‘Payments Four Times Faster Than Visa’: Network Fights Low Speeds and Threat of Lost Funds

A new global blockchain finance infrastructure will allow users to recover their private keys – ensuring they “never lose their funds.”

Fraud, inefficient and expensive systems, a lack of transparency and slow transactions at busy times are a reality for many business networks around the world – inconveniencing merchants, their customers, and even the middlemen tasked with processing their transactions.

Volume limitations have also frustrated retailers who may have considered turning to crypto, while a lack of security has deterred the public.

Optherium, a global fintech company, believes that its ecosystem could be the silver bullet to eliminate the main issues facing the crypto world – as well as the old-fashioned economy. According to its white paper, the platform wants to tackle three key issues: slow transaction times, a lack of security seen in multicurrency wallets, and a general lack of usability.

The company is a member of the Linux Foundation. It has been successfully certified for advertising on Facebook and Google, who assess the eligibility of the companies wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services. Optherium has also been featured on the likes of Bloomberg and Fox Business, and the company is positioning itself as a blockchain-as-a-service provider to Fortune 500 companies.

Solving these problems

Optherium offers an environment for instant, low-cost transactions backed up by “unprecedented” security levels thanks to its patented Multi-Decentralized Private Blockchains Network and Multisecure Technology. The company says its modular ecosystem gives banks, financial institutions and companies a way to offer these features on a “white label” basis, as well as the opportunity to adapt them for their own purposes.

The company’s infrastructure is fully licensed in the EU for exchanges between cryptocurrency and fiat – in addition to eWallet services. The fintech company has also registered with the IRS and is exempt under SEC Regulation D in the US. In time, it hopes its global finance blockchain infrastructure will be “accessible to all financial institutions, corporations and individual users.”

It has already established a working product by powering the VivusPay mobile application, which uses Optherium’s speed and security to achieve instant crypto to fiat and fiat to crypto transactions worldwide with lower fees.

Optherium consists of private blockchain networks where on-chain and cross-chain transactions can be completed. The company claims it can reach speeds of more than 100,000 transactions per second, with payments verified “four times faster than Visa and much faster than Ripple.”

When more users join the Optherium ecosystem, it plans to group nodes by region networks so it can better localize user transactions, making them faster and preventing an increase in demand from clogging up its network.

Its infrastructure also boasts “Multisecure Technology,” which is backed by several layers of protection including multisignature transactions, biometrics-based verification and multi-factor authorization using voice, retina, fingerprints and facial movements.

A key development

Optherium has launched a key recovery service which allows a user to regain access to assets and data if a private key is stolen or lost. Its ecosystem stores private keys in cold storage, shared among several airgapped computers that are “never connected to any network.” These isolated and safeguarded machines should ensure that hackers will never be in close enough proximity to Optherium hardware. By eliminating physical access to the computers, the company hopes to ensure that user keys remain safe and can only be recovered by qualified agents.

For consumers so used to being able to recover forgotten passwords and PINs, the ramifications of losing a private key have made them nervous – not to mention trying to get their heads around technology they don’t fully understand. Although some services allow users to recover these details, a single blockchain network has been unable to incorporate such protocols.

Users are required to enter personal information and answers to security questions when they are setting up their VivusPay eWallet. These details are then stored in Optherium’s Multi-Decentralized Private Blockchains Network. At this stage, users also set up their Dynamic Biometrics – a “fraud proof” feature which captures someone’s movements as well as their features.

The company claims this information ensures “users will never lose their funds due to the loss of their private keys.”

Optherium’s ecosystem also features a specially built utility and facilitator token known as OPEX. As well as being able to cover transaction fees incurred on the platform, the token acts as a bridge between the cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies that the service supports.

OPEX serves an “internal liquidity reserve token” for hundreds of digital currency pairings – paving the way for “rapid internal conversion between currencies in response to user requests.” The company says fiat and crypto can both be used with equal ease and the system can also handle huge amounts that may be transferred by large conglomerates.

Optherium’s whitelisting phase runs from Oct 5 to Dec 5. A presale of OPEX tokens will immediately follow and is expected to end on Feb 5. The main token sale will take place afterwards, wrapping up on March 5. OPEX is going to be listed on CoinBene, an exchange which is also promoting the VivusPay eWallet. Over time, Optherium aims to launch a debit card which can complete instant transactions between cryptocurrency and fiat, enabling users to complete withdrawals from ATMs worldwide. VivusPay facilitates payments using near field communication (NFC) and QR codes, and opens the door to paying at points of sale using crypto.

