‘Blockchain will belong to us’: Putin calls dibs on blockchain

The Russian president is reigniting a decades-old rivalry saying the US has the Internet, but blockchain technology will be Russia’s.

Both start-up companies and established industry giants are scurrying to cut a piece of the market as blockchain technology ushers in a lot of possibilities and drives several existing practices into obsolescence. But private companies are not the only ones who are going in on the blockchain race. Several governments are also working on their own projects in their bid to be on the front line of the industry, or at least to keep from falling behind.

As early as now, Vladimir Putin is eager to plant the Russian flag on the technology, even if only through a verbal claim (for now). As if it were another Moon race, the Russian president was quick to reignite a decades-old rivalry.

“Look, the Internet belongs to the Americans,” Putin says, “but blockchain will belong to us.”

Putin has been openly interested in and actively endorsing blockchain technology. In June last year, he met with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. Just a few months ago, he met with Herman Gref, the president of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, and endorsed the technology, saying the country needs further progress—beyond what they already have. Below is a rough translation of his statement:

“Other colleagues and citizens of the country may ask: Why do we need all this? If we have everything—we have oil, gas, coal, metals of all kinds…gold, platinum, diamonds—everything.”

“But we need to advance further—this is what we need. And we have to work for this,” he added. “One of our colleagues, the former oil minister of an Arab country said: ‘the Stone Age has not ended due to the lack of stones, but because new technologies have appeared. And new technologies are appearing in the world now.”

He added that those who are “late in the race” will quickly become dependent on those who were in the lead.

And despite Russia’s alleged involvement in the US elections, the nation was actually quick to tap on blockchain technology to curb corruption and provide better transparency in voting. Early this year, they started a pilot run for a blockchain-based e-voting system called Active Citizen, although the application was limited to non-political decisions like speed limits and bus routes.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

South Korea central bank to pilot ‘cash-free’ society with crypto

Since 2016, South Korea’s central bank, the Bank of Korea (BOK), has wanted to develop a cash-free society. Those plans may be one step closer, as the bank launching a pilot program that will explore the feasibility, and is considering cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to make it happen.

The project was published this week in a report by the BOK, according to Token Post. In the report, the bank’s “2017 Payment Report,” details the creation of an organization that will research cryptocurrency and analyze the effect it could have on the financial system. The bank further stated that it has already begun to investigate the use of blockchains for the cash-free system, including the use of the technology as a payment system.

The pilot program is designed to reduce the costs associated with printing and distributing physical money. According to officials, South Korea spent about $47 million issuing paper and coin currency in 2016 The country is pushing to be “cash-free” by 2020.

An added benefit that a cash-free program offers to the country is that it would include the “underground economy,” which is mostly cash driven. An analyst with the Shinhan Investment Corp. stated that, “[A cashless society] can open the underground economy, and thus enhance equivalence in taxation. The shoe box full of 50,000 won banknotes that you see in movies will disappear in reality (with the advancement of a cashless society).”

This is only the latest in a series of steps to move away from physical currency. In 2017, the BOK implemented a program that allows customers to deposit small change from transactions directly onto prepaid debit or phone cards.

If the new program functions as well as the bank hopes, it would be a significant step forward for global acceptance of cryptocurrencies. It could possibly push them into mainstream financial transactions, ultimately allowing digital currency to fulfill the role for which it has been designed.

South Korea isn’t the first country to consider a switch to cryptocurrencies. Sweden is running a program now that could see the country’s e-krona replace its fiat currency. That program could see cryptocurrency becoming the currency of choice in the country within the next four to five years.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

University of Basel becomes first Swiss university to issue blockchain-based diplomas

Start-up Proxeus is connecting blockchain technology with traditional companies.

Last year, MIT issued 111 digital diplomas that were recorded on a blockchain in a pilot run conducted through an application called BlockCerts. This gives graduates easy access to their certificates as well as control over who gets to see them.

And it looks like blockchain-based diplomas may very well turn into a norm as more are following in on the trend.

