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China Leads the World in Google Searches for Facebook’s Libra

China has the highest rate of “Facebook Libra” Google searches, while the U.S. is ranked 25th, according to Google Trends’ data.

China is the global leader when it comes to searching for “Facebook Libra” on Google one month after the release of Libra’s white paper.

China keeping a close eye on Facebook’s Libra

As of July 18, China is the first in the list of countries googling of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency project, according to data from Google Trends.

Based on the data, China has the highest proportion of search queries for Libra, with a maximum value of the query popularity of 100. The top five countries include St. Helena, ranked second with a value of 37, as well as Singapore, Hong Kong and Luxembourg.

“Facebook Libra” Google searches over the past 30 days

“Facebook Libra” Google searches over the past 30 days. Courtesy of Google Trends

At the same time, the same query is surprisingly low in the United States, with estimated query value of 10. As such, the home country of Facebook is ranked 25th in the list, based on the popularity of Libra searches in Google.

Marcus confirms Libra will compete with WeChat, Alipay

Google Trends data is not the only source proving the massive spike of interest of China to Facebook’s Libra. China’s Sina Weibo, the country’s biggest social media network, has also recorded an increased popularity of Libra. 

China-focused online Twitter resource Cnledger reported today that queries for “Libra will compete with Alipay and WeChat” is now the second most popular search on Weibo.

Meanwhile, David Marcus, head of Facebook’s blockchain subsidiary Calibra, has recently confirmed that the company is planning to compete in its payment solution with Chinese payment giants such as Alibaba Group Holding’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay. Marcus acknowledged the intention during the hearing on Libra with the Financial Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives on July 17.

On July 8, China’s central bank announced it started working on its own digital currency in response to Facebook’s Libra as it could pose a risk to the country’s financial system.

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Visa Makes Its Second Investment into a Crypto Startup

Visa co-led a $40 million funding round in crypto startup Anchorage, marking its second-ever investment in a crypto startup.

Global payment giant Visa has recorded its second investment in a crypto project by leading a $40 million funding round of Anchorage startup, according to a Fortune report on July 10.

Visa has reportedly led the round along with major cryptocurrency venture capital (VC) firm Blockchain Capital to support institutional-grade crypto custody service Anchorage, which previously raised $17 million in an investment led by Andreessen Horowitz.

In the new round, both the amount of Visa’s contribution and Anchorage’s private valuation were not disclosed, the report notes. Both Visa and Anchorage are founding members of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, which was officially revealed on June 18.

As Fortune noted, the recent funding round is the second known investment of Visa in a crypto-related firm, with the payment giant having participated in a $30 million funding round in blockchain startup Chain back in 2015 alongside with Nasdaq and Citi. In late 2018, Chain was acquired by Stellar-focused firm Lightyear.

The new funding will be used in Anchorage’s mission to provide an alternative to cold storage-based institutional custodies to ensure the security of customers’ assets. Instead, the company implements a system of multiple approvals and human reviews, as well as biometric-based software to provide a secure storage of crypto, the report notes.

In late May, Anchorage introduced its insurance coverage solution, opposing it to the majority of custodians that use a combination of cold and hot storage. Claiming that not all coverage of crypto custody insurance is equal, the company announced that they acquired a crime insurance policy, which covers both types of digital asset storage under one policy.

In mid-June, Visa launched “Visa B2B Connect,” a cross-border payment network derived from some aspects of blockchain technology.

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Scientist Mines Bitcoin on Computer Model Used by Apollo Missions

A reverse engineering specialist found out the hash power of a computer that was used by NASA to navigate moon landings.

An American computer scientist has managed to mine Bitcoin (BTC) on a 52-year-old Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), British tech media outlet IT Pro reports on July 9.

Ken Shirriff, a specialist in reverse engineering, has reportedly worked out a code that enabled him to mine Bitcoin on one of the first integrated circuit-based computers that were used to navigate the first moon landings by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the 1960s.

As Shirriff wrote on his personal website, the machine on which he managed to integrate Bitcoin mining code is the world’s only remaining working AGC.

With performance comparable to the first generation of home computers from the late 1970s like the Apple II, the 15-bit AGC is apparently not the best hardware to mine crypto. The computer turned out to have a hash power of 10.3 seconds per hash, the engineer reported, explaining that it would take a “billion times the age of the universe to mine a block.”

