Protocol Delivers “Fast, Secure Token Swaps” Between Blockchains


The team behind the Swingby Network says it has created an easy way for users to execute token swaps between blockchains. 

On Jan. 22, 2019, the Skybridge testnet had its official launch. Through Skybridge, Bitcoin can be used on the Binance Chain as a result of a one-to-one peg with Binance-backed BTC tokens. This broadens access to different blockchains — along with cheaper transaction fees, faster settlement times and the freedom to use DApps and DeFi lending platforms — while ensuring that consumers continue to benefit from price fluctuations in the world’s premier cryptocurrency.

Swingby was one of the first five companies to receive a grant from the Ethereum Community Fund, which strives to support compelling end-user applications that boost rates of mainstream adoption. Although Skybridge was initially being built on Ethereum, development later moved to the Binance Chain. The company said there were several factors in this decision, including quicker block confirmation times, the ability to process thousands of transactions per second, and links to a decentralized exchange that hosts a diverse range of crypto assets.

Broad appeal

The company is hoping to reach cryptocurrency users who want to use the tokens they already own on other blockchains, eliminating the inconvenience of constantly swapping coins through third parties. This also extends to consumers who want to preserve their privacy, as its “trustless platform protects identities during token swaps” — with users retaining custody of their assets 100% of the time.

The Swingby Skybridge is available here

Executives also claim there are compelling advantages for node operators who are unsatisfied with the rewards currently offered by existing networks. Decentralized exchanges are also set to benefit, with Swingby claiming these platforms can achieve a much-needed boost to liquidity by allowing individuals to send BTC to other blockchains.

Now, the Swingby Skybridge testnet is live and fully operational, and the team at Swingby has created a detailed plan for 2020. A private sale for Swingby tokens, to which partners and industry experts have been invited, is due to conclude in February. A public crowdsale for tokens will commence in February, paving the way for a mainnet launch in the second quarter of 2020. From here, tests will begin on delivering bidirectional swaps between Tether and Binance’s stablecoin.

In its white paper, Swingby noted that blockchain ecosystems have evolved rapidly over recent years, but continue to face two major problems: scalability and cross-chain operability. Overcoming both of these hurdles is crucial if mainstream adoption is going to be realized.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.





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French Pro Soccer Team Paris Saint-Germain Launches Fan Token


The fan token of top-tier soccer team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is now available for sale on the blockchain platform Socios, the team announced in a tweet on Jan. 28. 

As one of the first uses of the $PSG Fan Token, holders will vote on an inspirational message to be printed on the armband of the captain — Thiago Silva — when the team takes the pitch. 

According to a tandem announcement from Socios, the PSG fan token offering, or FTO, is now open on its website. Socios also offered an AR token hunt game for its native Chiliz $CHZ tokens which, once found, could subsequently be used to buy PSG’s fan token. 

Fan tokens enable supporters of the team to vote in a number of binding and non-binding cosmetic decisions (choosing the club’s jersey color, stadium music and logo) and certain sports aspects (MVP, Player of the Match or Month, friendlies matches, summer tours, charity line-ups, etc).

PSG fans who take part in the polling process will receive rewards points. The more rewards points that a user holds, the more likely they are to win prizes like unique merchandise, VIP tickets, or an opportunity to meet players. 

Fan tokens take hold in soccer 

As Cointelegraph previously reported, PSG initially partnered with Socios to work on its blockchain-based fan token in September 2018. Since then, a slew of other major soccer teams from around the world have taken steps to offer their own assets. 

Just a few weeks after the announcement of Socios and PSG’s partnership, major league Italian soccer club Juventus stated that it too was pursuing the development of a “Juventus Official Fan Token” with Socios.

Juventus fans this month voted on a new goal celebration song, marking the first token-holder poll run on the platform. Blur’s Song 2 will now play every time Juventus scores a goal at home.

Chiliz, the Malta-based company behind Socios, is also launching an exchange for fans to trade sports and entertainment tokens. The first assets to be listed when the exchange opens in February will be the Socios soccer partnership tokens.

Other clubs who have signed up include Atletico Madrid, Roma, Galatasaray and West Ham United.





