Telegram’s ICO: Give us 2 billion and we’ll solve all of Blockchain’s problems

Telegram’s ICO:
Give us $2 billion and we’ll solve
all of B
lockchain’s problems

The encrypted messaging company’s plan is bold, but short on details.

“Long Island Iced Tea” becoming “Long Blockchain” this is not. In planning a $2 billion initial coin offering that’s meant to launch this month, messaging service Telegram isn’t just looking for a quick boost in value. If the dollar amount weren’t enough to get your attention, consider the ambition behind it: Telegram is promising investors who buy into its home-grown cryptocurrency that it will solve some of the blockchain world’s thorniest problems.

The ICO space is already on fire, and while Telegram aims to be the richest ever, plenty of other companies have tallied nine-figure crypto fund-raising rounds, with one, called EOS, on pace to raise far more than a billion—all founded almost entirely on dreams of blockchain systems that doesn’t exist yet. But investors’ excitement about Telegram’s offering could be more than froth. Telegram already has more than 100 million users on its encrypted messaging service. Such a clientele also makes a lot of sense for censorship-resistant applications like decentralized file storage, anonymous browsing, and cryptocurrency micropayments—all of which appear in a leaked white paper describing the so-called Telegram Open Network (TON).

Delivering on the promises in the white paper will require solving some of the most vexing challenges facing cryptocurrencies. The blockchain holy grail is a system that runs cheaply and efficiently at a large scale while remaining truly “decentralized.” Telegram says TON will do this, but it hasn’t said how. The white paper should have a disclaimer that reads “all of the technical things we said this will do are completely unproven and have not been subject to outside scrutiny,” writes Charles Noyes, an analyst and trader at Pantera Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused investment fund.

The explanations of the system’s monetary policy and governance system also leave much to be desired, according to Christian Catalini, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and an expert in the economics of cryptocurrencies. There are no details clarifying how tokens will be distributed, how the network will make decisions and handle disagreements, and how much control the company will maintain over those processes, he says. Such issues cut to the heart of what it means to have a decentralized currency. In the case of Bitcoin, arguments over how the network should evolve led to a “hard fork” that split the blockchain in two and still threaten to tear the community apart.

The bottom line is that although Telegram’s blockchain dream may make sense at first glance, many cryptocurrency experts will be skeptical until the company clarifies how it intends to solve some big technical and economic challenges. If the company’s fund-raising efforts come to fruition, it will at least have plenty of cash to invest in trying to figure it all out.

Chuck Reynolds

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Blockchain Adoption: How Close Are We Really?

Blockchain Adoption:
How Close Are We Really?

The Diffusion of Innovation Theory,

first postulated by Everett Rogers in 1962, explains how an idea, product, or behavior takes root in society through different segments of a population. It starts slowly at first with the "innovators" and "early adopters," who make up just 16% of the population; these are the intrepid individuals who see opportunities before they are there, who are willing to experiment, take huge risks, and change the status quo.

After them, the innovation begins to gain traction and spreads exponentially to the "early majority," who are more wary than the ones who came before but still eager to jump onboard. They are followed by the "late majority"—a risk-averse and skeptical population—and finally, the "laggards," the ones who are most resistant to change. At this point, the diffusion of innovation is complete—a new norm or product has achieved dominance in society. This model of adoption has occurred throughout history, from the rise of the iPhone to the abolishment of slavery.

Blockchain Today

Where, then, should we situate blockchain on this curve? Many believe we are already in the "early majority" phase of exponential growth, and that we are on the cusp of full adoption. I wish to temper expectations and introduce more nuance into the equation. It is important that we examine the issue of blockchain adoption from two different angles: investments and technology.

On the investments front, blockchain has indeed reached the level of "early majority." More and more capital, both institutional and household, is being poured into cryptocurrencies today. In 2017 alone, the total crypto market capitalization ballooned from 18 billion dollars to more than half a trillion dollars. Coinbase, the online exchange for buying and selling digital currency, recently reached more than 10 million users worldwide and became the most downloaded app on the U.S. Apple Store. Online wallet and portfolio tracking apps like imToken from China and CoinManager from Korea have also seen exponential expansion in their user base. In Korea, one of the largest crypto markets in the world, more than one-third of salaried workers are investors. CBOE and CME, two of the world’s largest financial exchanges, took the unprecedented step of launching Bitcoin futures last month. Across the globe, more than 2000 Bitcoin ATMs have sprouted up. The signs are clear.

