New York University Offers Major in Blockchain Technology

New York University now offers a major in blockchain and cryptocurrencies at the Stern School of Business.

New York University (NYU) has reportedly become the “first” university in the U.S. to offer students a major in blockchain technology, CBS New York reported September 18.

The program will reportedly be provided by the NYU Stern School of Business, which was also a pioneer in offering undergraduate courses in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Professor Andrew Hinkes commented on the new program:

“We hope to establish a groundwork so that the students can understand what’s really happening under the hood, so that they can understand both the legal and the business implications, and prepare them to go out and tackle this new market.”

According to associate professor Kathleen Derose, the educational establishment is expecting large companies to partner within the training program, while “the startups in [fintech] will likely invent the new cool stuff.” Following the increasing number of students interested in the new offer, NYU reportedly doubled its course offerings this school year.

Adam White from cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said that students “see the development, the birth of a new industry,” adding that “in many ways, we look at things like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) and blockchain as the internet 3.0.”

Last month, Coinbase released a study, showing that 42 percent of the world’s top 50 universities have at least one class on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Of the 172 classes reviewed in the study, 15 percent were offered by economics, finance, law and business departments, while 4 percent were in social science departments. The study found that blockchain and crypto-related courses are most popular in the U.S. among other countries.

U.S. students’ interest in crypto is reflected not only in educational programs, but in investing in digital currency as well. As a study conducted by Student Loan Report in March shows, 21.2 percent of college students used loan money to fund a crypto investment, hoping that the upward price volatility in crypto would help pay their debts faster.

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R3 Partners With Dutch Tech Company to Pilot Blockchain-Based Digital IDs

R3 consortium and Dutch digital security company Gemalto have partnered to pilot a blockchain-based digital ID solution.

Blockchain consortium R3 has deployed a digital ID application developed by Dutch digital security company Gemalto on the latest version of the Corda Platform, according to an announcement published September 18.

Corda is an open-source blockchain-powered platform developed for financial establishments by R3 in collaboration with more than 200 of its partners. The platform is geared to work within finance to operate massive transactional volumes and restrict access to transaction data.

The parties expect to conduct several pilots of the application — called the Trust ID Network —  that will reportedly be launched later this year.

Per the announcement, Trust ID Network enables digital service providers to operate “fully verified and secured” user personal data by creating a Digital ID. Consumers can register within various banking, e-commerce and e-government services while avoiding repeated due diligence procedures in each instance.

The integration of Trust ID Network will reportedly allow users to control their data through a mobile app dubbed ID Wallet, where they can enter, certify, and share their personal information with specific service providers. Bertrand Knopf, EVP of Banking and Payment for Gemalto, explained:

“Trust ID Network solves the profound weaknesses of traditional, ‘siloed’ identity frameworks: the clumsy user experience, rising costs and difficulties in complying with stricter regulations… Financial institutions are best-placed to lead this self-sovereign identity revolution, but it will prove similarly attractive to a wide array of other service providers.”

In July, R3 released a “version” of its Corda blockchain platform aimed specifically at businesses. The new version of the platform is reportedly “optimized to meet the demands of modern day businesses,” and includes a “Blockchain Application Firewall” to enable the platform operate within corporate data centers and still communicate with Corda’s nodes.

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EU Antitrust Regulators to Rule on Microsoft Acquisition of GitHub by Mid-October

E.U. antitrust regulators will decide whether to clear Microsoft’s acquisition of hosting service GitHub by October 19.

Software giant Microsoft has requested European Union (E.U.) approval of its $7.5 billion acquisition of web-based hosting service GitHub, Reuters reported September 17. According to Reuters, Microsoft filed the request last Friday, and the decision will be made by October 19.

GitHub is an open-source coding website, a repository which hosts developers’ source code projects in a number of different programming languages and keeps track of any changes made. In 2017, the GitHub community reportedly reached 24 million developers, working with 67 million repositories.

With the acquisition, the company is looking to strengthen its cloud computing arm against American electronic commerce company Amazon. If the E.U. competition agency finds serious concerns regarding the acquisition, it can initiate a full-scale investigation.

Many users from the crypto community expressed concern that, following the acquisition, Microsoft would issue undue discretion regarding what was allowed to be posted on GitHub, with some suggesting a move to GitLab. Bitcoin core developer Wladimir Van der Laan tweeted:

In response to GitHub users apprehension that the portal would eventually favor Microsoft products, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella reportedly said that GitHub will continue to operate as an open platform that deals with all public clouds.

