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Blockchain in Biometrics Could be Used in Travel Security, US Customs Rep Says

Using blockchain for biometric tracking would be the technology’s killer app in the travel security sector, a representative from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said.

Using blockchain for biometric tracking would be the technology’s killer app in the travel security sector, according to a representative from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. The news was reported by travel industry media outlet Skift on March 21.

Sikina Hasham, program manager at the CBP, made her remarks during a panel at the JetBlue Technology Ventures Blockchain in Travel Summit in New York City on Wednesday.

In response to a question from panel moderator David Post — managing director of IBM Blockchain Ventures — Hasham said that an area of significant promise for the government’s use of blockchain lies in its conjunction with biometrics:

“One area we’ve seen a significant amount of success in is facial comparison and biometric data. There is a service we’ve created to verify who an individual boarding an aircraft who is as they’re seeking admission into the United States. If we could have more data for the verification from another government party, that would be really great for us.”

Nonetheless, Hasham noted, a significant hurdle still needs to be overcome for the technology to gain traction and provide maximum use value: the development of standardized specifications for communication between multiple organizations’ blockchain systems.

If governments are to implement blockchain, rather than legacy databases, to share data within key security areas such as border control, robust standards for the industry would thus be a crucial enabling factor, Hasham implied. She also noted a further challenge the government is reportedly tackling, stating that:

“Our primary goal is security, but also facilitating trade and travel. Blockchain is relatively new for us […] in the travel space, we are still working on figuring out how industry stakeholders in the technology space will help us. […] Privacy and decentralized information are some of the challenges we as a government organization have a legal obligation to protect.”

As reported, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently appealed to startups who develop blockchain solutions that can help prevent forgery of digital documents, in order to serve the mission needs of various programs under its aegis, among them CBP.

The CBP has already been trialing a blockchain shipment tracking system to gauge how much the technology is able to enhance the verification process for certificates of origin from various free trade agreement partners.

The coupling of blockchain with biometrics is meanwhile being developed across diverse applications, including municipal elections, secure ATMs, and Internet of Things biometric devices in the healthcare sector.

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Prediction Startup Numerai Raises $11 Million in ICO

U.S. prediction market startup and hedge fund Numerai raised $11 million in an ICO to launch its Erasure project.

American prediction market startup and hedge fund Numerai (NMR) has raised $11 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) to launch its project Erasure, Numerai tweeted on March 21.

Introduced in late 2016, Numeraire network provides a blockchain and cryptographic token-based ecosystem for incentivizing anonymous data scientists to create predictive models. Based on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, Numeraire tokens are used in trading market predictions on the startup’s platform.

Numerai founder Richard Craib said that the funds from the recent ICO will be mostly spent on hiring engineers for Erasure, the decentralized unit of Numerai’s marketplace, Coindesk reports.

Announced in October 2018,Erasure is reportedly scheduled to launch later in 2019. Once launched, Erasure will allow users to sell their predictions to any investment fund in the public network via the peer-to-peer InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), and directly connect their crypto wallets to the Ethereum-based marketplace, Craib told Coindesk.

While Numerai-based prediction models are mostly focused on traditional assets at the current stage, the launch of Erasure will enable predictions on any asset, Craib added.

The ICO round was reportedly led by VC and private equity firm Placeholder, and crypto investment company Paradigm, founded by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.

Following the news, the price of the Nomeraire token jumped almost 19 percent, trading at $5.77 at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The token is exposed to traders on five crypto markets: Bittrex, UPbit, Poloniex, DDEX, and IDEX, and has a market capitalization of $7.7 million.

Recently, Binance Launchpad, the token platform of major global crypto exchange Binance, completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens in under 20 minutes.

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UPS Integrates Blockchain Platform to Improve Merchant Supply Chains

Logistics giant UPS and e-commerce tech firm Inxeption have launched a blockchain platform aimed to improve merchant supply chains.

Major American postal carrier UPS and e-commerce technology company Inxeption have jointly rolled out a blockchain-powered platform to improve merchant supply chains. The development was announced in a press release published on March 21.

The new blockchain platform dubbed Inxeption Zippy is designed to help companies list, market and distribute their products to customers. The platform purportedly enables merchants to monitor the entire supply chain from product listing to delivery, ensuring that sensitive data like contract-specific pricing and rates are only accessible to the buyer and seller.

By using the platform, merchants will purportedly be able to upload product information, schedule orders, monitor returns, process transactions, and review sales and marketing analytics, among other services.

