The chairman of the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, Bitange Ndemo has advised the Kenyan government to tokenize its economy in order to deal with the increasing issues of corruption and uncertainty.

Ndemo made known his opinion during a meeting between the Kenyan ICT ministry stakeholders and members of the private sector. He noted that the East African country needs a digital currency that would stand side-by-side with fiat.

“We must begin to tokenize the economy by giving incentives to young people to do things which they are paid through tokens that can be converted to Fiat currency,” Ndemo said

Kenya is Open to Innovation

Kenya is one of Africa’s leading countries in terms of blockchain and cryptocurrency development. Some of the region’s largest blockchain remittances originated from Kenya. Beyond remittances, the East African nation is notable for the friendly environment that it provides for not just blockchain, but technological innovations in general.

Active legislative discussions over blockchain and cryptocurrency related programs show the interest that the Kenyan government have in blockchain technology. This is evident in the government’s effort towards finding proper regulatory frameworks for the technology over time.

In August 2018, the country’s electoral commision even showed signs of adopting blockchain technology in voting processes.

According to Ndemo, Tokens are like bonga points given by mobile operators or loyalty points given at the supermarkets, it can be converted to coins and used to buy goods of any choice by the user.

More Education Needed

The Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence task force which was inaugurated in March has earlier recommended a Central Bank Digital Currency to operate in fixed nominal terms and as a valid legal tender. This is an idea that has been abolished, or rather sidelined for the time being.

ICT’s Jerome Ochieng, however, noted that there needs to be an increased level of awareness about tokens and how to use them before any major steps can be taken. He sees public enlightenment in this area as a very crucial factor that must be put in place before any advanced government action.

“We are not very enthusiastic at the moment, of course, it will come, but we first want people to understand the use of tokens”, says Ochieng.

Ndemo’s task force continues in its assignment to determine the appropriate and implementable use cases of blockchain technology within the Kenyan technological and economic environment. This will further enhance the country’s position as a hub for innovation and a fast developing nation, especially when it comes to innovation.

Credits by Iyke Aru

The real estate market of Hong Kong is said to be one of the most expensive in the world, alongside New York, London, and Sydney. Yet, crypto startups are moving into the most valuable skyscrapers in the city.

On August 22, CCN reported that BitMEX, a popular cryptocurrency exchange that facilitates Bitcoin and Ethereum margin trading, moved its headquarters to Cheung Kong Center’s 45th floor, renting out 20,000 square feet at $28.66 per square foot.

Its old headquarters were based in Victoria Harbor, a region within Hong Kong that is known for expensive residential properties. In Victoria Harbor, BitMEX paid around $3.18 per square foot and in Cheung Kong Center, BitMEX is paying $573,200 per month, at a rate of $28.66 per square foot.

BitMEX will operate its office in the most valuable skyscraper with Hong Kong alongside major financial institutions such as Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, Bloomberg LP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

Banks are Moving Out of Skyscrapers

According to a report released by SCMP, a mainstream media outlet in Hong Kong, even major banks like Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas have started to explore cheaper locations for their offices in Hong Kong due to rising rental fees.

Annual office rental costs in Hong Kong Central average around US$307 per square foot a year, a rate that easily surpasses London’s West End and Beijing’s Finance Street.

BitMEX and Diginex Global, two crypto startups based in Hong Kong, are renting out 72,000 square feet in total, paying around $1.3 million per month.

“Blockchain companies show no signs of slowing their expansion in Hong Kong. These firms are leasing space in top-tier office buildings to attract and retain talent.” Philip Pang, an associate director of office services at Colliers, told SCMP.

The local publication reported that Goldman Sachs is relocating from Hong Kong Central to Causeway Bay in the next few months to save 30 percent on rent. BNP Paribas has also relocated its office to Swire Properties’ Taikoo Place.

While JPMorgan has leased the Quayside in Kwun Tong near Victoria Harbor, the cost of rent comes nowhere close to the rent BitMEX will be paying throughout the years to come.

