China Round-Up: Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang Receive ‘Unicorn’ Valuations, Number of DLT Companies Explodes

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In recent cryptocurrency news from China, three cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturers have been valued at more than $1 billion USD, Bitmain has supported the launch of a research center for digital financial assets at Tsinghua University, and more than 3,000 companies were found to have registered blockchain-themed business names during the first half of 2018.

Also Read:Powerful Cryptocurrency Firms on the Road Towards Becoming Banks

Bitmain, Canaan Creative, and Ebang Ranked as Chinese ‘Unicorns’

China Round-Up: Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang Recieve ‘Unicorn’ Valuations, Number of Chinese DLT Companies ExplodesShanghai-based Hurun Research Institute has published its Q2 Unicorn Index for the Greater China region, which features cryptocurrencies companies for the first time.

Bitmain is ranked 13th on the list, with Hurun valuing the company to be worth 70 billion yuan ($10.3 billion USD approximately). Canaan Creative also holds a significant position on the list, sitting at 32nd (tied with 20 other companies) with a valuation of roughly 20.34 billion yuan (approximately $3 billion USD). Ebang ranks 53rd alongside 38 other companies with an approximated valuation of 10.17 billion yuan (roughly $1.5 billion USD). All three companies recently indicated their desire to conduct initial public offerings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the coming months.

Bitmain Backs Launch of Digital Asset Research Center at Tsinghua University

China Round-Up: Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang Recieve ‘Unicorn’ Valuations, Number of Chinese DLT Companies ExplodesThe Tsinghua School of Economics and Management has launched a “digital asset research center”, with reports asserting that donations from Bitmain were instrumental in leading to the establishment of the center.

Bitmain has ties with a number of leading Chinese universities, including Tsinghua University. Bitmain has provided sponsorship to the Tsinghua supercomputing team since 2016.

Bitmain also recently revealed that it plans to expand its development center in Israel. The expansion is expected to more than triple the number of Bitmain employees currently located at the facility (15), with the company indicating that it expects to recruit more than 40 additional employees to work at the center.

Over 3,000 Chinese Businesses Register Blockchain-Related Names in First Half of 2018

China Round-Up: Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang Recieve ‘Unicorn’ Valuations, Number of Chinese DLT Companies ExplodesSouth China Morning Post has reported that the number of companies that have registered names including the word ‘blockchain’ between January and July 16th of this year has increased by 500% when compared with the entirety of 2017.

As of July 16th, 3,078 companies had registered names containing the term “qukualian” (the Chinese translation of ‘blockchain’) during 2018, bringing the total number of firms with distributed ledger technology-themed names in China to more than 4,000. By contrast, it is estimated that 817 U.S.-registered firms include the term ‘blockchain’ in their name, with 335 companies donning similar names in the U.K.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Shanghai Stock Exchange were moving to crack down on the practice of companies seeking to cash in on the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology. In March, China Money Network reported that “More than 20 listed companies have been questioned by the Shenzhen and Shanghai exchanges about their suspicious speculation on blockchain.”

Do you feel that China will continue to bolster its blockchain industry whilst seeking to restrict access to cryptocurrencies? Join the discussion in the comments section below!


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U.S. Congress Strikes Positive Tone on Cryptocurrency in Latest Hearing


A congressional hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture today struck a positive tone towards the impact that cryptocurrency and digital assets can have for the economy and processes.

The hearing included academics, engineers, and entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency industry. They included:

  • Mr. Joshua Fairfield, William Donald Bain Family Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Staunton, VA
  • Ms. Amber Baldet, Co-Founder and CEO, Clovyr, New York, NY
  • Mr. Scott Kupor, Managing Partner, Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Park, CA
  • Mr. Daniel Gorfine, Director, LabCFTC and Chief Innovation Officer, CFTC, Washington, DC
  • The Honorable Gary Gensler, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, Brooklandville, MD
  • Mr. Lowell Ness, Managing Partner, Perkins Coie LLP, Palo Alto, CA

Bitcoin’s Role in Alleged Russian Hacking of DNC Emails

The recent indictments of 12 Russia-linked hackers related to their alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections was brought up. Bitcoin was mentioned as the means the hackers used to fund their activities and whether this helped hide their indentities.

However, committee members were informed that bitcoin’s public ledger allowed investigators to pinpoint the movement of funds much more easily than cash. The committee chairman, Michael Conaway, said, “As long as stupid criminals keep using bitcoin, that’d be great.”

Hearing More Technical and Detailed than Previous Ones

With the numerous subject matter experts on the panel, the discussion went into much more detail than others, like the ones at the SEC.

Amber Baldet made a good case for current blockchain technology as an early open framework built on open-source technology, much like the infrastructure of the Internet. In its early state currently, blockchain technology has the potential to grow into new, foundational technologies like the SMTP email protocol. Baldet thus recommended a sensible and moderate regulation.

Baldet said, “the committee can take a more proactive approach to regulation” as a means to support a blockchain becoming a global infrastructure, as the United States did with the internet. This is in contrast to “reactionary” regulations.

