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$280 Million Real Estate-backed Tokenized Bonds to Be Issued to Investors Worldwide

Tokenized

Fundament, a blockchain firm focused on developing products for the real estate industry, has reportedly obtained approval for issuing a crypto token-backed bond to individual traders and investors. 

The Berlin-headquartered company announced on July 23, 2019 that it was granted permission by Germany’s financial regulator, BaFin, to conduct a €250 million (appr. $280 million) token sale. 

Tokens Offered to Individual Retail Investors Throughout the World

According to details shared by Fundament’s management, the regulated real estate-backed bond will be offered to retail investors located throughout the world. Notably, there’s no minimum investment required to participate in Fundament’s token sale.

For example, investors based in Asian countries such as Singapore or Malaysia may purchase €1,000 worth of Fundament’s tokenized bonds which would represent an actual investment in Germany-based real estate properties.

First Time Approving Blockchain-based Real Estate Bonds

In statements shared with Coindesk, a BaFin spokesperson stated:

“We can confirm that we granted approval for a Fundament Group prospectus. It has indeed been the first time we have approved a prospectus regarding blockchain-based real estate bonds, but not the first time in respect to blockchain technology as such.”

As noted by the Fundament team, the firm will begin marketing its ERC-20 compliant crypto token in August 2019. Commenting on the development of the tokenized bond, Florian Glatz, Co-Founder of Fundament Group, clarified that real estate-backed tokens have been created by several other companies. 

However, tokenized bonds issued previously were introduced through private placements which did not need a prospectus or regulatory clearance.

“The First Mass-Market Tokenized Real Estate for the World”

Elaborating on why his firm decided to obtain regulatory approval, Glatz said: “The reason we went through this long tedious process with regulators was to get rid of any restrictions.” 

In most cases, these types of projects are required to have a minimum investment amount of at least €100,000, Glatz noted. Other restrictions on tokenized offerings may include limiting the number of investors that can participate in the initiative. 

Since Fundament’s tokens do not have to follow these guidelines, Glatz referred to his project as “the first … mass-market tokenized real estate for the world.”

Security Tokens Increasingly Being Launched on Blockchain Platforms

In March 2019, Inveniam Capital Partners released $260 million worth of property-backed tokens via four separate private transactions involving various real estate projects. 

Last year, Templum Markets offered security tokens that represented shares in a Colorado-based ski resort. The tokens were sold in exchange for Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and USD.

Apart from the real estate sector, firms like UK-headquartered Nivaura have considered several regulated, tokenized debt and equity shares, which may be sold through secondary markets. 

Backed By Five Different Real Estate Projects

Notably, Fundament’s real estate token will be backed by five different construction projects, three of which are located in Hamburg. One of the projects is based in Frankfurt and one in the University town of Jena. 

After completion, the properties are expected to cover an area of 680,000 square feet, and will consist of various commercial, residential, and hotel properties. 

Explaining how shareholders may earn profits on their investments, Glatz stated:

“[Token investors have] a legal claim of the holder against the issuer of the bond to pay them an annual dividend of around 4-8 percent.” 

“Once the run time of the fund is over and there is an exit, then the token holders get the complete value that was within this fund,” Glatz added.

Fundament’s tokens may be purchased from the firm itself (instead of a bank) for bitcoin, ether, USD, or Euros.

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Funding for Crypto and Blockchain Companies Plummets as Regulatory Concerns Grow

Crypto

Bitcoin and the entire crypto markets have been incurring significant volatility throughout the course of 2019, most of which has actually been bullish.

Despite this, newly released data suggests that funding for blockchain and crypto companies has dived over the past year, which may be exasperated in the coming months and years as the United States’ government begins implementing “very strong” regulations on the nascent markets.

Funding for Crypto and Blockchain Companies Expected to Plummet 60% in 2019

According to a recently released research report from CB Insights, 2018 was a record year for fundraising for blockchain startups, which pulled a total of $4.1 billion in the 12-month period.

