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South Korean Biotech Firm to Use Blockchain for Genomic Big Data Ecosystem

Public South Korean biotech enterprise Macrogen, the country’s leading gene sequencing service provider, is developing a genomic big data blockchain-based platform together with local tech firm Bigster, according to an August 6 press release.

The new partnership will leverage blockchain tech to create a medical big data ecosystem that would allow for both the secure and private storage and the transfer of large amounts of sensitive genomic and personal information.

As the press release notes, advances in genomics are reshaping the global medical landscape, allowing for individually customized diagnoses, treatment and prevention. Medical big data, which integrates individuals’ genomic, health and lifestyle information, is both highly sensitive and of exceptional value for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

Speaking to local news outlet The Korea Herald, Macrogen CEO Yang Kap-seok commented,

“Despite its wide utility, gene data has been difficult to move around due to privacy protection issues and technological barriers. We hope that our upcoming blockchain-based platform will allow health care genet[ic] and medical big data to be circulated freely.”

Macrogen and Bigster aim to develop the platform by June 2019, and have opted to create a permissioned blockchain that would restrict access to specific institutions such as pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, hospitals, and research institutes.

As Cointelegraph reported this May, a precedent for the use of blockchain for the secure exchange of genomic data has been set by American Nebula Genomics’ cooperation with Longenesis — the latter being a Hong-Kong-based partnership between Insilico Medicine and the Bitfury Group.

In April, US healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group announced it would be implementing blockchain to keep its records up to date in a more efficient, secure and accessible manner.

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Bitcoin Mining Firm Opens Massive Farm In Canada Despite Declining Prices

On July 16th, Hut 8, one of Canada‘s foremost Bitcoin mining firms, announced that the construction of its newest mining facility was complete.

The press release issued by the company states that its new Bitcoin mining facility, located in the small Canadian city of Medicine Hat, has been recently completed, including the recent electrification of 24 “BlockBox” datacenters. Hut 8 revealed that this operation was completed two months ahead of its September 2018 deadline, as a result of their “employees hard work” and help from third-party entities.

With these new installations, Hut 8 now operates 40 BlockBox datacenters in Medicine Hat and 17 in the nearby city of Drumheller, with each of these datacenters requiring 1.2 MW of electricity at full power.

According to the firm, 66.7 MW of energy of “fully-funded operating power” can output a staggering 487.5 petahashes per second. Andrew Kiguel, President, and CEO of Hut 8 gave a statement regarding the new facility and state of his company, noting:

With 66.7 MW of aggregate operating capacity, we believe we are the largest cryptocurrency miner in Canada and the largest publicly-traded cryptocurrency miner by operating capacity in the world.

Hut 8 Still Sees Successful Start to 2018 Despite Declining Prices 

Despite seeing Bitcoin prices fall by nearly 70% since the start of the year, and mining profits fall even further, Hut 8 still has managed to procure nearly 1,900 Bitcoin since the launch of the firm in December. At current market values, Hut 8’s Bitcoin stash totals to a value of over $14.1 million U.S. dollars.

It has become apparent that BitFury, one of Bitmain’s main competitors, was integral to the success of the company, who provided Hut 8 with powerful mining hardware and essential services. The so-called ‘BlockBoxes’ are reported to output a total of 9 petahashes/second, easily outperforming a majority of other ASIC facilities.

Hut 8’s Publicly Traded Shares Jump 15% 

Hut 8 raised $108 million Canadian dollars from two separate financings at an earlier date last year. But now, the collective value of all of Hut 8’s publicly traded shares, with the ticker HUT.V, is at $252 million, with this price level indicating the market sees this firm as a good investment.

As a result of the aforementioned announcement, coupled with Bitcoin’s most recent price surge, HUT has risen by over 15% in the past three days.

According to CoinTelegraph, unnamed insider sources still expect for the shares of the firm to still reach a target of $7.85 within the near future, despite currently sitting at just ~40% of that price target.

