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Report: Number of Blockchain Patent Filings Outstrips Other Technologies

The number of global blockchain patent filings significantly outstrips the patent filings for other technologies, according to research by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) and London-based law firm Withers & Rogers. British media outlet Compelo reported the results on June 5.

According to the report, the amount of blockchain patents in the world is far outpacing that of quantum computing, as the number of blockchain patent families has already exceeded that of quantum computing.

The report says that the number of blockchain-related patent filings has grown tremendously since 2014, with the largest amount of those having been filed in 2016 and 2017. As such, over the two-year period of 2016 and 2017, more than 2,600 blockchain patent families were reportedly filed worldwide, which is about 60% of total existing blockchain patent families.

With that, the amount of blockchain patents is expected to grow further, while blockchain will continue to be the top technology for global tech patents for the next few years, Withers & Rogers’ patent attorney Philip Horler predicted.

From a geographical standpoint, the United States is the leading country in terms of number of blockchain patent applications with around 1,680 filings. China follows the U.S. with 1,590 filings, while the United Kingdom is ranked third with 270 applications.

Recently, Chinese e-commerce giant was reported to have applied more than 200 blockchain patents, following its major competitor Alibaba that applied for 262 blockchain patents.
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Digital Asset Security Startup Fireblocks Leaves Stealth Mode With $16 Million in Funding

Digital asset cybersecurity startup Fireblocks announced its launch out of stealth mode with $16 million in funding, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on June 11.

Per the release, Fireblocks obtained the capital during its Series A funding round from Cyberstarts, Tenaya Capital, EightRoads (Fidelity INTL), Swisscom Ventures and MState. The startup reportedly counts crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, over-the-counter digital trading platform Genesis Global Trading and others among its customers, with the company declaring:

“Currently, Fireblocks is integrated with 15 digital asset exchanges and offers support for over 180 cryptocurrencies, tokens, and stablecoins.”

The author of the release claims that over $3 billion in digital assets have been stolen by hackers in the past 18 months and cites the 7,000 bitcoins (BTC) stolen from major crypto exchange Binance (worth $40,705,000 at the time). Michael Shaulov, CEO and co-founder of Fireblocks, is quoted in the announcement as saying:

“While Blockchain based assets by themselves are cryptographically secure, moving digital assets is a nightmare. After interviewing over 100 institutional customers, including hedge funds, broker-dealers, exchanges, and banks, we concluded that the current process is slow and highly susceptible to cyber attacks and human errors.”

Lastly, Shaulov claims that his startup created a platform which “secures the process and simplifies the movement of funds into one or two steps.”

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, cryptocurrency wallet provider Komodo effectively hacked itself to prevent fraudsters from accessing its users’ funds.

In May, Sean Coonce, engineering manager at cryptocurrency custodian BitGo, announced that he had fallen victim to a SIM swapping hack.
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Major Consultancy Firm McKinsey Says Retail Banking Sector Slow to Adopt Blockchain

“Big Three” management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has argued that blockchain technology is gaining slower traction with retail banks due to regulatory hurdles and a conservative consumer environment. The news was reported by Bloomberg on June 7.

McKinsey reportedly characterized retail banks as nervous and cautious when it comes to blockchain, as distinct from their ostensibly more adventurous investment banking counterparts.

Factors contributing to this difference include, McKinsey argues, a more stringent regulatory environment for consumer finance and the controversial reputation of blockchain-based decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC).

In addition, the success of existing disruptor payment services such as Zelle is ostensibly slowing the adoption of new blockchain-powered solutions, the authors claim.

Despite this, McKinsey argues that retail banks could see significant gains across multiple applications — including processing remittance payments, managing Know Your Customer compliance, fraud prevention and risk assessment — were they to embrace blockchain.

In particular, the report isolates cost efficiencies as a key promise of the technology, noting the importance of streamlining expenses for retail banks:

“Almost all of their attention, especially in developed markets, is on cost reduction. And where cost reduction is front and center they are prepared to look at petty much any opportunity.”

