Startup Finturi Raises 22 Million for Its Blockchain-Based Invoice Finance Platform

Startup Finturi Raises $2.2 Million for Its Blockchain-Based Invoice Finance Platform

                                

Dutch blockchain startup Finturi has secured 2 million euro ($2.2 million)

to enable businesses to secure loans against invoices via blockchain tech, the company tweeted on March 12. Founded in September 2018, Finturi aims to help businesses finance invoices by linking them with financiers to borrow money against invoices, using blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report by startup-focused publication EU-Startups.com on March 11. Finturi has reportedly raised its first investment via an angel round led by NetSam Participaties BV, which evidently participated in an investment round for the first time, according to Crunchbase. Finturi’s blockchain-based invoice finance platform is scheduled to launch in the third quarter of 2019. According to the report, the Finturi team plans to provide a completely peer-to-peer (P2P) platform in future that includes businesses’ clients.

Expressing concerns about many new businesses face difficulties with raising capital, Finturi CEO Johannes Brouwer stated that the firm aims to enable businesses to get loans against invoices within 24 hours. According to Finturi’s CEO, the upcoming platform will provide financiers with a “platform for investing in invoices with minimum hussle.” The lead investor from NetSam Participaties BV said that blockchain tech combined with AI has a massive potential in eliminating inefficiencies in existing financial processes by cutting costs, accelerating processing time and providing  better security.

Recently, five Japanese banks entered into a partnership to launch blockchain-based financial services infrastructure. Targeting a range of financial operations for efficiency improvements, the banks will leverage IBM’s expertise during the development phase. Last week, economist and notorious crypto critic Nouriel Roubini argued that blockchain has nothing to do with the future of financial services. Roubini excluded the term from the list of major technologies that he sees as leading to a manufacturing or fintech revolution, including AI, machine learning, big data and the Internet of Things.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/startup-finturi-raises-22-million-for-its-blockchain-based-invoice-finance-platform

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Major Crypto Exchanges Launch OTC Desks Despite the Crypto Winter

Major Crypto Exchanges Launch OTC Desks Despite the Crypto Winter

                               

Institutional investment is increasingly being seen as the future of crypto trading,

with both Binance and Bittrex launching their own dedicated over-the-counter (OTC) desks in January. The desk launches come after Morgan Stanley published a bullish report in November, showing a strong pattern of institutional investment for Bitcoin. The latest developments indicate that some of the world’s largest exchanges are receiving increased demand from institutional investors, for whom OTC represents a lucrative opportunity. Cointelegraph takes a look at the latest launches and OTC news.

Binance launches dedicated OTC desk

On Jan. 23, the number-one ranked cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced the launch of its over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk in a blog post on its website. This new service, known as Binance OTC, will allow service users to carry out transactions larger than the equivalent of 20 BTC ($69,552).

Officials explained the basic premise of the new service in a blog post:

“Our OTC desk allows Binance users to trade larger amounts of many cryptocurrencies listed on the exchange, with transactions being settled via their Binance accounts.”

As per the post, officials also hoped to draw potential customers to their service by promising trades of large quantities of different cryptocurrencies that will clear at the same price simultaneously. The blog post also sought to reassure prospective clients by adding that trades are private due to the fact that order books will not be touched. Service users will also be able to use direct settlements for OTC trades, without needing to use different wallet addresses. The product launch comes on the back of strong gains being made by Binance Coin (BNB), which now ranks as the 12th-largest coin by market capitalization. The company recently rebranded Trust Wallet as a multi-cryptocurrency wallet, adding an additional 14 blockchains.

Bittrex launches OTC desk after increased client demand

Another company to recently launch an OTC desk is United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex. The firm will offer investors seeking to conduct larger trades the opportunity to trade the same 200 crypto assets available to users on its standard platform. Unlike users of the standard service, OTC investors will have to be able to commit to minimum trades of $250,000 or more. According to Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara, the launch of the desk is a result of increasing demand for an OTC service from its

customer base:

“This offering will be another way for Bittrex to further advance adoption of blockchain technology worldwide, while also providing our customers with price certainty and a fast and easy way to trade large blocks of digital assets.”

Bittrex Chief Strategy Officer Kiran Raj told Cointelegraph that the OTC launch is part of Bittrex’s commitment to continually revise its services to suit

its customers:

“We continuously evaluate and expand our offerings to give our customers a wide range of opportunities for participating in the blockchain industry, and our customers were interested in an OTC service with an extensive selection of digital assets.”

Regarding the ongoing crypto bear market, Raj remained optimistic both about continued client demand and the possibility of staying afloat in an

increasingly competitive market:

“We continue to see interest from investors at all levels, and we’re expanding our offerings and services to meet the current and future demand. It really comes down to trust and our extensive selection of digital assets. Bittrex is known for our reliability, security and commitment to compliance, and by combining these core pillars, with our broad selection of innovative blockchain projects, we’re providing customers a unique service that’s tailored to their needs.”

Circle leads the way with OTC

Despite the abundance of recent over-the-counter desk launches and a vertiginous fall in crypto prices throughout 2018, cryptocurrency finance firm Circle announced that its OTC desk, Circle Trade, had a notional volume of $24 billion in 2018. According to the announcement made by the company in a Medium blog post, Circle completed 10,000 OTC trades, with around 600 distinct counterparties across 36 different crypto assets. As per the press release, the notional volume equated to roughly $24 billion in notional volume. In light of the group’s increased growth and influence across the crypto market, the firm claims to have “become a core liquidity provider to the entire crypto ecosystem.” According to the company, Circle is now partnered with more than 1,000 institutional clients, such as OTC desks, exchanges, asset managers, token projects and other global endowments. In the press release, Circle indicated that it expects positive growth for

institutional adoption:

“This year, we anticipate further incremental growth in institutional adoption catalyzed by stablecoin usage, advancements in institutional custody solutions, increasing regulatory clarity particularly in the [United States], and improvements and innovation in core crypto infrastructure.”

