Zuckerberg’s Charm Offensive on Behalf of Libra With US Lawmakers

When Facebook published the Libra white paper in June 2019, shockwaves were felt across the crypto markets the world over. Triggering the end of a long bear market, Bitcoin soared past the iconic $10,000 mark, and many prominent altcoins rose on the back of a phenomenon now known as the “Libra Effect.”

As so often occurs alongside milestone cryptocurrency announcements, Facebook’s venture into digital payments was also met with a barrage of criticism. Regulators and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling either for intense scrutiny of the project or an outright ban. Fears abound that by launching a decentralized payment system, Facebook’s monopoly could balloon to the point that independent states lose their monetary sovereignty. 

Related: US House Financial Services Committee and SEC: Whose Move on Crypto?

Initially, the project was set to launch in 2020, but that now seems uncertain. As resistance increases, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been on a charm offensive to tip the scales in Libra’s favor. 

Zuckerberg’s cautious tone

In the wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook suffered a serious blow to its reputation. The misuse of data on a hitherto unprecedented scale tarnished the name of the social media giant, and for the first time, people began to distinguish the difference between the company’s convincing brand and its activities.

The company’s troubled past means that customers and lawmakers alike are prone to view each new venture with suspicion. It is perhaps unsurprising that Zuckerberg’s recent activities seek to reassure critics that Facebook is making every effort to ensure that the Libra project is above board. Speaking to the world’s largest financial newspaper, the Japan-based Nikkei, Zuckerberg appeared on Sept. 26 to acknowledge the difficulty the company faces against regulatory scrutiny and public perception. 

In an effort to combat Facebook’s newly earned association with underhand activities, Zuckerberg said that the company aims to consult with the public due to the sensitivity of the project: 

“Part of the approach and how we’ve changed is that now when we do things that are going to be very sensitive for society, we want to have a period where we can go out and talk about them and consult with people and get feedback and work through the issues before rolling them out.” 

Acknowledging that the company’s behavior must change to regain trust, Zuckerberg added that the company will take a different approach to what it would have five years ago. When pressed on Libra’s expected launch, Zuckerberg would not commit to an exact time frame. 

Wining and dining: Lawmakers who lunch

If Zuckerberg’s contrite appearances in the media fail to win over the hearts and minds of the world’s decision-makers, it seems he is appealing to their stomachs as a back-up. On Sept. 18, Zuckerberg reportedly dined with a number of United States lawmakers in a bid to assuage concerns about Libra. 

Amy Davine Kim, the chief policy officer at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, explained to Cointelegraph that personal interactions with lawmakers can indeed bring about change: 

“Personal visits absolutely help enhance policies and regulatory decisions. Regulators themselves encourage discussion with them prior to launch to ensure all compliance obligations are addressed. This makes for a much smoother market entry.”

Although the Facebook founder’s aim may have been to sweeten up the lawmakers, it appears some attendees were left with a sour taste in their mouths. In addition to the misuse of data, Facebook has also been accused of not doing enough to monitor content published on its social network. 

Zuckerberg’s concerns about the effects of the company’s prior activities were confirmed when Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner said that Zuckerberg heard “consistent concerns about privacy, concerns around vile content and how it came to be dealt with.” The U.S. senator also appeared to question the integrity of Facebook’s transparency drive, saying:

“One of the things I’m very worried about is, when the Facebook representative testified before the Senate, before my committee, he said, ‘You know, if we can’t get American regulatory approval, we won’t launch.’ […] We hear lots of indication Facebook may choose to launch in other nations first. […] So, somebody is not telling the truth.”

It is likely that the senator was referring to Libra’s warm reception in Switzerland, where Mark Branson, the head of the country’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority, stated that the project fits perfectly into its regulatory framework. 