Company’s representatives told Cointelegraph that on Nov. 12, 2018, Optherium Labs signed a “multimillion euro agreement” with CFC Legal and MPOTrustee, an Italy-based company which specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals, and companies to protect their assets. The partnership aims to create TrustMeUp, a global trust platform built within the Optherium ecosystem. According to Optherium, the new project was inspired by successful fan-ownership business models such as soccer clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the Green Bay Packers football team. The company describes the platform as a “formal and democratic non-profit organization comprised of passionate, enthusiastic, Italian A-series football supporters.” The app is designed to allow direct and secure engagement with clubs and their supporters.


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Hackers Breach Smart Contract on Ethereum-Based Adult Entertainment Platform SpankChain

Blockchain-based adult entertainment platform SpankChain lost $38,000 in ETH in a hack of its payment channel smart contract.

Ethereum-based adult entertainment platform SpankChain has suffered a smart contract security breach that led to loss of around $38,000, the firm reported on its Medium page Oct. 9.

The hack, which purportedly took place Oct. 6, was detected by SpankChain a day after, and was announced today in a post entitled “We Got Spanked: What We Know So Far.”

Anonymous attackers managed to steal 165.38 Ethereum (ETH) or around $38,000 from the platform’s payment channel smart contract. Additionally, the security breach caused the immobilization of $4,000 worth of the SpankChain’s internal token called BOOTY.

While most of lost or immobilized funds belong to SpankChain itself, the platform claimed that client reimbursements are of “immediate priority.” The company will shortly repay $9,300 worth of Ethereum and Booty coins directly to users’ SpankPay accounts via Ethereum airdrop.

The SpankChain team has subsequently halted its camservice Spank.Live in order to prevent users from depositing via the payment channel smart contract. The website reboot is expected to take around two to three days in order to reset the payment channel smart contract, carry out airdrop reimbursements, reset native token distribution, and eliminate the security weakness.

The attack was related to a “reentrancy” bug similar to that which exploited The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (The DAO). The hacker reportedly created a malicious contract mimicking an ERC20 token, with a “transfer” function calling back into the payment channel smart contract multiple times in a loop, extracting Ethereum each time.

A smart contract is a protocol that enables the specific behavior of a contract by applying the terms of the agreement into the code, eliminating the need for a third party intermediary.

While smart contracts are reportedly “extremely difficult to hack,” they are still a young technology, and can be prone to bugs, which may in turn be exploited by scammers.
The adult entertainment industry is increasingly taking advantage of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, mostly driven by the technology’s inherent anonymity, as well as a number of other benefits.

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Ripple’s xRapid Payments Solution is Now Commercially Available

Ripple’s cross-border transactions product xRapid is now available for commercial use.

Ripple’s real-time settlement platform xRapid is now commercially available, according to an announcement published October 1.

xRapid is a platform designed to speed up international payments, while eliminating the need for a pre-funded nostro account. The product purportedly sources liquidity from digital currency XRP on exchanges globally, making cross-border transactions faster and cheaper compared to traditional methods.

The pilot phase of xRapid was launched in May, with the participation of financial institutions and payment providers, such as MercuryFX and Cuallix. The participants in the pilot reported transaction savings of 40–70 percent, as well as an improvement in transaction speed — from the average 2–3 days to “just over two minutes.”

Currently, Cuallix is managing the key remittance corridor from the U.S. to Mexico, while MercuryFX will reportedly deploy xRapid in the Europe to Mexico corridor. Per the statement, Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union, which serves member and client credit unions in the U.S., will use xRapid to develop a new cross-border payment service.

In August, Ripple partnered with three cryptocurrency exchanges — U.S.-based Bittrex, Mexican Bitso, and Philippine Coins.Ph —  within its initiative to build a “healthy” ecosystem of digital asset exchange. The parties will use xRapid to move between XRP and U.S. dollars, Mexican pesos, and Philippine pesos respectively.

The price of Ripple’s XRP token has increased significantly over the last month, having surpassed the market capitalization of Ethereum (ETH) and becoming the second largest crypto on September 21 and September 26.

The price soar followed the announcement that Ripple’s xCurrent product will be used by U.S. bank PNC’s Treasury Management unit to expedite cross-border transactions, as well as Ripple’s hint about the upcoming xRapid launch.

At press time, XRP is the third largest cryptocurrency, trading at around $0.57 with a market capitalization of around $22.75 billion, according to Cointelegraph’s XRP price index.