Circle Trade’s head of trading, Dan Matuszewski, told Cointelegraph that the so-called crypto winter is behind the current trend for new OTC desk

openings:

“The crypto winter is forcing companies to look for new opportunities and they’re now realizing what we’ve known for years: OTC trading desks already play an integral role in crypto.”

Despite the ongoing downward trend in the crypto markets, 2018 was a record year for Circle Trade. Matuszewski said that the company is building on

this momentum in 2019:

“Last year, Circle Trade traded about $24 billion in notional volume and worked with more than 600 distinct counterparties, so we start 2019 from a strong foundation and are seeing steady activity. We onboarded a record number of institutional investors in 2018 and haven’t seen interest dim much relative to the overall trend in crypto markets. Institutional counterparties tend to be more patient and work positions over larger time frames.”

Matuszewski told Cointelegraph that, although he expects more desk launches in the crypto community, Circle Trade will continue to stand out from

the crowd:

“We expect to see more desks come onboard as companies recognize the value of offering OTC. Additional desks are likely to be agency and bolted on top of existing crypto businesses, primarily exchanges. The essential difference between us and other OTC desks is we’re able to more quickly meet a customer’s need because we act in a principal capacity, meaning every counterparty faces Circle directly — we don’t merely act as middlemen waiting to find a buyer or seller on the other side.”

Coinbase Prime customers gain access to OTC

In late January, Coinbase announced that selected Prime customers will have access to U.S. and European over-the-counter trading desks and Coinbase custody, a service that focuses on institutional investors and the storage of large amounts of cryptocurrency. Launched in November, Coinbase’s OTC desk permits customers to “execute large volume trades with minimal price slippage.” According to Christine Sandler, head of sales at Coinbase, the decision to launch the desk stems from increasing demand for OTC trading from

institutional clients:

“We launched our OTC business as a complement to our exchange business because we found a lot of institutions were using OTC as an on-ramp for crypto trading.”

The origins of Coinbase’s OTC trading initiative began on June 6 when President and Chief Operating Officer Asiff Hirji commented that the acquisition of a regulatory license would help the company set off on “a path to offer future services that include crypto securities trading, margin and over-the-counter (OTC) trading, and new market data products.” In order to facilitate its transition into securities, Coinbase acquired the securities dealer Keystone Capital Corp., along with Venovate Marketplace Inc. and Digital Wealth LLC in June.

Poloniex adds OTC service for institutional clients

U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex also jumped on the institutional bandwagon in December. Similarly to Coinbase, Poloniex is actively increasing the number of services it offers to customers. Institutional customers using dedicated accounts on Poloniex’s OTC desk will be able to do so, although the threshold for minimum trades is set at $250,000. In a blog post, the company laid out its offer to

institutional clients:

“Institutions large and small can enjoy the benefits of our large curated selection of crypto asset trading pairs, dedicated support and robust API services. […] Poloniex is focused on meeting the advanced trading needs of institutions.”

Huobi’s OTC desk required to remove Alipay and WeChat payment methods

Major Chinese digital payment providers Alipay and WeChat have reportedly sent legal letters to the crypto exchange Huobi requesting that the use of both their services and logos on the exchange’s OTC trading desk is unauthorized. The payment methods were available until early February, however, Huobi still has an instructional article explaining how to link Alipay accounts published on its website. Huobi responded to the claims from the payment providers, claiming that the company has not received any cease-and-desist letters and stating that the logos represent a payment link. The firm also stressed that there is no official cooperation between the involved parties and confirmed that user transfers are peer-to-peer payments.

Both of the payment platforms have litigious pasts when it comes to cryptocurrency. Alipay began to tighten its regulations for OTC Bitcoin transactions in August 2018, restricting accounts that used the system to transact Bitcoin OTC and establishing a monitoring system for “key websites and accounts.” WeChat blocked several accounts suspected of publishing initial coin offerings (ICO), along with the official sales channel of the Bitcoin mining behemoth Bitmain due to an alleged licence violation. With an average daily trading volume of around $385 million, Huobi is ranked as the 11th largest global crypto exchange, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Despite the OTC trend, some institutions remain wary

Although established OTC desks such as Circle Trade are reportedly not experiencing any significant tapering of client interest, a December report from investment bank JPMorgan Chase found that the crypto winter is scaring off institutional investors. Together with global market strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, analysts from JPMorgan reportedly found that the investment activity of institutional players in Bitcoin (BTC) “appears to be fading,” noting that “key flow metrics have downshifted dramatically.” In particular, the report noted the decreasing amount of open contracts on Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) global markets. As per the report, the index reached its “lowest levels” since the launch of Bitcoin futures trading in December 2017.

The report also documented the ongoing decrease in mining profitability associated with the decline of crypto markets. As a result of the dropping hash rate, JPMorgan analysts reported that mining is no longer a profitable activity for many miners, resulting in a sell-off of equipment. The JPMorgan research also found that there has been a significant fall in average transaction size across the crypto market, dropping from $5,000 one year ago to below $160. Analysts also note that altcoins are prone to suffer disproportionately during the “correction phase.” The findings of the JPMorgan report echo the views of CoinShares Chief Strategy Officer Meltem Demirors, who postulated that the crypto crash has its roots in institutions “taking money off the table.”

Article Produced By
Henry Linver

Henry Linver is a freelance journalist. He’s interested in how blockchain has the potential to radically change the world we live in and the transformative power of crypto.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/major-crypto-exchanges-launch-otc-desks-despite-the-crypto-winter

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US Marshals Service Issues Information Request on Management of Forfeited Crypto Assets

US Marshals Service Issues Information Request on Management of Forfeited Crypto Assets

                              

United States federal law enforcement agency,

the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), is looking to set up an agent for managing confiscated cryptocurrency, according to public documents released on March 5. The USMS has recently published two draft documents including a Request for Information (RFI) for legal procedures of the management and disposal of forfeited crypto assets.