Related: EU and Libra: Facebook’s Project Gets Challenged as ‘EuroCoin’ Looms

The Libra Association’s head of policy and communications, Dante Disparte, also commented to Cointelegraph on the decision to coordinate with Swiss regulators, saying, “We see a feasible pathway for an open-source blockchain network to become a regulated, low-friction, high-security payment system.” Warner said that Zuckerberg was aware of the concerns from U.S. policymakers, but continued: 

“I still don’t have 100 percent clarity on whether they feel like they can launch short of U.S. regulatory approval.”

On the other hand, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a fellow diner with Zuckerberg and Warner, said that he welcomed “the strong, constructive interest shown by Mr. Zuckerberg.” He went on:

“We talked about some of the most pressing challenges facing the tech industry, including its repeated failures to [protect] election security and consumer privacy.”

Libra’s Disparte also said that regulator hesitancy is not altogether unexpected: 

“We recognize that blockchain is an emerging technology, and that policymakers must carefully consider how its applications fit into their financial system policies.”

According to Stuart Young, an analyst at the London-based blockchain consultancy Smith + Crown, there are a number of factors that could cause concern for regulators. Young told Cointelegraph: 

“These challenges include enforcing KYC/AML requirements, data privacy concerns (topical in the wake of Cambridge Analytica), and effects on an individual country’s central bank and monetary policy. Regulators have an unclear incentive to adopt or support a private digital currency such as Libra, since similar technology could be used by their own central banks to issue a digital currency.”

Young also outlined his view that, as a project on the scale of Libra has never been seen before, regulators will face many tricky decisions and require more information from the Libra Association before any approval can be given: 

“Given that many aspects of Libra’s operation venture into uncharted territory, it is likely that it will be required to seek additional licenses internationally, and may face blanket restrictions in certain countries. It is possible that various regulators decide that the project is too systemically risky to the financial system, and ban it from going forward. […] In practice, this will likely require extensive dialog with regulators on a country-country basis to establish a path forward.”

The art of persuasion: Facebook hires new lobbyists

For many years, the world’s largest tech companies steered clear of politics. But while creating their monopolies at the top of the tech world, the big four of technology — i.e., Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple - have blurred the boundaries of where technology and politics collide. 

The power of tech companies has spawned legislative debates and discussions about tax, and has unnerved both politicians and citizens across the globe. But, in the world of politics and money talks, Facebook has a powerful tactic up its sleeve: lobbying. 

Related: How Facebook Libra Is Seeking Compliance, but May Not Launch by 2020

In 2018, Facebook spent $12.6 million on lobbying, up 45% from 2016. In 2019, the company’s lobbying efforts showed little sign of slowing, with the social media behemoth recently hiring several lobbyists to help Libra break through the legal barricades. 

According to a report published on Sept. 5, Facebook hired William Hollier, the president of legislative and regulatory counseling firm Hollier Associates LLC,  in late August to lobby for the company on blockchain policy. Hollier has previously worked for U.S. Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, who has spoken of the potential benefits that Facebook’s Libra project could bring. 

The other new lobbyist is Michael Williams of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm The Williams Group, who began lobbying for Facebook in July. Facebook also hired FS Vector, another D.C.-based company that specializes in regulatory compliance, public policy and business strategy for the fintech and cryptocurrency sectors. 

The Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Amy Davine Kim told Cointelegraph that lobbying is an increasingly effective way for cryptocurrency projects to gain traction, as well as for helping shift attitudes from scepticism to interest, resulting in an evident increase of desire to understand the technology:

“In the past five years, the Congressional Blockchain Caucus was formed, H. Res. 835 was passed establishing supportive language for blockchain technology in the Congressional Record for the first time; the SEC has developed frameworks for the token economy; and more recently seven Members of Congress have called on the Administration to publicly support the advancement of blockchain.”

Although many lobbying efforts on behalf of cryptocurrency projects are successful in gaining influence, Kim said that more work is needed to drive change in the industry: 

“It’s only with increased access to information, from the companies that are leading that charge, will government representatives understand the real impact and benefits the technology can bring.”

