China creates another blockchain national hub in Yunnan and Alibaba joins it

China creates another blockchain national hub in Yunnan and Alibaba joins it

China has opened a new blockchain centre in Yunnan province. This new centre aims to allow companies to trace their products and fight the sale of fake ones. China hopes this centre will become a new technology hotspot.

The blockchain centre in Yunnan was opened on Sunday, March 15.

The centre is hosted in Wuhua Technology Industrial Park in Kunming, the capital city of the Yunnan province, which is considered a remote and a less-developed province in China.

Quite a few blockchain companies will operate from the new technology centre, including a platform which will trace consumer products and food using blockchain. This is the first provincial platform of this sort.

By opening this new facility in Yunnan, the authorities hope to boost the adoption of blockchain in the region and that Yunnan will become a national hub for technology.

Some of the most known companies that occupy the new technology centre in Yunnan include the e-commerce giant Alibaba, Hyperchain and the blockchain-as-a-service provider Uni-Ledger. Currently, there are a total of 24 companies that occupy the centre.

To aid the tracing and sourcing locally produced goods, a new protocol was set in place, called the “Peacock Code,” in which companies and providers participate.

The name of the “Peacock Code,” comes from the idea of the local ethnic communities which believe that the peacock is sacred. The Yunnan region is among the largest producers of agricultural products in China. Their main products are tobacco, tea, sugar and coffee.

But the blockchain platform can be be used for other functions as well (medical records management, legal evidence management, e-invoicing and supply chain financing) as they are used in other Chinese major cities.

Also, there was also set in place a blockchain alliance, which included 38 members (research institutions, educational groups and companies) that are not present in the region.

The movement towards blockchain adoption started in 2019, by the government, when they introduced the first blockchain-based invoice system, in the province, for touristic attractions.

The entire world is taking notice of China’s efforts to pursue the blockchain adoption as a mainstream technology and this could lead to China being a leader in this sector.

Last year, the president of China himself urged the adoption of the blockchain technology in the country, arguing its abilities to reduce costs to business processes.

How is the Federal Reserve Bank of NY affecting the crypto market

How is the Federal Reserve Bank of NY affecting the crypto market

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting all areas of our lives and a financial crisis seems to be knocking at our door. On March 12, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced the offering of $1.5 trillion in loans to banks. These short-term loans are meant to “address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak”.

The distribution of the sum has been divided into weekly batches.

On the same day of the New York Fed’s announcement to inject money into the bond market in their attempt to stabilize it, the Dow Jones industrial average index (the stock market index that measures the stock performance of 30 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States) went down by 10%.

The New York Fed also announced that it will buy $60 billion worth of Treasury bonds over the next month, starting with March 13. The problems reported by investors over the past week reminded the Fed about the 2008 financial crisis and that’s why it has decided to act so quickly.

What happened to the crypto market after WHO declared the Coronavirus pandemic

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic, after considering over 120 000 cases of infection and over 110 countries affected by the spread of the virus.

According to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general:

“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector,”

“So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fights.”

One day later, on March 12, the price of Bitcoin lost over $1,000 in value in under 30 minutes and the depreciation continued to values comparable to last year’s prices.

Bitcoin, the most known cryptocurrency lost 50% of its value in a matter of hours, and at some point dipped under the $4,000 benchmark.

By March 13, Bitcoin had recovered some of the lost value, and it was trading at almost $6,000.

Following the March 12 plunge, Bitcoin continued to lose value over the weekend, and the sudden increase in volatility made some analysts reconsider if Bitcoin is or ever was a safe-haven asset.

Other top cryptocurrencies have seen major value losses during the same time.

Is crypto in a bear market?

The stock and crypto markets are in a bear market after the response of the US Federal Reserve to the Coronavirus crisis to diminish interest rates to near zero. The crypto market registered a brief fall after this announcement on Friday, March 15.

Anthony Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek, told Decrypt:

“I don’t make calls on short term price movements, but I generally think the Fed’s actions are (a) going to be proven to be ineffective and (b) are bullish for Bitcoin long term,”

This was the second initiative of the Fed to aid confidence in the financial markets.