How Far Have We Really Come?

From a technological perspective, however, we are still quite far behind. Firstly, there exists a dearth of talent. Blockchain developers are few and far between; the growth of many crypto-projects has been limited by the difficulty of finding qualified technologists. Secondly, there remain many technical issues that need to be ironed out, the most notable of which is scaling. Blockchain networks are still not capable of handling the high transaction volumes that could rival that of large industries and financial institutions. Without the appropriate scaling solutions, transactions costs would be too high and the wait times too long for viable adoption. This can be especially concerning, given that 2018 is the year where a lot of blockchain platforms start running on the Ethereum blockchain.

The sudden influx of many blockchain applications will likely exert greater pressure on the network, due to the exponential increase of activities on the blockchain. If not handled properly, this might result in expensive transaction costs for application on the Ethereum blockchain, and unbearably long waiting time for a transaction to be processed. That said, there are several promising scaling projects currently in the pipeline, including Raiden Network, Plasma, Zilliqa, and Lightning Network. In light of these challenges, I would say that the technology aspect of blockchain is only in the "early adopter" stage, perhaps even in the "innovator" stage.

A Growing Gap

You can see the problem here. There is a gap between technology and investments. If we continue to grow the latter without supporting the development of the former, we might face a severe overvaluation of cryptocurrencies. Yes, the market has reached half a trillion dollars, but as Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, recently questioned, “Have we earned it?” More must be done to support the training of blockchain developers. Leading institutions such as National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University are some of the pioneers in this regards. And of course, greater resources should be directed towards advancing scaling solutions. Blockchain technology needs to catch up to blockchain investments. If the gap is too large for that to happen, perhaps we should dial down the fervor of our speculation.

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How bitcoin and blockchain will change the world

 
How bitcoin and blockchain will change the world

Digital currencies are the future of money, but bitcoin probably isn't the ultimate winner.

Publish on Markethive:
https://markethive.com/group/marketingdept/blog/how-bitcoin-and-blockchain-will-change-the-world

Bitcoin climbed in value from less than $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to $14,000 by the end of the year. A coin of Ethereum was worth $8 on Jan. 1, 2017, and $843 one year later. Who would not be intrigued with the idea of owning something that appreciated thirteenfold, or even a hundredfold, in one year? Even the least sophisticated investors are wondering if cryptocurrency is a real thing or just a bubble of speculation. The real revolution is not the currency but the system that supports it.

Digitization and commercialization of trust

In the late 1990s, many were sucked into the dotcom bubble as the internet revolution brought unimaginable valuations to businesses with a technology bent. But the companies themselves were not as valuable as the platform they were all being built on: the internet.

 

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum are no different; they are the shiny objects capturing everyone's attention. But the real industry changer is blockchain, the technology they are built on. Why? Because just as the internet digitized geography and made the world smaller, blockchain does something unimaginably valuable: it is the digitization of trust. It makes transactions trustworthy and safe. Here are some questions to consider in the emerging world of digital logs:

 

1.         Will digital currencies dominate the future? Digital currencies are absolutely the future of money. However it's unlikely that bitcoin is the ultimate winner. Regardless of the coding oddities that make it an inefficient vehicle (the mining code used makes it a colossal waster of electricity and processing power), the idea is simply too big for one platform to own. According to Erik Townsend of the MacroVoices podcast, the demise of bitcoin will result from the privacy and anonymity it guarantees. Sovereign nations will not allow transactions to occur without ensuring taxes are paid and the flow of funds is monitored.

 

Whether it's in the name of security or for some other reason, you can bet that as cryptocurrencies evolve, so too will government regulation and involvement. China has already started working on a digital renminbi. If the U.S. intends to keep its status as the world's reserve currency, it will need to digitize. By making all non-agency-sponsored currency illegitimate, the world's governments can rapidly marginalize currencies like bitcoin as the domain of bad actors on the fringes of society.

