US banking giant JPMorgan Chase Bank’s blockchain, Quorum, will be used to “tokenize” gold bars. Quorum is the enterprise version of the Ethereum blockchain, developed by JPMorgan Chase, will ensure users operate smart contracts while using pre-programmed rules to automate them.

The ethereum-based blockchain will afford sustainable miners the opportunity of earning a premium on the global market. In a report on popular news website Financial Review, the development was described as “an indication of new trading opportunities the disruptive technology will create over the coming decade.”

When the blockchain came into the reckoning some years back, its major application was in the financial sector, where digital currencies were created. However, the paradigm shift has prompted diverse application of the distributed ledger technology in other areas like healthcare, aviation and in banking.

The Financial Review quoted Umar Farooq, JPMorgan Chase’s head of blockchain initiatives, who stated:

“We are the only financial player that owns the entire stack, from the application to the protocol.”

The Development of Quorum

Headquartered in New York and total assets valued at $2.534 trillion, JPMorgan is easily the world’s most valuable bank by market capitalization. With such an overwhelming financial kitty and assets under its management, the bank had been considering the potentials available in the blockchain, particularly on how it could help eliminate unnecessary maintenance costs and harness the comparative advantages of smart contracts into their daily business.

The Quorum blockchain was developed through JPMorgan’s partnership with Ethereum Enterprise Alliance. The usability of Quorum in a private blockchain installation was attained using battle-tested technology from Core OS.

Tokenization: Opening New Portals

Quorum seeks to tokenize assets with the use of blockchain technology to efficiently digitize them so they can move on distributed ledgers. This was the critical point of discussion at the Sibos conference held in Sydney, Australia last week according to Financial Review.
The development will help obviate the need for intermediaries such as an exchange or broker. It could give room for direct transactions among parties and by the process reduce attendant costs and risks.

Earlier this year, America’s largest bank was slammed with a class-action lawsuit for charging customers excessive fees for purchasing cryptocurrencies without notifying them ahead. The bank is also one of the several major banks considering launching a custodial service for institutional investors who want to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Credits to Jimmy Aki

Household supplies multinational SC Johnson has announced a pioneering partnership with Plastic Bank, a plastic waste recycling startup, to tackle the threat of global ocean plastics by increasing the rate of recycling across less privileged areas of Indonesia.

Plastic Bank, which currently has a successful proof-of-concept program running in Haiti uses a custom cryptocurrency solution running on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric protocol to interface between plastics buyers and individual plastic waste collectors, providing a reliable way to reward individual recyclers for collecting ocean-bound waste plastic.

Ocean Plastics and Indonesia

A 2015 report by Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment names China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam as the five countries cumulatively responsible for over 55 percent of the plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean. According to the report, raising plastic collection and recycling rates across these five countries to 80 percent would cut the global ocean plastics leakage rate by 23 percent.

While many solutions have been attempted to this end, they have largely met with limited success because a substantial number of the areas directly responsible for ocean plastics leakage are impoverished areas with limited infrastructure and security problems which make recyclers susceptible to robbery or theft if they are rewarded with cash. Indonesia is of particular concern because the country is home to the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity and its coral reefs, which are threatened by plastics leakage are central to the food chain that sustains millions of people in the area.

In order to effectively incentivise a sufficient number of Indonesia’s estimated 28 million people living in poverty, Plastic Bank uses a blockchain solution linked to a mobile app that reliably rewards individual plastic collectors for the amount of plastic they bring into collection centres using digital tokens instead of cash.

Speaking about the importance of Plastic Bank’s Indonesian partnership with SC Johnson, founder and CEO David Katz said:

“This partnership with SC Johnson is the first of its kind in Indonesia. It will help create more opportunities for people living in poverty and will offer waste collectors an important sense of pride. SC Johnson is the first CPG company to scale a program of this kind in Indonesia that will benefit a wide range of socio-economic demographics including local residents living below the poverty level.”

According to information released by SC Johnson, collection centres with a minimum capacity of 100 metric tonnes of plastic per year will be operational by May 2019, with the first centre in Bali to be opened officially on October 28. In addition to providing incentives for eliminating ocean plastics leakage, the program will also educate local communities in Indonesia and beyond about the environmental and social implications of plastic pollution and the opportunities presented by recycling.

