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Ethos crypto wallet update adds support for Cardano (ADA)

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Ethos, a blockchain application ecosystem, today launched support for the native asset of third generation blockchain platform Cardano (ADA) on its cryptocurrency wallet applications.

Over the past several months, the Ethos team polled and surveyed its community on what token they most wanted to see next in the Universal Wallet – and Cardano won with “resounding support.”

Cardano

Cardano is a decentralized public blockchain and cryptocurrency project and is fully open source. Cardano is developing a smart contract platform which seeks to deliver more advanced features than any protocol previously developed.

It is the first blockchain platform to evolve out of a scientific philosophy and a research-first driven approach. The development team consists of a large global collective of expert engineers and researchers

Other New Additions in Universal Wallet Update 1.9

Lock Screen Enhancements

With Update v1.9, Ethos has implemented feedback from users around the lock screen. Now, users will find that when they open their “open-apps” navigation on their device, the Universal Wallet screen will blur to provide enhanced privacy to users.

Additionally, prior to update 1.9, when a user took this action and returned to the wallet, they were prompted to unlock. With this update, the user is able to return from viewing their open apps directly to their wallet with it staying unlocked and accessible.

ERC20 Tokens Added to the Wallet

Ethos has also welcomed 3 new ERC20 tokens (PAN, PAR, and ECOM) into the Universal Wallet.

  • Pantos (PAN) – Pantos aims to bring influential blockchain projects closer together, improve communication between developers, researchers, and users, and set innovative standards for decentralized cross-chain token transfers.
  • Parachute (PAR) – A platform to send cryptocurrency to anyone, instantly. Creator of ParJar, the coolest tip bot on Telegram.
  • Omnitude (ECOM) – Omnitude is a pioneering hybrid blockchain business. It is focused on bringing the benefits of this new disruptive technology to future facing enterprises that recognize its transformative role in bringing a real‑world commercial advantage.

All tokens listed are currently live and fully-transactable!

Quick Link to Wallet Settings

Ethos developers have also made customizing the SmartWallet easier. A settings icon has been added to the upper left corner of the SmartWallet, giving users a simple and intuitive way of accessing wallet settings.

In the settings, users can now more easily rename a wallet, hide individual coins in a wallet or hide the wallet altogether. Users can also manage their security settings with more ease, now with the ability to unlock a wallet with a password or pin, or a pin and biometric for an added layer of security.

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BIS Wants ‘Level Playing Field’ for Banks Amid Threat From Firms Like Facebook

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The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), often described as the bank for central banks, has issued its annual report for 2019, expressing concerns over the expected disruption as big tech firms like Facebook enter the financial space.

While titled “Big tech in finance: opportunities and risks,” the report looks at the risks and challenges posed by companies such as Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Tencent, and rather pays lip service to the potential benefits of this building fintech revolution.

These firms have developed huge customer bases, says BIS, and have the benefit of a “data-network-activities loop” which gives them ” the potential to become dominant.”

While the encroach of such companies into payments, money management, insurance and lending has only just started, it brings the potential for major change in the finance industry.

On the benefits, BIS writes:

“Big techs’ low-cost structure business can easily be scaled up to provide basic financial services, especially in places where a large part of the population remains unbanked. Using big data and analysis of the network structure in their established platforms, big techs can assess the riskiness of borrowers, reducing the need for collateral to assure repayment. As such, big techs stand to enhance the efficiency of financial services provision, promote financial inclusion and allow associated gains in economic activity.”

However, such change brings new risks, according to the report. As well as the old issues of financial stability and consumer protection, “big techs have the potential to loom large very quickly as systemically relevant financial institutions.” At this point, BIS specifically raises the recent reports of Facebook’s new Libra project, which sees the social media giant “considering offering payment services for their customers on a global basis.”

There are also “important new and unfamiliar challenges” that, BIS suggests, go beyond the remit of current regulations. The report says that “Big techs have the potential to become dominant through the advantages afforded by the data-network-activities loop, raising competition and data privacy issues.”

As such, policies will be needed for a “comprehensive approach” on financial regulation, competition policy and data privacy regulation.