 

 

2.         How does blockchain work? The system that all cryptocurrencies are built on is a distributed ledger protocol (DLP). Think of it as the ultimate digital log. Imagine a digital version of the library book log many of us grew up with. It tracks who borrowed the book and for how long, and ensures its eventual return (or the appropriate fine). Now imagine if that book was digital and the log tracked who could borrow it, amend it and share it, and there was a complete digital footprint of every person's interaction with it. Now imagine that log not being monitored by a library, but instead being regulated and protected by the users. Think what it would mean if this technology was used for every product, transaction and payment throughout the world with secured access for approved participants.

 

3.         What are the implications of mass adoption of DLP technology? If the buyer and seller do not know each other, many transactions currently require an intermediary to reduce counterparty risk and ensure payment and the safe delivery of products and services. Ultimately, blockchain will completely change how the world interacts because it allows for the safe transfer of a product from one person to another if a set of programmed conditions is met. In the log, you can set the rules for who has access, for how long, and ensure safe payment. With blockchain, we aren't just logging the transaction, we are also guiding the transaction and all of the streams of payments along the way. Blockchain instills instant confidence in the transaction.

 

What happens when we really don't need to have a trusted middle man like a bank or an escrow agent to confirm delivery and payment? Or a title company to track the history of property? Over time, transaction costs will decline and many of the world's multifaceted intermediaries will have to evolve to survive.

 

Hurry up and wait

DLP technology today is like the internet in 1992, with immense potential but a messy learning curve. Investing in dotcom stocks in the late 1990s was a frenzy, and many of the pioneers ultimately failed. The real impact of the internet has taken decades to unfold, but the future of commerce and society has been forever changed. DLP technology has the potential to be just as impactful over time.

 

Should people buy bitcoin or other digital currencies today?

Just like the dotcom bubble, backing any one "winner" in the crypto craze is like placing a bet on a specific number in a game of roulette. It's so early and the outcomes are so uncertain that nobody knows who the eventual winners will be. You only win if you pick right and are fortunate enough to leave the table at the right time.

 

Origination: Joe Duran is founder and CEO of United Capital. Follow him @DuranMoney.

Investment News (http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20180125/BLOG16/180129956/how-bitcoin-and-blockchain-will-change-the-world)

COMMENTS

What do you think?

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New Report: North Korean Hackers Stole Funds From South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchanges

New Report: North Korean Hackers
Stole Funds From South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchanges

US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future has released a new report linking Lazarus,

a North Korean hacking group, to various South Korean cryptocurrency exchange hacking attacks and security breaches. In a report entitled “North Korea Targeted South Korean Cryptocurrency Users and Exchange in Late 2017 Campaign,” the firm’s researchers stated that the same type of malware used in the Sony Pictures security breach and WannaCry ransomware attack was utilized to target Coinlink, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange.

“North Korean government actors, specifically Lazarus Group, continued to target South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges and users in late 2017, before Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech and subsequent North-South dialogue. The malware employed shared code with Destover malware, which was used against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 and the first WannaCry victim in February 2017,” the report read.

$7 mln stolen from Bithumb

In February 2017, Bithumb, the second largest cryptocurrency exchange in the global market by daily trading volume, fell victim to a security breach that led to the loss of around $7 mln of user funds, mostly in Bitcoin and Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency Ether. The report released by Recorded Future noted that the $7 mln Bithumb security breach has been linked to North Korean hackers. Insikt Group researchers, a group of cybersecurity researchers that closely track the activities of North Korean hackers regularly, revealed that Lazarus Group, in particular, has used a wide range of tools from spear phishing attacks to malware distribution through communication platforms to gain access to cryptocurrency wallets and accounts.

Insikt Group researchers disclosed that Lazarus Group hackers initiated a massive malware campaign in the fall of 2017 and since then, North Korean hackers have focused on spreading malware by attaching files containing fraudulent software to gain access to individual devices. One method Lazarus Group employed was the distribution of Hangul Word Processor (HWP) files through email, the South Korea equivalent of Microsoft Word documents, with malware attached. If any cryptocurrency user downloads the malware, it autonomously installs itself and operates in the background, taking control of or manipulating data stored within the specific device.