Speeding up processes is also one of the biggest benefits of blockchain technology, and blockchain innovator Proxeus—with the help of its partners, is maximizing this value. The company partnered up with the University of Basel’s Center for Innovative Finance (CIF) in creating a prototype that would allow the institution to issue course certificates and register them on a blockchain. This drastically reduced the processing time for the documents, and has placed the University of Basel as the first in Switzerland to issue blockchain-based diplomas.

Proxeus co-founder and CEO Antoine Verdon (left), and Fabian Schär, Director of the Center for Innovative Finance at the University of Basel (right).

And because they are on the blockchain, certificates are easily verifiable and tamper-proof, therefore cracking down on the possibility of fraud. Dr. Fabian Schär, Managing Director at the CIF, says the project can help solve authenticity issues for academic credentials, a burden for both graduates and employers.

“Fraud is a problem in academia just as it is in any field,” Schär said. “By securing credentials on the Blockchain, we provide an extra layer of security for graduates and potential employers. These credentials can’t be faked, and can be easily verified online. It will introduce a new paradigm of security and offer value to all parties – employers don’t lose time checking credentials, graduates have an edge, and the institutions themselves reduce their reputational risk and a significant administrative burden.”

Proxeus has been actively working on similar solutions for different applications. Proxues, in partnership with IBM and other companies, are also working on speeding up legal registry of Swiss businesses—they were able to cut processing down from four to six weeks to less than three hours. In fact, they say that in their test run, they were able to pull it off in only one hour and 37 minutes. Unsurprisingly, they nabbed the 2018 Swiss Fintech Award as the Early Stage Start-up of the Year.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Iranian government outlaws Telegram app

Authorities in Iran have outlawed use of and access to the Telegram messaging app, citing concerns over its potential for stoking civil unrest as well as the potential economic harms of its cryptocurrency.

According to state news outlet Mizan Online, the decision was prompted initially by fears that armed opposition militia were using the app to encourage rebellion. Similarly, government officials highlighted problems with the Telegram initial coin offering (ICO), which they suggested could undermine the local economy.

The news follows on from public calls by officials in April, in response to the second round of funding for Telegram. In the second phase of their ICO, Telegram’s pot grew to $1.7 billion, behind its concept for the development of a full-blockchain Telegram ecosystem.

The news will be a blow for consumers in Iran, and in particular, the 40 million or so in the country known to be users of the platform—roughly 50% of the entire population of Iran.

Nevertheless, Telegram has long been controversial in the country. Back in January, access to the service was temporarily suspended following street protests, which it was alleged were stoked by use of the app.

In particular, the government points to foreign-based agitators, whom it alleges were using the Telegram app to incite protest and violence amongst Iranian citizens. This resulted in Iranian authorities attempting to launch their own social networks to reduce the reliance on foreign-owned properties, which they claim present an anti-establishment bias.

One of those platforms, Soroush, claimed it has 5 million members, despite having been setup only a matter of months ago. Alongside rival platform, Gap, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to choose government-approved alternatives in his final message on the platform several weeks ago.

Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also posted to Telegram for the final time in April, committing to using alternatives in place of Telegram.

The ban will impose duties on phone and Internet service providers, who are now compelled to block access to Telegram by law. Any breach is deemed a contravention of the law, and firms that do not comply will be liable to prosecution.

It remains to be seen whether the move to ban the service in Iran will further undermine interest in the Telegram ICO.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Bitcoin Cash prepares for upgrade: nChain on 32MB blocks, OP_Code resurrection for smart contracts

nChain likes big blocks and they cannot lie.

May 15 is a big day for Bitcoin Cash supporters as the community prepares for the first of a series of big upgrades for the blockchain. The upcoming hard fork will trigger the following upgrades:
• Increasing the size of blocks on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain from 8MB to 32MB;
• Restoring certain OP_Codes for advanced functionality; and
• Increasing OP_Return data carrier limit to 223 bytes.

The 32Mb increase in block size will supposedly enable a capacity of 100 transactions per second, or 8.64 million transactions per day. This is a precursor to the Terab project’s long-term goal of scaling to 1 terabyte blocks—which would theoretically bring in 7 million transactions per second, or a whopping 604.8 billion transactions per day.