So far in 2019, blockchain and crypto startups have only received a mere $784 million through a total of 227 deals. In the next five months, CB Insights predicts that companies will have slightly better success fundraising, putting the final fundraising amount for 2019 at $1.6 billion.

The report also notes that corporations are beginning to invest less in companies that were previously drumming up significant interest, and that more mature startups are actually facing a larger fundraising dilemma than their newer counterparts.

Could Incoming Regulatory Crackdown Further Hamper Fundraising Efforts?

Throughout the past couple of weeks, the world has gained significant insight into how many prominent politicians feel about Bitcoin and the aggregated crypto markets, and unsurprisingly, they aren’t expressing much enthusiasm about the nascent markets.

Shortly after President Donald Trump told the world in a tweet that he is “not a fan” of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, held a press conference on the same topic, telling reporters that the lack of regulations surrounding the crypto markets is a “national security” issue.

Now, during a recent interview with CNBC, Mnuchin explained that the government will begin policing cryptocurrencies with “very, very strong” regulations so that they don’t bring instability to the traditional financial system.

“I want to be careful that anybody who’s using bitcoin — regardless of what the price is — is using it for proper purposes and not illicit purposes… And there are billions of dollars of transactions going on in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes,” he added during the interview.

Only time will tell as to whether or not the imminent regulatory policies from the US government will hamper innovation and growth in the crypto and blockchain industry, but it is likely that fears about this clampdown will slow fundraising efforts in the coming months and years.

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Research: Blockchain-Not-Bitcoin Investments Seeing 60% Drop in 2019

Data from CB Insights suggests this year’s total for the space will be $1.6 billion, compared to $4.1 billion in 2018.

Blockchain investment could drop by as much as 60% this year as attention continues to focus on Bitcoin (BTC), new data suggests.

Smart Money Turns Off Blockchain

According to a report from fintech research bureau, CB Insights, reported by Bloomberg on July 18, companies in the blockchain space are drawing in a lot less support in 2019.

To date, 227 investment deals have netted the space $784 million in funding. By December, should that momentum continue, the figure will total $1.6 billion.

By contrast, in 2018, companies received $4.1 billion, meaning this year’s number may represent a 61% reduction.

“It took a little bit for the enthusiasm to wear off,” CB Insights’ CEO, Nicholas Pappageorge, commented to Bloomberg about the state of the blockchain investment market.

The data further revealed that for the five years to July 2019, 40% of blockchain investment focused on the United States. China was the second-biggest single country, with 15% of the total.

Blockchain's meteoric rise slowed in 2019

Source: Twitter

Banks have less than optimal success rates

Another aspect, this time highlighted by Reuters, showed that even project which had gained funding, for example those spearheaded by banks, had less than optimal success rates.

Out of 33 such projects, only 12 had made significant progress since their inception. Overall, these are “bad signs for the blockchains not Bitcoin crowd,” according to NY Times reporter Nathaniel Popper. 

For Bloomberg, the results constitute a definitive shift in investor interest away from blockchain and towards Bitcoin itself as a source of returns for smart money.

As Cointelegraph reported, the largest cryptocurrency has all but regained its losses from the 2018 bear market, while analysts nonetheless remain split about its next move. 

Having reached as high as $13,800 last month, BTC/USD then fell to almost $9,000, subsequently recovering to challenge $10,000 at press time Thursday.

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Spam Attack? Bitcoin Average Block Size Suddenly Spikes to Over 3MB

The average block size suddenly jumped from around 1 megabyte to over 3 megabytes — by far the highest average in Bitcoin’s history.

Blockchain validation platform VeriBlock produced almost 25% of on-chain Bitcoin (BTC) transactions in 24 hours July 14, the company confirmed on social media.

VeriBlock, which uses its own ‘Proof-of-Proof’ protocol to validate blockchains using Bitcoin’s computing power, launched its mainnet implementation in March. 

The service allows miners to compete for block rewards on altcoin blockchains, while tapping into Bitcoin’s superior levels of security due to the computing power sustaining its Proof-of-Work algorithm. 