In comparison, the Antminer S9, a popular ASIC bitcoin miner developed by Chinese mining giant Bitmain exclusively for mining crypto, advertises a hash rate of around 13 terahash, or 13 trillion hashes per second (TH/s).

On his website, Shirriff noted that he has also attempted bitcoin mining on a 55-year-old IBM 1401 punch-card mainframe.

On July 7, Cointelegraph reported that the Bitcoin hash rate reached a new all-time high of 65.19 TH/s. Since then, the growth has continued, breaking 74 TH/s on the same day. As a major metrics for miners, hash rate is the number of calculations that a given hardware or network can perform every second.

A higher hash rate indicates miners’ chances of finding the next block and receiving their reward, also making the network safer by increasing the necessary resources for deploying a 51% attack.

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Former Bitmain CEO Opens New Cryptocurrency Startup

Bitmain co-founder and former CEO Wu Jihan launched his crypto-related financial services startup Matrixport today.

The former CEO of Bitmain, one of the largest bitcoin (BTC) mining pools globally, has launched a crypto-related financial services startup, according to a Bloomberg report on July 8.

Following reports on the initiative in early June, Bitmain co-founder and former CEO Wu Jihan officially launched a new crypto trading platform today that purportedly offers over-the-counter (OTC) trading, lending and custody. 

Named Matrixport, the Singapore-based firm reportedly hired dozens of former Bitmain employees that were laid off from Bitmain as a result of the bear market of 2018.

While Wu is a major Matrixport shareholder, the company has a number of global venture capital firms as investors, including Bitmain itself,  the firm’s CEO and Bitmain shareholder Ge Yuesheng revealed. Ge added that Matrixport will officially announce more details about the company’s funding later on.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ge stated that Matrixport will act as a partner to Bitmain rather than a competitor, and stressed that the company is “closely tied to Bitmain by our origin.”

Ge, a founding member of Bitmain and a 4% shareholder in the company, also claimed that Matrixport will use its Bitmain’s connections and expertise to meet the needs of Chinese cryptocurrency miners.

The news comes amid reports that Bitmain is reviving plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in Q2 2019. As anonymous sources told Bloomberg, Bitmain expects to raise around $300 million to $500 million in an IPO in the United States later on this year.

Bitmain’s initial plans to conduct an IPO in Hong Kong fizzled out in March 2019 when its application with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange expired. In the months leading up to the IPO, Cointelegraph spotted vague and potentially misleading language in Bitmain’s IPO investor deck. Other reports later found that the firm lost $500 million in Q3 2018.

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BrewDog Now Lets You Buy Company Shares Paying With 10 Cryptocurrencies

Scottish beer brewery BrewDog is allowing investors to buy shares with crypto, extending its crowdfunding until April 2020.

Scottish craft beer brewery BrewDog has extended its latest crowdfunding to allow investors to buy shares in the form of cryptocurrency, the company tweeted on July 4. 

BrewDog’s crowdfunding project, so-called “Equity for Punks” now accepts ten cryptocurrencies to become a shareholder. The supported cryptos include bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin SV (BSV), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP), OmiseGO (OMG), Qtum (QTUM), Augur (REP), and 0x (ZRX), as BrewDog stated in a recent blog post.

Launched back in 2010, Equity for Punks program allows investors to buy a small stake in the company, providing an alternative to shares that require a “huge amount of cash.” As such, BrewDog’s investors can now use crypto to buy shares for 25 GBP ($31) each to become a crypto “equity punk.” Along with the crypto announcement, the company has also extended the program until April 2020.

BrewDog states that crypto initiative is the “natural next step” for the company as a business, stressing that “joining forces to link the old and new financial systems is a perfect fit.”

Since the launch, Equity for Punks has totally raised around 72.2 million British pounds ($90 million) to date with over 114,000 people registered as shareholders, according to BrewDog’s website. To encourage the crypto investment option, BrewDog offers six cans of Cryptonite West Coast IPA for “anyone who invests in BrewDog via Cryptocurrency,” the company wrote in the announcement.

The recent crypto-initiative is not the first crypto-related endeavor by the company. In late 2018,  BrewDog launched a new location at London’s Canary Wharf, accepting payments in both bitcoin and bitcoin cash.