In a press release, Jimmy Nguyen, CEO of leading blockchain R&D company, nChain, comments:

“Increasing the Bitcoin Cash block size from 8MB to 32MB begins to ignite the true power of the BCH network, significantly increasing throughput capacity, in terms of the number of transactions that can fit into each block.It will also keep transaction fees very low – and thus ensure the BCH network has capacity to operate efficiently as usage continues to increase as the global peer-to-peer electronic cash. After this May 2018 upgrade, expect more steps toward massive on-chain scaling of the Bitcoin Cash network. We envision a future with massive block of 1 gigabyte (1000 MBs), and even 1 terabyte (1 million MBs), to achieve a powerful BCH data network that will re-invent how global business is done.”

Reinstating previously deactivated OP_Codes from the original code of Bitcoin, according to Nguyen, has huge implications for Bitcoin Cash as it unleashes smart contract and tokenisation capabilities that would bring Bitcoin Cash on the forefront of the industry.

“The second key upgrade is restoring certain OP_codes that had been deactivated in the Bitcoin script language.  These OP_codes are being brought back to Bitcoin Cash to enable the ability for tokenisation and smart contract execution on the BCH network.  This will be a game-changer in the cryptocurrency space because it makes Bitcoin Cash the clear leader, with the ability to do all in one coin-efficient payments and advanced technical functions such as tokenisation and smart contracts – what many other coins and blockchains separately claim to do.  We at nChain and other groups have already been working on new tokenisation solutions to implement on Bitcoin Cash.”

The press release also states that the upgrades will enable Bitcoin Cash to do what Ethereum does.

“The restoring of certain OP_codes in the Bitcoin scripting language will bring advanced technical functionality to the Bitcoin Cash network. In computing, operating codes are the section of automated language which dictates what operation must be performed. The restored OP_codes will enable tokenisation and smart contracts to be executed on the BCH blockchain.  More advanced functions will be possible with future upgrades to the Bitcoin Cash network.

Tokenisation – of financial instruments, assets, rewards, or for Initial Coin Offering (ICO) purposes – and the ability to make use of smart contracts, means that Bitcoin Cash can be used to do anything that other blockchains such as Ethereum, can do. Bitcoin Cash is already a superior payment system, because it is fast, low-fee and allows borderless transactions to anywhere in the world. With these additional technical capabilities, Bitcoin Cash can be the all-in-one coin.”

Given these improvements, Nguyen says it’s a win overall. “These changes will make BCH faster, stronger and more powerful. Win, win, win,” Nguyen says. Using a bit of wordplay, he adds: “Bigger blocks are the only way to make Bitcoin a viable payment option for daily transacting. That is why, here at nChain, we like big blocks and we cannot lie!”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Alcohol company Madison Group pours $60M into crypto miner Diginex

The cryptocurrency and blockchain space appears to be getting crowded of late with several multinational companies and other large entities looking to pounce on what is proving to be a considerable investment opportunity, even amid the negative press that the market has had over the last few months.

The latest news in the acquisitions and sales market comes from Hong Kong. Diginex, a multinational crypto-asset investment services firm, announced that it has sold 51% of the company’s stake in the cryptocurrency and mining field to another Hong Kong-based firm, Madison Group Holdings.

Diginex is heavily invested in blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT), and it is slightly curious that they should sell their stake to a company who is better known for the retail of alcoholic beverages. The price for a 51% stake in the company was around $60 million. Undoubtedly Madison Group see a considerable potential in the cryptocurrency mining business, which has taken the world by storm of late. In fact only last week, multinational companies Samsung and AMD have reported record turnover and profits from their mining-related operations, largely through the sale of semiconductor chips.

The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the two companies listed other synergies, including the leverage of Diginex’s proprietary platform DigiAssets, which can also be used for cryptocurrency owners to purchase wines of high value as well as other assets. Madison’s investment will allow Diginex to continue rolling out their GPU mining operations in Western Europe in partnership with several hardware suppliers, as well as power and security providers—with a goal of building efficient mining and high-performance computing (HPC) data centers for cryptocurrencies.