Source Cointelegraph

Telegram’s Gram Wallet Now Available in App’s Alpha Version for iOS

Encrypted instant messaging service Telegram has revealed a wallet for its network’s native token, Gram (GRM), available in the app’s alpha version for iOS.

As Telegram Info reported on Sept. 26, the Gram wallet is now active on the alpha version of Telegram on iOS, although currently the wallet operates in the Telegram Open Network (TON) testnet. So far, users can only create and delete a wallet, receive and send Grams, and share their wallet address.

Basic functions only

Fyodor Skuratov of software startup TON Labs, which is managed by Telegram’s token offering investors, said that the wallet’s design is not yet finalized and that, most likely, Telegram’s built-in wallet will have basic features. Skuratov added that those who want to use more advanced functions, including purchasing and exchanging Grams, should address third-party developers.

Telegram released the TON testnet explorer and node software in early September, while the company launched a private beta testing of the TON blockchain to a limited number of global developers in April. Two anonymous testers revealed at the time that the blockchain demonstrated an extremely high transaction speed.

Gram’s listing on crypto exchanges

Recently, Caymans Island-registered cryptocurrency exchange Blackmoon announced plans to list the forthcoming Gram token through a partnership with Swiss crypto custodian Gram Vault. 

Prior to Blackmoon’s listing announcement, Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid claimed that it would be the representative of sales of Gram tokens for Gram Asia — yet this announcement was later disputed by sources close to Telegram.

As previously reported, Telegram is planning to launch the Gram token in October, following a process of planned public testing for the TON.

Source Cointelegraph

Spanish Facebook Rival Taringa Is Sold to Smart Contract Dev RSK

A subsidiary of Argentinian smart contract platform RSK has purchased Latin America’s social media giant Taringa, gaining exposure to 30 million users.

RSK-powered rewards for content on Taringa

IOVlabs, a startup dedicated to the development of the RSK smart contract network, is already building a crypto-powered incentivizing program for sharing content on the platform, as reported by Cointelegraph en Español on Sept. 27.

Specifically, Taringa will purportedly reward users for active participation in its communities with IOVLabs’ RIF token (RIF), a crypto token operating on the RSK Smart Bitcoin platform. At press time, RIF’s market cap accounts for over $49 million, while the token’s price is up about 0.5% over the past 24 hours, according to Coin360.

Latin America loves Bitcoin 

Buenos Aires-based Taringa is a major Latin American social network project, having a presence in every part of the Spanish-speaking world, including Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Peru and the United States’ Spanish speaking community. At press time, nearly 40% of Taringa’s traffic comes from Argentina, according to traffic stats tracker SimilarWeb.

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, CEO at IOVLabs, pointed out the promising perspectives of the new acquisition, stressing the positive stance of Latin American countries towards crypto in an interview with Forbes. He said:

“If you go to the first world and you start talking about bitcoin and decentralized platforms, you need to explain why. In Latin America, you don’t need to explain why […] People understand why instantly, so they jump right into the how and who. It’s a different reaction. That’s exactly why we chose this social network.”

Taringa and crypto

Meanwhile, Taringa is also known for its crypto-related initiatives so far. In July 2019, Taringa partnered with Ethereum-powered decentralized autonomous organization MakerDAO and e-wallet Airtm to launch a rewards system based on MakerDAO’s stablecoin Dai (DAI).

Source Cointelegraph

Major Coins Trading Sideways, Bitcoin Hovers Around $8,000

Friday, Sept. 27 — The top-20 digital currencies are reporting mixed signals today, experiencing moderate gains and losses throughout the past 24 hours following the nosedive they took on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Cryptocurrency market daily overview

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

The leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), is trading sideways, up by 1.18% over the last 24 hours to trade at around $7,970 at press time. Bitcoin has seen low volatility during the day, having dropped to as low as $7,752, while the intraday high reached $8,198.