It is currently unclear whether the predictions of these sources will be accurate, but Hut’s influence over the Bitcoin mining industry should not be underestimated.


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Canada: Bitcoin Miner Hut 8 Becomes ‘Largest’ by Capacity After Second Site Opening

Toronto-based Bitcoin mining company Hut 8 has announced the completion of its second mining facility in Canada on July 16, claiming to have become the world’s “largest publicly-traded” operator by capacity.

In a press release, Hut 8 revealed its Medicine Hat farm had been completed ahead of its September deadline, joining its existing operation in the city of Drumheller.

Launched through a partnership with BitFury, which provided the company access to mining hardware and other necessities, Hut 8 has mined around 1,900 Bitcoin (BTC) since its original launch in December last year, the press release notes.

BitFury and Hut 8’s comparative success further diversifies the Bitcoin mining market, which continues to see dominance from the Chinese-owned Bitmain. Hut 8 president and CEO Andrew Kiguel noted in the press release,

“With 66.7 MW of aggregate operating capacity, we believe we are the largest cryptocurrency miner in Canada and the largest publicly-traded cryptocurrency miner by operating capacity in the world.”

Sources familiar with the Hut 8 plans said the company’s trailing share price — currently $2.45 against an initial listing price of $4.70 — would still transform to reach a target $7.85.

Canada has become a challenging environment for large-scale cryptocurrency miners this year. Attempts to engage in the practice in the province of Quebec met with considerable backlash from local politicians, who appeared to criticize the lack of “value” such businesses would give back to the economy.

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Bitfury-Backed Group Mined 800 Bitcoins in Q1

The Bitfury-backed Hut 8 Mining Group mined more than 800 bitcoins in the first quarter of 2018, the company reported Thursday.

In a summary of its quarterly financial results, the company noted it raised $70 million CAD to continue investing in mining hardware, generated nearly $11 million CAD in revenue and is one step closer to opening another facility in Canada. Chief executive Andrew Kiguel said he was “pleased” with the work conducted so far, given that Hut 8 first began operations in late December 2017.

The 828 bitcoins mined in the first quarter of 2018 join another roughly 500 coins mined since December, meaning the company currently has a reserve of more than 1,300 bitcoins, he said in a statement. However, Hut 8 is not done developing its facilities: he noted that the company has begun construction of a new datacenter in the City of Medicine Hat, which will more than triple the company’s mining capacity.

The new facility will launch production in September, he said, adding:

“The City of Medicine Hat site will consist of an additional 40 BlockBoxes. Once operational, Hut 8 will own 57 BlockBoxes, representing a 335 percent increase from current mining capacity, securing our position as one of the largest publicly traded Bitcoin miners in the world, with a total of 66.7 MW of power capacity and 448 PH/s. With this increase in BlockBoxes from 17 to 57, we expect that our daily mining production will increase significantly. We believe our City of Medicine Hat Facility will represent operational excellence and set a new global benchmark for industrial scale cryptocurrency mining operations.”

At existing costs, Hut 8 spends approximately $2,615 CAD per bitcoin mined, according to the report. However, due to bitcoin’s dropping price, it is recording a loss of nearly $4 million CAD on its profit margin. Excluding depreciation, its gross profit is nearly $9 million, the company said.

Datacenter image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Germany’s BaFin Visits National Bank of Georgia to Discuss Crypto Regulations

One of the largest financial supervisors in Europe met with the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) and other members of the finance sector to discuss cryptocurrency regulation, according to a post on the NBG’s site May 18.

According to the post, a representative from Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) met with members of the NBG, the international financial institutions (IFI), private sector, commercial banks, brokers, audit, and legal companies to increase awareness of crypto in the country. At the meeting, the participants had a chance to receive detailed information on the crypto industry from the leading financial supervisory authority of Europe.

