Category: Crypto

French Startup Offers Idle Servers Part-Time Job to Power Ethereum DApps

An Airbnb for computing power allows anyone to offer their spare computing resources to the highest bidder

While it is true that humankind put a man on the moon using the computing power equivalent to a modern programmable calculator, there are many great things that still don’t happen because the computational power is scarce and expensive. High-performance computing is still a closely guarded secret weapon of the rich and privileged. Large banks and traders use proprietary algorithms for automated trading, movie makers create impressive special effects, pharmaceutical companies research new drugs and enormous mining farms generate Bitcoin wealth from the thin air. The future seems already to be here, but not for everyone.

And, at the same time, there are millions of computers and servers throughout the world that waste energy and money, idle and underemployed. What if this resource, still untapped, could be pooled and sold to anyone who needs it, so that users won’t have to actually purchase expensive servers or rack up mind-boggling bills on Amazon Web Services or Azure?

This is the idea of iExec Computing Power Marketplace — a sort of Airbnb for computing power that allows anyone, business or individual, to rent out their unused computing resources like a spare room in their apartment. It’s there, anyway, so why not make some money on it?

Based in Lyon, France, iExec aims to make cheap and abundant computing power available to anyone by releasing a marketplace that enables one to trade cloud computing power as a commodity. On this marketplace, anyone can pledge computing power to whatever task that requires it and be rewarded in RLC tokens — their native cryptocurrency — for their contribution. iExec raised about $12 million in their ICO — 10,000 BTC, at the time — in May, 2017. The iExec founders were involved in cloud and distributed computing at various scientific research institutes since 2000.

Delivering on its promises, iExec brought its computing power marketplace online on May 29, during the Blockshow conference in Berlin, when Gilles Fedak — iExec’s founder and CEO — gave a keynote speech and performed a 3D rendering demo.

Nuts and bolts

Technologically, iExec is based on XtremWeb-HEP, a distributed and parallel computing technology that has been around for more than 10 years and have managed, according to iExec, to successfully connect together more than 200,000 computers. It is worth noting that the current iExec CTO, Oleg Lodygensky, was one of the principal developers of this technology.

iExec equipped this long-existing and proven technology with a PoCo (proof-of-contribution) protocol that allows off-chain consensus, makes sure computations are correctly carried out on the network of decentralized nodes, and regulates the flow of rewards between buyers and sellers of computing resources.

iExec builds on the success of volunteer-based grid computing. Grid computing projects like Asteroids@home racked in an impressive performance of some 220 TFLOPS (Trillion Floating Point operations per second) in January 2016, without any kind of incentive for its more than 20,000 participants. A lot involved into computer science remember SETI@Home initiative, they employed the unused computing resources of volunteers’ computers to search for extraterrestrial life.

Volunteer grid computing projects are numerous and quite successful for noncommercial, pro bono causes. To become sufficiently reliable for  commercial applications, a monetary reward should be brought into play.

This is exactly what iExec does — its marketplace makes computing power a tradeable asset, and offers a way to reward those who pledge their spare resources. Obviously, the desire to earn money — without investing anything, giving better usage to corporate and private computers, servers and mining rigs — would entice many more people and businesses to participate.  

Lowering the entry barrier to high-performance computing, iExec intends to make it available to small and medium-sized businesses. As explained in the iExec white paper:

“The computing power to run big data applications is most often provided by cloud and High Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructures. However, cloud and HPC infrastructures are complex and expensive. That means that innovative small businesses often don’t have the means and the expertise to acquire and operate HPC platforms, while traditional cloud infrastructure vendors like Amazon AWS are still very expensive for demanding applications (e.g. GPU rendering).”

Corporate-grade security

Apart from rewarding the participants for the computing resources pledged in the marketplace, security questions are also critical for the large-scale business adoption of the technology. iExec have taken various steps to ensure the confidentiality of the code and the data it offers to process on the distributed, untrusted nodes.

While the top-end software encryption standards are something one can expect from this sort of application, iExec is taking one step further — company sources have confirmed to Cointelegraph that the company is actively working on new cloud standards of hardware encryption.

To achieve that, iExec partnered with Intel to support Intel’s SGX technology, that allows maintaining data privacy while performing computing on untrusted nodes that are controlled by third parties. This approach allows new cloud computing paradigms, like processing private data, without risking any leak. The company has already presented a live demo of its SGX implementation.

