Russian Startup to Create Blockchain-Based Copyright Network in Uzbek Capital

The Uzbek city of Tashkent has signed a deal with a Russian startup to digitize patent records and make intellectual property profitable.

A Russian intellectual property startup has signed a memorandum with officials from Uzbek capital Tashkent to integrate blockchain for use in copyright, Russian state news agency TASS reports Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The president of the Russian National Intellectual Property Transactions Coordination Center (IPChain), Andrey Krichevsky, met the head of Tashkent’s department of innovations Jasur Zakhidov during the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow. Both parties agreed to implement decentralized solutions to protect copyrights in different areas, such as intellectual property and patent records.

Zakhidov further explained that blockchain could help develop the whole copyright sphere and make it profitable, noting that “scientists, inventors and creators do not usually understand how to monetize their intellectual property,” and adding:

“Our partnership […] will likely give an impetus to the development of intellectual property area in Uzbekistan. From now on they are going to know that the copyright actually works and is profitable. As a capital, we have to help authors and to show them ways to earn money.”

As per IPChain’s press release, the program will start with digitizing Tashkent’s patent records, likely deploying the IPchain ecosystem on the basis of the local patent office.

As Cointelegraph reported in April, IPChain signed a deal to digitize patent records and create a blockchain-based database for the State Patent Office of Kyrgyzstan. According to the head of IPchain, similar projects have already been discussed with Armenian officials as well.

Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has recently taken several important steps to promote blockchain technology in the country. In July, he signed a document called “On measures for digital economics development in the Republic of Uzbekistan,” which stated that a blockchain integration program for international clearing facilities as well as lending and trade finance should be introduced by 2020.

In September, Mirziyoyev ordered the establishment of a state blockchain development fund called the “Digital Trust.” According to the plan, decentralized solutions would be implemented in healthcare, education, and cultural areas.

Continue Reading

Rwandan Government to Use Blockchain Tech to Track Conflict Metal Tantalum

Rwanda’s tantalum mining traceability will be improved by British blockchain startup Circulor in tandem with Rwanda’s government.

Rwanda has partnered with a U.K.-based blockchain startup to trace the mining of the conflict metal tantalum in the country, according to the startup’s press release, published Oct. 16.

Rwanda is the world’s leading producer of tantalum, the mineral used in consumer electronics such as smartphones and computers. By using blockchain technology in partnership with startup Circulor, the Rwandan Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board plans to make the production of tantalum more transparent.

The press release states that blockchain tech implementation will help “companies comply with the internationally mandated efforts to eradicate sources of funding for conflict minerals.”

According to Reuters, mining company Power Resources Group (PRG) — whose listed partners include Kemet, an Apple supplier — has run a pilot for tracing the metal and is now “using the production system.” PRG’s CEO, Ray Power, told Reuters that he has been hearing “criticisms on traceability” for minerals since 2015.

The companies have partnered to use Circulor’s blockchain platform, built on the Hyperledger Fabric, an open source enterprise-focused digital ledger software hosted by the Linux Foundation, for tracing the tantalum’s supply chain.

Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, Circulor CEO, underlined that the new technological application will “dramatically reduce costs for miners who current shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of compliance.” He also added:

“Our blockchain platform will empower consumers to understand where the materials in the products they buy come from and also make it harder for materials that are not ethically sourced to pass through the supply chain.”  

This spring, Circulor had partnered with the German car manufacturer giant BMW “to track so-called ‘clean’ cobalt supplies in order to ensure their ethical provenance,” Cointelegraph reported March 6.

Also this spring, De Beers, the global diamond producing giant, had announced the use of blockchain technology for digital tracking diamonds “from mine to retail.” The company’s goal was to increase efficiency in the supply chain and to support consumer and public trust in De Beers’ non-conflict diamonds production.

Continue Reading

UK-Based Industry Group Develops Blockchain Tool to Track Firms’ Sustainable Commitments

The UK-based industry body RFI Foundation plans to develop a blockchain tool to track firms’ sustainable commitments.

A U.K.-based industry body for the responsible finance sector revealed plans to introduce a blockchain tool to monitor firms’ sustainable commitments, Reuters reports Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Foundation is developing a blockchain-powered tool to track companies’ sustainable commitments and to detect those entities who do not comply with their ethical credentials.

The new system is expected to enable the industry group to reduce so-called “greenwashing,” a practice that implies firms claiming that they are more ethical or ecologically friendly than they are in fact.