The roughly one-quarter figure signalled by VeriBlock this weekend equates to around 68,000 transactions. 

Veriblock had previously generated higher proportions of Bitcoin traffic. According to statistics from monitoring resource and wallet provider Blockchain, however, the more recent figures appeared to coincide with a sharp spike in the average block size on the Bitcoin blockchain.

For July 13 and 14, the average block size suddenly jumped from around 1 megabyte to over 3 megabytes — by far the highest average in Bitcoin’s history. 

While the data is not repeated across other monitoring resources, VeriBlock will likely fuel existing speculation its activities overload the Bitcoin network with transactions, which are not genuine. 

The company has refuted that idea, its website still hosting comments from educator Andreas Antonopoulos from January, when he discussed VeriBlock and the issue of “spam” transactions. 

Despite the block size increasing, however, Bitcoin’s fee market appeared little changed in recent days. Getting a transaction processed within six blocks cost 7 satoshis per byte on July 13, and 8 per byte the following day, data from Bitcoinfees.info reports.

During Bitcoin’s three-month bull market beginning April 1, the network conversely saw periods of heightened fees, these coinciding with upticks in BTC/USD as it moved from around $4,000 towards highs of $13,800.

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Crypto Seems Ready to Solve Gaming Industry’s Microtransaction Dilemma

Crypto may help to solve microtransaction problems, as gamers are becoming disillusioned with industry leaders.

The world of gaming has evolved immensely over the past decade, particularly when it comes to online transactions and purchases. For example, a market study conducted by LendEDU last year revealed that, out of a thousand gamers who were found to spend anywhere between six to 10 hours playing a game of their choice, nearly 69% of them made use of micropayments — with each individual, on average, spending $84.67 in the game.

However, before delving any deeper into this subject, it is better to outline the various earning models that video game developers have been making use of since the industry came to the forefront in the mid-1980s. During the first two decades of its existence, publishers primarily relied on a model referred to as “pay-to-play,” which essentially entailed a user paying the full price for a video game (CD-ROM/cartridge) to enjoy uninterrupted access to the title. However, over the past 10-15 years, publishers have started to use a new approach that essentially reduces the game into small parts, with the price of each supplement being charged separately through a digital transaction medium called “virtual currency.”

With that being said, micropayments have received a lot of flack from the global gaming community over the past couple of years: firstly, because they appear to serve as quick cash-grab schemes for game developers, and secondly, because they seem to take away a sense of accomplishment from the game itself.

Micropayments — shortcomings and advantages

Simply put, a micropayment is a commercial transaction that involves an extremely small amount of money — usually ranging from a several cents to a few dollars. Within this structure, there exist a host of business models (prepay, post-pay, pay-as-you-go, etc.) that are quite often employed by gaming companies to lure in more money from their clientele.

Popular titles such as FIFA, Fortnite and NBA2K have successfully made use of the microtransaction structure over the past decade. For example, even though Fortnite is a free-to-play video game, it was able to generate a whopping $2.4 billion in revenue for its publisher, Epic Games, last year. If that wasn’t enough, a recent study by Juniper Research indicated that in-game transactions are expected to surge past the $160 billion mark by 2022. 

And while microtransactions get a lot of bad press on the internet, there are certain advantages for having such in-game content available. For instance, Fortnite’s cosmetic microtransaction system has largely been welcomed by the game’s followers, since it allows users to unlock new skins by simply playing the game for longer periods of time, without having to pay anything.

However, on the flipside, we can also see that there have been many instances in the past when developers have gone a little too far with their in-game payment schemes. This is best highlighted by a recent controversy that emerged when a Reddit user by the name of MBMaverick claimed that, even after purchasing EA’s latest Star Wars Battlefront 2 title, he still had to pay a whopping $80 to unlock Darth Vader — one of the series’ most central and iconic characters.

On the subject, he stated:

“This is a joke. I’ll be contacting EA support for a refund… I can’t even playing f—ing Darth Vader?!?!? Disgusting. This age of ‘micro-transactions’ has gone WAY too far. Leave it to EA though to stretch the boundaries.”

