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Blockchain Smartphone Startup Sirin Labs Lays Off a Quarter of Its Workforce
Blockchain smartphone startup Sirin Labs laid off a quarter of its workforce, Israeli business media Globes reported on April 15.
Per the report, the startup admitted to having laid off 15 of its 60 employees and having overestimated the sales of their Finney blockchain smartphone. A spokesperson for the company reportedly said that it will now focus on software development and distribution.
Sirin Labs also purportedly denied previous reports that the company had failed to pay wages to its employees.
The report also notes that the founder of the company, Moshe Hogeg, chairperson of venture capital fund Singulariteam, has recently found himself in the midst of a controversy.
According to the article, a lawsuit of at least $50 million has been filed in California against him and other two Singulariteam members by Canadian Internet entrepreneur Adam Perzow. Perzow reportedly sold the Invest.com domain to Singulariteam in late 2014 for over $5 million.
Per the report, Perzow also claims that the fund defrauded many investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. Furthermore, two other lawsuits have been reportedly filed against Hogeg in Tel Aviv by investors in enterprises managed by him.
As Cointelegraph reported at the end of last year, Sirin Labs launched its Finney blockchain smartphone, selling it for $999 per device.
More recently, in March, the company also confirmed that the development of new features for the device is still ongoing and that the company will integrate popularether (ETH) wallet MyEtherWallet in its smartphone.
US Gov’t Blockchain Spending Expected to Increase 1,000% Between 2017-2022: Study
The United States federal government is expected to raise its blockchain spending to $123.5 million by 2022 — an over 1,000% increase as compared with the $10.7 million it spent in 2017. The forecast was made in a report from IDC Government Insights, published on April 18.
IDC states that blockchain spending among state and local governments is also anticipated to grow, from $4.4 million in 2017 to $48.2 million in 2022 — similarly an almost 1,000% rise.
Federal civilian agencies — who reportedly spent less than $20 million on the technology in 2017 — are likely to spend over $80 million by 2022, the report continues. The Defense Department — which likewise spent less than $20 million in 2017 — could almost double this figure and hit $40 million by 2022, the IDC claims.
Government investment in blockchain technology is likely to evolve and expand to include more complex areas over time, the IDC’s research director Shawn McCarthy outlined:
"We believe asset management, identity management, and smart contracts will be the leading blockchain solutions for government. Early spending will focus on supply chain and asset management solutions, while spending in later years will expand to include more identity management and complex financial transactions."
IDC also notes that blockchain is likely to become a cornerstone technology for trade legislation, and is likely “to be implemented as a standard feature for some types of authorized international trade and also as a standard for many types of government procurement.”
In terms of specific implementations of the technology, the report argues that a hybrid blockchain approach — combining aspects of private and public networks — is likely to prove the most popular among government agencies.
As reported last month, the current Republican Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives has recently argued that blockchain should be implemented to improve the transparency of the legislative process and bring more security and accountability to government.
A separate IDC report from 2018 forecasted that worldwide blockchain spending would grow to $9.7 billion in 2021.
Fiat-to-Crypto Trading Losing its Positions
After crypto-to-crypto exchanges signaled the altcoin season in February, March saw even sharper increase in trading volume on these exchanges, while fiat-to-crypto trading decreased, according to cryptocurrency market data provider CryptoCompare.
In March, trading volume on exchanges that offer only crypto pairs increased by 70%, while fiat-to-crypto trading decreased by 8%, they said in a monthly exchange review.
As previously reported by Cryptonews.com, according to industry experts, this trend shows that investors are seeing huge potential in some of the smaller tier coins and the positive change in the market sentiment would be first seen in the crypto-to-crypto economy. Moreover, crypto-to-crypto exchanges have the benefit of having far lower barriers to entry and traders prefer to stay within the crypto ecosystem by using stablecoins.
Following the recent increase, crypto-to-crypto trading volume represented 82% of total spot volume in March, up from from 71% in February, according to CrytoCompare.
Therefore, the top 15 crypto-to-crypto exchanges all experienced a surge in monthly volume in March with an average increase of 66%.
Meanwhile, the BTC to USD, JPY and some other currencies trading volume continued to decrease, while only the BTC to KRW, South Korean won, volume increased in March (+41%.) USD, JPY, EUR and KRW made up 95% of total trading from Bitcoin into fiat currencies.
Also, according to the review, in contrast to recent months, total exchange web traffic increased 32% in March, or even before the strong market rally in the beginning of April.
French Minister of Finance: Blockchain Is a Government Priority
France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has stated that blockchain technology is a priority for his country’s government. Le Maire made his remarks during an interview with French economics and business magazine Capital on April 15, ahead of the Paris Blockchain Week Summit from April 16-17.
