US Watchdogs Sue 1Broker over Illegal Activities

US Watchdogs Sue 1Broker over Illegal Activities

Three regulators of the United States announced they filed charges against 1pool Ltd., also known as 1Broker, for violating federal securities laws.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lodged charges versus the Marshall Islands-registered firm and its Austria-based chief executive officer, Patrick Brunner, “for allegedly violating the federal securities laws in connection with security-based swaps funded with bitcoins.”

The SEC noted that an undercover special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “successfully purchased several security-based swaps on 1Broker’s platform from the U.S. despite not meeting the discretionary investment thresholds required by the federal securities laws.”

Moreover, the agency stated both Brunner and 1Broker failed to facilitate these swaps “on a registered national exchange, and failed to properly register as a security-based swaps dealer. Investors could open accounts by simply providing an email address and a user name – no additional information was required – and could only fund their account using bitcoins.”

The SEC’s filing stated that it will be seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest, and penalties.

Aside from the securities watchdog, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) claimed the entity in question breached the Commodity Exchange Act and filed a civil enforcement action against them.

“The CFTC’s complaint charges the defendants with engaging in unlawful retail commodity transactions, failing to register as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM), and supervisory violations for failing to implement procedures to prevent money laundering as required under federal laws and regulations,” the CFTC said.

According to the CFTC, the defendants “offered or engaged in unlawful retail commodity transactions in the form of ‘contracts for difference’ (CFDs) that had as underlying assets commodities from at least February 2016.

“The CFTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, restitution, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the CEA and CFTC regulations as charged,” it said.

Such transactions are not in line with the existing law.

Earlier, the FBI seized’s domain which is now seen on the firm’s website. The company is “willfully operating as an unregistered broker/dealer of securities” and “willfully operating as an unregistered futures commission merchant.”

Such a move, the FBI said, is “in accordance with a seizure warrant issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981 and 982, for violations of 18 U.S.C. 1956, 15 U.S.C. 78ff, and 7 U.S.C. 13 issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as part of a joint law enforcement operation and action by Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, [and] US Department of Justice – Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.”

Sought for comment, 1Broker expressed its preparedness to cooperate with American authorities amid the ongoing legal battles.

“All funds are currently secure and we will fully cooperate with the authorities. If approved by the SEC, we will enable withdrawals for US customers as soon as possible,” it said in a Twitter post.
The option to withdraw money from their funds is applicable to non-American clients as well.

“All open positions were closed at the current market prices. Market price movements will not affect your trades from now on. Our top priority now is to get the permission from the SEC to process customer withdrawal requests on an alternative domain,” 1Broker said.

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Brave Sues Google over Privacy Protection

Brave Sues Google over Privacy Protection

Startup firm Brave wants to make technology company Google and other related entities liable for falling short of privacy protection for users in the online ads industry.

Brave’s chief policy officer Johnny Ryan, Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, and Michael Veale of University College London filed complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the UK Information Commissioner to trigger a provision in the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requiring an EU-wide inquiry.

These entities argued that users’ personal details and information on their behavior online is transmitted to several companies interested in targeting them with ads without the users’ consent. With that, Google and other tech firms violate the GDPR’s requirement for personal data to be “processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss.”

Moreover, complainants said the entire adtech industry can use these details such as the content being viewed, location, type of device, unique tracking IDs, or a “cookie match,” and IP address. This information can unlock a person’s data including his income, age and gender, habits, social media influence, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, political leaning and other sensitive information.

“There is a massive and systematic data breach at the heart of the behavioral advertising industry. Despite the two year lead-in period before the GDPR, adtech companies have failed to comply. The industry can fix this. Ads can be useful and relevant without broadcasting intimate personal data,” Ryan said in a statement.

The complaints are targeting Google and all other ad tech companies “that broadcast internet users personal data widely in what are called RTB bid requests. We anticipate that the regulators will order the industry to stop broadcasting personal data in this manner,” he added.

“Advertising technology companies broadcast these data widely in order to solicit potential advertisers’ bids for the attention of the specific individual visiting the website,” Brave says. Once personal data has been broadcast, the dissemination is impossible to curtail.

“The sheer number of recipients of such data mean that those broadcasting it cannot protect against the unauthorised further processing of that data, nor properly notify data subjects of the recipients of the data. … data breaches are inherent in the design of the industry,” the firm said.

Ravi Naik, a partner at ITN Solicitors, is assisting Brave on this matter. He previously helped draw up a complaint to the U.K. Information Commissioner against Cambridge Analytica.