As a key component of the department's Asset Forfeiture Program (AFP) operating within the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), the USMS intends to assign an agent or contractor that will manage and dispose of seized or forfeited virtual currency. By initiating the RFI, the USMS expects to improve its current custodial operations by maintaining a complete and accurate accounting of the USMS’ virtual currency inventory. In the first document, the Performance Work Statement (PWS), the USMS describes the full range of forfeited virtual currency management and disposal services, including general procedures and responsibilities of the contractor.

According to the document, the contractor must ensure the accuracy and security of all virtual currency transactions, including the direct exchange of virtual currencies into U.S. dollars, the exchange into a more liquid form of virtual currency, a return to the owner and others. The PWS contract includes major activities associated with the management of virtual currencies, including accounting, customer management, audit compliance, managing blockchain forks, wallet creation, transformation of token assets into coin assets and others.

In the second document, the Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), the USMS establishes an evaluation system for the performance of the contractor. The QASP describes major authorities such as Contracting Officer and Contracting Officer’s Representative that are responsible for performance measurement and effective evaluation of the contractor’s compliance. The USMS noted that the recently issued RFI is provided solely for information and planning purposes and does not represent either a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future. Last year, the USMS announced a bid auction for approximately 660 confiscated Bitcoins (BTC), with the auction participants required to deposit $200,000 in order to take part.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/us-marshals-service-issues-information-request-on-management-of-forfeited-crypto-assets

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Tipping the Scales: Could Unit-e Finally Break Blockchain’s Scalability Impasse?

Tipping the Scales: Could Unit-e Finally Break Blockchain’s Scalability Impasse?

                                 

Amid a seemingly constant stream of new concepts

claiming to be key to crypto to breaking through to the financial mainstream, one immovable issue remains ever-present: scalability. The crypto community is abuzz with new projects relating to the issue, from the Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning Network to a brand new cryptocurrency designed by some of the top names in crypto and American academia. Cointelegraph takes a look at the latest scalability developments and what they can bring to blockchain and crypto. Some of the United States’ finest academic and technological have come together in a new project aiming to launch a globally scalable decentralized payment network, according to a press release published on Jan.17.

The brainchild of this group of tech professionals and leading American academics is called “Unit-e,” a new cryptocurrency that aims to end the scalability issues plaguing both blockchain and cryptocurrencies alike. Unit-e is receiving funding from Distributed Technologies Research (DTR), a nonprofit organization based in Zug, the central nexus of Switzerland’s so-called Crypto Valley. In addition to the newly launched DTR, Unit-e has also received an injection of funds from San Francisco-based Pantera Capital.

As per the press release, the core members of the team involved in developing Unit-e are based in Berlin, with the team largely consisting of “open-source and distributed systems engineers.” DTR Foundation Council Member and Co-Chief Investment Officer at Pantera Capital Joey Krug acknowledged that, although the current technology represents a stumbling block for the adoption of cryptocurrencies on a wider scale, Unit-e is aware of this and is incorporating that knowledge into its

research:

“A lack of scalability is holding back cryptocurrency adoption. The Unit-e developers are turning this research into real scalable performance that will benefit a huge swath of decentralized financial applications.”

Giulia Fanti, one of DTR’s lead researchers and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, explained to Cointelegraph why scalability is important and what this project is doing to

tackle it:

“Scalability is difficult to tackle in part because there are so many moving parts in blockchain systems. The ideal design should have low storage, computation, and communication costs, all while guaranteeing security and decentralization. Any of these requirements alone can be challenging to optimize, and the combination of these requirements is legitimately a very difficult problem.

“I think two key factors make our project interesting: The first is that we are doing research at all levels of the stack, ranging from the network to consensus to economics, instead of focusing on just one area. This is important because the subsystems of blockchains are very interconnected. The second factor is that we didn't limit ourselves to people who already work on blockchains. Instead, we brought in experts from areas that are critical to blockchains – e.g., networking, economics, information theory, distributed systems – and asked them to approach these problems using the expertise of their respective fields."

                                   

Pramod Viswanath, a researcher for DTR

and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign also spoke to Cointelegraph about how scalability has been an issue in the early stages of any technology:

“Global scalability is usually quite hard for any technology. As an example, consider cellular wireless systems. Every man, woman and child on Earth has one now. But wireless technology itself is not new at all. Marconi demonstrated a wireless communication link across the Atlantic Ocean in 1901 and it took 100+ years for the technology to really scale globally. It took huge innovations beyond Marconi's technology for wireless to scale globally. A big part of this innovation was system or full stack design, redesigning all aspects of the radio stacks.

Bitcoin is the equivalent of Marconi's historic wireless transmission: Bitcoin demonstrated that secure distributed trust is possible. But it came at the cost of poor performance (throughput, latency). We are redesigning the full stack of cryptocurrencies in our quest at the getting global scalability.”

During the interview, Viswanath said that he was aware of the tendency for projects that claim that they are a one-trick fix for the many issues bogging down the crypto and blockchain sectors. As a result, Viswanath stated that their project was kept quiet until solid research could be presented, in the hope that scientific output could form the basis of Unit-e as opposed

to mere fantasy:

“We are aware of the noise in the crypto community. This is why we took a very conservative approach. We have been in stealth mode for over a year, coming out in the open only when we found that we have already demonstrated a large bit of the claims/promises that Unit-e is making. Indeed, the standard ‘white paper’ in crypto projects is replaced in our case by a ‘150+ page research manifesto,’ which itself is a succinct summary of 10+ research papers by us in the past year, each written for a scientific audience in the appropriate level of engineering and mathematical formalization. These scientific outputs are really the basis behind the claims of Unit-e, not so much as wishful thinking.“

In spite of the myriad challenges the hitherto insurmountable issue of scalability has presented, Fanti is optimistic about the progress being made and believes that developers shouldn’t shy away from experimentation in

their research:

“I think scalability is a very important issue to solve if cryptocurrencies and blockchains more generally are going to gain (or even keep) traction. We're now at the point where there is demand for these technologies, but the growing pains are starting to be evident. So it's critical to explore scalability solutions. At the same time, it can be difficult to experiment with drastically new scalability solutions in already-existing systems due to technical and political inertia. Because of this, we felt there were some clear benefits to building a standalone system with the flexibility to try out different ideas. The hope is that these ideas can eventually benefit the whole community.”

