Steve Wozniak Compares Ethereum to Apple at Vienna Conference

Steve Wozniak said that in the future, Ethereum may become as influential as Apple.

At the WeAreDevelopers tech conference in Vienna, Steve “Woz” Wozniak compared Ethereum’s platform with Apple and said it could become just as influential, Forbes reported May 18.

While delivering his speech at the conference, Wozniak was enthusiastic about Ethereum (ETH), describing it as a platform similar to Apple’s. He said that in the long-term Ethereum can become just as influential as Apple is. He added:

“Ethereum interests me because it can do things and because it’s a platform.”

According to Forbes, Wozniak happened upon Bitcoin and Ethereum in its early days, although he divested from crypto in early 2018. Wozniak said he still owns one Bitcoin (BTC) and two Ethereum (ETH) to “experiment with paying for different things.”

On Thursday, in his opening speech at the conference, Wozniak called blockchain “the next major IT revolution that is about to happen.” He said that both blockchain and cryptocurrencies will achieve their full potential in a decade. In October of last year, Wozniak said at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas that Bitcoin is better than gold or the US dollar.

After Apple, Wozniak has remained part of the the tech world, founding the coding academy Woz University that has 31 coding centers across the US.

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Norway Central Bank Considers Developing Digital Currency

Norway’s central bank considers introducing its own cryptocurrency to “ensure confidence in money and the monetary system.”

Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, is considering developing its own digital currency as a supplement to cash to “ensure confidence in money and the monetary system”, according to a working paper May 18.

The report, prepared by a Norges Bank working group, investigates aspects they believe should be considered when assessing the issuance of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The authors emphasize at least three possible CDBC applications: the introduction of a reliable alternative to deposits in private banks, a suitable legal tender as a supplement to cash, and an independent backup solution for electronic payment systems. Norges Bank Governor Øystein Olsen wrote:

“A decline in cash usage has prompted us to think about whether at some future date a number of new attributes that are important for ensuring an efficient and robust payment system and confidence in the monetary system will be needed.”

The report states that a CBDC could provide customers with an alternative means to store assets. According to Norges bank, the foundation of a CBDC must also not interfere with the ability of the bank and other financial institutions to provide credit. Norges Bank will reportedly continue to issue cash as long as there is demand for it. The working group has only completed the initial phase of studying a potential CBDC, stating:

“It is too early to conclude whether Norges Bank should take the initiative in introducing a CBDC. The impacts of a CBDC – and the socio-economic cost-benefit analysis – will depend on the specific design. The design, in turn, will depend on the purpose of introducing a CBDC.”

Other countries in Europe have also begun to consider issuing a digital currency through their central bank. Similar to Norway, Sweden’s Riksbank is considering an e-krona as a result of declining cash circulation.

Yesterday, Cointelegraph reported that the Swiss Federal Council has requested a study on a state-backed digital currency examining the risks and opportunities of its introduction. Now, the lower house of the Swiss parliament has to decide whether to support the Federal Council’s request for research. Should the proposal be approved, the Swiss Finance Ministry will conduct the study.

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Ethereum Foundation Advisor: SEC Lacks Fundamental Understanding of Core Nature of Crypto

William Mougayar, advisor to the Ethereum Foundation, claims that the SEC is “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole” regarding crypto regulation.

William Mougayar, author of “The Business Blockchain” and advisor to the Ethereum Foundation, said in an interview with CNBC May 18, that regulators lack a foundational understanding of cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to CNBC, Mougayar explained that in an attempt to regulate digital currencies, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lacks an understanding of the core nature of the industry, trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach:

“The SEC is still trying to educate themselves, not just educate the public … Right now they are still grappling with it and for them the box that they play in is that they see all these cryptocurrencies as a security. But in reality not everything is a security. They want everything to play in that box.”

Answering a question about whether the SEC wants to keep digital currency classified as a security, specifically so they can regulate it, Mougayar responded:

“Exactly. That’s their box, the box they play in. They see everything as a security and they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, but not everything is a security right now.”

Regarding Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s recent statement that Bitcoin (BTC) will be the native currency of the Internet, Mougayar said that he considers BTC one of the native currencies, but “it’s not going to be the only one, there will be others.”

Mougayar stated that Ethereum (ETH) will “definitely” overtake BTC because it has the “largest ecosystem of developers and start-ups, and venture capital, and all kinds of support going around it.” He said:

“What’s important is not just the technology itself – it’s who is using it.”

Mougayar further explained that currently, cryptocurrencies are underused in their capacity as utilities with real use cases, where they would serve a real purpose and not merely be speculatory instruments. He pointed out that 53 percent of Ethereum transactions are on smart contracts. According to Mougayar this shows that it is “not just as a currency, [but] a utility.”