In December 2017, Georgia’s NBG took a sceptical stance towards cryptocurrencies, urging citizens to be cautious. The bank told the public that cryptocurrencies do not constitute a legal means of payment, any crypto-related activity is not regulated, and that the NBG bears no responsibility for the subject:

“National Bank of Georgia would like to warn citizens on this matter. Cryptocurrencies do not represent means of legal payment in Georgia. Any sort of activity conducted within this sector is not regulated by legislature and therefore is not a sphere of influence of NBG.”

Georgia is ranked second in the world after China in the number of known crypto mining facilities, according to Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study issued by Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance in 2017.

In April 2016, the Georgian government and leading Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware manufacturer BitFury launched a project to record land titles on blockchain. By April 2017, the parties had managed to register more than 100,000 titles.

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Justice Department Veteran Backs Bitcoin Crime-Fighting Tool

Blockchain services provider Bitfury has hired an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice to lead the American push of its bitcoin blockchain tracking product, Crystal.

Bitfury announced Friday that Michael DuBose, who led the DoJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property section from 2000-2011, will be joining the firm as president of Crystal USA, where he will “help introduce Crystal … to U.S. law enforcement agents, financial groups and other key audiences,” according to a company statement.

“I am thrilled to play a key role at Bitfury leading business growth for Crystal,” DuBose said Thursday. “Crystal makes it much easier to identify and track criminal activities on the blockchain, thereby providing a vital service to law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and other groups across the United States.”

Bitfury, which also provides bitcoin mining hardware, first unveiled Crystal in January, offering a way for firms and law enforcement agencies to track transactions on the bitcoin blockchain. The software scores transactions and addresses according to their risk, flagging bitcoin movements that may be associated with illegal activities, for example.

According to Bitfury, the tool can help the authorities speed up their investigations into illicit activities involving the cryptocurrency. The firm’s website says that it took just three hours to find the entity behind the $5 billion WannaCry ransomware attacks last May.

“If law enforcement agencies had had the proper tool to find criminals on the Bitcoin Blockchain,” the company said in a presentation, “they could have quickly cornered the criminals and prevented further global damage.”

Bitfury also markets Crystal to companies, which face potential legal repercussions for accepting bitcoin derived from black market activities. Using Crystal, Bitfury CEO Valery Vavilov told CoinDesk in January, “you can track bitcoin transactions and see if this bitcoin address that you’re getting money from is green or black.”

DoJ image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Australia: Disused Coal Plant To Become ‘Blockchain Applications Complex’

Two blockchain companies have partnered to launch a $190 mln Bitcoin mining operation in a disused coal plant in Australia. The deal was confirmed in an official announcement May 7.

In a statement on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Australian startup IoT Blockchain and mining hardware distributor Royalti Blockchain Group revealed their joint plan to build a mining complex in a disused power station.

Together, they plan on turning Redbank power station into a “Blockchain Applications Complex,” with nearby Hunter Energy Power Station sourcing cut-price power for the project. If the initiative succeeds, it will result in a Bitcoin mining operation spanning two hectares.

Repurposing old energy real estate for Bitcoin mining has become a rapidly-increasing trend in recent years, but has often met with teething problems.

Similar attempts in New York State and across the border in Canada drew criticism from authorities, who considered such projects did not generate sufficient value for the local economy, Cointelegraph reported earlier this year.

The Blockchain Applications Complex, however, seeks to secure its fuel for the next decade of mining in an area of New South Wales around 120 km north of Sydney.

A Power Purchase Agreement initially runs for five years with an optional five-year extension, for a total of 20 megawatts of power at a cost of $0.11 AUD per kilowatt hour.

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Bitfury-Backed Bitcoin Miner Secures Canadian Land Deal

Bitcoin mining firm Hut 8 is officially setting up shop in Alberta, Canada.

The Bitfury-backed company announced Monday that it had secured a deal with the city of Medicine Hat to both lease land and receive 42 megawatts of electrical power for a new mining facility. In turn, Hut 8 will inject $100 million into the local community by way of a construction project.