Credits to David Hundeyin

Over the past 24 hours, Bitcoin has lost 2 percent of its price against the US dollar, dipping below the $6,300 mark to $6,250.

While cryptocurrency-only exchanges are demonstrating a price of $6,350 for Bitcoin due to the premium on BTC-to-USDT (Tether) pair, the actual price of Bitcoin remains at around $6,256.

The volume of BTC has increased from $3.1 billion to $4.2 billion over the past seven days, by more than 35 percent. But, most of the volume recorded by major cryptocurrency exchanges represent sell orders.

Major Digital Assets and Tokens Take a Hit

As the price of Bitcoin fell below the $6,300 mark for the first time since October 15, the value of major digital assets including Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and EOS fell by more than 5 percent along with small market cap tokens.

Several cryptocurrency traders and technical analysts stated that the abrupt dip in the price of BTC was still a minor movement above major support levels and as such, it is still too early to confirm a bearish short-term trend.

“BTC dipped into a demand area. Absolutely nothing to worry about right now. Still focused on alts and using this opportunity to buy the dip,” AwaitingMonk said.

Andy Chung, the head of operations at OKEx, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the global market, emphasized that historically, Bitcoin has tended to dip in value and show a noticeable drop in volume prior to a large short-term rally.

In the weeks to come, before the end of 2018, Chung stated that the stability of BTC for nearly a year could lead to a positive movement on the upside.

“It’s always quiet before a good storm. The market has been calm for almost a year, we can expect something good to happen soon to Bitcoin.”

In September, the volume of Ripple was around $1.8 billion. Since then, the daily trading volume of Ripple has fallen to around $300 million, while the volume of BCH fell below the $300 million mark.

In comparison to the volume of Ethereum (ETH) at around $1.5 billion, trading activity of XRP and BCH investors remain significantly low relative to other major digital assets.

In the short-term, due to the lack of volume, BCH and XRP are more vulnerable to sell-pressure and a dip below important support levels than Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Can Bitcoin Speedily Recover?

Previously, analysts stated that if Bitcoin dips before the end of October, a speedy recovery will be possible as long as BTC does not fall below the $6,000 support level. If BTC can sustain its volume above the $6,200 region, then a short-term corrective rally will be possible.

But, if BTC falls to the low $6,000 region affected by the poor performance of major cryptocurrencies and other tokens, then a further drop to the $6,000 to $6,100 can be expected.

Credits to Joseph Young

Singapore’s national electricity and gas provider has launched blockchain-powered trading of renewable energy certificates in a new marketplace.

The blockchain is designed and built in-house by the company’s own team of digital energy experts to “ensure the security, integrity and traceability” of every renewable energy certificate (REC) transaction, Singapore Power (SP) said in a press release.

The SP Group, a unified corporate entity of former electricity and gas departments of Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, claims the blockchain marketplace will enable local and international companies to meet their energy sustainability targets.

When companies purchase RECs, they are directly sold electricity from renewable sources from companies producing green energy. The marketplace, SP adds, will ‘automatically’ match buyers with sellers around the globe based on requirements and preferences.

Launched on Monday at the ASEAN Energy Business Forum, the blockchain enabled local companies City Developments Limited (CDL), a powerhouse in Singapore’s property sector and lending giant DBS Bank as the first buyers of the certificates.

“Given that buildings consume 40% of energy globally, increasing the use of solar energy and neutralising our operations’ carbon footprint has been a priority in the way we build and manage our projects,” CDL sustainability chief Esther An said.

She added:

“We are glad to support the innovative and timely initiative by SP Group to embrace blockchain technology as a platform to accelerate Singapore’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Notable sellers include solar energy producers Cleantech Solar Asia, with over 120 solar sites across Asia, and LYS Energy Solutions with their wares for sale on the marketplace.

View image on Twitter
 CCN @CryptoCoinsNews

Singapore’s National Energy Provider Taps Blockchain 

Katoen Natie Singapore, a chemical logistics company set to launch a 6.8 MWh solar power facility – the largest single rooftop solar facility at a warehouse domestically – is also positioning itself as a seller of renewable energy on the blockchain platform.

The launch of the blockchain-powered trading marketplace follows SP’s marked foray to ‘transform’ the energy sector with commercial blockchain solutions. In May 2017, the energy supplier announced a collaboration with other global energy giants with the launch of a consortium to develop decentralized solutions.