The consultancy firm estimates that $4 billion could be saved annually by adopting blockchain solutions for cross-border payments, with an additional $1 billion to be saved per year in on-boarding costs for new clients. In regard to fraud, blockchain applications could reduce losses by up to $9 billion, the report claims.

Thus despite the slower inroads the technology has made to date in the sector, McKinsey notes its clients are shifting their tune and beginning to explore how to implement the technology within their business — in contrast to their earlier focus on battling crypto-associated risks.

The report proposes that to encourage adoption, the exchange between fiat currencies and digital assets should be smoother so as to prevent the risk of volatility-related losses for consumers. It also advocates for the establishment of more clarity in the regulatory sphere,

As previously reported, a McKinsey report from January of this year argued that there remains scant evidence of practical, scalable use cases for blockchain and characterized the technology as relatively unstable, expensive, and complex.
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Exclusive: Microsoft Registers Blockchain and AI Platform for Agriculture in Brazil

Microsoft has registered a suite of applications in Brazil that are designed to improve efficiency in the agriculture sector, according to an exclusive report by Cointelegraph Brazil on June 6.

The technology, known as FarmBeats, uses blockchain, drones, IoT, artificial intelligence and big data to improve productivity. It has already been rolled out on farms in the United States, India, New Zealand and Kenya, achieving a 30% reduction in water consumption.

Ranveer Chandra, the scientist who created FarmBeats, recently said that the agriculture sector had been left behind by the benefits big data, AI and blockchain can bring — even claiming that hunting had seen more digital transformation despite being a smaller industry. He told business and economy magazine Epoca Negocios:

“Brazil is one of the first countries that comes to mind when we think of agriculture. We developed FarmBeats so that its technology could be applied here and in other developing countries.”

The technology is regarded as crucial as farmers struggle to make a living while competing with a changing climate and growing demand for produce, Epoca Negocios writes. Chandra explains that production needs to increase by 70% in the next 30 years if global food requirements are going to be met.

The scientist has called on Brazil’s government to embrace the technology and subsidize it in a similar way to farming equipment and fertilizer. Besides helping farmers use resources more effectively, FarmBeats claims it can enhance accuracy and yield by delivering vital statistics about the temperature, moisture and nutrients in the soil.

Microsoft has made several forays into the blockchain world of late. Last month, the United States giant released the new Azure Blockchain Development Kit for the Ethereum blockchain — aiding developers who are building apps on the network.

Also in May, the company announced it was building a decentralized identity network using the Bitcoin network known as the Identity Overlay Network (ION.)
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SEC Sues Kik for Conducting Allegedly Unregistered $100 Million ICO in 2017

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sued Canadian startup Kik for an unregistered $100 million token offering, the regulator officially announced on June 4.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Kik violated the registration requirements of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933. The agency is seeking a permanent injunction, disgorgement plus interest, and a penalty.

Specifically, the securities watchdog alleged that in late 2017, Kik raised $100 million through a digital token sale that was not compliant with U.S. securities laws, as it had not registered the offering with the proper authorities.

Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in the press release that by conducting its Kin tokens sale, Kik “deprived investors of information to which they were legally entitled and prevented investors from making informed investment decisions.”

Robert A. Cohen, chief of the Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, added that Kik’s offering should be considered a securities offering since Kik told investors that they could except profits from its efforts to build a digital ecosystem:

“Future profits based on the efforts of others is a hallmark of a securities offering that must comply with the federal securities laws.”

The SEC’s complaint comes on the heels of Kik’s recent announcement that the company is launching a $5 million crypto initiative to fund a lawsuit against the SEC. On May 28, Kik CEO Ted Livingston revealed that the tokenized social media startup is setting up a fund called DefendCrypto.

