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Cointelegraph By William Suberg

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A senior executive from American delivery services company FedEx is unconvinced about the benefits of blockchain technology in its present form, Memphis-based local news outlet Commercial Appeal reported on May 20.

In a new interview, the firm’s dedicated blockchain strategist, Dale Chrystie, said FedEx remains pragmatic about blockchain despite its previous efforts to integrate it.

As it stands, conventional processes covering the shipping database aspect of its operations are superior, at least in part due to the nascent stage of blockchain.

“To kind of burst the bubble, it’s not our only database, it’s not our best database, it’s not currently very fast or very scalable and it’s not very mature, right?” Chrystie said.

His words echoed those of both FedEx CEO Fred Smith and CIO Rob Carter, whose previous comments on blockchain Cointelegraph reported on last year and last month respectively.

While advocating for industry-wide standards and acceptance of the new technology, Carter understands the majority of progress is yet to occur.

“This technology is still in its early days but has immense potential to transform cross border commerce by reducing friction and increasing integrity in how things move around the world,” Carter wrote in an April LinkedIn post.

Chrystie agreed on the need for cooperation.

“Yes, everyone wants to monetize this technology, but we’re all going to have to work together to get it built. That’s why I refer to blockchain as a team sport,” he added. Chrystie continued:

“Once it is built, a lot of people will be able to figure out a business model for it. Right now, it’s not built.”

As Cointelegraph reported, various large scale trials are underway — or have already completed — focusing on blockchain’s role in international shipping and supply chains more widely.

For its part, FedEx joined enterprise blockchain

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Blockchain analysis company Coin Metrics has found discrepancies in blockchain payments network Ripple’s escrow system reporting, according to a May 16 report.

Coin Metrics, which conducts analysis of various aspects of cryptocurrency tokens, investigated Ripple and discovered what it said were contradictions that required an explanation.

“Coin Metrics found several important discrepancies between what was publicly reported by Ripple and what was visible on the XRP ledger,” the report summarized.

The three aspects are the following:

“Two quarterly markets reports under-reported the number of XRP released from escrow by a total of 200 million XRP ($84 million at current prices) The “escrow queue” is implemented differently than announced, leading to a faster future release of escrowed funds compared to the announced schedule Other party/parties, potentially associated with Ripple, have released 55 million XRP from an unknown escrow address not connected to the main Ripple escrow account”

According to Coin Metrics, Ripple did not respond to repeated requests for clarification of researchers’ concerns.

As Cointelegraph reported, the company has previously attracted criticism from commentators over the past year: in February, a separate report from trading platform BitMEX accused the company of being overly centralized.

“Compared to traditional assets and currencies, most crypto currencies’ supplies and behaviours can be audited to a much greater degree of precision,” Coin Metrics concluded.

Nonetheless, XRP has had a successful month in May, after American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase released trading to New York residents and Germany’s second-largest stock exchange debuted an XRP and litecoin (LTC) exchange-traded note.

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Retail behemoth Amazon has received a patent for generating Merkle trees as a solution to the proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm, a document confirmed on May 14.

Amazon, which has taken an increasing interest in blockchain technology in recent times, now appears to be targeting development of a specific variation of the instrument.

Specifically, the patent targets Merkle trees — a data verification tool — to constitute the work required in a PoW setup.

PoW is the algorithm used in bitcoin (BTC) and some other major cryptocurrencies such as litecoin (LTC), dogecoin (DOGE) and monero (XMR).

“This document describes techniques for using the generation of Merkle Trees as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge,” the patent reads.

The exact nature of Amazon’s plans remains unclear. The patent document does not reference specific uses within a cryptocurrency or blockchain, continuing uncertainty over the company’s stance on the wider cryptocurrency phenomenon.

As Cointelegraph reported, rumors Amazon was preparing to take a direct interest in bitcoin, for example, have repeatedly sparked a frenzy within the crypto community, each time culminating in nothing.

At the same time, others consider it only a matter of time before an integration occurs. In February, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of exchange Binance, claimed Amazon would ultimately have no choice but to issue some form of cryptocurrency.

“For any internet (non-physical) based business, I don’t understand why anyone would not accept crypto for payments,” he said.

Late last month, Amazon Web Services publicly launched its enterprise blockchain setup network, based on Ethereum (ETH) and Hyperledger technology.

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Engineering and electronics manufacturer Bosch hinted it would take an active role in defending the openness of the Internet of Things (IoT) against censorship as part of a press release from May 15.

Bosch, which has various developments on the way in the sector, highlighted distributed ledger technology (DLT), including blockchain, as an essential part of the future of both IoT and the related Economy of Things.

