainly be changing the landscape over the next six to 12 months.”

Business schools and universities rush to get courses on bitcoin

Even people who understand cryptocurrencies and blockchain will admit that they can seem complicated, even at the best of times.

However, they are a big part of the world right now and most of us know that they are here to stay.

That being said, there are certain areas that have been slow to catch-up to this new and exciting technology.
Business schools and universities are getting to grips with this new movement now, but few would describe them as ‘up with the pace’ of cryptocurrencies or bitcoin.

The Financial Times has reported that these organisations are jumping to get courses that can give curious minds information on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, because there has been a huge surge in demand for these subjects to be put on curriculums.

Since bitcoin’s value went through the roof late last year, there has been a huge boost in demand for courses specialising in this area. It’s no surprise to see this demand surge, as this technology moves from the fringes of industry into mainstream society.

Organisations within industries ranging from banking to the motor industry are looking into how blockchain can work for them.

David Yermack, professor of finance and business transformation at the New York University Stern School of Business, told the Financial Times: “This is moving much faster than people expected. Business schools will have no choice but to update curriculums.”

Yermack detailed that the latest course in cryptocurrencies and blockchain within the MBA programme 230 students enrolled in it.

Jens Martin, programme director at the University of Amsterdam Business School, which offers a blockchain and cryptocurrencies course on its master in international finance, also told the FT that she believes this element of industry is going to continue growing.

She said: “The increase in value in the cryptos played a large part in the increase in public interest. However, we feel that the finance industry is very interested in the technology itself and the possibilities it offers. We see many applications not only from people with a banking background, but a more diverse group who are interested in applying these concepts to finance.”

This increased interest has seen a huge rise in the purchase of initial coin offerings (ICOs), as investors are doing their best to find the next bitcoin.

Courses in this technology can only help those trying to do this.

Volkswagen and IOTA work together in autonomous car initiative

Are autonomous cars the future of vehicles?

That’s a question we don’t quite have the answer for just yet, but some big names are certainly paying attention to this area.

For instance, Volkswagen and IOTA are working alongside each other on a proof-of-concept protocol which will use IOTA’s Tangle system.

In fact, on second thoughts, many experts think that the answer to our original question is a definitive ‘yes.’
These experts expect there to be over 200 million ‘smart’ vehicles on the road by 2020, so it seems like autonomous cars might be the ‘present’, never mind the future.

This protocol was presented at the Cebit 2018 Expo in Germany earlier this month. The proof of concept has been designed to allow Volkswagen transfer software updates to their connected cars.

The technology behind Tangle is slightly different to blockchain; instead of ‘blocks’ and ‘mining’, a directed acrylic graph (DAG) is used as part of a foundation. Thus, its chains work all at once and topologically.

The German car manufacture plans on using TANGLE to wirelessly and securely work with data from its autonomous car line.

There are several reports circulating suggesting that IOTA has joined up with MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative) and many experts expect them to join up with other big names in the motor industry too.

IOTA is quite busy at the moment, as they are also planning to launch a Tangle-powered digital identification system.

MIOTA is currently trading at around $1.20.

Insurance group make move to embrace Corda blockchain platform

Blockchain technology has been embraced in many of the world’s largest and most successful industries, with the insurance sector just one area where it has been utilised to great effect.

Thus, when the biggest blockchain insurance consortium on the planet, B3i, announced that they’d be using R3’s Corda platform to build future products, there wasn’t too many onlookers who were surprised.

There may be a lack of shock, but there certainly wasn’t a lack of awe, as the Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative (B3i) announced that they will use the platform to further a prototype reinsurance blockchain.

The group, which was founded by Allianz, Aegon and Swiss Re (while being supported by AIG and AIA) also revealed that they will use a smart contract system to reduce paperwork.

A press release provided by the group stated that B3i “concluded that the Corda platform offers the best blockchain solution available, providing a solid foundation for B3i to efficiently deliver business value to its clients.”

It added that they expect the “full integration of Corda notes… in the professional and compliant IT environments that are used by B3i’s clients.”

For those of you who don’t know, R3 is a group of banking organizations who launched the Corda platform in the Autumn of 2017.

