Bitcoin cash is a great fit for tipping online creators as it offers extremely low fees which is needed for small payments with cryptocurrency to make sense. A new tool aims to make the tipping process easier, removing the need to manually copy and paste BCH addresses.
Snappy Cash is a recently released browser extension that enhances bitcoin cash addresses for easy tipping. It automatically finds any BCH addresses written in plain text on the websites you are viewing and conveniently adds QR codes that you can scan on your desktop for tipping via mobile wallets as well as integrated Badger Wallet widgets. The extension also optionally converts address selections and you can set it to ignore certain sites if you wish. Snappy Cash is available for installation on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
If you are not yet familiar with the popular Badger Wallet, it is a noncustodial bitcoin cash light client wallet which also stores SLP-based tokens built on the BCH network and serves as a gateway to a multitude of other apps and services. It was originally launched for Chrome and Firefox as a browser wallet, but now there is an Android version and an app for Apple iOS was recently added as well.
What do you think about this new tool for easy BCH tipping? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to third party companies or any of their affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any third party content, goods or services mentioned in this article.
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“Multiple new understandings have emerged, and it is necessary to study the situation with bitcoin and cryptocurrency. These are things that are entering our lives. For example, cryptocurrency constitutes a serious risk for tax evasion.”
The concept that cryptocurrency plays a major role in cybercrime continues to emerge from various governments, while critics play down the idea that it is becoming perpetrators’ go-to financing method.
In line with the legal landscape, Belarus’ largest bank signalled in January that it was nonetheless interested in setting up a cryptocurrency exchange.
In neighboring Russia, meanwhile, with which Minsk has unique economic ties, authorities continue to waver over how to deal with cryptocurrency use.
The success of Tezos’ self-amendment process and other recent events stress the relevance of the topic of governance in the crypto community.
On May 30, Tezos implemented the amendment Athens A, as the result of a voting process that involved its baker nodes (the Tezos equivalent of “miners”) from Feb. 28 to May 30.
Although the actual relevance of the upgrade was quite small (see below), the Tezos community underlines that the test was a milestone. The smooth shift to Athens A indeed demonstrated the capability of Tezos to evolve without forking, thanks to the features of proposal/selection/voting/test/implementation this blockchain itself encompasses.
On the very same day, another fast-growing young company backed by a cryptocurrency, Iota, announced an important step toward total decentralization, substituting its Coordinator mechanism with the new Coordicide tool.
Coordicide will perform the same functions of its predecessor, ensuring transaction security and preventing double spending. However, the new protocol will allow the peculiar Iota block creation process to work in a fully decentralized and permissionless manner.
The debate over what constitutes the most suitable approach to the exchange business and the declarations of some big companies about decentralized exchanges (DEX) — both for or against it — only add to the fact that the topic of decentralization is still a paramount concern as crypto involves more people and use cases.
The evolution of cryptocurrencies as a business increases the amount of interest it generates. As in any business, this involves issues relating to power distribution. But such questions are difficult to answer in a simplistic way.
Bitcoin (BTC) defines itself as a peer-to-peer (p2p) network, as per the title of its white paper; the new electronic cash would work in a trustless manner — the 2008’s foundation document states — thanks to the consensus of the honest nodes that “control a majority of CPU power.”
The dream of money created by the people and for the people, freely circulating across the national borders, and untouchable by the rapacious economic monopolies was very appealing during the years following a dramatic financial crisis, which some may argue left the world suspicious toward governments and traditional financial actors.
However, while Bitcoin evolved from being a “cypherpunk” plaything to a relevant business entity, many concerns about its actual decentralization and “internal democracy” arose. In autumn 2016, for instance, two researchers — De Filippi from Harvard University and Loveluck from Université Paris-Saclay — published a paper that criticized the “highly centralized and undemocratic” technocratic approach to governance that, in their opinion, characterizes Bitcoin core developers.
Defining the small number of individuals in charge to decide which changes shall be incorporated into Bitcoin as a sort of “benevolent dictator,” the two researchers noticed:
“There exists, therefore, an obvious discrepancy between the libertarian vision of Bitcoin as a decentralised infrastructure that cannot be regulated by any third party institution, and the actual governance structure that dictates the technological development. […] While the (a)political dimension of the former has been praised or at least acknowledged by many, the latter has remained, for a long time, invisible to the public: the technical decisions to be taken by the Bitcoin developers were not presented as political decisions, and were therefore never debated as such.”
Additionally, Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum’s core team were labeled with the same title of “dictator” as a consequence of the decision to alter the mainchain to refund the victims of the DAO hack on June 2016.
