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Volkswagen to Partner Blockchain-based Startup for Developing Automotive Applications

Lithuania-based company carVertical, who developed a platform for used car history reports, has been granted a ticket to the Volkswagen (VW) Future Mobility Incubator in Dresden, as the company became the winner of a manufacturer’s pitch competition, says the official press release. The event was held on May 31 in Riga, Latvia.

According to the press release, the decision was announced after numerous teams of entrepreneurs held their presentations at the event organised by German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce. As the expert jury noted, carVertical convinced them with their idea of using blockchain to record vehicle histories.

carVertical will begin work in Die Gläserne Manufaktur, Volkswagen’s innovation hub in Dresden, in September 2018. The incubation program also includes financial support of €15,000.

The outcome of the project is the joint development of blockchain-based solutions. This is supposed to enhance Volkswagen’s presence as the leader for future mobility applications and provide carVertical with valuable resources and expertise.

“In connection with the program, Die Gläserne Manufaktur also offers the assistance of mentors and coaches, an attractive working environment at the facility, high-quality IT infrastructure, contacts with Volkswagen research and development employees and decision-makers, professional advice by Sächsische Aufbaubank (SAB), close proximity to the start-up scene and both financial and personnel support from the City of Dresden”, says the press release.

carVertical

Automotive side of blockchain

According to representatives, carVertical is considered to be the most successful automotive-based initial coin offering (ICO). The team has reached its goal, having raised almost $20 mln during its ICO campaign in January 2018.

The history records app is designed to prevent used car frauds, as stated in the carVertical blog. In the app a user may find records by car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located in its technical passport or on a car’s body.

The company’s roadmap includes various applications centred on the decentralized vehicle history registry. The first application is the platform of vehicle history reports, which is set to debut later in June.

“Our goal is to enable every car buyer around the globe to get authentic and non-faked information about the specific vehicle and to help consumers in the maintenance of their vehicles”, states the carVertical website.

A few months ago, the company announced a partnership deal with GPSWOX, a provider of global GPS tracking solutions, as reported by their blog. At the moment, carVertical tech team is working on the hardware specifications for its installation units.

Furthermore, carVertical’s initiative to build global and tamper-proof vehicle history registry is supported by European Union. The company’s board of advisors contains of current or previous executives of car manufacturers, cyber-security experts and blockchain professionals.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Germany’s 2nd Largest Stock Exchange To Launch Zero-Fee Crypto Trading App

Germany’s second largest stock exchange, the Stuttgart Börse, which reportedly has a trading volume of $100 bln, has announced it is launching a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading app, Thursday, May 17. The smartphone app, dubbed ‘Bison,’ will be free to use as of fall 2018, and has been developed together with fintech startup Sowa Labs.

Four cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple – will be supported from the app’s launch, with additional digital assets promised “in the near future.” The interface and trading process aims at convenience, forgoing the need for crypto wallets or paperwork.

The platform also gives users an artificial intelligence (AI) data analysis tool, ‘Cryptoradar,’ which analyzes over 250,000 crypto-related tweets from the crypto sphere daily to give real-time insight into community sentiment. As of press time, Cryptoradar’s algorithm on the Bison website shows Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin as neutral, with Ripple edging towards the positive spectrum.

A prototype of the app was presented today at the finance and investment trade fair Invest in Stuttgart, with Dr Ulli Spankowski, Managing Director at Sowa Labs, commenting that Bison “is the first crypto app in the world to have a traditional stock exchange behind it.’ Sowa Labs claims that their survey of over 1,000 participants showed that the majority of investors would like “easier” access to the crypto markets.

Last week, Cointelegraph reported on stock trading mobile app Robinhood raising $363 mln in funding in order to expand its crypto-specific platform US-wide, with plans to support 16 different cryptocurrencies, all zero-fee. With the recent funding, Robinhood became the second most valuable fintech startup in the US, with a current valuation of $5.6 bln, and an SEC-compliant broker-dealer status, unlike leading US crypto trading platform Coinbase.

Beyond convenient entry points into the crypto space for individuals, perhaps the most important precedent for Stuttgart Börse’s new crypto venture is the New York Stock Exchange owner’s recent announcement of its own plans to offer Bitcoin (BTC) swap contracts that would be settled in BTC, allowing its traditional Wall Street clients to both buy and hold the cryptocurrency.

