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Why Ethereum’s (ETH) Vitalik Buterin Boycotted Consensus 2018

As the Consensus 2018 event came to a close only a few hours ago, one participant was visibly missing from the event in New York. That person is none other than the co-founder, creator and inventor of Ethereum (ETH), Vitalik Buterin. Mr. Buterin was also one of the original founders of Bitcoin Magazine that has gained prominence in the Crypto-space over the years.

Buterin had informed the Crypto-verse of his intention to Boycott the Consensus Summit this year via a tweet a while back in mid February. In it, he had the following to say about the event:

I am boycotting @coindesk‘s Consensus 2018 conference this year, and strongly encourage others to do the same. Here is my reasoning why. 1. Coindesk is recklessly complicit in enabling giveaway scams. See their latest article on OMG, which *directly links* to a giveaway scam.

The Tweet was accompanied by the following screenshot that explains the issue further:

                                    Screenshot that accompanied the Tweet highlighting the scam

In this tweet, we see first hand, the first reason Buterin decided to boycott the summit. Coindesk, being the host of Consensus, had published an article (screenshot above) that ‘promoted’ a scam directly. Perhaps the article was an honest mistake. Back in February, scams were not that easy to identify or writers were not cautious enough then.

The article was later updated with edits removing the said fake airdrop of OMG. But the damage had already been done. Buterin had decided not to attend.

He then gave 3 more reasons for his Boycott as outlined below.

On April 26th, and on the same Tweeter thread as the first, Buterin added that he was not pleased with Coindesk’s coverage of EIP 999. The tweet read as follows:

2. Their coverage of EIP 999 was terrible. They published a highly sensationalist article claiming the chain would split, when it was very clear that EIP 999 was *very far* from acceptance. This is why pundits need to be replaced by prediction markets, ASAP.

EIP 999 was a proposal to recover the funds that were locked up in the Parity Wallet.

A third reason Mr. Buterin would not attend the Coindesk event was highlighted by him on the same day via twitter:

3. Their reporting policies are designed to trap you with gotchas. Did you know that if you send them a reply, and you explicitly say that some part is off the record, that’s explicitly on the record unless you go through a request/approve dance first?

The fourth and final reason Mr. Buterin was completely against the summit, was the exorbitant attendance fee of $2,000. Not too many Crypto-enthusiasts can afford to ‘cough out’ that amount of money. Buterin had this to say about the attendance charge at the event:

4. And by the way, the conference costs $2-3k to attend. I refuse to personally contribute to that level of rent seeking.

In conclusion, Vitalik Buterin put forth some valid points for not attending the highly anticipated Consensus Summit that just concluded in New York City. One reason that might hit home for many Crypto-enthusiasts, was the $2,000 attendance fee. This is a large amount of money considering that the crypto-verse is based on the core principal of decentralization and having the ‘little guy’ have a say in the happenings of the industry.

Perhaps what Coindesk might have done to ease the feeling of being left out that many Crypto-enthusiasts might have experienced, was to have a few live feeds via the numerous social media sites and apps. Tron has been known to utilize social media very well when making announcements. Justin Sun and the Tron technical team utilize Twitter and Periscope whenever their is a big announcement such as the recent TestNet launch on the 31st of March.

There is no doubt that a similar live broadcast will be organized for the MainNet launch on the 31st of this month, that is less than 2 weeks away.

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Jack Dorsey Hopes Bitcoin Will Become The Web's 'Native Currency'

Is bitcoin destined to become the default currency of the Internet?

At least one well-known business executive – Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square, ho previously predicted bitcoin’s future dominance back in March – hopes that’s the case. Dorsey, who is also CEO of Twitter, sat down with Elizabeth Stark of Lightning Labs at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference in New York City to talk more broadly about his company’s goals for the digital currency.

“I’m just approaching with the principle that the Internet deserves a native currency. It will have a native currency. I don’t know if it will be bitcoin,” said Dorsey said during Wednesday’s fireside chat, adding:

“I hope it will be bitcoin. I’m a huge fan.”

Dorsey admits the idea that bitcoin will someday be the basis for all payments made on the Internet remains a topic of debate at Square.

“We’ve led with that mindset. But there’s still a lot of skepticism and a lot of debate and a lot of fights. But that’s where the magic happens, where creativity happens,” he explained.