“We have been instructed by clients in numerous jurisdictions to file complaints concerning the behavioural advertising industry. We are confident that any proper appraisal by the authorities of the concerns will lead to a fundamental shift in our relationship with the internet, for the better,” Naik said in the statement.

According to the GDPR, failure to safeguard such details can cost violators up to 4 percent of a firm’s global turnover.

But a Reuters report implied that if such a move against Google becomes successful, this could have wider implications and undermine the online advertising model which other internet giants like Facebook with huge user databases are now employing.

“People do not – and cannot – fully understand or know how and where their data is used. This seems highly unethical, and does not square with Europe’s data protection laws,” Killock stressed.

Brave, the brainchild behind Brave browser and the Basic Attention Token, has commissioned Qwant as its default search engine in France and Germany.

Founded by the creator of Javascript and co-founder of Mozilla Brendan Eich, Brave provides a privacy-oriented browser aimed at giving token rewards to its users.

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Japan Watchdog to Beef Up Crypto License Review

Japan Watchdog to Beef Up Crypto License Review

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is bolstering its review for applications to secure a cryptocurrency exchange license by expanding its team dealing with crypto-related activities in the country next year.

The Japanese regulator is planning to hire 12 more people in 2019 to better respond to the growth of the country’s cryptocurrency exchange indsutry, Kiyotaka Sasaki, vice commissioner for policy coordination at the FSA, said, as reported by Reuters.

At present, the FSA has about 30 people tasked to oversee crypto-related businesses in Japan including license registration reviews.

Documents revealed that more that 160 companies including public firms are planning to submit applications to obtain an exchange license. The FSA has been reviewing 16 cases as of writing, but 12 of them withdrew their applications after the agency told them to do.

Three others were awaiting a final decision, while the other one was already rejected.

Sasaki revealed these details during the fifth study group meeting on cryptocurrency this week which was attended by platforms, scholars, lawyers, and government officials.

“The biggest problem is how to deal with new suppliers,” the report said, quoting the FSA.

FSA is not the only entity contending with a shortage of personnel working in the crypto arena, it has been revealed.

“Many exchanges are managing large amounts of user assets with a small team (3.3 billion yen [around $30 million] per employee on average),” the FSA said in a summary.

Figures show that while the total amount of assets held by Japanese crypto bourses have soared by 553 percent over the past year (valued at $6.2 billion), more than 75 percent of them have a team composed of less than 20 employees.

In April, the FSA revealed the annual trading volume of the actual bitcoin cryptocurrency has risen to $97 billion last year from $22 million in 2014. Trading on margins, credit and futures of bitcoin as an underlying asset has increased to $543 billion in 2017 alone from $2 million in 2014.

As of March this year, Japan handled at least 3.5 million individuals who trade digital currencies as actual assets. Among them, crypto investors in their 20s, 30s and 40s make up a major share which account for 28 percent, 34 percent, and 22 percent, respectively.

The number of traders investing in cryptocurrency margins and futures hit 142,842 as of end-March.

Releasing the data is part of the FSA’s efforts to bring greater transparency to the crypto industry following a hacking incident which hit Coincheck this year. This is the first step towards achieving a more thorough examination over institutional issued in Japan’s crypto sector.

It can be recalled that Coincheck confirmed it lost 58 billion yen or $553 million following what it appears to be the largest hack in the crypto history. About 500 NEM tokens were stolen from the startup’s digital wallets.

Coincheck since then restricted deposits, as well as suspended trading and withdrawal of XEM, the token running on the NEM blockchain.

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Almost 80 percent of Americans have heard of bitcoin

Almost 80 percent of Americans have heard of bitcoin

Almost 80 percent of Americans have heard of bitcoin, a new survey by polling firm YouGov has found.

“Cryptocurrency — a form of digital or virtual money that is generally designed to be decentralized, secure, and in many cases, anonymous — is popular amongst Americans. A vast majority (79 percent) of Americans are familiar with at least one kind of cryptocurrency,” the survey revealed, adding that among the people who have heard of bitcoin, 87 percent of them have not have sold or mined it.

“About half (49 percent) in this group say ‘I’m glad I didn’t buy Bitcoin earlier, and I don’t plan to buy it,’ while 15% say ‘I wish I had bought Bitcoin earlier, but I feel like it’s too late now.’ About one in five (21%) people between 35 and 54 chose this response, while only 11% of people 55 and up did,” it added.