On Sunday, the Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, stated during a conference:

“We will maintain the rate at this level until we’re confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve our maximum employment and price stability goals,”

Blockchain to aid the Coronavirus crisis

Timothy Mackey, an adjunct professor at the UC San Diego, has added blockchain solutions to teach on his global health policy course, which has the coronavirus crisis at the core.

The goal is to point out the faulty points in supply chains to health officials and to identify which hospitals from around the world are prepared to treat patients.

Others are trying to profit off the coronavirus crisis publicity and have issued Coronacoin, which destroys coins every 48 hours, based on the number of new global infection cases and deaths.

What are the crypto enthusiasts responding to the Coronavirus crisis

Nike, Kohl’s & Macy want to gather data from their supply chain and run experimental Blockchain

Nike, Kohl’s & Macy want to gather data from their supply chain and run experimental Blockchain

Auburn University RFID Lab in Alabama has published a whitepaper which aims to demonstrate the improvement of the supply chain using the blockchain technology.

Yes, supply chains are chaos and, at least at a theoretical level, blockchain can sort things out.

The structure of this Proof-of-Concept is to enclose, encrypt, disburse and save data from several points across the supply chain on Hyperledger Fabric.

The experimental blockchain has saved data from brands such as Nike, Herman Kay, Kohl’s and Macy’s.

This pilot program is part of CHIP (Chain Integration Pilot) which is the first supply chain program to integrate item-level data streams into a blockchain.

A number of 223,036 products were saved on the blockchain; only 1% was from stores and 87% were from distribution centres. 12% originated from the place of encryption.

According to CHIP, blockchain is a solution for serialized data-sharing issues within the supply chain. The report states that the organizations were “able to record transactions containing serialized data in a common language and share that data with their appropriate trade partners.”

The same report states to be “a tremendous amount of error and inefficiency in currency supply systems,” and that using blockchain will help further eliminate counterfeit products. This will help businesses regain up to $181 billion.

To face the truth, the technology used today in most of the supply chains, were developed before the internet era and are not suited to process the huge volume of data they are facing today.

There is a lack of “an effective, industry-wide solution for exchanging serialized data between business partners,” in spite of the launch of serialized data through the use of QR codes and RFID tags ten years before. Additionally, the report contends that earlier approaches to merge framework and draw info en masse’ throughout the supply chain have been “constrained by the industry-wide ineptitude for sharing serialized data.”

Crypto World February 2020: Yemen’s Civil war, New Jersey attempt to crypto, Oil more volatile than crypto

Crypto World February 2020: Yemen’s Civil war, New Jersey attempt to crypto, Oil more volatile than crypto

The entire world is pushed to the edge of their nerves as a global pandemic and civil wars are knocking on its door. What has happened in the Crypto world in February 2020?

New Jersey Lawmaker Wants to Create a Crypto License

A Lawmaker from New Jersey wants to create a crypto license for crypto exchanges. The Digital Asset and Blockchain Technology Act was introduced by Yvonne Lopez, whose proposal is to provide licences to any service of digital asset trading, storage, purchase, sales, exchange or issuing services. If the bill passes, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance would be responsible with the licences and regulating businesses.

Oil Prices Are Now More Volatile Than Bitcoin

When traditional investors think about Bitcoin, they mostly think about its price volatility.

The volatility is determined by measuring the past prices and is typically measured for a 30-day period, calculating the standard deviation of daily price variations. But volatility only measures the price deviation and not its direction.

The price of oil has been more volatile than the price of Bitcoin.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price’s volatility stood at 105.3% on Feb. 10. The oil price’s volatility hit a 4-month high of 119.6% at the end of January.

Bitcoin’s historical volatility recently dropped to 42.3%, the lowest level since September.

MoneyGram Got Another $11M From Ripple to Use Its Cross-Border Payments Tech

Ripple has paid over $11 million in the past half year to MoneyGram, as a continuation of their partnership. MoneyGram is the first money transfer company which scales the blockchain capabilities usage.

