Cointelegraph By Max Boddy


Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Philip Lowe, cautions that Facebook’s announced virtual currency—Libra—may not attain mainstream usage in the near future, according to a report by Bloomberg on June 20

The report quotes Lowe as follows regarding Libra:

“There’s a lot of water under the bridge before Facebook’s proposal becomes something we’re using all the time […] There are a lot of regulatory issues that need to be addressed and they’ve got to make sure there’s a solid business case, so we’ve got to be careful before we jump to conclusions.”

Lowe reportedly also criticized the top cryptocurrency by market cap, bitcoin (BTC), in 2017. The RBA governor is said to have complained that it rose to prominence due to “speculative mania” and further conjectured that criminals were likely more drawn to it than customers.

Libra and bitcoin aside, Lowe reportedly does not think cryptocurrency is viable for Australia, due to the purported utility of its preexisting electronic payment system.

Lowe remarked:

“I have long thought that a kind of cryptocurrency would not take off in Australia because we already have a very, very efficient electronic payments system that allows anyone of us to make bank payments to another person in five seconds just knowing their mobile phone number.”

As reported by Cointelegraph on June 21, the RBA released a paper entitled ‘Cryptocurrency: Ten Years On,’ arguing that cryptocurrency would not achieve mainstream adoption in Australia.

Echoing the foregoing sentiments expressed by Lowe, the RBA paper’s abstract reads:

“This article examines why Bitcoin is unlikely to become a ubiquitous payment method in Australia, and summarises how subsequent cryptocurrencies have sought to address some of the shortcomings of Bitcoin – such as its volatility and scalability problems.”

Governor Lowe’s comments join a

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Bitcoin (BTC) has continued its steady rally in price over the past three months to break $10,000 today for the first time in over a year.

Bitcoin broke the $10,000 mark today after trading in the $3,000-$4,000 range for the first four months of this year.

Bitcoin’s recent price rally has seen commentators like Fundstrat’s Tom Lee predict new record prices for the crypto in the future, as Cointelegraph reported on June 19.

Also this week, the bitcoin hash rate — the total computing power of the bitcoin network — hit new all-time highs. Bitcoin breaking a multi-year high, the growth in hash rate can be taken as a measure of how much interest there is in mining the coin.

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Grayscale’s Ethereum-based security, Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETHE), is available for trading on OTC Markets, according to an official blog post from Grayscale Investments on June 20.

According to the post, ETHE is “an open-ended trust that holds Ethereum.” As further noted, this is a means of investing in Ethereum without having to actually hold the cryptocurrency. This means that the “first U.S.-based publicly quoted security solely invested in and deriving value from the price of Ethereum is available.”

Grayscale’s Director of Investments and Research Matt Beck commented on how investing in Ethereum can help investors build a profitable portfolio, saying:

“Cryptocurrencies — such as Ethereum — offer exposure to a unique set of market opportunities and risks that are uncorrelated to traditional assets. As a result, they can further diversify modern portfolios, enhancing returns per unit of risk (when positions are sized appropriately and maintained over long investment horizons).”

This closely mirrors CEO of Morgan Creek Capital Mark Yusko’s statement in May, in which he implored investors to hold bitcoin (BTC) due to its low correlation and high diversification.

Grayscale Investments, the United States-based investment firm behind ETHE, also offers a trust for bitcoin — Grayscale Bitcoin Trust — as well as trusts for the cryptocurrencies Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and Horizen (ZEN).

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Grayscale got the green light to trade ETHE via OTC markets in May from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a not-for-profit regulator authorized by Congress.

However, Grayscale notes in its disclaimer that the trusts are not registered with the major American governmental watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

“The Products are NOT registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) or any other regulatory agency in any jurisdiction, and are

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The Atlantis hard fork for Ethereum Classic (ETC) has been officially set to occur at block 8,772,000 on the blockchain, according to the Ethereum Classic Improvement Protocol (ECIP) finalization call via Discord on June 20.

As per the discussions in the call, the developers and contributors had previously considered putting the hard fork at block number 8.75 million, which is predicted to run on September 15.

However, since the 15th is a Sunday, ETC Labs moved to increase the block number in order to have the projected update during the week, when more involved parties, such as exchanges and developers, are more likely be present to discover and deal with any issues that may arise.