When is it too far?

The issue of microtransactions is on full display when one starts playing the hit game Grand Theft Auto Online, a multiplayer video game that comes as a free add-on with Grand Theft Auto V (a copy of which costs around $60). This is because the game’s developers have devised the narrative in such a way that it is extremely difficult for nonpaying players to earn any in-game money by going through the title’s standard missions. As a result, most gamers often get frustrated and resort to buying credit packs that usually cost them anywhere between $19.99 and $99.99. 

Similarly, EA Sports’ FIFA franchise is also known to charge its players heavy microtransaction fees, even after they have purchased a licensed copy of the title. When playing the game, in order for users to unlock big packs containing a chance of obtaining a high-rated player, they need to either earn coins by completing a host of challenging tasks — or purchase FIFA Points. However, more often than not, players end up buying these points from EA’s online store — thereby shelling out up to $100. Even then, though, the players are not guaranteed to pack any of soccer’s biggest stars.

To further elaborate on this issue, we can see that there have been several instances of gamers in the past who have spent thousands of dollars on microtransactions, only to realize their mistake later down the line. For example, a United Kingdom-based gamer spent a whopping $10,000 on FIFA ‘17’s and FIFA ‘18’s in-game purchases. And even though his lavish spending didn’t have a noticeable effect on his overall finances, he did admit that the entire pursuit wasn’t really worth it.

In response to all this madness, United States Sen. Josh Hawley recently introduced a bill called the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, which (if passed) will essentially ban “pay-to-win” microtransactions within games that are designed exclusively for a young target audience.

So, how do crypto payments fit into all of this?

As online transactions have gradually become an integral part of the global gaming ecosystem, the past few years have also seen the advent of a new payment avenue for in-game purchases: virtual currencies. The idea was first brought to life back in 2017, a time when the industry as a whole was surging and the price of Bitcoin (BTC) was at its all-time high of nearly $20,000.

Related: Time to Chain Up: Is Blockchain About to Change the Gaming Industry?

Back in 2017, Steam and Twitch were the first big-name platforms to allow their customers to make use of cryptocurrencies (mainly Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash) in order to facilitate their in-game transactions. However, owing to the volatility of this nascent asset class, Steam soon disabled its support for cryptocurrencies within just a couple of months. With that being said, Twitch still accepts a few altcoins, despite the company having briefly relinquished its support for crypto previously in March this year. 

Listed below are several platforms that have already become popular among the gaming community and that charge in crypto for the purchase of game-related content or apparel. 

Bitrefill: As the name suggests, Bitrefill is a crypto-trading platform that allows its customers to purchase a wide array of gift cards for online gaming services — such as Steam, Xbox Live and Blizzard’s Battle.net — using Bitcoin. For example, an Xbox gift card worth $15 currently costs 0.0016020 BTC on Bitrefill and a $50 card is available for 0.00534900 BTC.

Gipsybee: This crypto marketplace allows for the purchase of a host of gaming hardware, such as wireless gamepads, video game consoles, VR headsets and much more. Not only that, the platform currently accepts Bitcoin, Ether and Bitcoin Cash as forms of payment.

Scan.co.uk: This is a haven for crypto enthusiasts looking to spend their Bitcoin on professional gaming hardware, like niche graphics cards, gaming PCs, RAM cards, DIY water-cooling systems, gaming chairs, GPUs, etc. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that some of the brands whose products are available on the platform include Corsair, Nvidia, 3XS and Intel.

BMI Gaming: Video game aficionados who still have a thing for arcade gaming may already be familiar with BMI Gaming. The company’s webstore is filled with a number of classic titles, such as Pacman, Luigi’s Mansion, Space Invaders, etc. However, as is to be expected, these arcade machines can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000 (depending on the rarity of the selected game). Payments can be processed via a number of different crypto pathways, including Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

Caseking: Similar to Gipsybee, this German firm offers its clientele with a plethora of gaming items, such as GPUs, gaming laptops/PCs, gamepads, joysticks, headsets, etc. However, it is worth pointing out that Caseking’s crypto payment options are currently restricted to just Bitcoin.

