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‘We’re at Home in Crypto Winter’: Winklevoss Twins Launch Crypto Trading App

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have launched Gemini’s mobile crypto trading app together with a new crypto basket investment vehicle.

Cryptocurrency trading platform Gemini founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have launched a mobile crypto trading app together with a new investment vehicle, according to an official blog post published Dec. 11.

As the post outlines, the new app allows users to buy and sell crypto, and monitor real-time and historical crypto market prices for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and ZCash (ZEC). Users can also see the total value of their current portfolio, and set price and percentage value change alerts for their chosen coins.

Further functionality includes a “recurring buy” feature, as well as support for a newly-launched investment vehicle dubbed “The Cryptoverse” –– a basket of cryptocurrencies, weighted by market capitalization, to be bought as a single order.

In an interview with Bloomberg published today, the twins struck a bullish tone in regard to the recent crypto market slump, Tyler stating “we’re totally at home in winter,” and his twin Cameron adding that “it gives us time to build internally, and refine and kind of catch our breath.”

Cameron contextualized the new app as a bid to reach out to retail investors, telling Bloomberg that:

“A lot of our decisions have perhaps given off a perception that we’re more institutional-based. The reality of the situation is that we have a diverse customer base. And the retail story is just beginning.”

The twins also revealed their 2019 goal of expanding to the Asian crypto market, where they will face stiff competition from a thriving exchange industry that includes the likes of Bitfinex, Binance and Huobi. Gemini’s expansion plans have also been rumored to include possible entry to the United Kingdom market, as reported this September.

The twins, stalwarts of the crypto space, have had a checkered history with regulators. Successes include a recent seal of approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to launch their own U.S. dollar-backed stablecoin, the Gemini dollar.

Gemini also obtained insurance coverage for custodied digital assets from lending services firm Aon, which will complement Gemini’s already available Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) coverage for U.S. dollar deposits (in place under the New York State BitLicense framework since 2015).

The twins nonetheless faced a high-profile setback this July, when their application to launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) received its second rejection from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Most recently, the twins have made crypto news with a lawsuit they filed against Bitcoin Foundation founder Charlie Shrem concerning an alleged Bitcoin theft dating back six years.

As of press time, Gemini is ranked 51st among crypto exchanges in terms of adjusted trade volumes, seeing around $16.5 million in daily trades.

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Samsung Dismisses Galaxy S10 Crypto Wallet Reports as ‘Rumor and Speculation’

Samsung has refuted it plans to offer a crypto cold wallet on its Galaxy S10 smartphone.

Samsung has refuted rumors that it has plans to offer a cryptocurrency cold wallet on its Galaxy S10 smartphone, in comments to Cointelegraph Dec. 11.

The Korean-headquartered transnational tech conglomerate had recently filed three E.U. trademarks for blockchain- and cryptocurrency-software Dec. 10. As reported by Samsung community news sharing site SamMobile today, Dec. 11, the trademark requests are part of alleged plans to offer a cryptocurrency cold wallet on the Galaxy S10 smartphone, but this has suggestion been swiftly refuted by Samsung in private correspondence with Cointelegraph:

“Unfortunately we are unable to provide any information as the below is rumour and speculation.”

The three E.U. trademark requests appear in searches on the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) website, and are titled “Blockchain KeyStore,” “Blockchain key box” and “Blockchain Core” respectively.

All three have been filed under the trademark category of “Smartphones; Software applications for use with mobile devices; Computer software platforms; Application,” but reveal few details as to the proposed services or applications.

SamMobile had further exclusively “confirmed” that the trademarks are part of the development of a Samsung proprietary cold wallet, which “may be launched” with the company’s Galaxy 10 smartphone. Notably, a previous “exclusive” news story from SamMobile two years ago –– which alleged Samsung would be ditching its 3.5mm headphone jack from its Galaxy S8 model –– transpired not to be true.