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Major Thai Bank to Test Visa Blockchain Solution for Cross-Border Payments

Thailand’s fourth largest bank, Kasikornbank, will join Visa’s blockchain-based B2B solution for international payments.

Thailand’s fourth largest bank, Kasikornbank, has recently joined the blockchain-based Visa B2B Connect program for cross-border payments, local newspaper The Nation reported Thursday, September 20.

According to The Nation, Kasikornbank is the “first” bank in the country to use the technology, setting the stage for a more widespread use of blockchain in the country’s banking sector.

Suripong Tantiyanon, Visa’s country manager in Thailand, expressed his opinion on the partnership, noting that Visa B2B will support developments in “security, governance, and distributed ledger technology.”

According to senior vice president for Kasikornbank Siriporn Wongtriphop, using blockchain for international payments will help his company become “the leader in the industry” due to the additional security for payments.

As per Visa’s website, B2B Connect was launched back in 2017 to process corporate cross-border payments. The U.S. Commerce Bank, South Korea’s Shinhan Bank, the Union Bank of Philippines, and the United Overseas Bank in Singapore were mentioned among the first partners that could make direct transactions from one to another via Visa’s B2B technology based on blockchain architecture.

Kasikornbank, formerly known as Thai Farmers Bank, is headquartered in Bangkok. According to Moody’s recent research, Kasikornbank had $96 billion in total assets in March 2018.

As Cointelegraph wrote back in August, the Bank of Thailand (BoT) began allowing local banks to set up subsidiaries for dealing with cryptocurrencies. According to the regulation, Thai banks are allowed to issue digital tokens, provide crypto brokerage services, run crypto-related businesses, and invest in cryptocurrencies through subsidiaries.

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Dubai Department of Finance Launches Blockchain-Based Payment System for UAE Gov’t

Dubai Department of Finance has launched a blockchain-powered payment system geared towards government entities in collaboration with Smart Dubai Office.

The Dubai Department of Finance (DoF) has partnered with the Smart Dubai Office (SDO) to launch a blockchain-powered payment system. The news was reported on by a local news site Zawya, September 23.

The new platform, called “Payment Reconciliation and Settlement,” was officially launched Sunday, September 23. It is reportedly geared towards government entities, such as the Dubai Police, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and others.

According to Zawya, the Dubai DoF and SDO intend for the system to provide for a more accurate and transparent governance process, as well as to enable real-time payments within and between government structures.

As Zawya reports, the currently existing process for transactions in Dubai government is time-consuming, requiring up to 45 days to complete any given operation.

The new system is reportedly already in use by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), with a total number of test transactions amounting to more than five million.

Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General at the SDO, commented that blockchain is “one of the most promising of [emerging] technologies.”

In 2017, the SDO group was granted the top honors at the Smart Cities Expo and World Congress in Barcelona, acquiring the City Project Award from among 308 other teams for their Dubai blockchain Strategy.

The Smart City project was reportedly introduced by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of the Dubai Emirate Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in 2013. Supported by the government, private sector, and institutional partners, the organization’s goal is to provide a smart ecosystem for cooperation between government entities and residents and visitors.

Smart Dubai is not the only government-backed initiative that intends to employ major emerging technologies such as blockchain in the country.

In April of this year, the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister launched the “UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021” initiative, with a goal to achieve the position of a global leader in adopting the technology.

In July, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced its partnership with Smart Dubai to develop a “Court of the Blockchain.” The organizations aim to explore the potential of the technology in addressing the shortcomings of the UAE’s legal system, for example by introducing blockchain-based verification of court judgements.

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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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BitPay CCO Predicts Altcoins to ‘Never Come Back,’ Bitcoin to ‘Rebound’ in 2019

The CCO of BitPay says altcoins will “never come back,” calling Bitcoin “the leader in the space” to rebound in 2019.

The Chief Commercial Officer of global crypto payment processor BitPay said that altcoins “will never come back,” while Bitcoin (BTC) will “rebound” in 2019, in an interview with Bloomberg September 12.

The CCO of BitPay Sonny Singh said that cryptocurrency markets are now on the threshold of a new stage of progress, which requires a certain “defining moment,” or a “catalyst.” According to Singh, that “defining moment” will come when big institutional investors, such as Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, “become real” in 2019.

“But next year you’ll see the talk of the big entrants become real, where you’ll see Goldman does launch a trading desk, Fidelity does launch a Bitcoin product, Square offers Bitcoin processing for merchants, BlackRock launches an ETF… So all that will become real, and you’ll see some adoption actually. And then […] the price [will bounce] back up again.”

