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Network of Self-Service Kiosks Will Allow Public to Pay Bills and Make Purchases in Crypto

A company is creating a network of self-service kiosks driven by blockchain, where consumers can pay bills, book airline tickets and make purchases.

A blockchain-based company has unveiled plans to roll out a global network of self-service kiosks — enabling millions of unbanked people around the world to pay bills, make purchases and access other financial services.

KIBIS says a plethora of services are available through its kiosks. Consumers can pay for gas, water and electricity, book airline tickets and check flight details, subscribe to TV subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, and buy prepaid vouchers for themselves or loved ones. The payment method accepted by the self-service kiosks will be cash and cryptocurrencies in permitted countries. Other payment options will become available in due course.

The platform has partnered with hundreds of mobile carriers, enabling the public to top up their smartphones on demand, and it will also be possible for them to donate to the charitable causes they are passionate about directly from a kiosk. In a bid to help fuel the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, consumers would also be able to invest in gift cards for crypto exchanges.

A high-throughput blockchain network will be used to process transactions, with an e-wallet payment network set to follow in the future. To ensure KIBIS is able to run at a reasonable scale, a side chain that connects to the Ethereum mainnet is going to be created.

Revenue streams

As well as the income derived from transaction fees, KIBIS says that its kiosks provide two additional revenue streams. An advertising display can be found at the top of each kiosk — and given the footfall that these machines are likely to enjoy around the world, the company is confident that this could create high demand from nearby businesses.

“High efficiency” mining equipment is also going to be embedded within each KIBIS kiosk, with each machine enjoying access to a low-cost source of electricity. Over time, the firm says this will create a large mining pool in countries dotted around the world. A “multi-algorithm mining platform” is going to be used to ensure energy is devoted to mining the most profitable coins at any given period — a move which KIBIS says will “maximize return on investment.”

Self-service kiosks can already be found dotted around the world, including in the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom, Azerbaijan and other countries throughout Eastern Europe. These machines will also benefit from the new KIBIS Mining equipment. The company envisages that every kiosk deployed in the coming years — which could be up to 18,000 — will also be fitted with this infrastructure.

Key kiosk developments

The public presale for KIBIS is beginning on Dec. 10, 2018, and this will be followed by a full Initial Coin Offering.

Looking ahead to 2019, KIBIS plans to begin ordering the manufacture of kiosks with built-in mining equipment that will be destined for the United Arab Emirates, as well as signing agreements with the locations where the kiosks will be based. A mining pool is also going to be launched, and development work is due to commence on the firm’s blockchain-based payment processing platform.

Toward the end of next year, KIBIS hopes to begin deploying kiosks in Oman — and start development of the e-wallets its consumers will use, which will boast more than 2,000 services. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are set to follow thereafter.

 

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Ripple Reaching for Global-Presence: Regulatory Framework May be in Advantage for XRP & the Firm

Possible-to come gov regulations are very welcomed by the blockchain start-up Ripple and its XRP token. This with the idea of a fresh set up for the financial solution provider. Accordingly with its vision to grasp world-wide adoption and presence, the team is getting ready to create working grounds with the officials and regulators.

Cory Johnson – Chief of Marketing Strategist at Ripple, during an interview with Fox Business shared his thoughts on the matter. The strategist highlighted that this type of intervention might work for their best and is very excited for the regulators to step in the crypto-verse.

One person’s regulation is another person’s protection. I believe it’s really important for investors to be protected…We’ve seen what happens when there aren’t investor protections. We’ve seen investors lose so much money, and we’ve seen it in the world of crypto. We’ve seen some real bad actors involved, so we’re thrilled that regulators are getting involved.”

See Also:  Ripple Q2 Report: XRP Sales Down But Customer Adoption on the Rise

Ripple was given the right to sell subsidiary XRP II by BitLincese, which is targeted at firms and the big institutional investors. Q2 saw a sharp drop in Ripple initiated XRP sales compared to the first quarter of the year: sales were down 56%, dropping from $167.7 million worth of XRP sold in the first three months of the year to $73.53 million. More troubling is the decrease in market volume, which also saw a decline throughout 2018 and a steep fall from the end of 2017–albeit when Ripple, and crypto in general, was reaching a fever-pitch in market and institutional interest. As mentioned, there is an increase by institutional interest.