As proof of France’s commitment to the nascent sector, Le Maire revealed that the state plans to invest 4.5 billion euros ($5 million) in breakthrough innovations — including blockchain — in a bid to fight Chinese and American technological dominance.
Aside from funding, he underscored the blockchain regulatory progress heralded by the PACTE Act, which was passed by the French National Assembly earlier this week.
In the interview, Le Maire characterized the bill as “an unprecedented and attractive legal framework for token issuers and digital asset service providers.”
Looking ahead to the agenda for the rest of 2019, Le Maire said the government had identified new areas of focus for its blockchain policy. These reportedly include the implementation of blockchain in French industrial sectors, funding innovative blockchain projects and supporting these projects in regard to legal and regulatory issues.
The minister proposed that France’s crypto taxation system offers a robust and transparent accounting framework specific to the new sector. As reported in December 2018, lawmakers have nonetheless rejected amendments to France’s 2019 Finance Bill that would ease the taxation burden on crypto users.
Le Maire also cast the decline in the initial coin offerings market in a positive light, stating that it was necessary for the health of the sector and that the downturn “does not detract from the potential and benefits offered by the new funding method.”
In a separate comment on the prospective of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to disintermediate the financial system, Le Maire voiced his belief that “such a project is not mature in the short term,” and that many legal and technical issues remain unresolved in regard to publicly accessible, wholesale CBDCs.
He also stressed the need for blockchain protocols to evolve more energy-efficient mechanisms, and to protect the financial system from crypto-facilitated money laundering risks.
As previously reported, recent crypto regulatory debates in France have seen the head of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee argue in favor of a ban on anonymity-oriented cryptocurrencies like monero (XMR) and zcash (ZEC).
How Crypto Payments Help to Avoid Commissions and Save Money, Explained
1. I already have a credit card. Why would I use crypto to pay?
This may sound a bit strong, but banks and traditional payment systems do restrict your freedom.
Imagine you live in the United States and your beloved father, whose birthday coincides with Independence Day, resides in another country. As all the local banks are going to be on holiday, you might face significant delays when sending money for a new riding mower to his foreign bank account.
To avoid this, you are forced to use PayPal, special mobile apps or traditional money transfer services like Western Union. However, there is no guarantee the money will arrive in time or will end up in your relative’s pocket, as all humans make mistakes. For instance, two strangers in the U.S. once found themselves in a thriller story, including frozen banking accounts and fraud suspicions, shortly after one of them mistakenly send $100 to another instead of his daughter.
Finally, the financial intermediaries do not care much about your father’s birthday present. You are forced to pay commissions depending on the amount you send and the country where the recipient lives, even if you cannot afford it.
2. Okay, but how is crypto different from that?
The main idea behind crypto is to allow peer-to-peer (p2p) payments at any time, while eliminating intermediaries.
Let’s start with a particular example provided by Jameson Lopp, the lead engineer at multisignature blockchain security firm BitGo. He described a typical holiday in the U.S. — President’s Day on Feb. 19. In 2018, local banks — as usual — closed down and did not provide financial services to individuals. Meanwhile, Bitcoin (BTC), as a p2p settlement system, was able to process over $1 billion worth of transactions, and more than $7 billion worth of Bitcoin was traded on a single day.
Yes, the crypto ecosystem also has its transaction fees. The miners, who approve the blocks, normally sort the transactions by a fee rate. Normally, you can choose between slow and fast transactions, or the crypto services do it themselves. However, the rates are not drastically different, and there were cases in crypto history when crypto users managed to transfer huge amounts of money for almost nothing.
For instance, in October 2018, a Bitcoin investor sent 29,999 BTC (worth about $194 million at that time) — the largest BTC transaction in recent months — with a $0.01 fee. Given that it costs around 1% of the transaction to clear a $1 million payment in fiat currency, to send a $194 million transaction could easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with legacy systems.
3. Sounds great! Tell me more about the particular crypto use cases
The popularity of crypto is steadily increasing among people who are unbanked or live in countries with high inflation rates.
Venezuela has been struggling with hyperinflation amid severe social and political crisis for several years now. While the national fiat, the sovereign bolivar, saw dizzying 80,000% inflation in 2018, the Bitcoin trading volumes reached an all-time high by February 2019. As Cointelegraph explained, Venezuelans, who failed to make any savings in fiat that was rapidly losing its price, started buying Bitcoin to confront the economic collapse, with weekly trading volumes reaching above 2,000 BTC on p2p exchange LocalBitcoins.
Meanwhile, U.N. Women — a United Nations entity for gender equality and empowering women — is trialing blockchain cash transfers to help the unbanked refugees in Syrian camps. Women refugees, who participate in the U.N. Women’s cash for work program, are thus able to obtain their money directly, without the assistance of third parties like banks. The blockchain solution allows them to purchase food using an iris scan instead of cash or cards. To access their funds, participants scan theirs eye, which subsequently links to an account on a blockchain.