Relative few respondents have any intention to buy bitcoin right away, but more than one-third, of 36 percent of them, believe that virtual currencies will become widely accepted in several transactions within the next decade but 34 percent of other respondents think otherwise.

“One quarter (25%) say they think cryptocurrencies are used more for illegal purchases rather than legal ones. Only 17% think they’re used more for legal purchases, and 19% think cryptocurrencies are equally used for legal and illegal purchases,” YouGov said.

“Millennials (44 percent) are the most likely of any age group to say cryptocurrency will be widely accepted. About one-third (34 percent) of Gen X’ers and 29 percent of baby boomers agreed,” it added.

Specifically, Hispanic Americans are likely to vouch on the cryptocurrencies to be mostly used for legal purchases.

“Of the people who believe that cryptocurrencies will become widely accepted, over one-third (36 percent) say they would be interested in converting to primarily using a cryptocurrency rather than the US dollar. However, a majority (57 percent) say they would not be interested in converting away from the US dollar. Millennials are almost equally split between being interested (48 percent) and not interested (50 percent),” it said.

In its latest poll, YouGov asked 1,202 Americans about the familiarity and interest in cryptocurrencies on August 29 and 30.

Meanwhile, bitcoin prices have plummeted double-digit, negating long-term bull market just days ago.

“At press time, the leading cryptocurrency is changing hands at $6,422 on Bitfinex – down 13 percent from the previous day’s high of $7,404,” CoinDesk reported, noting a bearish reversal is not still confirmed based on technical studies.

“Notably, BTC has erased all the gains made over the last two weeks in a single day. Further, the sharp drop has poured cold water over the optimism generated by the falling channel breakout and the bullish turn of the weekly MACD,” it added.

However, the report said it is not too soon to expect a long-term bullish-to-bearish trend change since the prices are staying above the crucial support of $6,000.

“BTC’s drop to the low of $6,302 has neutralized the long-term bullish outlook. Prices could drop to $6,000, albeit after a minor corrective rally due to intraday oversold conditions,” it added.

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Singapore Plans to Sell Digital Tokens via Blockchain

Singapore Plans to Sell Digital Tokens via Blockchain

Singapore is planning to develop a blockchain-powered platform to sell tokenized securities to improve operational efficiency and lower settlement risks.

In a statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) have formed a collaboration with technology firm Anquan, consulting giant Deloitte, and stock exchange operator Nasdaq to create a Delivery versus Payment (DvP) platform to carry out simultaneously the transaction and final settlement of tokenized digital currencies and securities.

DvP refers to a settlement procedure in which securities and monies are simultaneously traded to ensure that delivery of securities is completed if and only if the corresponding payment is made.

The SGX explained that both parties will exchange money for assets using a smart contract network which shall occur across various blockchain platforms.

To be released in November this year, the report shall outline the potential of automating DvP settlement process with smart contracts and identify major design considerations to ensure improved protection for investors and resilient operations.

The three companies commissioned for the project “will leverage on the open-source software developed and made publicly available in Project Ubin Phase 2.”

“Blockchain technology is radically transforming how financial transactions are performed today, and the ability to transact seamlessly across blockchains will open up a world of new business opportunities. The involvement of three prominent technology partners highlights the commercial interest in making this a reality,” Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, said.

Mohanty added they expect a further growth in the crypto space as fintechs leverage on the strong pool of talent and expertise in the country to design innovative blockchain applications and gain from potential opportunities from this technology.

“This initiative will deploy blockchain technology to efficiently link up funds transfer and securities transfer, eliminating both buyers’ and sellers’ risk in the DvP process. This is a collaborative innovation bringing together multiple players to pursue real-world opportunities that will benefit the ecosystem,” Tinku Gupta, SGX technology head, said.

Initiated in November 2016, the two-phased Project Ubin is the government’s ongoing blockchain initiative which aims to use the distributed ledger technology (DLT) for clearing and settlement of payments and securities. Essentially, it recognizes the technology’s potential in making financial transactions and processes more transparent, resilient and affordable.

The first phase attained the goal of producing a digital representation of the Singapore dollar for interbank settlement, testing methods of connecting bank systems to a DLT, and making the MAS Electronic Payment System (MEPS+) interoperate with the technology for automating collateral management.

Conversely, the second phase curated software prototypes of three different models for decentralized inter-bank payment and settlements with decentralized netting of payments in a manner that preserves transactional privacy.

This MAS implied in November last year that this initiative would continue in the future. The central bank had said the succeeding phases would focus on bond payments although no additional information was provided.

