Malta Partners With Blockchain Startup to Improve Public Transportation

Malta has partnered with middleware blockchain startup Omnitude to create a transport and logistics platform to improve transport reliability.

The Transport Minister of Malta has announced a partnership with UK middleware blockchain startup Omnitude to improve the Maltese Public Transport Service, local news outlet The Malta Independent reported May 17.

Malta has expressed the aim of becoming the “Blockchain island,” a goal helped by major crypto exchange Binance – the world’s second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap  – announcing plans this March to open an office in the country. In April, OKEx, currently the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, also announced their intention of expanding to Malta.

Malta’s Transport Minister Ian Borg said that the partnership between Omnitude and the Maltese transport system to create a transport and logistics blockchain platform will “develop overall improvements in transport reliability.”

CEO and founder of Omnitude Chris Painter said that they “look forward to working with the Maltese Government to explore the capabilities of Omnitude’s broad based blockchain ecosystem:”

“Governments around the world are beginning to see the potential for blockchain to reduce costs and streamline services. Malta has an extremely progressive government and we’re excited about the potential this partnership brings.”

In mid-April, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) released a consultation paper on the possible introduction of a “Financial Instrument Test” that would legally define virtual tokens in another step towards regulatory clarity for blockchain and crypto projects.

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Kazakhstan’s President Calls for International Cooperation in Crypto Regulation

The president of Kazakhstan calls on countries to work together to adapt crypto to the current financial system.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for global cooperation for cryptocurrency regulation, local news outlet Azernews reported May 17.

Speaking at the plenary session of the Global Challenges Summit 2018, Nazarbayev stated that “most countries are actively exploring the possibility of adapting cryptocurrency to the current configuration of financial systems.” He then continued with a comment on the fragmented nature of crypto regulation globally:

“At the same time, we see completely separate actions of states in this issue. And these disparate actions will lead to inefficiency. It is necessary to start developing common rules.”

Kazakhstan has already proven its interest in the cryptocurrency sector. A study released by search engine Yandex in March shows that Kazakhstanis have been more frequently searching for cryptocurrency-related terms this year, as compared to 2018.

Last fall, Kazakhstan’s government-supported Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) announced they had signed a deal of cooperation with Maltese firm Exante, with the goal of developing the Kazakh digital asset market. Also in the fall,  the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association in Kazakhstan had applied for state licensing to become a legal entity and begin official activities.

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Wallet To Accept Collectibles Such As Crypto Kitties And Fighters As Functionality Expands

The new service will use ERC-721 compliant tokens to ensure rare and desirable assets are sold as a whole rather than in parts.

An established crypto wallet provider is developing a service where users can store collectibles – ranging from rare digital pets to desirable fighters.

Lumi says its service will allow users to swipe through their collection at ease – and it is currently invited interested crypto holders to sign up via email.

The company says it wants to help crypto holders bring all of their “unique collectible characters in one place” – including CryptoKitties, CryptoCuties, CryptoAlpaca, CryptoFighters and CryptoCelebrities. It hopes to support thousands more upon launch.

Most of these assets drive from games where players can breed and collect rare characters. In the case of CryptoKitties, “adorable creatures” cannot be replicated, removed or destroyed – meaning that unique creations retain their value. Given the immense value in the collectibles market, blockchain also helps ensure that ownership of these prized animals is tracked securely.

ERC-721 compatible tokens are going to be used by the Lumi Wallet for collectibles. The company says this is because rare collectibles such as Crypto Kitty have attributes such as color, age or breed which make them extremely desirable. In one case, it claims a particularly rare cat was traded for $110,000 through the platform.

The company adds that these tokens also ensure that assets are sold as a whole, rather than in parts. Although ERC-20 compliant tokens enable assets to be divided into small amounts when a sale is taking place, Lumi argues that this approach is incompatible with the collectibles industry – and it would be absolutely unheard of in the real world.

A thriving app

Lumi already offers an ERC20 standard-compatible wallet which is available through Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the marketplace for Android devices. The company also has a web version of its interface, and says it “never sits still” and is always offering new services to customers.

Its crypto wallet allows Bitcoin and Ethereum to be sent and received securely, and any account can be recovered through a 12-word backup phrase in the event that devices are lost or stolen. At a glance, it provides a clear indicator of how much assets – such as cryptocurrencies and collectibles – are worth in BTC, ETH and US dollars, with price graphs indicating any fluctuation in value during recent trading sessions. PIN codes and Face ID technology also helps guarantee that funds are protected.