Looking ahead

The gaming industry as a whole raked in a mammoth $137 billion last year — which showcases a 13% increase in revenue when compared to 2017. Therefore, as time goes on, more and more game developers might start looking to explore the potential of cryptocurrencies within this burgeoning market space — primarily through the implementation of novel in-game, asset tokenization models. 

Additionally, over the course of 2018, blockchain-based games — such as CryptoKitties, My Crypto Heroes and Gods Unchained — were able to generate a combined revenue of around $500 million. And this is quite impressive, considering how nascent this market really is. 

And while a lot of people may not necessarily like the idea micropayments, it appears as though this mode of transaction is here to stay. Especially with crypto entering this space, the cost of individual transactions can be reduced quite substantially, thereby allowing developers to subsidize the overall price of their peripheral content (such as downloadable content, skins, etc.). Additionally, crypto assets like Bitcoin can be scaled down quite easily, thereby making it more efficient for gaming companies to process even the tiniest of transactions.

When it comes to individual privacy and security, cryptocurrencies blow traditional credit/debit card-based payment systems out of the water. To provide more context, it is worth remembering that the Equifax data breach, which took place a few years back, resulted in the credit card details of more than 143 million Mastercard and Visa users being leaked online and sold on the darknet.

Related: Video Games and Blockchain: New Experience for Players or More Profit for Developers?

Lastly, in regard to the crypto gaming boom that is currently being witnessed worldwide, Cointelegraph recently interviewed Morten Rongaard, CEO of Reality Gaming Group, about the future of the video game market. According to Rongaard:

“When talking about the future of the gaming market, the industry continues to catch the attention of not only players of all ages in the economy, but the attention of business owners and investors as well. As an industry, gaming is undergoing impressive growth.”

Rongaard also pointed out that his company was currently in the process of bringing blockchain into the gaming world, saying:

“My vision is for gamers to be able to truly own their character, their weapons and their resources. They should be able to trade, sell and buy securely using the blockchain. That is instead of taking a risk on platforms and where you as a player have spent thousands of dollars building up a profile that you don’t even own and have no control over.”

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Daily Ethereum Transactions Exceed One Million, a First Since May 2018

Daily transactions registered on the Ethereum network crossed one million for the first time since May 2018.

Daily transactions registered on the Ethereum (ETH) network exceeded one million yesterday, June 28, for the first time since May 2018, according to data reported by leading Ethereum block explorer Etherscan.

Per Etherscan data, on June 28 there were 1,004,170 transactions confirmed on the Ethereum blockchain. Before yesterday, the last time the Ethereum chain registered over one million daily transactions was in May 2018. Nonetheless, the current level is still notably lower than the 1,349,890 daily transactions peak registered on January 4 last year.

The on-chain transaction value of Ethereum hit a monthly transaction high in December 2018. That month saw 115 million transactions confirmed on-chain, an all-time high excluding activity following a hard fork caused by the DAO hack in 2016.

As crypto analytics firm Diar reported at the time, Ethereum volumes on decentralized applications (DApps) registered a new high in April with 776,000 ETH transacted. At the end of April, industry newsletter Diar also noted that on-chain transactions on the bitcoin (BTC) network hit fresh highs not seen since 2017 during the month.

Veteran trader and author Peter Brandt predicted in a new market forecast that Bitcoin (BTC) will continue to grow, but altcoins like Ethereum will not feel the benefits.

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Research: Only 30% of Known Stablecoins Are Live and Operational

A new study shows that 30% of known stablecoins are live and operational.

Only 66 stablecoins — 30% of total announced tokens — are actually live and operational, according to a study published by the blockchain research group Blockdata on June 26

The remaining 70%  are either still in development or have shut down entirely.

Researchers from Blockdata believe that one consequence of this is that 2019–2020 may see a record high of new stablecoins going live, with 119 estimated to launch in 2019.

