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Gram Asia to Sell Telegram Tokens at Three Times ICO Price

Gram Asia is selling Gram tokens on July 10 for $4.00 each on the cryptocurrency exchange Liquid, approximately three times the price they sold for during an ICO last year.

South Korea’s Gram Asia is selling rights to its Gram holdings at $4.00 per token starting July 10, according to a report by Bloomberg on July 3.

The proposed sale price is triple the original $1.33 sale price at Gram’s second initial coin offering (ICO) round in March 2018.

The sale on July 10 is apparently happening exclusively through Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid, as per its website. Liquid also hosted the Gram ICO in March, at which time Telegram raised $850 million, bringing its total valuation up to $1.7 billion. 

Citing an email from the exchange, Bloomberg reports that users who buy Gram with the exchange’s native token, QASH, will get a $0.50 discount per token.

Future price estimates for the Gram token vary, but generally fall between $2.10–$8.00, according to research from by Russian research agency Aton.

While Liquid initially announced on June 11 that it would be hosting the sale, a source close to Telegram told Cointelegraph that there is no relationship between the two entities. The source further said that the June 11 press release was the first time they had heard of Gram Asia.

Additionally, a Telegram investor commented that no one has the rights to sell Gram tokens before the official launch. Per a token purchase contract, the buyer agrees to not:

“ENTER INTO ANY swap or other AGREEMENT THAT TRANSFERS, in whole or in part, ANY OF THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF OWNERSHIP OF THE INVESTMENT CONTRACT represented by this Purchase Agreement or any Tokens.”

Gram is the yet-to-be-released native token for the Telegram Open Network (TON), a decentralized network project by the open source, encrypted messenger app Telegram. The service, used by over 200 million people, is planning to launch its Gram tokens by the end of Q3 2019.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Gram Asia is the largest holder of the Gram token in Asia. Additionally, the exchange Liquid apparently has a deal with Gram Asia, but not Telegram. Liquid has further hinted at being an incubator for TON.

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Medici Ventures Leads Funding Round for Blockchain-Based E-Voting Platform

Medici Ventures leads $7 million funding round for a blockchain-based platform that supports remote voting.

Medici Ventures, the blockchain-based subsidiary of Overstock.com, has led a $7 million funding round for a blockchain-based voting platform, according to a press release on June 6.

The blockchain-based voting platform, Voatz, is reportedly designed to allow citizens to participate in official elections and similar events via mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablet computers. The platform is reportedly based on blockchain tech, encryption, and biometrics, and purports to provide better convenience, security, and auditability for voters and vote collectors.

Voatz says that the proceeds of their $7 million Series A funding round will go toward improving accessibility and usability of the platform, as well as launching additional pilot programs in the United States and abroad. Voatz also commented that they have previously conducted pilot programs with a variety of organizations, such as state political parties, universities, labor unions, church groups and nonprofits.

Voatz has reportedly completed a pilot program in which military personnel and U.S. citizens living abroad voted on the platform in Denver, Colorado’s 2019 municipal elections. Voatz also broke ground with a pilot in which similarly out-of-country citizens and military personnel from West Virginia used the platform to submit absentee votes in the 2018 midterm elections.

Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson commented on how this application of blockchain technology is important, saying:

“Voting is a great application of blockchain technology. What Voatz is doing to allow more registered voters to participate remotely in elections in a safe and secure way is important. It bodes well for more widespread adoption of the Voatz application. That’s one reason we’ve increased our investment in the company by leading this Series A round.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Russia’s ruling political party United Russia launched a blockchain-based voting platform last month. United Russia’s head of IT projects Vyacheslav Sateyev commented on the details of the platform, saying:

“Candidates will be able to fill in their personal pages on this site, including posting news, videos, photos, distributing their pages. The personal account is now integrated with all social networks. We have also made an adaptive version of the site for mobile phones.”

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Korea’s Oldest Bank Launches National Blockchain-Based Loan Platform

Shinhan Bank introduced its blockchain-powered lending platform, allowing clients to get loans without face-to-face interaction.

Korea’s oldest bank, Shinhan Bank, has launched a blockchain-enabled lending platform to speed up the loan process, South Korean news agency Yonhap reports on May 27.

Shinhan Bank’s blockchain-powered loan system intends to boost cost and time efficiencies in the lending process, reportedly enabling the public to apply for loans online and get their credits without face-to-face interaction.