In a statement, Diginex CEO Miles Pelham said Madison Group’s cash injection will allow the company “to expedite our steps towards becoming the global provider of Distributed Ledger Technologies. We will continue to build out our mining operations in Sweden and Switzerland, but also focus on helping corporates and governments across the world to implement transformative DLT applications.”

Privately-owned Diginex described itself as a full services provider for distributed ledger technologies, operating out of Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany, and Japan. The company offers all DLT ecosystem services with mining and HPC operations in Asia, Switzerland and Sweden, as well as blockchain consulting, ICO advisory, smart contract design and provision together with cryptocurrency payments and crypto-asset investment services.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

What’s the second Bitcoin Cash capacity upgrade all about?

Another major upgrade for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is scheduled to take place on May 15. This update is a substantial step forward for the cryptocurrency, and will introduce features that are designed to make the BCH blockchain more robust and help the network process more transactions than BTC.

The hard fork was first announced in November. It will raise BCH’s block size from 8MB to 32MB, greatly increasing the number of transactions allowable per block. It will also increase the “OP_RETURN” field from 80 to 220 bytes, allowing users to store data on the blockchain. This function paves way for use cases like time-stamping, rights management or asset creation.

In addition to introducing new features, some old ones will be making a comeback. Some types of smart contracts, removed previously over concerns that they could allow the blockchain to be hacked, will be reintroduced. Steve Shadders, a developer for nChain, said in a blog post, “Essentially out of an abundance of caution and lack of time to fully explore and fix the edge cases that needed to be addressed, the decision was taken to simply disable any opcodes around which there were doubts or even hints of doubts.”

It would appear that BTC developer Johnson Lau recommended the same types of smart contracts for the BTC network in February. BCH has now beaten BTC to the punch, and the inclusion of these features will make BCH much more versatile than BTC. BCH will only introduce a few of the smart contract types that were previously removed, as some still have the potential to be a weak link in the blockchain.

These are just a few items in the list of changes included in the network upgrade, which have been accepted by virtually the entire BCH community, making it an almost completely agreed upon upgrade. But the May capacity upgrade is only one of several that have potentially been slated for this year. The community will see another one in November that would introduce even more features.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

AI for governance: Can governments be replaced with decentralized intelligence?

A column exploring blockchain-related possibilities in the far future.
 Here, we look at blockchain technology in conjunction
 with other developing technologies. 
 Disclaimer: this post may be closer to science fiction than fact.

It didn’t take long before technologists decided to combine artificial intelligence (AI) with blockchain technology. I’ve come across projects that use artificial intelligence to recognize patterns and combining these functions with smart contracts—bringing the power of both technologies to unprecedented scales.

The assemblage, called decentralized intelligence, is capable of automating consensus mechanisms as well as managerial decisions for blockchain-based organizations. By analyzing collected data, AI can make business decisions for decentralized applications and subsequently enforce them.

The implications of combining the two technologies are quite vast. And because these are both new and continuously developing territories, it’s hard to see their limits.

One of the biggest questions many have been wondering is whether it’s possible to automate entire governments using this combination. Some have actually started trying: the UK has started their test run for a blockchain-run social welfare system. Russia has also started using it for a voting system. Stretching this use case further, I imagine a world where cases taken to the International Court can instead be decided upon by neutral delegates from anywhere in the world through a blockchain-enabled voting system. Instead of years, decisions can be arrived at faster.

Government adoption

It’s easy to see how this transition can quickly spread throughout government systems. I asked Dr. Paolo Di Prodi, senior data scientist at FortiGuard Labs, Fortinet for his personal opinion on the matter (he would like to clarify that these are his own personal stances, and not his employer’s). Dr. Di Prodi worked very closely with machine learning applications for big firms, including the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in the UK, and Microsoft.

Dr. Di Prodi thinks the UK’s blockchain test run is particularly interesting, but deploying the technology laterally, across all government agencies will be difficult—as interruptions are expected between administration changes.