DApps as an adoption driver

iExec can support compute-intensive applications within a wide range of fields, from artificial intelligence and fintech to scientific research. Nevertheless, to become attractive for current cloud and HPC users, iExec has to actually create a formidable network that can deliver substantial computing power.

In order to achieve this, iExec has decided to focus on blockchain DApps (decentralized applications) as the first step of its adoption strategy.

Reflecting this decision, even the user interface of iExec closely resembles a cryptocurrency exchange in order to make things more familiar for the blockchain users.

iExec user interface

iExec user interface. Image source: iExec

As of now, DApp adoption lags behind traditional mobile and web apps because blockchain apps lack simple, secure and scalable access to powerful off-chain computing resources, as the iExec founders argue. The statement is true: according to State of DApps, the number of daily active users for all DApps combined is less than 10,000 worldwide, and the overall number of DApps hasn’t even reached 2000, as of July, 2018,. Most DApps have less than 100 daily users.

Image source: The State of dApps

Image source: The State of dApps

“At the moment, the gas mechanism provided by the Ethereum blockchain makes the execution of algorithms with computation and/or memory requirements rapidly costly and performance prohibitive. Thanks to […] iExec, DApps will have a simple, secure, and practical way to reach off-chain computing resources to execute their applications,” the company said in its white paper.

After multi-billion investments in blockchain projects over the last couple of years, the surviving post-ICO projects will require an off-chain computing infrastructure — and iExec’s marketplace is poised to fulfil the demand.

iExec doesn’t lay in wait for the tide of DApps to rise their ship, though. The company also undertakes a range of activities to bolster DApp adoption. One example is the DApp Challenge that iExec has organized, where they financed 15 innovative projects with a grant of $150K. Also, iExec created an app store for DApps — or a DApp Store — that proposes a way for the developers to efficiently monetize their DApps.

iExec’s adoption strategy differs from other contenders like Golem and SONM, which share a similar vision of the future internet infrastructure. “Golem aims at first assembling a network to attract regular 3D rendering users to their platform, SONM is approaching fog and edge computing from the beginning, while iExec first focuses on supporting DApps to build a decentralized cloud that eventually will be competitive enough to attract cloud and HPC users,” states the iExec white paper.

Growth plans

As iExec has reached their hard-cap of 10,000 BTC, the company is now committed to implementing its most extensive and ambitious development plan. In May, 2021, iExec plans to have a fully decentralized blockchain computing platform and build support for emerging fog and edge computing infrastructure.


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

Blockchain & ICO Marketing: The Complete Crypto Marketing Guide

In the ICO world, the first three months of 2018 raised more money than the entire fiscal year of 2017. This proves that a bear market is not a hindrance to running a successful crowdfunding

Mastercard Patents a Method to Manage Cryptocurrency “Fractional Reserves”

Mastercard Patents a Method to Manage Cryptocurrency "Fractional Reserves”Mastercard has patented a method to manage cryptocurrency “fractional reserves”. The big idea behind it seems to be that users will be able to pay with fiat on credit cards partly backed by crypto assets using a centralized system offering faster transaction conformation speeds. Also Read: IBM Backs the Development of Latest New Stablecoin, Stronghold […]

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US House Hearing: Crypto Presents a Challenge Beyond Hard and Fast Asset Classifications

Witnesses at a hearing before the U.S. House of Agriculture Committee today proposed that digital assets require an agile regulatory approach because of their fluidity.

Witnesses before the U.S. House of Agriculture Committee at a public hearing July 18 were unanimous in their view that digital assets complicate the hard and fast distinctions of existing regulatory frameworks.

The hearing was chaired by Texas U.S. Representative Michael Conaway, who convened six eminent witnesses to give testimony — former Goldman Sachs partner and U.S. government regulator Gary Gensler, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Scott Kupor, the CFTC’s Daniel Gorfine, law professor Joshua Fairfield, Clovyr CEO Amber Baldet, and Perkins Coie managing partner Lowell Ness.

A key takeaway from the hearing was that a given digital asset may shift its regulatory status as it transitions from one context to another, given the fluidity of the crypto ecosystem.

