Self-proclaimed electrification, automation and digitalization global giant Siemens has shown an interest in adopting blockchain-based solutions. In particular, Siemens is exploring the use of blockchain in the transportation industry, as per a report by Forbes on July 15.
According to Siemens Corporate Technology’s head of cybersecurity and blockchain, Andreas Kind, Siemens is looking to incorporate blockchain tech into carsharing via Siemens Mobility — one of Siemens’ subsidiaries.
According to the Enterprise CarShare website, carsharing reportedly refers to using or renting a car for a short period of time. As a popular example, the report cites the rental service Zipcar.
One issue with this system, says Kind, is with the associated fueling cards, which allow the car renters to refill on gas. However, using the card is subject to a number of restrictions on the customer end e.g. they can only use the card at specific stations and they are sometimes stolen. Kind said he believes that this type of technology could be improved via a blockchain solution:
“It’s not only inconvenient for the drivers, it’s inconvenient for the companies because fueling cards get stolen [and] they get sold on the internet […] That’s an example where, in an industrial context, you need something, a technology, that brings together different participants that [don’t] fully trust each other […] That’s exactly where blockchain can add value.”
Siemens is also considering other areas within the transportation sector for blockchain solutions. Siemens’ Corporate Technology reportedly presented on a possible blockchain solution for “blockchain-based smart parking” at Bosch’s 2019 Connected World conference.
According to the report, Siemens is also considering blockchain use cases for supply chains and manufacturing. Siemens is also apparently leaning toward using a permissioned blockchain, however, the firm is still in the testing and discovery phase, and is still reportedly exploring the viability of various use cases.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Grand View Research has suggested that blockchain is a digital technology driving market growth in the global transportation management systems (TMS) sector. Thanks in part to blockchain and other technological innovations, the TMS market is projected to reach $198.82 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 16.2%.
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has proposed to use the Bitcoin Cash blockchain as a temporary scalability solution for the Ethereum network. The programmer introduced a summary of the idea in a July 13 post on the Ethereum Research.
As previously reported, the Ethereum network has experienced some scalability issues, with its native blockchain capable of processing as few as 15 transactions per second (TPS), while its major competitor Ripple is reportedly estimated to have a TPS capacity of 1,500.
As such, the Ethereum community has been working on Ethereum 2.0, a major network upgrade that is expected to improve its scalability once ETH shifts from proof-of-work to the proof-of-stake algorithm.
While the first stages of the Ethereum 2.0 shift are expected to come in early 2020, Buterin has now suggested deploying other blockchains as a new option for improving Ethereum scalability in the short term. Specifically, Buterin said the Bitcoin Cash blockchain is a perfect match for this purpose as the hard fork cryptocurrency provides a data throughput of around 53 kilobytes (KB) per second, as opposed to Ethereum’s 8 KB.
Additionally, Buterin outlined three other compelling reasons for using the blockchain, including low fees, the readiness of necessary machinery and the Bitcoin Cash community’s openness to people using the blockchain “for whatever they want as long as they pay the transaction fees.”
In the post, Buterin noted Bitcoin Cash’s 10 minute block time as the main impediment to becoming a good Ethereum scalability solution. However, the expert noted that this problem could be solved by zero-confirmation payments using techniques like Avalanche pre-consensus.
The crypto community on Twitter took a negative view on Buterin’s new Bitcoin Cash integration proposal, with some commentators forecasting that such a scenario could lead both Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash to a faster collapse.
Francis Pouliot, co-founder of blockchain consulting firm Catallaxy, tweeted that the recent proposal by Buterin signifies a failure of the Ethereum project, while Bitcoin integration will just delay and unsolved scalability crisis.
Recently, another Ethereum co-founder, Joseph Lubin, claimed that Ethereum has “already scaled quite significantly.”
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Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Bitpoint has discovered over 250 million yen ($2.3 million) in cryptocurrency — part of a $32 million sum that was stolen last week, local English language daily The Mainichi reports on July 14.
According to The Mainchi, Bitpoint found the stolen cryptocurrency on overseas exchanges that were using a trading system provided by Bitpoint Japan. Bitpoint told The Mainchi that the recent discovery brings the total sum of lost founds down from 3.5 billion yen ($32 million) to 3.02 billion yen ($28 million).
The exchange was initially hacked on July 12. 2.5 billion yen ($23 million) of stolen funds belonged to customers while 1 billion ($9.2 million) belonged to the exchange. Hackers stole Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH) and XRP from the exchange’s hot wallets.