When funds are being transferred, Lumi offers four different tiers of fees based on how long transactions will take to complete – meaning there are options for crypto holders on all budgets.

 

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

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India: Seven Major Banks Begin Testing Blockchain Trade Finance Platform

A new blockchain trade finance and supply chain test is underway involving big banks in India, led by IT multinational InfoSys.

Seven of India’s largest banks have joined a Blockchain-powered trade finance initiative led by Indian IT giant InfoSys, a press release announced May 16.

The collective, known as India Trade Connect, includes institutions such as Axis Bank, ICICI and South Indian Bank. It was reportedly formed to conduct testing of InfoSys’ Finacle Trade Connect, a blockchain platform designed to “address the trade finance process requirements of banks.”

Finance Trade Connect meanwhile already contains its fair share of bullish sentiment from participants. “We believe, this will enable automation, increase transparency as well as enhance efficiency across trade and supply chain operations,” ICICI senior general manage Ajay Gupta commented, adding:

“With more organisations adopting the blockchain technology, it holds immense potential to offer a seamless network for all stakeholders on a single platform.”

According to the press release, testing by the seven Indian banking institutions is already underway.

Multiple efforts are attempting to improve the areas of trade finance and supply chain in modern banking in 2018. Earlier this week, Cointelegraph reported that UK-based banking giant HSBC completed the world’s first ever blockchain-powered trade finance transaction, shipping soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia.

In India, ICICI’s own blockchain initiative for domestic and international trade finance transactions attracted 250 corporates, it disclosed last month.

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New ‘Snobbish’ Cryptojacking Malware Infected 500k Users in 3 Days, Report Says

WinstarNssmMiner, a new type of malware script used to mine Monero, has spread to half a million devices in 3 days, cyber researcher reports.

A new piece of so-called cryptojacking malware used half a million computers to mine 133 Monero (XMR) tokens (about $25,000) in three days, Finance Magnates reports today, May 18.

New research published by cyber security firm 360 Total Security May 16 found that the malware, referred to as WinstarNssmMiner, presents a fresh challenge to users, due to its ability to both mine and crash infected machines at will.

Malicious software that engages in cryptojacking – the use of another’s device to mine crypto without their knowledge – has become a common phenomenon in recent months.

As Cointelegraph reported, instances have risen dramatically in 2018.  A warning from Microsoft highlighted only 644,000 infected devices in the period September 2017 to January 2018 – only slightly more than WinstarNssmMiner’s three-day progress.

Commenting on the latest threat, 360 said it was “surprised” that in addition to mining Monero, the malware could also force a user’s PC to crash if it detected the presence of certain antivirus software, writing:

“This malware is very hard to remove since victims’ computers crash as soon as they found and terminate the malware.”

A twist comes in the form of what 360 describes as “snobbish” behavior regarding antivirus brands: the presence of well-known products from companies such as Kaspersky Lab and Avast! cause WinstarNssmMiner not to activate at all. Other brands are ignored, resulting in mining and crashes.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph also reported on how code for crypto-mining program Coinhive was found on over 300 governmental and university websites worldwide.

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Post-Hack, Coincheck Reveals Plans to Expand to U.S. Market

Monex Inc, parent company of Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, has revealed plans to expand the crypto exchange to U.S. markets.

Monex Inc, the company that recently acquired hacked Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, has revealed plans to expand the exchange to the U.S. in an interview with Bloomberg today, May 18.

Monex CEO Oki Matsumoto said he expects Coincheck will receive an official license from Japanese authorities next month, but – without specifying a timeframe – he revealed the company now has its sights beyond Asia:

“Japan may seem like it’s one step ahead in crypto, but in terms of deciding what’s a security or a token and attracting institutional investors, the U.S. and Europe are moving ahead.”

Japan has long been at the vanguard of crypto adoption – the country was the first to recognize Bitcoin as a form of legal tender back in 2016 – but Matsumoto considers that the U.S. and Europe have now taken the edge in terms of crypto-specific regulatory momentum. He compared Japan’s hefty 55 percent levy tax on crypto with France’s recent initiative to tax crypto at a favorable capital gains rate of 19 percent, telling Bloomberg that:

“At [Japan’s] level, it’s hard to even think of crypto as something you’d put in your portfolio. That means it’ll just remain a plaything for speculators.”