CFTC Representative Deeply Involved in the Technology, Makes Actionable Recommendations

bitcoin law
Some subcommittee members raised concerns about bitcoin’s role in an alleged Russian plot to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election

The questions from some committee members did keep the common concerns over bitcoin’s price volatility and ICO scams. Gorfine, of the CFTC, conceded that there were a large amount of bad actors in the space and that upwards of 80% of the ICOs have gone bankrupt.

However, Daniel Gorfine stated that his work is focused very much on a “fintech primer”, which ultimately helps educate investors and regulators understand the technology and avoid scams. The lack of education is a large source of fraud in the industry for market participants, in addition to still-murky regulations.

Gary Gensler Encourages Quicker Regulatory Decisions to Keep Innovation in the United States

Gary Gensler, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, encouraged speeding up decisions about sensible regulations in order to keep innovators in the United States.

Gensler believes that strict or unclear regulations could move innovation and economic benefits offshore. If other countries get ahead of the United States in the industry, this could be a concern. History from other sectors has shown that once innovators leave the country, it’s more difficult to bring them back once the regulatory decisions are made.

Conclusion: Concerns over Centralization

Chairman Conaway concluded that “the hearing was very elucidating for them on different issues.”

However, a recurring concern throughout the hearing is the centralization of capital and mining in bitcoin. One problem is that only a few wallets contain over 90% of all circulating bitcoin. Another point is that the largest miners of bitcoin are in China and Russia, both of which make up about 50% of mining power. As CCN reported, Bitmain is rapidly expanding its business globally.

Overall, it is encouraging to see that the committee brought experts in private industry and academics to inform regulators on the complexities of blockchain technologies. The group appeared to synergize their specialties in the industry. The committee members could do well to bring more experts on board in the future, since many still appear to be learning about the technologies.

Images from Shutterstock

 

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Mastercard Patents a Method to Manage Cryptocurrency “Fractional Reserves”

Technology

Mastercard has patented a method to manage cryptocurrency “fractional reserves”. The big idea behind it seems to be that users will be able to pay with fiat on credit cards partly backed by crypto assets using a centralized system offering faster transaction conformation speeds.

Also Read: IBM Backs the Development of Latest New Stablecoin, Stronghold USD

Cryptocurrency “Fractional Reserves”

Mastercard Patents a Method to Manage Cryptocurrency "Fractional Reserves”Credit card giant Mastercard (NYSE: MA) was granted a patent for a “Method and system for linkage of blockchain-based assets to fiat currency accounts.” A disclosure from the US Patent and Trademark Office explains it relates specifically to the use of centralized accounts to manage fractional reserves of fiat and blockchain currency updated via transaction messages corresponding to fiat- and blockchain-based payment transactions.

Explaining the need for the patent, the document states that, “blockchain currencies have seen increased usage over traditional fiat currencies by consumers who value anonymity and security. Cryptocurrencies offer consumers a currency that is decentralized and relatively anonymous and secure in its use.” And, such transactions “may be highly desirable for consumers that wish to maintain their privacy, and may help reduce the likelihood of fraud due to theft of their information.”

However, “it often takes a significant amount of time, around ten minutes, for a blockchain-based transaction to be processed, due to the computer processing time and resources required to verify and update the blockchain.” In addition, “it can be difficult for consumers to adopt, or even understand, blockchain currencies,” and if a “wallet is lost, discarded, or stolen, the associated currency often cannot be recovered by the rightful owner.” Thus it concludes that, “there is a need to improve on the storage and processing of transactions that utilize blockchain currencies.”

Mastercard to Really Incorporate Crypto?

Mastercard Patents a Method to Manage Cryptocurrency "Fractional Reserves”Mastercard has already acquired a lot of cryptocurrency-related patents before this. However, it does not seem to be planning to utilize the technology as no actual product or service have been developed. Asked about this, Mastercard senior vice president Seth Eisen explained to CNBC that, “We’re consistently looking at ways to bring new thinking and new innovations to market to create value for us and our customers and cardholders. Patent applications are part of that process, taking steps to protect the company’s intellectual property, whether or not the idea ever comes to market.”

In fact, reports from earlier this year indicated that the company would only agree to facilitate fully-regulated, central bank-issued, non-anonymous coins. “If governments look to create national digital currency we’d be very happy to look at those in a more favorable way,” Ari Sarker, co-president of Mastercard’s Asia-Pacific business, said back in March. “So long as it’s backed by a regulator and the value …it is not anonymous, it is meeting all the regulatory requirements, I think that would be of greater interest for us to explore.”

Is Mastercard really looking to become part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem or is it just hoarding patents for future legal battles? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Line’s Cryptocurrency Exchange BITBOX Is Now Open for Business

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange BITBOX, which is also a division of Japanese internet giant Line Corporation, is now up and running. Operations began on July 16, 2018, and services are available in roughly 15 different languages to traders of every country except Japan and the U.S. Investors can now access markets for up to 30 separate digital currencies including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether and litecoin.