Since the release is still several months away, the block number is an imperfect estimate of date; nonetheless, the number has been moved up with the aim of the hardfork arriving on Tuesday, September 17, around noon UST.

The decision appeared to be unanimous.

An official ETC blog post proposed this shift on June 19, which noted block 8.772 million for an intended fork date of approximately September 17. Today’s discussion further solidifies that number.

The post also notes that Atlantis is currently undergoing testing to weed out any bugs or other unwelcome consequences from introducing the new hard fork code to ETC’s original scheme.

The post also notes the following as main priorities of the upcoming hardfork:

“(1) develop high-quality blockchain software that preserves the security of the network

(2) consider the opinions and concerns of the community.”

ETC itself is the original Ethereum blockchain, which is named Classic in response to Ethereum carrying out a hard fork in 2016. This happened amid the collapse of Ethereum-based project “The DAO” after a major hack exploited its security flaws.

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Automotive giant China Wanxiang Holding Co., Ltd has partnered with blockchain-based tech firm PlatOn to develop a “smart city” in Hangzhou, according to a report by CryptoNinjas on June 20.

According to the report, the smart city—dubbed “Innova City”—will be built with tech using PlatON’s blockchain infrastructure, for purposes like interfacing with city resident ID cards as well as monitoring driving behavior.

The report includes a statement from Chief Innovation Officer at Wanxiang, Vincent Wang, who goes into more detail on such applications, saying:

“Imagine a smart transit system that tracks and rewards responsible driving behavior, or a renewable power grid that incentivizes energy generation and trading, or even a myriad of urban services that can be validated, built, and offered at ease without the constraints of rigid data silos.”

As per the report, Chief Strategy Officer at PlatON Ada Xiao also commented on how PlatON’s privacy services will be used in the city, saying:

“With our use of Multi-Party Computation (MPC) and other privacy-preserving technologies, we can ensure the privacy of sensitive data including digital identities of residents, smart equipment, and personal devices, as they interact with one another on a shared ledger.”

Innova City is projected to contain 90,000 residents when launched in 2025. The city also plans to include an “International Research and Innovation Park” as well as Wanxiang automotive facilities with electric vehicles. As per the report, Wanxiang has committed $29 billion to support Innova City’s creation.

Wanxiang appears to have deep ties with PlatON.

According to PlatON’s website, PlatON partners with Wanxiang Blockchain on a consortium blockchain for enterprise applications. Additionally, Feng Xiao is listed as co-founder of PlatON, Chairman of Wanxiang Blockchain, and founder of Wanxiang Blockchain Labs.

According to Wanxiang Blockchain’s website, Wanxiang created Wanxiang Blockchain, which contains Wanxiang

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The Roybal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has hired a former executive from cryptocurrency finance firm Circle, according to a report by the Financial Times on June 18.

Marieke Flament, who formerly worked as the European managing director of Circle, will reportedly join RBS as CEO of Mettle, its digital service for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Mettle has reportedly been operational since November 2018, and RBS is aiming to roll out a standalone version of the service in August. Flament commented on potential for financial disruption in the SME sector with Mettle, saying:

“There is a huge opportunity for disruption in SME digital banking. Insight and feedback garnered during the pilot stage have shown that we are in a very strong position to capitalize on this opportunity through Mettle.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the Royal Bank of Scotland joined a trial program in April that used blockchain tech to streamline real estate payments. The trial reportedly used a tool from startup Instant Property Network — based on R3’s open source platform Corda — to cut costs and offer more transparency in property acquisitions.

Executive John Stecher at Barclays, another major bank participating in the trial, commented on the current un-streamlined process of buying a house, saying:

“When a person wants to purchase a house, the process encompasses a whole host of different interactions with different businesses and governmental entities that can be uncomfortable and drawn out.”

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The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has unsealed a fraud complaint against Swedish citizen Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson and associated firm Eastern Metal Securities (EMS), according to a press release on June 19.

According to the DoJ Karlsson and EMS are charged with committing securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Specifically, Karlsson allegedly instructed investors to pay for his products using virtual currencies, such as the cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC).

According to the complaint, the EMS website was registered to a made-up person, and offered shares of “Pre Funded Reversed Pension Plan” of which investors could allegedly purchase shares at $98 apiece. Karlsson allegedly promised a payout of 1.15kg in gold (over $45,000 as of January 2, 2019) per securities share.