Babak Dastmaltschi, chairman of the DTR Foundation Council is bullish on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Much like Viswanath, Dastmaltschi expressed his belief that this transitional era for cryptocurrency is not unlike the birth of the telecommunications industry and the

dawn of the internet:

"The blockchain and digital currency markets are at an interesting crossroads, reminiscent of the inflection points reached when industries such as telecom and the internet were coming of age. These are transformative times. We are nearing the point where every person in the world is connected together. Advancements in distributed technologies will enable open networks, avoiding the need for centralized authorities. DTR was formed with the goal of enabling and supporting this revolution, and it is in this vein that we unveil Unit-e."

Fanti commented that one of the most encouraging things about the blockchain community is the readiness for cooperation among its members. In this way, those working on Unit-e have been able to learn from previous projects attempting to tackle scalability, such as the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Fanti outlined that, although both projects center around the same focal point, there are some key

differences between the two:

“Like the Lightning network, we are very focused on scalability. I think one key difference is that because we are starting from scratch, we have the freedom to completely rethink other parts of the blockchain (e.g., consensus mechanisms) that are difficult to change in more established systems. That being said, some of our research is quite related to scalability of the Lightning network, and payment channel networks in general.

“Some scalability challenges in payment channel networks haven't really come to a head yet, in part because adoption is still growing. But once these technologies become more widely used, it will become increasingly important to understand how to route and schedule packets – much like the internet. We hope that some of the research going on for Unit-e can also benefit the Lightning Network and other projects in the payment channel network space, just as we are learning from their prior work.”

What is the Scalability problem.?

Lightning Network

On Dec. 23, BTC statistics website Bitcoinvisuals.com announced that the capacity of the Bitcoin Lightning Network surpassed $2 million. Born from a white paper first published in 2015 by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja, the BTC Lightning Network is a second-layer payment protocol that functions on top of the BTC blockchain. Much like Unit-e, the network aims to tackle the scalability issues weighing down the crypto sector. However, as opposed to adapting the mechanics of the blockchain itself, the BTC Lightning Network seeks to increase transaction speed by using payment channels. The results of this approach help speed up transaction speeds between users because transactions are not recorded on the blockchain until the channel closes. The news of the increase in the network’s capacity comes against the backdrop of a dismal period of decreasing crypto prices, famously dubbed the “crypto winter.” In spite of the vertiginous drops witnessed across the crypto sector throughout the 2018, the network managed to maintain strong growth.

In spite of being lauded for its efforts to reduce the transaction time between users, the network has attracted criticism for one major aspect: Although the transactions take place on top of the blockchain, they don’t enjoy the same level of security. As a result, it’s unlikely that the method will result in the transfer of large transactions, as these would need the backup of decentralized security that can be guaranteed only through the original blockchain layer. As of Dec. 23, the capacity of node channels supporting the Lightning scaling protocol was 496.8 BTC, only just falling short of a landmark 500 BTC. December also witnessed an increase in channels connecting nodes, with 14,352 unique channels doing so by late December. The Lightning Network also drew praise from crypto trailblazer Nick Szabo who said that the current state of technical development in the sector would lead to an uptick in second-layer solutions in 2019.

Major central bank institution casts doubt on potential of blockchain in current state

A new report published on Jan. 21 by the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) has found that Bitcoin’s problems are only solvable by moving on from a proof-of-work (PoW) system. BIS is a Swiss-based organization comprised of 60 central banks that reportedly account for 95 percent of global GDP. According to the report, the nature of the blockchain infrastructure will result in a steady increase in transaction times as a result of only a limited number of new Bitcoin ever being created. This report also found that transaction fees would no longer be able to support mining expenses and that the transaction speeds would be so slow that the network could

become virtually unusable:

“Simple calculations suggest that once block rewards are zero, it could take months before a Bitcoin payment is final, unless new technologies are deployed to speed up payment finality.”

The report comments favorably on solutions such as the BTC Lightning Network, stating that “The only fundamental remedy would be to depart from proof-of-work.” The report adds however, that a departure from the existing system would “probably require some form of social coordination or institutionalization, and concludes that “in the digital age too, good money is likely to remain a social construct rather than a purely technological one.”

MIT professor says blockchain must increase scalability

On Jan. 21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Silvio Micali became the latest U.S.-based academic to outline which major aspects of blockchain systems must be improved in order to maximize all the benefits that the technology entails. In an interview with Bloomberg, Micali stated his view that security, decentralization and scalability are three core aspects of blockchain systems that must function simultaneously in order to deliver an inclusive and borderless economy. With regard to scalability, Micali emphasized that a decentralized system requires a higher level of technology in order to ensure the same degree of participation that centralized systems currently enjoy. Micali outlined his optimism about future prospects for the technology once it is optimized to a degree to which the current issues regarding scalability and security can finally

be dispelled:

“Only a true decentralized system, where the power is really so spread that is going to be essentially practically impossible to attack them all and when you don’t need to trust this or that particular node, is going to bring actually the security we really need and deserve.”

In January, MIT Technology Review furthered its bullish stance in claiming that 2019 would be the year that blockchain systems would finally enjoy normalization and wider adoption.