Their CTO, Richard Brown, discussed B3i’s move in a statement, which read: “We are delighted that B3i has selected Corda as its preferred platform and our engineering team is looking forward to working closely with the excellent team at B3i to bring their innovative solutions to market.”

It’s an interesting move within the financial industry and one that is sure to make waves within the insurance world.

Justin Sun acquired BitTorrent for $140 million

File-sharing pioneer BitTorrent has been acquired by blockchain entrepreneur Justin Sun, the founder of TRON for $140 million dollars according to Tech Crunch.

The rumours have been circulating that the two firms were in negotiations last month, with BitTorrent long been seeking a buyer of its popular software used by 170 million active users.

The news was broke yesterday by Variety magazines who reported that BitTorrent and Justin Sun closed the deal, but no price was released.

The deal has not been officially signed off by the shareholders as of yet and allegedly some are disputing the terms, although due to the length of time BitTorrent has been seeking a buyer its unlikely that it will harm the acquisition.

What remains unclear is how Justin Sun will utilise BitTorrent and whether its going to be integrated into TRON, but it’s assumed that TRX, the digital cryptocurrency will be used to power the file-sharing app rewarding users for partaking in various activities similar to how Upfiring aims to utilise the blockchain for P2P file sharing. Neither of the companies have official announced what is planned.

The total market cap of the TRX cryptocurrency is currently at roughly $5 billion, of which $1.65 billion is held by Sun’s Tron Foundation.

The future is looking brighter for TRON.

Source: Tech Crunch

John McAfee challenges SEC over cryptocurrencies

Love him, or hate him, there is very little doubt that John McAfee always keeps things interesting.

The eccentric founder of McAfee Associates is rarely far away from the headlines and that’s not about to change any time soon, with the businessman announcing plans to make a run for the Whitehouse in 2020.

The security expert’s decision to run for the presidency can only be good news for the cryptocurrency community, as McAfee has repeatedly shown himself to be a proponent of digitalised money.

In one of his most recent showings of support, McAfee challenged the SEC to a debate on the subject, which he would like to be aired on national television. He made this challenge after the SEC chairman Jay Clayton’s comments on the regulations currently in place on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this week McAfee took to Twitter to call out Clayton.

McAfee’s reaction was partially prompted by the SEC Chairman’s recent classification of all initial coin offerings as securities.

He commented on this via his Twitter, writing: “The head of the SEC declared today that all ICOs are securities. While I STRONGLY disagree, and believe that the majority of ICOs do not meet the Suprene Court Howey Test for securities, I will submit, for now, to their rules and will not work with future ICOs.. But, I’ll be back.”

The worry of McAfee and other cryptocurrency supporters is that the SEC will move toward strict regulatory measures. McAfee has never been shy in his view on this, stating that he believes that money should be separated from the state as the tools are now available for this to be possible.

McAfee also believes that a discussion over the subject on CNN could help him further prove his point, stating:

“I challenge the SEC to debate me on CNN. I debated the FBI two years ago when they they overstepped their bounds. You, the SEC, have overstepped your bounds. I ripped the FBI a new asshole on CNN. I welcome the opportunity to RIP the SEC a new asshole.”

It’s not clear which way this will go as of yet, but McAfee doesn’t look like he’s going to back down any time soon.

Edgar Allan Poe inspires creatives’ blockchain start-up

There aren’t many blockchain start-ups that can say that they take their inspiration from a nineteenth century poet, but Qravity certainly can.

Inspired by the tiny amount that Edgar Allan Poe was paid for his writing output, Austrian producer and composer, David Brandstaetter, set-up the blockchain start-up Qravity.

The idea behind it is to give artists and content creators their just reward.

He discussed this inspiration, with The Drum reporting him as stating the following: “Poe’s work, especially The Raven and Annabel Lee, has always inspired me. He not only wrote some of the most famous poems of all time, he also established the foundations of the detective story and science fiction!”

Copyright infringement and fair payment are just some of the hurdles today’s creators have to face in order to get fair payment and Poe’s story of underpayment got the Austrian thinking about this.

Brandstaetter has a long history in the world of creativity, working for the likes of Sony and Rockstar Games, so he understands what it takes to make it in the fiercely competitive creative industries.
Thus, he founded Qravity in 2016 with the goal of helping others bring their content to the market.

