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PwC Partner: Central Banks Should Leave Cryptocurrency to Corporations

PwC Central Bank Cryptocurrency

The contention between the industry of cryptocurrency and banking institutions may have been furthered by an unlikely third party, with an even more unsuspecting alternative proposed as a substitute.

According to Pauline Adam Kalfon, a financial partner at PwC France, Central Banks should leave cryptocurrencies to corporations like Facebook and JPMorgan, as opposed to issuing their own digital asset. Kalfon cautions that institutions with as much political and economic sway would be wise to wait on the sideline before tokenizing fiat currencies themselves, and allow the emerging host of players such as Facebook test the waters first.

Kalfon does not rule out the potential for future monetary tokenization by Central Banks, with governments potentially re-issuing fiat currencies in the form of digital assets and cryptocurrencies–a move that has been proposed for inflation struck countries such as Venezuela. Instead, Kalfon says to observe the hurdles of transitioning assets to a digital equivalent, allowing cryptocurrency to become “battle-tested by corporations.”

By waiting, central banks can more effectively navigate the landscape of developing into cryptocurrency, potentially learning from the mistakes that JP Morgan & Co. are likely to encounter, and overall doing their best to avoid the negative consequences that could stem from governments adopting cryptocurrency en masse.

Included in her talk, Kalfon advised the Banque de France, in particular, to avoid testing fiat-to-cryptocurrencies before the rest, outlining that country’s economic landscape is even more precarious for such a transition. She explained,

“France’s central bank may not be the best entity to drive forward such a digital currency project, which would sit within the prerogatives of the European Central Bank, Kalfon added. Having said this, Banque de France could seize technological leadership by following European Central Bank guidance.

It is clear that a European-level project would be very complex and challenging governance-wise, requiring alignment and the political consensus of all relevant stakeholders from each Member State.”

In January 2018, the French minister of economy Bruno Le Maire warned his country about the dangers and speculative risks involved in cryptocurrency. However, by year’s end he had changed his tune to support the innovation of blockchain and the potential for crypto adoption in conjunction with better regulation.

Last month the French equivalent of the Securities & Exchange Commission echoed the comments of Le Maire and warned that cryptocurrency has the potential to disrupt the finance industry on a broad scale, necessitating the need for increased regulation.

However, the tune for both cryptocurrency and blockchain development in France appears to be in line with that growing across the globe, with French minister’s urging their government to adopt a proposal that would invest €500 million into blockchain development over the next three years.

The more interesting result of Kalfon’s remarks will be if Facebook and JP Morgan, among others, succeed in a large way in implementing digital assets on their platform. In such a situation, central banks may be even more compelled to consider the potential of issuing fiat through blockchain and digital currencies.

The post PwC Partner: Central Banks Should Leave Cryptocurrency to Corporations appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Accepted: MakerDAO Vote to Raise DAI Stablecoin Stability Fee by 4% to 7.5% per Year

MKR token holders have voted to raise the so-called stability fee for MakerDAO’s DAI (DAI) stablecoin by 4 percent.

Users of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) MakerDAO (MKR) have voted to raise the so-called stability fee for Maker’s DAI (DAI) stablecoin by 4 percent, according to the results of a recent poll completed on March 21.

The firm announced on Thursday that users had voted yes to the proposal to increase the stability fee by 4 percent, from 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent. The reasons provided by the post are that the DAI’s exchange persists under one dollar, high inventory levels among market makers and prop desks, and insufficient impact from the previous fee increase.

The MKR token holder could choose whether to raise the fee by zero, two or four percent. Still, the vote page explains that “the absence of any significant volume clearing near $1 indicates that there needs to be stronger incentives in place” than a 2 percent increase.

Lastly, the post admits that a 4 percent increase is “the largest one-time raise, and runs the risk of overshooting our estimate. Of course, the correct Stability Fee could still be 7.5% or higher.” The MakerDAO token MKR, which grants voting rights, is currently ranked the 16th largest cryptocurrency on CoinMarketCap and is up 1.12 percent at press time.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, MKR token holders already voted to raise the DAI stability fee to 3.5 percent this month.

Senior advisor for digital assets at the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission Valerie Szczepanik reportedly noted last week that stablecoins could experience issues under current securities laws.

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Vitalik Buterin Sees Ethereum (ETH) Dominance Fading… And He’s Not The Only One

Vitalik Claims Ethereum Is Losing Its Lead “To Some Extent”

Earlier this week, the one and only Vitalik Buterin sat down with prominent crypto journalist Laura Shin to talk all things Ethereum. In the interview, this being the first live episode of “Unchained,” Buterin was surprisingly candid, letting a few things slip out of his lips that may have caught some on the back foot.

According to BreakerMag, Shin started it out with a toughie: “is Ethereum losing its lead?”

Surprisingly, Buterin conceded, remarking that yes, Ethereum is losing its command over the smart contract blockchain ecosystem “to some extent.” The Russian-Canadian coder chalks this up to his brainchild’s nascency, explaining that as the industry swells, there will naturally be competitors that rear their heads. He adds that time gives projects time to build off their predecessors.