Both Gensler and Fairfield argued that when a digital token is marketed at a “pre-functional” moment in its development — i.e. during an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) — then the sale is judged an investment contract and thus a security to be regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Critically, however, crypto tokens may cease to be securities once they become used in a decentralized network as a utility token as, for example, in the case of Ethereum (ETH). This means that a digital asset may at one point be an SEC-regulated security, only to later become a commodity of relevance to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

As Gorfine outlined, the CFTC does not generally exercise direct oversight of the underlying commodity markets themselves, but rather regulates derivatives such as the futures or swaps markets.

Gensler proposed that state of the “underlying cash-crypto markets” is presently “at best a wild west,” and that the CFTC potentially requires more authority and resources to deal with the challenge. The SEC, for its part, could need 2-4 years to address the “thousands” of “noncompliant” actors in the ICO space, he said.

Ness warned that over-aggressively extending securities classifications could seriously impede the crypto space, which has evolved precisely to create a network that allows for “value transfer at the speed of software.”

The SEC notably requires that the beneficial ownership of an asset can be determined at any given time, something that Gensler said was not yet technologically feasible to achieve in a frictionless way in the crypto space.

In response to committee members’ concerns that crypto can be used for illicit activities, Kupor suggested that “Bitcoin is law enforcement’s best friend,” given that pseudonymous transactions can ultimately be traced using intelligence tools that analyze traffic on the blockchain.

Ness quipped that “the alleged Russian hackers were caught because they used Bitcoin,” in reference to the recent indictment that charged twelve Russian nationals with using crypto to fuel their efforts to “interfere” in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

In mid-May, a U.S. House Subcommittee hearing on blockchain in supply chains concluded that the technology has a variety of applications, even without industry-wide standards.

Citadel CEO Says Bitcoin Is Still a ‘Head Scratcher,’ Tells Young Generation to Stay Away

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin admitted he “still scratches his head” about Bitcoin, argued that “there’s no need” for crypto.

Ken Griffin, the CEO and founder of the Citadel hedge fund, has reiterated his negative stance on Bitcoin (BTC) in an interview with CNBC Wednesday, July 18.

Speaking at the Delivering Alpha Conference in New York, Griffin admitted that he “still scratch[es] [his] head" about Bitcoin, claiming that the younger generation should “do something more productive than invest in digital currencies.”

To prove his point of view, the billionaire pointed out that none of his clients have ever suggested investing in cryptocurrencies:

"I don’t have a single portfolio manager who has told me we should buy crypto, not a single portfolio manager.”

Griffin further declared that his company is having a “hard time” deciding whether it should be a liquidity provider for a product that he “[does not] believe in,” adding

“There’s no need for cryptocurrencies. They’re a solution in search of a problem.”

In late 2017, Citadel’s Griffin had made a similar statement about Bitcoin, comparing the top cryptocurrency with the “Dutch tulip bulb mania” in the 1600s and noting that “these bubbles tend to end in tears. And I worry about how this bubble might end."

Founded by Griffin in 1990, the Citadel hedge fund manages over $30 billion of assets. The global financial institution is one of the oldest hedge funds in the world, being only one of three percent of hedge funds that have been working for more than 20 years.

Others on Wall Street have embraced cryptocurrencies in their turn. Earlier this week, the world’s largest largest asset manager BlackRock announced it is setting up a working group to estimate the benefits of involvement in Bitcoin, a turn away from the company’s previous critical stance on cryptocurrency.

And last week, billionaire Steven Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management hedge fund reportedly invested in the Autonomous Partners crypto and blockchain-focused hedge fund.

Is India About To Reverse Its Crypto Trade Ban?

On July 20, the Supreme Court of India might review the RBI crypto ban.

On July 20, the Supreme Court of India will hold a hearing regarding the state of cryptocurrencies in the country. It is a decisive date for the local crypto industry that has been significantly suppressed in the past month by the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on all banks' dealings with crypto-related businesses.

The hope for an overview of the hardline approach lives on, however, as last week a report citing anonymous sources in the government suggested that cryptocurrencies might be viewed as commodities in the future, and hence become regulated by relevant authorities rather than remain mostly banned.

Brief history of cryptocurrencies in India

India has not been perfectly cohesive in its stance toward crypto. The relationship between the two dates back to December 2013, when the RBI first issued a general public announcement to potential crypto users, warning them about typical risks involved — volatility, security and ties to illicit activities. Since then, the agency has been putting out similar notes in response to crypto’s gaining popularity, with the last one being issued on December 2017.