“Yes, it will be interesting to see the outcome of that trial to manage welfare support payments in the UK. For me, it does solve a very practical security problem as well as an efficiency problem of receiving cash. The larger implication of adopting this payment system is that all the other interconnected services like housing services will need to be crypto-enabled to receive payments. This will reduce spending in processing and IT administration but of course will require an initial expenditure to modernize all the IT platforms which will need to come from the tax payers. The problem of deploying a blockchain solution is that it will span several administrations and thus will require a long term commitment from all political parties. I believe Russia or China will not have the same issue paradoxically.”

Additionally, the rise of AI in governance will be slow, especially because there are limitations arising now when it comes to acquiring the data needed to build machine learning models.  Governments will probably remain cautious as the technology proceeds.

“One of the most interesting projects in this field is openmined.org which allows the construction of decentralized machine learning models without disclosing private personal data. Other companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple—under recent pressure of privacy concerns—are working on privacy preserving machine learning especially after the deployment of the GDPR regulation in Europe.

The largest concern for using AI at a government level and by AI—I mean a fully automated process, is that the decisions will be biased on the actual data as we have seen in the press recently about racial discrimination performed by the COMPAS program in US courts. The governments of this world will be probably still cautious about using AI for decision making but instead still rely on their data scientist to propose new policies. I believe an area where the government will invest more will be more in protecting and exchanging citizen data to improve the quality of service they provide,” Dr. Di Prodi wrote.

He also agrees with blockchain’s advantages as a consensus mechanism, and how it can help curb influence and illicit activities. But admits it has its limits in terms of battling human frailty.

“The citizen could even have a major role in deciding in real time via electronic voting. However a shift will be required to move from a democracy to a technocracy which might still suffer from the influence of lobbies and wealthy individuals perhaps in a lesser form. I think AI will not be able to solve the human nature of greed but with the power of data into the citizen’s hands will be more likely to expose frauds, evasion, crime and in general inefficiencies.”

AI for governance: Can governments be replaced with decentralized intelligence?

Current Limitations

Data collection is crucial in building the necessities of decentralized intelligence, and machine learning as a whole. But data is as powerful as it is energy-intensive, Dr. Di Prodi says, yet he is optimistic that this hurdle will be overcome soon. He adds that a fully decentralized intelligence-run government depends on certain factors

“Yes this would be possible when we will live in a fully digitized word where we could possibly collect and process all the information from the macro to the micro economic factors. This will allow the government to run for example future scenario of the effect of a new tax structure, health service or pension scheme. More data will require more compute power and thus a larger footprint for the environment. Do you know for example that data centres across the world are already using 3% of global electricity supply? This means we will have to be more efficient in storing and computing data. The good news is that GPU and TPU are overcoming the limitation of the Moore’s Law suffered by CPU so there will be enough firepower to process all the data we need.”

Another obstacle he sees is the fact that although AI can be encoded with moral rules, these rules would have to be pre-set by humans themselves—something that is easier said than done due to highly relative and debatable morality standards.

“The AI will need to be programmed with moral rules, over population is a growing concern and we can’t really save the environment if we can’t reduce our birth rate thus consuming less. Look at what China did with the one child policy, most western countries define it as inhumane, but it was rationally the only choice to make the economy sustainable. The AI cannot make those sort of decisions for us, we are still responsible to program what is good and what is bad. To quote an old Latin proverb: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who watches the watchmen)?

Is singularity in the horizon?

Dr. Di Prodi doesn’t think so—at least not in the near future.

“Well shallow or deep AI is still in its infancy, the most imminent risk to humans is just what I call ‘poor AI’. We have allowed companies like Uber (and others like Waymo, Cruise, etc.) to run their automated driving cars in our streets without thorough certification and testing. As a result, a few lethal accidents have skewed public perception of AI. There is of course debate whether the accident would have been avoided by a real person but in most accidents, it was evident that the supervisor in the car was not vigilant. I believe the technology right now could be best applied in reducing specific behavior like drowsy driving or driving under the influence of alcohol. I believe there is need to more regulation and testing for physical AI (any AI that interacts with the physical world), because the legal frameworks like the FMVSS in US don’t work for driverless cars.”