Recently, the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at the SEC launched a fake initial coin offering (ICO) website, the goal of which is to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs and to promote investor education. According to the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, the regulator supports the adoption of new technologies, but it also encourages investors to educate themselves and understand what fraudulent offers look like.

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Iran and Russia Discuss Transacting in Crypto to Avoid International Sanctions

Both Iran and Russia are reportedly looking into using cryptocurrency as a way around Western sanctions

Iran and Russia could start using cryptocurrencies to avoid Western sanctions, Russian news portal RBC reported yesterday, May 17.

Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs, referred to cryptocurrencies as a promising way for both countries to avoid US dollar transactions, as well as a possible replacement of the SWIFT interbank payment system.

At a meeting with Dmitry Mezentsev, the Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy, Pourebrahimi said that they have “engaged the Central Bank of Iran to start developing proposals for the use of cryptocurrency.”

Pourebrahimi added that he discussed this topic in the State Duma’s Committee on Economic Policy the day before and that Iran had established cooperation with Russia on this issue:

“They [Russia] share our opinion. We said that if we manage to move this work forward, then we will be the first countries that use cryptocurrency in the exchange of goods.”

In turn, Mezentsev noted that “interbank relations between our countries should be of great importance” against the backdrop of international sanctions currently in place against both Russia and Iran. The meeting of the interbank working group on financial and interbank cooperation will be held in Tehran on July 5 of this year, RBC reports.

Last week, Pourebrahimi had reported that without access to the international banking system, Iranian citizens have so far succeeded in siphoning a staggering $2.5 bln out of the country in crypto.

Venezuela, another country facing international sanctions, recently released its own oil-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, in a move that some critics saw as an illegal way to enter the international financial markets. After the Petro’s launch, both Turkey and Iran had expressed interest in releasing their own state-backed cryptocurrencies as well, with Russia’s own CryptoRuble reportedly set to launch in mid-2019.

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Colombia: Newly Formed Blockchain Association Aims for Dialogue With Government

Crypto businesses in Colombia launched a local Blockchain Association this week, aiming to support the industry and inform the government on the technology.

Six public and private Colombian companies have joined forces to launch the Colombia Blockchain Association, Spanish news agency EFE reported May 17. The Association describes itself as aiming to support the country’s crypto and blockchain ecosystems and to advise the national government on matters concerning regulation of the crypto sphere.

The companies involved are Buda Colombia, Bitcoin Colombia, Cajero.co, IntiColombia, Panda Group and RSK. Representatives from each, as well as Mauricio Tovar – co-director of  inTIColombia, a research group of the National University of Colombia – reportedly attended an event this Wednesday in Bogota to discuss the agenda of the new organization.

As Diario Bitcoin reports, Tovar spoke out at the event against an “abusive” traditional financial sector that encumbers Colombians with unnecessary costs. Citizens “distrust” the current system, he suggested. He said the new association should act as an interlocutor to the state in order to encourage the “informed” adoption of new financial technologies, without compromising the decentralized principles of blockchain, as well as to prevent stifling overregulation.

Buda CEO Alejandro Beltrán contributed his perspective on the potential future of crypto across Latin America, noting that there are estimated to be over 200 mln unbanked citizens in the continent who could be served by a crypto economy. He also noted how complicated it currently is for migrants to send remittances back to their countries of origin using fiat money.

Beyond financial applications, event participants reportedly discussed the use of blockchain in other fields, including information security, intellectual property, the energy sector, electoral systems and real estate registers.

Last year, the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released a report stating that blockchain technology could help address problems facing the ailing banking sector across the continent. Countries in the region with underbanked populations, such as Venezuela, have been encouraging their citizens to educate themselves about crypto. Under pressure from international sanctions, Venezuela launched an oil-backed national cryptocurrency, the Petro, earlier this year.

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Chinese Gov’t Study Detects 421 Fake Cryptos, Outlines Key Features of Fraud

China’s Ministry of Industry and IT says it has detected 421 fake cryptos, identifying key signs of fraudulent tokens in its recent report.

A government-led study in China has detected 421 fake cryptocurrencies, according to a report published today, May 18.

IFCERT, a national committee of internet financial security experts initiated by China’s Ministry of Industry and IT, has warned of the dangers of fraud in the crypto space. The committee’s report notes that as of April, over 60% of the 421 detected fake cryptos are run from overseas servers, making them “difficult to find and to track.”

IFCERT’s ongoing monitoring identified three key features of fraudulent digital currency profiles.