Those kind of warnings, however, failed to address the legal status of Bitcoin (BTC) and altcoins in the country — as Dr. S.P. Sharma, Chief Economist, opined in an interview with the Economic Times of India in October 2017, “neither has the government formally brought Bitcoin under the definition of currency, nor has it made it illegal.” According to some experts, the state chose the passive role simply due to not having a coherent plan in mind. Thus, Anirudh Rastogi, managing partner at the law firm TRA, told Quartz India:

“[Not having a concrete strategy] is the reason why they have been reiterating similar comments and warning the common investors to not go overboard.”

Nevertheless, as cryptocurrencies gained even more extreme momentum in December 2017 — when Bitcoin was infamously trading for $20,000 — the government stepped in with straightforward action, as India’s Income Tax Department began its major sweep. According to Business Standard, by December 13, the watchdog had visited nine virtual currency exchanges in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kochi on the matter of tax evasion. Further, the agency reportedly sent tax notices to as many as 400,000-500,000 investors, based on their transaction history.

The situation became even less optimistic for cryptocurrencies after India’s Ministry of Finance compared Bitcoin to a ponzi scheme and local banks — including State Bank of India (SBI), Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank — began taking strong action against crypto exchanges by either closing their accounts altogether or significantly curtailing operation.

In April 2017, the RBI announced that the bank would no longer provide services to any person or business that deals with cryptocurrencies, and that decision essentially became law on July 5, when the deadline expired. That means that Indian citizens are currently not able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on exchanges. Instead, they need to use peer-to-peer networks, where mainly crypto-to-crypto operations are allowed. If an Indian citizen wants to exchange crypto to fiat, then they will need to turn to marketplace exchanges or the black market, the Times of India explains. Additionally, crypto exchanges and companies cannot receive loans from banks in India, according to the legislative.

New reality: outlawed crypto

It would be fair to argue that the Indian government’s hardline regulatory action thus far has only prompted the crypto industry to go underground, and has therefore become even less regulated. At this point, a significant number of local exchanges have either closed shop or partly ceased their operation: The first victims were BTCXIndia and ETHEXIndia, who chose to shut down back in March, when the RBI ban hadn’t been announced yet. BTCXIndia cited the Indian government’s “discouraging cryptocurrency trading” as the primary reason for closure at the time. Both of them are inactive to this day.

The largest remaining players, namely Zebpay and Unocoin — Coinsecure is still offline due to the recent cyberattack — now warn their clients that rupee withdrawal processes can be compromised at any time due to the RBI ban deadline. In its announcement regarding the matter, Unocoin mentions that they are “in the process of deploying new mechanisms for INR deposits and withdrawals,” and has introduced Unodax — a peer-to-peer solution bypassing the RBI ban. Similar services have been rolled out by other Indian exchanges, such as WazirX and Koinex.

Meanwhile, as the Times of India reports, a number of opportunists used the RBI ban for their advantage by cashing in on the panic sales in India via "arbitrage" — a strategy that implied buying BTC within the Indian market on the cheap, transferring it to a middleman in another country, who would then sell it there for a better rate and share the profit among the both parties involved.

Even more confusion was caused by a Bloomberg article quoting anonymous parties with “direct knowledge” of the government plans to impose an 18 percent goods and services tax (GST) on crypto, as it could hardly coincide with the RBI ban — how can cryptocurrencies be taxed, when one can’t even trade them? Nevertheless, such news indicate that more positive regulation might be on the way, or merely that different government agencies take varying approaches toward crypto, not coordinating their moves among each other.

New hope: the commodity route

On July 11, Quartz India published an article dubbed “India may not ban cryptocurrency after all” — the piece cited an anonymous source and claimed that “a finance ministry panel set up to study [virtual currencies] may even suggest that they be treated as commodities.” Thus, a senior government official privy to the matter told the news outlet:

“I don’t think anyone is really thinking of banning [cryptocurrencies] altogether. The issue here is about regulating the trade and we need to know where the money is coming from. Allowing it as [a] commodity may let us better regulate trade and so that is being looked at.”