Landlords Not Confident in Crypto

Over the past nine months, despite the 80 percent drop in the valuation of the crypto market, cryptocurrency-related businesses have prospered. Specifically, exchanges have continued to generate large revenues.

However, local publications have reported that Cheung Kong Center demanded BitMEX to pay a year’s rent upfront, which is estimated to be around $6.8 million, demonstrating the lack of confidence in crypto-related businesses by major landlords in the Hong Kong real estate market.

“It’s pretty common for landlords to ask for larger deposits from tenants with weaker covenant strength. Landlords are always open to taking on new tenants, it’s just a matter of balancing rent against flight risk,” said Denis Ma, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

With the one year’s rent at Cheung Kong Center, it is possible to purchase multiple story buildings in many major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Min, Tokyo, and Busan.

Credits to Joseph Young

Opera, the fifth most widely utilized browser behind Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari, has added built-in Ethereum support to its desktop app, enabling Web 3.0, an ecosystem that allows users can seamlessly interact with decentralized applications (dApps) and peer-to-peer systems on the blockchain.

To utilize Ethereum-based dApps, users are required to have non-custodial wallets like MetaMask to securely send transactions on the mainnet. But, for most casual users, relying on external applications as an additional step towards using dApps could restrict accessibility.

As mainstream browsers move towards adding support for Ethereum and various blockchain standards, the accessibility and user activity of dApps is expected to increase massively.

Importance of Opera Integration

Opera only accounts 3.7 percent of the market share of the browser industry. But, that is because Chrome and Safari have absolute dominance over the browser industry with a combined market share of 71 percent.

The integration of Ethereum and the ERC20 standard by Opera marks an important step towards mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies and dApps. While its market share and user base are relatively small in comparison to its competitors, Opera is a widely recognized browser with an active and loyal user base.

Currently, on Google Chrome, most Ethereum and dApp users rely on MetaMask, a non-custodial Ethereum wallet operated by ConsenSys, a blockchain software studio created and run by Ethereum co-creator Joseph Lubin.

opera browser ethereum wallet
Source: Opera

To access MetaMask, users have to download and install the plugin on Google’s browser store, which requires users to undergo additional steps to install the wallet. On Opera, because the wallet is already integrated into the browser, users can seamlessly utilized its built-in infrastructure to access dApps.

Still, the Ethereum wallet of Opera needs significant improvement. It lacks the sophistication and execution of popular apps like MetaMask particularly in fee estimation and testnet support.

But, the cryptocurrency sector has already taken a major step towards gaining mainstream recognition by major browsers.

One Ethereum user who tested the ETH integration on Opera said:

“I tried it out today – its incredible to think that mainstream browsers are integrating Web 3.0. I love the split between mobile and desktop – security of mobile with convenience of desktop. and yes, mobile phones are still way more secure than desktops. They need some work on supporting ropsten – i ran into numerous issues that were not a problem on mainnet.”

Crypto-Focused Opera

In July, it was reported that Bitmain, the world’s largest crypto mining equipment manufacturer, is set to acquire 43 percent of stake in Opera. Although it remains unclear whether Bitmain has invested in the browser, the two corporations reportedly held discussions prior to the release of the reports in regarding a potential acquisition.

With the successful deployment of built-in cryptocurrency wallet and Ethereum integration, Opera is expected to move forward with its cryptocurrency-focused development roadmap.

Considering that Opera is more popular amongst mobile users than desktop users and the various security benefits of using mobile-based systems over desktop and web-based platforms, it is likely that Opera will continue to show improvements in its mobile cryptocurrency infrastructure.

Credits to Joseph Young

AT&T has introduced a suite of blockchain solutions to allow enterprises in various industries to track and manage information more efficiently, the telecom giant announced on its website. The solutions include technology from Microsoft and IBM and can benefit users in industries ranging from manufacturing to retail and healthcare.