Typically, institutional investors purchasing XRP II are more interested in uses for the coin or long term asset appreciation, as opposed to trying to flip a few percentage gains on the market.

As noted out by Mr. Johnson, with the regulatory work intervening a safer space would be felt around the cryptocurrency ecosystem. But, to much of anything can turn worse.

When it comes to the U.S. and cryptocurrency, Cory added:

“A lot of other countries are moving faster than the U.S. to try to provide really clear lanes of where businesses can act — what’s right and what’s wrong.”

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US Congressman Calls for Ban on Crypto Buying and Mining

A U.S. lawmaker has called for a blanket ban on cryptocurrency buying.

Congressman Brad Sherman is no stranger to controversial statements on the subject – back in March he called cryptocurrencies “a crock” – and during the Wednesday hearing of a subcommittee for the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, he went so far as to advocate keeping Americans out of the market entirely.

“We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies,” the California Democrat declared. He added that, beyond cryptocurrencies being potentially used as a form of money in the future, it can currently be used by tax evaders and rogue states seeking to bypass U.S. sanctions.

One of the panelists, Norbert Michel, director for the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, pushed back against the idea that criminal use should define cryptocurrencies as a whole.

Michel told the subcommittee:

“Yes it is true that criminals have used bitcoin, but it’s also true that criminals have used airplanes, computers and automobiles. We shouldn’t criminalize any of those instruments simply because criminals used them.”

“Those components I believe are the main barriers to widespread adoption in the U.S,” he added.

No love for CBDCs

Though much of the hearing revolved around general monetary policy and history, the crypto-specific portions revealed a general opposition to the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

To quickly recap: a number of central banks around the world have been investigating the idea of using some of the technology concepts behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as part of new, wholly digital money systems. The idea is that the tech can boost transparency and efficiency.

But some of those looking into the subject have warned that it could amplify the risk of bank runs, and several institutions have sworn off the idea entirely following their research.

Alex Pollock, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, blasted the concept during Wednesday’s hearing, declaring it “a terrible idea – one of the worst financial ideas of recent times.”

Other committee members couldn’t help but agree that the idea, at the very least, raised more fundamental questions about how blockchain and cryptocurrencies actually work.

Congressman Bill Foster asked about blockchain immutability, saying “the promise of blockchain is a non-falsifiable ledger … [what] remains an unsolved problem in the digital world is how do you authenticate yourself?”

Payments boon

On a more positive note, Dr. Eswar Prasad, senior professor of Trade Policy at Cornell University, argued that the existence of cryptocurrencies had the potential to impact the financial services system, particularly the payments system, in positive ways.

According to Prasad, cryptocurrencies could “make transactions much easier … and bring down the cost,” but the benefits are limited at the moment.

Michel himself noted:

“It is certainly difficult to imagine a cryptocurrency replacing the U.S. dollar as long as the Federal Reserve acts as a moderately good steward of the national currency, but it is for this very reason that Congress should eliminate barriers that impede people from using their preferred medium of exchange.”

Ultimately, the hearing was cut short in order to make way for a House vote.

However, just prior to dispersing the attendees, chairman Andy Barr noted that cryptocurrencies will “continue to have a greater and greater impact on our financial system,” making it a topic the committee would likely have to “revisit” once again.

You can follow CoinDesk’s live coverage of the hearing on Twitter.

Image via House Financial Services Committee 

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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The CFA Exam Is Getting a Crypto Section Next Year

The notoriously difficult Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program exams are about to get that much tougher.

Dubbed “the most brutal exam in the world of finance” by Business Insider, the three-part test covering several different areas of finance – all with a heavy focus on ethics – is about to add topics on cryptocurrencies and blockchain as examinable material in August 2019.

According to Bloomberg, Stephen Horan, the managing director for general education and curriculum for the CFA Institute overseeing CFA exams, said on the matter:

“We saw the field [of crypto] advancing more quickly than other fields and we also saw it as more durable… This is not a passing fad.”

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain will be part of a new CFA curriculum section dubbed “Fintech in Investment Management” alongside other topics in emerging financial technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and automated trading.