Despite the controversy, Dorsey argues that the vision of open access that bitcoin inspires is fundamental to the role Square has always played in the payments industry. “Any payment that comes across our table, the seller should be able to accept,” he remarked.

When Dorsey first began contemplating how to implement bitcoin payments into the Square platform with Mike Brock, an engineer at the company, the two initially settled on a goal that was grandiose in its simplicity.

Either one of them, he reasoned, should be able to walk over to the Blue Bottle across the street and buy a cup of coffee with bitcoin without the transaction looking any different than a regular dollar-denominated payment, perhaps without the cashier even knowing that bitcoin was being used.

According to Dorsey, the team had a working solution within a week.

“It felt amazing. It felt electric. And it felt like something we needed to explore a lot more,” he said.

More work to come

Square has yet to build a full bitcoin payments solution for merchants and consumers, as it quickly changed direction to work on a buying-and-selling service to be integrated into its Cash App. But Dorsey said that the goal is same as it has always been.

“We want to go back to that original idea of being able to purchase a coffee with it. And that’s why we’re working with [Lightning Labs],” said Dorsey. “Whatever it takes to get there, we’re going to make sure it happens.”

Dorsey – who counts himself as a fan of the hacker ethos surrounding bitcoin’s rise to fame – claimed that whatever path Square takes to pushing mass adoption of bitcoin payments, it will do so without threatening the openness of the network.

“There’s so much openness in the community, and I want to make sure nothing in the corporate world threatens that,” he stated, going on to say:

“We cannot risk hurting what made this possible to begin with…We can’t do any of this without the technology being strong and available for everyone.”

Photo by David Floyd for CoinDesk

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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Nokia Is Letting Consumers Monetize Their Data With Blockchain

Blockchain data platform Streamr is partnering with Finnish telecom giant Nokia and California software company OSIsoft to allow mobile customers to monetize their user data and make purchases.

Chief executive Henri Pihkala announced the partnerships at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference Wednesday, while also conducting a live launch of its real-time data marketplace, through which users can provide and subscribe to real-time data streams.

He said in a statement that “today marks a hugely significant day in Streamr’s history, not only showcasing our platform to the world on-stage at Consensus but announcing two stellar partnerships.”

The partnership with Nokia will see Nokia’s Kuha base stations integrate with Streamr’s data marketplace, allowing Nokia customers to both monetize their user data and purchase streams from Internet of Things devices.

“We recognize a growing movement of empowered mobile customers who want to control and monetize their own data,” Nokia’s radio system evolution lead Martti Ylikoski, said in a statement, adding, “our partnership with Streamr reflects our firm belief in the platform.”

Participants buy and sell real-time data streams through ethereum smart contracts. Buyers and sellers use an ERC-20 token called DATAcoin.

The partnership with OSIsoft will see the firm’s enterprise customers gain the ability to earn money for their operations data.

Ealier in May, Streamr announced another partnership, with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, to use the Streamr Engine – a data aggregator and analytics tool – to collect data feeds from an Audi Q2.

Data 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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ICO Project Polymath Is Trying to Buy a Stake In a Real Stock Exchange

If one announcement summarizes the ambitions of crypto project Polymath, it might be Wednesday’s acquisition of the domain “Tokens.com”

One of its several this week, it cuts to the heart of the project’s aims to dominate the issuance of tokenized securities. But the plans go beyond just the acquisition of potentially popular domain names.

In the run-up to the company’s Wednesday morning appearance at CoinDesk’s Consensus conference, Polymath also revealed it’s in the process of closing a deal to acquire a large stake in the Barbados Stock Exchange and that it’s working on a deal with the alternative trading system tZero.

With those two partnerships, it believes it will have the platform to create tokens that can actually trade and dominate the coming transition of traditional equity to crypto. Neither deal is done, but Polymath CEO Trevor Koverko projects that they should be closed by early June. (Polymath raised $58.7 million in a private placement of tokens to accredited investors, according to Business Insider.)

Koverko sees a crisis of liquidity in security tokens. As CoinDesk previously reported, many of the tokens issued so far are under a lockup period required by U.S. securities regulations, but Koverko argues that’s not the whole story.

“It’s also because everyone’s scared to release them in the wild because you can’t prevent unaccredited people from getting them,” Koverko told CoinDesk. “What we’re doing is we’re bringing a measure of restraint and typical Wall Street-like compliance.”