At the beginning of the day, Bitcoin dipped below $7,800 after the coin touched its four-month lows on Sept. 24, when it crashed $1,500 in 24 hours. The major coin has since been hovering around the $8,000 price mark.

Bitcoin seven-day price chart

Bitcoin seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Ether (ETH) is up slightly over 3% on the day, hovering around $164 at press time. The altcoin saw its weekly high of $219 on Sept. 21 and has since been steadily going down throughout the past week, diving to as low as $155 on Sept. 26.

Today, news broke that the biggest Ethereum contract in the industry, dubbed FairWin, is allegedly putting user funds at risk and continues to guzzle a major share of gas on the network.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

XRP has posted modest gains of around 1% on the day and is trading at $0.238 at press time.  The third-largest coin has not registered significant price fluctuations today, generally staying near the $0.24 mark.

Marcus Treacher, Ripple’s senior vice president of customer success, said today that the major flaw in Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency, Libra, is that it’s a closed system — akin to a “walled garden.” Treacher claimed that the Ripple network, by contrast, “has no parameter. It connects with all of the players that want to use the technology.”

XRP’s seven-day price chart

XRP’s seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

On Coin360, the top-20 coins are reporting gains between 0.74% and 7.43% on the day. The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $213 billion at press time, while the daily trading volume is around $61 billion.

Earlier today, Anthony Pompliano argued that the future will not bring competition between digital and non-digital currencies. He said that if he were the U.S. government, he would tokenize the dollar immediately, noting that China is creating a digital Yuan and other countries would follow suit.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Source Cointelegraph

Libra Association Talks With EU Regulators Following Opposition

The Libra Association is in talks with European Union regulators, according to its managing director, according to an interview with Reuters, Sept. 27.

Bertrand Perez said that discussions were ongoing and there was still work to do, in one of his first public appearances on the job at a blockchain conference in Geneva, where the association is based.

Facebook’s Libra faced a cold reception in France and Germany

Since Facebook announced its intention to launch the Libra cryptocurrency, it has faced scrutiny from regulatory bodies across Europe and North America.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has resorted to wining and dining US lawmakers, while French and German authorities have gone as far as to pledge that they will block Libra from operating in Europe.

Libra clearly hopes that getting EU regulators on board will carry some weight with France and Germany.

Launch date depends on progress with regulatory bodies

Perez, a former PayPal executive, explained that the network’s scheduled launch date of June 2020 would depend on the progress made with regulators. This was their “North Star”, Perez said, adding that a delay of one or two quarters would not be an issue.

“What is important is that we need to comply with the regulators and we need to make sure that they are on board with us and fully comfortable with our solutions.”

This echoed Zuckerberg’s sentiments that the most important thing was that Libra is “sensitive for society.”

Source Cointelegraph

Ripple’s Xpring Acquires Payment Platform Logos Network to Pursue DeFi

Ripple, the San Francisco-based startup behind the third-largest asset on the crypto market, XRP, has acquired payments platform Logos Network to develop decentralized financial (DeFi) products.

Per a Sept. 27 blog post, Ripple’s Xpring initiative, the company’s investment arm, has onboarded Logos Network. Logos Network is a distributed ledger-based payment platform that focuses on speed and scalability.

Exploring DeFi and building relationships

As part of Xpring, the team behind Logos will be exploring a DeFi system that is set to leverage XRP at its core. With the acquisition, Logos’s founder and CEO Michael Zochowski will lead DeFi Products, as well as build relationships.

Commenting on the initiative, Zochowski said: “We expect that our team will work on a variety of projects at all levels of the Xpring platform, with a particular focus on enabling a wide range of DeFi applications. We continue to strongly believe that the future of payments and finance lies in blockchain and decentralization.”

Xpring’s projects and spendings

In mid-August, Xpring announced a 1 billion XRP (roughly $265 million) grant to web monetization platform Coil. Coil will reportedly use the funds to build an ecosystem of creators, developers, companies and nonprofits that use XRP through the Web Monetization open standard.