Last month, Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure introduced a proof-of-authority (PoA) algorithm on its Ethereum (ETH) blockchain product, which will allow a “more efficient” way of building decentralized applications (DApps) for private or consortium networks, where “all consensus participants are known and reputable.”

In May, Amazon’s cloud computing arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnered with ConsenSys’ blockchain startup Kaleido to bring simplified blockchain cloud platforms to its clients. Kaleido is an ETH blockchain-based business cloud that provides businesses with ready-made blockchain applications.

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Japanese Cryptocurrency Exchange Hacked, $59 Million in Losses Reported

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif has discovered that a security breach on September 14 led to the loss of $59 million worth of cryptocurrency.

Hackers have reportedly stolen $59 million worth of cryptocurrencies from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif, Cointelegraph Japan reports September 19.

According to a local report, as a result of a security breach on September 14, hackers managed to steal 4.5 billion yen from users hot wallets, as well as 2.2 billion yen from the assets of the company, with total losses amounting to 6.7 billion yen or around $59.7 million.

Tech Bureau Inc, which operated Zaif, stated in press release that the exchange detected a server error on September 17, after which Zaif suspended deposits and withdrawals. On September 18, the exchange realized that the error was a hack, and reported the incident to the Japanese financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Hackers stole 5,966 bitcoins (BTC) in addition to some Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and MonaCoin (MONA).

According to Tech Bureau Inc, the firm Fisco Digital Asset Group will help Zaif cover lost customer assets by providing 5 billion yen ($44.5 million). Tech Bureau made an agreement with Fisco to dismiss more than half of its directors and corporate auditors in addition to Fisco becoming a majority shareholder in the company.

Zaif exchange is the 101st largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of trade volume, according to CoinMarketCap.

Earlier this year, Zaif admitted to a “system glitch” that allowed users to temporarily acquire trillions of dollars worth of Bitcoin (BTC) for free in February. 16 customers were accidentally able to “trade” yen for cryptocurrency at a rate of 0 yen per coin.

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Copyright on Blockchain, Explained

Copyright rules have always struggled to follow up with technology – and blockchain is creating new challenges, as well as solving some.

Are there any exceptions to copyright rules?

This varies from country to country.

For example, in the UK, the principle of “fair dealing” means small excerpts of a copyrighted work can be used for the purposes of studying, news reporting and teaching. The European Copyright Directive goes further, as it enables you to satirize copyrighted works and use brief clips of TV shows or songs for parodies.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world in New Zealand, there is no exemption for comedy and satire – something which has frustrated comedians and content creators.

MyCryptons, a blockchain-based platform where users can buy and sell digital collectibles, is one site which benefits from the common exemption of parody and satire when it comes to copyright. It offers collectibles based on public figures – including politicians, talk show hosts and musicians – along with a distinctive illustration, sometimes with exaggerated features for comic effect.

 

 

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.

 

What’s the deal with my social media posts? Are they copyrighted?

Again, the waters are murky here – even the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is vague on some of the details.

When it comes to tweets, WIPO says that, in actuality, some of them may be too short to qualify for the copyright protection usually enjoyed by authors. Why, you may ask? Because their short length means that they are “unlikely to reach the level of creativity required.” Of course, comedians creating witty one liners may beg to differ here – especially when so many of them have their content ripped off by other accounts, which pass off the content as their own without a credit. That said, there can be exceptions. A WIPO article back from 2009 cites experts as saying that a collection of tweets may be eligible to be copyrighted, which is pretty pertinent in light of longer character allowances and the popularity of threads, where posts are joined together.

You may think that you would be the exclusive holder of copyright to the content you post on other social media platforms, but WIPO says that it’s always worth reading the small print. In the past, if you uploaded photos to Facebook or videos to YouTube, they reserved the right to use the content you post. That said, on the bright side, both platforms offer mechanisms where posts that rip off your content can be taken down.

The dynamics of copyright on social media are ever changing. Recently, the EU voted in favour of two controversial provisions set out in a new copyright directive. Article 11 means tech giants such as Facebook and Google, as well as aggregator sites, would need to pay news outlets whenever they link to their stories or share excerpts of their articles. Meanwhile, Article 13 would mean video-sharing sites need to obtain licenses to show music videos, in the hope this would improve remuneration for artists.