Bitpoint suspended all services following the hack, while the exchange’s parent firm Remixpoint Inc. shed 19% following the theft. Remixpoint went untraded in Tokyo following the attack due to a reported glut of sell orders.
The recent incident involving Bitpoint follows a record-breaking hack of Japanese exchange Coincheck in January 2018, wherein $534 million of NEM tokens were stolen from Coincheck’s low-security hot wallet.
Bitpoint was one of several exchanges to receive a business improvement order from Japan’s finance watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), in June of last year. One of the FSA’s main concerns was the exchanges’ compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer requirements.
The agency also expressed concerns that customer funds were not being kept sufficiently separate from those of the exchanges.
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Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it completed the eighth Binance Coin (BNB) token burn and that it intends to also burn the tokens allocated to its team in an announcement published on July 11.
Per the announcement, 808,888 BNB (equivalent to over $23.7 million at press time) of the Binance’s team allocation have been burned in the event. The exchange notes that the burn is part of the firm’s commitment to burn a total of 100 million BNB tokens and that the team’s supply equates to 40% of the total supply.
As of press time, Binance Coin is about 5% down on the day and is worth $29.37. According to Coin360 data, the coin’s current market capitalization is $4.1 billion, which makes it the sixth biggest crypto asset.
Binance Coin Seven-Day Price Chart. Source: Coin360
As Cointelegraph reported at the end of June, about $1.2 billion in BNB was transferred in 1.1 seconds with a $0.015 fee on the Binance Chain. Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao commented, “The future is here.”
Also in June, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex announced a burn of its UNUS SED LEO tokens, which will see the exchange’s parent company iFinex funnel its gross revenue into purchasing the tokens at market prices to destroy them.
Intellectual of the innovative industry, innovator of the concept of intellectuality, experimentator with technologies and educator by dedication, before co-founding Wikipedia in 2001, Larry Sanger studied and taught philosophy, being interested especially in epistemology — i.e., the science of knowledge.
It was in college that he started thinking of the internet as a potential way of decentralizing knowledge. His early project in this regard was a web forum for discussions between tutors and students, who could thus communicate outside the usual academic environment. Sanger explained:
“The thing that drives me forward is all of the possibilities that the internet makes possible for organizing people to create a new knowledge resources. Just think of how the Oxford English Dictionary was createdL When I read “The Professor and the Mad Man,” I was surprised at how similar it seemed to be to the early years of Wikipedia, and that vision of organizing people from all around the world to create shared knowledge resources is really what drives me forward. That’s the vision that inspires me. It has nothing to do with making money. There’s much more important things at stake here.”
Sanger conducted his first “fork” in 2006 when he launched an alternative to Wikipedia, Citizendium, which rejected anonymous editing and introduced an expert review process. The project was ultimately unsuccessful, but Sanger kept developing educational projects as well as a crowd-sourced news portal before becoming the chief information officer of Everipedia in 2017 — an encyclopedia of unrestricted topics, based on blockchain technology.
As of 2019, the project has almost completed phase one of its move to the blockchain.
A year ago, the iOS mainnet was launched, an airdrop was conducted and now the project is ready to launch. Sanger spoke about Everipedia, saying:
“I think it’s going to take several years before there are mature decentralized apps that a lot of people are able to use. We’re still figuring out a lot about blockchain. Yes, there are DApps that will work pretty well, but I I think, ultimately, the mature blockchain technology of the future is still quite a ways off.”
The idea of decentralized information is evident throughout all his projects. Thus, on the eve of the Fourth of July — the United States’ Independence Day — Sanger wrote the “Declaration of Digital Independence,” calling for a social media strike via Twitter aimed at decentralizing social media platforms.
Complementing the internet with blockchain
According to Sanger, the internet of today could not have been created by any modern executive in Silicon Valley — and no, Mark Zuckerberg is not an exception. Sanger went on, saying: “They wouldn’t be capable, they don’t have the temperament. They’re too controlling. They don’t understand the whole idea of bottom-up.”
And the power of the internet is enormous. As Sanger said, Blockchain technology is adding “transparency, accountability and, of course, the incentives that are provided by tokenization,” but “there is nothing magical about a blockchain technology that makes it the only way to decentralize online activity.”
However, the qualities of blockchain consist for Sanger of “being a way of giving financial incentives to open-source developers.” These concepts have not really gone mainstream “because most of the work done on open-source software is done by volunteers. There isn’t a lot of money involved. Blockchain makes it possible for us to have the same sort of decentralized development and participation that open-source software allows, but it adds onto that financial incentives for users — and that’s pretty exciting.”