Viewing cryptocurrencies as commodities resembles the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) approach. The U.S. agency that fully controls commodity derivatives transactions in the country claims that tokens are commodities: Essentially, in their view, Bitcoin is closer to gold than to conventional currencies or securities, as it is not backed by the government and doesn’t have a liability attached to it.

Shubham Yadav, co-founder of Coindelta — an Indian cryptocurrency exchange — agrees with that viewpoint:

“Though cryptocurrencies belong to a new class of financial assets, we can still welcome them as commodities and not currencies because of their high volatile prices.”

The cryptocurrency panel cited was set up in December 2017 with the purpose of understanding the expanding crypto industry, and it includes Subhash Chandra Garg, secretary in the department of economic affairs; BP Kanungo, deputy governor of the RBI; and Ajay Tyagi, chairman of market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India. It is the second cryptocurrency panel in India, while the first panel — established by the Narendra Modi government in April 2017 — recommended “slowly choking” the industry: It couldn't be stopped in one day, as people would lose a lot of money, they argued, which is why a more timely approach was needed.

In June, Subhash Chandra Garg, the head of the newer — and more crypto friendly — panel, told local news outlet ET news that his task force was almost ready to introduce a draft for a crypto regulatory framework and promised to deliver it within the first two weeks of July — no such announcements have been made by press time, however.

“We are fairly close to developing a template [for the cryptocurrency industry] that might be in the best interests of our country. We have moved pretty far in this regard, and we have prepared a draft that entails what parts of this businesses should be banned and what should be preserved.”

Local cryptocurrency firms are open for negotiations with the government, and, as Quartz points out, “have already agreed to be open for more scrutiny.” Additionally, they assure that solid Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures are already implemented, while they are willing to introduce other suggestions. Shubham Yadav, co-founder of Coindelta, told the publication:

“We are also ready to work with the government and assist them on creating a regulatory framework. We can help them in designing a monitoring system for blockchain where it can remotely monitor all transactions.”

The central bank’s controversial ban has prompted both public and industry-led petitions, with some appealing to the courts on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional.

Thus, the community awaits July 20, when the Supreme Court of India will come up with a clear-cut position regarding the RBI blockade. However, it is worth noting that on July 3, the court ruled not to grant interim relief to those affected by the ban at a hearing of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) — organization comprised of members of several crypto exchanges that are challenging the RBI’s stance.

At a previous petition hearing on May 17, IAMAI was reportedly requested to submit a representation against the central bank.

In any case, blockchain is welcome

Similar to China, the Indian crypto ban — although it is objectively less harsh than the Chinese one — coexists with the government positive stance toward blockchain technology. For instance, on the same day as it introduced the crackdown measures, the RBI announced its plans for issuing a central bank-backed digital currency (CBDC). The RBI Deputy Governor BP Kanungo told the Times of India at the time:

“Technological innovations, including virtual currencies, have the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system.”

Nevertheless, India is home to existing blockchain adoption initiatives as well. In May, seven of India’s largest banks joined a blockchain-powered trade finance initiative led by local IT giant InfoSys. The alliance, known as India Trade Connect, includes participants such as Axis Bank, ICICI and South Indian Bank. It was reportedly formed to conduct tests of InfoSys’ Finacle Trade Connect, a blockchain platform designed to “address the trade finance process requirements of banks.”

Moreover, in June, the government of the south Indian state of Kerala announced that it will use blockchain for food supply and distribution in a new project headed by Keralan think tank the Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC). It will use blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to make the state’s supply network for dairy products, vegetables and fish more efficient, further establishing blockchain as a viable tool for the local economy.

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Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Valuations Gain Billions in One Day

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Valuations Gain Billions in One DayTwo days ago, cryptocurrency bulls were attempting to break strong resistance and managed to push digital asset values to much higher price regions. The price of bitcoin core (BTC) was averaging $6,740 per BTC during the early morning trading sessions on July 17, then the digital currency spiked to $7,300 a few hours later. Then […]

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Most ICOs Retain Centralized Control, Break Whitepaper Promises, Academic Report Shows

A new report from the University of Pennsylvania Law School identifies multiple failures on the part of ICO projects towards investors.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) “failed” to provide protection against insider trading or stick to their whitepaper promises, a new report from the University of Pennsylvania Law School released July 17 reveals.