In April,  Xpring and Bain Capital Ventures invested in early-stage blockchain venture capital firm Robot Ventures. Targeting fintech and product strategy disruptors, Robot Ventures invested in crypto mining firm Coinmine and Point, a startup developing new debit card solutions.

In July, Xpring published data on its spendings on XRP projects since its launch in May 2018. By the time, the incubator spent $500 million on related projects, distributing the funds to over 20 companies, including the blockchain-based gaming platform Forte.

Source Cointelegraph

Crypto Exchange Binance Launches Dedicated Staking Platform

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance has launched a dedicated staking platform, according to a company announcement published on Sept. 26.

The new service will enable Binance users to deposit their token holdings and earn staking rewards, but without having to set up their own nodes to fulfill minimum staking amounts and/or time lengths.

Staking vs. mining cryptocurrencies

In blockchains that use a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) system — as opposed to Proof-of-Work (PoW) like in Bitcoin — nodes in the network engaged in validating blocks, rather than mining them.  A deterministic algorithm selects block validators based on the number of tokens a given node has staked in their wallet — i.e. deposited as collateral in order to compete to add the next block to the chain.

Staking holdings in a PoS network can yield significant percentage returns, depending on the size of the participant’s stake. This offers investors the chance to earn a form of “interest” on their holdings, as long as they are willing to lock up their funds to both maintain — and potentially profit from — a given blockchain network.

Binance’s offer, community responses

In its announcement, Binance has revealed plans to update its staking calculation methodology on Oct. 1, in order to establish what it deems to be a more accurate and fair distribution of the rewards. This will be achieved by providing multiple snapshots for user balances within a given day, rather than a single daily snapshot.

Not all cryptocurrency commentators perceive Binance’s launch of staking services as a positive moment for the industry. 

A tweet from Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, emphasized to Binance users this morning that:

“You literally don’t have to do anything. Your funds on Binance automatically participate. You can still trade as you normally would.”

To which Dovey Wan — founding partner of blockchain-based investment company Primitive Ventures — has responded:

“That’s why RIP for all StakingaaS Exchanges gonna eat it, custodial wallets gonna eat it, even PoW pool gonna eat it, and then the remaining is a race to the bottom Bad business, just bad.”

Taking Wan’s cue, several commentators on crypto Twitter mulled the centralization drawbacks of a staking service operated by a leading industry exchange, yet Wan foregrounded a different argument, tweeting:

“I’m assuming the opportunity cost on staking/locking is flat lol if considering that it’s a complete GG. So most of them [token issuers] need to inflate massive amount (further dilute the value and further sell pressure down the road)”

As reported, Binance had apparently inadvertently earned staking rewards on its Stellar holdings this summer. Once it had discovered the profits, the exchange chose to launch support for staking the token as well as to distribute the already-accrued earnings among users.

Source Cointelegraph

Libra’s Major Flaw Is That It’s a ‘Walled Garden’

The major flaw in Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency, Libra, is that it’s a closed system — akin to a “walled garden.”

That’s the argument made by Marcus Treacher, Ripple’s senior vice president of customer success, in a CNBC interview published on Sept. 27.

“Walled garden” strategies and the antitrust pushback

The “walled garden” metaphor has notably been used in the past to refer to commercial strategies pursued by tech giants such as Apple, who endeavor to retain complete control over the software, apps and accessories related to their proprietary devices.

This very strategy has come under fire during recent attempts to take down these ostensibly monopolistic practices by anti-trust campaigners and lawmakers. The implications for the likes of Amazon, Apple and Facebook  —  even ahead of its Libra project — are expected to come into sharper view with the conclusion of a major United States antitrust probe now underway.

In leveling his critique against Libra, Treacher claimed that the Ripple network, by contrast, “has no parameter. It connects with all of the players that want to use the technology.”

He nonetheless weighed that it was still a “really good thing” that a Silicon Valley behemoth like Facebook had envisioned for itself a role in the digital asset space.