Researchers also examined possible factors may have led to the closure of failed stablecoins. Failed stablecoins, according to the study, tend to be commodity-backed by assets such as gold. Gold-backed stablecoins, in particular, accounted for approximately two thirds of all failed stablecoins.

Looking closer at the failed, currency-backed stablecoins, the researchers found several factors that they deemed to be responsible, falling into the categories of volatility, physical storage complications, and scams.

Some other trends noted in the study included the prevalence of Ethereum-based stablecoins, as well as asset-backed stablecoins. While the report identifies 15 different blockchains that stablecoins are implemented upon, Ethereum retains approximately a 50% share of all stablecoins by blockchain — the next most common being Bitshares and Stellar.

Asset-backed stablecoins also comprise an overwhelming majority of all live stablecoins, at 95%. While this remains the most common means of stablecoin issuance, algorithmic stabilization and other methods can be used to develop a stablecoin.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Steve Forbes, the namesake of business publication giant Forbes, recently told Mark Zuckerberg to back Facebook’s stablecoin-like virtual currency Libra with gold. 

Forbes believes that gold will provide fixed value for the upcoming virtual currency given the precious metal’s purported history of stability:

“For a variety of reasons gold holds its intrinsic value better than anything else. It’s like a measuring rod. It no more restricts the money supply than the 12 inches in a foot restricts the size of a building you might wish to construct. All it means is that the Libra will have what no other currency has today: a fixed value.”

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Focus on Bitcoin, Not Blockchain, Crypto Entrepreneur Proclaims

The CEO of a crypto microinvestment startup says blockchain is a “broken promise,” with many corporations only embracing the technology to look “hip.”

Blockchain is misunderstood and focus should shift to bitcoin (BTC), the CEO of crypto microinvestment startup Amber wrote in an article for SmartCompany on June 25.

In the article, Aleksandar Svetski argued that many corporations are embracing blockchain to look “hip,” even though the technology doesn’t deliver on the supposed promise of eliminating middlemen while providing security and immutability.

He dismissed many of the so-called blockchain innovations unveiled by big businesses as advancements in data storage and business processes — and warned few of these improvements “will ever trickle down to benefit anyone other than large-scale organizations and their bottom lines.”

Svetski described blockchain as a “broken promise,” and asked why corporations were spending billions on new networks when bitcoin is “the most resilient digital network the world has ever seen.” He wrote:

“Bitcoin, as well as having a unique database architecture (that one might describe as blocks of data chained together) is secure and immutable because it has a currency baked into the protocol.”

He explained that the currency’s value is linked to security, with every participant in the network economically incentivized to act in the network’s interests.

Svetski added that bitcoin had managed to survive 10 years in an “adversarial environment” while becoming a network used to move trillions of dollars’ worth of value, while blockchain has become a vehicle for raising capital that has “no real-world applications in the enterprise and public sectors.” He warned:

“Blockchain will have a hard time once people realize the emperor has no clothes.”

Svetski’s article comes as BTC prices continue to rise. Bitcoin breached the $12,000 level in the early hours of June 26.

Data from CoinMarketCap also shows that BTC has achieved market dominance above 60% for the first time since April 2017.

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New $35 Raspberry Pi is the Most Powerful Yet for Running a Full Bitcoin Node

The Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new, more powerful model of its miniscule single-board computer, which costs $35 a pop and can run full nodes on the bitcoin network.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new, more powerful model of its miniscule single-board computer on June 24, which costs $35 a pop and has the capacity to run full nodes cheaply on the bitcoin (BTC) network.

Earlier versions of the Raspberry Pi have been popular with bitcoin enthusiasts and decentralization advocates as it offers low-cost and thus low-barrier entry to those interested in running their own full nodes on the network.

Doing so allows users to verify their own transactions over the bitcoin network independently without having to trust third-party wallet services. 

Unlike miners, who are rewarded with BTC for validating transactions, full nodes do not get compensation for their contribution to the network — which they make in the form of hosting and transmitting updated copies of the blockchain (or distributed transaction ledger).