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Microsoft Azure Launches Tool To Speed Up Blockchain-Based App Creation

Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure formally announced the release of its blockchain app creation service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, on May 7.

In a press release, the company highlighted blockchain as a “key topic of interest” as it also kicks of its annual Microsoft Build conference this week.

Workbench will allow businesses looking to create bespoke blockchain apps to speed up the development process by automating infrastructure setup.

This, Microsoft Azure general manager Matthew Kerner says, means “developers can focus on application logic, and business owners can focus on defining and validating their use cases.”

The computing giant’s optimism around both blockchain and aspects of cryptocurrency has continued despite founder Bill Gates’ well-publicized criticism of Bitcoin as an investment.

In February, support from the company came in the form of Microsoft’s Identity division plugging off-chain scaling solutions for Bitcoin, at a time when the Lightning Network was seeing significant growth in user numbers.

While integrating a blockchain-based ID system into its Microsoft Authenticator service, the company was specific in its praise of decentralized protocols. Back in February, Microsoft Identity director of program management Alex Simons wrote on the company’s blog:

“While some blockchain communities have increased on-chain transaction capacity (e.g. blocksize increases), this approach generally degrades the decentralized state of the network and cannot reach the millions of transactions per second the system would generate at world-scale.”

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Santander: We’ll Launch Int’l Payment App With Ripple This Spring If No One Beats Us To It

Banking group Santander will be partnering with Ripple to release an international money transfer app using Ripple’s Blockchain xCurrent and RippleNet platforms, Business Insider reports today, March 24.

When speaking about the upcoming app release at the International Fintech conference in London yesterday, March 23, Nathan Bostock, the UK CEO of Santander said:

“This spring, if not [sic] one beats us to it, we will be the first large retail bank to carry out cross-border payments at scale with Blockchain technology.”

At the end of January of this year, Ana Botin, the CEO of Santander, had mentioned the app launch in the company’s 2017 earnings presentation, noting that it will be open to Spain, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Poland.

Innovation

According to Business Insider, Santander had invested in Ripple in 2015 and 2016. The two companies tested an international payment app with test trials in 2016 that showed that Ripple’s technology concluded transfers in less than a day. The payment app will also be able to show an estimate of the cost of a money transfer.

So far this year Ripple has partnered with MoneyGram to speed fiat settlements, a consortium of 61 Japanese banks for creating an instant domestic payments app, and a South Korean bank for “commercial” international remittances, among others.

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Square Cash Adds BTC Buy/Sell Option For Wyoming Customers, ‘Working On’ New York

The Square Cash App, a mobile app formerly for sending just fiat currency that added a Bitcoin (BTC) sending option in late January 2018, has made BTC buying and selling available for Wyoming users. The app is working on adding the option for New York residents as well, currently in the process of applying for the state’s BitLicense.

Customers in the states of Wyoming, New York, Georgia, and Hawaii were originally excluded from the Cash App’s cryptocurrency option due to the states’ more stringent crypto regulations.

The Cash App tweeted on March 12 that Bitcoin transactions have now been added as an option for Cash App users in Wyoming. In response to a comment asking about New York, the app replied that they are “working on it:”

A Square spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the company has been working on adding users in the four exempted states since the option’s launch, with Wyoming being the first successful addition. They are continuing to work on getting the BTC option to users in Georgia, Hawaii, and New York.

For New York, the spokesperson said Square is currently in the process of applying for a BitLicense, a contested piece of legislation for crypto regulation that led to an exodus of crypto companies from the state when it was first implemented in 2015.

The news of the Cash App adding the BTC option for Wyoming customers comes a day after the state of Wyoming created a new class of assets defining cryptocurrencies as “utility tokens”. This new legislation means that developers and sellers of tokens don’t have to adhere to state securities laws if their tokens are not marketed as an investment and are only used for the exchange of goods and services.

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Consortium Of 61 Japanese Banks To Release Instant Mobile Payment App Powered By Ripple

The Japanese Bank Consortium will release an instant domestic payments mobile app, “MoneyTap,” using Ripple’s technology in the fall of 2018, Ripple’s blog reported yesterday, March 6.