As previously reported, Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer HTC announced the release of the “first native blockchain phone,” this May, with news this week that decentralized browser Brave is to be the native browser on the firm’s blockchain phone, known as “HTC Exodus 1.”

Samsung SDS –– the conglomerate’s IT and tech subsidiary –– has meanwhile made inroads into the blockchain space via a partnership with major Dutch bank ABN AMRO on a pilot to use the technology for shipping. This summer, Samsung SDS launched its own blockchain platform for finance-related businesses, as well as a further blockchain implementation that targets the logistics industry.

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Decentralized Browser Brave Becomes Default on HTC Blockchain Smartphone

Blockchain browser Brave will be pre-installed on HTC’s blockchain browser, supporting cryptocurrency networks.

Decentralized browser Brave is now the default browser on a phone from major smartphone manufacturer HTC, technology news outlet CNET reported Dec. 10.

Founded in 1997, HTC is a Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer, which was the leading smartphone vendor in the U.S. at the end of 2010, according to TechCrunch. The company’s market share began decreasing, when it trailed Apple, Samsung, and LG with a roughly six percent market share in the U.S. in 2014. In 2017, HTC held 2.3 percent of the smartphones market share, while in 2018 it purportedly controlled less than a half percent.

Brave — an open-source blockchain-powered browser, which blocks ads and website trackers — will reportedly be pre-installed on the HTC Exodus 1, “the first native blockchain phone” with support for multiple blockchains, including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) networks. The forthcoming project of HTC Exodus 1 was initially announced in May 2018.

Brendan Eich, co-founder of Brave and previously Mozilla, announced the partnership with HTC in a tweet on Dec. 8, saying that “we are very happy to have @Brave as default browser and to be working with HTC on their Exodus phone.”

Brave browser uses Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), that send advertisers’ payments to Brave and its users, and subsequently can be used to pay for premium content. In June 2017, Eich raised $35 million in 30 seconds during the BAT Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Last month, blockchain-focused electronics supplier SIRIN Labs launched its first blockchain-based smartphone called FINNEY. Based on both Android and SIRIN’s open-source operating system, SIRIN OS, the FINNEY phone offers a cold-storage crypto wallet and provides encrypted communications.

Also this summer, the Opera browser for Android announced the launch of a private beta version that will include a built-in crypto wallet. Opera’s crypto wallet will support Ethereum Web3 application programming interface (API) and will be integrated with a “default WebView” on top.

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Report: Stablecoins See Significant Growth in Adoption Over Recent Months

A recent analysis by Diar has found that stablecoins are becoming more widely adopted, seeing significant growth in on-chain transactions.

According to analysis by research firm Diar published Dec. 10, the adoption of stablecoins is growing based on the increasing number of on-chain transactions.

Per Diar, four major stablecoins to date — USDC, True USD (TUSD), Paxos (PAX) and the Gemini dollar (GUSD) — have broken the $5 billion mark in on-chain transactions within the three-month period.

November reportedly saw a massive 1,032 percent surge in on-chain transactions compared to September, when the stablecoin market breached the $2.3 billion mark at the end of last month.

Diar notes that Paxos has recorded over $1.8 billion on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain alone during the past three months. The figure is reportedly double the number of USDC jointly developed by major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and blockchain payment company Circle.

Cryptocurrency exchanges have been increasingly adding stablecoins to their platforms. Recently, crypto exchange Bitfinex and its spin-off Ethfinex added support for USDC, TUSD, PAX, and GUSD to already supported Ethereum-backed coin DAI and the industry stalwart, Tether (USDT). The move was made in a bid to keep the platforms “agnostic.”

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance renamed its Tether Market to be a combined Stablecoin Market (USDⓈ), which will purportedly allow the exchange to support more trading pairs of stablecoins. Prior to that, Binance added support for PAX, TUSD, and USDC.

Last week Cointelegraph reported that Chinese crypto investor Li Xiaolai will lead a stablecoin project within the Hong Kong-based blockchain fund Grandshores Technology. The new stablecoin will purportedly represent a “stable digital currency system” that will be focused on global mainstream currencies.