“Distributed ledger technologies (DLT) such as blockchain may well become the key technology in these domains,” the press release reads.

While entities from governments to dedicated startups are tackling blockchain’s potential in IoT, Bosch went further in its publicity, conspicuously adopted an open stance on the ethics of the phenomenon.

The company, it appears, is concerned about the impact of censorship and retrograde reactions to new borderless technologies such as blockchain.

“To build trust in digital ecosystems, we need open platforms and an internet in which users have the power to decide for themselves,” CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner commented at this week’s Bosch ConnectedWorld (BCW) conference in Berlin.

Dr. Michael Bolle, a board of management member and CDO/CTO, was even more explicit.

“We cannot accept a situation in which the overwhelming reaction to digital innovations is mistrust and fear,” he said ahead of a gathering of industry group the Trust IoT Alliance at the inaugural meeting of the Digital Trust Forum on May 16. He added:

“For this reason, the aim of the Digital Trust Forum is to initiate open dialogue among experts to discuss the trust-related issues raised by the internet.”

The press release notes that Bosch is currently worth with energy supplier EnBW to integrate blockchain into the e-car recharging process, as well as with Siemens to develop a smart parking-management system with a blockchain basis.

As Cointelegraph reported,

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The World Bank and Commonwealth Bank have successfully enabled secondary market trading of a blockchain bond, the institutions confirmed in a press release on May 15.

The bond, known as bond-i, uses the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain and was the first in the world to leverage the technology fully when it debuted in August last year.

Now, a three-way partnership which also included market maker TD Securities delivered what the participants consider a similar first and a further metamorphosis for blockchain bonds.

“Enabling secondary trading recorded on the blockchain is a tremendous step forward towards enabling capital markets to leverage distributed ledger technologies for faster, more efficient, and more secure transactions,” the World Bank’s vice president and treasurer, Jingdong Hua, commented in the press release. He added:

“It speaks to the innovation and commitment of all our partners, including investors, that we were able to achieve this together.”

The achievement comes just weeks after French credit institution Societe Generale launched a €100 million euro ($112 million) bond on Ethereum, while the idea of blockchain bonds continues to extend beyond the banking sector.

As Cointelegraph reported, the governments of three developing economies themselves told the World Bank during one of its hosted events in April that they even wished to issue a bitcoin (BTC) bond.

“Blockchain has the potential to streamline processes for raising capital and trading securities, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance regulatory oversight,” Commonwealth Bank’s head of experimentation & commercialisation, Sophie Gilder, added.

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Blockchain network Stellar (XLM) stopped confirming transactions for two hours on May 15, executives confirmed following a user post on social media.

Stellar, whose lumens token is currently the eighth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, went down entirely for around 110 minutes Wednesday.

The cause, it appears, was a mass offlining of Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) nodes, which the majority of the network trusts.

Accordingly, other participants failed to find consensus for blocks, and no transactions were validated until developers resolved the issue.

“I really hope we’ll get a real debate about decentralization after this event. And about the strategies to achieve this decentralization,” the user, Reddit user u/cryptobrant, commented after flagging the issue. The user continued:

“The more the network grows and the more newcomers trust always the same nodes, the more difficult it will get to achieve decentralization.”

XLM saw significant volatility around the time of the outage, nonetheless recovering to surge 23% in the 24 hours to press time. Current XLM/USD prices of $0.148 mark the token’s best performance since early December.

Stellar, nonetheless, did not escape criticism over its structure from elsewhere in the cryptocurrency industry, former blockchain consortium R3 executive Tim Swanson further suggesting it had limited appeal as a platform.

“What basically happened was that a critical mass of nodes went down causing a cascading failure and so the entire network went down but because it isn’t frequently used, few noticed,” he summarized on Twitter.

In an apparent bid to increase awareness, Stellar had partnered with wallet provider Blockchain.com on a $125 million token giveaway in November last year.

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The parent company of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit has invested almost $50 million in blockchain startups since March 2018, English-language Korean business news outlet The Investor reported on May 15.

Dunamu, which created a dedicated investment subsidiary, Dunamu & Partners, at the same time last year, has given cash to a total of 26 businesses.

In total — under plans it announced previously — the company aims to invest 100 billion won ($84 million) into the industry.

“Our goal is to contribute to the healthy growth of the blockchain ecosystem by actively investing in startups with world-class technology and services with potential for real-life implementation,” The Investor quotes Ryan Lee, CEO of Dunamu & Partners, as saying. He continues:

“Dunamu and Dunamu & Partners’ strategy of identifying and investing in innovative tech and finance startups, regardless of size, stage and region will continue in 2019.”