The new Pi is thus apparently poised to make the process and costs of running a full node more efficient for all network participants — whether they be miners, enterprises, or privacy-conscious individuals. 

As of press time, almost 23% of bitcoin nodes globally are run from the United States, followed by Germany at circa 19%. 

One of the industry’s popular pre-synced node products, Casa Node, has relied on an inbuilt Raspberry Pi — though earlier iterations of the model have frustrated some users due to its reported slowness.

The new model — the computer’s 4th version — purportedly represents a significant upgrade on earlier versions. At its most expensive — with 4GB RAM — it costs $55 (excluding tax).

The Raspberry Pi Foundation says the latest model supports for an extra 500mA of current — enabled by the switch from USB micro-B to USB-C — thereby ensuring the computer has a full 1.2A for downstream USB devices. 

It also comes with a new operating system, which the Foundation claims come with a host of back-end technical improvements, Gigabit Ethernet speed, a modernized interface, plus support for updated applications such as Chromium 74 web browser. 

Notably, in the years since Pi’s first release in 2012, other options of low-barrier entry hardware have emerged — including HTC’s Exodus 1S smartphone, which has bitcoin full node capability and was released this May.

Also in May, Cointelegraph reported on data released by bitcoin core developer Luke Dashjr apparently indicating that over half of the full nodes in the bitcoin network were still running client software vulnerable to an inflation bug discovered back in September 2018.

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Facebook Looks to Bolster Crypto Team, Even After Libra’s Launch

Facebook’s Growing Crypto Squad

As first spotted by CoinDesk, Facebook’s crypto division is embarking on yet another hiring spree. This comes just weeks after reports suggested that the Silicon Valley darling’s so-called “Blockchain” division has already 100 staffers, led by PayPal Mafia member David Marcus and former Instagram executives.

Per a search for “Blockchain” on Facebook’s careers portal, the firm still has 26 openings for this branch. While the listings cover a wide array of roles, including designers and software engineers, one interesting posting mentions Facebook’s need for a blockchain finance program manager.

This position will best be filled by someone with eight years of project management experience, coupled with some knowledge of blockchain technologies. Responsibilities include managing Facebook’s relationships with Libra partners (Uber, Spotify, Booking Holdings, Visa, PayPal, etc.), risk analysis, and leading teams within Facebook.

Interestingly, one responsibility mentions compliance with tax laws, the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and other pertinent regulations. This confirms that unlike its fully decentralized counterparts like Bitcoin, Libra will abide by all relevant rules and regulations.

As mentioned earlier, this is the latest of many of Facebook’s attempts to secure talent. Earlier this year, for instance, the firm revealed that it was looking for an individual with knowledge of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This single listing seemingly confirmed the then-rumors that the social media giant was hard at work on a crypto asset and blockchain.

By now, it may be fair to suggest that Facebook Blockchain is one of the biggest employers of industry professionals, despite the fact that it has yet to launch its first consumer-facing product.

Fears Grow About Libra

While Facebook has continued to trudge ahead, going against a U.S. politician’s call to stop the development of the project immediately, some government representatives, crypto executives, and technologists have begun to overtly question Libra.

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has pledged that Libra will be heavily scrutinized and regulated, citing the cryptocurrency’s potential to be widely adopted from the get-go.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire followed suit with a similar comment, claiming that under no circumstances should Libra “become a sovereign currency.” Le Maire elaborated that he is worried about how this new digital asset can be used to harvest data, launder money, and finance terrorism:

“This money will allow this company to assemble even more data, which only increases our determination to regulate the internet giants.”

Indeed, in the aforementioned report, Coindesk claimed that its sources revealed that privacy concerns led Stellar, Tendermint, and Mobilecoin to decline to work with Facebook on this project. Even Joseph Lubin of Ethereum and ConsenSys fame has claimed that he is worried about Libra’s centralized nature, dubbing the project a “centralized wolf in a decentralized sheep’s clothing”.

If so-called “crypto natives” are concerned about the project’s conformity to morals and laws, is there much hope for Libra to be decentralized and not susceptible to exploitation?

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

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