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State Farm Tests Blockchain Solution to Speed Up Auto Insurance Claims

American insurance giant State Farm is testing a blockchain product to speed up the subrogation process for auto claims.

U.S.-based insurance company State Farm is testing a blockchain-based solution to speed up the subrogation process for auto claims, according to an announcement published Dec. 10.

State Farm is a large group of insurance and financial services firms that provides auto insurance in the U.S. The organization was ranked 38th on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of companies. Per the company’s website, it processes 38,300 claims per day and has nearly 519,000 accounts in mutual funds.

State Farm is working on blockchain-based solution to speed up the subrogation processes in the insurance industry. Subrogation is a legal right held by most insurance carriers to legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured, and is usually the last part of an insurance claims process.

State Farm is reportedly testing a blockchain solution collaboratively with another insurer, to see whether it can reduce the time needed to complete the subrogation process by automatically compiling all subrogation payment amounts.

According to Mike Fields, State Farm’s innovation executive, “subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers.” He added:

“It [blockchain] helps us automate a manual process securely and creates a permanent transaction record of each payment which can easily be verified for accuracy. It also has the potential to decrease the amount of time for consumers to receive their deductible reimbursement.”

Insurance companies globally have been integrating blockchain technology into their operations. Last month, Japanese insurance company Sompo partnered with pan-African digital payment platform BTC Africa, also known as BitPesa. The partnership is focused on the “digitalization of global remittance services.”

In September, major insurance firm the People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC) partnered with blockchain platform VeChain and global quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL to make their business more time and cost efficient. The partnership also aims improve fraud prevention, Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance, as well as the claims experience.

Meanwhile, market research firm MarketsandMarkets predicted that blockchain in insurance market will grow to $1.4 billion by the end of 2023, at a compound annual growth rate of 84.9 percent.

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UNICEF Innovation Fund to Invest in Blockchain-Related Projects

The UNICEF Innovation Fund will invest $100,000 in six international firms to develop blockchain-based projects.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is investing $100,000 in six companies for developing blockchain projects, according to an announcement published Dec. 10.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund was launched specifically to finance early stage and open-source technology that can benefit children. The fund identifies solutions in tech areas like blockchain, machine learning, quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and others.

Today’s announcement reads that the Fund will invest up to $100,000 in Argentinian software development firm Atix Labs, Mexican tech companies Onesmart and Prescrypto, Indian startup Statwig, Tunisian apps development startup Utopixar, and web apps development firm W3 Engineers from Bangladesh.

The companies will separately build prototypes and systems that aim to address global problems like transparency in healthcare delivery, affordable access to mobile communications, as well as the ability to allocate finances and resources in social initiatives.

The newly announced companies will reportedly join 20 other tech startups, which are already under management by the Fund in fields like data science, drones, and virtual reality.

Per the announcement, the investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain initiative for using smart contracts for organizational efficiency, and efforts to learn about and understand distributed ledger technology (DLT).

“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser at UNICEF Innovation.

In April, UNICEF Australia announced an initiative that would allow the public to use their computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency as a donation to the charity. Tony Andres Tang, the digital brand and content manager of UNICEF Australia, rsaid that they “are transparent in the fact [they] are borrowing a computer’s processing power, and provide the ability to choose how much power is donated.”

In February, UNICEF started a kind of charity drive for Syrian children, by asking PC gamers to use their computers to mine Ethereum (ETH) and donate their earnings. UNICEF said it would use the donated Ethereum to give children access to water, education, and health and hygiene services.

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Major South Korean City to Build Blockchain-Enabled Virtual Power Plant

South Korea’s government will spend $3.5 million to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant in the city of Busan.

South Korea’s government will spend 4 billion Korean won (KRW) (about $3.5 million) to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP) in the city of Busan. The development was reported by South Korean newspaper Yonhap News Agency on Monday, Dec. 10.