Polymath has built a system that makes a whitelist of accounts that have gone through the know-your-customer, anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) and investor accreditation checks that make them viable to trade with. That way, once a token has been issued on Polymath, it shouldn’t be possible for an unaccredited investor in the U.S. to acquire it.

It’s calling this ST20, which it describes as a new standard for security tokens. For now, these tokens will be issued on the ethereum blockchain (it is not actually an ethereum standard). The company has partnered with SelfKey, IdentityMind and Shyft as its KYC/AML partners.

Polymath is one of several companies that have jumped into the token issuing space, which grows more crowded by the week. The firm describes itself as a platform, one that brings in companies and guides them through the process of issuing a security token. The companies with the strongest proposals will get access to elite consultants, legal counsel and possible investment from Polymath’s new security token fund, which it also announced this week.

One of Polymath’s partners, Gabriel Abed, founder of Bitt, a Caribbean platform for mobile money, explained the value of a crypto exchange in the country. “Barbados has the most double tax treaty agreements in the world.”

That means that if a company pays tax in one country, it doesn’t have to pay tax in the other. “It’s quite cool as well when you look at the China relationship that Barbados has,” because so many Chinese companies have needed to look abroad as domestic regulations have banned new token issuances, he said.

Bitt is in the family of companies, like tZero, that have investments from Patrick Byrne and Overstock.com. Abed is working to negotiate the use of TZero’s backend to run a crypto specific exchange out of the Barbados Stock Exchange.

Once the exchange is running, it will be a ready place for new tokens to trade, with guarantees built into the ST20 platform that no one will be able to hold them that shouldn’t. Koverko anticipates equity and real estate to begin quickly moving onto the platform. He also sees opportunities for people in the developing world with capital but without local financial infrastructure to make investments.

Just as Africa skipped the landline phase and went straight to mobile, Koverko envisions a mobile-based capital market there as well.

The Barbados Stock Exchange and tZero had not confirmed the deals in process at press time.

Turtles in Barbados photo 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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Blockstack Announces 'Universal' Dapp Store for the Decentralized Web

Decentralized web developer Blockstack is one step closer to its vision of web 3.0 with the introduction of app.co, a directory for decentralized applications or dapps.

Co-founder Ryan Shea said the company was launching the resource, which is aimed at bridging the gap between decentralized app developers and potential users. The open-source project will be free for developers, and Blockstack sees “this as a critical moment for decentralized application development and discovery,” Shea said.

He went on to explain:

“The goal here is to demonstrate, to really bring together app developers and users and provide value in connecting the two. We want to help users discover decentralized applications. We launched our browser last year which was a great success, and after that we started noticing people were building real apps on top of our platform, and this last year we were focused on learning from them.”

Indeed, it’s the first step toward what is intended to become a dedicated storefront for dapp developers, with the goal of allowing devs to charge for premium versions of their app as well as expand to a wider market.

“We’re looking to make this a comprehensive dapp store, and one component is an index and you can see the most popular applications, and another component is a feature list kind of like what you can find in the Apple app store,” he added.

Blockstack is moving out of the infrastructure phase and into supporting scalable dapps, he said, adding that “they’re getting real traction and real users.”

Stepping back, Shea told CoinDesk that his company will continue to encourage the development of a decentralized web, and encouraged developers to work together. He said:

“One of the things that we want to say to the community, there might be different platforms that compete with each other but we’re still very small and the real competition is with Facebook and [the like].”

Gumball machines 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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Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Unveils Common Blockchain Standards

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance announced the release of a common technical specification on Wednesday, fulfilling a pledge the group made less than a month ago at an event in London.

Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0, unveiled during CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference in New York, comes weeks after Jeremy Millar, a founding board member of the 500-plus-member group, spoke about the importance of common standards as a way to connect development efforts across the enterprise-focused, ethereum-based initiative.

It’s a significant moment for the group, which launched at the start of last year with backing from major corporates like British oil giant BP, Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft, as well as stakeholders in the blockchain work such as ethereum startup studio ConsenSys, Nuco and BlockApps, among others. CoinDesk first reported on the group’s work in January 2017.

In statements, representatives from the initiative framed it as the result of a months-long collaborative effort between different stakeholders and one that widens access to the software.

Ron Resnick, executive director for the EEA, said of the release:

“The EEA’s Enterprise Ethereum Specification is the result of 18 months of intense collaboration between leading enterprise, technology and platform members within our technical committee. This EEA open-source, cross-platform framework will enable the mass adoption at a depth and breadth otherwise unachievable in individual corporate silos.”