CFA exams are said to attract over 100,000 people from around the globe with less than half of all examinees failing the first round of testing. Since the start of the program back in 1963, some 150,000 have been accredited as CFA “charterholders” having successfully completed the three levels of testing.

These changes to CFA exams come in light of past announcements by complementary institutions announcing new work in the crypto space.

Back in February, the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association boasted the creation of new advisory boards consisting of “cryptocurrency experts,” while the Digital Currency Council several years prior launched their own professional accreditation program for financial advisors looking to specialize in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

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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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Lawmakers to Discuss If Crypto Is 'The Future of Money' Next Week

Cryptocurrencies will take center stage once again on Capitol Hill next week.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee announced Thursday that it would host a hearing titled “The Future of Money: Digital Currency” on Wednesday, July 18.

Though the Committee, headed by Chairman Jeb Hensarling, has yet to announce a full list of participating witnesses, CoinDesk confirmed that the event will be livestreamed on its website.

Past hearings by the Committee have seen lawmakers discuss cryptocurrencies through the lenses of terrorism financing and fraudulent investments, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

That being said, it seems the topic of next week’s hearing is more geared towards debating the utility of cryptocurrencies as a form of money.

It is a timely topic in light of an increasing interest in cryptocurrencies as a potentially useful monetary tool for governments and more specifically, central banks, around the world. In March, the Bank of International Settlements, what some consider as the central bank to central banks, argued cryptocurrencies backed by central banks could in fact fuel faster bank runs during periods of financial instability.

Other countries including Canada, Finland and South Korea have weighed in on the matter, though responses have been mixed with trepidation.

Capitol Hill flags 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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Major Banks, Regulators Trial 'Know Your Customer' App on R3's Corda

A group of financial firms and regulators, including big names like BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, have conducted a trial of a know-your-customer (KYC) compliance application built upon R3’s Corda blockchain platform.

The 39 participants put the app – built by New York-based tech firm Synechron – through a four-day test of the app using 45 nodes in Microsoft Azure, according to a press release. Ultimately, the group managed to conduct over 300 transactions in 19 countries across eight timezones.

The app’s self-sovereign design is aimed to allow firms’ customers to build and maintain their own identities, as well as being able to approve or reject access requests from banks. When customers updated their data in the test, this was automatically updated for any banks with access permission.

R3 said in the statement:

“Traditional KYC processes are complex and often duplicative. This self-sovereign model allows corporate customers to create and manage their own identities including relevant documentation and then grant permission to multiple participants to access this data”

According to R3, this can lead to improved efficiency and lower costs at financial institutions by “eliminating the need for each institution to individually attest and update KYC records.” The model could also help avoid data privacy and security problems, since only parties with the need to see the data will have access to it, and only those with permission from the customer.

“Not only does this project demonstrate how blockchain can allow institutions to retain control of and manage their own identity,” said David Rutter, CEO of R3, “but it also validates the design choices we made in our approach to privacy on Corda.”

Also involved in the trial were ABN AMRO, Societe Generale, China Merchants Bank, ING, Raiffeisen and many more. Meanwhile, the regulators and central banks participating included the Central Bank of Colombia, the Federal Reserve of Boston and the Superintendency of Banking and Insurance of Peru.

Passport and bank cards image via Shutterstock

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Spain's Securities Market Watchdog Completes Blockchain Test

Spain’s securities markets watchdog and a group of financial institutions including Banco Santander have completed a blockchain pilot aimed at testing the tech for registering stock warrant issuances.

The year-long Fast Track Listing (FTL) project saw participation from the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) as well as banks such as Banco Santander, BBVA, BNP Paribas, CaixaBank, Commerzbank and Société Générale.

The idea is that shared databases can be used to more effectively register information about the issuance of warrants – contracts bearing the right to purchase new shares at a certain price before they expire – and filter that data to all parties. According to Banco Santander, the pilot showed that the time to register a warrant issuance was cut by more than 70 percent using the pilot platform.

Initial results from the test were promising, the group indicated, setting the stage for further proofs-of-concept around the technology.