“The Company is compensated by Ripple for developing and bringing liquidity to foreign exchange markets, facilitated by Ripple’s blockchain, and providing a reliable level of foreign exchange trading activity. The Company expects that this partnership, at scale, will reduce our working capital needs and generate additional earnings and cash flows,”

Ripple is closely tied to MoneyGram and own 10% of their stocks.

Revolut Bank Valued at $5.5B in $500M Funding Round

Revolut is a London-based bank and it has raised over $500 million in a Series D funding round.

Revolut offers the option to purchase cryptocurrency to its users and it is valued at over $5.5 billion. Revolut aims to challenge the traditional bank systems, by minimizing the prices on the provides services.

Revolut has raised a total of $836 million in its funding rounds.

New Zealand Plans to Drop ‘Unfavorable’ Sales Tax Treatment of Cryptocurrencies

The Tax authority of New Zealand is considering a change in the crypto space, that would eliminate the current goods and service tax.

The current regulation considers digital currencies as a form of property and it is liable for a 15% tax when the currency is traded. The double taxation issues arise when the income tax is applied.

The New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (IRD) suggests eliminating the property tax for cryptocurrencies and keeping the income tax for these assets.

In a policy issues paper made public on Monday, the IRD states:

“Because of their innovative nature, [cryptocurrencies] will often also have different features to … other investment products. This means that some existing tax rules can be difficult to apply, involve very high compliance costs or may provide policy outcomes for some crypto-assets that lead to over-taxation compared to other alternative investment products.”

Ukraine Justice System Employee Caught Mining Crypto at Work

An IT employee of the Judicial Administration in Ukraine has been charged with illegally mining cryptocurrency at his workplace. 

The employee was working in the data system division of the court administrative department and was taking advantage of the equipment and internet bandwidth from his office to mine cryptocurrency from January to May 2018. He has also used servers from his workplace to host external websites.

If he will be found guilty, he faces up to six years in prison and he will not be allowed to work in any governmental agencies.

Yemen’s Civil War Shows the Dangers of Crypto

Yemen is in a state of civil war and is has the biggest humanitarian crisis on its hands. With half of the country being controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi militant group, which have their own crypto, locals are wary of being associated with them and with cryptocurrency.

So far, it appears using bitcoin (BTC) in a war zone may be riskier than cash, especially when illicit actors use cryptocurrency as well as civilians. 

The ongoing civil war in Yemen highlights the contradictions underlying bitcoin adoption: It’s difficult for civilians to acquire cryptocurrency without heavily regulated infrastructure that makes them vulnerable to coercion and surveillance. Such is the case in Yemen, where the Iran-backed Houthi militia controls the northern half of the country and a failing government controls the central bank in the south.

For most people in Yemen, purchasing bitcoin is nearly impossible. Most international companies avoid doing business in Yemen due to concerns over U.S. sanctions, which aren’t comprehensive like the sanctions against Iran but nonetheless raise compliance questions.

Plus, peer-to-peer markets are hampered by both cash shortages and a lack of reliable communications infrastructure. Yemeni-American researcher Ibraham Qatabi at the Center for Constitutional Rights said telecom and electricity companies are owned by governments, both foreign and domestic, depending on the region. There’s no need for a warrant if Big Brother already owns the pipes. Plus, Qatabi said, most international money transfers are monitored by local authorities.

“Everything is monitored. They have everyone’s information,” Qatabi said. “If they want to go after somebody, they’ll have access to those files.”

Hamza Alshargabi, a doctor who worked in Yemen until 2012 and briefly mined ether (ETH) after he immigrated to the U.S., agreed it’s “almost impossible” to get a safe and reliable internet or phone connection in most of Yemen. He said in big cities connectivity is “so expensive that it’s unusable,” so he can’t imagine his sister using bitcoin in Yemen.

As such, some Yemeni civilians and expats are scared to be associated with cryptocurrency, including bitcoin. If protests last year in Iran and Lebanon offered a peek at bitcoin’s limitations, then Yemen is the full picture of bitcoin usage still relying on government infrastructure. 