The RFI Foundation’s initiative comes as a part of a plan to expand activity beyond its main centers in Europe and North America, with governments such as Indonesia releasing green bonds for the first time in 2018. The industry group will collaborate on the project along with 23 other participants in order to introduce the tool in the 2019, chief executive Blake Goud revealed to Reuters.

Goud claimed that while a number of financial institutions are “taking advantage of the opacity of commitments and actions,” the new blockchain-powered system will allow them to identify companies’ practices in responsible finance “in real time,” as well as will assist new entrants to the sphere.

According to Reuters, other participants include Belgium-based European Partners for the Environment and U.S.-based Magni Global Asset Management.

In April 2018, 22 countries, including 21 EU member states and Norway, signed a declaration to set up a European Blockchain Partnership in a move to become leaders in digital technologies and to provide high standards of blockchain uses in Europe, as well as to improve the quality of cross-border standards and regulatory reporting.

On Oct. 14, Cointelegraph reported on the increasing size of the European Blockchain Partnership — with latest entrant Italy signing the declaration in late September — underlining its commitment to assist in identifying an “initial set of cross-border digital public services” that can be potentially implemented through the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure.

Continue Reading

UK-Based Industry Group Develops Blockchain Tool to Track Firms’ Sustainable Commitments

The UK-based industry body RFI Foundation plans to develop a blockchain tool to track firms’ sustainable commitments.

A U.K.-based industry body for the responsible finance sector revealed plans to introduce a blockchain tool to monitor firms’ sustainable commitments, Reuters reports Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Foundation is developing a blockchain-powered tool to track companies’ sustainable commitments and to detect those entities who do not comply with their ethical credentials.

The new system is expected to enable the industry group to reduce so-called “greenwashing,” a practice that implies firms claiming that they are more ethical or ecologically friendly than they are in fact.

The RFI Foundation’s initiative comes as a part of a plan to expand activity beyond its main centers in Europe and North America, with governments such as Indonesia releasing green bonds for the first time in 2018. The industry group will collaborate on the project along with 23 other participants in order to introduce the tool in the 2019, chief executive Blake Goud revealed to Reuters.

Goud claimed that while a number of financial institutions are “taking advantage of the opacity of commitments and actions,” the new blockchain-powered system will allow them to identify companies’ practices in responsible finance “in real time,” as well as will assist new entrants to the sphere.

According to Reuters, other participants include Belgium-based European Partners for the Environment and U.S.-based Magni Global Asset Management.

In April 2018, 22 countries, including 21 EU member states and Norway, signed a declaration to set up a European Blockchain Partnership in a move to become leaders in digital technologies and to provide high standards of blockchain uses in Europe, as well as to improve the quality of cross-border standards and regulatory reporting.

On Oct. 14, Cointelegraph reported on the increasing size of the European Blockchain Partnership — with latest entrant Italy signing the declaration in late September — underlining its commitment to assist in identifying an “initial set of cross-border digital public services” that can be potentially implemented through the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure.

Continue Reading

Brazilian Presidential Candidate Uses Blockchain to Publish Government Plan

Brazilian presidential candidate Fernando Haddad has announced his campaign will use blockchain technology to distribute his policy positions and plans for the government.

Fernando Haddad, the presidential candidate for the Brazil Workers’ Party, has published his government plan via blockchain, per an announcement published on his website Oct. 14.

According to the release, Haddad decided to use blockchain technology for disseminating information about his presidential campaign after a long-term struggle with fake news reports. As information stored on a blockchain cannot be altered or compromised, he decided to store the data on a decentralized platform.

The release also notes that Haddad used “free software” in Sao Paulo where he served as mayor from 2013–2017. The software solutions monitored various city projects, including the municipal Master Plan “with the support of users through the internet.”

Haddad is not the only presidential candidate to apply the technology. According to crypto news outlet Criptomoedas Facil, other politicians that participated in the general election; Joao Amoedo and Marina Silva, also mentioned blockchain during their campaigns.

Silva proposed to create a “digital government,” storing all public data on a decentralized platform, while Marina used decentralized ledger technology (DLT) to register donations for her campaign.

In the first round of the 2018 elections, Haddad and his vice-presidential running mate Manuela d’Avila won almost 30 percent of the overall vote, but eventually lost out to far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, who has previously expressed fond sentiments for Brazil’s former military regime, exceeded expectations at the polls, having ran a right-wing populist platform that promised a return to “traditional” Brazilian values.  

While he won the general election with almost 47 percent of the overall vote, Bolsonaro fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election against Haddad on Oct. 28.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, the Brazilian government was considering to move popular petitions — an instrument that allows citizens to vote on different social matters — to a blockchain based on the Ethereum network. Officials wanted to create a mobile app that would allow people to submit their votes via a decentralized platform.