Farzad Dibachi, CEO of Inxeption, said that the platform “creates simplified pricing solutions for B2B merchants with limited digital marketing and IT resources to easily manage all aspects of selling and shipping from one secure place.”

In mid-January, UPS made an undisclosed equity investment in Inxeption. Dibachi said then that “business customers need secure platforms that protect their customer data and proprietary information, while making it easy for them to interact and even collaborate more effectively with their customers.”

Businesses in various industries have been widely exploring the ways blockchain can improve supply chain. Recently, the U.S. National Pork Board partnered with blockchain startup ripe.io to test out a blockchain platform for pork supply chains, which will purportedly enable it to monitor and evaluate sustainability practices, food safety standards, livestock health, and environmental protections.

Earlier this month, North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood firm Bumble Bee Foods launched a blockchain platform for seafood traceability. Customers will purportedly be able to observe the entire supply chain, and access information on products’ origins and shipping history by using a smart device to scan a QR code on the product package.

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US Prediction Startup Numerai Raises $11 Million in ICO

U.S. prediction market startup and hedge fund Numerai raised $11 million in an ICO to launch its Erasure project.

American prediction market startup and hedge fund Numerai (NMR) has raised $11 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) to launch its project Erasure, crypto industry media outlet Coindesk reports on March 21.

Introduced in late 2016, Numeraire network provides a blockchain and cryptographic token-based ecosystem for incentivizing anonymous data scientists to create predictive models. Based on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, Numeraire tokens are used in trading market predictions on the startup’s platform.

Numerai founder Richard Craib said that the funds from the recent ICO will be mostly spent on hiring engineers for Erasure, the decentralized unit of Numerai’s marketplace, Coindesk reports.

Announced in October 2018,Erasure is reportedly scheduled launch later in 2019. Once launched, Erasure will allow users to sell their predictions to any investment fund in the public network via the peer-to-peer InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), and directly connect their crypto wallets to the Ethereum-based marketplace, Craib told Coindesk.

While Numerai-based prediction models are mostly focused on traditional assets at the current stage, the launch of Erasure will enable predictions on any asset, Craib added.

The ICO round was reportedly led by VC and private equity firm Placeholder, and crypto investment company Paradigm, founded by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.

Following the news, the price of the Nomeraire token jumped almost 19 percent, trading at $5.77 at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The token is exposed to traders on five crypto markets: Bittrex, UPbit, Poloniex, DDEX, and IDEX, and has a market capitalization of $7.7 million.

Recently, Binance Launchpad, the token platform of major global crypto exchange Binance, completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens in under 20 minutes.

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Sirin Labs Partners With MyEtherWallet to Enhance Outreach of Blockchain Smartphone

The integration will see improved accessibility for users of Sirin’s Finney smartphone, with MEW becoming a featured wallet interface.

Swiss developer Sirin Labs will integrate popular cryptocurrency interface MyEtherWallet (MEW) in its Finney blockchain smartphone, the company confirmed on social media on March 21.

Sirin, which released Finney late last year, will now allow MEW users to purchase the device through the latter’s mobile and web interface. In addition, MEW will feature as the go-to wallet interface for Finney users.

The move, Sirin and MEW said, came about as a result of a need to drive adoption and make the process of accessing and handling cryptocurrency tokens more straightforward.

“We’re always looking to bring more secure integrations to Ethereum to make our users feel safe while navigating the crypto waters, and we believe having an on-phone hardware wallet is immensely valuable to users,” MEW CEO and founder Kosala Hemachandra commented to Finextra in an accompanying statement.

Hemachandra continued:

“This will not only make it easy to send and receive crypto transactions, but it will also make crypto more accessible to a wide range of users.”

The partnership is just the latest to close for Sirin, which became known among cryptocurrency users in 2017 when it signed football star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.

“We see this integration as a strong step towards a greater market share for both companies, as the two products complement each other,” the company’s CEO Zvika Landau added.

As Cointelegraph reported, the blockchain smartphone arena already contains several players which launched devices at similar times.

Last month, HTC partnered with web browser Opera to expand the functionality of its own blockchain-centric offering, the Exodus.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung meanwhile has gained attention after it revealed it would include a cryptocurrency wallet in its latest Galaxy S10 smartphone.

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Payment Service Square is Hiring Crypto Engineers, Offers Salaries in Bitcoin

Payment platform Square is hiring cryptocurrency engineers and is offering to pay them in digital currency.