The company noted it is combining its “edge to edge” capabilities with distributed ledger technology (DLT). AT&T’s Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provide monitoring and automation capabilities to various business processes.

Manufacturing, Retail And Healthcare

For manufacturing companies, AT&T’s blockchain solutions can track the movement of goods through factories and monitor product quality from its creation to its delivery to the end user.

For retailers, the firm’s DLT services can ensure product authenticity by tracking its movement from order to delivery, as well as by reducing waste and unneeded stock.

For healthcare organizations, AT&T’s new products can support secure sharing of up-to-date patient records and directories.

Tapping IBM And Microsoft

AT&T’s consulting team can design and manage solutions utilizing both IBM’s DLT platform and Microsoft Azure.

IBM Blockchain supports a wide range of industry use cases such as logistics, supply chain, and provenance. AT&T Solutions will integrate its AT&T Asset Management Operations Center with IBM’s Maximo Network on Blockchain and its Maximo Health Insights, providing reliable networks to manage infrastructure assets.

Microsoft Azure, built on an open, trusted cloud platform, supports a range of ledger protocols such as Corda, Chain, Quorum, HyperLedger Fabric and Ethereum. The platform also provides topologies for multi-member and single-member consortiums, as well as for testing and development.

“Blockchain is far more than just bitcoin or cryptocurrency. It’s transforming the way many companies conduct business,” Andy Daudelin, vice president of AT&T Business’s Alliances Business Development, said in the announcement. “Blockchain improves security and enables better management of transactions through complex processes. Utilizing our global network and IoT capabilities, AT&T enhances blockchain by providing edge-to-edge solutions that automate the tracking and that can even monitor the environmental conditions throughout the process.”

Credits to Lester Coleman

Chinese billionaire and co-CEO of technology company Ideanomics Bruno Wu believe the blockchain could be the solution that helps African countries trade their minerals and natural resources efficiently and profitably.

Wu made the comment while speaking to entrepreneurs and investors at the Africa House Collective event, held in New York recently.

Wu’s company Ideanomics, formerly called Seven Starts Cloud Group, has invested heavily in artificial intelligence and blockchain companies through companies they acquired and partnered with. The tech company uses the new technologies to disrupt new markets. The U.S. based company recently announced a joint venture that removes intermediaries in the port supply chain.

Speaking on how Africa can leverage blockchain, Wu said digitizing asset production and distribution would put the continent on the forefront of the commodities market, same way it leads the mobile money market.

“Having a better tomorrow for Africa is about having a more transparent future. And blockchain can help there.”

In an interview with Quartz, Wu said his company is currently studying the African market and is open to partnering with countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.

He believes the continent can profit from adopting the blockchain technology and use it to save millions of dollars earned from the sale of commodities, which is often lost to corruption and money laundering.

Wu’s desire to see Africa profit from the blockchain technology follows a similar assessment from the CEO of diversified financial company Alexander Forbes Andrew Darfoor.

Darfoor had told CCN in an interview in Harare:

“Blockchain is something that we are investigating, and we are assessing it. I think blockchain has benefits, but I think it’s a broader digital strategy.”

Africa has a continent has been on the fence regarding the use of blockchain. It’s been a mixture of reticence and strong-handedness. So far, Kenya has been the focal point in the continent, where the government has set up a task force, hoping to study its benefits and challenges. This hasn’t stopped the adoption of the technology, as it’s being applied for elections and in the health sector. Other African countries like South Africa have taken it a step further by running a blockchain pilot for the banking sector to cut down processing time for settlement.

Credits to Jimmy Aki

Coinbase is unveiling a suite of new initiatives designed to expand its market share.

The latest update called “Coinbase Bundles,” refers to the pre-packaged collection of five cryptocurrencies available for purchase on Coinbase. The Bundle consists of Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum Classic (ETC).

A bundle of five cryptocurrencies can be purchased for a meager sum of $25. With the current market cap employed in calculating a diversified portfolio of cryptocurrencies available for purchase with a couple of taps, Coinbase will save customers a lot of hassles.