The hack itself and the following debate between the supporters of Vitalik’s choice and the defenders of the inviolability of the blockchain stressed, as an article on Wired noticed then, how much human weaknesses were still influencing processes that, theoretically, are managed only by the impersonal rules of mathematics.
It is worth noting that the internal debates inside both the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities brought the first relevant cases of a direct democracy instrument being applied, which is allowed by the blockchain architecture itself.
Even if the process of development and amendment of the core software remains the privilege of a qualified technical elite, all the nodes taking part in the network can veto a piece of code, refusing to upgrade and forking the blockchain. Therefore, every miner has voting rights that are equal to the hashing power and, if a new alternative blockchain is born, the free and democratic rules of the market would determine which is the more successful coin.
This happened, for instance, in July 2016, when the integrity supporters divorced from the amended Ethereum mainchain, giving birth to Ethereum Classic (as well as a new coin, ETC). Similarly, in August and October 2017, when people became unsatisfied with the introduction of SegWit on the Bitcoin network, they tried to find a solution to the block’s dimensions issue, creating, respectively, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Gold (BTG).
Voting, pickaxe in hand
This dream made of equal rights and free competition, however, is troubled by severe concerns over the actual distribution of mining power that sustains the different blockchains based on proof-of-work (PoW).
When considering Bitcoin, for instance, it’s easy to understand the distance from its pioneer days and the present: On May 22, 2010, on the legendary first Pizza Day, the hash rate required to feed the whole network was about 109 MegaHash/s (MH/s), while eleven years after, on BTC Pizza Day 2019, the required computing power reached almost 52 ExaHash/s (51,934,800,000,000 MH/s).
While mining shifted from an amateurish activity to a capital-intensive business, the community has lost its role as a validator, which became much more of an exclusive prerogative of the giant mining pools that formed an oligopoly.
The data published by one of them show that, since April 2013, the three largest mining companies produced more than 50% of the blocks of the system (BTC Guild with 37.83%, SlushPool 11.54% and BitMinter 7.09%). The situation changed very little during the following years, despite the swirling turnover among the companies leading the industry.
The dynamic only seems to have scaled down in the very last few months; however, the dominance of the first three players (presently BTC.com, F2Pool and Poolin) is still above 40% of the blocks.
Ethereum was born with specific features preventing ASIC-based mining. However, its algorithm could do nothing to limit a concentration of power, which is even more accentuated than in Bitcoin’s blockchain: Since the summer of 2017, two pools alone — Ethermine and SparkPool — produced over 50% of the new blocks almost continuously every month.
Even if vicious behavior that could undermine the whole crypto economy is rather unlikely in the two leading blockchains, recent events involving the smaller ETC demonstrated that the possibility of a 51% attack is far from theoretical. Last January, the exchange Coinbase revealed evidence of an ETC blockchain reorganization, which included double spending worth over $1.1 million.
Give me liberty or give me scalability
Proof-of-stake (PoS) could contribute to answering the concerns surrounding the rise in concentration of power within the mining industry and the risk that a malicious super-miner could hijack a whole blockchain.
The critical feature of PoS is to bond the rights to validate the new blocks — to “vote” in cases of a fork — to facilitating a “lottery” influenced by the dimension of the stakes “frozen” in the nodes, instead of asking the validators to compete through computing power.
This would bring some advantages — considering the fee levels, transaction speed and ecological footprint — as PoS forging is less demanding than PoW mining in terms of fixed capital and energy involved. Besides, the broader adoption of PoS would disrupt the mining business model, undermining the oligopolistic position of the pools that are dominating the market now.
However, even if the shift toward PoS would theoretically bring immediate democratization in the way blockchain is being run, in a long-term perspective, it is somewhat unclear if and how forging business would avoid spiralling toward concentration and bringing it from individual geeks to giant multinational companies.
Delegate proof-of-stake (DPoS), on the other hand, makes even more explicit the issue of the internal governance and the trade-off existing between scalability and decentralization. This consensus algorithm began to work for the first time in Bitshares, the first blockchain project designed between 2014 and 2015 by Daniel Larimer, also the creator of Steemit and EOS.
Since then, the crypto community divided itself between those who equate Larimer to Satoshi Nakamoto and those who see DPoS as an unforgivable sin against the very nature of the blockchain.
Cryptocurrencies must rely on blockchains that could guarantee that transactions will be unique and irreversible. However, to reach this advisable degree of security, it seems inevitable that a choice has to be made between either a time-consuming solution that implies a broad and distributed consensus or more effective architectures, which achieve efficiency while harming system decentralization.