Indeed, Resnick spoke about the work during a recent interview with CoinDesk, pointing to the process as one aimed at connecting the different software clients developed by group members.

“All the ethereum client companies see the need to agree on these building blocks and components and how they talk to each other, because if we don’t, then we don’t have a way to compete against the proprietary solutions,” he said at the time.

Code 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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Wall Street Vet Brian Kelly Launches Blockchain ETF

Investment manager Brian Kelly is launching a new blockchain startup-based exchange-traded-fund (ETF), he announced Wednesday.

Working in partnership with REX Shares founder Gregg King, Kelly will actively manage a portfolio of roughly 30 companies actively using blockchain technology and matching one of four general criteria, he told CoinDesk. The fund will support firms from the seed stage onward.

He told CoinDesk:

“When I look at the investment landscape, to me blockchain and cryptocurrencies are a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity … if I look at every other asset class, to me the most attractive investment is blockchain and cryptocurrency. The growth is explosive [and] the potential is enormous.”

The four criteria, or “pillars,” include enterprise blockchain, or companies using the technology to streamline existing business processes; “Wall Street disruptors,” that is, services changing how securities are traded (such as Overstock.com’s tZero exchange); mining focused entities; and exchange firms and startups creating a decentralized internet, he said.

Further, the fund will evolve over time, Kelly said, noting that “this is an active ETF [so] we’ll be able to add companies to the space.”

While right now the fund may be invested in some enterprise companies, he believes that “over time we might become 100 percent pure play,” or entirely invested in blockchain-specific startups.

That said, the ETF will not be invested in any cryptocurrencies directly, he added – rather, it would be invested in companies with regulated security offerings.

The fund will be open to anyone who has a U.S. brokerage account, he noted, including investors who reside outside the country. A person does not have to be an accredited investor to participate.

Kelly cited the progress companies have made in developing blockchain technology over the last year as the reason for the ETF, saying that firms were “finally getting some revenue from blockchain and cryptocurrency. Even a year ago you had a few who were doing it, but they didn’t have significant revenue streams.”

Now, with some companies even receiving bank financing, Kelly expressed confidence that he could “put together a diversified portfolio.”

Neither is Kelly worried about the volatility seen in cryptocurrency markets. Although his ETF will be invested in companies working with various crypto assets, he said:

“With all investments obviously there’s risk, and the volatility of bitcoin versus equities can change, historically bitcoin has been volatile. That being said we don’t know what the future holds – as more people and more investments come into cryptocurrencies those potentially could actually become less volatile.”

Greg King, Brian Kelly image courtesy Hod Klein

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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New, Redesigned Tron (TRX) Website Unveiled

As the focus and attention in the Crypto-verse is on the Consensus Summit currently ongoing in New York City, The Tron (TRX) Main Net launch is still cruising along to the May 31st launch date and is firing on all cylinders. The Tron Website has received a new overhaul as we edge towards the the set date that is exactly two weeks away.

The new website design was launched just yesterday and announced on the Tron medium page. Once you open the new Tron Website, you are met with the new chosen color by the Tron foundation: red. The color has been chosen over the previous blue because red represents the project’s technological culture of passion, dedication, exploration and persistence. Red traditionally has been associated with energy, passion, desire and love: qualities the Tron team and project has exhibited from day one.

Also to note from the new website design is that the minimalism has been retained in the fonts, icons and buttons. The countdown to the MainNet launch has been reduced to the number of days at the center of the site. This further portrays the minimalism theme of the site.

Simpler MainNet Countdown

The new design also features linear elements and angular letters found in the entire site. There is an enhanced interactive user experience with an easier feel as you navigate throughout the pages. There is a real time notification on the progress of the project on the site including a map of where the global nodes (111 in total) are located. A real time update of the token’s performance in the markets with a tally of the number of users/owners of the tokens (1,083,598 at the moment of writing this) is also available.

One can also find the latest and best Tron news on the website and also links to the various social media pages of the project.

Current market analysis puts TRX at the number 10 slot according to market cap as demonstrated on coinmarketcap.com. TRX has also been hit by today’s decline in value of the crypto-markets and is trading at $0.0653 and down 9.64% in 24 hours.