Could industry bodies also get involved?

Major players in music, photography and literature are also starting to devise their own solutions with the hope of becoming market leaders.

Among them is Kodak, which has licensed its brand to Wenn Digital, the developer of a blockchain-based image rights platform.

KODAKOne hopes to speed up payments for those who want to purchase professional images – and help photographers detect infringements quickly and recover the fees they are owed. Its web crawler technology scours millions of websites to detect how pictures are being used, and provides “simplified legal proceedings” to ensure copyright owners get the compensation and recognition they deserve.

Blockchain is also addressing fragmentation in the way copyright across the music industry is recorded. As reported by Cointelegraph, information relating to compositions and songs is scattered across 5,000 databases. Dozens of companies – including major streaming services and record labels – have signed up to be part of a blockchain-based, universal rights registry called the Open Music Initiative, which no one controls but everyone contributes to. Following a significant upheaval in the way the music industry works – with streaming threatening sales and live shows becoming ever more crucial – the scheme hopes to bring about “sustainable business models for artists, entrepreneurs and music businesses alike.”

How could copyright be officially applied within blockchain?

Well, we may see governments around the world adopt this technology for themselves.

Tonya M. Evans, a US-based lawyer who specializes in intellectual property, recently wrote about how some administrations are “quietly exploring how to implement blockchain technology for their copyright registration systems.” Indeed, she cited an article from Iran’s Financial Tribune which reported on Tehran’s plans to move its infrastructure to blockchain. It has forged a deal to build a new system with a specialist company, and hopes the procedure will be “fast and user-friendly.”

What are the laws outside of blockchain?

It varies from country to country – but generally, copyright protection is granted automatically.

In the UK, for example, this means that any artworks, illustrations or pictures you take are protected by copyright instantly – without cost. It prohibits others from copying them, distributing copies of them or putting it on the internet, but the law doesn’t currently mention the ramifications when it comes to blockchain.

There are also treaties governing copyright which have an international reach. The Berne Convention, created back in 1866, has been adopted by dozens of countries around the world. It means a copyrighted photo in Afghanistan can enjoy the same protections in Australia. Three basic principles govern the convention – including the notion that works protected in one member state must be given identical protections by all others.

Can someone post one of my photos or illustrations on blockchain without permission?

Not right now… but this could change in the future.

The reason why it isn’t possible at the moment is merely technical. Scaling problems (something we’ve reported extensively on at Cointelegraph) mean there’s a limit to the amount of data that can be processed in a single block. As a result, blockchain isn’t incredibly compatible with images in its current form.

However, if and when these problems are resolved, it could become a reality. And although there are several blockchain platforms out there which aim to provide an immutable record of who owns an image, and where it has been used, there’s nothing stopping someone from claiming they own the rights to one of your artistic masterpieces – or a selfie you took on holiday.

This could pave the way for someone to make a pretty penny off your hard work, especially if a platform’s verification process is wanting. It can be difficult to prove ownership of an image, and if you disagree with the way it has been recorded in a blockchain, there might be no one there who you can raise a dispute with. Taking a legal route to claim you hold the rights to an image on blockchain may also be near impossible – especially considering the courts are almost always behind the curve when it comes to technology.

 
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Huobi Joins Russian Financial Services Platform to Share Notes on Crypto Regulation

Crypto exchange Huobi will help a Russian development bank with crypto-related regulation and creating a legal basis for digital assets.

Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has joined Russia’s VEB Innovation Fund to share notes on crypto regulation, according to a fund’s press release published Wednesday, September 19.

According to Crunchbase, the VEB Innovation Fund was created in 2011 to invest in Russian high-tech startups and to promote local innovations in the global market. The Center of Digital Transformation, where Huobi is now a resident, was created by VEB to promote blockchain and other crypto-related technologies, as its website states.

One of the main goals of the partnership with world’s fourth largest crypto exchange, as reported in the statement, is to draw on the crypto regulation experience gained by Huobi and to apply it in Russia, especially for adjusting the legal framework on digital assets.

VEB Innovations CEO Vladimir Demin explains that Huobi expertise will help create “a legal basis that could compete with current promising jurisdictions.”