“By 2017, North Korean actors had jumped on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. The first known North Korean cryptocurrency operation occurred in February 2017, with the theft of $7 mln (at the time) in cryptocurrency from South Korean exchange Bithumb. By the end of 2017, several researchers had reported additional spear phishing campaigns against South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, numerous successful thefts, and even Bitcoin and Monero mining,” Insikt Group researchers wrote.

Motivation of North Korean hackers

Prior to the release of Recorded Future’s report, several other cybersecurity firms had accused North Korean hacking groups of targeting South Korean cryptocurrency trading platforms with sophisticated malware and phishing attack tools. Researchers at FireEye linked six targeted cyber attacks against South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges to state-financed hackers based in North Korea. Most recently, as Cointelegraph reported, police investigators and the Korea Internet and Security Agency initiated a full investigation into a security breach that led to the bankruptcy of YouBit, a South Korean cryptocurrency trading platform.

At the time, local investigators stated that they have found evidence to link the YouBit security breach to North Korean hackers. FireEye senior analyst Luke McNamara also told Bloomberg that similar tools widely utilized by North Korean hackers were employed in the YouBit hacking attack. “This an adversary that we have been watching become increasingly capable and also brazen in terms of the targets that they are willing to go after. This is really just one prong in a larger strategy that they seem to be employing since at least 2016, where they have been using capability that has been primarily used for espionage to actually steal funds.”

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
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Bitconnect Ponzi Scheme – No Sympathy From Crypto Community

Bitconnect Ponzi Scheme –
No Sympathy From Crypto Community

What looked too good to be true ended up being just that,

as Bitconnect has all but closed its doors. Long accused of being a Ponzi-scheme, Bitconnect shut down its cryptocurrency exchange and lending service this week. As stated on their website, Bitconnect had received cease and desist letters from two American securities regulators – leading to the closure of their lending and exchange platforms. Still, Bitconnect will continue to run its website and wallet service.

Sketchy ‘Ponzi’ offerings

Since its inception in January 2017, many were skeptical about Bitconnect services. In essence, one needed to send Bitconnect Bitcoin in exchange for Bitconnect Coin (BCC) on their exchange. Once you had BCC, you were guaranteed “up to 120 percent return per year.” Users were told they were earning interest by holding their coin “for helping maintain the security of the network.”

Lending platform

Bitconnect’s lending platform is what really led to accusations of a Ponzi scheme, as well as cease and desist orders from regulators. As the above illustration explains, users bought BCC with Bitcoin and then lent out their BCC on the Bitconnect lending software. Users would receive varying percentages of interest depending on the amount of BCC they had lent. Add in the referral system seen in many other Ponzi schemes and the fact that the operation was run anonymously; it's hardly surprising that this whole endeavor has ended in tears.

The lending scheme was the main draw card of Bitconnect because of its huge promise of returns. In order to participate in the scheme, you had to buy BCC – which saw the token hit an all-time high of $437.31 per BCC before it plummeted in value following the closure this week. That being said, the cryptocurrency is still alive and trading at around $35 at the time of writing.

Social media burns Bitconnect

Following Bitconnect’s closure, social media was abuzz with sentiments of ‘I told you so.’ TenX co-founder Julian Hosp highlighted the fact that BCC was still trading as

a real head-scratcher.

Everything that's wrong with crypto in one picture!
— Dr. Julian Hosp

Francis Pouliot shared a hilarious video of a Bitconnect meet which had been slightly

dubbed over.

People invested billions of dollars in this
(This video is actually hilarious recommended for memephiles) 

— Francis Pouliot

American cartoonist Spike Trotman shared one of the most entertaining and eerily accurate predictions back in September 2017, postulating that Bitconnect was indeed a Ponzi scheme. Her latest tweet is a screenshot of the Bitconnect Reddit page, with subreddits for a suicide hotline as well as a massive legal action megathread. Do yourself a favor and take a look at Iron Spike’s full threat on Bitconnect –

it’s brilliant.