According to the report, the new system is the first initiative of its kind introduced in South Korea.

Specifically, Shinhan Bank’s new lending system applies blockchain technology in the verification and confirmation processes within the network of affiliated institutions and banks. The system allows the parties to register and operate in the network using an encrypted one-time password, enabling easy and instant access to the data necessary for the approval and issuance of loans.

A Shinhan Bank official reportedly said that the recent application of blockchain technology is a part of the institution’s attempts to provide remote services for clients. He added that the bank will continue to develop innovations with remote access as well as products to expand accessibility.

As the second-largest commercial bank in South Korea, Shinhan Bank has been actively embracing blockchain technology over the last year. In late 2019, the bank was reported to be implementing blockchain in internal processes in order to reduce the risks of human error. Previously, the bank also reportedly implemented interest rate swap transactions based on blockchain.

Recently, a group of four banks have successfully issued a blockchain-based type of a legally binding loan agreement called a promissory note. The system reportedly reduced the steps necessary for issuance the note by over 50%.

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South Korea’s Largest Car Supplier Hyundai to Use DLT in Smartphone-EV Pairing Tool

Hyundai Motor Group plans to apply blockchain in its new smartphone-vehicle pairing performance adjustment technology.

South Korea’s largest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Group, will use blockchain in its new tech for pairing electric vehicles (EVs) with smartphones. Sustainable mobility-focused news agency Green Car Congress reported on the development on April 22.

Hyundai reportedly announced development of smartphone-EV pairing based performance adjustment technology that allows users to customize primary functions via a smartphone application.

In the claimed industry-first, Hyundai will reportedly implement blockchain technology to prevent security issues while users upload and share their custom settings on the server.

As such, the upcoming system is set to encrypt major performance parameters on a blockchain network by creating new data blocks in the process of uploading and sharing custom settings in order to prevent unauthorized manipulation of data.

According to the report, drivers will be able to adjust seven performance features such as the maximum torque output of the motor, acceleration and deceleration abilities, regenerative braking capacity, maximum speed limit, responsiveness and energy use on climate control.

Earlier this year, Hyundai’s financial services subsidiary, Hyundai Commercial, partnered with American tech giant IBM to transform its business model with blockchain. The partnership is focused on deploying open source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to create a new supply chain financing ecosystem for the Hyundai Commercial network.

Recently, IBM was granted a patent for a new system to manage data and interactions for self-driving vehicles.

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Bank of America Applies for Blockchain-Based Encrypted Crypto Storage System Patent

The U.S.’s second-largest bank, Bank of America (BofA), has applied for another blockchain patent on the development of a secure crypto storage system, according to a patent document published by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) August 23.

The patent, entitled “Block Chain Encryption Tags,” describes a system of recording and storing cryptocurrency-related transactions that are handled by enterprises. In short, the invention offers a system of data security for blockchain networks by implementing encryption and linking data units to the blocks of a certain blockchain.

In the patent document filed on April 18, 2018, the North Carolina-based bank introduced a system that includes a device with a processor that first receives a set of data elements, and then acquires an encryption key prior to encrypting the elements within the first block on a blockchain.

The device further combines the encryption key with the generated encrypted element map in order to create and then encrypt the “creator tag,” which is then further embedded and published within the first block of the blockchain.

According to the document, the recent patent application by BofA is a reproduced version of a U.S. non-provisional application filed in 2014 by James G. Ronca and titled “Cryptocurrency Online Vault Storage System.”

BofA has previously taken steps for adopting blockchain technology, having filed nearly 50 blockchain-based patents as of June 2018, making it reportedly the largest holder of blockchain-related patents among all companies, even beating the tech giant IBM.

While BofA is one of the leading companies that promotes innovation in the blockchain sphere, the bank is still sceptical towards cryptocurrencies, despite having acquired a patent on the development of a digital currency exchange system in December 2017. In May, BofA reiterated its negative stance toward crypto, calling it “troubling” and confirming its decision to ban clients from buying crypto with their credit cards.

However, earlier this year, the bank had admitted to U.S. regulators that it may be “unable” to compete with the growing use of cryptocurrency, claiming that the inability to adapt “services and products to evolving industry standards and consumer preferences” can harm its business.

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Research: Telegram Passport Is Vulnerable to Brute Force Attacks

The recently released personal identification authorization tool Telegram Passport from messenger app Telegram is vulnerable to brute force attacks, according to an Aug. 1 report by cryptographic software and services developer Virgil Security, Inc.