Andrey Grachev, a Huobi spokesperson in Russia, further explained that Huobi has intended to enter the Russian market since April:

“We’re glad it has finally happened. Russian investors had no communication with global trading platforms so far, and Huobi is the first to open its unit in Russia”.

As cited by VEB Innovations, Senior Director of Huobi Global Edward Chen said the crypto exchange would provide Huobi Cloud services in Russia and would also allow Russian investors to use Huobi OTC.

Huobi is not the first crypto-related company to interact with the VEB-affiliated organization. According to its website, VEB has already partnered with Ethereum and Russian blockchain platform Waves.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier in May, the State Duma — a lower house of Russian Parliament — has already accepted a bill on crypto regulation in the first of three readings. In its first edition, the“On Digital Financial Assets” bill defined cryptocurrencies, as well as blockchain-related technologies such as smart contracts, mining, and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

However, according to an article published by Russian newspaper “Izvestia” Wednesday, September 19, shortly before the second reading the definition of “cryptocurrencies” completely disappeared from the document, as the bill now focuses on tokens and investments.

In September, Cointelegraph wrote that a Russian lobby group of high-ranked managers, including two of of the top ten Russian billionaires according to Forbes, started to prepare an alternative bill on crypto regulation, as one of the group’s experts called the initial bill “unfinished and fragmented.”

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US Financial Giant PNC to Use Ripple Technology for International Payments

Top ten bank PNC announced it will use Ripple’s blockchain solution, xCurrent, for international commercial payments.

PNC, which is ranked among the top ten U.S. banks, will use RippleNet to process international payments for its customers, Ripple announced Wednesday, September 19.

As Reuters reports, a particular PNC unit — Treasury Management — will use Ripple’s blockchain solution xCurrent to speed up overseas transactions held by U.S. commercial clients.

Ripple emphasises that xCurrent will allow PNC business clients to receive payments against their invoices instantly, changing their approach to managing both accounts and their working capital.

Senior vice president for product management of Ripple, Asheesh Birla, thinks that using xCurrent in banking is the first step towards adoption of other Ripple products, such as the xRapid solution set to be launched in a few months. “It’s a way [for the banks] to get their toe into the water,” Birla told Reuters.

The news come despite the fact some Ripple employees were sceptical about using xCurrent in cross-border payments. As Cointelegraph reported in June, Ripple’s chief cryptographer David Schwartz said banks were unlikely to deploy the technology because of low scalability and privacy problems.

PNC, listed by Bankrate as one of top ten largest U.S. banks with 8 million customers and retail branches in 19 states, joined other global financial institutions which had previously partnered with Ripple.

For instance, in late 2017 American Express announced it was creating a Ripple-powered app for B2B payments between US corporate customers and Santander UK customers. Later in March, a Japanese bank consortium stated it will release an instant domestic payments mobile app “MoneyTap” based on Ripple.

And in April, Cointelegraph wrote that Spanish-based bank Santander launched Ripple-powered blockchain payment network One Pay FX, reportedly becoming the first international bank to do so.

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Former Twitch Senior Vice President of Marketing Joins Crypto Startup Kin as CMO

The Kin Ecosystem Foundation has appointed a former executive of Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch as its chief marketing officer.

Former Twitch exec Matthew DiPietro has joined crypto startup Kin Ecosystem Foundation as chief marketing officer (CMO), PR Newswire reports September 18.

After serving eight years as senior vice president at the popular live streaming platform Twitch, DiPietro will now be responsible for developing marketing and brand strategies for Kin, the cryptocurrency launched by Kik Interactive, as specified on the expert’s LinkedIn profile.

According to PR Newswire, DiPietro drove brand development for Twitch, as well as led all marketing projects, including the launch of community convention TwitchCon that is devoted to Twitch and the culture of video game streaming.

Having started his career at Twitch as the only marketing specialist in 2010, DiPietro developed a department of more than 40 employees working on brand marketing, content marketing, creative initiatives, events, product marketing, and communications.

Following the new appointment, DiPietro commented on his new position at the crypto startup in a Reddit post, stating that assisting the “adoption of a transformative technology,” which is able to “fundamentally change the relationship between consumers and developers” is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Launched in 2011, the Twitch live streaming video service is now a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon, which acquired Twitch Interactive for around $970 million in August 2014. Also in 2014, Twitch first started accepting Bitcoin (BTC) payments, resuming the option through the Coinbase payment processing gateway in August 2016, following previous issues with Bitcoin payments via Xsolla.