Blockchain in 10 years
To Sanger, the blockchain industry needs to pay a lot more attention to user experience. He said, “It has to be made just as simple as any ordinary app or website.” And it is when out-competing traditional apps on their own terms that people can start caring about the fact that these apps are built on a blockchain. Sanger explained:
“Most people just don’t care about blockchain at this point. Maybe they should, but they don’t. And that’s just a fact that we have to deal with.”
“We haven’t figured out what the best ways of using the technology are. We haven’t established systematic programming languages. We don’t know what the biggest companies are going to be. There is so much that’s up in the air at this point. I think the world of blockchain is going to look very different in 10 years and we have no idea what that could be like.”
Sanger concluded by saying:
“I’m not a crypto investor, really. I’ve done a little bit of that just in order to understand what it’s all about. I believe in them. I really do want the monetary system — or rather the monetary systems — of the world to be decentralized and taken out of the hands of government. I think that would be fantastic.”
The interview was conducted in collaboration with Ana Dawson, Cointelegraph’s head of events and communications. The interview was edited and condensed.
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Saturday, July 13 — Most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting losses on the day by press time, as Bitcoin (BTC) fell below the $11,450 mark again.
Market visualization courtesy of Coin360
Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360
As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, the Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve has said that almost nobody uses Bitcoin for payments, and that it is a speculative asset just like gold.
Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $28.7 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple’s XRP, has a market cap of $14 billion at press time.
Coin360 data shows that ETH has seen its value decrease by nearly 1% over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $269. On the week, the coin has also lost over 7% of its value.
Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360
XRP is down by about 3.87% over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.333. On the week, the coin is down about 14.11%.
XRP 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360
Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the only ones reporting gains are Chainlink (LINK), which is up over 3.8%, Monero (XMR), which is up over 1.5%, and Cardano (ADA), which is up a fraction of a percent.
At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $313.9 billion, about 5% lower than the value it reported a week ago.
As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, Ethereum’s co-founder Mihai Alisie is extremely concerned that Facebook is attempting to hoodwink regulators into approving a centralized “cryptocurrency.”
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Bitcoin Core contributor Michael Ford, aka “fanquake,” has been awarded a $60,000 grant by the parent firm of top crypto derivatives platform BitMEX.
In an official announcement published on July 12, BitMEX owner and operator HDR Global Trading revealed its decision to award Ford the grant, noting that he has just recently been made the latest official maintainer of the Bitcoin Core software project.
This means that the developer’s key has been added to the “trusted keys list” file on GitHub — giving him the ability to merge in changes to the Bitcoin Core codebase.
HDR Global Trading has presented its decision as a way of offering material support to those who work — usually on a voluntary basis — to further the development of cryptocurrency:
“HDR Global Trading Limited, like all other companies in the cryptocurrency space, relies heavily on the (mostly-volunteer) work of coders dedicated to the mission and ideals of Bitcoin. This work is difficult, demanding, and often thankless. We believe it is the duty of corporations to give back to the projects from which they benefit – and from which their very business model stems.”
The post outlines that the grant is exclusive and requires Ford to work on Bitcoin Core in his capacity as a Core software maintainer — pointing to issues such as further developing the network’s robustness, scalability and privacy.
Equally, HDR Global Trading claims that the grant is awarded on a no-strings-attached basis — presumably implying that Ford will not be expected to contribute to BitMEX itself.
The announcement emphasizes that it is only thanks to the critical development work of developers such as Ford that platforms such as BitMEX have sealed their success:
“Without the millions of free man-hours from dedicated OSS developers powering everything from our operating systems, to our web servers, to our ops tools and Bitcoin itself, the BitMEX trading platform could not have been built.”
HDR Global Trading has also recently made an unconditional donation to the MIT Digital Currency initiative — which conducts research into the development of the global crypto ecosystem — noting at the time that it was particularly keen to help support the work of Bitcoin Core developers Wladimir van der Laan and Cory Fields.
In late June, BitMEX — the world’s single biggest bitcoin derivatives provider — posted record volumes across its operations as Bitcoin (BTC) hit $13,000. The platform reported $1 billion of open interest in the market, with trading topping $13 billion and above $16 billion across the BitMEX’s full product range.
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The Ethereum-based predictions platform Veil is shutting down, according to an official Medium post on July 11.
As of July 11, no new markets will be added to the platform. Trading will be disabled entirely on July 24. Veil co-founder Paul Fletcher-Hill recommended that users redeem open positions, withdraw positions from active markets, and withdraw Veil Ether and convert it to Ether.
Veil was a type of extension to the Ethereum-based predictions market Augur. Augur is a predictions market — that still exists — that uses smart contracts to let users create and bet on the outcome of any event with the cryptocurrency Ether.