On July 26, Telegram announced the launch of Telegram Passport designed to encrypt users’ personal ID information and let them share their ID data with third parties such as initial coin offerings ICOs, crypto wallets, and anyone complying with know your customer (KYC) regulations.

Users’ data is kept on the Telegram cloud using end-to-end encryption, subsequently moved to a decentralized cloud, which cannot decrypt personal data as it is seen as “random noise.” However, in their recent research Virgil Security raised concerns about password protection in the service.

According to Virgil Security, Telegram uses SHA-512, a hashing algorithm that is not meant to hash passwords. This algorithm reportedly leaves passwords vulnerable to brute force attacks, even if it’s salted. In cryptography, a salt is random data added as an extra secret value to the end of the input, which extends the length of the original password, providing some additional protection.

When a user encrypts personal data, it is reportedly uploaded to the Telegram cloud, and when a user needs to confirm authenticity on a third party service, they decrypt that data and re-encrypt it for that service’s credentials. All these factors reportedly contribute to potential exposure of a user’s password hash table to very efficient hacker attacks. The firm further explains:

“The security of the data you upload to Telegram’s Cloud overwhelmingly relies on the strength of your password since brute force attacks are easy with the hashing algorithm chosen. And the absence of digital signature allows your data to be modified without you or the recipient being able to tell.”

In March, founders of Telegram, Pavel and Nikolai Durov reported they had raised $850 million in the second round of their ICO aimed at the development of the Telegram messenger app and its own blockchain platform Telegraph Open Network (TON). Later in May, Telegram’s plan to launch an ICO was canceled due to the fact that the messaging app had attracted enough funds during their two private ICO rounds.

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Telegram Reveals Personal ID Verification Tool for Sharing Data with ‘Finance, ICOs’

The crypto and blockchain industry’s go-to encrypted messenger app Telegram has released a personal identification authorization tool, according to an official statement published July 26.

The tool, dubbed Telegram Passport, reportedly encrypts a user’s personal ID information and let’s users securely share their ID data with third parties, which the Telegram post elaborates on as “finance, ICOs, etc.”

According to the post, users’ ID data will currently be stored on the Telegram cloud, but “In the future, all Telegram Passport data will move to a decentralized cloud.”

The new tool is currently integrated with digital payment operator ePayments, which Telegram refers to in their post as the “first electronic payments system to support registration and verification” via the new tool. EPayments confirmed the integration on its Telegram channel, noting that “verification can be achieved in just a few clicks.”

Recently, CEO and founder of Telegram Pavel Durov was featured in Fortune’s “40 Under 40” annual rankings as one of the most prominent disruptors of global business. Before creating Telegram, Durov founded social media website VK.com.

This March, Telegram completed two $850 million closed funding rounds via the sale of the platform’s pending cryptocurrency TON, bringing its total funding to $1.7 billion. In late May Telegram’s plans to launch a public ICO were been reportedly disrupted due to the fact that the company had raised enough money via the two private ICO rounds.

Launched in 2011, ePayments says it provides payment services to more than 500,000 freelance customers and 1,000 companies worldwide. The London-based digital payment service supports transactions in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and others.

This week Tokyo-headquartered tech conglomerate Hitachi and telecoms giant KDDI announced the trial of a retail coupon settlement system using blockchain technology to authenticate biometric data.

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Geopolitical Analyst Believes Blockchain Will Become ‘Obsolete’

Geopolitical analyst George Friedman says that blockchain technology will one day become “obsolete,” CNBC reported June 15.

Friedman is a founder of Geopolitical Futures, an online publication dedicated to predicting the future course of international affairs, and author of “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.” He told CNBC that he has “never known any encryption technology not to be broken,” and that he doubts “between Russia, China, U.S. intelligence services” that blockchain cannot be decrypted. He added:

“It’s useful. It’s visible, at some point it’ll be obsolete.”

Friedman said that blockchain is “one of those hypes. People are profiting from it, making extraordinary claims about it.”

In January, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Christopher Wray announced statistics regarding encryption and information security at the International Conference on Cyber Security. According to the provided data, the FBI was unable to crack over 7,800 devices that contained information the FBI considered vital to ongoing investigations from 2016-2017. Wray also said that half of the devices safeguarded by encryption had been inaccessible.