Recently, Twitch streaming application Streamlabs announced it started accepting tips in cryptocurrency via Coinbase’s crypto exchange and wallet. The first coins available as tips are the ones supported by Coinbase, including Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). New coins will reportedly be added in the future along with new listings on Coinbase, as the crypto exchange and wallet announced it was examining the addition of five new coins in July.

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Crypto Future of E-Commerce Is in the Hands of Asian Players

Ovestock.com now allows users to buy crypto, but that’s not the main news.

On Sept. 14, the blockchain investment arm of United States-based e-commerce Bitcoin pioneer Overstock announced that the retailer’s clients can now purchase the cryptocurrency directly from its website. It became possible after its subsidiary Bitsy began a beta launch of its cryptocurrency wallet and exchange, marking another step in Overstock’s rich relationship with Bitcoin.

However, although Overstock first allowed its customers to pay with the cryptocurrency back in 2014, the e-commerce industry has yet to experience mass adoption. Meanwhile, Asian players are gathering to make an even greater push.

First brick in the wall: Overstock’s initial success

In January 2014, Overstock, an online retailer led by a “scourge of Wall Street” and crypto enthusiast Patrick Byrne, became the first large stock company to accept Bitcoin. As Byrne recalls in an interview with Business Insider:

“We were the first. The largest company accepting Bitcoin then was a $800,000 a year restaurant diner in Western Australia. We stepped up and started taking it — we were $1.4 billion. So I like to think we saved that community about five years in their adoption cycle.”

Curiously, the pioneering transition for Bitcoin’s integration into mainstream e-commerce was somewhat accidental: In December 2013, Byrne mentioned to a journalist that his company might start accepting Bitcoin. “I said it off the top of my head,” Byrne later admitted. Soon after the interview, media outlets from all over the world started to report on Overstock’s potential move. That provoked Byrne to swiftly contact San Francisco-based crypto exchange and wallet Coinbase, and, in a matter of few weeks, they jointly introduced the Bitcoin payment option on Overstock.

The initial payoff was worth it. “The implementation pays for itself a hundred times just by the press,” Byrne claims. The cryptocurrency community turned up to show their support: “Bitcoin users started to come to our site and buying a set of pillows or a bed just to show their support. We sold few hundred thousand just in two days after getting live.”

Interestingly, Overstock shares have trended significantly close to BTC price ever since Byrne joined part of the crypto crowd. For instance, Overstock’s stock rose four times between July and December of 2017, as Bitcoin grew more than sevenfold, and closed the year with an approximate gain of 200 percent. However, such reliance on Bitcoin has worked both ways for the company. In September, when Byrne had to sell 10 percent of his equity in the company in order to reinvest the proceeds in two investment projects and satisfy tax obligations, he wrote in a letter to investors:  

“I am disappointed that when the deadline arrived for my sales this quarter, the stock had dropped (I sadly note that over the last 180 days the correlation between OSTK’s and Bitcoin’s daily movements has been 85.5 percent, and again warn people: We don’t have significant holdings of Bitcoin).”

Nevertheless, Byrne continues to rely on cryptocurrency and blockchain in his business. Most crypto-related projects are carried out by venture capital firm Medici Ventures. It was established within Overstock in 2014 to use the company’s money to invest in blockchain projects. Another Overstock blockchain subsidiary, tZERO, has plans to launch an ICO trading platform. It has already secured major institutional investments from Hong Kong-based private equity firm GSR Capital.

Most recently, in September, Medici Ventures announced that its investment choice, Bitsy, had begun a limited launch of its cryptocurrency wallet and exchange. Due to the new integration, customers of Overstock received the option to purchase Bitcoin directly from the website.

“Integrating with Bitsy will allow Overstock to take the next step in its cryptocurrency journey by allowing the company to offer Bitcoin for sale directly from the retail website,” Byrne stated in the press release.

First wave: Shopify, Expedia and other U.S.-based businesses

Even before Overstock, there were smaller online retailers paving the way for crypto. Back in 2013, a Canada-based e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems called Shopify announced a Bitcoin payment option for its sellers. Back then it had a base of over 70,000 online stores. 