The 26-year-old programming wiz goes on to touch on potential competitors. Polkadot, a yet-to-launch crypto project that raised a purported $100 million+. Buterin explains that he doesn’t see the blockchain replacing his own. Yet, he explains that he wouldn’t be entirely disheartened if the privacy-centric ZCash or even Ethereum Classic were to usurp his project’s own hegemony.

On the other hand, he poked fun at Tron, explaining that if the Justin Sun-run venture manages to take over Ethereum, he ”
will have lost a certain amount of hope for humanity.”

Losing Steam

Buterin isn’t the first to have brought up issues with the narrative that Ethereum will always be the go-to platform for decentralized applications.

Kyle Samani, the co-founder and managing partner of Multicoin Capital, noted that well-funded, high-potential blockchains could eventually pose a threat to Ethereum’s multi-year supremacy. The Multicoin executive noted that Cosmos and the a16z-backed Dfinity, two projects that found their roots in 2017, could take a large piece of the smart contract development and deployment pie.

World-renowned venture capitalist Fred Wilson echoed this thesis. In a blog post, Wilson, the co-founder of Union Square, remarked that “‘next-gen’ smart contract platforms” will begin to ship and challenge the long-standing leader in 2019, especially in terms of its leadership in this “super important area in the crypto sector.”

In a recent Forbes interview, Alex Sunnarborg, a Tetras Capital representative, noted that recent layoffs at Consensus Systems, better known as ConsenSys, should have a negative effect on the broader Ethereum ecosystem.

He added that the fact ConsenSys is an integral part of this subsector and underwent purportedly drastic staff cuts should have some worried. Generalizing DApps and products on the platform, Sunnarborg explained that many promising offerings have yet to launch, and the ones that have are “pretty difficult to use” and have little-to-zero active users.

Case in point, the Tetras capital founding partner drew attention to the mere $40,000 currently staked on Augur, a multi-million dollar ICO. Thus, he claimed:

“There’s this massive disconnect between how much money is still tied up in these projects and how much people actually use them.”

Sunnarborg added that Ethereum may also become pressured by competition blockchains, like Dfinity or Polkadot, along with the fact that the chain’s development is losing momentum and steam.


Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

The post Vitalik Buterin Sees Ethereum (ETH) Dominance Fading… And He’s Not The Only One appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Central Banks Should Leave Crypto to Facebook and JPMorgan: PwC Partner

PwC France’s Pauline Adam Kalfon says central banks should stay away from crypto until it is “battle-tested” by corporations.

Central banks should leave issuance of digital currencies to corporations such as Facebook and JPMorgan, according to a blockchain and financial partner at PwC France, Forbes reports March 22.

According to PwC France’s Pauline Adam Kalfon, central banks should stay away from the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) until large corporations test out the tokenization of fiat currencies themselves.

Only when cryptocurrencies are “battle-tested by corporations,” should central banks make a move towards the crypto space, Kalfon argued, adding that it will reduce the likelihood of potentially negative consequences on the economy arising from any central bank issuing a digital currency.

Kalfon elaborated that France’s central bank, Banque de France, may not be the best entity to launch a digital currency project, explaining that the bank will be operating under the European Central Bank (ECB). She said:

“It is clear that a European-level project would be very complex and challenging governance-wise, requiring alignment and the political consensus of all relevant stakeholders from each Member State.”

In mid-February, JPMorgan announced plans to launch its own crypto, JPM Coin, to increase settlement efficiency. Following the news, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon stated that the company’s new cryptocurrency could have a consumer use one day.

Facebook was first rumored to develop its own crypto in December 2018, while The New York Times (NYT) released an article in late February alleging that the social media giant is developing a stablecoin that would incorporate Facebook’s three fully-owned apps — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

In January, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) reported that 70 percent of global central banks are exploring the benefits of CBDCs.

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Bayer’s Agricultural Division Partners With ConsenSys-Backed Startup BlockApps

Bayer CropScience, an agricultural arm of Bayer pharma giant giant, has worked with ConsenSys-backed startup BlockApps since 2018.

The agricultural division of pharmaceutical and life science giant Bayer AG, Bayer CropScience, is collaborating with ConsenSys-backed Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) startup BlockApps. BlockApps revealed the news to Cointelegraph on March 22.

Germany-based Bayer CropScience has been working on a number of blockchain initiatives with BlockApps since early 2018, a BlockApps spokesperson told Cointelegraph.

One of the largest pharmaceutical firms globally, Bayer acquired American agrochemical and agricultural corporation Monsanto in June 2018.

A BlockApps representative said that more details can be expected during Blockchain for Food and Beverage Supply Chain conference that is set to take place on March 26–27 in San Francisco.

The BlockApps platform aims to provide an interoperable platform for programmable business networks. Founded in 2015, Blockapps Strato was formed from a partnership between ConsenSys and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform in order to build Ethereum (ETH) BaaS on Azure for enterprise clients and developers.

BlockApps is a founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), the world’s largest open-source blockchain initiative. By July 2017, the EEA incorporated more than 150 blockchain start-ups, research groups, and Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan and Cisco. BlockApps claims to be the first blockchain company that partnered with all major cloud platforms including Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform.