Recently, Benjamin Sauter, a lawyer at Kobre & Kim, said that by initiating an action against the SEC, Kik has provided credible arguments, which make the regulator bear “legitimate risk if it decides to follow through with an enforcement action.
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Tron’s Justin Sun Wins eBay Charity Auction in $4.57M Bid to Lunch With Warren Buffett

Tron (TRX) founder and CEO Justin Sun has won an eBay charity auction to have lunch with renowned investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. The news was revealed in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on June 3.

Sun reportedly bid a record-breaking $4,567,888 to win the charity auction, which has been held by Warren Buffett for the past 20 years.

Bloomberg reports that the winner, who had previously been unnamed, will be able to bring seven friends along for lunch with Buffett at a steakhouse in New York.

All proceeds from the auction benefit the San Francisco-based non-profit GLIDE Foundation. As the press release notes, GLIDE focuses on fighting injustice and inequality on behalf of economically deprived and oppressed communities in need, including the homeless, those from ethnic minorities or of LGBTQ orientation.

Buffett’s wife is reported to have been a GLIDE volunteer before her passing in 2004, since which the investor has upheld his own commitment to the foundation, reportedly raising over $30 million to date in auction proceeds.

In a statement, Sun emphasized the importance of contributing to a foundation whose work provides holistic programs for the local community, noting that:

“BitTorrent and TRON’s US headquarters are in San Francisco, and bidding on this charity auction was a key priority for our team. I’m proud to have my bid donated to GLIDE, a foundation that provides critical support for our local homeless community.”

According to the press release, the auction was hosted in cooperation with the “eBay for Charity” initiative, which enables members of eBay’s online community to support their chosen charities both donate platform-derived proceeds and additional contributions to various causes. The initiative has reportedly raised almost $912 million for nonprofits via the e-commerce community to date.

In her own statement, Karen Hanrahan, CEO and president of GLIDE, underscored that 100% of Sun’s contribution would be used “to help people overcome barriers such as homelessness, addiction, hunger and social isolation and reach their full potential.”

As reported, Sun also recently offered to personally deposit 7,000 BTC to compensate the loss incurred by the major hack of top crypto exchange Binance last month. The offer — alongside other similar offers from industry members such as Coinbase and QKC — was gratefully acknowledged but declined by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

For some in the crypto community, Sun’s charity lunch with Warren Buffett will recall the investor’s much-publicized negative view of decentralized cryptocurrencies. While Buffett is well-known for this scathing stance — memorably characterizing bitcoin as "probably rat poison squared.” He has, however, recently made more positive comments in regard to blockchain.
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Brazilian State-Owned Bank Funds Documentary via Its Own Ethereum-Based Token

A Brazilian state-owned bank is reportedly funding a documentary film through its own ether-based stablecoin, Cointelegraph Brazil reports on June 3.

Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) will finance the production of a documentary in collaboration with local cinema producer Elo Company, whose movie “The Boy and the World” by Alê Abreu was nominated for an Oscar in 2016.

According to the report, the funding for the project will be carried out through the national bank’s own cryptocurrency, BNDES token, a Brazilian real (BRL)-backed stablecoin that has been under development since 2018. BNDES’ stablecoin has reportedly had the first proof-of-concept conducted with the administration of the southeastern state of Brazil, Espírito Santo.

BNDES tokens, based on major token standard ERC-20, will be backed directly by the federal bank, which intends to utilize the token in order to bring more transparency in the management of funds within the financial institution, the report notes.

Brazilian regulators, including the country’s central bank, are reportedly aware of the BNDES stablecoin project and have been discussing the associated legal matters.

Earlier in January, new Brazilian president Jair Bolsonar criticized another local crypto-related initiative offering to build a cryptocurrency for indigenous people. At the time, the BNDES token was still expected to launch in 2019, as the president did not comment specifically on the project.

Recently, BNDES has reportedly selected five blockchain-focused startups in order to conduct its six-month acceleration program, BNDES Garage.