The lengthy study of the ICO phenomenon, dubbed “Coin-Operated Capitalism,” begins with a frank appraisal of investor expectations versus reality, the four contributing professors finding basic inconsistencies in the behavior of a “significant” number of projects.

In the introductory comments, they state that their “inquiry reveals that many ICOs failed even to promise that they would protect investors against insider self-dealing. Fewer still manifested such contracts in code.” The paper continued,

“Surprisingly, in a community known for espousing a technolibertarian belief in the power of ‘trustless trust’ built with carefully designed code, a significant fraction of issuers retained centralized control through previously undisclosed code permitting modification of the entities’ governing structures.”

ICOs continue to generate mixed reactions amid recent scandals afflicting some of 2017’s most lucrative token sales.

Bancor, which became famous for raising $153 mln in three hours last July, saw a hack worth $12 million this month result in wide-ranging criticism of its decentralization and fair governance claims.

In their paper, the UPenn law professors use Estonian financial institution Polybius as an example of promises made in the whitepaper against real progress post-token sale.

According to the paper, Polybius, who raised $31 million through their ICO in June 2017, included in its whitepaper “several claims that would lead us to expect certain features directly coded into tokens or other smart contracts,” continuing,

“Beyond ERC-20 compliance and the presence of a modification feature, we did not verify that any of these features are present, largely because Polybius’s coded governance exists in bytecode ([…] the Ethereum machine language). Without spending a large sum of money purchasing the time and know-how of a very motivated and talented reverse engineer, an investor would be restricted to relying on vernacular promises.”

Cryptocurrency industry figures have meanwhile continued to defend ICOs as a legitimate fundraising model, even outweighing the benefits of more traditional means.

In May, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao determined that “raising money through ICOs is about 100 times easier than through traditional VCs, if not more.”

Bitcoin Up $1,000 in Just Two Days, Almost All Top 100 Coins See Green

Crypto markets keep climbing fast, with 98 out of 100 top altcoins by market cap in the green and Bitcoin touching the $7,500 point.

Wednesday, July 18: crypto markets are continuing to climb fast, with 98 out of the 100 top cryptocurrencies by market cap in the green over the past 24 hours, according to data from Coinmarketcap.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) has grown by $1,000 in just a couple of days, inching firmly to the $7,500 point after having reached an intraday high of $7,542. The top cryptocurrency is trading at around $7,429 at press time, up about 10 percent over a 24 hour period and having gained around 15 percent over the past month, reaching monthly highs.

Bitcoin price chart

Bitcoin price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Ethereum (ETH) is still hovering around $500, trading currently at around $492. The top altcoin is up almost 4.5 percent over the past 24 hours, with an intraday high of $526.

Ethereum price chart

Ethereum price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Total market cap has broken $296 billion for the first time since June 11, when Bitcoin was below $7,000. The markets have gained over $40 billion over the past 7 days, with total market cap at around $295 billion by press time.

Total market capitalization

Total market capitalization chart. Source: Coinmarketcap

Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA) have seen some of the biggest gains over the past 24 hours, up around 30 and 21 percent respectively. XLM is trading at $0.30 at press time, up around 59 percent over the past week.

Earlier today, Cointelegraph reported that Stellar has become the first blockchain protocol to acquire a Sharia compliance certification in the money transfer and asset tokenization field.

Cardano is trading at around $0.18, up about 41.5 percent over the past seven days.

Last week, one of the most popular U.S. crypto exchanges Coinbase announced that it is exploring addition of a number of new altcoins, including Stellar and Cardano.

Earlier today, billionaire investor and Avenue Capital Group co-founder Marc Lasry, claimed that Bitcoin could reach as high as $40,000 due to the  coin becoming more “mainstream.” Lasry suggested that Bitcoin investors will be “making 5 to 10 times their money in 3 to 5 years.”

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China to Lead International Standardization Research Group for IoT, Blockchain Tech

China will lead a joint working research group on IoT and blockchain within their international standards organizations.

China will lead an international research group on the standardization of the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technology, local news outlet Science and Technology Daily reports July 18.

The joint technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have adopted the proposal for the creation of this international research group after a month of a discussion by committee members.

Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, writes that the creation of this group means China has won “discourse power” in technology integration:

“It is of great significance for China's related industries to lead global development and promote the integration of fiat and [the] digital economy.”