The 61-bank consortium, led by SBI Ripple Asia, is representative of more than 80 percent of all of Japan’s banking assets, according to Ripple. Takashi Okita, CEO of SBI Ripple Asia, said in Ripple’s blog post:

“Together with the trust, reliability and reach of the bank consortium, we can remove friction from payments and create a faster, safer, and more efficient domestic payments experience for our customers.”

Three of the banks in the consortium, SBI Net Sumishin Bank, Suruga Bank and Resona Bank, will begin using the app this coming fall, while the rest of the banks will join in gradually. MoneyTap will allow users to make purchases 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

Ripple has long focused on building relationships with banks to use its payment technologies. In February, Ripple announced two new financial service partnerships; one with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority for use of its cross-border payment technology for banks within the country and another with Western Union, who is testing Ripple’s Blockchain-based settlement system for transactions.

This month, a South Korean bank also announced that it planned on using Ripple’s cross-border payment technologies for remittances, prompted by a Japanese-based test of Blockchain-based remittances involving Ripple and SBI Group.

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Poll Shows People Want An Amazon Cryptocurrency, Starbucks Hints Of A Blockchain App

Online retailer Amazon this week received feedback that its hypothetical creation of an “Amazon Coin” would be positively received, while Starbucks, another large traditional consumer company, spoke of plans to use Blockchain on the Starbucks app, also hinting of the possibility of creating their own currency for the app’s use.

A little over half of 1000 respondents who used Amazon in the last month have indicated that they would use the online retailer’s cryptocurrency in the case that Amazon ever branched out into creating the provisionally dubbed “Amazon Coin,” a Feb. 27 survey by LendEDU shows.

Vote

LendEDU also asked the same respondents if they would use a bank account created by Amazon as their primary account — 44.50 percent said yes — or if they would use an Amazon savings account — 49.6 percent said they would.

In total, the survey asked 17 questions about the respondents’ views on possible expansions of Amazon beyond online retail, like involvement in pharmaceuticals, mortgage lending, life insurance, and more.

In answer to the general question of whether these respondents trust Amazon to handle their finances more than a traditional bank, a combined around 61 percent said that they either trust Amazon more than or the same as traditional banks.

While Amazon has not announced any plans to create their own digital currency, they have ventured into the Blockchain technologies that are behind most cryptocurrencies. In December of last year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) signed a deal with R3 to use their Blockchain-based Corda platform.

This week, Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said in an interview with Fox Business that he sees Blockchain technologies as something that Starbucks will use moving forward:

“I think Blockchain is probably the rails in which a integrated app at starbucks will be sitting on top on of.”

Schultz, who the interviewer pointed out as someone who is not a fan of Bitcoin, added that in relation to Starbuck’s move of testing a cashless store, Starbucks itself could create its own digital currency to be used on their integrated app.

“This is not about Bitcoin, but I do believe that given the framework and the platform that we have on our digital mobile app that we could potentially be one of the first companies to have a proprietary digital currency integrated into our application.”

Last week, Fundstrat strategist Tom Lee had suggested in a report that both Amazon and Starbucks are likely to implement Blockchain technology and “announce a crypto-strategy” this year.

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Jack Dorsey: Square Will Go Further With Bitcoin Than Buy/Sell Option

Jack Dorsey, CEO of San Francisco-based payment service Square, revealed the company’s plans to focus on developing increased options for Bitcoin (BTC) use in a conference call Tuesday, Feb. 27 with Market Watch.

Dorsey, who is also the CEO of Twitter, specifically discussed the company’s Cash App, which now allows all users to buy and sell Bitcoin, telling Market Watch:

“Bitcoin, for us, is not stopping at buying and selling. We do believe that this is a transformational technology for our industry, and we want to learn as quickly as possible.”

According to Square’s 2017 Q4 report, also published Feb. 27, the company’s total net revenue and adjusted revenue have significantly increased compared to Q3 of 2017. Specifically regarding Bitcoin use in Square’s Cash App, the report stated positively:

“Additionally, customers can now buy and sell Bitcoin in Cash App. We observed that this was a feature our customers wanted, and we support Bitcoin because we see it as a step in the long-term path toward greater financial access for all.”