The exchange hopes to introduce the new update to its U.S., E.U, and U.K markets in the coming weeks. At the moment, the digital asset platform has not set a maximum purchase size for a Bundle, but there are daily purchase limits on a per customer basis, at the moment. When a customer buys a bundle, it will be stored on their Coinbase wallet, where it can be purchased, sold, sent or received as an individual asset.

The digital asset platform will also host Information Asset Pages on the top 50 digital currencies on its platform, along with a new section, called “Coinbase Learn,” which will educate first time traders to cryptocurrency. The Vice President and General Manager of Coinbase Consumer Dan Romero stated that the ability of people to understand, explore and choose cryptocurrency would go a long way in determining the possibility of an open financial system coming to reality.

“We expect that millions of people will make their first cryptocurrency purchase in the coming years. But all too often, getting started can be overwhelming for people learning about crypto for the first time.”

The Information Asset Pages will provide customers with all information about the top 50 cryptocurrencies based on market cap. Customers can learn about cryptocurrencies that are neither available for purchase nor sale on Coinbase. The page also furnishes its users with information on historical trading data, current market cap and referral links to project websites.

Romero said the new Coinbase Learn section would be exclusively set aside to enlighten newbies on cryptocurrency. It also provides answers to frequently asked questions.

Taking time to acquaint others about cryptocurrency is no mean feat. It is fair to say there is no particular database containing all the fundamental principles responsible for the technology. This new section about to be launched by Coinbase will teach and educate newbies about cryptocurrency. Responses to the frequently asked questions stemmed from customer research and were cross-checked with individuals new to the virtual currency.

Coinbase recently announced an overhaul to their digital asset listing process to make it faster to list more assets that are compliant with local laws on a “jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction” basis. It also added support for ethereum classic and raised the daily buy limits for users to $25,000 and eliminated the sell limit.

Credits to Jimmy Aki

Billionaire investor and hedge fund legend Mike Novogratz could be right after all. Since he called a bottom in the crypto market on September 13, the market has notably recovered, fueled by large rallies of most major cryptocurrencies.

Since September 13, within less than three weeks, the cryptocurrency market has recorded a major movement on the upside. Ethereum (ETH), which struggled to see a recovery in its momentum throughout August, recorded a 24.44 percent increase in value while Ripple (XRP) saw a staggering 105% surge in price.

One-week performance of the cryptocurrency market, data provided by Coincap.io

Why Did Novogratz Call a Bottom?

Earlier this month, as Ethereum dipped below the $200 mark after suffering a 45 percent drop the previous month and other major cryptocurrencies also struggled to demonstrate any momentum, various technical indicators showed massively oversold conditions.

“I think we put in a low yesterday. retouched the highs of late last year and the point of acceleration that led to the massive rally/bubble. Markets like to retrace to the breakout. We retraced the whole of the bubble,” Novogratz said, calling a bottom in the market.

Williams %R, better known as Williams Percent Range, a technical analysis oscillator that shows the current closing price in relation to the high and low of the past N days, also showed oversold conditions in the crypto market, as Bitcoin dropped below the $6,000 mark.

Referring to the oversold conditions in the cryptocurrency market demonstrated by technical indicators, Novogratz said that the market has experienced seller fatigue and with less investors willing to sell in the current low price range, it is unlikely for the market to drop any further.

In a period like this, it is highly risky to engage in short and long contracts, because the market is showing volatility in its low price range. Yesterday, on September 27, CCN reported that Scott Nations, the president and chief investment officer of NationsShares, a division of Fortress Trading, shorted Bitcoin live on CNBC at $6,375, with stop loss set at $6,600.

Today, the Bitcoin price surpassed $6,770, breaking out of the $6,600 stop loss, which means that Nations lost out largely on his trade.