Liquid sidechain

In September, Blocksteam’s Liquid Network sidechain for the Bitcoin blockchain was publicly announced. First discussed in 2015, the project has now been launched with the view of improving liquidity between Bitcoin exchanges and brokers. The blog post from Blockstream states that the Liquid sidechain would allow faster transactions between users as a result of a native Liquid Bitcoin (L-BTC) asset backed by a “two-way peg” to Bitcoin, Confidential Transaction Technology and Issued Assets that aim to bring “Bitcoin-like features to traditional assets.” The Liquid Network FAQ page explains that the Liquid Network differs from the Lightning Network in that its transactions are not “limited in amount of channel capacity.”

“Wall Street’s Bookkeeper” enters test phase of DLT replatforming

On Nov. 6, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) announced it had commenced the test phase of its attempt to replatform its Trade Information Warehouse (TIW) using distributed ledger technology (DLT). The project is the fruit of a collaboration between IBM, Axonia and R3. If successful, the project would represent a considerable leap forward in both scalability and the potential scope of major blockchain projects.

In light of the historic attempts to overcome scalability issues, the DTCC’s attempt to shift its TIW to the blockchain is especially ambitious due to the fact that it processes 98 percent of derivatives transactions worldwide. Furthermore, the statement adds that the DTCC’s subsidiaries “processed securities is valued at more the U.S. $1.61 quadrillion.” As per the release, the DTCC’s Global Trade Repository service processed around 40 million over the counter (OTC) positions weekly, along with 1 billion monthly communications via its licensed trade repositories group.

In a 19-week study headed by the DTCC in collaboration with both Accenture and R3, the trio found that DLT is scalable enough to support the high-trade volumes of the U.S. equities market. Findings in the report allegedly show that DLT is able to process an entire trading day’s volume at peak rates, amounting to 115,000,000 daily trades, which equates to roughly 6,300 trades per second for five hours on end. In order to accurately recreate the chaotic environment of exchanges, brokers-dealers and market participants, Accenture worked on a network of more than 170 nodes. The model subsequently captured matched equities trades from exchange DLT nodes. The DTCC also published information about the ongoing work to transform its TIW via DLT,

such as blockchain:

“Currently, public blockchains supporting cryptocurrencies operate at single or double digit per second performance, which, until now, was the only indication of the potential volume that a private DLT might be able to support. “To make sure that we really demonstrated robustness and completeness, we wanted a target high enough to measure the performance and allow it to maintain that for a continuous period of time.”

Jennifer Peve, managing director of business development and fintech strategy at DTCC, outlined that the scale of the project required an entirely new approach

to scalability:

“The reality is that for the private distributed ledger, there wasn’t a known performance or scalability figure, all we had to go on was public blockchains for Bitcoin performance, and that is not an apple-to-apple comparison. Private blockchains are fit for purpose for our industry. They have a very different architecture, different privacy and sharing models, data storage, smart contract functionality and governance model. There are a number of factors that go into performance and scalability of a distributed ledger."

Head of Clearing Agency Services at DTCC Murray Pozmanter was also optimistic about the results of the ambitious efforts to create adequate

scalability:

“We are excited to lead this important work to advance the performance capabilities of DLT and help create new possibilities for leveraging the technology more broadly across financial markets. As an early adopter of DLT, we are encouraged by the results of the study because they prove that the technology’s performance can scale to meet the needs of markets of different sizes and maturity.”

In spite of the successful testing so far, the group stresses that the study only tested basic functionality. The next phase of the replatforming is expected to take place in Q1 2019.

Article Produced By
Henry Linver

Henry Linver is a freelance journalist. He’s interested in how blockchain has the potential to radically change the world we live in and the transformative power of crypto.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/tipping-the-scales-could-unit-e-finally-break-blockchains-scalability-impasse

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Bitcoin Private Team Accuses Crypto Exchange HitBTC of Fraud After Delisting

Bitcoin Private Team Accuses Crypto Exchange HitBTC of Fraud After Delisting

                                 

Bitcoin Private (BTCP) developers have accused cryptocurrency exchange HitBTC

of acting in a fraudulent manner in regards to their delisting from the exchange following a planned coinburn. The accusations are portrayed in a letter written on Feb. 26 to the exchange by the Petros Law Group on behalf of the BTCP community, developers and contributors, and published by the Bitcoin Private Twitter profile on March 9. According to its authors, the letter — which was published the day BTCP was delisted from HitBTC — alleges that HitBTC attempted to extort BTCP following unresolved complications arising from the coinburn.

According to the document, at the beginning of March last year, BTCP was created in a fork from ZClassic (ZCL) and Bitcoin (BTC) with a notice of a future coinburn in its whitepaper: the scheduled event was meant to delete (or “burn”) all the coins which haven’t been claimed (or moved) since the fork. On March 3, 2018, the day after the launch, HitBTC reportedly charged the BTCP team a listing fee of half a million dollars in Bitcoin.

The document includes screenshots of apparently since-deleted tweets in mid-February from HitBTC, which explained to users that since the exchange’s BTCP addresses were created after the fork took place, users won’t be affected by the coinburn. On Feb. 15, one day before the coinburn was planned to happen, HitBTC reportedly contacted BTCP requesting assistance to protect its users’ funds in a series of emails, which then escalated into a request for compensation of 58,920 BTCP to be given after the coinburn due to expected losses.

However, as the document underlines that BTCP addresses created after the fork will not be affected, the exchange cannot have been concerned about users’ loss of funds, as that situation did not exist. Instead, the document alleges that HitBTC secretly held 58,920 BTCP in a BTCP Segwit wallet, and the concerns over the coinburn were related to the exchange’s personal funds. The document further claims that BTCP developers informed the exchange that they didn’t intend to accommodate the compensation demand, but did provide technical assistance — shown with email screenshots — meant to help protect the funds from the coinburn. On Feb. 17, the coinburn reportedly happened, one day after it was forecasted, and on Feb. 21, HitBTC allegedly threatened to pull BTCP support if the coin’s development team did not compensate 58,920 BTCP.