He says that developing AI in self-driving cars will help decrease car accidents—which he says keeps him up at night.

“All governments have the same issue and will have to work together to develop one. In the long term when all cars will be automated and being able to talk to each other, there will be far less accidents due to human error but is the transition from mixed automated and manual traffic that keeps me awake at night!”

“We are far away from the singularity point, some people say is 30 years away, and even if we achieve the computational power of the brain we are still far away from understanding how the human mind works,” he adds.

“I believe the most likely scenario will be an AI bug – where bug can be a programming error or unexpected behavior – like the flash crash of the markets in 2010 most likely caused by high frequency trading bots. The most danger comes where AI is used in a closed loop fashion with fast decision making, although we have a kill switch [if] we are not fast enough to press it as in the flash crash or in the self driving accident scenario.”

Cecille de Jesus

Spanish bank completes landmark loan transaction on blockchain

The promulgation of blockchain in everyday life continues with another success story. The latest evidence of its importance to commerce comes from Spain after international banking institution BBVA transacted a loan entirely across the blockchain.

BBVA used a private blockchain to conduct the loan from start to finish, according to the Financial Times. In doing so, it has now become the first global bank to enlist the technology in a loan operation. The €75-million ($91.4 million) loan, from initial negotiations to the completion of signing, was managed on a distributed ledger. Both the bank and the loan recipient were constantly updated on the progress, and the transaction time was reduced from several days to just a few hours. BBVA called it a “significant advance in the exploitation of [distributed ledger] technology.”

With this transaction successfully under its belt, BBVA is planning to conduct more blockchain-transacted loans. BBVA CEO Carlos Torres Villa was quoted by the news outlet saying, “Blockchain can offer clear advantages for all sides in the corporate loan market in terms of efficiency, transparency, [and] security… It’s another strong example of how disruptive technology can be used to add value to financial services, something that is central to our strategy.”

BBVA had some help in managing the transaction. Spanish telecommunications company Indra assisted to make sure communications channels and equipment were always working properly. Borja Ochoa, Indra’s director of financial services, said, “This pilot served as an opportunity to take part in the first corporate loan operation based on blockchain technology in the world. The operation strengthens the position of BBVA and Indra as leaders in the practical application of blockchain technologies.”

The blockchain is the perfect solution for industrial and corporate loans, which are oftentimes more delicate and require more input from various sources and need to be kept more secure than personal loans. BBVA used a private blockchain for the transaction, but all loans will be registered and completed on the Ethereum blockchain. In addition to corporate loans, BBVA is exploring the possibility of using blockchains for international lending and trade, as well as in foreign exchange transactions.

BBVA is one of only a few global banks to proactively embrace cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. It has already made several investments into both sectors, and just a couple of months ago successfully completed trials for cross-border payments using Ripple.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Parity rejects Ethereum split proposal to recover lost $320M in ETH

It’s back to the drawing board for those who were seeking to recover the more than $320 million worth of frozen ETH funds, after Parity Technologies announced that it has “no intention” to split the Ethereum blockchain.

A glitch in a multi-sig wallet smart contract library last year was responsible for the funds being locked, a factor which had led some to speculate on a potential fork in the Ethereum blockchain to recover the money. However, Parity founders Gavin Wood and Jutta Steiner shot down proposals to force a split in the network. Wood was Ethereum’s former chief technology officer.

In a statement, the Parity founders said, “We have no intention to split the Ethereum chain. We plan to continue to work with the community to find a path forward. We have all dedicated a great deal of time and effort to developing the Ethereum ecosystem, and have no intention of harming what we have helped build.”

In spite of the decision to leave these funds in place, Parity continues to work towards the recovery of around 513,000 ETH which has been locked for over a year, after a bug allowed for the destruction of a wallet library contract, affecting some 600 different multi-signature wallets. Majority of the frozen funds belong to Wood’s Web3 Foundation.