“The aim should be to respond to big techs’ entry into financial services so as to benefit from the gains while limiting the risks. As the operations of big techs straddle regulatory perimeters and geographical borders, coordination among authorities – national and international – is crucial,” according to the report.

In a somewhat telling statement, BIS further reveals its fears that banks could lose ground to the new big tech disruptors saying:

“Regulators need to ensure a level playing field between big techs and banks, taking into account big techs’ wide customer base, access to information and broad-ranging business models.”

And with such major companies having the ability to work across borders, international coordination is needed on rules and standards to address the potential shift in the “risk-benefit balance,” says BIS.

As the report suggests, Facebook’s crypto project may not have an easy time with the world’s regulators as the firm seeks to launch financial services for its billions of users.

France has already moved to create a task force within the G7 nations to examine the issues raised by Libra, while U.S. lawmakers have also expressed concerns over the project.

BIS headquarters image via Shutterstock

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Ethereum’s Constantinople, St. Petersburg Upgrades Have Been Activated

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The Constantinople and St. Petersburg network upgrades for the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s (ETH), occurred today Feb. 28, according to ethstats.net.

Specifically, the updates went live on the main network at block 7,280,000, in accordance with previously released schedule. Although the upgrade has two names of two originally separated updates, they have subsequently been combined into one.

Per Ethernodes.org, not all Ethereum users have adopted the updates. Only 22.3 percent of Geth and Parity clients are reportedly already running the Constantinople-compliant version.

Constantinople is set to bring multiple efficiency improvements to the platform, including cheaper transaction fees for some operations on the Ethereum network. As previously reported, the Constantinople hard fork was delayed in January due to a newly discovered vulnerability.

The St. Petersburg upgrade is meant to delete a previous update, Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, from Ethereum’s test networks, since that EIP had been identified to have security vulnerabilities.

In January, major United States cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken became the latest to confirm support for Ethereum’s upgrade. The two exchanges join Binance, Huobi and OKEx, who had started to monitor the event before its first implementation attempt.

At press time, ETH is up 2.59 percent over the day and is trading at around $137.19. The altcoin started the day around $132, according to CoinMarketCap.

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Bittrex Leads $1.5 Million Seed Round in South African Crypto Exchange VALR

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Global crypto exchange Bittrex led a $1.5 million seed round in South African trading platform VALR.

Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara told CoinDesk the South African market has “tremendous untapped potential.” Fellow VALR investor Michael Jordaan of Montegray Capital told CoinDesk that VALR’s support for 50 cryptocurrencies will offer the most diverse range of assets of any African exchange when it opens to the public on March 1.

“The VALR team has the potential to change the cryptocurrency landscape in South Africa and globally,” Jordaan said.

VALR co-founder and CEO Farzam Ehsani told CoinDesk that 1,500 users, predominantly South Africans, have already signed up on the exchange’s waiting list and started activating accounts in a closed beta leading up the to launch.

Ehsani said a backend partnership with Bittrex will offer the new exchange global liquidity and competitive prices for crypto-to-crypto trading, while his team works on activating fiat on-ramps with South African banks by summertime.

Ehsani told CoinDesk:

“Companies are not allowed to go and buy [large amounts of] crypto from offshore markets. This makes it very difficult for crypto exchanges in South Africa to access liquidity from international markets. [South Africans] want their hands on a store of value that doesn’t depreciate the way the rand has.”

Over the past decade the South African rand has nearly halved in value. Meanwhile, capital controls restrict citizens from transacting across borders with more than roughly $72,000 worth of foreign assets or currencies.

This contributes to why bitcoin is often sold for a high premium on peer-to-peer exchanges like LocalBitcoins. For comparison, on Tuesday a single bitcoin on LocalBitcoins would have cost more than $4,100 in South Africa compared to the global rate of roughly $3,800.

Yet Marius Reitz, South Africa manager at the longstanding African bitcoin exchange and wallet provider Luno, told CoinDesk that Luno’s user base grew to over 2 million user accounts by early 2019.

“Most of the growth is driven by South Africa,” Reitz said. In fact, a Luno survey of 1,000 local residents found that roughly 167 people said they use bitcoin for payments.