HitBTC has released a statement on its official blog on March 9 stating that the BTCP team was unable to provide a safe way to move the funds before the burn, but that the exchange has compensated all the custody losses. HitBTC has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment by press time. As Cointelegraph reported in December last year, during the import of Bitcoin chain data, an additional 2.04 million units of altcoin Bitcoin Private were reportedly secretly coined. The discovery was later confirmed by the coin’s developers, who stated that the findings were mathematically accurate but “at this time, the source, purpose, and recipient of this exploit is currently unknown.”

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-private-team-accuses-crypto-exchange-hitbtc-of-fraud-after-delisting

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Amazon Shares Drop 26 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon Shares Drop 2.6 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon suppliers received a lesson in centralization on March 7 after the e-commerce giant abruptly began canceling huge numbers of orders in a profits push. Amazon: We ‘Saw Opportunity’

As Bloomberg reported, quoting a statement from Amazon, the company wants to increase returns at the heart of its e-commerce operations. This has involved fundamentally altering the supply line, forcing even long-time sellers to sell products directly on its marketplace instead of using Amazon as a middleman. This, reports say, results in reduced costs, as suppliers themselves foot the bill for issues such as storage and shipping. Amazon also takes a commission from each transaction. “We regularly review our selling partner relationships and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value and convenience,” the statement reads.

The knock-on effect for suppliers, perhaps predictably, has already touched a nerve. As Bloomberg notes, given purchase orders agreed months in advance, seismic changes from Amazon can easily trigger chaos. “If you’re heavily reliant on Amazon, which a lot of these vendors are, you’re in a lot of trouble. If this goes on, it can put people out of business,” the publication quoted Dan Brownsher, CEO of a consultancy counting around 50 Amazon vendors among its clients, as saying.

At press time,
Amazon’s share price was down by close to three percent on the day.

                                amazon

Can Decentralization Tackle Monopolies?

As Amazon has grown to achieve a practically worldwide monopoly, the perils of relying on a giant centralized partner will ring true for those businesses which have adopted an alternative ethos. Nonetheless, decentralized marketplaces have yet to achieve widespread popularity. Efforts to take on the e-commerce giants have so far seen little progress, with highly-anticipated offerings such as OpenBazaar failing to dent consumer habits. “You should be able to buy and sell using cryptocurrency… if you get crypto, you should be able to spend it… you and buy whatever you need for your daily activity,” the platform’s founder, Washington Sanchez, told cryptocurrency advocate Tatiana Moroz’s podcast the Tatiana Show in January. Sanchez is overseeing a diversification of OpenBazaar’s core offering, branching out into related software as part of parent company OB1.io.

Article Produced By
Esther Kim

Esther Kim

https://bitcoinist.com/amazon-shares-drop-2-6-percent-as-centralization-alienates-suppliers/

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Ripple CEO Says JPM Coin Lacks Interoperability: Just Use the Dollar I Don’t Get It’

Ripple CEO Says JPM Coin Lacks Interoperability: ‘Just Use the Dollar, I Don’t Get It!’

                                 

Ripple (XRP) CEO Brad Garlinghouse says the recently-announced

digital asset from United States banking giant JPMorgan Chase lacks the interoperability that would make it a significant innovation. Garlinghouse made his remarks during an interview at the 4th Annual DC Blockchain Summit in Washington D.C. on March 6. As Cointelegraph has reported, JPMorgan Chase announced the forthcoming launch of its new blockchain settlement offering in mid-February: a stablecoin dubbed JPM Coin, to be backed 1:1 by the bank’s USD reserves. Alluding to multiple industry commentators’ suggestions that the bank’s coin could be a direct competitor to Ripple’s XRP, Garlinghouse dismissed the coin’s usefulness due to the fact that it remains a proprietary in-house asset, and that its exclusivity is likely to lead each major bank to issuing its own coin. This, according to him, will lead to the exact same fragmentation that characterizes the

financial services industry today:

“This guy from Morgan Stanley was interviewing me last week, and I asked him, so is Morgan Stanley going to use the JPM Coin? Probably not. Will Citi use it? […] Will PNC? And the answer is no. So we’re going to have all these different coins, and we’re back to where we are: there’s a lack of interoperability.”

Garlinghouse further weighed in on JPM Coin’s apparent exclusivity, quipping that:

“Let’s think about this. [JPM] announced the JPM Coin for institutional customers. If you give them a dollar as deposit, they’ll give you a JPM Coin, that you then can move in the JPM ledger. Wait a minute, just use the dollar! I really don’t understand […] what problem that solves.”

Throughout the interview, the sole thing that Garlinghouse conceded to JPM Coin was the potentially positive effect “for the blockchain and crypto industry to have players such as JPM leaning in.” “That’s the one good thing I’ll say about this,” he joked. As previously reported, the research arm of top crypto exchange Binance has similarly judged that as a proprietary and centralized network, JPM Coin is unlikely to be tapped by competitors in the banking sector, who may well choose to release their own native digital tokens in future.

In terms of inter-bank settlement, Binance Research further argued that as a closed network solution, JPM Coin is for now unlikely to directly compete with XRP — given the latter’s ambition to serve as a multi-bank “mediator currency between both fiat/crypto currencies and any fiduciary product.” Binance nonetheless stated that internally, JPM Coin could have a significant material impact in improving the cost and time efficiency of traditional financial services. Garlinghouse has previously stated that JPM Coin “misses the point” of crypto, arguing that introducing a closed network today is like launching AOL after Netscape’s IPO.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/ripple-ceo-says-jpm-coin-lacks-interoperability-just-use-the-dollar-i-dont-get-it

 

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How Brands Use Instagram Stories To Boost Business

How Brands Use Instagram Stories To Boost Business

The Instagram Stories feature rolled out in August 2016

as Instagram’s answer to Snapchat. It allows users to create or upload temporary publications which are viewable for 24 hours, before being archived. Instagram Stories is a powerful feature which has given brands a space to share with perceived authenticity, while the temporary element allows for a more varied, somewhat relaxed approach to content sharing. Furthermore, archived content can be recycled through sharing again, adding to a highlight, or through the relatively new ‘Memories’ option (similar to Facebook Memories).