Firstly, their reliance on a so-called ‘pyramid scheme’ operational model, in which investors are first compelled to make a payment, and then promised returns on the basis that they enroll others in the scheme.

The second feature of a fraud crypto, according to IFCERT, is the absence of open-source code of the fake digital asset, allowing its creators to dupe investors into an illusion of skyrocketing growth by artificially splitting the tokens to create an impression of proliferating rewards. The fraudsters claim that the more tokens are generated, the more wealth increases, “only rising without falling.”

Lastly, according to IFCERT, given that bogus coins cannot be traded on legitimate crypto exchanges, they are largely traded through over-the-counter deals, or even on transient phony platforms. With no transparency, scammers can manipulate apparent price surges, while at the same time preventing investors from withdrawing funds in order to benefit from such ‘spikes.’

The report concludes that such virtual currency scams are cases of “illegal fundraising,” with a high risk that their creators will disappear and wreak huge losses for investors, left unable to defend their rights.

The features of a fraud cryptocurrency identified by the IFCERT in their recent study are  strikingly similar to those identified by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC). In a recent campaign aimed to educate investors, the U.S. SEC created a website for a fake Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that went live just two days ago. The SEC’s mock HoweyCoins.com lures investors with a “too good to be true investment opportunity” – using the very “red flags” the organization claims to have identified in the majority of fraudulent ICOs – and redirects those who attempt to purchase the ersatz tokens to an educationally-oriented page on the SEC’s own site.

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Switzerland First in Ranking of Top 10 Most Blockchain-Friendly Countries in Europe

BlockShow’s rankings of the best European countries for opening a blockchain company puts Switzerland at the top of the list.

Switzerland is ranked number one in a list of the top ten European countries for starting a blockchain company, according to a study released by blockchain conference BlockShow Europe 2018.

In the list of best countries for starting a blockchain company, Gibraltar and Malta follow Switzerland in second and third respectively. The study consisted of 48 European countries that were examined for rankings by Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations, regulations on crypto as a payment service, and taxation frameworks for crypto.

Switzerland is known as a crypto-friendly nation due to both its establishment of a virtual currency hub, “crypto valley,” in Zug and its status as a tax-free haven for crypto investors. Gibraltar has reportedly attracted 200 ICOs before the planned launch of its Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), and Malta, the “blockchain island,” has welcomed major crypto exchanges Binance and OKEx recently.

BlockShow also released a poll this week on blockchain-based app Polys that allows users to vote on the leading women and companies in the EU blockchain space. The winners of the poll will be announced during the BlockShow conference at the end of this month in Berlin.

At the beginning of February, the European Commission announced the launch of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum as part of their aim to unite the economy around blockchain. However, more recently, newly approved EU privacy laws – which come into effect on May 25 – arguably conflict with the decentralized nature of blockchain technology.

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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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Swiss Government Requests Study on State-Backed Digital Currency

The Swiss Federal Council has called for a study to examine the associated risks and opportunities of a government-issued cryptocurrency, the e-franc.

The Federal Council of the Government of Switzerland has requested a report on the risks and opportunities of introducing its own state-backed digital currency, or so called “e-franc”, Reuters reported May 17.

The Federal Council moved to investigate the subject at the prompt of Swiss lawmaker and vice-president of the Social Democratic Party, Cedric Wermuth. Now, the lower house of the Swiss parliament has to decide whether to support the Federal Council’s request for research. Should the proposal be approved, the Swiss Finance Ministry will conduct a study on the subject. No time frame has been published regarding the process. The Council stated:

“The Federal Council is aware of the major challenges, both legal and monetary, which would be accompanied by the use of an e-franc… It asks that the proposal be adopted to examine the risks and opportunities of an e-franc and to clarify the legal, economic and financial aspects of the e-franc.”

The idea to develop a national cryptocurrency was put forward in February by Romeo Lacher, chairman of the Swiss stock exchange SIX. He said, “An e-franc under the control of the central bank would create a lot of synergies – so it would be good for the economy.”

Other traditional financial institutions in the country have remained wary of the introduction of cryptocurrencies. Board Member of the Swiss National Bank Andréa Maechler said last month, that private-sector digital currencies are better and less risky than nationally-issued versions, as a government-issued cryptocurrency could increase the risk of so-called “bank runs.”

Earlier this month, Switzerland’s largest bank UBS declined to offer trading in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The bank’s chairman Axel Weber called for stricter controls on cryptocurrencies, stating “[cryptocurrencies] are often not transparent and, therefore, open to being abused.”

Other countries have also begun considering the possibility of a national digital currency. Sweden’s Riksbank is investigating whether they should issue an e-krona, as the use of physical banknotes in the country continue to decline.

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