The current state of the Bitconnect subreddit is truly a thing to behold.

Rodolfo Novak shared a photo of the monumental collapse in price of Bitconnect from Coinmarketcap, highlight the moment the Ponzi scheme hits

‘exit time.’

This is what a real ponzi looks like at the scam exit time. 

Chuck Reynolds

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Bitcoin boom: Prices could triple by year’s end Bespoke analyst predicts

Bitcoin boom:
Prices could triple by year's end,
Bespoke analyst predicts

The bitcoin boom may be far from over.

Bespoke Investment Group's Dan Ciotoli believes the cryptocurrency's price could nearly triple by the end of the year — declaring that the January crash is likely behind it. "There was a big run-up in December, and then we kind of saw these get-rich-quick-investors exiting the space. Everyone rushed in at once. So, the inevitable crash happened," he said Tuesday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "Now it's starting to recover. We saw a bottom around $9,000."

Ciotoli, a blockchain analyst and software engineer, is out with a year-end forecast placing bitcoin prices in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. "The driver I think is going to bring bitcoin up in 2018 is bitcoin denominated commerce," he added — noting that converting it into dollars right now is too pricey. For his bullish forecast to stick, Ciotoli says it depends on the success of the Lightning Network, a technological endeavor that's expected to roll out this year. The network's goal is to bring in a new wave of buyers by making bitcoin transactions faster and cheaper.

If the network fails, Ciotoli says, his year-end bitcoin target could drop as low as $5,000. "If I don't see people actually able to use bitcoin to say 'buy Starbucks' or something. I'd be worried that people would slowly lose interest, the price kind of levels off or even goes down," he said. It would be an unwelcome scenario, but even that wouldn't spell the end of bitcoin, according to Ciotoli. "The technology is here to stay, and I think it'll be interesting to see how things play out over the next year," Ciotoli said.

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Building a Base? Bitcoin Demand at 10K Hints at Move Higher

Building a Base?
Bitcoin Demand at $10K Hints
at Move Higher

Persistent demand around the $10,000 mark appears

to have not only neutralized the immediate bearish outlook on bitcoin, but also hints the cryptocurrency could be building a base for an eventual move higher. Prices on CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) fell to $9,972.29 yesterday, before witnessing a quick recovery to $11,000 levels. This is the fourth time in last week that bitcoin (BTC) has recovered losses after sinking below $10,000 levels. As of writing, bitcoin is at $10,990 levels. The cryptocurrency has appreciated by 3.38 percent in the last 24 hours, according to OnChainFX. On Coinbase's GDAX exchange, BTC witnessed two-way business yesterday with prices hitting highs and lows of $$11, 370 and $9,945, respectively, before closing (as per UTC) at $10,824 levels.

The situation looks no different today as the rebound from the intraday low of $10,450 seems to have run out of steam above $11,000 levels. The cryptocurrency was last seen changing hands on GDAX at $10,970 levels. The two-way price action witnessed in the last 24 hours is indicative of indecision in the marketplace and a decisive move (in either direction) would likely set the tone for the market. That said, the price chart analysis today puts the odds of a decisive move higher above 50 percent.

A chart (prices as per Coinbase) shows:

  • BTC has consistently found takers at or below $10,000 (marked by circles).
  • On a daily closing basis, bears have been repeatedly failed to push prices below $10,391.02 (50 percent Fibonacci retracement of 2017 low to 2017 high).
  • The previous day's doji candle indicates indecision in the market. Note that the doji candle has appeared following a 44 percent drop from the all-time highs and at critical support ($10,391.02). So it is safer to say that the candle also reflects bearish exhaustion.

Hence, BTC may be likely to see a stronger move higher and establish a bullish short-term bias.

  • A positive close (as per UTC) today, preferably above $11,370 (yesterday's doji candle high), would confirm a bullish doji reversal and open doors for $13,000. A violation there would open up upside towards $15,733 (61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement of December high to January low).
  • On the downside, a close (as per UTC) below $10,391 could yield a sustained move lower to $9,000.