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Largest Japanese Consulting Firm to Launch New Cryptocurrency Index


Leading Japanese consulting firm Nomura Research Institute (NRI) partnered with cryptocurrency investment solution provider Intelligence Unit (IU) to launch a tradable cryptocurrency index.

According to a press release published on Jan. 29, the new index’s name is NRI/IO Crypto-Asset Index and it is meant for use by financial institutions. The index also draws data from crypto index platform MVIS and major cryptocurrency data platform CryptoCompare.

The dedicated website explains that the index is meant to cover global crypto markets in U.S. dollars and Japanese yen by tracking the largest cryptocurrencies. The index was designed for Japanese institutional investors with consideration for local availability and custody solutions.

A tradable index tracking five top cryptos

The NRI/IO Crypto-Asset Index is rebalanced monthly and tracks the performance of a pre-defined basket of crypto assets and will be tradable in dollars and yen on NRI’s platform. The index includes Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and XRP. IU CEO Akihiro Niimi commented on the launch:

“Strong demand from institutional investors is contributing to the growth of crypto-asset funds, and well-diversified products like index funds are attractive as alternative investments.”

Backtested performance statistics shown on the website claim that the year-to-date performance is 33.91%, the one-year performance is 104.86% and the three-year return is 2,211.26%. 

NRI is an affiliate of Japanese financial services giant Nomura Holdings, which has embraced blockchain technology and offers several services related to crypto assets. In October 2019, Nomura Holdings and popular Japanese messaging app Line announced a final capital alliance agreement focused on blockchain technology. 

In May 2018, Nomura rolled out cryptocurrency custodial services at its banks. The custody service aimed to address a perceived shortage of “safekeeping solutions” which were preventing traditional asset managers from building investment vehicles in the crypto ecosystem, according to Nomura. 

Crypto derivatives are on the rise

As cryptocurrencies become ever-more-widely recognized as an asset class, an increasing number of firms are developing derivatives giving exposure to their price fluctuations. As Cointelegraph reported last week, Swiss cryptocurrency financial firm Amun AG launched an exchange-traded product giving investors inverse exposure to Bitcoin on leading Swiss Exchange SIX.

Still, while many claim that there is a clear demand for cryptocurrency derivatives, recent statistics may show otherwise. As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, little more than a month after their launch, Bitcoin options contracts on the Intercontinental Exchange’s digital asset platform Bakkt appear to have seen sluggish uptake, with no new trades occurring over the past 11 days.





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Montana Crypto Mine Back in Action Despite Owner’s Uncertain Legal Fate


A cryptocurrency mine in Butte Montana fired up its servers today, resuming business without its former owner, an alleged fraudster. 

After a legal appearance on the matter, part-owner Kevin Washington and operator Rick Tabish started up crypto mining business CryptoWatt once again, pulling the operation out of retirement, according to a Jan. 27 press release. 

Authorities closed down CryptoWatt after jailing its owner, Matthew Goettsche, on a separate fraud account totaling $722 million, the Montana Standard reported in December 2019. 

Shady ownership

Although Goettsche owned more than 50% of CryptoWatt, he was not taken into custody for dealings related to that business. Goettsche, along with four individuals, ran a “cryptocurrency investment club” named BitClub Network, through which the group allegedly swindled millions.

Rick Tabish ran CryptoWatt under Goettsche’s ownership of the site, unaware of the owner’s fraudulent endeavors with the unconnected BitClub Network. Goettsche also carried significant debt owed to Tabish.  

Managerial concern

Regarding re-opening, Tabish told the Montana Standard:

“If the facility shuts down we all lose, […] I want to protect the integrity of the facility, and the interests of our employees, the vendors, everybody who works there.

Tabish also noted his willingness to bring the matter to court if need be, pointing out that the operation would die if left shut down for too long, Montana Standard reporting included. 

CryptoWatt started up again on Jan. 26, a separate article from the Montana Standard read, securing a lower power cost in the process. 

Cointelegraph also recently reported on a surge of Bitcoin mining licenses in Iran.





Source Cointelegraph

Fearing Revolt, Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com Backs Down From Proposed BCH Mining Tax


According to a statement earlier today, Jan. 28, Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com is backing down from the 12.5% mining tax on Bitcoin Cash they proposed along with other major BCH mining pools owing to the community’s overwhelming negative response to the proposal. 