“Future phases of Project Ubin could focus on a decentralized bonds payments system, which could be supported by MAS and the participant banks with execution driven by Singapore Exchange. This could deliver a more efficient fixed income securities trading and settlement cycle through DLT,” the report stated at that time.

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Russia Airline Eyes Blockchain to Track Fuel Payments

Russia Airline Eyes Blockchain to Track Fuel Payments

Major Russian airline S7 announced it has tested a blockchain-based application capable of tracking transactions related to refueling planes including payments.

In a statement, S7 said that together with it was the first airline in Russia to refuel an aircraft using digital smart contracts anchored on the blockchain technology. The experiment, done along with Gazpromneft-Aero, its fuel supplier and Alfa-Bank, the country’s largest private bank, was conducted crew of S7 3013 Novosibirsk-Krasnoyarsk flight at Tolmachevo International Airport.

The airline company explained the application records details about fuel demand on the distributed shared ledger (DLT). A copy of the transaction is managed by representatives of the three entities involved in this project. Moreover, payments for refueling planes can be conducted on the network, with digital invoices created via smart contract every after each transaction.

During the trial, the funds are written off after the refueling of planes and reporting documents are transmitted to the firm’s commercial services and fuel supplier. The entire transaction, which was completed in 60 seconds, was undertaken based on the scheme approved by all parties.

“The new technology will allow airlines to increase the speed of settlements and minimize the financial risks of participants in the transaction, without requiring advance payments and bank guarantees,” S7 said in a statement.

“This is an automated trading operation between three parties: a bank, an airline and a tanker. Upon the fact of fueling the aircraft according to the pre-established rules, reconciliation and write-offs are carried out. The technology allows to increase the transparency of mutual settlements, to refuse a number of manual operations and to accelerate the processes,” it added.

The development is part of S7 project to test the blockchain technology for potential applications to its operations. In July last year, the airline said it started issuing passenger tickets via the ethereum blockchain as part of its collaboration with Alfa-Bank, the country’s biggest private banking institution.

According to a local report, the platform is created to reduce the transaction time between the airline and the agent which normally takes about two weeks. Furthermore, it aims to streamline the payment process by cutting the commission which the agent receives after ticket sales. However, it did not indicate whether the platform is anchored on the public or private version of ethereum.

In December 2016, S7 and Alfa-Bank forged a partnership to explore the use of smart contracts in tracing letters of credit. Under their deal, both entities would test smart contract operations and their capability to enhance business processes and increase the reliability and quality exchanging information.

“The transaction enabled us to test the capabilities of smart contracts and understand how the technology helps to improve business processes and document flow efficiency. We are planning to continue cooperating with Alfa-Bank in this area,” Dmitry Kudelkin, S7 deputy general director, said at that time.

“Legally, this transaction meets all the requirements for a letter of credit as a form of bank settlement, and demonstrates the potential of smart contract application in the framework of Russian legislation”, Artem Tolkachev, Deloitte CIS’ director of Legal Services for Technology Projects, had said.

Deloitte advised S7 on blockchain technology application and rendered legal assistance to the project.

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Crypto Saves the Day

Crypto Saves the Day

Trust cryptocurrency to shield anyone against the formidable power of financial discrimination.

That is what Sonya Mann, who works in communications and marketing at the Zcash Foundation, a non-profit institution dedicated to developing internet payment and privacy infrastructure for the public, emphasized in her latest piece on CoinDesk.

“Cryptocurrency is the solution to financial exclusion — if an imperfect one at present. Anyone in the space knows that the promise of a robust parallel system has yet to be fulfilled. Usability and adoption remain low. Bitcoin privacy is far from perfect (although it is steadily evolving, and alternate options like zcash and monero are available). The tax and regulatory environments remain intimidating, which is a huge problem for merchants,” Mann said.

She added several Americans have little or no access to the financial system for political reasons. Common targets of financial exclusion include sex workers and gun rights organizations.

The writer noted the spat between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the New York state. The NRA is an organization which fulfills its duties despite the susceptibility to “selective advocacy” and “partisan rhetoric.” Its primary mission is to promote and uphold Americans’ right to keep and bear firearms. But the association, which asserts itself as the oldest civil rights advocacy group in the United States, have been struggling to gain access to financial services.

In May this year, the NRA sued governor Andrew Cuomo and the state’s Department of Financial Services in May this year.

“The NRA presented as evidence an April letter from Maria Vullo, the DFS’s superintendent, warning banks under her purview about the ‘reputational risk’ of doing business with gun-rights groups. The state also pressured the companies behind the scenes,” the National Review said.