4. That’s a bit sophisticated. How can I use crypto payments in my daily life?
Apart from decentralized money transfers, crypto as a part of special programs can contribute to responsible consumption and money savings.
As cryptocurrencies are steadily gaining more mainstream adoption, governments and businesses across the world legalize crypto payments in different areas. For instance, in the U.S. state of Ohio, you can pay your taxes in BTC, while in Prague, you could possibly spend your vacation without ever using traditional money, as the Czech capital is the most crypto-friendly destination nowadays, with over 150 venues accepting BTC.
Social programs aimed to support local businesses and nonprofits are another interesting crypto use case. For instance, Canada’s Calgary launched its own digital currency, Calgary Dollars, to preserve the funds within the city. Citizens can get their coins by participating in local social programs, such as posting ads for goods and services that users want to sell in the relevant app. Later, they can spend their Canadian Dollars to pay for lunch, make a donation to some of Calgary’s nonprofits or buy inner transport tickets.
Meanwhile, Dent Wireless with over 14.3 million users is using cryptocurrencies to change the mobile operator industry by creating an open marketplace for buying and selling mobile data. Customers can top-up mobile phones in over 60 countries with mobile data, prepaid credits or voice minutes using Dent (DENT) — the company’s native token — Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) or Binance Coin (BNB). On the other hand, traders can buy and sell mobile assets on the Dent Exchange in a global marketplace with mobile users from around the world.
In-app cryptocurrencies also draw the attention of major infrastructure companies, such as railways or airways. For instance, German Railway is considering granting tokens to the customers who frequently use its services.
5. Sounds too good to be true. Any risks or downsides?
Despite all the benefits, you have to make some effort to start trading and to fully understand cryptocurrencies.
Purchasing coins for the first time might not be as easy as it seems. First of all, you have to make relevant research to fully understand how crypto works. You have to be aware of blockchain, public and private keys, credible crypto exchanges and, clearly, different coins as well. As you decide on the asset you want to invest in, you also have to choose an exchange or a wallet, comparing policies and transaction fees.
This preliminary work can be a bit hard for those who are not familiar with IT and fintech, especially for elder people for whom crypto is evidently not the best way to make micro payments. Still, our previous instruction on buying crypto could help those who want to make a first investment.
Once buying coins, the crypto investors have to understand the risks related to high volatility. Cointelegraph previously explained that predicting crypto price trends is a lot easier than it seems at first glance. Nonetheless, in case you want to transfer a significant amount of money or purchase services, you have to closely monitor the rates.
Finally, you have to understand that cryptocurrencies, despite all the industry’s efforts, are still exposed to massive hacks. Sometimes, the losses are caused by human mistakes, as it happened to QuadrigaCX — a major Canadian exchange whose customers lost the vast majority of their funds following the sudden death of company’s founder.
In summary, investors can benefit from more and more crypto-related offers that arise on the market as the industry evolves. However, it is absolutely necessary to invest wisely and not to treat crypto investments as “quick money.”
Indian Banks Consider Promoting Blockchain Tech Use for Payments
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is considering implementing blockchain technology to increase the strength of digital transactions, Indian business magazine Business Today reports on April 14.
The initiative of ten banks, under the aegis of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), aims to improve the NPCI by implementing distributed ledger technology, the publication underlines.
The NPCI, an umbrella organization that operates retail payments and settlement systems in India and includes 56 national banks as stakeholders, was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India and the IBA. The NPCI will focus on developing blockchain tech in the payment domain for boosting digital transactions, the article states. It also says:
"NPCI intends to develop a resilient, real time and highly scalable blockchain solution. It is proposed to develop this solution using an open source technology/ framework/solution."As Cointelegraph wrote in July of last year, five major banks from each BRICS member, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of distributed ledger technology for enhancing the digital economy.
Back in last fall, experts in the blockchain field held debates during the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, underlining that blockchain technology will replace the world’s current payment systems, as Cointelegraph reported.
Game of 20 Crypto Jokes: You HODL or You Die
Even if you’ve been living under the biggest rock you can possibly find, you’ve heard that Game of Thrones (it's a TV series) is returning this weekend for its final season. And while that doesn’t have anything to do with crypto on the surface, there have been some inspirational quotes from the show that stuck with us, like: “In the game of crypto, you HODL or you die.” It may not be an exact quote, but we’re taking artistic liberties here.
This week started with crypto forecasts and AIs catching Ponzi schemes, China looking to ban crypto mining, and Opera releasing a new browser with a crypto wallet. The cryptoverse became home to dirty games, some exchanges might be sold soon, and the killer app club got even bigger. Coinbase is partnering with Visa, Binance is threatening to delist Bitcoin SV, and CoinGecko is entering the NFT playground.