Bitcoin.com’s position

Last week, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) personalities proposed a 12.5% tax on mining rewards that would ostensibly go to funding network development. Now Bitcoin.com has rejected the proposed mining tax unless serious alterations are made:  

“As it stands now, Bitcoin.com will not go through with supporting any plan unless there is more agreement in the ecosystem such that the risk of a chain split is negligible. We think it is clear that the existing proposal does not have enough support.”

In the post, Bitcoin.com urged transparency, flexibility and unity.

Bitcoin.com suggests that a lack of ecosystem agreement risks a split in the chain, though they seem to be looking for ways to fund further development: 

“We will be working to come up with a plan that is profitable for all the relevant parties and which preserves the fundamental economics of Bitcoin Cash.”

The post ends with a call for more flexibility: 

“A permanent proposal would be in effect a carte blanche on development and would incentivise “development for development’s sake,” which would defeat the purpose of the fundraising […] to create fast, reliable, digital cash upon a stable, largely unchanging, economically rational Bitcoin protocol.”

Critics attack the proposal

Cointelegraph reported last week on the proposed tax published by Btc.top CEO Jiang Zhuoer. The “infrastructure funding plan” would have miners send 12.5% of mining rewards to an entity in Hong Kong. The co-signing entities repped 27% of hashrates. Most controversially, the proposal included “orphaning” non-compliant miners — the practice of removing blocks from the chain that resembles a 51 percent attack.

Critics underscored the routing of funds to a corporation instead of a nonprofit and the absenting of a voting procedure, which would mean company owners would control BCH development. Other complaints included Chinese government interference and profitability since the tax would affect miner revenues. 

In other news on cryptocurrencies looking to fund development, Litecoin’s Charlie Lee pitched that miners donate 1% of their rewards to development on Jan. 24.

Cointelegraph.com reached out Roger Ver for comments but hadn’t received any at press time.





Source Cointelegraph

Oil Giant Saudi Aramco Buys Into Blockchain Trading Platform Vakt


Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, Saudi Aramco, has bought into the blockchain-based oil trading company Vakt, Reuters reports on Jan. 28.

Saudi Aramco’s Energy Ventures branch has bought $5 million in new shares, according to Vakt’s press release. The investment will be used to develop the platform, with a focus on expansion into the Asian market.

In addition to investment, the oil conglomerate’s trading subsidiary Aramco Trading is set to use the Vakt platform. The platform is currently live in the North Sea Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll crude oil markets, where it reports to have a high market share. Aramco Trading will add its trading volumes to the blockchain-based platform.

Potential to streamline and modernize oil trading 

The Vakt platform focuses on post-trade processing for physical energy transactions. It provides a smooth process from trade entry to settlement by eliminating paper-based processes and manual accounting practices. Hans Middelthon, managing director of SAEV Europe said, “VAKT has demonstrated that their platform has the potential to digitize what is currently a very manual process.”

The use of blockchain ensures a “single source of truth” for both buyers and sellers, which is stored on an immutable and distributed ledger, according to Vakt. 

Vakt launched its trading platform in December 2018 with an initial limitation on North Sea markets. The company was created in 2017 by a consortium of industry leaders that included Shell and BP, which were also the first users of the platform. 

Since then, the platform onboarded more industry giants such as Chevron, Total and India’s Reliance Industries. 

Saudi Aramco — the largest oil company in the world in terms of production — has previously invested in blockchain firms via its venture subsidiary. In May 2019, the firm participated in a $6 million funding round for American blockchain startup Data Gumbo Corp.





Source Cointelegraph

Wallet Creator Offers $250K to Anyone Who Can Crack the ‘Hack-Proof’


Offline cold storage cryptocurrency wallet service provider GK8 is offering a bug bounty of up to $250,000 to the first person who can hack its product.

GK8 — which presents its solution as a “hack-proof digital vault” that needs no direct or indirect connection to the internet —  will place 14 Bitcoin (BTC) (over $125,000 at press time) in its wallet. Anyone who succeeds in breaking into the wallet will pocket its proceeds, plus an additional $125,000 prize.  