“Specifically in South Africa we see a situation were a lot of people move from elsewhere in Africa to look for jobs and they send money back home,” Reitz said.

As for VALR, Jordaan said Ehsani’s history as the former head of the Rand Merchant Bank’s blockchain initiative and inaugural chair of the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium, which included dozens of traditional financial institutions, could help bridge the gap between African banks and the global crypto economy.

Regional hub

Reitz and Jordaan agreed that cryptocurrency exchanges like VALR and Luno are helping establish standards for the regional market. Plus, the South African Reserve Bank published a paper about prioritizing crypto industry regulation in January. While the daily volumes on incumbents like Luno, established in 2013, still fall shy of $2.5 million according to CoinMarketCap, such companies have a broad impact through their educational conversations about bitcoin with regulators and banks across Africa.

“Because several of the countries around us actually peg their currencies to the rand,” Ehsani said, “if we do well, we have the ability to influence other countries in the region, and Africa as a whole.”

Ehsani added that VALR’s scope reaches beyond South African borders, as the platform’s know-your-customer identity checks accommodate traders from most countries. Similarly, Reitz said Luno is looking to expand to 20 new African countries this year as South Africa’s central bank starts “offering more clarity” and establishes trends followed by other jurisdictions.

Much like global markets, many South African exchange users are speculative traders and investors. However, for Ehsani, remittances to and from members of the African diaspora provide a salient use case because local remittance services are very expensive.

Speaking to the impact that venture capital investment in South African exchanges can have on broader adoption, Ehsani said:

“Cryptocurrency will start bringing communities together through their ability to transact and send value back home much more seamlessly and cheaply than their current options.”

Farzam Ehsani image via VALR

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India’s Crypto Ban Predictably Triggers Massive Bitcoin Price Premiums

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By CCN Markets: The bitcoin price has reached $11,200 at its peak earlier this month on major exchanges including Bitstamp and Coinbase following a large spike in volume and overall interest.

The bitcoin price is up from $9,000 to $11,200 in the past week (source: coinmarketcap.com)

According to reports, bitcoin is trading higher in India and Iran with premiums ranging from 5 to 30 percent, two regions that have practically restricted bitcoin trading.

Is banning bitcoin not productive?

In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) requested banks under its oversight to stop providing services to crypto exchanges, putting an end to fiat-to-crypto trading platforms in the region.

The RBI said at the time:

Virtual Currencies (VCs), also variously referred to as cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, raise concerns of consumer protection, market integrity and money laundering, among others… In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs.

Since then, despite the move of the G20 to regulate the crypto sector through the imposition of a unified regulatory framework, the government of India has pushed forward with its restriction on crypto.

In April of this year, The Economic Times reported that government departments have begun drafting a bill to ban cryptocurrencies in the country entitled “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019.”

Consequently, due to regulatory uncertainty and the restriction on banks from working with crypto exchanges, most crypto-related businesses in India have shut down and moved to other markets.

Similarly, Iran, which is yet to release a clear guideline for exchanges and businesses, drafted a bill that restricts the operations of crypto-related entities. The proposed legislation was criticized by the local crypto community which then offered an alternative proposal to the government.

In both countries, it is difficult for investors to purchase crypto assets like bitcoin and ether, the native crypto asset of the Ethereum blockchain network. Most trades are processed in the over-the-counter (OTC) market or in a peer-to-peer manner.

In May, LocalBitcoins, a major peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform, closed its services in Iran in a move which many have speculated to be because of the sanctions placed upon Iran by the U.S. government.

“If you have an account already, you will be able to withdraw your bitcoins, but you will not be able to use the platform for trading,” LocalBitcoins reportedly told a user in Iran.

As a result, premiums have begun to emerge in the bitcoin market of Iran and India, ranging from 5 to 30 percent.

When the bitcoin price peaked at $11,200 on June 22, a TrustNodes report disclosed that the asset was trading at $11,700 in India with a $500 premium.

Dovey Wan, the founding partner at Primitive said that bitcoin is now trading with a 30 percent premium in Iran’s OTC market, indicating large demand from local investors.