For instance, the top three bets listed on the Augur market, at press time, are “Will Novak Djokovic be the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Singles winner?,” “Who will Win the The First Democratic Primary Debate?,” and “Will Serena Williams be the 2019 Wimbledon Women’s Singles winner?”
In April, Augur also added the option to use the stablecoin by MakerDAO, DAI, on its platform.
According to its website, Veil was intended to “bring Augur mainstream” and improve user experience by speeding up its transaction processes. Veil purportedly let users trade on the Augur marketplace faster via the 0x protocol, and provided instant settlement by allowing users to sell their shares to Veil before native finalization of Augur transactions on the blockchain.
In discussing the reasons Veil did not meet its success goals, Fletcher-Hill noted a number of issues, including that the platform may not have been friendly enough to crypto novices:
“We didn’t offer a good onboarding experience. Crypto as a user base is still early, and we didn’t make it easy enough for users without crypto or a wallet to get started.”
Some other areas of concern he noted include not being decentralized, not being regulated, and perhaps trying to offer too many options as a broad-scale predictions market. Fletcher-Hill wrote:
“… ultimately we failed to find a good fit between what we were building and the market as it exists today. … But today the community of users is small, and we think there are higher impact products and services we can build for the immediate future.”
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Augur came under fire from Reddit and major crypto exchange Binance due to having an apparent design flaw. The flaw apparently allows users to run scams, of sorts, by issuing predictions with unclear or contradictory conditions for resolution.
Binance also said that low liquidity, barebones functionality, complex mechanics, and an unclear approach to governance were additional issues it saw with Augur.
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If there’s one thing the United States has had a history of, it’s imposing sanctions on its enemies. Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and numerous other nations have been subject to restrictions and penalties over the years, with the U.S. harnessing its economic muscle in order to punish pretty much any country that doesn’t play by the international rulebook. One of the most notable of these countries is Iran — which, since the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, has been on the receiving end of a long series of prohibitions, blocks and sanctions.
Some of these sanctions were lifted in January 2016, when the then-President Barack Obama, signed an executive order revoking them as part of the previous year’s historic nuclear deal with Iran. However, they were reinstated in November 2018, five months after the current president, Donald Trump, had decided to withdraw the U.S. from the aforementioned deal. And since then, things have only picked up steam, with the Trump administration announcing new sanctions in June in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. drone and then with American lawmakers introducing a bill in December that would place restrictions on Iran’s ability to operate a digital currency.
Following in the footsteps of Venezuela, the Iranian government is reportedly planning its own central bank digital currency, while a significant number of Iranian citizens have been mining various preexisting cryptocurrencies as part of an effort to mitigate the effects of a hyper-inflating national currency, the rial. But even if Iran could be distantly admired for demonstrating some degree of ingenuity here, the U.S. is working out how to curtail the Islamic Republic’s ability to profit from cryptocurrency. Iranian officials complained at the beginning of July that the U.S. Congress is aiming to block Iran’s access to Bitcoin (BTC) mining and other cryptocurrencies more generally, without specifying how exactly it intends to achieve such an aim.
But while there’s little doubt that the U.S. would much prefer Iran to have no access whatsoever to cryptocurrency — as well as no ability to mint its own digital currencies — it doesn’t seem likely that it can do anything to restrict the Middle Eastern country other than introducing sanctions that prohibit American and foreign firms from having crypto-related dealings with the Islamic Republic.
On July 6, local news outlet Al-Fars reported that the Iranian assistant minister of industry, trade and supply, Saeed Zarandi, released a statement concerning cryptocurrency. In it, Zarandi noted that Bitcoin can be used as a tool to circumvent the American embargo, while he also claimed that the U.S. Congress is trying to prevent the production of Bitcoin in Iran.
How exactly American lawmakers are hoping to do this, he didn’t explain. Nonetheless, he did add that several Iranian ministries are collaborating with the Central Bank of Iran to “resolve the issue of Bitcoin mining,” while more recently, the central bank’s governor announced that the government is planning to legalize mining, which it had previously been cracking down on. This would imply that the Iranian government is now intent on encouraging the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of resisting American-led pressures while also planning to develop its own central bank digital currency.