On May 31, the President of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil ordered a commission to be set up in order to discuss crypto-related regulation in the country.
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Liquidators of Hacked Cryptopia Exchange Release Report, Note $4.2M Owed to Creditors

The liquidators of now-defunct New Zealand crypto exchange Cryptopia have released the first report on the state of affairs of the firm, according to the documents published on May 31.

Cryptopia’s recently assigned liquidator, Grant Thornton, has released an estimation statement of the financial state of the firm, reporting that the hacked exchange owes a total of $4.22 million to its creditors.

According to the report, there are 69 unsecured creditor claims totalling $2.439 million, with the liquidators adding that they expect to receive further claims, thus raising the amount.

The report also indicates that the employee entitlements at the data of liquidation account for around $318,000.

In a press release accompanying the report, Thornton stated that the exchange liquidators, David Ruscoe and Russell Moore, are still in the process of securing and recovering the company’s crypto assets compromised from Cryptopia’s mid-January hack.

The report notes that liquidators were granted a court order from the New Zealand courts authorizing them to use certain crypto assets to recover and preserve assets. Thornton added that at the current stage of the investigation, they cannot forecast a date when the liquidation will be completed.

The legal expert wrote:

“We are aware of and understand the frustration of Cryptopia’s customers. As there is no legal precedent on crypto assets in New Zealand and worldwide, the distribution of those assets and the overall conduct of the liquidation will require significant direction from the New Zealand Courts.”

Cryptopia was the victim of a major hack in early 2019, with the stolen funds estimated to amount to about $16 million. Following the appointment as the exchange's liquidator, Thornton warned that creditors would have to wait months, rather than weeks, to get their funds back.

Recently, analysts found that hackers have moved a portion of Cryptopoa’s stolen crypto assets to another crypto exchange.
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North Korea Launched Cryptocurrency Attacks in Response to Sanctions, Says FBI

United States sanctions incentivized North Korea to launch cyberattacks involving cryptocurrency, a senior FBI official told a conference. The comments were quoted by South Korean English-language news outlet Korea Herald on May 30.

Speaking at an event organized by U.S. thinktank The Aspen Institute, Tonya Ugoretz, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, said financial strain had driven North Korean state actors to cybercrime.

As Cointelegraph reported, Pyongyang is suspected to be behind several major campaigns involving cryptocurrency ransomware and theft in recent years.

These have ranged from global attacks, such as 2017’s WannaCry, to targeted moves against exchanges in South Korea and nearby countries.

“Sanctions are having an economic impact, so cyber operations are a means to make money, whether it’s through cryptocurrency mining or bank theft,” Ugoretz said.

Erin Joe, director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center under the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, concurred, stating the FBI was focusing on deterrence of crypto-related attacks.

“There is a huge effort in the FBI, and also several other entities across government, looking at ways to stop malicious activity (surrounding) cryptocurrency,” Korea Herald reported him as saying.

The debate around the true extent of cryptocurrency as a weapon for dodging political and economic sanctions continues to draw controversy.

Some sources claim that states such as Venezuela and Russia, both of which are under heavy U.S. sanctions, are involved in leveraging the technology to keep flows of wealth open in the absence of traditional financial support.

The same conference also saw a debate on handling threats from Russia, as well as China, Iran and non-state actors.
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​​Azbit Platform Launches Token Sale on BitForex

Azbit platform working under Roger Ver’s advisory will launch Premium Token Offering on BitForex. Token sale will be held in 2 rounds. The start of the first one is scheduled for 22:00 Seoul Time (21:00 GMT+8) May 30, 2019.

BitForex is the world’s leading one-stop financial service platform with daily trading volume of nearly $1.6 billion, according to Previous token sale on BitForex was successfully completed in only 1 minute 53 second.

Azbit is a blockchain-based banking platform for crypto traders and crypto investors. The project is aiming to build a bridge between the world of traditional finance and cryptocurrencies. Azbit team is developing platform’s features together with leading industry experts, traders, investors and crypto enthusiasts to create precisely those services which customers really need. “Every user of Azbit platform will be able to choose the most appropriate option for managing his assets in just a couple of clicks. Azbit took the best investment instruments from Wall Street and adapted them for the crypto world. Novice users can copy the transactions of leading crypto traders. Experienced traders, in turn, can increase their trading capital by attracting investors. This way, everyone wins,” Azbit CEO Max Zmitrovich said.