Currently available in 50 US states, Cash App allows its users to carry out instant fiat transactions, free cash-outs, and instant Bitcoin buy/sell option, which  was first launched for a limited part of users in November, 2017. On Jan. 31, Square released the Bitcoin buy/sell option to almost all users.

Earlier today, Cointelegraph reported that J.P. Morgan Chase released an annual report for 2017 to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday, Feb. 27, in which the company lists cryptocurrency as a “risk factor” for its future business.

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A Platform Intends to Become the Only Application You Need For Crypto Trading

For those new to cryptocurrency, finding the most trustworthy advice to make their first steps into a new environment can be overwhelming. Equally, more experienced traders want to continue to advance their portfolios to their best potential. A new ‘all in one’ platform, Pinnacle, aims to provide an investment multiplex for traders of all levels.

The company works under the belief that ‘Every single person can become a successful trader as long as they use the right tools and choose the trading style that fits their strengths and weaknesses.’ Their white paper outlines how the platform will provide access to ‘every major trading exchange worldwide’ from PC, Mac, Android and iOS, with fully automated arbitrage trading between each of these exchanges. There will be a YamaCat trading course for novice investors and features which allow traders of all levels to track and/or mimic professional traders across multiple platforms. A charting app will allow users to view the progress of multiple exchanges at a glance, and highly accurate (80%+) Pinnacle propriety trading signals can guide investors towards decisions across these exchanges. Pinnacle believe that these features and more will ‘will revolutionize trading cryptocurrency and world markets.’

Pinnacle will also feature a Stellar based token, Brilliance (BRIL), which it describes as ‘the backbone of Pinnacle.’ Users will require a balance of BRIL in order to access the numerous features within Pinnacle, which the company say will ensure the tokens see ‘a consistent increase in value and price.’ With 3.5 second block times, users can execute trades exceptionally quickly using BRIL.

Pinnacle is looking to implement these plans rapidly. Already partnered with companies such as LDJ Capital, FXCM and Ameritrade, they aim to release some trading bots for BRIL holders to use within the first quarter of 2018. Their ICO is already live until Feb. 25th (token supply 26,990,000 $1/token), after which they plan for BRIL to be listed on at least three crypto exchanges. In addition, they plan to hold interesting PR activities such as a ‘trading contest’ in Q3; the ‘best trader on Twitter’ will win a $1 mln prize.

Project leader Roman Guelfi-Gibbs has been trading since the age of 16 and has clearly brought his decades of the experience to the fore when guiding Pinnacle to become the first single-access point for crypto exchange in history. He is advised by Blockchain advocate David Drake, who’s investments are looked after by over 50 global directors. This is a truly formidable team who look set to live up to their claims of ‘revolutionizing the world of crypto.’

Should the platform launch continue to prove successful, Pinnacle looks set to open up the world of crypto to even more users than before, providing all training, strategies, advice, statistics and trading platforms required for novices to get started and professionals to increase their assets. It will be interesting to see if they can achieve their aim of becoming ‘THE ONE application that traders need to perform all aspects of trading,’ and how this will affect other single-function platforms.

Katharine Sharpe

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Singapore Airlines To Launch ‘First’ Blockchain Loyalty App Among Competitors

Singapore Airlines will release a “groundbreaking” Blockchain-based app for frequent flyers by August 2018.

In a press release issued Monday, Feb. 5, the airline announced a Blockchain-based app for its KrisFlyer program had passed a “successful proof-of-concept exercise” with Microsoft and KPMG Digital Village.

Now looking to sign up Singapore-based merchants, customers participating in the program will ultimately be able to spend frequent flyer miles at point-of-sale in exchange for goods and services.

“This groundbreaking development in which we will be using blockchain technology to ‘digitalise’ KrisFlyer miles is a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customer,” CEO Goh Choon Phong commented.

Blockchain’s entry into civil aviation has accelerated considerably over the past year, with various airlines and airport authorities now studying its uses for increasing efficiency.

Last month, the Canadian government announced a pilot scheme with the Netherlands aimed at leveraging Blockchain to overhaul immigration procedures. Meanwhile, February saw Brisbane Airport become the first in the world to make itself ‘cryptocurrency friendly’.

Speaking at the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit this week quoted by Reuters, Phong added he “thought” SIA Group’s project was the first of its kind in the world.