BITBOX’s Product Manager Edward Lee spoke with Bitcoin Magazine regarding the launch. In the interview, he indicated that it’s always been Line Corporation’s goal to launch a cryptocurrency exchange, especially as digital currency has headed further into mainstream territory.

“The launch of BITBOX is part of our long-term strategy to become a leader in fintech services, and it shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options,” he claims. “We are trying to provide a user-friendly service for those who may have felt intimidated by the world of cryptocurrency. With BITBOX, Line users will be able to access cryptocurrencies more easily, while also being assured of state-of-the-art security measures to protect their assets. In addition, we also plan to develop a mobile version of social features for BITBOX.”

The platform is offering various perks and rewards for customers who register early. For example, the first 2 million entrants will receive $10 USD which can be used toward crypto purchases on the exchange. In addition, customers will be exempt from all trading fees during the first month of operation. After that, these fees will be relatively low at 0.1 percent.

Lee says BITBOX differs greatly from other digital exchanges in the awards and security features it offers. “BITBOX was established by a publicly traded company, Line, which has a proven track record as a successful, global messaging platform,” he states. “This brings credibility to BITBOX as a cryptocurrency exchange, something many of the other players lack.”

He continued on to say, “BITBOX also brings Line’s rich insights into UI and UX design to the exchange platform, enabling us to create an intuitive layout that is easier to use, and like Line, BITBOX is absolutely committed to protecting user data. We will provide comprehensive security measures, including integrating the multi-signature technology offered by BitGo, the market leader in institutional-grade cryptocurrency security. Our users’ assets will also be protected by insurance, further safeguarding them in case any incidents occur.”

BitGo is unique in that it’s multi-signature, three-key management software removes any single point of failure, and its advanced security configurations ensure assets remain safe as they move in and out of wallets.

To further insulate funds, Lee says that up to 90 percent of users’ assets will be held in cold storage and that BITBOX is adopting a 24-hour surveillance system. This system is attached to Line’s messaging app, which will notify both users and executives should a hack occur. BITBOX will also monitor any irregular trades or attempts to manipulate prices.

In addition, Lee claimed that BITBOX’s coin and token selection process is selective, as it will only list new cryptocurrencies after they pass a thorough vetting process.

“All tokens added to the exchange must also go through a very rigorous evaluation process by BITBOX’s listing committee,” Lee concludes.

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Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-Con

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-Con

News

Lionsgate studio and Robinhood app have teamed up to give away $50,000 in a crypto scavenger hunt at the San Diego Comic-Con this week. This is to promote the studio’s upcoming Robin Hood movie. Attendees will search for coins, redeemable for $50, $500, $1,000, and $5,000, which can then be invested in cryptocurrencies during the convention.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Crypto Scavenger Hunt

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-ConFor its upcoming movie Robin Hood, Lionsgate studio has announced a partnership with Robinhood investment app for a crypto scavenger hunt entitled Crypto Power To The People. It will take place at the San Diego Comic-Con between July 19 and 22.

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-ConComic-Con is an annual event for fans of fantasy, anime, comics, and other arts. There are over 30 Comic-Con conventions throughout the U.S. but the biggest one is in San Diego. In 2016, over 135,000 people attended the event according to Fortune.

For the crypto scavenger hunt, Collider publication describes:

Attendees will search for coins redeemable for $50, $500, $1,000, or $5,000, which they can use to invest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum over a three day period, July 19-21.

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-Con

Robin Hood and Robinhood

Lionsgate Executive Vice President of Worldwide Digital Marketing Danielle Depalma and Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships and Promotions Paula Kupfer said in a joint statement, as quoted by the news outlet:

We’re thrilled to partner with Robinhood to utilize state-of-the-art technology as a unique way to engage Robin Hood fans. In the spirit of the legendary hero, this collaboration gives back to the community through initiatives that parallel the high-octane adventures in our Robin Hood movie.

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-ConRobinhood, the popular trading app with a modernized layout aimed at younger investors, was recently valued at $5.6 billion. Customers can now use the app to buy and sell BTC, ETH, LTC, and BCH, alongside traditional investments.

The app is currently available in 17 U.S. states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, IN, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NJ, NM, PA, TX, UT, VA, and WI. “We also plan to further expand our coin offerings and add support for coin transfers,” the company wrote.

In addition, the platform offers market data and price alerts for 16 coins. According to its website, they are “bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, bitcoin cash, ripple, ethereum classic, zcash, monero, dash, stellar, qtum, bitcoin gold, omisego, neo, lisk, and dogecoin.”

In the new Robin Hood movie, Robin of Loxley, played by Taron Egerton, is a crusader that returns to lead a revolt against the corrupt English crown with his Moorish commander, played by Jamie Foxx.

With the crypto scavenger hunt announcement, Lionsgate studio has also released the first official Robin Hood trailer. The movie will hit theaters with a busy pre-Thanksgiving weekend release date of November 21.