Azbit already have a Payment Institution license in the European Union. Top advisers are involved in the project, including “Bitcoin Jesus” Roger Ver. “Azbit has everything required for a successful launch: a strong team, a reliable business model, payment institution license, and, most importantly, the exciting prospect of bringing something new to the world of finance," Roger Ver concluded. Azbit project has already signed cooperation agreements with more than 50 blockchain projects, including Roger Ver’s and BitcoinCash.


Secret bonus:
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US Congress Think Tank Claims Bitcoin Is Used Mostly as ‘Investment Vehicle’

Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies are used as a speculative investment tool and not money, a report by United States think tank the Congressional Research Service (CRS) claimed on May 10.

As part of an investigation into cash usage in the U.S., the report, dubbed “The Potential Decline of Cash Usage and Related Implications,” appears to forecast a reduction in paper money as contactless card payments increase.

Researchers also analyzed other forms of payment, including cryptocurrency, be it public, private or issued by a central bank.

Taking bitcoin as its prime example, the CRS nonetheless draws conclusions which have become commonplace among government sources.

“Although price data on Bitcoin illustrates the public interest in and overall demand for this cryptocurrency, it is a poor indicator of how often it is being exchanged for goods and services (i.e., how often it is being used as money),” the report reads. It continues:

“Certain analyses appear to show that digital currencies are not being widely used and accepted as payment for goods and services, but rather as investment vehicles.”

As Cointelegraph reported, analysis from software company DataLight last month painted an entirely different picture, claiming bitcoin was already poised to usurp both cash and card payments worldwide. All that is needed, its authors wrote, is for bitcoin’s development to continue in its current vein.

“If it maintains this pace, in another 10 years, it will surpass all competition,” they summarized.

Others remain less convinced, with entrepreneur and serial gold supporter Peter Schiff extensively examining bitcoin’s future potential as money with “The Bitcoin Standard” author, Saifedean Ammous, in an online debate last week.

A day before the CRS report’s publication, meanwhile, U.S. senator Brad Sherman called on Washington to ban cryptocurrency altogether over fears it contributed to the undermining of U.S. political power.
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Report: Telegram to Launch TON Network in Q3 2019

Encrypted messaging service Telegram will purportedly launch its Telegram Open Network (TON) in the third quarter of 2019, according to crypto news site The Block.

An internal memo sent to investors reportedly said that the network would launch later this year. Telegram purportedly said that a recent successful test process “reaffirms our belief that the TON virtual machine and the TON ... Byzantine consensus algorithm are capable of meeting the goals stated in the original white paper."

In April, Cointelegraph reported that Telegram opened access to a private testing version of the TON blockchain to a select number of developers. Anonymous test developers said the blockchain demonstrated “extremely high transaction speed.”

The TON network will supposedly host decentralized applications, similar to the Ethereum network.

In February, an apparent purchase agreement for Telegram’s Gram tokens — the TON network’s native digital currency — stated that such contracts will be rendered null and void if the network does not launch by October 31, 2019.

Telegram was founded by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov in 2013. The firm raised almost $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering rounds last year. The platform boasts over 200 million users.

Last month, TON’s development team has partnered with German financial services provider Wirecard. TON Labs will work with Wirecard to develop digital financial products.
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Bitfinex and Tether Obtain Stay of Demands From New York Supreme Court

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and its affiliated stablecoin issuer Tether have been granted its stay of demands for which they applied yesterday May 21, according to a blog post published on May 22.

Per the post, Justice Joel M. Cohen of the New York Supreme Court (NYSC) ruled to grant the companies their motion for an immediate stay of the document demands. The court thus only requires the parties to produce documents and information related to whether there is personal jurisdiction over the companies in New York, while staying the document order in all other regards.