As Cointelegraph reported, South Korea has recently seen some large blockchain and crypto-related investments. Last month, a Japanese fund funneled $200 million into the operator of fellow exchange Bithumb.

Meanwhile, another platform, Korbit, could ultimately find itself under the control of Disney Corp. if a related $13.2 billion equity deal goes ahead.

Kakao Corp., South Korea’s internet giant already active in the crypto arena, confirmed it planned to release its own blockchain platform in June.

For Dinamu, investment will in particular go towards entities engaged in mainstream adoption of blockchain services, regulation-compliant fintech and content creation, The Investor notes.

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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has confirmed it has completed a major system upgrade and will relaunch its trading platform at 13:00 UTC on May 15.

Binance, which lost over 7,000 BTC (at the time $41 million) in a hack earlier this month, froze deposits and withdrawals altogether before a limited return to operations this week.

A subsequent notice stated developers would shut down functionality in full for a period of up to eight hours on Wednesday, beginning at 03:00 UTC.

Little details were available about the work, which completed as scheduled. Now, Binance is preparing to open up full its previous suite of trading features, including deposits and withdrawals, for all users.

“Binance has completed its system upgrade and we will resume all trading activity at 1:00 PM (UTC),” a new statement reads. It states:

“From now until the commencement of trading, users will be able to cancel open orders, process deposits and use other account related functions. Please note that the withdrawal function will be available shortly after trading resumes.”

Binance’s hack caught the cryptocurrency community by surprise when it emerged $41 million of funds had gone missing from some user accounts.

Binance admitted liability for the attack, on Tuesday urging users to read and comply with a list of 14 security precautions to protect funds on the exchange.

As a form of compensation to users unable to use their accounts as normal, Binance also announced a giveaway scheme involving its in-house token, binance coin (BNB).

During a promotional period lasting through May 18, users trading over 1 BTC worth of funds will share in a prize pool of 50,000 BNB ($1.26 million), to be credited two weeks later.

As Cointelegraph reported, fellow exchange Cryptopia, which lost around $17 million in January, this week halted trading as executives

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The CEO of instant cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift told Bloomberg TV on May 15 that bubbles are an essential part of the industry’s growth.

Speaking in an interview, Erik Voorhees argued that the volatility seen in bitcoin (BTC) and altcoin markets over the years is a necessary phenomenon for a nascent asset.

“There have to be bubbles in crypto because crypto is taking over the world, and it’s not just going to advance 5% per month without end,” he told the network. He then added:

“If it did that, people would start buying it up and frontrunning it and turning it into a bubble.”

Voorhees, whose firm offers trading wholly within the cryptocurrency realm and does not involve fiat currency conversion for users, was speaking as bitcoin set its highest price in over a year.

As Cointelegraph reported, a slow bull market which began early April gathered speed this month, with BTC/USD advancing over $8,000 to cap monthly gains of over 60%.

Voorhees did not identify a specific reason for the newfound market optimism, arguing the rise was due to mass individual trader activity.

“There’s no way to go from a zero-dollar asset into one that is worth trillions without massive speculation and massive volatility and cyclical bubbles,” he continued.

ShapeShift suffered at the hands of increasing regulatory scrutiny over the past year, Cointelegraph reporting on a sharp rise in law enforcement requests to the company.

The 2018 cryptocurrency bear market also took its toll on performance, ShapeShift making roughly one third of its staff redundant in January.

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Institutional cryptocurrency prime dealer SFOX has partnered with a New York bank to offer state-insured bank accounts for traders, the company confirmed in a blog post on May 14.

SFOX, which says the move is an industry first, stated the deal with M.Y. Safra Bank primarily targeted institutional investors and funds.

The company has been active in the trading space since 2014, and counts businesses such as Blockchain.com and Overstock subsidiary tZero among its clients.

With Safra, SFOX traders will now have access to insurance through the United States government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) worth up to $250,000.

“SFOX’s partnership with M.Y. Safra Bank represents another step forward in our mission to provide our clients with the best place to trade cryptoassets,” CEO Akbar Thobhani commented in the blog post. He added:

“M.Y. Safra’s Bank proven track record of providing custom banking solutions to institutions and HNWIs made them the ideal choice for taking SFOX trading one step closer to the goal of a truly frictionless and reliable trade experience across all cryptoassets.”

As part of the deal, other features will also become available to institutional traders, including holding funds in named bank accounts, which the companies say further reduces counterparty risk.

As Cointelegraph reported, institutional interest in the crypto sector is showing signs of major expansion this month.

As bitcoin (BTC) prices reach yearly highs, record trading volumes have been reported by Bitcoin futures provider CME Group, while the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust continues to trade at around a 25% premium over standard market rates.

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