United States-based payment platform Square is hiring cryptocurrency engineers and is offering to pay them in digital currency, according to a tweet published by Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey on March 20.

In the tweet, Dorsey announces that “Square is hiring 3–4 crypto engineers and one designer to work full-time on open source contributions to the Bitcoin/crypto ecosystem. Work from anywhere, report directly to me, and we can even pay you in Bitcoin!”

Dorsey further commented that the decision to pay employees in digital currency is based on the intention “to make the broader crypto ecosystem better,” thus contributing to the Bitcoin (BTC) community.

Dorsey also noted that this will be the first open source initiative independent from their business objectives as potentially hired engineers will entirely focus on “what’s best for the crypto community and individual economic empowerment, not on Square’s commercial interests.”

As previously reported, Square registered $166 million in annual Bitcoin revenue for 2018. The company achieved over $52 million in Bitcoin sales for Q4, surpassing Q3 by $9 million and Q2 by more than $15 million. However, clear profit from the Bitcoin operations, which involve Square’s consumer app Cash, remained low, as purchasing costs account for the vast majority of revenue.

Last month, Dorsey — a known Bitcoin advocate —  again declared that he believes Bitcoin to be the Internet’s native currency:

“[Bitcoin] was something that was born on the internet, that was developed on the internet, that was tested on the internet…It is of the internet.”

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Funding Platform SeriesOne Partners With Polymath to Use Its Security Token Protocol

American crowdfunding portal SeriesOne partnered with Polymath to enhance raising capital via its security token protocol.

United States-based crowdfunding platform SeriesOne has partnered with security token protocol platform Polymath, according to a press release published on March 19. The new partnership intends to create a digital securities offering ecosystem via the SeriesOne platform.

According to the press release, the partnership between SeriesOne and Polymath will let token issuers create and manage regulatory-compliant security tokens from the initial offering stage to trading on a secondary exchange.

SeriesOne CEO Michael Mildenberger expressed confidence that Polymath’s security token protocol, ST-20, is set to improve the process of raising capital on the platform.

Polymath’s ST-20 protocol is a token standard that is designed specifically for issuing and managing security tokens. ST-20 represents an extension of the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain-based ERC-20 protocol. Unlike ERC-20, however, ST-20 “embeds regulatory requirements into the tokens themselves, restricting trading to verified participants only.”

Polymath explains that its ST-20 standard is a solution to the problem of regulatory compliance when dealing with securities, since the protocol enables restrictions for policies such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-money laundering (AML). According to Polymath, ST-20 tokens are backward compatible with ERC-20, providing interoperability with most existing blockchain infrastructure.

The partnership was revealed just as SeriesOne officially announced that it is partnering with major South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb to build a digital securities exchange. The partnership was first reported in November of last year.

Recently, blockchain security firm and wallet service BitGo announced support for Blockchain Capital’s ERC-20 security token BCAP, launched in a $10 million initial coin offering back in April 2017.

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JPMorgan Chase Exec: Crypto Innovators Will ‘Ultimately Have to Use a Bank to Move Funds’

JPMorgan Chase’s Ron Karpovich says there is “more partnership instead of competition” between the financial establishment and crypto disruptors.

Ron Karpovich, Global Head of eCommerce Solutions at JPMorgan Chase, stated that there is “more partnership instead of competition” between the financial establishment and crypto disruptors when it comes to the payments space. Karpovich made his remarks during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box today, March 20.

In response to a question from CNBC’s host as to how the banking giant is poised to compete with new and disruptive actors than can leverage blockchain and cryptocurrencies to offer the same services as the old guard, but with lower fees, Karpovich said:

“Ultimately behind the scenes, they [crypto innovators] are going to have to use a bank to move funds. There’s more partnership instead of competition in that space. […] When it comes to margins and capabilities — payments is never something that grows in margin, nobody wants to pay for a payment. That’s one of the hardest parts of this process: you have limited resources in the capability to sell, so you need highly efficient and large players.”

Karpovich thus attributed the high degree of “consolidation in the payments space” to this prime requirement to provide efficiency in the ability to make payments.

In his further comments, Karpovich noted that whereas blockchain could indeed revolutionize the payments industry, consumers in future may not necessarily register the transformation, as the technology may well develop into a back-end technology that simply provides cost and time efficiency to services.