Credits to Samburaj Das

An Australian travel tech startup has invited Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to Agnes Water and Town of 1770, the country’s first digital currency towns.

Brisbane-based TravelbyBit extended the invitation after the American inventor expressed his interests to travel the world using nothing but bitcoin, as reported by local publication Micky. The company, which enables businesses to accept bitcoin and helps travelers explore the world on cryptos, recommended Wozniak to use their portal to book flights to the beach towns in Australia’s Central Queensland region.

 TravelbyBit @TravelbyBit

The beach town where you can pay for your holiday in bitcoin

The beach community of Agnes Water and the Town of 1770 in central Queensland is billing itself as Australia’s first digital currency-friendly tourist town.

In a broader context, the tweet helped people understand the cultivating ecosystem of cryptocurrencies. Wozniak’s willingness to travel on cryptos reflect the demand of a majority of the crypto holders, i.e., to use bitcoin to make purchases in real-time. At the same time, TravelbyBit’s inclination to meet the demand by enabling merchants to accept cryptos completes the circle of one of the Bitcoin’s primary use cases.

On top of all, the tweet allows people to see the willingness of merchants and consumers to switch to alternative payment mechanisms that are cheaper and more hassle-free than their traditional counterparts. Agnes Water and Town of 1770 is a prime example displaying how users are open to the ideas of decentralized payment networks like Bitcoin. The towns have more than 30 businesses that accept bitcoin as one of the payment methods.

Traveling with Cryptos

If one looks at a case study of an average tourist traveling from, say, New York to Queensland, he will be required to either get an expensive traveling card, that would rip off 3-5 percent commission off every transaction, or exchange his/her US Dollars to Australian Dollars via over-the-counter exchanges. The latter would also charge high commissions for a task as mere as converting the fiat.

Bitcoin certainly solves this issue by becoming a global token that reduces intermediaries from the conversion process. One can carry it anywhere in a digital format, pay merchants by paying a nominal transaction fee charged by the network and exchange it for other fiat currencies at comparatively cheaper rates than OTC cash exchanges.

TravelbyBit CEO Caleb Yeoh said that traveling with Bitcoin is no less than moving with one global currency.

“If you travel the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers,” he explained.

What’s more, Brisbane International Airport also began accepting cryptocurrencies across terminals in a world-first at merchant locations via point-of-sale systems developed by TravelbyBit.

Wozniak, should he accept the invitation, could accelerate a gradually-moving crypto revolution in his own way.

Credits to Yashu Gola

The fast-growing blockchain technology sector has created a high demand for talent and this has consequently resulted in blockchain engineers being among the best-remunerated in the tech sector.

According to CNBC, the average pay for blockchain engineers in the United States is between US$150,000 and US$175,000 making it comparable to what developers who specialize in another high-demand field, artificial intelligence, make. The two fields now currently offer the highest-earning specialized engineering roles. Typical software engineers make an average of US$135,000.

Surge in Openings

This comes at a time when the job postings requiring blockchain technology skills have increased dramatically. For instance, Hired, a San Francisco, California-based tech sector recruitment firm which provided CNBC with the salary stats in the tech sector, has seen a 400% increase in the job postings seeking employees with blockchain technology skills since late last year.

“There’s a ton of demand for blockchain. Software engineers are in very short supply, but this is even more acute and that’s why salaries are even higher,” Hired’s CEO, Mehul Patel, told the business news TV channel.

This is similar to a finding by jobs site Glassdoor which saw job listings related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies increase by 300% in August 2018 compared to the same period last year. In the United States, most of the blockchain-related jobs are located in New York City (24%) and San Francisco (21%). Outside the United States the top-five cities with the highest number of blockchain-related job openings were London (16%), Singapore (7%), Toronto (7%), Hong Kong (6%) and Berlin (4%).

Top Destinations for Blockchain Talent

Per Glassdoor, some of the top-hirers are startups such as Circle, Kraken, Figure, Coinbase and ConsenSys though established firms such as Oracle, IBM, KPMG and Accenture also feature in the top ten.

The findings by Hired and Glassdoor also echo a similar conclusion drawn by leading freelance jobs website Upwork. As CCN reported two months ago, blockchain was the fastest growing freelance skill on the telecommuting platform in the United States for the second consecutive quarter. The 2018 Q2 Upwork Skills Index also showed an increase in demand for individuals proficient in the programming languages and frameworks that are required to fill blockchain developer or engineer positions.