However, while predicting that Bitcoin “will rebound next year,” Singh was mostly bearish on altcoins. Singh said that altcoins “will never come back” to their previous levels, stating that firms like Fidelity and BlackRock are “not going to launch altcoin products, they’re going to launch Bitcoin products.”

Talking specifically about BitPay, the company’s CCO claimed that the they have “never been more bullish” on Bitcoin, saying the industry is going “full-speed ahead,” with a growing number of partnerships and new hires.

In this regard, BitPay was recently integrated by luxury auto retailer Post Oak Motor Cars to enable the U.S. dealership to accept BTC and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) as payment for Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti.

Concerning new “big entrants” to the industry, anonymous sources today revealed that U.S. banking giant Morgan Stanley is planning to offer clients Bitcoin trade swaps, which would enable them to trade crypto derivatives without holding any of the cryptocurrency.

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Brazilian Retail Giant Partners With Blockchain Payment Service Airfox to ‘Drive Adoption’

Brazilian retail giant integrates blockchain-powered payment service on e-commerce platforms and in nearly 1,000 of its stores.

Brazilian retail giant Via Varejo has partnered with blockchain payment service Airfox, according to a September 12 press release.

Via Varejo, which owns home appliance and furniture chain Casa Bahia, is integrating Airfox’s digital banking platform on its e-commerce platforms, as well as in nearly 1,000 of its offline shops.

As the press release notes, 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. Customers can also reportedly use the app for personal finance, such as depositing and withdrawing cash, at the chain’s location.  

Airfox is a mobile financial service launched in February 2018 that includes fiat and blockchain payments via its AirToken (AIR) coin, an ERC-20 based token.

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

Via Varejo is one of the largest consumer electronics and home appliance retailers in Brazil, reaching 60 million customers in Brazil via its brands Casas Bahia and Pontofrio. The company owns over 900 stores in 350 Brazilian cities, reportedly making as much as 1 million deliveries per month.

According to the recent press-release, Via Varejo handled approximately $6.3 billion sales in 2017.

Last week, U.S. luxury automobile retailer Post Oak Motor Cars became reportedly the first Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti dealership in the country to accept Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) as payment.

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Uber’s Largest Shareholder to Launch Cross-Carrier Mobile Payments Service Based on Blockchain and RCS

SoftBank will enable global users to conduct international money transfers via RCS, SMS, or mobile email with a blockchain payment system.

Japanese tech giant SoftBank is developing a blockchain-powered cross-carrier mobile payments service, the company reported in an official press release published September 12.

SoftBank’s new proof-of-concept (PoC) development was announced in partnership with telecoms-focused blockchain firm TBCASoft and Synchronoss Technologies, provider of cloud, messaging, digital, and Internet of Things (IoT) services and platforms.

The upcoming mobile payment service will be based on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) global messaging standard and TBCASoft’s cross-carrier blockchain platform. The service will will enable users to conduct peer-to-peer money transfers globally, as well as to carry out internal purchases directly from their device via the RCS wallet application or a legacy messaging service like SMS or email.

According to the statement, Uber’s largest shareholder SoftBank teamed up with TBCASoft in order to develop a cross-carrier blockchain platform Cross-Carrier Payment Service (CCPS), which aims to boost mobile payment services among global telecoms carriers. In turn, Synchronoss has provided a multi-channel communications platform that combines text messages (SMS), email, and RCS. The platform was launched earlier in 2018, the statement says.

Softbank’s vice president Takeshi Fukuizumi noted that the upcoming cross-carrier payment service will allow merchants to operate “at a scale that was previously only available to big brands.”

According to Synchronoss CEO and president Glenn Lurie, the upcoming blockchain-powered RCS mobile service will “disrupt the current messaging and payments market,” stating that SoftBank is “at the forefront in bringing to market new cutting edge technology.”

On August 10, Cointelegraph reported that blockchain startup Zulu Republic has launched a platform for Litecoin (LTC) transactions via encrypted messenger Telegram, also planning to introduce LTC transactions via SMS to support users with poor Internet connection.

Earlier in August, U.S. software firm Intuit was granted a patent for processing Bitcoin (BTC) payments via SMS. The patent was reportedly filed in the same year that Intuit’s DIY tax solution QuickBooks partnered with BitPay to enable business clients to pay their invoices in Bitcoin.

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