In yesterday’s motion, law firms representing the two companies specifically argued that the New York Attorney General (NYAG) has neither personal nor subject matter jurisdiction and that the NYSC cannot be appealed to, because Bitfinex and Tether are neither operated out of New York nor harmed investors in that state.

In addition to an appeal for a stay of demands, Bitfinex also introduced a motion to dismiss the proceedings against it entirely. Per the exchange, Cohen has scheduled a hearing on the motion for July 29, 2019.

The court proceedings against Bitfinex and Tether were initiated at the end of April by NYAG Letitia James, who accused the two companies of covering up a $850 million loss that could have defrauded New York investors.

According to the filings at the time, Bitfinex never revealed the loss to investors, with executives of the exchange and Tether engaged in a series of conflicting corporate transactions where Bitfinex got access to up to $900 million of Tether’s cash reserves. Bitfinex allegedly took no less than $700 million from Tether’s reserves and used the funds to hide losses and inability to handle clients’ withdrawals.

Also yesterday, Cointelegraph reported that in newly released court filings David Miller, an attorney for Bitfinex, revealed that Tether invested some of Tether’s reserves in bitcoin (BTC), stating that “prior to the April 24th order … Tether actually did invest in instruments beyond cash and cash equivalents, including bitcoin, they bought bitcoin.”
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Brazil Shuts Down Cryptocurrency Pyramid Scheme That Defrauded 55,000 of $200 Million

Brazillian police have arrested ten people suspected of operating a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme worth 850 million reals ($210 million), local news media outlets including Correido Do Povo reported on May 21.

As part of Operation Egypto, a swoop dedicated to unearthing unsanctioned financial schemes, Brazil’s tax agency joined police in orchestrating a crackdown on the figures behind Indeal, who they say amassed funds from 55,000 investors.

They lured victims with the promise of a 15% payout in the first month after investment in the crypto scheme.

In total, the investigation involved inspection of 13 individuals and five legal entities.

“The problem with this company is that it was acting without authorization,” Correido Do Povo quotes Delegate Eduardo Dalmolin Boliis of the federal police’s Office of Corruption and Financial Crimes as saying.

Bearing the signs of a classic financial pyramid, confiscations of assets belonging to the figures involved showed that Indeal would not be able to service withdrawals from all its investors at once.

They also used investments to pay for luxury items, authorities said, including 30 cars and precious stones that were subsequently confiscated.

The news comes the same week as the United States took action against a Ponzi scheme network tied to a cryptocurrency that was claimed to be backed by diamonds. In this instance, the leaders of the network reportedly duped domestic and foreign clients into handing over around $30 million over several years.

Cryptocurrency use is not illegal in Brazil, with the police taking pains to reiterate the impetus for the Indeal raid was the lack of legality behind its business.

As Cointelegraph reported, Brazilian police had conducted another operation on a cryptocurrency drug ring in April.
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Worsening US-China Trade War Is Behind BTC Price Rise, Digital Currency Group CEO Claims

The CEO of a cryptocurrency firm has suggested that the recent rise in bitcoin’s (BTC) price could be linked to the trade war between China and the United States, Fortune reported on May 20.

In an interview, Digital Currency Group founder Barry Silbert noted how BTC’s acceleration coincided with talks breaking down between Beijing and Washington.

The crypto advocate said bitcoin is proving itself to be a safe haven for investors at times of drama in the global economy — and cited other examples where BTC’s value rose as traditional stock markets took a tumble. Silbert added:

“If you look at over the past five years — when Brexit happened, Bitcoin went up. When Grexit happened, Bitcoin went up.”

However, given the volatility that the crypto markets have experienced over the past two years, the executive acknowledged that there would have been instances when BTC prices took a hit because of macroeconomic events.

The U.S.-China trade war has seen both superpowers slap tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods, ultimately making everyday products more expensive for consumers.