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Major Chinese Financial News Provider Quietly Adds Crypto Index

Sina Finance, financial website owned by China’s major tech firm Sina Corp, silently launched crypto index on its mobile app.

Sina Finance, a finance-focused website owned by China’s major tech company Sina Corp, has added crypto index into its mobile app, China-focused online Twitter resource Cnledger reported on July 3.

The new index on China’s major financial news channel provides data on prices and performance of major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), litecoin (LTC), XRP, and ether (ETH), according to a mobile app screenshot provided by Cnledger.

Screenshot of Sina Finance’s Crypto Index on Mobile

Screenshot of Sina Finance’s Crypto Index on Mobile. Source: Cnledger

The new crypto index is only available on the Sina Finance’s mobile app, but not its desktop version, as Chinese tech news outlet TechNode reports on July 4. According to the report, the new feature also provides the latest news in the industry.

Sina has reportedly not issued a public announcement on the issue to date.

China has been known for its anti-crypto stance towards cryptocurrencies since late 2017, when the country banned both bitcoin trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Most recently, Chinese popular social media and payment operator WeChat banned crypto transactions as a part of its payments policy, which envisions the termination of accounts involved in crypto trading.

Alongside, Chinese authorities suggested a potential elimination of crypto mining in the country in April 2019, with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) having included crypto mining as part of its draft for revised list of industrial activities that agency plans to shut down due to regulatory or ecological reasons, among others.

Meanwhile, as much as 73% of Chinese enterprises believe that the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, is a top-five strategic priority, as reported on June 27.

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Deutsche Bank: ‘Aggressive’ Central Banks Making Bitcoin More Attractive

Deutsche Bank lead strategist predicted that interest rate cut by the Fed will make cryptos more attractive as opposed to fiat.

The potential interest rate cut by the United States central bank is apparently one of the reasons for the recent surge of bitcoin (BTC), Deutsche Bank exec Jim Reid said in an interview with CNBC on June 26.

Reid, the head of global fundamental credit strategy at Deutsche Bank, stated:

“if central banks are gonna be this aggressive, then alternative currencies do start to become a bit more attractive.”

Reid referenced a recent speech by Fed’s chairman Jerome Powell, who said yesterday that the central bank is considering a cut of interest rates amidst the current economic uncertainty and inflation risks. As such, the U.S. dollar (USD) dropped versus major fiat currencies yesterday, recording a three-month low against euro (EUR), which was allegedly triggered by expectations of multiple interest rates decreases by the Fed.

Meanwhile, bitcoin has continued to hit new 2019 records of above $12,000, while its market cap surged above $220 billion with a dominance rate reached more than 60% for the first time since April 2017, as reported earlier today.

Reid also noted that the recent spike of crypto prices is partly caused by Facebook’s upcoming crypto project Libra, which white paper was released earlier on June 18. Since then, bitcoin has risen more than 30% from around $9,000 to $12,616 at press time, according to data from Coin360.

In the interview, Reid has reiterated his negative stance towards easing practices by central banks after previously claiming that the existing fiat-based currency system was unstable and nearing its end. Providing his remarks back in November 2017, in the wake of the bitcoin’s all-time high record of $20,000 in December 2017, Reid criticized continuous printing of money by banks, warning that this could lead to the end of paper money.

But the United States isn’t alone. In recent weeks, the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also hinted at new interest rate cuts.

“Add in the May 2020 Bitcoin halving and you have the perfect storm,” tweeted Morgan Creek founder, Anthony Pompliano,” earlier this month. 

“Cut rates.

Print money.

Make BTC more scarce.”

Ironically, Deutsche Bank itself could be partially blamed for a weakening economy. The bank’s stock has been dropping to record lows over the past year.

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You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking at Hotels.Com

Following the partnership with Hotels.Com, Lolli now has two of the world’s top three travel websites including Booking.com.

Bitcoin (BTC) rewards shopping app Lolli has expanded its business by adding major booking service Hotels.com to its partners, the company announced in a blog post on June 25.

With the new partnership, the New York-based firm now has two of the world’s top three travel websites including Booking.com and Hotels.com, Lolli said in the announcement, citing data from traffic analytics service SimilarWeb. 

Founded in March 2018, Lolli allows users to earn Satoshis (sats), the smallest unit of bitcoin currency worth of 0.00000001 BTC, while shopping online. The firm claims to be the first bitcoin rewards application with over 500 brands as partners, including flagship brand of American global hotel service Hilton, as well as Marriott, VRBO, and Priceline, among others.