 CCN @CryptoCoinsNews

Upwork: Blockchain the Fastest Growing Skill in US Freelance Job Market 

Upwork: Blockchain the Fastest Growing Skill in US Freelance Job Market

The latest quarterly skills index by global freelancing website Upwork shows that the fastest growing skill in the United States during the second quarter was blockchain.

Some of the programming languages required in the blockchain technology field include Go, Python, JavaScript and Java. The C++ programming language, which is the language employed in coding the most commonly used client of bitcoin, Bitcoin Core, is also considered fundamental. Solidity, a language created by the Ethereum project team specifically for writing smart contracts, is also required in the blockchain sector.

Credits to Mark Emem

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an investment warning against ICOs operating in the country without its recognition, registration and supervision.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand’s premier markets regulator is taking action after discovering a number of unregistered coin sales being promoted in Thailand through social media platforms like Facebook and Youtube.

“High Investment Risk”

In its warning, the SEC specifically named nine such unregistered entities offering unrecognised cryptocurrency sales in its jurisdiction. The companies named are: Every Coin, Orientum Coin (ORT Coin), OneCoin and OFC Coin, Tripxchain Coin (TXC Coin), TUC Coin, G2S Expert ICO, Singhcom Enterprise ICO, Adventure hostel Bangkok ICO and Kidstocurrency ICO.

According to the regulator, none of these entities has gone through the necessary steps for approval such as making an official application, showing evidence of meeting qualifying criteria and having their smart contracts assessed for adequacy. The SEC categorised these investments as “high investment risk,” urging investors to refrain from putting their money into them.

It will be recalled that in 2017, Thailand’s SEC released its ICO regulation guidelines which stated in part:

“ICO fundraising needs to be done through an ICO portal approved by the SEC. The ICO acceptance criteria may include due diligence and screening of funders from dishonest people. The source code of the smart contract will automatically be enforced against the contract. After the sale, the SEC publishes a copy of the statement on the SEC website.”

Going further, the regulator also mentioned that in all the cases regarding the listed ICOs, the amount of information provided is not enough to conclusively present an investment case, and even worse, there is no evidence that the coins being sold will have enough liquidity to be listed for trading, and as such they cannot be exchanged for fiat or other cryptos. What this means to Thai investors is that they could potentially be investing in digital assets that are completely worthless.

Cross-Border ICO Scams

The SEC also noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) had previously issued an investment warning against OneCoin and its affiliated businesses, stating that it was operating without the regulator’s supervision. OneCoin has also attracted investment warnings in several jurisdictions, indicating that its promoters are likely opportunists making their way around the Southeast Asia region trying to take advantage of naive investors.

According to the SEC, their modus operandi is to present cryptocurrency investment schemes that are little more than classic pyramid schemes dressed up in new clothes. These schemes require the addition of more and more investors at an ever-expanding rate to keep functioning. As soon as the number or rate of new additions drops, the entire scheme fails and the promoters abscond with outsized profits, leaving crypto investors holding the metaphorical bag.

Credits to David Hundeyin

Hitachi Payments is entering a joint venture with the State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, to establish a digital payments platform

The collaboration sees Hitachi Payments, the wholly-owned Indian payments subsidiary of 108-year old Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, join the State Bank of India (SBI) in developing a sweeping digital payments platform with applications in point-of-sale solutions (POS) and mass transit roadways in the country.

Hitachi Payments is investing in SBI Payment Services for a 26% stake, a press release confirmed, building on its relationship with the state-owned bank as its technology provider for card and digital payments since 2011.

Specifically, the tech giant is using its expertise in big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to introduce “Lumada”, its IoT platform to the Indian payments sector.

“Hitachi will provide wide range of services contributing to “Digital India” by creating innovative solutions with ‘Lumada’,” Hitachi said. “With this joint-venture, Hitachi will accelerate digitalization of financial services in India by linking up digital payments platform to state-of-the-art digital technologies of “Lumada”, and also will provide solutions for mass transit sector and e-commerce businesses.”

 CCN @CryptoCoinsNews

108-Year Old Japanese Conglomerate Hitachi Tests Blockchain for Retail Settlements 

Japanese Conglomerate Hitachi Tests Blockchain for Retail Settlements

Multinational conglomerate, Hitachi Ltd, and telecommunications operator, KDDI Corporation, have disclosed they are testing a blockchain solution that will see the biometric features of shoppers…

Hitachi Payments notably manages over 55,000 ATMs and 850,000 POS devices in India. With over 420 million customers, the State Bank of India also has over 6 million POS terminals in the country. The bank sees over 70% of its current network managed by Hitachi Payments.