In a world where opportunists exist at every corner, Qravity uses blockchain to keep all transactions transparent. It also uses smart contracts which keep immutable and transparent records of projects within its system.

He added: “In July 2017, we had a unique collaboration and communication tool for creative teams. Qravity also tracks tasks in such a way that creative members receive stakes in the content they help make. For example, a person who writes lyrics for a song gets a share, say five percent, of the song’s revenue. Every time someone buys that song, the lyricist gets five percent of that payment.”

Digital tokens that are called QPT are how creatives keep track of their records. Revenue is distributed based on how many QPT they hold relating to their content.

Payment is then given in the form of Qravity’s cryptocurrency, QCO.

For instance, if a drummer has a ten percent stake in the song he penned, a 1 QCO song earns him 0.10 QCO, which he can then trade on crypto exchanges, or spend in the Qravity marketplace.

Investors pile-in for blockchain streaming start-up

How we watch our favourite television shows and sporting events is changing and up until now, this hasn’t been great news for television networks.

That is because these networks haven’t been making much money off that process, but VideoCoin might just change all that.

When networks stream to televisions, one signal can hit many different viewers, but with internet viewing it is simply one signal to one device.

Thus, the overall people per signal drops. VideoCoin plans to help broadcasters send video streams to unused tech infrastructure that have extra capacity which will help with processing.

The immersive video start-up, Live Planet, is also involved in this project as strategic partners. There are also plenty of other high profile investors on-board, including the likes of Anthony Di lorio, who is a co-founder of Ethereum and Akamai co-founder Randal Kaplan.

In fact, their entire $50 million initial coin offering (IC0) has already been sold through private investment. If you want to get involved, then we’ve some bad news; there is no plan for a public sale.

That being said, there are reports that there will be an airdrop to supporters over the next few weeks.

Halsey Minor, who is a co-founder of CNET is already on-board too and he sees this investment as a no-brainer.

He said: “What we’re building is the next-generation infrastructure for how you do video processing and distributed services.”

He also added that this is the ideal use for this technology, stating: “The one use case the blockchain that’s going to work first is the commodification of hardware. It’s perfect for it.”

Blockchain being tested on UK National Archives

Every day there is another story about an organisation reaping the rewards of blockchain technology, however there aren’t many with the reputation of the UK government.

Thus, the news that the government are investigating the use of blockchain for record sharing within The National Archives could be a massive boost for advocates of the technology.

The Archives is renowned for being a standard setter in its area, so it is hoped that this research will give a wider understanding of blockchain technology to Archives and Memory Institutions (AMIs) throughout the world.

The research, which is entitled Archangel, is a collaborative project and involves the likes of the University of Surrey and the Open Data Institute.

It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the key idea being to check how useful blockchain can be for managing extensive archives.

Alex Green, who is the Archives’ digital preservation services manager, wrote a blog about the research this week.

In it, he wrote the following: “How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously?”

“How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record? To address these questions, Archangel is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record”

He added: “Specifically, the project is investigating how blockchain might be used to achieve this.”

Distributed ledger technology will “collect robust digital signatures derived from digitized physical, and born-digital content.”

The research is expected to take around a year and a half.

How does a commission-free smartphone trading service sound? Revolut might have the answer

There aren’t too many app-based challenger banks that are as diverse as Revolut.

You’d be hard pushed to find another one that offers accounts, international money transfers that aren’t expensive and an option to both buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Now, it is adding another tool to its arsenal; a commission-free share trading platform, which will allow customers to invest in companies without having to pay huge fees. It is also letting users buy other instruments, such as exchange traded fund (ETFs).

For those of you familiar with the US market, Revolut’s model is similar to the Robinhood app, but for the European market.

In a statement released by Nik Storonsky, who is the Founder and CEO of the company, Revolut has vowed to shake up the world of investments in a similar fashion to how they did with banking.

The statement read: “Brokers are charging people as much as £5.00 per trade and the user interfaces are typically clunky, slow and confusing for consumers. The pain points are clear for us and the room for improvement is massive.”

Smartphone investing without commission and brokerage fees is an idea which could change the entire investment landscape within Europe, so it’s hardly surprising that this development is being monitored with a watchful eye.

No official date has been set for this new option, but the organisation is thought to be in the advance stages of development.