The so-called “scalability trilemma” was first coined by Buterin and Trent McConaghy to explain how difficult — if not impossible — it would be to attain scalability, decentralization and security, all at the same time.
Since security is a sine qua non for every blockchain and scalability is a goal determining the success of a cryptocurrency, decentralization looks to be the odd one out.
In DPoS, limiting the validation process to an elite group of nodes — empowered also by the stakes delegated by other members — would enhance the performance, guaranteeing both security (as malicious nodes would be sanctioned economically) and preventing unchallengeable power positions (as delegators could revoke their sustain if they disagree with the delegate’s policy).
The effectiveness and the actual match between this ideal model and its application could vary enormously from case to case, as everyone who lives in a country ruled by a representative parliamentary system would know.
Like in politics, criticism and scandals are commonplace in DPoS. Since its launch in June 2018, the largest DPoS/PoS currency existing on the market, EOS, has been plagued by recurrent embarrassments revolving around its governance model.
Decentralization doesn’t seem to be a top priority for many DPoS supporters, indeed. For instance, last May, Neo founder Da Hongfei declared in an interview during Consensus 2019 that the high level of centralization of his blockchain is part of a strategy to compete against Bitcoin and Ethereum, in terms of superior performance. Despite some openings to decentralization during the summer of 2018, the Neo Foundation is still controlling half of the supply of NEO coins and the majority of the nodes running the network. “That’s intentional. We want to keep it more efficient,” the Chinese entrepreneur said.
It’s then easy to understand why Buterin himself bluntly criticized EOS, Neo and other DPoS projects during his keynote at the last Blockchain Connect Conference in San Francisco on Jan. 11, 2019. In the same speech, Ethereum’s co-founder stated his support for options he defined as “good, legitimate ways to make a blockchain fast,” without harming decentralization.
One possible solution to the problem of scalability would be the creation of a “second layer” network, that allows transactions to occur off-chain and then ultimately settle on-chain.
Only, this secondary network would require some forms of centralization or trusted players to keep the mainnet both safe and decentralized, despite a significant growth in the number and speed of the performed transactions.
Considering the “first layer,” Ethereum core developers have been working for a long time toward a more sophisticated solution. It encompasses both a new approach to PoS block validation, known as Casper, and the possibility for the network to operate through segmentation — called sharding — that allows every “island” of Ethereum to act as parallel blockchains, multiplying the performance of the system as a whole. The two development paths are presently joined under the label of Ethereum 2.0, the new spec of the cryptocurrency that is set to begin operating between 2020 and 2021.
Proof-of-stake is indeed quite similar to the original form of democracy deployed in Athens during the fifth century B.C. This form of government was based, in fact, not on a free election but on a draw that could appoint randomly selected citizen as magistrate or as delegates of the “people.” Fate was therefore the guarantor of equality (however, the city denied civil rights to women, slaves and foreigners).
Tezos’ blockchain defines its distinctive feature as the ability to self-amend and self-govern its code evolution. However, is it unclear if the choice to label its first amendment as “Athens” was referring more to the random, PoS-ish nature of the historical Greek democracy or to the allure of participating in a free debate, which the ancient republic earned in collective consciousness.
On Feb. 28, Paris-based developer team Nomadic Labs proposed the migration from the original protocol “alpha” to “Athens,” injecting the network with the hashes referring to two alternative code updates.
The reform marked a milestone when considering the process rather than the content: Athens A aimed to reduce the number of Tezos’ native tokens (XTZ) accounted in one “roll” (the unit of account for Tezos’ proof-of-stake) and to increase the gas limit for each block, while the Athens B proposal contained only the gas limit increase amendment.
As every new piece of code aiming to upgrade Tezos protocol, Athens charged a reward for the developers, if approved: The request was a symbolic amount, sufficient to pay for a round of beers for the team (100 XTZ, less than $150).
The Tezos Foundation explicitly chose not to vote or to vote “Pass” during the different phases of the pool, to avoid influencing the results.
During the first phase of the process, aiming to choose which proposal should undergo the voting, 170 bakers representing almost half of the XTZ on stake, decided to bring Athens A to the “Exploration Period.”
An even more significant number of participants (194 bakers, 87% of the stake) then expressed their opinion on the amendment, approving it and choosing to test Athens A in a sort of a “48-hours fork,” on a temporary parallel mainnet.
A final round of voting was required after the test (involving 216 bakers, representing 84.3% of the stake) to allow for an automatic update to the new code for all the nodes, which activated Athens A after 12:40 a.m. UTC on May 30.
The high level of participation in the vote among the Tezos community is even more remarkable considering the recent failure of another experiment on direct involvement of token holders.