More crucially still, the CEO argued that U.S. federal regulators now wield the biggest influence on deciding the future status of crypto in the world economy, referring to the ongoing debate as to whether digital assets should be regulated as securities or commodities. An eventual decision would provide much-needed clarity for the emerging industry, and ultimately foster growth and institutional investor confidence, he told Bloomberg.

Monex’s decision to target overseas markets is the latest in a series of upheavals in Coincheck’s checkered history since its unprecedented $532 mln hack in Jan. 2018. Coincheck was subsequently acquired by Monex in April, with the latter’s shares surging 98 percent since the acquisition, according to Bloomberg.

Recent figures released by Monex showed that notwithstanding the mammoth post-hack writedown that Coincheck issued as a refund to affected customers, the exchange still closed the fiscal year in the green, netting ¥6.3 bln (about $56.7 mln) revenue on sales of ¥62.6 bln.

Earlier this month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), laid out yet further stipulations for the already stringent regulatory measures that have been imposed on the country’s crypto exchanges. An FSA source nonetheless judged that the crypto regulatory process in Japan has been unfolding “without the necessary know-how – we been feeling our way through the dark.”

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Why JP Morgan’s Blockchain Patent Application Is Not That Surprising

JP Morgan’s filing for a patent based on DLT does not mean they are now Bitcoin supporters.

JP Morgan once again caused a bit of an upheaval within cryptocurrency circles last week – this time with the publication of their peer-to-peer (P2P) payments network patent application based on distributed ledger technology, like blockchain.

Some crypto enthusiasts branded the move as “hypocrisy to the extreme.” The criticism is not unfounded but perhaps not accurate. The bank, and to a greater extent, their outspoken CEO, Jamie Dimon, has been responsible for a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a whole.

“Bitcoin is a fraud”

The Jamie Dimon/JP Morgan saga of 2017 is still fresh in the minds of crypto enthusiasts. It all started with Dimon’s now-infamous words calling Bitcoin a “fraud” in September 2017. Shortly after that, in a somewhat confusing move, JP Morgan purchased a chunk of Bitcoin.

Even more confusing was the fact that less than a week later, Jamie Dimon lashed out against Bitcoin, stating that governments would soon ban it. In the same breath, he fired shots at the industry as a whole, saying cryptocurrencies are “worth nothing”. Less than a month later he called Bitcoin investors “stupid”, adding that they “will pay the price for it one day”.

However, JP Morgan’s strategies didn’t always seem to line up with the opinions of their CEO, as in Nov. 2017 the bank announced that they planned to trade Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). In December 2017, a strategist at the bank had gone so far as to say that regulated futures markets give Bitcoin legitimacy.

By January 2018, Jamie Dimon himself had done a complete 180 on his “Bitcoin-is-a-fraud” comments and said he regretted making it. All this happened within the space of four months and cemented JP Morgan’s perceived reputation – and Dimon’s personal reputation – as the ultimate Bitcoin and cryptocurrency “villain”. 

Criticism was never labeled against blockchain

While their skepticism surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is clear, JP Morgan, and Jamie Dimon, never expressed any animosity towards blockchain’s legitimacy. In fact, JP Morgan is one of the underlying technology’s earliest supporters and testers.

As far back as 1999, the bank filed a patent for an alternative payments network. In 2016 they unveiled Juno and Quorum, two separate blockchain-based projects. JP Morgan is also one of over 300 members that make up the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA).

The bank has a strong record of support for blockchain itself and their latest patent application should come as no surprise. In fact, the bank first filed the patent – which aims to facilitate interbank payments using blockchain technology on October 30, 2017, a mere two weeks after Jamie Dimon labeled Bitcoin investors stupid.

The surprise might come later

The apparent surprise or hypocrisy stems from the fact that Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency are still being used as interchangeable concepts in mainstream media. This is not accurate, just as JP Morgan’s filing for a patent based on distributed ledger technology does not mean they are now staunch Bitcoin supporters.

However, the surprise might come later. Blockchain has moved on from just being the technology that underpins Bitcoin and has potential use cases other than just as a basis for cryptocurrency networks, including the tracking of vaccines in healthcare, secure remote voting during elections, incorruptible and accurate record keeping of official government documents, to name a few.