Introduced via a collaboration with BitPay service, the feature could be activated upon contacting Shopify’s team. BitPay is a global Bitcoin payment service provider headquartered in Atlanta. It was founded in May 2011 to provide mobile checkout services to companies that wanted to accept Bitcoin.

“Due to the fact that it’s a very new feature and not something we’re ready to roll out to all stores just yet, you will need to contact me to have it enabled, and I may want to follow up with you for your feedback once you’ve been using it for a while, but it works,” its representative Brian Alkerton wrote on Nov. 9, 2013.

In July 2014, Shopify expanded its crypto integration by announcing a partnership with Coinbase: “Coinbase offers a two-click checkout experience and simple refunds that make accepting Bitcoin payments easy and convenient. All Shopify merchants can currently use Coinbase to accept Bitcoin and anyone with a U.S. bank account can convert their Bitcoin to USD.”

The users could now choose between the two service providers, who offered slightly different pricing models: BitPay reportedly charged a one percent transaction fee on casual sales and a zero percent fee for monthly subscribers at the time, while Coinbase charged zero percent standard transaction fees on up to $1 million in processing.

Additionally, Shopify website mentions that “unlike processing credit cards, Bitcoin payments have low to no fees,” while frauds and chargebacks are allegedly non-existent due to the nature of blockchain. Moreover, the e-commerce platforms lists fast international payments and no Payment Card Industry (PSI) compliance as other other benefits for using cryptocurrencies on their platform. Shopify has not released any statistics on how often cryptocurrencies are used in their transactions. However, in 2014, after the first full year with crypto payment option, it reportedly earned $105 million in revenue, twice as much as it raised the year before.

In November 2013, Calabasas-based company CheapAir became the first online travel agency in the world to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for flight tickets. To introduce the option, CheapAir teamed up with Coinbase.

“Bitcoin is really easy. You can do it in two clicks. It’s a much easier way to pay and it’s also much more secure,” CEO Jeff Klee stated in an interview with Fox at the time.

When answering if his company is concerned about Bitcoin’s volatility, Klee declared that they feel “pretty insulated”: “The airlines don’t [accept] Bitcoin yet, so we have to pay them in U.S. dollars. When the sale comes in, we take the Bitcoins, [and] exchange them almost right away.”

Moreover, Cheapair’s CEO stressed that Bitcoin might make the transaction between the company and customers cheaper, albeit on their end: “Consumers don’t know this, but there’s a three percent cost embedded into everything you buy. Bitcoin does not have those. The transaction fees are much lower.”

By February 2014, the travel agency added the option to pay for hotels with the cryptocurrency, which was also a first for the industry.

Relatively soon, one of Cheapair’s competitors followed its move. In June 2014, Expedia, a travel booking website owned by U.S.-based Expedia Group, joined the ranks of crypto-friendly businesses by announcing it would accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for hotel bookings, also via a partnership with Coinbase.

BitPay vs. Coinbase

Thus, U.S.-based retailers who chose to support Bitcoin have partnered up either with Coinbase or BitPay. Both of them have their specific benefits and shortcomings.

In 2017, BitPay reported processing more than $1 billion in Bitcoin payments. “We’ve already grown our payments dollar volume 328 percent year-over-year from 2016,” the processor claimed. “Altogether, BitPay’s merchants are receiving $110 million in Bitcoin payments per month.”

In order to increase the application’s reach and popularity, BitPay announced support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in December 2017. A couple of weeks later, the company confused the crypto community: First, BitPay announced it would raise its minimum transaction amount to $100. However, just two days later, the company backpedalled, setting the value back at $5.

In February 2018, a couple of years after securing its first customers among online retailers, Coinbase announced its further expansion into the world of e-commerce: The exchange and wallet service opened Coinbase Commerce, a service with the aim to assist more online retailers. It was reported that the new service could be integrated into a merchant’s checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform. Additionally, it supported Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin. The company announced in the press release:

“Our mission at Coinbase is to create an open financial system, so we’ve designed this solution to serve merchants worldwide. Unlike previous merchant products we’ve offered, Coinbase Commerce is not a hosted service, so merchants have full control of their own digital currency.”

Around the same time, Coinbase upgraded its policy, reportedly suspending “custodial” solutions for merchants. Soon after the announcement, Cheapair’s CEO Jeff Klee issued an open letter to customers, where he argued that the new policy will make accepting BTC more difficult.