Mann pointed out that NRA is a system itself which has close ties to politicians and firearm manufacturers alike.

“Whether or not you like guns or the Second Amendment, it should be alarming when a legacy institution as entrenched as the NRA is turned away by financial service providers, especially as a result of state pressure,” Mann said.

She added: “That financial discrimination shows just how precarious Americans’ rights are in actual practice. What if a financial regulator decided that the ACLU’s First Amendment advocacy was distasteful, and jeopardized the group’s ability to accept donations?”

Case in point: many banks would be cautious of servicing the likes of dissident gunsmith Cody Wilson, whose projects include publishing free weapons schematics and selling machines for the home manufacture of firearms. Although his activities are legal, not to mention that litigation comprises much of his activism, Mann noted he is a radical person.

Still, the point is to not force every bank to work with the NRA since it makes commercial sense for some banks to refrain from doing business with the association.

“If the reputational risk, or cost of monitoring compliance, outweighs the revenue that a financial services company can garner from a controversial client, it’s a rational business decision to drop that client,” Mann said.

Setting aside that point, Mann said the NRA situation demonstrates the vital need to provide “permissionless financial infrastructure” which would alleviate the state pressure caused to private entities which promote the constitutional rights of the American people.

“In this bear market, it’s important to remember the revelatory nature of Satoshi Nakamoto’s innovation. Freedom entails being able to say and do controversial things — and when it’s true freedom, you don’t have to beg for permission first,” Mann concluded.

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Criminals no longer utilize bitcoin

Criminals no longer utilize bitcoin

Criminals no longer utilize bitcoin as much as before to stage their illicit acts, a study by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has discovered.

“The ratio of legal to illegal activity in bitcoin has flipped… criminal activity was behind about 90 percent of transactions in the cryptocurrency,” DEA special agent Lilita Infante explained to Bloomberg, referring to her analysis of blockchain data.

However, it does not mean criminals stopped turning to bitcoin to continue its illegitimate activities as the total transaction volume associated with illegal uses has escalated since 2013, Infante, who is part of the 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force tasked to delve into dark web and crypto-related inquiries, said.

“The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation,’’ she added.

“Though users sometimes will exchange Bitcoin for other coins with lower fees and faster transaction times to transfer funds, the overwhelming majority of dealings are still in Bitcoin,” Bloomberg noted.

Infante said that although wrongdoers will keep on using digital currencies, this is fine with them. “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them,” she added.

Privacy-focused virtual currencies including Monero and Zcash are more anonymous than bitcoin but are not liquid enough, according to Infanta. Still, she said they still have ways to track down criminals, adding wallet addresses can reveal identities of users.

“HSI agents are increasingly encountering virtual currency… in the course of their investigations,” Matthew Allen, assistant director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said in a written testimony for a Senate committee hearing on modernizing anti-money laundering (AML) laws last November.

Earlier, a high-ranking official of the US Secret Service urged Congress to file more measures addressing challenges connected to digital currencies with improved anonymity. He said certain virtual currencies have been used extensively for illicit activity.”

In June, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed Bill H.R. 6069, or the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect Trafficking Act, which “would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to carry out a study on how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex trafficking or drug trafficking. The GAO study would also examine how virtual currencies can be used to detect and deter these illicit activities.”

“Illicit markets where drug and human trafficking take place are constantly evolving, especially on the dark web…Cryptocurrencies can mask traffickers’ transactions, affording them a level of anonymity when conducting illegal activities,” California Rep. Juan Vargas, who penned the bill with Rep. Keith Rothfus, said after the measure’s passage.

“Virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, dash, zcash, and monero, can be used for legal purchases. It has also been reported that virtual currencies are being used to run illegal online marketplaces to sell drugs, including the opioid fentanyl, and contributing to the opioid crisis in America,” the Republican Policy Committee explained on its website.

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Hedera Hashgraph Bags $100 Million

Hedera Hashgraph Bags $100 Million

Distributed ledger technology platform Hedera Hashgraph has earned $100 million from its funding round via a future token sale held recently.

Proceeds will be earmarked for completing the development and launching the startup’s network, according to Mance Harmon, chief executive officer and co-founder of Hedera. It will go to the improvement of its public ledger.

“With this funding, we will be able to accelerate development of key services to be provided by Hedera – including a cryptocurrency, file storage service, and smart contract platform – to help make it not only what we believe is the fastest and most secure public ledger available, but also the most feature-rich for developers looking to build highly decentralized apps,” Harmon explained in a statement.