Coronavirus Is Changing How Crypto Markets Are Trading

The increasing fear of new pandemic is showing the financial markets as stock prices go down. Indexes are going down form the beginning of 2020. Bitcoin’s price has taken a hit and it is trading below $8,000.

One strategy some traders are contemplating to prepare for COVID-19 is not holding volatile cryptocurrency assets unless absolutely needed. That’s what Althena’s OTC desk is doing. “We manage inventory very tight and run a matched book, so the coronavirus hasn’t been a factor,” said Althena’s Leon.

Why is Malta the paradise island of iGaming and blockchain?

Why is Malta the paradise island of iGaming and blockchain?

Malta is known to be one of the smallest countries in the world, and for the past years, it has been on everybody’s lips as the blockchain craze started. But Malta is also a hub for iGaming. Why is Malta the paradise island of iGaming and blockchain?

Why are all the iGaming and blockchain companies so drawn to Malta? Let’s talk about the exciting opportunities these companies have on the Mediterranean island.

Malta is THE iGaming and blockchain hub

Unlike any other hubs, Malta stands out by its diversity. Its geographical location ads as a bonus to the welcoming regulations and appealing culture. The overall practicality of business on the islands makes it the most desirable location for a business from the blockchain and iGaming sector.

Malta has approved 3 important laws (the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act, the Innovative Technological Arrangement and Services Act, and the Virtual Financial Asset Act) that have set a regulatory framework for the blockchain business. These three laws allow businesses to operate into a regulated environment, having the necessary legal tools.

Malta is the leader in the industry of iGaming and blockchain and remains the top destination for any business wishing to develop to the next level.

The diversity of the iGaming and blockchain business and staff

These 2 industries have a large number of services behind them and Malta is the country enabling all of them to easily come together.

Malta is considered the melting pot of all services needed for the 2 industries. Law firms and SEO agencies specialised in iGambling and blockchain are waiting for new partners in Malta. The unmatched resources offered by the country of Malta is one important factor in why this tiny Mediterranean island took the lead of these successful industries.

The diversity promised by the thriving services needed for the industries of iGaming and blockchain also means a high dose of multiculturalism in the Maltese society.

Malta has become home to professionals from all over the globe. The constant recruitment of multicultural staff is the proven way to success for business looking to step into new markets, which aim to offer a more familiar interface to their international users.

Big name companies relocated to Malta

Malta is the headquarters for many online casinos and blockchain companies. Swedish and British online casinos considered Malta the best location for relocation of their main office.

HashCash Consultants, Binance, and BitBay are some of the big cryptocurrency exchanges have also taken the opportunity to operate in a blockchain and crypto-friendly environment, by moving their operations to Malta.

All these companies only make it a more appealing location for new companies who want to make it big in the European and International markets. The business calendar is a busy one in Malta, as the year is loaded with business community events, and this enables great networking opportunities for those attending them.

Malta is the set location of live casinos cryptocurrency organizations

While Malta first became famous for its location, idyllic landscape and warm climate, it is now more than a movie set. Did you know that Gladiators, World War Z, Captain Philips and The Count of Monte Cristo were filmed in Malta?

But that’s not all the filming being done on this island. The largest online casino has live sets in Malta, where real croupiers deal at a blackjack table or spin the roulette. Dealers from all over the world perform here, on a daily basis.

But Malta is also home to a nonprofit organization that aims to aid cryptocurrency adoption in Malta. Bitmalta is working closely with the Malta Chamber of Commerce in its pursuit to promote the use of cryptocurrency.

The blockchain and iGaming industry is growing every year

iGaming is contributing 12% to Malta’s GDP and the industry is still ascending. The online gambling market is estimated to reach $94.4 billion by 2024.

in 2019, the Transport Minister of Malta signed a partnership with Omnitude, a UK blockchain startup, aiming to improve the public transport service using the distributed ledger technology.

With its relaxed regulation framework and new technological elements, such as virtual reality, AI and blockchain inovation, it’s clear why Malta is flooded with new ideas, investment opportunities and non-stop recruitment.

Malta is where all the industry professionals meet

These powerful industries also organize giant events which involve a huge number of attendees from all over the world.