Jacob Arluck from Tocqueville Group explained in a post on Medium the significance of Athens and stressed that the voting was indeed just a part of a more comprehensive process aiming to activate the Tezos community as a whole:
“It’s really exciting because it’s the first step towards this idea of self-upgrading, decentralized, internet-native economic infrastructure.”
Social networks, web-based platforms, on-chain signaling tools and baker-promoted pools are some of the instruments that guaranteed — in a somewhat unplanned and “decentralized” fashion — the debate among bakers and the delegator token holders.
People opposed to the governance architecture seemed to have been the decisive factor and Tezos’ co-founder, Arthur Breitman, confirmed to Cointelegraph that the success of Athens relied on a mix of direct participation and the delegation mechanism:
“The fear of ‘voter apathy’ has permeated most discussions of on chain governance. Tezos guards against that issue by borrowing ideas from Gordon Tullock’s concept of liquid democracy. The massive participation in the Athens vote and high degree of engagement from the community shows that this approach seems to be working.”
With great power comes great responsibility
The case of Tezos’ amendment helps to focalize on the strong similarities between the debate about decentralization in blockchain and some well-established topics in sociology, economics and political science.
The dilemma of performance vs. decentralization, for instance, has strong analogies with the debate regarding the relationship between political freedom and economic development. Considering the diverging paths of different developing countries (recently, India and China), argue that autocracy could achieve higher performance than democracy, because it is not impaired by the need to mediate with the public opinion and different groups of interests.
Others, for instance, such as Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, believe that freedom is a part of the development process as its final aim, as an instrument to check its advancement and as a guiding light to define its direction. Professor Sen also recognizes, however, that real freedom means more than regular formal pools, and it is possible to transfer his concern for genuine political participation to the blockchain-related issues presented above.
The effort that the Tezos community demonstrated in its first election is indeed quite similar to that of many opinion groups that try to resist “political laziness,” which affects many large democratic countries nowadays (Breitman reference to Tullock’s article was not accidental).
It is, however, unpredictable if it would be possible to reach such a high degree of involvement in a broader and more mature network. Bitcoin PoW mining too was somehow a democratic activity when nodes were in the hundreds; the real issue arises when the number of users surpasses the number of people directly involved in system development.
Widespread adoption is likely to flood the system with users who are more concerned with issues like transaction cost and speed, user-friendly applications and global acceptance as a means of payment rather than obscure topics like 51% attacks or the scalability trilemma.
It is even possible that the average user could freely choose to renounce a significant amount of the libertarian features that have defined cryptocurrencies since their origin, for the sake of more comfortable handling.
In 1576, the French political philosopher Étienne de La Boétie clandestinely published his “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.” The text explained that tyrants (La Boétie also put elected governors among them) could retain their overwhelming power over their subjects because the people themselves forfeit their original freedom.
More than violence and intimidation, the French thinker argued that the real causes that brought the majority to accept servitude were the desire for profit and the custom of servitude itself.
Even without calling it real “servitude,” nowadays, we are still undoubtedly living in a centralized world, among centralized institutions and using everyday centralized technologies we don’t completely understand. It is therefore quite hard that a new frame of mind, more suited to handle the power and the responsibility coming with decentralization, could arise overnight.
It is almost impossible to design a perfect voting system that, just using a set of rules, could force people to take responsibility for their freedom, limit media brainwash and prevent bribery. So, it seems quite unlikely that technology alone could assure the cryptocurrencies reach true decentralization under every possible scenario.
It is impossible to know which answer to the issue of blockchain governance will become dominant in the future; however, it is plausible that the fundamentals of human behavior will be part of it, alongside mathematics.
Ripple, the company behind settlement-oriented crypto asset XRP, promised a higher degree of accuracy for XRP volumes and sales.
Ripple, the company behind settlement-oriented crypto asset XRP, promised a higher degree of accuracy for XRP volumes and sales in a post published on June 3.
In its announcement, Ripple cites recent reports about fake cryptocurrency trading volumes, such as the one recently released by United States-based asset manager Bitwise, which claims that 95% of bitcoin (BTC) trading volume is fake. However, a new report by Bitwise also claims that fake trading volumes by crypto exchanges do not impact bitcoin’s price.
The firm promises to take steps to address these concerns by collaborating with partners in the space, evaluating its approach to XRP data reporting and “taking a more conservative approach to XRP sales this quarter.” Ripple notes that, as a consequence, XRP’s sales in the second quarter of 2019 will be considerably lower than in the first quarter.