Recently, Colorado representatives and senators filed a bill proposing a study of blockchain use in agriculture. The document proposed the establishment of a blockchain advisory group, and specified potential use cases including product tracking, inventory management and monitoring of in-field conditions.

Earlier in March, Cointelegraph reported that the Malaysian state of Penang was considering the use of blockchain technology in food and agricultural products supply chains to improve traceability.

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Blockchain Art Registry Acquires Database With Info From 4K Auction Houses

The new deal will put a database that includes sales info from 4,000 art auction houses worldwide on blockchain.

The blockchain-based art registry startup Artory has acquired auction house database Auction Club, according to a tweet from Artory on March 21.

Auction Club is a subscription-only database containing sales information from more than 4,000 international auction houses.

According to industry media outlet The Art Newspaper, the move is set to make Auction Club’s sales data — reportedly gathered from around 250 businesses in 40 countries — public for the first time. The data will be available in Artory’s registry beginning in May, the report states.

Artory’s CEO, Nanne Dekking — formerly the vice chairman of Sotheby’s New York — was quoted in the publication as saying: “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to acquire millions of data quickly that we can leverage to improve our products.”

Replying to concerns voiced by the publication that the aggregation of a huge amount of data under one company could contradict the idea of the distributed nature of blockchain technology, Paul Stabe, Artory’s chief product officer, underlined:

“The decentralisation of blockchain is a security benefit, not a solution. And for the art world, being able to leverage blockchain to provide access to credible data that are free is a huge benefit.”

In October 2018, Christie’s — the auction house with a history going back over 250 years — announced a pilot scheme with Artory to use blockchain for auction data. The partnership proposed using the technology to provide details and certificates of purchases to buyers.

Last fall, one of the world’s most famous art galleries, the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia, launched the blockchain-based project “My Tretyakov. ” The project allows individuals as well as enterprises to make a private donations, as Cointelegraph reported.

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Swiss Federal Council Initiates Blockchain Law Consultation Period

As announced in late 2018, the Swiss Federal Council proposed specific adjustments in the existing federal law for the blockchain industry.

The Swiss Federal Council has started its consultation period on the adaptation of federal law for blockchain development, according to an official press release published on March 22.

By initiating the consultation, the Federal Council intends to improve legal certainty over blockchain applications in order to build a basis for regulatory framework for the industry in Switzerland, particularly in the financial sector.

According to the document, the Federal Council’s consultation will last until the end of June 2019.

In mid-December 2018, the Swiss Federal Council adopted a report on the legal framework for blockchain in the financial sector, stating that the existing financial law in the country is suitable for the blockchain industry, but needs some specific adjustments. The authority advocated for better legal clarity for rights holders on a blockchain network and ensuring that decentralized trading platforms are subject to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act.

Following the announcement, the Council has now released a draft consultation document, proposing a number of adjustments, including the establishment of digital registration of rights in the Swiss Code of Obligations, as well as the segregation of crypto assets in the event of bankruptcy in the Federal Law on Debt Collection and Bankruptcy.

The Council also proposed creating a new authorization category for distributed ledger technology (DLT) trading facilities in the market infrastructure law in order to provide a regulated financial market. Apart from that, the authority suggested an adaptation of the future Financial Institutions Act in order to set up a licence for operating a trading facility as a securities firm.

The Swiss Federal Council stated that AML policies are set to be incorporated into the planned amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance as part of the ongoing revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Earlier this week, the Federal Assembly of the Swiss government approved a motion to instruct the Federal Council to adapt existing legislation for cryptocurrency regulation.

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Western Union Partners With Stellar Collaborator Thunes for Mobile Wallet Transfers

Financial services provider Western Union is partnering with Stellar collaborator Thunes to enable WU clients to transfer funds directly to mobile wallets globally.

Payments giant Western Union (WU) is partnering with Stellar (XLM) collaborator Thunes to enable WU clients to transfer funds directly to mobile wallets globally. The development was announced in an official press release published on March 21.

Thunes is the latterly rebranded trading name of TransferTo — a cross-border payments network focused on emerging markets. TransferTo had previously partnered with open source blockchain project Stellar to trial the integration of blockchain-powered settlements into its services.

According to Western Union’s press release, the partnership with Thunes will focus on enabling the use of WU’s digital network or WU agent locations to transfer funds directly to recipients’ mobile wallets.

Western Union emphasizes that this expanded functionality aims to drive financial inclusion globally by easing financial access for the underbanked — and anyone currently not supported by traditional financial service providers.

Western Union has recently indicated it is more receptive to blockchain-based digital currencies, with the president of WU Global Money Transfer stating that should cryptocurrencies become an adopted means of exchange between individuals and business, the company “would be ready to launch” support.

Aside from crypto, Western Union is already exploring the use of blockchain technology, participating in ongoing tests with Ripple to probe the cost and time efficiency value of Ripple’s blockchain-powered settlement system.

In Stellar news, six international banks have recently signed letters of intent to issue their own fiat-backed stablecoins on IBM’s cross-border payment network, which is based on Stellar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prediction Startup Numerai Raises $11 Million in ICO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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