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BitLicense Refugees: Kraken, ShapeShift CEOs Talk Escape from New York

If you wanted to hear red-meat rhetoric about New York State’s regulatory approach, a fireside chat Tuesday between two of the cryptocurrency industry’s most outspoken leaders delivered.

For example, the audience at Consensus 2018 in New York City cheered when ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees invoked a local icon to make the case that the state’s BitLicense was a case of regulatory overreach.

Here we are two miles from the Statue of Liberty and you cannot sell CryptoKitties in the state without that license. That’s the absurdity of what’s happened here,” he said.

And Jesse Powell, the CEO of Kraken, got some laughs at the expense of former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

When Scheniderman’s office sent a request for information to Kraken (along with several other exchanges) earlier this year – three years after his company stopped doing business in New York – it felt like “a slap in the face,” Powell said.

But then “it turns out this asshole actually slapped people in the face,” he quipped, referring to the allegations of physical abuse that forced Schneiderman to resign shortly afterward.

Yet between these zingers and applause lines about the BitLicense – which both executives blame for driving their companies out of state – there were subtler points made. The conversation highlighted the challenges facing both the industry and regulators worldwide as governments come to terms with the ramifications of cryptocurrency.

Powell, for example, pointed out the tension between anti-money-laundering regulations and customer privacy protections. In the case of the BitLicense, he said, Kraken would have had to “disclose all the information about our entire global client base to the state of New York.”

That was not only distasteful, Powell said, but “potentially illegal” under the privacy laws of other countries.

“To service New York today, what we’d have to do is create a special purpose entity just to service New York and completely firewall off” all the exchange’s other users to protect their privacy, he said.

Alternative models

Widening the lens, Powell contended that the U.S. “has really failed” by leaving it up to local regulators to figure out how to deal with cryptocurrencies.

“In others parts of the world, it’s an issue that’s being taken seriously by heads of state – presidents, prime ministers. It’s not something that’s relegated to individual regulators at a state level,” he said. “It should be treated as a national economic and national security issue, maybe even an international issue.”

Powell cited Japan’s Virtual Currency Act as an example of “reasonable” regulation. Although the law is “not perfect,” he said, “we’re already seeing an explosion of business in Japan” as a result of the clarity it brought.

Voorhees, however, held up a different U.S. state as an example of how to do things right: Wyoming, which recently passed a package of five blockchain-related laws.

The two most important ones, in his view, were a law that excludes tokens from being automatically categorized as securities, and another that excludes digital asset companies from being automatically classified as money transmitters.

“That’s the model people should be looking at, they’ve done it the best,” Voorhees said.

And despite using the phrase “statist oppression” early in the conversation to describe his feelings about New York when the BitLicense was created, Voorhees later clarified that he thinks regulators generally have good intentions.

But their aims can be met today by means other than imposing bureaucratic, bank-style regulations on businesses that want to be nothing like traditional financial institutions, he argued.

“The crypto industry and regulators can find common ground in realizing that this incredible new technology can achieve many of the noble goals of the regulators such as protecting consumers,” Voorhees said.

Regulatory hopscotch

Ultimately, though, the two executives depicted cryptocurrency as a highly mobile activity that can easily relocate when any jurisdiction starts to appear heavy-handed.

Powell said Kraken’s main office is located in San Francisco only as a convenience because that’s where he lived when he started the company. Crypto businesses can basically pick up and move anywhere in the world they want to be, he said.

And users need not always move to another place, use a VPN to mask their IP address or even break the law to get around restrictions; Powell shared a tip for New York residents who feel deprived because of the way the BitLicense has limited their cryptocurrency trading options.

“If you’re here stuck in New York and you can’t trade how you want to trade, set up a Wyoming LLC and you can trade through that and have your business trade for you,” he said.

Further limiting regulators’ power, Powell said, the rise of decentralized exchanges will give users even more alternatives.

“If they can’t do what they want on Kraken they’re doing to do it on a decentralized exchange,” he said.

And Voorhees said “regulatory hopscotch” by exchanges and other businesses that move from one country to another is only a symptom of a broader phenomenon that won’t easily be resolved.

He concluded:

“Bitcoin basically broke down the borders of how value moves across humanity. There is no way that an invention like that doesn’t run straight into the jaws of regulations. And that conflict is going to be one of the great themes of my lifetime.”

Photo via Wolfie Zhao for CoinDesk. Left to right: CoinDesk research director Nolan Bauerle, Jesse Powell and Erik Voorhees. 

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.