Since its birth, Instagram Stories has been developed to roll out several features for content customisation. Brands now have the option to include music, hashtags, mentions, geotags, polls, questions, stickers, feature products, add external links and more. Much like the social media platforms themselves, brands are finding more and more inventive ways of keeping the attention of their customers. With so many ways to vary Instagram Stories content, how are brands using Instagram Stories to their advantage?

We have compiled some of the clever ways brands are using Instagram Stories, so that you can apply your favourites to your own brand’s social media strategy.

Market Research

Market research is the act of gathering information about consumer needs and preferences. Instagram Stories is a brilliant tool for gaining customer feedback, queries and opinions. Creating polls or posing questions gives your brand direct conversation with followers, allowing them to feel heard. Responding to polls and questions also gives your brand an opportunity to share expertise, build community and trust, humanise your brand, and gain information about product preferences and frequently asked questions. NYX Cosmetics took the opportunity of a photoshoot with Nam Vo to do an Instagram takeover. This is when an influencer or public figure is invited to ‘take the floor’ as it were and speak to your followers. They used the questions feature in Instagram Stories, which allowed them to feature their own products while answering viewer questions.

Humanise Your Brand

The expiration of Instagram Stories encourages brands to be a little less formal, which builds trust through authenticity. Using fun additions such as stickers, gifs, music and countdowns can develop a deeper level of connection between the brand and consumer. Brands also use Instagram Stories to give names, faces and character to otherwise ‘faceless’ corporate business profiles. Here is an example of Loreal Pro using Instagram Stories in an informal fashion. Choosing to document an event as it happens shows authenticity, while using mentions and hashtags across several Instagram Stories posts can boost reach and increase sharing opportunities.

Here are some of the ways you can humanise your brand:

  • Sharing footage of events as they occur
  • Sharing behind the scenes content
  • Storytelling
  • Interviewing colleagues

Promote Products

Instagram Stories allows brands to attach a direct link to an external web page. This makes it the perfect place to promote products or services and share new lines. If you have a business account with over 10,000 followers, or have created an advert through Facebook’s Ad Manager to be displayed on Instagram Stories, you can attach a link to your Instagram Stories post. This gives the viewer the to option to ‘Swipe Up’ which will open a link of your choice.

The clothing and lifestyle brand P&Co have cleverly crafted a cohesive product promotion strategy across their Instagram Stories and their main account content, tying it all together neatly with a competition.Notice how P&Co used a competition to grow their followers, reach and brand awareness. They also added the ‘Swipe Up’ link to drive traffic to their website, and were still able to shout about their product in a professional and effective way. In addition to this, P&Co tied everything together with a post on their page, which has their product featured. Using Instagram Stories in conjunction with feed posts is an effective way to increase the likelihood of sales and brand awareness.Another way to promote products in Instagram Stories is to create an advert. This should be done in Facebook Ads Manager and it allows you to reach a targeted audience.

Share Your Brand Through Usable Imagery

Creating interactive, shareable or useable content is an inventive way to connect with your followers, grow interest around your brand and stay in the consumer’s mind a lot longer. Some brands opt for creating fun, fillable questionnaires or ‘would you rather’ tick box templates for followers to add stickers to and share on their own Instagram Stories. With these being easy to copy, fun to complete, and usually featuring the Instagram handle of the brand, this approach encourages the creation of shareable user-generated content, which is an effective way to get a lot from a humble Stories post.

Another example of usable imagery is the creation of stunning phone wallpaper imagery. While some opt for adding branding to the images, others (like the example below) simply share beautiful imagery which the viewer will want to use as their phone wallpaper. Then every time the viewer uses their phone, they are reminded of the brand. Additionally, when the user gets complimented on their phone wallpaper, they have an opportunity to talk about and share the brand.

Announcements

Due to the expiration of Stories posts, this is the perfect place for brands to share announcements which will also expire, such as livestreams or 24 hour offers/deals. Nintendo gives us a great example of how Instagram Stories can provide a place to upload a poster, with all the relevant information, and a direct link to the web page viewers are being pointed to.

Give A Voice To Your Followers

Let’s face it?—?who doesn’t like to be acknowledged by a big company when they’re sharing a photo of a product they love from a brand they rate?! Instagram Stories is the perfect place to share user-generated content of your products, through encouraging the use of a hashtag, so that you can find shareable content easily and show some love to your Instagram community. This is exactly what McDonald’s did with their limited edition Shamrock Shake. Using the hashtag #ShamrockShakeSZN and reinforcing the hashtag use through every Stories post, McDonald’s developed a great string of user-generated content, while strengthening their community and growing excitement around the product.

Think about encouraging conversation through inviting viewers to actively engage.

As you can see through the examples above, brands regularly combine a few of these techniques, either in the same Stories post or across a string of Stories posts with the same message. This is an effective way to reinforce themes and awareness, while making use of the features available. We hope these examples have sparked your creativity with lots of interesting ways you can implement Instagram Stories into your social media marketing strategy. You can track your Instagram Stories, their reach rates, completion rates, full view rates and view the best times to post your Stories with Minter.io – the handy analytics tool that helps you get the most out of your brand on Instagram.

Article Produced By
Sarah Pike

Writer for Minter.io

https://medium.com/minter-io/how-brands-use-instagram-stories-to-boost-business-14ecc12c1877

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Gen Z Is All About Authenticity

Gen Z Is All About Authenticity

                                 

Born in 1996, I’m either one of the last millennials or I’m among the first of Generation Z

?—?there’s no official consensus. I identify as a millennial, but I am intrigued by the up-and-coming Gen Z. What makes my generation different from theirs given that I’m only a few years (or months) older than them? Many people?—?and brands, governments and organizations?—?are asking that exact question. Understanding what people value and what concerns them enables us to better connect and communicate. Experts for years analysed the Baby Boomers, Millennials and others?—?now, researchers and laypeople alike are analysing what makes Gen Z tick?—?how they think, communicate, and what inspires them to change or act.