Busan, South Korea’s second most populous city after Seoul, has announced that the city administration has selected a project to support an innovative energy industry in the region by building a VPP based on a citizens-shared blockchain.

The project will be reportedly represented at the national competition in 2019 hosted by the largest electric utility in South Korea, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

By its definition, a virtual power plant is a cloud-based distributed power plant that integrates the idle capacities of multiple energy resources in order to optimize power generation.

The recently announced blockchain-powered VPP project is set to aggregate such power sources as Busan area factories and public facilities of energy storage system (ESS), as well as solar power plants.

The project was reportedly proposed by the city of Busan, as well as major local companies and institutions including Pusan National University (PNU), energy management firm Nuri Telecom, Busan City Gas and real estate firm Korea Industrial Complex Corporation.

The city of Busan has already been actively developing and promoting blockchain technology, according to Korean crypto-focused news agency TokenPost.

Earlier this year, Yoo Jae-soo, the Minister of Economic Affairs in Busan and former director general for financial policy at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), reportedly held a meeting to discuss the establishment of a special zone in the city in order to build a friendly environment for the development of the blockchain and crypto industry.

In June of this year, South Korean governmental agency, Industry-SW ICT Convergence Association (WICA), also revealed plans to establish a blockchain center in Busan modeled on Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. According to the plan, the South Korean version of Zug’s Crypto Valley is set to be located at Haeundae, an affluent and touristic beachfront space in eastern Busan.

Earlier today, the country’s second-biggest commercial bank, Shinhan Bank, launched a blockchain-based initiative within the internal processes of the institution in order to reduce the number of human errors in record keeping.

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Huobi Opens First Russian Office in Partnership with State Bank’s Digital Tech Center

Huobi has launched its first branch in Russia in partnership with local state-owned VEB bank’s blockchain and crypto center.

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has officially launched its first branch in Russia on Thursday, Dec. 6, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph today.

The Moscow-based exchange, dubbed Huobi Russia, is established in partnership with the state-owned Russian Development Bank’s (VEB) Digital Transformation Center and supported by Huobi’s regional exchange partnership program, Huobi Cloud.

The Center of Digital Transformation was created by VEB to promote blockchain and other crypto-related technologies, as its website states.

Back in September of this year, Huobi first joined Russia’s VEB Innovation Fund and became a resident of the Digital Transformation Center to share experience on crypto regulation, with the fund’s CEO claiming that Huobi’s expertise will assist in building a “legal basis that could compete with current promising jurisdictions.”

Speaking at a private event on Thursday, Huobi senior business director David Chen claimed that the launch of Huobi Russia will help to promote the company’s “leading technology and trading expertise to Russian users,” including such skills as “unmatched safety, stability, and user experience.”

Huobi Russia CEO Andrei Grachev also noted the increasing volumes of crypto trading in Russia, claiming that the volumes have “recently exceeded US $20 million in a single day,” regardless of the current bear market.

Russia’s VEB Innovation Fund, created in 2011, is reportedly the “first” Russian specialized center for support and development of disruptive technologies in the fields of management and the functioning of enterprises and government corporations, according to the center’s website.

The innovation center is exploring and implementing various blockchain projects, and houses more than 20 branches of major blockchain and tech companies such as the Ethereum Foundation, Bitcoin (BTC) tech company Bitfury, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and others.

Vladimir Demin, chairman of VEB’s Innovation Fund, claimed that Russia is “actively promoting the blockchain market,” with VEB willing to play an “important role as a leader in blockchain research and legislation,” as reported in the press release.

Founded in 1922, VEB bank, or “the state corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs,” is the first international bank of the Soviet Union, originally named Roskombank. The bank is responsible for developing the Russian economy, as well as managing Russia’s state debts and pension funds.

Other Russian banks have also shown an interest in blockchain technology.