However, an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation unit reportedly concluded that Karlsson did not demonstrably have the capital to back the promised payouts. However, he did appear to have invested the money received in Thailand-based real estate.

Karlsson has purportedly been running two websites, EMS and HCI25, to conduct scam investment deals with no payout. He allegedly succeeded in obtaining over $11 million from at least 3,575 investors via these scams, which have been in operation since 2006.

According to the report, Karlsson was arrested in Thailand on June 18, and the United States is requesting extradition to try the purported scammer in the Northern District of California.

Earlier this week, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) filed a complaint against Control Finance Ltd, a now-defunct company from the United Kingdom that allegedly acquired almost $150 million through bitcoin-related fraud.

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The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group has released data showing that open interest in Bitcoin futures is rising, as per an official Twitter post on June 18.

Interest in BTC futures over time:

According to CME, bitcoin (BTC) open interest spiked on June 17 with an all-time high of 5,311 contracts totalling 26,555 BTC, or approximately $246 million at press time.

Futures are standardized contracts that bind a party to buying or selling some asset at a predetermined date. Notably, the CME group also remarked in the Twitter post that BTC futures appears to be gaining popularity with institutional investors.

Major United States bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM) executive Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou has also recently commented in a report on the state of bitcoin, saying that BTC markets appear to be increasingly influenced by institutional investors.

While CME is noticing increased interest and positions, the Cboe Global Markets settled its last bitcoin futures contracts at 3 p.m. Chicago time today. 

Many have speculated that Facebook’s recent cryptocurrency announcement will propel markets forward. Yesterday the social media giant released the white paper for its own stablecoin, Libra, which financial analyst Tom Lee says is evidence of mainstream interest in crypto.

BTC is currently trading around $9,290, up 2.55% on the day.

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) of the Philippine government has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with U.S.-based blockchain firm Monsoon Blockchain Storage, according to a report by GMA News Online on June 19.

The MoA reportedly stipulates that Monsoon is to act as a blockchain consultant and advisor to DICT, offering services such as cost-benefit and socio-economic analyses regarding blockchain solutions in the Philippines.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. commented on how the MoA will benefit the Philippines, saying it will “directly benefit our continuous effort to address the country’s issues on ease of doing business and cybersecurity.”

The MoA also purports to benefit Monsoon, by the DICT releasing education and awareness materials on blockchain tech and contributing to the firm’s “capacity-building activities.”

According to its website, Monsoon Blockchain Storage is a data storage company that has developed a blockchain solution for analyzing, storing, and optimizing cloud-based data sets. The firm is reportedly also developing an Ethereum-based blockchain with purported ideological similarities to Ripple.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, the charity foundation associated with major cryptocurrency exchange Binance recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Safe Future, a Uganda-based non-governmental organization focused on improving infrastructure for the country’s schools.

The MoU aims to provide Ugandan students with a variety of useful materials, such as solar panels, sanitary pads, school supplies, LED screens, as well as breakfast and lunch for students.

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Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin has announced that it is now listing the cryptocurrency Binance Coin (BNB) issued by the exchange Binance, according to a press release on June 19.

KuCoin will reportedly offer BNB trading pairs with Bitcoin (BTC) and Tether (USDT). The announcement also notes that KuCoin will support projects based on Binance’s native blockchain, Binance Chain, in addition to its native coin BNB.

The recent development shows that major trading institutions are putting trust in Binance’s token-vetting process on its initial exchange offering platform.

At press time, KuCoin is the 46th largest cryptocurrency exchange on CoinMarketCap, with an adjusted 24-hour trade volume of over $47 million.

Binance recently partnered with TrustTroken to offer the latter’s dollar-backed stablecoin TrueUSD (TUSD) on the exchange as a fiat-to-crypto conversion mechanism. There are reportedly no additional fees to buy the stablecoin, and users can then use TUSD to convert their funds one-to-one with U.S. dollars.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, researchers at Binance conjectured that social media giant Facebook’s upcoming Libra stablecoin could increase the crypto market’s volume by making crypto payments more accessible. The researchers discussed how Libra aims at becoming a global currency standard, saying:

“Backed by a basket of fiat currency-denominated assets in its initial release, Libra represents a first attempt at creating a world currency, on-chain or not, with everyday usage by billions of individuals and institutions across the globe.”

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