Regulation over a ban

The concern of most regulators regarding bitcoin and the crypto market, in general, comes down to the prevention of money laundering.

For exchanges to operate transparently in compliance with local regulators, a clear regulatory framework has to be imposed with the support of local banks.

There exists a risk in the imposition of an outright ban of cryptocurrencies that the local market may shift to a peer-to-peer market, an environment in which it becomes significantly more difficult for regulators to address money laundering and other core issues.

Click here for a real-time bitcoin price chart.

This post was last modified on (Eastern Time): 24/06/2019 06:09

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Bitcoin Scammers Take Advantage of Already-Dismal Square Earnings

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Just when Jack Dorsey’s week was starting to look up, he must contend with yet another cryptocurrency giveaway scam. But while Twitter has long been rife with these fraudulent schemes, this particular bitcoin scam targets his other company – digital payments firm Square.

Square Earnings Attract Bitcoin Giveaway Scammers

In tandem with Square’s earnings results on Wednesday, scammers began sending emails – purportedly from the company – announcing that they had added support for the stellar (XLM) cryptocurrency.

That is false.

square bitcoin scam

This bitcoin giveaway scam sought to trick recipients into believing that Square now supports stellar (XLM). | Source: CCN

The email further asks users to send $10 worth of bitcoin to a certain address in exchange for 350 XLM, currently worth around $30. Thankfully, the address had not received any payments since the email’s distribution – at least as of the time of writing on Thursday.

The company has warned in the past about fraudulent emails similar to this. The scammers haven’t limited their schemes to individuals, either. They’ve have also targeted small businesses where Square is used to process payments.

Such schemes became so prolific that they garnered the attention of the U.S. Better Business Bureau (BBB). It found that scammers are taking advantage of the popularity of Square’s services by sending phishing emails that appear to be official correspondence.

Bitcoin Scam Worsens Sour Square Earnings

square stock price

Square shares plunged on weak earnings but surged again on Thursday.

The latest crypto giveaway scam in Jack Dorsey’s side added to an already-disappointing earnings season for Square.

Ahead of Wednesday’s earnings report, Square released a letter to its shareholders. In it, officials boasted about the company’s gains.

“We accelerated top-line growth at significant scale in the fourth quarter of 2017. Total net revenue was $616 million, up 36% year over year, and Adjusted Revenue was $283 million, up 47% year over year. This is an increase from the third quarter of 2017, when total net revenue and Adjusted Revenue grew 33% and 45%, respectively, year over year.”

That’s all fine and good, but it wasn’t enough for investors to do away their concerns about the company’s future. The company’s guidance for the first quarter of 2019 didn’t sit well with investors, who initiated a minor sell-off only to drive the stock higher on Thursday.

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BTIG analyst Mark Palmer said that Square had reported higher-than-expected spending and weaker-than-expected Q1 and FY2019 outlook, which led him to reiterate his sell rating on the stock.

“While Square’s guidance for 1Q19 and FY19 revenue was in line with Street expectations – the midpoint of its FY19 revenue guidance would represent year-over-year growth of 41%, consistent with the soft guidance that management had provided in November – its lower than-expected bottom-line forecast was due to an increase in spending on newer services outside of its core payment-processing business.”

Square’s Bitcoin Revenue is Climbing

jack dorsey bitcoin joe rogan

Square CEO Jack Dorsey is one of Silicon Valley’s biggest bitcoin bulls. | Source: Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube

There were few comments from Square executives about cryptocurrencies during the earnings call. Nevertheless, the firm did see revenues from Cash App-based bitcoin trading rise in Q4.

With prodding from bitcoin bull Jack Dorsey, the company has managed to grow its nascent bitcoin service to $166 million in annual revenue.

While that figure represents a small drop in the bucket for the $33 billion company, it also positions the processor to be a market leader in the event of broader bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption.

Dorsey, who has been outspoken in his support for bitcoin, has been one of the most high-profile tech industry figures to overlap into the world of cryptocurrency.

He’s even said that bitcoin could become the world’s leading currency within 10 years.

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