Recently, major Russian state-backed bank Sberbank conducted an over-the-counter (OTC) monetary repurchase agreement based on blockchain technology. And earlier in November, the Russian branch of Raiffeisen Bank International teamed up with local state oil giant Gazprom Neft to issue a blockchain-enabled bank guarantee.

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Blockchain Policy Development in China Concentrated in Three Cities

One third of national blockchain-related policies in China have been made in three areas: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — or BeiShangGuang — has become the most concentrated area of ​​relevant blockchain legislation and policy in China, reports local finance publication Securities Daily Dec. 7.

The Chinese securities newspaper has analyzed blockchain-related policies introduced throughout the country in the recent years, and concluded that there are 32 blockchain-related policies within the country. Meanwhile, 11 projects are concentrated in three areas: Beijing , Shanghai  and Guangzhou. The publications states:

“Blockchain technology [is aimed] to serve the real economy, focusing on the balance between innovation, regulation and security, and clarifying the bottom line of financial stability and information security.”

China has adopted a split policy toward blockchain and cryptocurrencies, praising and adopting blockchain technology — China’s President Xi Jinping has publicly called blockchain a technological priority of the 21 century — while banning cryptocurrencies.

Last month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published a document, calling  to “accelerate” the development of standards for blockchain system applications across various domestic industries.

Also last month, a new blockchain alliance, involving 54 different companies, was established in Guangzhou city, aimed to promote and develop blockchain technology in the country.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has purportedly censored certain materials pertaining to cryptocurrencies. When Andreas Antonopoulos’  book “Mastering Bitcoin” appeared on China’s state-run TV channel, the title had been changed to “Blockchain: the Road to the Digitization of Assets,” and contained no references to Bitcoin (BTC).

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the Chinese central bank, had made several warnings against cryptocurrencies, calling them “bubbles” in financing and investment. Earlier this week, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Financial Work reminded the public that Security Token Offering (STOs) were considered illegal in the jurisdiction.

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Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ Zug Ranked ‘Fastest-Growing’ Tech Hub in Europe

The Swiss city of Zug, home to crypto and blockchain development hub “Crypto Valley,” has been ranked the fastest-growing tech community in Europe.

The Swiss city of Zug, home to crypto and blockchain development hub “Crypto Valley,” has been ranked the fastest-growing tech community in Europe. Swiss startup news channel StartupTicker reported this on Dec. 6.

According to the latest annual “State of European Tech” report from London-headquartered global technology investment firm Atomico, Zug came out top in a comparison of year-on-year growth of attendees to tech-related “meetup” events per European city, with a 177 percent increase as compared with last year:Comparison of YoY growth of attendees to tech-related meetup events per city

Comparison of YoY growth of attendees to tech-related meetup events per city. Source: startupticker.ch

As Startupticker further reports, Switzerland overall had a weaker performance as compared with other European tech destinations. The United Kingdom sealed the top spot as preferred destination for non-European “international movers” into the country’s tech ecosystem, followed by Germany and France — with Switzerland in tenth place — behind countries such as the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium.

Neither did Switzerland make it onto the list of U.S. software engineers seeking employment in Europe.

Nonetheless, the Atomico report identified robust Swiss corporate investment in technology, with Zürcher Kantonalbank ranked second “most active” European corporate investor, behind only France’s BNP Paribas.

As reported earlier this week, the country’s national postal service Swiss Post and state-owned telecoms provider Swisscom have just announced a partnership on a “100 percent Swiss” blockchain infrastructure. Its key premise is to provide a service that retains all data within Switzerland, and that can meet the security requirements of banks, in a bid to drive the Swiss economy to “quickly obtain a leading position” in developing use cases for the technology.

Switzerland has a positive reputation among innovators, sealing the top spot of most “blockchain-friendly” European Union country this spring. Most recently, the Swiss Minister of Finance, Ueli Maurer, has nonetheless indicated that in lieu of establishing a blockchain– or crypto-specific legal framework, the country instead plans to tweak existing laws to accomodate the new technology and its financial applications.