“I want to be a seller of the October contract. The Cboe Bitcoin futures, that is a single Bitcoin in a futures contract. My targeted downside is $5,950 and my stop to the upside is $6,600. Why do I want to short? Because it is Bitcoin. It has no fundamental value. We’re in an unravelling of this collosal bubble and the only thing going for it is hope, and hope is a horrible strategy,” Scott said.

Where is Market Heading?

Novogratz, who has been accurate in his calls throughout this month, emphasized that $6,800 is a major resistance level for Bitcoin and if the dominant cryptocurrency breaks out of it, a move to $7,000 is very likely.

It is still too early to determine if Bitcoin can enter the $7,000 region in the next 12 to 24 hours but based on the rrend of the market and strong momentum showed by major cryptocurrencies, it is becoming increasingly likely that a short-term rally will occur.

Credits to Joseph Young

Veem, a cross-border payments platform that uses bitcoin to move funds among businesses without the need of banks, has raised $25 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs, according to Forbes.

The service, which does not require either counterparty to hold bitcoin directly, has quadrupled its revenue in the past year. Also participating in the funding round were GV (previously known as Google Ventures), Kleiner Perkins, Pantera Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, and Trend Forward Capital.

Founded by Marwan Forzely, who previously developed and sold a service to Western Union to allow the transfer provider to connect to customer bank accounts directly, Veem uses an algorithm to route transactions automatically among the most efficient payment rails.

The onboarding process will deploy increasing levels of automation that will include built-in KYC/AML compliance.

Service Gains Rapid Support

The San Francisco-based service has proven effective at turning Veem payment recipients into Veem users, a feature that has piqued investor interest. The service has expanded from 90 customers from its founding in May 2015 to more than 80,000.

Forzely said the new funding round acknowledges the size of the opportunity and the extent of the pain point the service is addressing.

The new investment follows a $24 million Series B round in March 2017, making a total of $69.3 million. Goldman Sachs, the lead investor, participated in the new round through its Principal Strategic Investment Group, which has been active in the blockchain industry.

Rana Yareed, a Goldman Sachs managing director, will become a nonvoting observer on the Veem board.

A Steep Growth Curve

goldman sachs
Goldman Sachs, which has also invested in cryptocurrency startup Circle, has led a $25 million investment round in Veem.

Veem’s revenue has quadrupled in the last year, Forzely said, although he declined to specify the valuation. He also said a big portion of the revenue has been from integration with online accounting services such as Netsuite, QuickBooks, and Xero.

Principal Strategic Investment Group is looking to invest in blockchain companies that can boost service for its clients. It has invested in Digital Asset Holdings, Circle, and Axoni.

GV, which has invested in Storj, LedgerX, and Basis, believes Veem could become the first bitcoin startup to go public, according to Karim Faris, a GV general partner who also sits on Veem’s board of directors. Faris said GV is not a strategic investor but sees Veem as a way to build an independent company and deliver a financial return or an eventual IPO.

A Payments Pioneer

Forzely previously founded an online payments startup called eBillme, which Western Union purchased in Oct. 2011 for an undisclosed sum. Forzely joined Western Union as general manager for strategic partnerships.

There were 470,000 correspondents that used the SWIFT bank messaging platform according to a 2017 report from the Financial Stability Board. The number has fallen by 8% since 2011, possibly on account of correspondent mergers, SWIFT competitors, or lost licenses.

SWIFT has nonetheless experienced a growth in total transactions, the report noted. Startups like Veem and Nairobi-based BitPesa have replaced those middlemen using cryptocurrency and other alternatives.

Credits to Lester Coleman

Europe’s first dedicated blockchain research facility and the world’s first advanced blockchain identity laboratory has been launched in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.

View image on Twitter
 Blockpass @BlockpassOrg

Known as the Blockpass Identity Lab, the pioneering blockchain research facility will focus on exploring ways in which blockchain technology can be applied in protecting personal data online according to The Scotsman. Built at the Merchiston Campus of the Edinburgh Napier University, the laboratory is part of a £600,000 collaboration between the Hong Kong-based blockchain-based identity application firm, Blockpass IDN, and the Scottish university.