Given this possible change of direction, it would be instructive to consider how the U.S. could possibly restrict or prevent cryptocurrency mining and production from taking place in Iran. Or, to put this question differently, it would be instructive to consider just how much real power the U.S. government could potentially wield over Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
When it comes to technical ways of preventing cryptocurrency mining and use, Bitcoin and blockchain experts argue that this would be very difficult for even the U.S. government to achieve. As Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy Song explained to Cointelegraph, the success of such an endeavour would be unlikely, as every country in which mining takes place will have to get involved. According to Song:
“A ban would require coordination on a massive scale, with every mining operation being compelled by their respective jurisdictions to not accept blocks that their governments ban. It’s really difficult to do, as anyone anywhere can mine. They would need at least 51% of the network, though practically speaking, the number would have to be much higher, like 75%, to enforce this ban in a reasonably efficient way.”
As Song concluded, “Too much mining power is outside the U.S. and it’s hard to prevent anything in a decentralized system.” This point is key, since the only realistic scenario in which the U.S. government could block cryptocurrency mining is if the activity took place only in the United States, as explained to Cointelegraph by Spencer Lievens, the CEO of Duality Blockchain Solutions:
“ISP providers can be required to block mining pools or anything related to mining. However, governments will have more luck in preventing mining in the countries they control than in preventing the mining of other, sovereign nations.”
Thus, it’s highly unlikely that America could prevent Bitcoin or cryptocurrency mining directly, as there’s no way it could gain control of Iran’s internet or gather enough hash power to reject blocks originating from Iran. Similarly, Song also believes it’s highly improbable that it could prevent Iran from developing and producing its own digital currency, largely because the Iranian government or central bank would control this currency’s blockchain. “Iran can produce its own digital currency anytime it wants and no one can stop it,” he said.
Other Bitcoin developers agree with Song’s analysis, with fellow BTC developer Nicolas Dorier telling Cointelegraph in no uncertain terms, “It is not possible to prevent mining.” However, both Song and Dorier agree that there are indirect ways of restricting cryptocurrency mining in Iran and of frustrating the Islamic Republic’s attempts to profit from its own digital currency. For one, Dorier agrees that the U.S. could “prevent American miner manufacturers like Bitfury from selling their products to Iran, but there are many other miner manufacturers (e.g. in China).”
In much the same vein, Song adds that, while Iran could certainly produce its own currency without much harassment from the U.S. and its agencies, “getting other people to accept that as a means of payment or getting them to store their wealth in it is another matter altogether.”
In both cases, the issue once again turns to sanctions — something that the U.S. has already deployed in curtailing Venezuela’s ability to make a success of the ill-fated Petro. The U.S. could certainly pass legislation or an executive order that prohibits American citizens from purchasing any Iranian digital currency, and such legislation could potentially also prohibit any kind of transaction with the Iranian cryptocurrency sector, thereby making it harder for Iranians to access mining equipment, for instance.
In fact, this is indeed what the U.S. is attempting to do, as the “Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act” — which is currently working its way through Congress — intends to make it very hard for Iranian crypto to exist. For instance, Section 303 of the act declares, “All transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in Iranian digital currency by a United States person or within the United States are prohibited.” And the act doesn’t stop with U.S. citizens. Section 304 states:
“The President shall impose 5 or more of the sanctions described in section 6(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 with respect to any foreign person that the President determines knowingly engages, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, in a significant transaction for the sale, supply, or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services, or technological support, used in connection with the development of Iranian digital currency.”
Put simply, the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act will prohibit any U.S. citizen or foreign person from buying an Iranian digital currency or helping with the development of this currency. This doesn’t specifically address Bitcoin mining, but it’s probable that there will be some jurisdictional overlap insofar as equipment sold to Iranians to mine Bitcoin could potentially be construed as being used in connection with the development of an Iranian cryptocurrency. As such, the act may have an impact on the production (i.e., mining) of Bitcoin in Iran — at least, to the extent that it prevents American mining manufacturers from selling relevant equipment to Iranian organizations.
However, even if the act succeeds in preventing such manufacturers in most countries from selling mining units to Iran, even this might not prevent Bitcoin or cryptocurrency mining from taking place in the Islamic Republic. As Dorier put it, “Manufacturing miners is a well-understood process, so if there is unmet demand somewhere, I don’t think it would be too hard for a motivated entrepreneur to create or smuggle the supply.” Lievens added to this point:
“There’s always a way around blockages. The US would have to control Iran’s digital infrastructure. With Iran seeing support from Russia, this is an unlikely scenario.”
Indeed, if Iran is capable of building its own atomic weapons (as is often claimed), then it will certainly be capable of building its own ASIC chips and mining units. Then again, if the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act is passed, it will certainly find it much harder to profit from its own digital currency, with or without the ability to mine crypto. Just ask Venezuela.
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Cryptocurrencies do not pose a threat to financial stability, according to representative for Germany’s central bank, Burkhard Balz
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