Continue Reading

Russian Accused of Hacking Public Servers to Mine Bitcoin Faces up to Five Years in Prison

A Russian man accused of hacking government servers in three Russian regions to mine Bitcoins is facing up to five years in prison.

A 21-year-old Russian from the Siberian city of Kurgan is facing criminal charges for illegally mining Bitcoins (BTC) via government-owned servers, local news agency Ura.Ru reports Tuesday, October 16, citing the regional office of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The investigation found that the man hacked public administration servers in three Russian regions. The breach was discovered when the Internal Security Division in the city of Yaroslavl noticed the intruder’s attempt to hack their equipment.

The alleged hacker was then charged with deliberate use of software that “neutralizes” a computer’s network defense “out of self-interest.” Under this article he could face up to five years in prison, if found guilty.

As Cointelegraph previously wrote in a review of illicit mining cases, stealing or illicitly receiving electricity then used to mine is often the crime punished by prison terms, rather than the mining itself. For instance, in South Korea this April, police arrested miners who purposely rented out factories and chicken farms to receive electricity for substantially lower rates.

Further, in another case in the U.S. state of New York this March, local authorities asked miners to cease their work after residents of one town filed an official complaint to the police for the excessive usage of low-cost electricity by local miners.

More recently, this month a Chinese man was reportedly sentenced 3.5 years in jail for stealing electricity from a train station to fuel his Bitcoin mining facility. In addition to the prison sentence, he was also fined 100,000 yuan (around $14,500).

Continue Reading

South Korean Financial Regulator Reaffirms Negative Stance on ICOs and Crypto

A top Korean financial regulator has reiterated his negative position on ICOs and digital currencies, though he does not deny the potential of blockchain.

The chairman of Korea’s Financial Services Commission Choi Jong-koo has reaffirmed his negative position on digital currencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), Business Korea reported Oct. 11. Choi spoke at a parliamentary audit session of the commission held at the National Assembly.

South Korea prohibited ICOs in September last year, stating that such a type of fundraising is “almost a gamble.” This August, Korean lawmakers, including participants from government ministries, returned to the cryptocurrency issue, focusing on repealing the country’s ICO ban. Lawmakers agreed on the need to develop a related policy before carrying a resolution on ICO reallowance.

At the recent session, Choi reportedly said that “the government does not deny the potential of the blockchain industry,” while noting that it “should not equate the cryptocurrency trading business with the blockchain industry.” Choi said:

“Many people say the Korean government should allow ICOs, but ICOs bring uncertainty and the damage they can cause is too serious and obvious. For these reasons, many foreign countries ban ICOs or are conservative towards them.”

Choi also addressed criticism of commercial banks that refused service to crypto exchanges, stating that “exchanges should be able to persuade banks to issue bank accounts to them.”

Other officials have said that the South Korean government is “likely” to announce its official position on ICOs in November. The Chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination Hong Nam-ki said that the government will announce its position once it finalizes its discussion and receives the results of a government survey.

Hong told Korean business publication the Investor that the government launched a survey of blockchain companies to gather their views on the current legal framework.

In September, South Korean cabinet ministers agreed to exclude all sale and brokerage of digital assets based on blockchain technology from venture business classification. The move was reportedly taken in order to “strengthen the cooperation of related institutions” and to protect citizens from the “illegal activities” related to the digital assets business.

Continue Reading

China’s Central Bank Seeks Digital Currency Specialists

The Chinese central bank has opened four job positions that require crypto-related skills, shortly after a report on the advantages of a yuan-backed stable coin.

The Chinese central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), has opened four positions for crypto-related professionals, according to a document published Wednesday, Oct. 10 on the bank’s website.

Per the paper, PBoC is seeking two engineers at their Digital Money Institute with experience in blockchain and cryptography, security, and chip design. The bank wants the engineers to develop a secure big data platform and a chip processor that would allow crypto transactions.

The engineers will be responsible for digital currency related software systems, encryption technology and security models, as well as transaction terminal chip technology research and development.

PBoc is also seeking experts in economic law and finance who will be responsible for legal research, the analysis of economic mechanisms, risk management, and policy research on “legal digital currency.”

The move comes shortly after an op-ed published by CN Finance — a local finance journal affiliated with the PBoC — where the bank’s experts describe the recently launched USD-backed stablecoins that they claim could negatively influence other fiats, such as the yuan. The experts further stated that China should evaluate launching its own yuan-backed stablecoin while keeping the current ban on cryptocurrencies.