Under a three-year partnership, funding will be provided to support research staff, 5 PhD students and a virtualized blockchain environment. The facility will place emphasis on the key challenges revolving around identity as it seeks to build new data infrastructures that respect the privacy, rights and consent of netizens.

“This exciting work to explore how blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers carries on the tradition of innovation and excellence exemplified by John Napier [the Scottish mathematician that the Edinburgh Napier University is named after],” said Kate Forbes, the Scottish Minister for the Digital Economy.

Conferences and Hackathons

To mark the launch of the blockchain research facility there will be various activities held and this includes a conference on advanced cryptography, blockchain and digital identity. Additionally, there will be a hackathon where participants will be required to develop prototype applications that focus on blockchain, digital identity or other decentralized and distributed ledger technologies.

Plans for the research facility were initially announced in April this year. At the time the chief marketing officer of Blockpass, Hans Lombardo, cited various online data breach scandals which had served to make clear the risks that come with storage of sensitive personal data in a centralized location.

No Single Point of Failure

“We continue to see identity management at the forefront of blockchain and cryptography discussions as the price of consumer data abuses becomes clearer and more pertinent,” said Lombardo in a statement. “The creation of this lab in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University will provide a space where further research and innovation can lead that discussion to newer and more advanced grounds.”

While much of the attention on data breaches has been focused on the United States and firms based there such as Equifax and Yahoo, Europe, where Blockpass Identity Lab will be based, is not alien to the problem as about 17% of the population is estimated to have fallen victim to identity theft, one way or the other. Last year, for instance, it was estimated that the cost of credit card fraud on the continent exceeded £1 billion leading to cancellations of the cards by more than 5 million people.

Credits to Mark Emem

Austria will raise a total 1.15 billion euros in a federal bond auction on Oct. 2 using blockchain notarization, according to Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB), which oversees the auctions for issuing federal bonds as a neutral capital market participant for the Austrian Federal Financing Agency (OeBFA). The auction demonstrates Austria’s pioneering role in Europe for deploying blockchain technology for sovereign bond issues, according to the notice posted on the Finance Ministry website.

Two outstanding German government bonds, 0.75% Federal Bond 2018 – 2018 and 0.00% Federal Bond 20166 – 2023, will be auctioned, comprising 1.15 billion euros.

The OeKB IT department implemented the project using the Ethereum blockchain, according to Kleine Zeitung.

Digitization Of Finance Arrives

“The digitization of the financial sector, also known as fintech, has long arrived in Austria,” Finance Minister Hartwig Loger said in a prepared statement. “We need to use the positive effects intelligently for the financial services sector. Blockchain technology is an economic policy focus for us. With the establishment of the FinTech Advisory Council in the Ministry of Finance, we are developing strategies to help Austria make the best possible use of these developments.”

“Blockchain technology offers great potential for increasing efficiency and ensuring the quality of bank processes,” Angelika Sommer-Hemetsberger, a member of the OeKB management board, said in a prepared statement. “Therefore, we have been dealing with this topic intensively for some time now and have already tested several prototypes. Starting the real operation on behalf of OeBFA is a pleasing and logical next step.”

 CCN @CryptoCoinsNews

Austria Plans to Regulate Bitcoin Like Gold, Derivatives 12:28 AM – Feb 24, 2018

Austria Plans to Regulate Bitcoin Like Gold, Derivatives

Austria’s finance ministry said that it intends to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies similarly to how it currently governs gold and derivatives trading, and it hopes the European Union will..

Notarization To Verify Data

The blockchain notarization service will verify the data’s authenticity. “This added security contributes to a high level of confidence in the auction process of Austrian government bonds and strengthens Austria’s good standing in the market, which can also indirectly contribute to favorable financing costs,” said Markus Stix, head of OeBFA.

Blockchain and similar solutions will be used as the main technology in many aspects of public administration, noted OeKB, which evaluated different blockchain technologies for the project.

Credits to Lester Coleman