“All of us at Parity Technologies are deeply sorry to the users who remain unable to access their ether as a result of a bug in our code,” Parity said. “We have been in constant conversation with affected projects and believe that those in the community who have stuck ether, either through the wallet freeze or, for example, issues such as those listed in EIP-156, have a case for attempting to recover the property.”

The issue of recovering funds locked by self-destructed smart contracts has been a topic of debate within the Ethereum community, which has thus far resisted calls for a fork or other standardised recovery process for reclaiming lost ETH.

In an attempt to circumvent these concerns, Parity recently submitted EIP-999 to restore only the specific Parity library affected by the glitch, as a means of recovering the funds. However, the issue remained in contention, and there were fears that this course of action would lead to a further split in the Ethereum blockchain.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Malta green lights new cryptocurrency bill

Malta’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to three separate bills relating to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, including measures that would introduce a framework for regulating cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Amongst the three bills, the Virtual Financial Assets Bill sought to create a structure for regulating ICOs and cryptocurrency transactions in the country, as part of a wider drive to make Malta more amenable to the cryptocurrency sector. The bill was presented alongside the Technology Arrangements and Services Bill, and the new Digital Innovation Authority Bill, ahead of a debate in the Maltese Parliament.

Following the debate phase, the bills will likely be voted through into law, according to local media reports.

Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, said he was confident the laws would provide legal certainty, with positive effects on the cryptocurrency sector in Malta.

“Once new laws surrounding blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are enacted in Malta, banks would be less reluctant to welcome companies working in the industry, presumably due to the legal certainty it would provide,” Schembri said, according to the Malta Independent.

The parliamentary secretary was also quoted by Malta Winds saying that regulating the cryptocurrency and blockchain market ensures “that the three main principles of financial regulation are adhered to,” resulting in a sector “that protects the investor and provides market integrity and financial soundness.”

Leading Maltese law firm Mamo TCV Advocates said the proposed laws would strengthen Malta’s hand as a hub for blockchain and ICOs.

The bills vest regulatory power in the Malta Financial Services Authority, which includes the power to publish specific rules relating to listings, to suspend trading and to require information on demand. Should the bills eventually be signed into law, they could pave the way for the new growth in Malta as a destination for blockchain companies and initial coin offerings.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

Crypto exchange operations on the cards for Nasdaq

Nasdaq “would consider” launching or even becoming a cryptocurrency exchange in future, according to comments made by the company’s CEO.

CEO Adena Friedman made the comments in a CNBC interview, in remarks widely construed as supportive of a future move into the blockchain space.

“Certainly Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange over time. If we do look at it and say ‘it’s time, people are ready for a more regulated market,’ for something that provides a fair experience for investors,” Friedman said. “I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it’s just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature. Once you look at it and say, ‘do we want to provide a regulated market for this?’ Certainly Nasdaq would consider it.”

The comments indicate Nasdaq would be receptive to becoming more heavily involved in the blockchain space. It follows from a number of ventures into the blockchain from the stock exchange. Nasdaq already supports several ETFs, or exchange traded funds, exposed to the blockchain space, including those tracking cryptocurrencies and related startups and equities.

Nasdaq also has an ongoing commercial relationship with Chain, the ledger-as-a-service startup, working on a number of collaborations that could ultimately have real-world applications for the firm.

The news that Nasdaq is open to becoming more crypto-focused in future is yet another vote of confidence in the technology, and in the developing cryptocurrency economy. Yet it comes at a time of increasing regulatory scrutiny over the sector, especially in relation to initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been visibly clamping down on ICO fraud cases in recent months, including instances of crowd token sales in contravention of securities laws.

Meanwhile, more recently, the former head of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said he regards a number of high profile cryptocurrencies as securities, within the legal definition of the Howey Test as set out by the U.S. courts. This would see Ripple’s XRP and Ethereum’s Ether flagged as securities, which raises legal questions for the respective development teams, as opposed to Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which cannot be considered a security on the same terms.

The support of Nasdaq could ultimately provide a recognised, regulated platform for ICOs in future, subject to U.S. securities laws, providing a regulated alternative to the current route to market.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.