However, while there are signs of green shoots on bitcoin chart, the market capitalization chart of all cryptocurrencies calls for caution.

Total market cap of cryptocurrencies

The market cap chart shows the formation of a head-and-shoulders bearish reversal pattern. A bearish pattern on market cap could be an indication of remaining weakness across the wider cryptocurrency market. Hence, there is merit in being cautious.

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Microsoft Hyperledger UN Join Blockchain Identity Initiative

Microsoft, Hyperledger, UN Join Blockchain Identity Initiative

Tech giant Microsoft and blockchain alliance Hyperledger have joined

blockchain-based digital identity initiative, the ID2020 Alliance. Announced during the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland yesterday, the alliance – which aid agency Mercy Corps and the U.N. International Computing Center have also just joined – aims to improve people's lives through provision of digital identities.

According to a press release, the group is developing solutions with a focus on user's direct ownership and control over their personal data using blockchain technology. At issue is the fact that over 1.1 billion people face not able to prove their identity, and thus struggle to access benefits and services. The situation also gives rise to more serious issues such as human trafficking, according to the World Bank. The initiative has now received a $1 million donation from Microsoft, as well as contributions from entities including Accenture and the Rockefeller Foundation. Accenture, one of the founding member of the initiative, announced a $1 million investment during the ID2020 Alliance summit last summer at New York.

David Treat, MD of the global blockchain practice at Accenture said:

"Decentralized, user-controlled digital identity holds the potential to unlock economic opportunity for refugees and others who are disadvantaged, while concurrently improving the lives of those simply trying to navigate cyberspace securely and privately."

The release explained that digital identity that is user-owned would include government-issued forms of legal identification and allow a seamless authentication process for people and institutions. "We are building an ecosystem of partners committed to working across national and institutional borders to address this challenge at scale," Dakota Gruener, the Executive Director of the ID2020 Alliance, noted. Last June, Microsoft and Accenture unveiled a blockchain prototype for ID2020, that is powered by a private version of the ethereum blockchain.

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Gold Market Mulling Blockchain for 200 Billion of Supply

Gold Market Mulling Blockchain for $200 Billion of Supply

Tech may prevent spread of conflict minerals, money laundering
Bullion joins commodities from oil to tomatoes in ledger push Gold Soars as Crypto Currencies Plunge.. Gold is going digital.

Blockchain technology may help keep track of the roughly $200 billion of the precious metal dug from remote mines, traded by middlemen and melted down by recyclers that’s sold each year to buyers scattered around the world. The London Bullion Market Association, which oversees the world’s biggest spot gold market, will seek proposals including the use of blockchain for tracing the origins of metal, partly to help prevent money laundering, terrorism funding and conflict minerals, according to Sakhila Mirza, an executive board director. “Blockchain cannot be ignored,” Mirza, also general counsel of the LBMA, said in an interview Monday. “Let’s understand how it can help us today, and address the risks that impact the precious metals market.”

Where Gold Ends Up

Jewelry and investment are the biggest sources of gold demand, followed by central banks.Markets in commodities from crude oil to diamonds and even tomatoes are looking at using the digital ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin — known to some as "digital gold" — to track ownership. Tracing gold supply is key to preventing metal that funds armed conflict from entering world markets, identifying owners and maintaining security from mine to vault.

The LBMA has pushed ahead with efforts to modernize a trade that until recent years relied on phone auctions to set a key benchmark price for the market. “For us, it’s a question of where the gold comes from,” Mirza said. The LBMA oversees a list of refiners approved to supply the London market. Its London Good Delivery List sets global standards for large gold and silver bars. The LBMA will also study tagging the metal and using other security features to ensure bars are exactly what they say they are, it said in a statement Tuesday.

“Everything that ends up in an LBMA good-delivery refiner needs to be tracked in the supply chain, regardless of whether it ends up as a large bar in a London vault, a kilo bar shipped to the Far East, or a coin owned by a collector,” Mirza said. “A lot has been done already but it’s still very paper-based. We now want to formalize it through an efficient and possibly technologically based solution.”

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