The international research group, chaired by Dr. Shen Jie, will promote fiat-digital integration by providing a large number of industrial application scenarios as well as establishing a working mechanism to promote international standardization for IoT and blockchain technologies.

The new research group will include experts from more than ten countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

China has recently taken steps forward in its adoption of blockchain technology.  Last month, the Digital Currency Research Lab at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) filed a patent for a digital currency wallet that would allow users to track their transaction histories. Also in June, the PBoC had revealed a blockchain-powered system to digitize paper checks.

Earlier this week, Cointelegraph reported that the deputy director of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) had encouraged the country to “unite” forces to foster blockchain as a “core” technology for the new digital economy.

Crypto Exchange to Target African Market by Offering Low Transaction Fees

A new cryptocurrency exchange is targeting emerging markets, with the view of educating the public about blockchain and giving millions economic freedom.

An “advanced and robust” trading platform is vowing to help emerging economies embrace cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology — in the hope that inclusion and education will bring economic freedom to the masses.

KuBitX claims that there is widespread reluctance to learn about crypto, compounded by a lack of knowledge and resources for those who want to discover more. The company believes this has enabled a small group of traders to dominate the market and even manipulate it at will — resulting in extreme fluctuations in cryptocurrencies.

Its white paper cites a study by Cambridge University, which suggests that Africa is home to just four percent of the world’s exchanges, even though adoption rates across the continent are on the rise. In time, KuBitX hopes its user-friendly platform will lead to the development of a diverse cryptocurrency marketplace for buyers and sellers — one that welcomes crypto enthusiasts even if they live in one of the remotest places on Earth.

Taking on market leaders

Despite being a new entrant to the cryptocurrency exchange industry, KuBitX believes its service can offer considerable service improvements when compared to the established market leaders. For example, the company claims it can process more than 12 million transactions per second — a rate which it says is well ahead of Binance and Bitfinex.

In another nod to its goal of becoming an accessible service for emerging economies, KuBitX says its transaction fees (0.05 percent) are considerably lower than its rivals.

The company has partnered with Modulus, a company providing financial software and hardware systems for exchanges, brokerages, hedge funds, financial institutions and traders.

The exchange, powered by Modulus, is planning to support fiat withdrawals and offer a mobile app, with its platform initially being available in five languages. To appeal to an international user base, KuBitX says it will offer online customer support 24 hours a day, in addition to a training platform where users can discover more about the exchange’s functionality in programs tailored to beginners, intermediate users and professionals.

When it comes to Africa, KuBitX argues that traditional banks are still struggling to reach adults who don’t have a bank account — with two out of three people across sub-Saharan Africa being unbanked. The company says the continent’s entire banking system has been hindered by a lack of financial literacy, small national markets, low incomes and political instability, but it believes that hundreds of millions of people could have a better future if they are given the chance to develop a strong financial footprint.

The exchange says it has a “huge” target market of 1.28 billion Africans to reach — and to do this, it plans to introduce channel ambassadors, whose mission is to raise awareness about cryptocurrencies and educate the public through meetup sessions. KuBitX is going to first reach out to people in Uganda, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya — all with the view of gaining up to 10 million users within the first three years of operation.

Suite of financial services

KuBitX says it has forged relationships with banks and payment providers to ensure that a range of services can be offered through its platform, including remittances, bill payments, fund transfers and merchant services. Customers are also going to be able to track and spend their cryptocurrencies from one account, and connect with other digital currency trading platforms.

The pre-public round of its token generation event is taking place from July 16 to August 31. Its ambassadors in flagship countries will be deployed in the third quarter of 2018, and this is also when the exchange’s soft launch will take place. KuBitX aims to go live by the last quarter of 2018, paving the way for global promotions to spread the word about its platform.


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Billionaire Investor Marc Lasry: Bitcoin Can Soon Hit $40,000 as Trading Becomes Easier

Billionaire investor Marc Lasry has reiterated his faith in Bitcoin’s future, forecasting a $40,000 price point for the cryptocurrency in the next few years.

Avenue Capital Group co-founder Marc Lasry has said that Bitcoin’s (BTC) price is going to hit $40,000 n bullish comments to CNBC on July 18.