At the start of May, one of the Digital Currency Group’s subsidiaries, Grayscale Investments, launched an ad campaign urging investors to drop gold and embrace bitcoin instead.
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UK-Based Global Funds Network Calastone Switches Entire System to Blockchain

London-based global funds network Calastone announced that it switched its entire system for fund trade clearing services to its blockchain Distributed Market Infrastructure (DMI) in a press release published on May 20.

Per the release, the migration of the company’s over 1,800 customers over 41 markets “represents the largest community of global financial services organisations connecting and transacting via distributed ledger technology.” In the announcement, the institution also forecasts that the resulting savings for the mutual funds market will amount to over £3.4 billion per year ($4.33 billion). The release reads:

“Financial services organisations around the world — whichever size and scale — can, through the DMI, now access a fully mutualised global funds marketplace whereby the trading, settlement and servicing of funds is conducted in real-time.”

The bank claims that the system also brings a new service — dubbed the Sub-Register — “which creates a shared, real-time view and history of the registers between trading partners at any point in the distribution chain.”

As Cointelegraph reported at the time, Calastone stated in December of last year that it planned to launch its blockchain-based solution in May 2019.

Earlier today, Cointelegraph also reported that the South Korean city of Seoul will implement blockchain technology in the system underpinning its citizen cards.
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Report: Top Banks Alleged to Be Investing $50 Million in Digital Cash Settlement Project

Sources ostensibly familiar with the matter have claimed that some of the world’s leading banks are currently investing around $50 million to build a blockchain-powered digital cash system for transaction settlement. The news was reported by Reuters on May 17.

An earlier project for a blockchain-based currency settlement coin was unveiled by Swiss bank UBS Group AG and London-based technology startup Clearmatics at early as 2015, as Cointelegraph reported at the time.

One of Reuters’ sources has said that the latest development involves around a dozen major banks investing in a new entity dubbed Finality, which could launch as early as 2020 — although the deal has purportedly not yet been finalized, so details could still change.

While the banks involved in the latest $50 million investment round have not been disclosed, Reuters notes that institutions involved previously in the UBS project included UBS, Banco Santander, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, State Street Corp, Credit Suisse Group AG, Barclays PLC, HSBC Holdings Plc and Deutsche Bank AG.

In a statement to Reuters, a Barclays spokesperson reportedly refrained from commenting on the alleged deal, but noted that:

“We are a member of the USB Project and can confirm that the Research & Development phase is coming to an end.”

Other representatives from other banks reportedly did not provide Reuters with a comment.

As Cointelegraph has reported, United States banking giant JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has this year unveiled plans to launch its own blockchain-powered coin focused on increasing settlement efficiency, dubbed “JPM Coin.”
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Bitcoin Touches $8,200, Gold Hits Its Highest Point Since April

Wednesday, May 15 — All of the top 20 coins are in the green after seeing some losses over the past day, with some reporting double-digit gains, according to Coin360.

The leading digital currency bitcoin (BTC) is up over 4% on the day, trading at $8,135 at press time after reaching above $8,200. Earlier today, bitcoin dropped under the $8,000 price point to trade as low as $7,807. On its weekly chart, bitcoin saw its lowest price point at $5,942 on May 8, while its highest price point was $8,265 on May 14.

Today, Erik Voorhees, CEO of instant cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift, argued that the volatility seen in bitcoin and altcoin markets over the years is a necessary phenomenon for a nascent asset, stating that bubbles are an essential part of the industry’s growth.

The second largest coin by market capitalization, ether (ETH), has nearly 15% growth in the last 24 hours, and is trading at around $237 at press time. During the week, ETH has been steadily gaining in price, and is currently up 39% over the last seven days.

Ripple (XRP) has gained almost 9.59% on the day, and is trading at $0.432 at press time. The altcoin started the day near $0.399, gradually reaching the current price point. Over the week, the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap registered its lowest price point at $0.294 on May 10 and hit the highest value of around $0.438 earlier today.