The bounty program will run from Feb. 3 (9:00 a.m EST) through February 4, 2020 (9:00 AM EST).

Mitigating state-sponsored attacks and APT threats

Israel-based GK8 claims its high-security custody solution for digital asset storage will allow banks and other institutions to fully access and manage their crypto holdings and related information without needing to connect to the net.

The firm’s site claims the product has been designed so as “to minimize the wallet’s attack surface and block attackers’ influence on security-critical components.”

Among the list of risks it aims to mitigate, GK8 has pointed to state-sponsored attacks and stealth APT (advanced persistent threat) cyber threats.

Zcash (ZEC) founding scientist and cryptography researcher Professor Eran Tromer has endorsed the project, contending that the cold wallet solution developed by GK8 will set a new standard for high security cryptocurrency custody offerings. He explained the way in which the firm has designed the wallet with a minimized attack surface, noting that it works by:

“Having only outbound unidirectional communication and then building the rest of the cryptographic protocols around it using multi-party computation, validation protocols, the transmission of policies to the environment, all while preventing the injection of malicious inputs from the internet back into the cold wallet.” 

High stakes

In an industry that must always keep one step ahead of potential threat vectors, bug bounty programs serve as a useful “stress test” for cryptocurrency firms to probe the security of their solutions. 

In Dec. 2019, the AirSwap decentralized exchange protocol announced its launch of a  bug bounty program with rewards of up to 20,000 Dai (DAI), without setting a time limit for bug-finders.

Earlier, in October, MakerDAO had been prompted to fix a critical bug that could have resulted in a complete loss of funds for all platform users. HackerOne user lucash-dev had disclosed a report revealing a critical bug in MakerDAO’s planned upgrade, and was rewarded for the effort with a $50,000 bounty.





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Four Class-Action Suits Against Bitfinex Over 2017 BTC Price Now One


The four class-action suits against Bitfinex, Tether and parent company iFinex over alleged market manipulation leading to Bitcoin’s (BTC) 2017 bull market have been consolidated — with implications for every BTC buyer since April 2017.

Per an order dated Jan. 24 and filed Jan. 27 from Judge Failla of the court of the Southern District of New York (SDNY), four complaints have been consolidated. Plaintiffs Leibowitz, Young, Faubus and Ebanks — as well as assorted sub-listed parties in each of those cases — will now have their cases heard jointly. 

The original allegations and controversy surrounding Bitfinex, Tether

The class-action suits against iFinex and its daughter companies crypto exchange Bitfinex and stablecoin operator Tether allege that those companies worked together to create Bitcoin’s infamous price bubble at the end of 2017. These complaints followed similar research that appeared this summer. 

The potential class pool for these cases is massive, potentially including anyone who has bought Bitcoin since April.

The relationship between iFinex, Bitfinex and Tether has been the source of considerable controversy, with one of the complaints in this class-action including the below schema (BFXWW and BFXNA are the names of Bitfinex’s legal registration): 

Source: Ebanks v. iFinex

Ebanks’ complaint alleges that the relationship between these entities was deliberately opaque to allow illegal activity, explaining: 

“Despite defendants’ best efforts, the close interconnections between Tether and Bitfinex were exposed, in part, through the leak of documents from offshore legal services provider Appleby (colloquially dubbed the “Paradise Papers” leak) in November 2017.”

A separate legal action by the New York Attorney General also accuses the companies of using their concealed relationship to commit financial crimes. In that case, the attorney general believes that Bitfinex used its revenue to cover an $850 million dollar loss from Tether’s reserves, which are designed to back its stablecoin USDT 1-to-1 with the United States Dollar.

Who will lead the four cases?

As Cointelegraph reported, the leadership of these four cases remains in question. Chronologically among complaints, Leibowitz was first to appear in October, while Young would file in Washington State in November before relocating to the SDNY earlier this month. Both Faubus and Ebanks would file after Young’s relocation.





Source Cointelegraph

Cryptocurrencies Won’t Replace Cash ‘Anytime Soon’


Cash is unlikely to disappear anytime soon despite declining use as a payment method and the surge of digital currencies, Germany’s largest bank says.