With regard to JPMorgan Chase’s recently unveiled blockchain-powered JPM Coin, Karpovich dismissed the suggestion that the move represents a u-turn in the bank’s stance toward the crypto space — given CEO Jamie Dimon’s notorious antagonism toward Bitcoin (BTC) in particular:

“I think there’s a difference between trading a cryptocurrency that’s in the market that’s ubiquitous versus using the technology to enhance your payments infrastructure. We look at the technology as being a means to doing things faster and cheaper: every CEO would like to make things faster and cheaper. So from that standpoint I think it represents a buy into the concept of using blockchain.”

This, he continued, aligns with JPMorgan Chase’s ongoing initiatives, given that Karpovich considers the bank to be a “big player in the blockchain space,” citing the bank’s private blockchain platform Quorum and accompanying Quorum-based Interbank Information Network.

As reported, responses to JPM Coin have been mixed, with some hailing the development as a highly positive moment for the crypto industry as a whole, and others critiquing its proprietary and closed network structure, arguing it will perpetuate the fragmentation of the financial sector.

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Kakao Affiliate Dunamu Launches Blockchain Service Platform

Kakao’s fintech arm Dunamu is reportedly launching a blockchain service platform designed to help companies start businesses.

Dunamu, the fintech arm of South Korea’s largest Internet corporation Kakao, is reportedly launching a blockchain service platform designed to help companies start businesses using blockchain. Korea’s JoongAng Daily reported the news on March 19.

The platform, which is called Luniverse and supervised by blockchain technology research lab Lambda256, is geared to help IT startups develop blockchain-based services. The platform reportedly has a high level of security and an automated scaling function, that can adjust blockchain sizes in accordance with the amount of data stored on it.

To implement the service, Dunamu reportedly collaborated with blockchain companies that provided various blockchain apps and products following clients’ business fields. Park Jae-hyun, CEO and former research head of Lambda256 said that “in the past, a lot of companies built their own blockchain, but an alternative is outsourcing the establishment of a blockchain in the form of a service offered on cloud systems.”

Yesterday, Kakao announced the integration of its cryptocurrency wallet in its messaging app KakaoTalk, which will purportedly enable more than 44 million South Korean KakaoTalk users to send peer-to-peer transactions using Kakao’s crypto-powered wallet.

Also in March, Cointelegraph reported that Kakao will repeat its initial coin offering after netting $90 million from investors. Klaytn, the blockchain platform which is the responsibility of spin-off firm Ground X, will now seek to raise another $90 million. In December 2018, Kakao had first announced that it was planning to raise around $300 million through Ground X to develop its own token.

As reported in February, in the fourth quarter of 2018 Kakao’s operating expenses related to new businesses, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, was 65 billion won ($57.5 million), which reportedly led to a net loss for the whole period. Kakao’s consolidated operating income was 4.3 billion Korean won ($3.8 million).

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Binance Launchpad Hosts Its Third ICO With Celer Network Raising $4 Million

Binance’s exclusive token launch platform Binance Launchpad completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens.

Binance Launchpad, the token launch platform of the major global crypto exchange Binance, has completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens, the company wrote on March 19.

The tokens sale was completed in 17 minutes and 35 seconds, with all 597,014,925 CELR tokens sold in a single session.

As the company announced two weeks ago, the CELR token sale only accepted Binance’s own cryptocurrency Binance Coin (BNB), with each CELR token worth 0.000434 BNB or $0.0067 dollar equivalent. One BNB could purchase 2,303.35821 CELR tokens. The minimum investment amount was set at $20, while the maximum contribution amount was capped at $1,500.

Binance Launchpad is an exclusive token launch platform of Binance that is designed to help blockchain startups raise funding to develop products targeting cryptocurrency adoption. As such, Celer Network represents a layer-2 scaling platform that aims to enable off-chain transactions for both payment transactions and generalized off-chain smart contracts.

Previously, Binance Launchpad hosted two major tokens sales such as the Fetch.AI (FET) and the BitTorrent token (BTT). The BTT sale concluded on Jan. 28, with investors purchasing all 50 billion BTT tokens, worth of $7.1 million, in less that 15 minutes. The FET token sale raised $6 million dollars on Feb. 25.

At press time, Binance is the second largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, having been slightly overtaken by Hong Kong-based OKEx. Yesterday, trading analytics platform The Tie published research claiming that 90 percent of trade volumes reported by crypto exchanges may be incorrect.