The Chinese government first opposed cryptocurrencies back in 2017, when all of the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges were closed and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) banned. Later PBoC repeatedly issued warnings on risks of crypto trading.

After the ban, China has focused on blockchain solutions. This autumn PBoC announced the launch of a blockchain trading and finance platform in Shenzhen. The network will also spread to Guangdong, Hong Kong, and the Macau Bay Area and allows cross-border trading. An official blockchain pilot zone was later established in the Hainan province within a dedicated tech park.

Continue Reading

US SEC Halts Fraudulent ICO That Claimed to Possess Regulator’s Approval

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has halted an ICO that falsely claimed the support of the SEC and used a fake regulatory agency to promote their product.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has halted a planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that falsely claimed have SEC approval, the agency reported in an official press release Thursday, Oct. 11.

The SEC suspended the ICO project with an emergency court order, and also halted pre-ICO sales by the company Blockvest LLC, and its founder Reginald Buddy Ringgold III.

The complaint by the SEC alleges that Blockvest falsely claimed that their ICO and affiliates had acquired approval from major financial regulators, including the SEC itself. Blockvest and Ringgold — who also goes by the name Rasool Abdul Rahim El — claimed the crypto fund was “licensed and regulated.”

The firms are accused of violating federal law by impersonating the SEC seal, as well as running an ICO promoted by a fake agency dubbed the “Blockchain Exchange Commission.” The “Commission” reportedly used a graphic similar to the SEC seal, as well as the SEC address.

According to the SEC, Blockvest and Ringgold also violated the law by continuing their fraudulent activity after receiving a cease-and-desist letter by the National Futures Association (NFA).

Following the SEC’s complaint, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued an order freezing Blockvest and Ringgold’s funds as well as suspending their securities registration provisions. The hearing is set for Oct. 18, and will consider prolonging the preliminary injunction and the asset freeze.

Other firms have attempted to defraud investors by make spurious claims about their status with federal regulators. On Sept. 28, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a suit against two companies for alleged fraudulent solicitation of Bitcoin (BTC). The companies were also impersonating a CFTC investigator, as well as using forged official documents to pose as the the CFTC’s General Counsel with the CFTC’s official Seal.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, and the CFTC Office of Customer Education and Outreach have issued an investor warning on the use of false claims regarding SEC and CFTC endorsements.

Earlier this year, the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy launched a fake ICO website, intended to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs and promote investor education.

Continue Reading

Indian Gov’t Is ‘Evaluating’ the Launch of Its Own Cryptocurrency, Sources Say

The panel that was set up by India’s Ministry of Finance in 2017 will reportedly evaluate the possibility of issuing a state-backed cryptocurrency.

Indian government is “evaluating” the possibility of issuing a state-backed cryptocurrency, sources have told local news outlet Quartz India on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

An unnamed “senior official” has told Quartz that the government has set up a panel that will discuss questions regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain. While, according to Quartz’s source, the government is looking to “encourage” blockchain studies, the launch of a state-backed cryptocurrency is only an option to be considered.

The source has also said that the panel will discuss new amendments to the existing draft bill on cryptocurrencies. One of the proposals is reportedly to make any possession of cryptocurrency without the government’s approval a punishable crime.

The panel was created in December 2017 by India’s Ministry of Finance to discuss crypto regulations in the country, Quartz notes. It is expected to present its report by the end of 2018.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) first announced its ban on providing banking services to any cryptocurrency users in early April. Within a day, RBI revealed that it was exploring ways to issue its own digital currency. Despite the government’s interest in launching its own crypto, the ban did come into power July 6.

The Supreme Court of India has received several petitions against the RBI’s decision, the last of which were set to be examined in late September.

Venezuela was the first country in the world to launch a state-backed cryptocurrency. Petro, a digital asset that is reportedly backed by oil, gold, iron and diamonds, was first announced by the country’s president Nicolas Maduro on Dec. 4, 2017.

However, a recent report by Reuters claimed that there is no sign of Petro’s existence in Venezuela, while a U.S. culture magazine Wired has called the Venezuelan cryptocurrency “a stunt.”

Iran and China are also considering creating their own state-backed digital currencies. Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology presented the idea in February, stating that the country’s ban on crypto dealings would not apply to the government-issued coin. Meanwhile, an expert from China’s central bank has recently urged the country’s government to consider launching its own stable cryptocurrency (stablecoin).

Continue Reading