Deutsche Bank, a German multinational investment bank that previously predicted that cryptocurrencies will replace fiat by 2030, now claims that cash “will be around for a long time” as a preferred method of payment.

Deutsche Bank Research issues three reports on the future of payments

The bank has forecast a tentative future for cash in one of its recent “The Future of Payments” reports carried out by Deutsche Bank’s research arm Deutsche Bank Research. Titled “Cash: the Dinosaur Will Survive … For Now,” the report was issued on Jan. 21 and represents the first part of a series of reports on the future of payments. The second part, called “Moving to Digital Wallets and the Extinction of Plastic Cards,” was published on Jan. 23, while the third and final part of the series, “Digital Currencies: the Ultimate Hard Power Tool,” was issued on Jan. 27.

Despite expressing its confidence that cash will remain a major payment method in the near future, Deutsche Bank admits to a growing role for the ongoing digital payment revolution. The bank wrote in its “Cash” report:

“In this report, we argue that cash is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. However, a real digital payment revolution has been underway for the past ten years. Cash is losing ground as a payment method. Several countries have recently removed large notes worth $100 or more and implemented policies to replace traditional payment methods with digital solutions. In the midst of these changes, non-sovereign cryptocurrencies pose a threat to political and financial stability.”

Over 50% of people in developed countries believe that cash will always be around

As part of the cash-focused report, Deutsche Bank Research conducted a survey indicating that a third of people in developed countries consider cash to be their favorite, while more than 50% are sure that cash will always be around. Additionally, the bank found out that Germans hold the highest average rate of cash among advanced economies, which accounts for 52 euro or about $57 at press time. According to Deutsche Bank, Germany plans to use even more cash in the coming six months.

The world’s two most populous countries encouraging greater use of digital currencies

Deutsche Bank further outlined that the future of cash will greatly depend on further developments in China and India, which are the world’s two most populous countries. Specifically, the bank emphasized that both countries have been encouraging greater use of digital currencies and blockchain. As such, China’s President called for the country to accelerate its blockchain adoption in late 2019, while India’s securities regulator recently urged on Jan. 23 that exploration of the best possible usage of blockchain in securities markets.

As China has reportedly seen progress with its government-backed digital currency, Deutsche Bank warned that the adoption of such a currency poses a serious threat to the United States dollar:

“China is working on a digital currency backed by its central bank that could be used as a soft- or hard-power tool. In fact, if companies doing business in China are forced to adopt a digital yuan, it will certainly erode the dollar’s primacy in the global financial market.”

As to the growing trend of crypto and blockchain industry, Deutsche Bank has also been actively working in the developments in this area. In September 2019, Deutsche Bank joined JPMorgan’s blockchain-based network, the Interbank Information Network to reduce the cost of processing difficult payments and offer better client services.





Source Cointelegraph

Ditto Music to Launch App Offering Speedy Blockchain Solution


Ditto Music will launch Bluebox, a blockchain recording technology that could be a boon to musicians and distributors alike. 

What it’s all about

The problem, says Ditto Music CEO Lee Parsons, is that misplaced metadata can end up eating away at the bottom line. 

Recently Ditto made a royalty payment of 60,000 pounds sterling ($80,000) to the wrong artist. Parsons reportedly had to pay the correct artist out of his own pocket. 

But Bluebox will allow artists to address legal concerns, such as copyright registration, publishing, and mechanical splits. The app records music around legally-binding smart contracts, which are written into code and instantly copyrights the content. 

“There’s billions of dollars of unclaimed royalties out there,” Parson said. “The blockchain can help millions of artists claim what is rightfully theirs.”

Larger vision 

Ditto Music, which paid out $100 million in royalties last year, claims a roster of 250,000 artists including the likes of Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Royal Blood. Bluebox is designed to split royalty payments for a recording’s lifetime and accurately track plays on the system. 

Parsons argues that this creates more transparency and more detailed reporting, both of which should reap higher collection rates from digital services. 

Ditto claimed to promote “higher collection rates [while] massively reducing the loss of earnings currently experienced by artists.” 

Last year, Cointelegraph published a contributor piece on decentralization in the music industry. 

Cointelegraph reached out to Ditto for comment but had not received a response as of press time. This article will be updated upon receipt of a response.





Source Cointelegraph