“Our intention at this point is to use BitPay as a processor [now]. We have had a great experience with them so far and our integration is largely complete. But our one giant concern is that Bitpay does not support ‘non-payment protocol wallets’ [wallets that aren’t BIP-70 compliant]. So if you do not have a compatible wallet, you would have to get one and use it as an intermediate stage for your Bitcoin payment,” Klee wrote.

Interestingly, the Coinbase move could also be the reason why Expedia quietly stopped accepting Bitcoin circa June 10 (Expedia later confirmed to Cointelegraph that their business stopped accepting Bitcoin).

Chinese approach: Blockchain over Bitcoin

Chinese online retailers have been more cautious to interact with cryptocurrencies, instead focusing on their underlying technology, blockchain, which echoes the local government’s politics.

Thus, in 2016, at a conference in Shanghai, Alipay — an online payment platform of the Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba — announced it may develop a cloud service platform based on blockchain.

“The usage of the blockchain will grow with the transaction records stored in it,” Alibaba Group Vice President Gao Hongbing declared at the time.

In May 2018, Alibaba founder Jack Ma famously stressed blockchain’s importance, while noting that his team “does not care” about Bitcoin.

In the same speech, Ma stated that he strongly believes in blockchain’s potential to address issues of data privacy and security for society at all levels — governments, corporations and individuals — in an “era of big data.” He also stressed that security is a top priority for the e-commerce conglomerate.

In March, the concern came through with more blockchain-related news: Alibaba’s T-Mall e-commerce platform began adopting the technology for its cross-border supply chain via a partnership with logistics company Cainiao, as per local news agency Xinhua. The collaboration will reportedly use blockchain to track goods’ country of origin, method of shipping, arrival port and customs report details.

According to data published in late August by Chinese media outlet iPR daily, Alibaba has reached the top of a list that ranks entities by the number of blockchain-related patents filed to date; the e-commerce conglomerate has filed a staggering 90 blockchain patents, outracing even IBM.

But Alibaba is not the only Chinese e-commerce outlet looking to adopt blockchain. In August 2018, another local retail giant, JD, introduced its own blockchain plans, as it revealed its new Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform — dubbed JD Blockchain Open Platform. The new tool aims to enable businesses to build, host and implement blockchain solutions without having to develop the technology from scratch. JD outlined a number of potential use cases for the platform:

“The technology can help companies streamline operational procedures such as tracking and tracing the movement of goods and charity donations, authenticity certification, property assessment, transaction settlements, digital copyrights and enhance productivity.”

The future belongs to international giants who are not afraid to step in

While U.S. e-commerce companies seem to be lagging behind after a promising start — with a number of players dropping alternative payment options altogether — international players appear to be much more ambitious.

In late August 2018, Daniel Shin, the founder of Ticket Monster (TMON), a major Korean mobile e-commerce marketplace which boasts a $4 billion in total sales, disclosed that he had raised $32 million from a number of investors — including Binance labs, OKEx and Huobi Capital — to build a stablecoin named Terra. According to Terra’s white paper, the protocol maintains a “stability reserve” made up of user deposits with rewards varied to ensure the system is over-reserved.

As Shin explained to TechCrunch, Terra’s goal is to offer a new payment option which would allow for the bypass of existing payment networks like Visa, who take their cuts in the process. The use of the token will be stimulated through special discounts.

Interestingly, Terra is off to a jumpstart, granted that the group backing the stablecoin, the Terra Alliance, includes e-commerce players as big as Woowa Brothers, Qoo10, Carousell, Pomelo and TIKI — combined, those companies make around $25 billion in sales. The token would be spendable at each of those services.

Similarly, Japan’s largest e-commerce company Rakuten, with a market capitalization of over $12.5 billion, announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency as part of a new blockchain-based loyalty program earlier this year.

Called the Rakuten coin, the asset will allegedly serve as ‎a “borderless currency,” underlining Rakuten’s vision of differentiating itself from its online retail rivals, like Amazon, Alibaba or eBay. The company’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani elaborated:

“Basically, our concept is to recreate the network of retailers and merchants. We do not want to disconnect [them from their customers] but function as a catalyst. That is our philosophy, how to empower society, not just provide more convenience.”