Saying that, JP Morgan is specifically applying for a patent on a “method for processing network payments using a distributed ledger”. This begs the question; can you have a P2P payments network based on blockchain without utilizing a digital token in some shape or form to process such payments?

Some community members don’t believe that you can, even arguing that the bank would be in direct competition with Ripple’s cross-border transfer platform:

“It’s not the competition part that is off… it’s the fact that they are describing the exact thing Ripple is currently pushing into the market. There is no way this patent goes through, and if it does, prior art will protect Ripple as they have this working already. It’s (as someone else stated) like filing a patent for an electric vehicle today.”

How does Ripple work?

Ripple connects banks around the world and enables them to offer real-time cross-border payment services to customers. Cross-border payments in the traditional sense require a number of intermediary companies to execute which means transactions can take up to four days to complete.

Ripple allows banks to sidestep these intermediaries with their transaction protocol, enabling them to execute transactions directly, and in doing so, cutting down costs and processing times. The transaction protocol includes a five-step process of payment initiation, pre-transaction validation, cryptographic hold of funds, settlement and confirmation.

HOW RIPPLE WORKS

Messaging systems are used to coordinate information exchange between the originating and beneficiary banks and an interledger protocol (ILP) ledger is used to coordinate the actual movement of funds. The goal is to speed up processing times, increase end-to-end visibility, increase transaction approval rates and ultimately lower transaction costs.

What are the similarities with JP Morgan’s proposed blockchain payment network?

The patent application describes a process of “Systems and methods for the application of distributed ledgers for network payments as financial exchange settlement and reconciliation.”

It goes on to claim, “In one embodiment, a method for processing network payments using a distributed ledger may include:

  1. a payment originator initiating a payment instruction to a payment beneficiary;
  2. a payment originator bank posting and committing the payment instruction to a distributed ledger on a P2P network;
  3. the payment beneficiary bank posting and committing the payment instruction to the distributed ledger on a P2P network; and
  4. the payment originator bank validating and processing the payment through a payment originator bank internal system and debiting an originator account.”

JP MORGAN BLOCKCHAIN PAYMENT NETWORK

JP Morgan’s proposed system therefore depicts a payment protocol with direct communication or messaging between beneficiary and originator banks, used in conjunction with a reconciliatory distributed ledger blockchain.

In essence, this is a very similar system and process to that used by Ripple, basically describing an interbank messaging and reconciliation protocol based on distributed ledger technology in order to eliminate expensive intermediaries, speed up transaction time and extend the global remittance reach.

It would also seem then, that if JP Morgan is indeed planning to develop the system described in the patent, they will have to implement it with a cryptocurrency at its core, the very thing they have been trying to discredit for the last few months.

The ultimate question then becomes whether it is possible to be a strong supporter of blockchain on one hand, but an equally strong opponent of the validity and legitimacy of cryptocurrencies on the other.

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People’s Bank of China: ‘Government Must Have Monopoly on Currency Issuance’

A seasoned counselor at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) maintains that the control for currency issuance should remain within the government. The senior official also said that blockchain technology must remain astray from finance. His statements come despite the country’s intentions to create a state-owned cryptocurrency. Decentralization is Bad Spoken like a flat-out banker, Sheng Songcheng, a senior counselor to PBoC with more than two decades of experience, said that blockchain-based technology needs to

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Nocoiner Financial Advisers Are Failing Their Clients

With institutional investment being something of a major theme in the blockchain space these days, financial advisors better start studying up on cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology – and fast – lest they risk losing their clients.  ‘It’s Really Here to Stay’ JP Morgan chairman Jamie Dimon once called Bitcoin a “fraud,” and Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley once told CNBC, “You will never see a fund from Vanguard on bitcoin.” Their loss. Despite a slew of negativity

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Kepler Pre-Sale Just Around the Corner as Market Stabilizes

After receiving even more excellent ratings from leading blockchain experts over the past few days, Kepler’s long-awaited pre-sale is now just around the corner.  Life-Changing Inventions The second phase of the pre-ICO is set to start on May 22, will last for two weeks, and will have 5,000,000 tokens available for sale. Each token will be valued at $1.25 and can be bought using Bitcoin and Ethereum. There is also set to be a stunning

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