Libra not intended to replace currencies, says association head

As Treacher acknowledged, global regulators are, arguably, yet more concerned about the potential threat to national fiat currencies that Libra represents — an anxiety that the Libra Association’s managing director, Bertrand Perez, today attempted to quell.

Speaking today at a blockchain conference hosted at United Nation headquarters in Geneva, he is reported to have stated that:

“We are not in the area of implementing any monetary policy with the [Libra] Reserve.”

Perez further claimed that the cryptocurrency project could help with the fulfillment of multiple 

U.N. sustainable development goals, such as eliminating poverty and reaching gender equality.

The conference reportedly included speakers from the Swiss National Bank and International Monetary Fund, among others.

David Marcus, the head of Calibra at Facebook, has likewise recently argued against any prospective threat to sovereign monetary policy from Libra, noting that:

“Each Libra is deposited one-to-one with traditional currencies and no new money is created. There is no impact on interest and yields. In this sense, the Libra reserve cannot disturb monetary policy.”

Source Cointelegraph

The Reasons Why Blockchain Is Not Quite Ready for Facebook’s Dreams

Many people have heard of blockchain technology, but few know what to make of it. Some people will tell you that it’s the next big thing, poised to disrupt almost every industry under the sun and reshape the world, affecting everything from real estate to education to the very structure of modern democracy. Others will assert that blockchain is technically advanced and theoretically interesting, but overhyped and impractical. 

NYU professor, former senior economist for international affairs in the Clinton White House’s council of economic advisers and Nobel Prize winning economist Nouriel Roubini once compared blockchain to “an Excel spreadsheet” and proposed that the technology has “absolutely no basis for success.” The truth lies somewhere between these two poles.

Many proposed uses for blockchain will remain forever implausible: Blockchain will not bring peace to the Middle East, and today’s blockchain solutions are inefficient. But the technology is improving and the ecosystem is maturing; tomorrow’s blockchain may have a profound effect on the ways we lead our lives and conduct our businesses. 

It just might take a little while. Even Facebook, which have announced their own cryptocurrency, acknowledges in its white paper that problems yet remain:

“As of today we do not believe that there is a proven solution that can deliver the scale, stability, and security needed to support billions of people and transactions across the globe through a permissionless network.” 

Related: Libra Seen as Threat to National Currency Sovereignty, Pleads With G-7

What needs to change before blockchain thrives in corporate America?

Some analysts prefer to call blockchain “distributed ledger technology,” and the name, even if it doesn’t roll off the tongue, is an accurate one. Blockchain enables businesses to create ledgers that are immutable and secure; the ramifications for payment processing, remittance transfers, supply chain tracking and digital distribution are profound. Blockchain possesses capabilities even the most sophisticated traditional ledgers (paper or digital) do not. 

Smart contracts allow the trustless automation of value or data transaction when certain predefined conditions are met. In the coming years, these pieces of code may streamline and accelerate vital, but slow, economic processes like real estate transfer and insurance payments. And they may open markets for new products that couldn’t exist today.

Unfortunately, blockchain systems, despite using thousands — or even millions — of computers, have not yet solved the problem of scale. To take a familiar example, consider payments: Visa and PayPal process thousands of transactions every second, providing one-click and zero-wait payments. 

Bitcoin (BTC), the world’s leading cryptocurrency, clears roughly five transactions a second, and it often takes an hour for transactions to finalize. Facebook has designed Libra to clear around 1,000 transactions a second. 

That’s impressive, but it’s not enough for a firm with billions of users. Once problems of speed are solved, blockchain pioneers still need to address privacy concerns, since anyone with access to a given chain can view all of its associated data. After that, there are the legal and regulatory challenges that always accompany innovation. 

Fixes to throughput, speed, privacy and regulatory compliance are all on the way. Thousands of the best developers are at work on protocols that will accelerate finality and move transactions per second into the five- or six-figure range, while permissioned blockchains will address major privacy concerns. 