Additionally, in late August 2018, Rakuten revealed a 265 million yen ($2.4 million) deal to acquire domestic crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin. The purchase will reportedly occur on Oct. 1. 

According to Rakuten, it has been “considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry” as it believes “the role of cryptocurrency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in p2p [peer-to-peer] payments will grow in the future.”

While the majority of crypto-friendly online retailers come from Asia, Latin America has been pushing for mass adoption: Via Varejo, one of the largest consumer electronics and home appliance retailers in Brazil, teamed up with blockchain payment service Airfox. Airfox is a mobile financial service launched in February 2018 in Boston, MA. Designed for emerging economies, it allows making fiat and blockchain payments via its AirToken (AIR) coin, an ERC-20-based token.

Via Varejo is now integrating Airfox’s digital banking platform on its e-commerce platforms, as well as in nearly 1,000 of its offline shops. Customers will be able to purchase goods in Casa Bahia by paying directly via Airfox, or will be able to use microloans provided by the retail group.

The press release outlines the importance of the collaboration for the mass adoption of blockchain-powered payment services, letting the platform “extend its mobile digital wallet to Via Varejo’s national customer base and drive mainstream adoption.”

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Startup Launches Blockchain Powered Electric Vehicles That Mine Cryptocurrency

A Singapore startup is tackling transport carbon emissions with blockchain-enabled electric vehicles that mine cryptocurrency for the user as a reward.

A Singapore blockchain startup is launching a fleet of blockchain-enabled electric vehicles that mine crypto as users travel. The company intends to reduce carbon emissions and to reward people for doing so.

Cars and climate change

Road vehicles such as cars, trucks and motorcycles are the largest contributors of CO2 emissions in the transport sector, overshadowing that of trains, planes and boats. In the United Kingdom, the transport sector is the U.K.’s biggest contributor to CO2 emissions, and at present, there is a scramble not only in the U.K. but worldwide to put more electric vehicles on the roads.

CyClean aims to combat the issue by combining blockchain and cryptocurrency software with electric-powered vehicles as well as other products, such as solar panels and bicycles. The company will allow its users to rent these energy-efficient products and be rewarded with cryptocurrency.

Electric vehicles and products supplied to CyClean by leading producers are upgraded with a chip that connects to the CyClean server, it then tracks the traveled meters or watts of the user and rewards them accordingly.

There is a fixed amount of daily rewards for users and that total is divided by the number of users who have exceeded more than a kilometer of travel that day or produced more than one watt. With that said, the amount of CyClean coins awarded to users will be proportionate to the distance travelled or watts produced.

According to the CyClean white paper, their business model covers the electric bicycles and motorbikes, and they will be moving toward electric cars in the near future. They also have intentions to expand their motorbike sales to Southeast Asia, where usage of these vehicles is very high.

Up and running

CyClean says it is an operating business that has recently completed a successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and is preparing to launch domestic solar panels and an e-bike, adding to their range of products that mine the platform’s native cryptocurrency, the CyClean Coin (CCL). A CCL/USDT trading pair is now listed on HitBTC, a global cryptocurrency exchange, the CyClean team announced in August. At the time of writing, CCL is the highest trading ICO token on HitBTC, following only the established cryptocurrencies and altcoins, according to CoinMarketCap.

The company is taking itself rather seriously and is firmly combating the negative stereotypes of ICOs and blockchain technologies. At a recent blockchain conference in Seoul, CyClean’s strategic planner Joseph Nam spoke with others regarding the past, present and future of technology, discussing regulations, ICO laws and how important blockchain will be “in the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The conference was attended by former ministers of education in Korea, the president of the Korea Blockchain Association and other prominent government and industry figures. CyClean is attempting to establish solid connections with governments, groups and other organizations to see its presence expand beyond South Korea to other parts of the world.

Energy efficient

The trend of electric or hybrid vehicles is on the rise, and recent research has estimated that 13 million new electric vehicles are going to be produced every year until 2021; International Energy reported that in 2017, the number of electric cars in circulation had surpassed 3 million globally and is expected to reach 125 million by 2030.  

Blockchain technology solutions paired with electric vehicles have begun to take off. Recently, a partnership was struck between a United States-based company and China’s largest electric bus operator to provide financial services.

In 2017, another blockchain company began testing a peer-to-peer electric vehicle charger marketplace that enabled users to charge their cars by using another person’s power outlet.

 

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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