SiGMA, the most important iGaming event, brought together 12,500 attendees from 80 countries and had over 400 business participating in 2019, in Malta. Each year, the event gathers more attendees than the previous event, setting a new record.

Many crypto and blockchain events happen all over the world, but one of the largest one, is the AIBC Summit (Annual Malta AI & Blockchain Summit), and one of the two biannual conferences happens in Malta.

The Blockchain Summit in Malta is a top priority for all tech companies from all over the world and the 2020 events are expected to connect over 10000 delegates, 400 exibitors and over 1000 investors. The Blockchain Summit is the place to present the newest companies, gain brand awareness and engage in all the networking events happening at that time.

Malta is a paradise island

On top of all that businesses oportunities, Malta is a paradise island. Located in the middle of the Mediteranean Sea, it is blessed with amazing weather all year round, and the nature is beautiful. As for the cultural side, it offers just as much. Malta’s geopgraphical position has always made it a strategic point for the great empires of the world.

Malta has the best of the best: culture, history, landscapes, sea. It is a wonderful destination for business and for leisure.

Ethereum Foundation donated to UNICEF to Embrace Blockchain

Ethereum Foundation donated to UNICEF to Embrace Blockchain

The Ethereum Foundation made a donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) worth $150,000 in Bitcoin and Ethereum, into their experimental crypto fund in October 2019.

Aya Miyaguchi, the Ethereum Foundation Director stated:

“We are still discussing the details on what we can do together, but we have decided to continue support for the next couple of years,”
“I believe a partnership with a group like UNICEF can maximize our impact without shifting our focus from what we still need to do to improve Ethereum as a technology.”

The Kazakhstan branch of UNICEF developed an Ethereum-based internal payment system. The system is used for transferring funds between the UNICEF headquarters and local programs.

UNICEF’s partnership specialist, Oleksandra Gaskevych, stated:

“We can see now clearly it’s operational and it’s great for the organization. So we will continue to work on that,”
“We only have used ethereum so far, for smart contracts. We’re thinking maybe we could test bitcoin as well for digital currency transfers, so we’ll see.”

The system is not fully set yet, as the UNICEF budgets need multiple signatures. But the last touches are being made by the Kazakhstan team. Up to this day, the amount of paperwork required by its operations is overwhelming. A digital process will come much more in hand, and everything will be more transparent and easy to track and follow.

The Ethereum-based system is expected to be fully functional in 2021.

“We can easily adapt it to other Russian-speaking countries in the region,”

Tunisian pilots

UNICEF has also become a partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA) and wants to create a system for distributing cryptocurrency.

The co-lead of UNICEF Ventures, Chris Fabian, stated that the crypto fund is starting to fund startups. One such crypto startup is Coinsence, a Tunisian token project which used ERC-20 tokens.

The pilot program for Coinsence has more than 200 participants, in the town of Hammamet, according to its founder, Karim Chabrak.

“There are communities that have no money and a lot of unemployed youth,”
“Communities need to be able to address that without waiting for governments to act.”

The residents of the city, who participated in the pilot program, used the token to pay for services or to offer discounts. The goal is to reduce the unemployment rate and to create productive spending habits. The founder of Coinsence, Karim Chabrak want to create a national association, with a legal framework, to help and support other communities to issue their local token.

Chabrak also stated:

“We heard about bitcoin in 2010,”
“But we are trying to build currencies that aren’t speculative, that are part of the commons.”

These experiments and programs were founded by the Ethereum Foundation. Coinsence received 50 ETH for their pilot program.

The Ehereum Foundation also founded Atix Labs, an Argentinian startup. The funds were used to develop software for the Kazakhstan program.

The Ethereum Foundation approach

With this agreement with UNICEF, the Ethereum Foundation and community is now investing in global outreach, and not necessarily in implementing blockchain solution.

“They’ve made the community available to us for a variety of things,” Fabian said.

UNICEF hopes to find external partners willing to accept cryptocurrency and their teams are now focused on training youth to develop solutions for custom needs of the communities they live in.