Companies are increasingly engaging with regulators. The United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority earlier this year granted a license to a cryptocurrency investing firm, while regulators from groups like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) routinely engage with blockchain firms and blockchain media. 

That’s not to say that the road for regulator and business cooperation is an easy one: New technologies like blockchain force both parties to ask difficult questions. What convinces a regulator in one country or state might prove less compelling to a regulator elsewhere; we’ve already seen that some regions are more welcoming of blockchain innovation than others. Today, the world’s blockchain laws are a patchwork. Let’s hope they grow more consistent in the years to come.

Different layers of blockchain

Blockchain insiders often speak of Layer 1, Layer 2, and Layer 3 technologies; each new layer builds off a previous level of technology to provide greater utility and efficiency. Much of the activity so far has been in Layer 1. What are the differences between the various layers? Transit and commerce provide a good model. Vehicles and a road network might constitute a Layer 1; Layer 2 would be a state-of-the-art logistics structure for moving goods and people on demand. Layer 3 might be an e-commerce system that relies on the Layer 2 logistics to move goods. Blockchain needs strong solutions in all three layers, and there’s every indication that Layers 2 and 3 will blossom in the next few years. 

In fact, depending on how you define the term, some Layer 2 solutions have already debuted, though they are limited. The Lightning protocol, for example, speeds up Bitcoin transactions but does not allow crucial blockchain features like smart contracts and will not work with other blockchain protocols. If Layer 2 protocols are to transform blockchain, it’s clear that protocol-agnostic tools, equally well-suited to different chains, must appear. 

Microsoft has stated that it anticipates Layer 2 blockchain will move the technology from the niche to the mainstream, but such success seems unlikely if systems aren’t interoperable.

Once the technology is better understood and the legal situation codified, we can expect early-adopter companies to make extensive use of blockchain. Already, major companies like Bank of America, Microsoft and JP Morgan have begun investigating blockchain, but most enterprises have remained cautious and have contributed a relatively small portion of their resources to distributed ledger technology.

Related: Libra, TON and JPMorgan Coin Compared: Are They Heroes or Villains?

The exception to this rule might be Facebook, which claims huge plans for its announced Libra cryptocurrency, but blockchain is not yet central to the social network’s value proposition and the launching itself might be postponed. Enterprise understands the value of patience, and we’re unlikely to see mass implementation until early adopters demonstrate that blockchain saves money and opens new markets. If rapid settlement of complex transactions via smart contract becomes standard, for example, we can expect a new technological gold rush.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Ed Felten is a Robert E. Kahn professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, the founding director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, and he serves as a member of the United States Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. In 2015–2017, he worked in President Barack Obama’s White House as Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer. He has published more than 150 papers in research literature and three books.

Source Cointelegraph

Coinbase Rolls Out Stellar Lumens (XLM) Trading in New York State

Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase that it made Stellar’s Lumens (XLM) trading available also to those users who reside in New York.

The exchange made the announcement in a tweet sent by its official Twitter account on Sept. 25. New York state residents can now trade, store, send and receive Stellar Lumens using both the service’s official website and mobile app. 

The company announced:

“Stellar Lumens (XLM) is now available to Coinbase users who are New York residents. New Yorkers can now log in to buy, sell, convert, send, receive, or store XLM on Coinbase  or using our iOS and Android apps.”

New York’s stringent crypto regulation

The state of New York is known for stringent cryptocurrency regulation after the introduction of the BitLicense in August 2015. 

The license requirement has driven various crypto companies to leave the state and stop offering services to New York residents, which some referred to as “BitExodus.”

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Coinbase is considering adding support for Telegram’s Gram and 16 additional digital assets. That being said, the exchange admitted that the trading of those assets may not start everywhere at the same time — suggesting that places like New York may once again have to wait. Coinbase stated: 

“We will add new assets on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, subject to applicable review and authorizations.”

Source Cointelegraph