Although he did not name the majority of investors who participated in their recent fundraising activity, Hedera employees gave 10 percent of the total amount while Blocktower’s Ari Paul made a contribution.

“We’re taking that tech, the hashgraph, and trying to address the problems we see in the market that prevent mainstream adoption of public ledger technology and there’s really four categories,” Harmon said.

“As a technology, it’s a fundamental advance in the world of distributed systems. It has fantastic performance, and it achieves the best in security one can have in the field,” Harmon said in an interview with VentureBeat.

“Small systems have achieved this in the past, but never at scale. Bitcoin had terrible performance, but it is reasonably secure. It was always a trade-off. What hashgraph does for the first time is break that trade-off, maximizing both security and performance,” he added.

Moving forward, Hedera is planning to raise another $20 million via a public initial coin offering (ICO) which will be open only to accredited investors.

The recent funding round is part of the $18 million generated through a private token sale staged earlier this year. At that time, the sale represented less than 20 percent of the total supply. Hedera had said that MZ (formerly Machine Zone), the brainchild behind popular mobile games such as Mobile Strike, would developed distributed applications on top of the protocol.

Hedera would use a patented codebase in an open network. While the code can be viewed publicly, developers can curate applications on top of the network without securing any license. In simplest terms, it is offering “transparency with stability.”

“We can guarantee our platform will never fork. It will be “one platform with one currency forever,” Harmon said earlier.

“The hard forks that bitcoin & ethereum have experienced have arguably damaged the network effect of their corresponding currencies – creating confusion & uncertainty in the marketplace. Similarly, the explosion of altcoins (and the dubious legitimacy & value of many of them) does not engender the necessary confidence in businesses & consumers considering adopting crypto currencies,” based on the firm’s white paper.

The distributed ledger technology is created by software company Swirlds, which has already deployed private versions with various enterprises. Hashgraph asserts itself as a more secure, scalable, and fairer technology than the proof-of-work mechanism securing bitcoin or the allowed systems which banks and other entities have been working with.

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Madonna Wants to Lend a Hand to Malawi Orphans

Madonna Wants to Lend a Hand to Malawi Orphans

American singer-songwriter Madonna (real name: Madonna Louise Ciccone) is extending her assistance to the orphans of Malawi through its partnership with cryptocurrency payments startup Ripple.

To mark another milestone in her life, her 60th birthday, Madonna announced her participation in a fundraising activity in which proceeds would go to Raising Marawi, a non-profit organization she co-founded with US screenwriter Michael Berg in 2006, to support its work at the Home of Hope orphanage in the African nation.

Under the campaign, which started on July 30 and will end on August 31, Ripple said it will match all public donations to support this initiative and help people sponsor children directly via Facebook. As of writing, it has raised over $26,000 from more than 500 people within two days since its launch.

Madonna said the activity shall serve as a gift “connecting my global family with this beautiful country and the children who need our help most” for her special day.

“We’re honored to be a part of Raising Malawi’s amazing work with some of the world’s most underserved children and are grateful to our investors at Sound Ventures for making the introduction to us and this important cause,” said Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple senior vice president of business operations.

Ripple emphasized its executive team cares deeply about giving back and eliminating barriers preventing the marginalized sector from becoming part of a global community.

“This means fostering programs for financial inclusion, improving access to fundamental human services, empowering teachers and supporting primary education, and promoting environmental literacy and conservation,” Ripple said in a statement. “This recent donation to Raising Malawi is just one such example of how we invest in causes that exemplify this philosophy.”

Malawi, located between Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique in central sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the poorest countries worldwide and most densely populated countries on the continent. According to the International Monetary Fund, about 50 percent of its total population of 16 million people are living below the poverty line.

Nearly one million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDs, leaving them orphaned or without anyone who can look after their wellbeing. This prompted Madonna and her group to establish Raising Marawi to improve the lives of children in the country. It aims to provide children and caregivers with nutritious food, proper clothing, secure shelter, formal education, targeted medical care, emotional care and psychosocial support. Currently, several celebrities have supported Madonna’s cause such as Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, David Beckham, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Tom Cruise.

“There is a great deal of hardship in Malawi, but I also see great opportunity, resilience, and joy—even in the face of extreme poverty,” Madonna said in the institution’s official website.

Set aside her accomplishments, the renowned musician is best known for helping various charitable institutions including the Afghanistan Relief Organization, Greenpeace, Musicares, Ray of Light Foundation, Save the Children, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and UN Millennium Project.

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