“After obtaining such good results, CNMV has decided to continue exploring the possible uses of this technology in its processes and carry on with the project. BME and all the national warrant issuers (BBVA, Caixabank and Banco Santander), as well as international warrant issuers (BNP Paribas, Commerzbank and Société Générale), are also actively contributing to this project,” according to statements.

Banco Santander bank image via Shutterstock

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Japanese Financial Regulator Issues ‘Punishment Notices’ For 7 Crypto Exchanges

The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has sent “punishment notices” to seven crypto exchanges and temporarily halted the activities of two more after a round of inspections prompted by January’s Coincheck hack, CNBC reports Thursday, March 8.

The FSA issued business improvement orders for a lack of “the proper and required internal control systems” to seven exchanges, including Coincheck, which was specifically cited as lacking a system for preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Exchanges Bit Station and FSHO are to be closed for one month from today, according to CNBC. The FSA reported that a senior Bit Station official used exchange customers’ Bitcoin (BTC) for personal purposes, and Bit Station has ended its application for registering as an exchange.

The hack of more than $500 mln of NEM from the Japanese Coincheck crypto exchange has been attributed to the fact that the coins were stored on a low-security hot wallet. In the aftermath of the hack, the FSA inspected Coincheck and ordered all Japanese crypto exchanges to submit reports on their risk management systems.

The FSA also announced in mid-February on-site inspections of 15 Japanese crypto exchanges, those currently awaiting registration, of their computer safety system measures.

Coincheck had promised customers to refund all stolen coins, a statement supported by the FSA, who confirmed through CNBC that Coincheck had enough funds to do so and would be releasing a reimbursement plan later today.

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Blockchain Startup Chain Launches Balance Management Cloud Service

Blockchain startup Chain is launching a new cloud-based service called Sequence for managing balances in financial and commerce applications.

According to the company blog, the service can be applied to in use cases such as digital wallets, lending platforms, marketplaces, exchanges and more, doing away with the need to build a bespoke system in each instance. Instead, the cryptographically secured product is provided as a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering.

Anticipating perhaps that providers of financial services may be wary of hosting their data in the cloud, Chain emphasized the security of the product, saying:

“While ledgers are managed as a service, all transactions must be signed by the relevant keys. These keys are held in secure enclaves and controlled by the users, services, or organizations that have authority over particular assets, accounts, and functionality. Sequence cannot access them..”

With Sequence ledgers, balances are represented by “token-like objects” called assets, which can be “created, transferred, retired, or entered into more complex programs.” A single transaction can include a number of actions involving multiple assets and accounts, Chain explained.

Currently available for free as a public developer preview, Sequence is expected to move to a general launch in Q1 2018, when a production enclave service based on Intel SGX will also be added.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Chain.

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Fujitsu Partners With Bankers’ Association to Pilot Blockchain Technology in Financial Services

Japanese information technology equipment and services provider Fujitsu has signed a partnership with the Japanese Bankers’ Association (JBA) for the conduct of a trial on the feasibility of using Blockchain technology in financial services transactions.

In the deal, Fujitsu will supply a Blockchain platform that is based on the open-source Hyperledger Fabric code base to be used by banks in different business use cases.

Beginning October 2017, JBA member banks will start to develop their own applications based on Blockchain. They will then conduct a trial run to determine the feasibility for commercial applications.

In a press release, the JBA said that Blockchain will be tested in such applications as settlement and fund transfer services.

“JBA will provide its Collaborative Blockchain Platform to its member banks and other institutions as a testbed environment for applications employing Blockchain technology, such as for settlement and funds transfer services, and identity and time-of-transaction authentication.”

Overview of Japanese Bankers Association

The JBA was established with a mission to assess or evaluate the effectiveness of payment systems and to provide guidance to banks on different issues like how to use or adopt new technologies for the improvement of their services. The association’s members include banks, smaller banking institutions, and bank holding institutions.

Other financial institutions adopting Blockchain technology

Aside from the JBA members, other banks are also conducting tests on Blockchain as a base for their financial services.

Among them is SBI Ripple Asia, the joint venture between Ripple Labs and Japanese financial services company SBI. In its announcement in mid-September, the joint venture said that it will commence the testing of its Blockchain-based funds-transfer system involving banks in Japan and South Korea by the end of 2017.