In March, Cointelegraph reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is ostensibly able to locate users of Bitcoin (BTC) around the world, as classified documents provided by Edward Snowden revealed. The NSA supposedly managed this by creating a system for harvesting, analyzing, and processing raw global internet traffic using a program disguised as a popular anonymizing software.

A secret internet surveillance program reportedly represented a range of covert corporate partnerships that enabled the agency to monitor communications and pull data directly from the fiber optic connections that form the internet undergird.

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Mastercard Files Patent for Blockchain System to Secure Card Payments

Financial services provider Mastercard has filed a patent for a blockchain system to provide faster and more secure payments on their cards, according to US Patent and Trademark Office USPTO patent filing released June 7.

The patent application dubbed “Method And System For Payment Card Verification Via Blockchain” describes a public blockchain-assisted conveyance and retrieval of payment processes to verify and secure users’ information.

In the document, Mastercard noted the vulnerability of existing means of “wireless transmission of payment credentials,” claiming that they can be “subject to intercept.” By implementing a blockchain, the company aims to enable a secure way of conveying payment credentials that also involves “minimal participation by the consumer.” The recent blockchain application from Mastercard intends to solve the technical challenge of providing both security and convenience:

“Thus, there is a need for a technological solution to enable the conveyance of payment credentials to a point of sale device that requires minimal participation by the consumer, while still maintaining a high level of security, particularly against skimming.”

“Skimming” is a practice that ”enable[s] a nefarious actor to pull the payment credentials from a payment instrument, even when securely located in the consumer’s wallet or purse, or to intercept the payment credentials as they are being wirelessly transmitted to the point of sale device.”

According to the patent document, the encryption process encodes the cards information and stores it on the blockchain, after which two keys are issued, a public and a private key. When the card is used to make a purchase, a retrieval request is made, after which the system will use the keys to decode and verify the card information. 

Earlier this week, Mastercard’s vice chair Ann Cairns said at the Money20/20 conference that the company has “built a Blockchain that can run the whole [network].” She stated that the company decided to apply blockchain integration “at scale” while noting the need to identify “real use cases.” Cairns explained that firms cannot just “replace existing technology with blockchain because [they] may not create a better user experience.”

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Russian Gov’t Blocks 20 Mln IP Addresses To Ban Telegram, App Still Operational

After announcing the ban of encrypted messenger Telegram last Friday, Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor (RKN) began blocking the app Monday, April 16.

In order to ban access to the messenger, the authority has blocked nearly 20 mln Google and Amazon Internet Protocol (IP) addresses as of April 17, but Russia’s Telegram users say that the app still works without applying any additional means of circumventing the block, such as proxy and VPN services.

While the crypto community’s go-to messenger app is still operating in Russia, the users of dozens services, which are not related to Telegram, have complained about crashes associated with blocked IP addresses. Viber messaging app experienced connectivity problems, which affected calls shortly after RKN began blocking.

Edward Snowden, world-famous advocate for user data security and anonymity, expressed outrage over RKN’s activity in April 17 tweet, considering the move as a “morally and technically ignorant censorship effort,” that has “broken Russia’s internet.”

According to local news outlets TJournal and Mediazona, the users reported crashes of various services such as Microsoft and Windows updates; gaming platforms like Nintendo Switch, Playstation Network, Blizzard, and Xbox-Live; online games Wargaming and Guild Wars 2; Android apps client APK Mirror; video streaming services Netflix and Twitch.tv; online retailers, and many others.

Local media reported that RKN’s blocking activity affected its own website. RKN denies its involvement in network crashes of third-party Internet resources.

Some services could suffer considerable losses due to network crashes allegedly caused by RKN. Skyeng online school could lose up to 30 mln rubles or $480,000 in one evening due to network failures. According to local media outlet Meduza, about 60 local businesses including proxy services have sought legal assistance on the matter.

According to the head of RKN Aleksandr Zharov, the authority has managed to block 30 percent of Telegram networks, and the amount of complaints from services that have suffered as a result of the ban is “quite low.” RKN has also issued warnings to proxy and VPN service owners about upcoming bans citing “extremism and calls for mass disturbances.”

Meanwhile, Telegram’s creator Pavel Durov posted on his Vk.com social media profile that he is giving donations in Bitcoin (BTC) to proxy and VPN administrators in order to support the resistance. Durov claims he is “happy to donate millions of dollars of personal funds” to protect digital freedoms and progress.