Speaking in an interview for the network’s Squawk Box segment, Lasry, whose debt management firm controls around $9.6 billion of assets, saw increasing ease of crypto trading as a major motivator for Bitcoin to rise, noting

“As it gets more into the mainstream, and as more markets end up allowing it to trade where it's freely tradable, to me that's more of the bet.”

Lasry added that he foresaw Bitcoin investors “making 5 to 10 times their money in 3 to 5 years.”

Lasry had previously expressed regret at not purchasing Bitcoin sooner, with reports this week alleging that he had since converted one percent of his net worth to the largest cryptocurrency.

Lasry added in the CNBC interview that the reason he likes Bitcoin is “because it’s the one everybody is going to come to.”

Lasry’s prediction came amid a rapid uptick in Bitcoin’s fortunes, with the coin suddenly rising up to 12 percent July 17 and maintaining new levels above $7,400 since.

Institutional investors have become a significant talking point in recent weeks regarding Bitcoin, with commentators eyeing movement towards the crypto sphere from the likes of investment giant BlackRock as a possible sign major new interest is on the way.

At $40,000, Lasry’s prediction is meanwhile conservative in nature compared to figures like those proposed by Tim Draper, whose 2022 Bitcoin price forecast is currently set at $250,000.

Controversial crypto personality John McAfee, infamously bullish, has meanwhile doubled down on Bitcoin hitting the $1 million price point hitting as soon as 2020.

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-Con

Robin Hood Movie and Robinhood App Hold $50k Crypto Scavenger Hunt at Comic-ConLionsgate studio and Robinhood app have teamed up to give away $50,000 in a crypto scavenger hunt at the San Diego Comic-Con this week. This is to promote the studio’s upcoming Robin Hood movie. Attendees will search for coins, redeemable for $50, $500, $1,000, and $5,000, which can then be invested in cryptocurrencies during the […]

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Malwarebytes’ Cybercrime Q2 2018 Report: Cryptojacking is Plateauing in Response to Markets

Interest in cryptojacking is potentially waning among cybercriminals in response to lower cryptocurrency market valuations, according to a new cybercrime report.

Interest in cryptojacking is potentially waning among cybercriminals in response to lower cryptocurrency market valuations, according to a report from MalwareBytes Labs released July 17.

Cryptojacking is the practice of using a computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

The data and analysis laid out in Malwarebytes Labs’ “Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques: Q2 2018” report shows that while cryptojacking remains popular, decreases in detections of the activity across the board suggest that the trend may be beginning to decline:

“We are not certain which [cybercrime] threat is going to take over as the top detection next quarter, but it’s unlikely to be cryptominers.”

The report proposes that the activity is receding from the cyberthreat landscape due to criminals’ disappointing revenue returns, adding that it expects cryptojacking to “stabilize” in correlation with market trends in cryptocurrency.

The recent decline is predominantly among consumer targets, with Windows cryptomining malware detections dropping in Q2, despite “rating highly on overall detections for the quarter.”

According to the report, after a massive spike at the end of Q1 2018, malicious Android cryptominers have also seen an abrupt decline, with a 16 percent drop in mobile miners from April to May. Despite this dip, there were still 244% more malware miner detections in Q2 than in Q1, and the report suggests the Android landscape in particular could potentially see a future increase.

The report claims that enterprises at present remain more vulnerable to cryptojacking. Data for cryptojacking targeting businesses has fluctuated “every month since the crypto craze began,” with each 2018 quarter showing “some form of spike in detections, the first being in January and the second in May.”

The report notes that cryptojacking strategies are nonetheless diversifying. While Coinhive-related activity continues to be detected at high volumes, other in-browser programs such as ‘Cryptoloot’ are becoming more popular, and attackers are increasingly “leveraging open source web mining code and adapting it to their needs.”
Malwarebytes Labs’ suggestion that cryptojacking was at its highest in Q1 2018 is echoed by a recent report published by McAfee Labs, which showed a staggering 629 percent rise in the activity in Q1 2018 over the preceding quarter. McAfee focused specifically on so-called coin miner malware, which works by using the Coinhive code.

NFTs and the Future of Digital Memorabilia

Celestial Cyber Dimension by Guile Gaspar I’m excited about the potential of the intersection of eSports and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to create a new digital economy of cryptogoods and digital memorabilia that could become one of