Bitcoin cash (BCH) — which went through a planned hard fork update earlier today — is trading at $393.76 at press time, up by 4.94% over the past day.

Following the coin’s hard fork, BitMEX reported that the bitcoin cash network experienced difficulties processing transactions.

Total market capitalization of all digital currencies is around $250.4 billion at press time, having started the day at around $231 billion.

As CNBC reported earlier today, spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,298.26 per ounce, having hit its highest level since April 11 at $1,303.26 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures settled $1.50 higher at $1,297.80.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reportedly closed up 115.97 points at 25,648.02 after falling as much as 190 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 gained 0.6% to end the day at 2,850.96 while the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.1% to 7,822.15.
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Hacked New Zealand Exchange Cryptopia Appoints Liquidators, Trading Suspended

Hacked New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia has appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore from consultancy and audit firm network Grant Thornton New Zealand as liquidators. The news was revealed in an official Grant Thornthon announcement on May 15.

Grant Thornton New Zealand (NZ) is the local network of Grant Thornton International — a major professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms.

As Cointelegraph has reported in mid-January of this year, Cryptopia revealed that it had been the target of a security breach resulting in significant losses, with the attack continuing for two weeks after its initial detection until the exchange managed to regain control of its wallets.

According to Grant Thornton NZ, Cryptopia has decided to go into liquidation as it has been unable to return the business to profitability, notwithstanding management’s reported efforts to reduce costs. The decision has been deemed to be in “the best interests of customers, staff and other stakeholders,” the announcement states.

The liquidators will reportedly conduct an investigation and focus on securing assets for the benefit of stakeholders, during which all trading services on the platform will be suspended. In a statement, David Ruscoe outlined:

“We realise Cryptopia’s customers will want to have this matter resolved as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation, working with several different stakeholders including management and shareholders, to find the solution that is in the best interests of customers and stakeholders.”

Ruscoe added that given the complexities of the case, Grant Thornton NZ expects the investigation “to take months rather than weeks.” The liquidators are said to be working alongside independent experts and the relevant authorities to determine the company’s obligations.

Grant Thornton NZ will publish an initial report to the New Zealand Companies Office website next week.

As reported in January, Cryptopia had initially told users that it was undergoing unscheduled maintenance, issuing several updates before officially reporting the breach.

An analysis from blockchain infrastructure firm Elementus estimated in February that as much as $16 million worth of ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 tokens were siphoned from the platform during the attack — $3.2 million of which were later traced in liquidations on exchanges such as Etherdelta, Binance and Bitbox.

Earlier this month, major crypto exchange Binance was the target of a major hack that resulted in the theft of around 7,070 bitcoin (BTC) from the exchange’s hot wallets — worth over $40 million at the time.
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Bitcoin Hovers Over $7,000 as Top Cryptos See Mild Correction

Sunday, May 12 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting moderate losses on the day by press time, as bitcoin (BTC) holds over the $7,000 mark.

Bitcoin is down about 1.5 percent on the day, trading at $7,040 at press time, according to CoinMarketCap. Still, BTC is also over six percent down from its mid-day high of $7,500. Looking at its weekly chart, the coin is up nearly 23%.

Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $20 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple’s XRP, has a market cap of $13.4 billion at press time.

CoinMarketCap data shows that ETH is down over 2.25% over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $189. On the week, the coin has also seen its value increase by over 16%.

CEO of crypto analytics firm Messari Ryan Selkis recently predicted that Ethereum version 2.0’s transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) will not take place until 2021.

XRP is down just a fraction of a percent over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.317. On the week, the coin is up 6%.

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, only three coins are posting gains on the day to press time. Bitcoin cash (BCH), binance coin (BNB) and dash (DASH) are all in the green up to 2.5%.

At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $212 billion, over 17% higher than the value it reported a week ago.

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, Galaxy Digital CEO Michael Novogratz said that bitcoin won’t change the world as it is just a store of value, but decentralized web 3.0 will.
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