For now, my question is at least partially unanswerable, as we still have a lot to learn about what it means to be a member of Gen Z. Millennials, however, are often described by their propensity for wine, left-leaning sensibilities and love of social media, and are now comparatively easy to understand. Some have described Gen Z as just “millennials on steroids,” but that’s a reductive way of thinking about them. Many think about Gen Z primarily in terms of technology and their shortened attention span, but that’s an oversimplified approach as well. Gen Z is difficult to peg down, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying.

One thing we do know is that Gen Z seems to value sincerity. Data reported by CNBC shows that authenticity is an important value for Gen Z, with “67 percent of those surveyed agreeing that ‘being true to their values and beliefs makes a person cool.’” One of the biggest challenges in engaging with Gen Z will be determining how to appear “cool” and change the world while still remaining profitable. The Gen Z preoccupation with authenticity?—?which has driven them away from traditional celebrities in favor of more intimate social media and YouTube influencers?—?makes them scrutinize the motives of large brands, presenting a challenge for today’s marketing and communications professionals.

Data shows that 89 percent of Gen Z “would rather buy from a company supporting social and environmental issues over one that does not.” However, if a company comes out in support of a cause that seems unrelated to their own mission and brand it can have the opposite effect?—?it comes across as a media play for public brownie points, ultimately damaging the brand reputation among a Gen Z audience. To show Gen Z your brand or identity is authentic, you first need to carefully define what that brand is. Only then can you align a cause with your brand’s mission, and be consistent in your support of both.

In order to convince Gen Z that you truly care about a cause you also have to be willing to invest in that cause?—?a commercial with uplifting themes but without substantive action behind it will agitate Gen Z into thinking your brand is capitalizing on issues without supporting change. This practice is known as “goodwashing.” The name is a nod to “greenwashing,” which refers to companies making unsubstantiated claims about valuing the environment.

Just as the younger generation idolizes social media influencers, they are also more receptive to brand messaging on social and mobile media platforms?—?content that is very much so still advertising, but does not look or feel like traditional ads. For Gen Z, print advertising and traditional commercials can feel inauthentic in the same way that hollywood celebrities seem unrelatable. The growing consumer base is shifting as Gen Z enters the fray; 58 percent of consumers are most amenable to brands taking a social or political stance on social media and only 25 percent feel that way about print advertising.

One company whose cause forms the basis of its marketing and branding, is TOMS. TOMS’ “One for One” branding strategy has allowed the company to grow from selling a single-style shoe to include sunglasses, at times coffee and a full-range of footwear. While the idea of giving away as much as you sell does not intuitively seem like a winning recipe for a profitable business, their philanthropic mission has propelled them forward for over a decade. Over the years, instead of shying away from their identity as a company with a cause, they have doubled down and recently adopted the relatively political goal of ending gun violence. While some businesses would worry this could prove too polarizing for their customers, TOMS continues to succeed.

As Gen Z grows up and has even more spending power this type of mission-first business and marketing communication approach will become evermore common and influential. Gen Z might have been born with cell phones in their hands, but, as a generation, they shouldn’t be defined by their devices; they’re a diverse group of young people pushing for social change and greater authenticity?—?not just between people, but in our interactions with brands and organizations Brands can begin to take steps to align themselves with the proclivities of Gen Z. However, we’ll have to see how Gen Z continues to evolve as they become adults and their proclivities and priorities grow up with them.

Article Produced By
Fiona Burke

https://medium.com/clyde-group/gen-z-is-all-about-authenticity-59d863b0bdcf

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Coinbase Preventing Account Closures as DeleteCoinbase Movement Spreads

Coinbase Preventing Account Closures as #DeleteCoinbase Movement Spreads
 
Multiple users are reporting on social media that they are currently unable to delete their Coinbase accounts. This news comes as some cryptocurrency enthusiasts continue to clamor for a boycott of the exchange giant over its recent acquisition of Neutrino.

Users Unable to Delete Their Coinbase Accounts

Amid the clamor for a boycott on Coinbase, some users are saying that the company is preventing them from closing down their accounts. Respondents say they followed the fairly easy account closing procedure only to be met with error messages. Even more puzzling is the fact that these users say they have gotten rid of their dust – infinitesimal cryptocurrency fractions leftover from transactions. Self-professed Bitcoin maximalists like Adam Moore and Jeremy Seaside report zero account balances but still unable to close their accounts. In a tweet published on Friday (March 1, 2019), the Moore reports that Coinbase customer support is yet to respond to his complaint concerning the inability to close the account. One Twitter user also commented that perhaps the company is trying to suppress the number of closed accounts during this period of negative publicity.

Coinbase Dust Chain

Coinbase reportedly doesn’t allow users with leftover dust to close their accounts. Reports on Twitter show users transferring their dust to other Coinbase users before closing their account. Independent software coder and Bitcoin enthusiast, Udi Wertheimer has created the #DeleteCoinbaseTrustChain to help with the process. Meanwhile, the main #DeleteCoinbase hashtag now has more than 900 tweets.

#DeleteCoinbase Movement

The straw that broke the camel back appears to be the company’s recent acquisition of blockchain surveillance firm Neutrino. Reports emerged that senior members of Neutrino have a long history of developing state-sponsored spyware programs. Critics say Coinbase’s association with entities of such repute go against the core principles of the cryptocurrency space. For many, the Neutrino acquisition is the latest in a growing list of indiscretions which include questionable listing policies and exorbitant fees. In its defense, the company says it doesn’t condone hacking but that it couldn’t afford to pass up on the technology that Neutrino has on offer.

Do you think Coinbase is deliberately preventing users from deleting their accounts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Article Produced By
Bitcoinist

https://bitcoinist.com/coinbase-deletecoinbase-movement/

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