The new building is fully funded, the company announced in a press release, and the facility will join Hut 8’s existing, smaller building in Drumheller, which uses 18.7 megawatts to power its array of machines.

The contract between Hut 8 and the City will last 10 years, and will begin after several regulatory agencies sign off on the company’s work.

Bill Tai, chair of Hut 8’s Board of Directors, said the agreement is a key step in the company’s plans to start using its BlockBox Data Centers.

“CMH offers stable cost-competitive utility rates and has been very welcoming and supportive of Hut 8’s fast paced growth plans,” he said in a statement. “We’re excited to work with the City of Medicine Hat to introduce a new industry, with new revenue channels for the City and its residents.”

To build out its facilities, Hut 8 will hire some 100 workers, with 42 employees set to be hired full-time in order to run the mine. Hut 8 will recruit from the local community, according to the press release.

The land deal comes after the company announced it would be listed on the Toronto-based TSX Venture Exchange, where its shares are now publicly traded.

Construction image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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CryptoKitties Receives $12 Mln In Funding From Big Name Investors

CryptoKitties, the Ethereum-based virtual collectible game developed by Blockchain startup Axiom Zen, has raised $12 mln in funding from a group of investors, led by two top venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, as reported by CryptoKitties’ Medium account on March 21.

Both venture capital firms also invested in cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase. Andreessen Horowitz was also one of the early Facebook believers, and Union Square was an early Twitter investor, according to Fortune.

Other investors in CryptoKitties include such big names as AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, former Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, BitFury Head Of Strategy Committee Bill Tai, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.

Launched on Nov. 28, 2017, CryptoKitties game became the largest decentralized application (DApp) based on Ethereum on Dec. 4, when the DApp’s smart contracts amount reached as high as 13.94 percent of Ethereum’s transaction volume over 1,500 blocks, even causing network congestion.

CryptoKitties lets users create and breed virtual cats, storing the digital genetic material on the Blockchain. Then, users can buy and sell the cats using the ETH cryptocurrency, which means users have to buy Ethereum in order to play. Two months after the game was released to the public, the ETH increased by over 152 percent, from $469 on Nov. 28 to $1185 on Jan. 28. ETH is currently trading at $556, according to the Cointelegraph Ethereum price index.

Blockchain technology is changing the gaming industry, bringing more Blockchain-backed games based on different networks, such as card game Spells of Genesis based on the Bitcoin (BTC) Blockchain, and Beyond the Void, based on Nexium (NXC), the token of gaming ecosystem Nexarium. Reddit user BlockchainGame created a list of released and upcoming Blockchain-based games that is already 62 games long.

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Blockchain Tech Provider Bitfury Gains Government Approval For $35 Mln Norway Datacenter

Blockchain technology company Bitfury announced it will open an “energy efficient” datacenter in Norway March 20 in a deal with the blessing of the government.

In a blog post, the business confirmed it would open two sites around the town of Mo i Rana, investing 274 million kronor ($35 mln) in infrastructure and hiring 30 employees.

The move comes at a time when Bitcoin mining in particular is under scrutiny for its environmental impact and wasteful manufacturing process.

Commenting on the datacenter, Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Røe Isaksen said he was “delighted” Bitfury had opted to set up in the country.

“Data will become an increasingly important resource for the business community as well as for society in general,” the blog post quotes him.

“This represents a major economic opportunity for Norwegian businesses. The datacenter industry is growing fast, and provides Norway with opportunities of economic growth and new jobs.”

The company added it was “purchasing about 350 GWh of 100% renewable energy per year from local supplier Helgeland Kraft” to power the datacenter.

A tweet claimed the Norwegian government was in an “official partnership” with Bitfury, but neither the accompanying post nor local press confirmed the relationship.

Cointelegraph reported March 19 that a group of Russian cryptocurrency industry figures were seeking to make miners turn off their equipment for an hour in honor of Earth Hour March 24.