Following the partnership with Hotels.com, Lolli now enables global travellers to earn up to 3.5% bitcoin back from purchases on the website, the company said in the announcement. 

Hotels.com is a major online accommodation service listing more than 325,000 properties in about 19,000 locations over the globe.

Prior to the announcement of the partnership, Lolli initiated a giveaway quiz on Twitter, promising to give one million satoshis, 0.01 BTC (around $100) to the person who first guesses the new partner.

Back in November 2018, Lolli raised $2.25 million in an oversubscribed seed round from investors including Digital Currency Group.

Bitcoin is no stranger to the travel industry, however. Cheapair was one of the first to accept BTC in 2014. More recently in April, United Kingdom’s largest travel management company Corporate Traveller announced it will be accepting bitcoin for payments.

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98% of BSV Transactions Used for Writing Weather Data on Blockchain: Report

Over the past 30 days, more than 98% of transactions on the Bitcoin SV network have been used for recording weather data.

More than 98% of transactions on the Bitcoin SV blockchain over the past 30 days have been used for writing data from a weather app, Twitter personality Painted Frog noted today, June 24.

Citing data from bitcoin cash (BCH) blockchain visualiser Trends.cash, Painted Frog noted that the vast majority of BSV transactions have been implemented so far for sharing weather data through bitcoin sv-powered app WeatherSV.

 

Performed actions on BSV blockchain over the past 30 days. Source: Trends.cash

According to the website, other BSV implementations over the past 30 days included bitcoin cash-based social network Memo, an incentivized BDV tool called Open Directory, as well as BSV-powered payment system Money Button. With that, WeatherSV has accounted for more than 1.2 million transactions over the period, while Memo, ranked second according to the number of transactions, has recorded just about 9,000 transactions for the same time span.

Top ten actions on Bitcoin sv blockchain over the past 30 days. Source: Trends.cash

As Painted Frog noted in his tweet, WeatherSV is actually a paid subscription service that hourly copies data from an existing weather website OpenWeatherMap.org, generating the most of transactions on BSV network.

While Bitcoin Cash is the first hard fork of Bitcoin, created back in August 2017, Bitcoin SV is a hard fork version of Bitcoin Cash, and is led by self-proclaimed creator of Bitcoin, Craig Wright, who has recently failed to disclose his bitcoin holdings per court order.

In May 2019, Wright created a wave of discontent in crypto community by filing a copyright claim to a part of bitcoin’s code and its white paper.

At press time, bitcoin cash is the fourth biggest cryptocurrency by market cap, trading at $473.41, while bitcoin SV is ranked eighth, trading at $235.71, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

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First Stablecoin Trading Pairs Listed on Binance DEX

Binance exchange lists two new stablecoin trading pairs USDSB/USDT and USDSB/USDS.

Major global crypto exchange Binance has listed trading pairs for USDSB, a Binance Chain-based version of StableUSD (USDS), the firm announced on June 24.

As noted in the statement, Binance has launched trading for two trading pairs, including USDSB against major stablecoin tether (USDT), as well as the USDSB-to-USDS trading pair today at 10:00 AM UTC.

Derived from StableUSD, a stablecoin pegged 1:1 to the United States dollar and developed by crypto startup Stably, USDSB was issued on Binance’s BEP2 token standard in early June 2019. As previously announced, USDSB has become the first stablecoin to be launched on Binance Chain.

According to a blog post by Stably, Binance is also rolling out USDSB trading against Binance Сoin (BNB), Binance’s native ERC-20-based token. The firm added that they are planning to introduce more assets on Binance’s non-custodial trading platform Binance DEX “very soon in the near future.”

Created by Stably, USDS was issued by Nevada-chartered trust firm Prime Trust, which also represents the regulated administrator for USDS. The stablecoin was launched on February 1, 2019, to enable another stable crypto asset for investors as a way of preserving their wealth in dollars during periods of high price volatility. Following the launch, USDS trading went live on Binance on February 5.

Recently, a report suggested that U.S. citizens will have no trading options for a number of cryptocurrencies when Binance exchange becomes unavailable for them in September 2019.

Meanwhile, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has today announced that the crypto exchange has carried out first margin liquidation today, June 24, claiming that it was a short of bitcoin.