Playing a dangerous game here.
This is why nobody likes you.
And all those business execs would be all over it.
Keeping focused on the important facts.
Reality is often disappointing.
Inspirational quotes for when the bull market starts again.
When you have to beg for any indication that your coin will jump enough so that you can afford to eat.
Some pains are too much to bear.
When it’s not “to the moon,” it’s “to the black hole.”
View image on Twitter
What it feels like to buy Bitcoin at USD 4,000 and sell at USD 5,000.
In the year 2032…
Now you have to, the Pope said so.
If we all pretend it didn’t happen, it will go away. Right?
Erm… which one should we believe again?
When you make every bad decision possible during the market rally…
A quote commonly misattributed to Marilyn Monroe, it’s actually probably originated from Satoshi Nakamoto.
The power of friendship is not strong enough to include Faketoshi.
Imagine suing someone for hurting your fee-fees. (Based on true events.)
ICC to Support Blockchain Adoption Among Its 45 Million Member Businesses
Singapore blockchain startup Perlin is helping the world’s largest business organization, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), roll out the technology, the company confirmed in a press release on April 12.
Perlin, which is already involved in blockchain pilots for various major businesses, including Asia Pacific Rayon, will now gain access to ICC’s members as the organization attempts to bring innovative technologies to the fore.
Now one hundred years old, the ICC counts 45 million businesses under its wing, including Amazon, CocaCola, FedEx, McDonalds and PayPal.
“In collaboration with Perlin, […] we can help facilitate practical and truly disruptive transformation for businesses across every conceivable industry sector,” John Denton AO, secretary general of the ICC, commented in the press release.
The partnership will take various forms, but will focus on value chain traceability — tracking goods through their stages of production and delivery.
The area has already seen considerable uptake from the blockchain sector, with solutions aiming to improve the provenance of entire supply chains from food to metals.
Singapore itself will also benefit, with Perlin and the ICC pledging to advance regional initiatives to improve its status as a tech hub.
As Cointelegraph reported, the city state continues to position itself as a blockchain-friendly jurisdiction. The central bank is set to begin rolling out its Project Ubin initiative among others next year.
Bitcoin and Altcoins Showing Signs of Weakness
Yesterday, there were bullish moves in bitcoin above the USD 5,250 and USD 5,300 resistance levels. BTC/USD even traded above the USD 5,400 level and formed a new multi-month high near USD 5,420. Recently, there was a sharp downside correction and the price declined below the USD 5,300 and USD 5,200 levels. The price tested the USD 5,100 level and it is currently consolidating losses. Similarly, there was a downside correction in ethereum and ripple. ETH traded below the USD 175 support and XRP declined below the USD 0.340 support area.
Total market capitalization
After bullish continuation above the USD 5,350 level, bitcoin price faced a strong selling interest above the USD 5,400 level. A new yearly high was formed near USD 5,420 and recently the price corrected lower. It broke the USD 5,300 and USD 5,200 support levels.
Buyers appeared near the USD 5,100 level and the price is currently trading near the USD 5,130 level. On the upside, the broken support at USD 5,200 may act as a resistance. On the downside, a break below the USD 5,100 level might push the price towards the key USD 5,000 support area.
Ethereum price declined sharply from well above the USD 180 level and broke the key USD 175 support. ETH is down more than 5% and it is trading below the USD 170 level.
An immediate support is at USD 165, below which there is a risk of a downside extension towards the USD 160 level. On the upside, the USD 175 level could act as a strong resistance.
Bitcoin cash, eos and ripple price
Bitcoin cash price failed to stay above the USD 300 and declined heavily. BCH/USD broke the USD 285 and USD 280 support levels. The price is down around 7% and it seems like it could test the main support at USD 265 in the near term.
EOS traded close to the USD 6.00 resistance and declined below the USD 5.80 and USD 5.70 support levels. The price tested the USD 5.50 support level and it remains at a risk of a downside extension towards the USD 5.35 level.
Ripple price is down more than 5% and it broke the USD 0.345 and USD 0.340 support levels. XRP/USD is trading below the USD 0.338 level, with supports near the USD 0.332 and USD 0.330 levels. On the upside, the previous support at USD 0.340 may now act as a resistance.
Other altcoins market today
In the past two sessions, many small cap altcoins corrected lower by more than 8%, including IOST, NULS, LRC, REP, WTC, STRAT, PIVX, AION, STEEM, ARK, ZIL, TRX and PAI. Out of these, IOST, NULS, LRC, REP and WTC are down more than 10%.
The current price action is slightly bearish and suggesting more downsides in bitcoin towards the USD 5,000 support level. Once the current correction is complete, BTC price is likely to rebound above USD 5,200 and USD 5,250 in the near term.
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