Hitachi president and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara added:

“By establishing the joint venture with SBI, Hitachi will further contribute to the development of digital payments in India by building a state-of-the-art digital payments platform and leveraging SBI’s robust customer network.”

Credits to Samburaj Das

Tether (USDT), the USD-pegged cryptocurrency that spent nearly half of October trading below $1.00, finally returned to dollar parity on Monday, though it remains to be seen whether it will stay there amid mounting competition from heavyweight competitors.

Tether [Briefly] Returns to Dollar Parity

The controversial stablecoin, which is supposedly backed by physical USD at a 1:1 ratio, briefly touched the $1.00 mark this morning, putting a temporary end to the USDT/USD discount that originated at the beginning of October.

tether cryptocurrency price USDT
Source: CoinMarketCap

Initially, that discount represented just a fraction of a cent. However, it gradually deepened throughout the first half of the month until Oct. 15, when the USDT/USD peg snapped completely, sending the tether price as low as $0.92 on the global market and careening as far as $0.85 in Kraken’s lightly-traded USDT/USD market.

Nevertheless, the tether price steadily crept back toward dollar parity, bolstered by the redemption of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of USDT tokens, which helped restore confidence in issuer Tether Limited’s claim that it is holding enough funds to cover the outstanding tokens.

As CCN reported, those redemptions caused tether’s market circulating supply and market cap to plummet throughout the month. Two transactions made last Thursday diminished the USDT supply by a further 100 million, reducing the USDT supply to 1.9 billion units, down nearly one-third from the more than 2.8 billion tokens that were circulating just three weeks ago.

tether redemptions
Source: Omni Explorer

Altogether, USDT holders have redeemed $890 million worth of tether tokens during the month of October. Indeed, the number of non-circulating tokens sitting in the Tether Treasury grew so large that the firm permanently destroyed 500 million of them, leaving the remainder in the treasury address to account for new capital inflows.

USD-Backed Cryptocurrency Competition Intensifies

However, whether tether will see many new capital inflows remains an open question, given the flowering of competition that has entered the stablecoin market, long dominated by USDT. TrueUSD(TUSD), which launched earlier this year, currently has a $179 million market cap, though USD Coin(USDC) — issued concurrently by Circle and Coinbase through the CENTRE consortium — is quickly gaining ground with a $126 million valuation. Paxos Standard (PAX) has also emerged as a strong challenger, dwarfing USDC’s trading volume despite a smaller market cap. Gemini Dollar (GUSD) has been slower out of the gate but still boasts strong backing.

Tether remains the most liquid stablecoin (and it’s not even close), with more than $2.2 billion in daily turnover — including $223 million in a single trading pair, BTC/USDT on OKEx. However, paying $1.00 for a cryptocurrency token that is worth less than that amount is not an enticing prospect, so one would expect inflows to slow, at least until USDT demonstrates that it can sustain its USD peg.

By the time of writing, tether had slipped ever-so-slightly below that peg and was priced at a global average $0.995. Notably, it continued to trade somewhat lower, at $0.986, when positioned directly against the dollar on Kraken and other cryptocurrency exchanges with USDT/USD markets.

Credits to Josiah Wilmoth

The bitcoin price took a southward turn on Monday, dropping beneath $6,300 as the cryptocurrency market experienced a jolt of volatility.

Bitcoin had been uncharacteristically stable in recent weeks, so much so that its price briefly became less volatile than major Wall Street stocks including Amazon and Netflix. However, trading volume began to tick up on Sunday, rising 20 percent to $3.5 billion, a data point that some analysts said could predicate a break into the high $6,000 region.

But while the bitcoin price did make a run on Monday, it was not to the upside.

bitcoin price chart
BTC/USD | Coinbase

On Coinbase, the flagship cryptocurrency — which had been trading at $6,400 earlier in the day — took a southward turn shortly after 11:15 UTC, dropping below the $6,300 mark and continuing to decline from there. BTC/USD slipped as far as $6,211 on the prominent US exchange before creeping back up to $6,273 at the time of writing.

Credits to Josiah Wilmoth