The target of 20 basis points will also likely be cut to under ten, less than half of what it was before. On May 16, 2019, Coin Metrics released a report detailing discrepancies in Ripple’s escrow reporting system, describing inconsistencies that allegedly required explanation.
In line with accuracy in reporting data, cryptomarket cap tracker CoinMarketCap (CMC) announced a new alliance called the Data Accountability & Transparency Alliance at the beginning of May. CMC also noted at the time that it would remove exchanges from its calculations if they fail to provide mandatory data by June.
As Cointelegraph has previously reported, a report released in January claimed that the market capitalization of distributed ledger tech company Ripple’s XRP token could be overvalued by as much as $6 billion.
Bleakley Advisory Group’s Peter Boockvar says now is the time to monitor bitcoin, but buy gold and silver.
Bitcoin (BTC) could inform investors worried about the United States–China trade war, an executive from financial planning and wealth advisory firm Bleakley Advisory Group told CNBC in an interview on June 4.
On the back of stock market weakness over fears the trade war could escalate and the dollar weaken, Bleakley’s chief investment officer, Peter Boockvar, drew attention to bitcoin’s recent behavior and highlighted gold as a potential alternative.
A well-known gold bug, Boockvar nonetheless said he did not advise buying bitcoin itself, but that it was a useful measure of market sentiment.
“I watch bitcoin as a signal, as an indicator, not because I want to own it as I’d rather own gold as an alternative currency,” he told the network’s Futures Now segment. He added:
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen this sharp rise in bitcoin and to me that was saying something in terms of what markets were thinking, about what the Fed was going to do, the turmoil created by the threatened tariffs.”
BTC/USD passed $9,000 for the first time in over a year last week, with various sources considering geopolitical events as a catalyst to the cryptocurrency’s two-month-long bull run.
Boockvar said he did not have a taste for bitcoin investing, echoing comments by fellow gold enthusiast Peter Schiff in an interview last month.
The correlation between the two assets, however, cemented bitcoin’s status as something worth watching in order to influence investment moves, he implied. Gold had rallied shortly after the bitcoin bull run began.
“I don’t recommend bitcoin in either direction because I don’t really care for it in terms of an asset, but I do care for it as a signalling mechanism that I think was a tip-off to this bounce in gold,” Boockvar noted.
In January 2018, as BTC/USD was coming off its all-time highs around $20,000, Boockvar warned that the pair could lose 90% of its value, something which has so far failed to materialize after a $3,130 floor appeared in December.
Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has partnered with Japan’s biggest railway firm to promote cashless payments.
Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has partnered with Japan’s biggest railway firm, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), to promote cashless payments. The news was reported by Cointelegraph Japan on June 5.
The partnership will enable commuters to charge and use their rechargeable smart fare card — JR East’s “Suica” — via the Rakuten Pay mobile app.
As Cointelegraph Japan notes, the integrated service will bring cashless transport payments via the mobile app to commuters at 5,000 train stations and approximately 50,000 buses, in addition to around 600,000 stores across Japan.
According to an official press release published today, the forthcoming service is planned for launch in spring 2020. The two firms will reportedly look to future joint ventures to further promote cashless payments networks, the press release claims.
As Cointelegraph has previously reported, an update to the popular Rakuten payments app that could potentially facilitate support for cryptocurrency payments was revealed in the company’s 2018 earnings release, published this February.
Rakuten had acquired domestic crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin in August 2018 in a $2.4 million deal. This January, Rakuten announced a revision to its corporate restructure, setting up a new payments subsidiary that includes its new cryptocurrency business.
Rakuten now plans to launch a forthcoming crypto exchange — dubbed Rakuten Wallet — this June, having sealed regulatory approval from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in March.
Notably, at the time of DeCurret’s revelations in late March, no concrete plans to roll out the crypto-chargeable Suica card had been finalized, with JR East reportedly only considering the implementation.
From fixing ads and loyalty programs to ensuring ethical sourcing of products, here’s how blockchain can make retail more efficient.
Cryptocurrencies have gone a long way since the day when, nine years ago, Laszlo Hanyecz had paid 10,000 bitcoins for two large Papa John’s pizzas, marking the first purchase of tangible goods for digital money. Although bitcoin is still far from being universally accepted by retailers, thousands of merchants around the world are taking crypto in exchange for goods — and their ranks grow daily. The latest of the big developments in this vein came up at this year’s Consensus conference, as blockchain startup Flexa made public its partnership with a number of major U.S. retailers. Flexa’s payments app, Spedn, will allow users to pay for their purchases in more than a dozen stores of the caliber of Barnes & Noble, Office Depot and Whole Foods with cryptocurrencies.
Payments, as we know, are just a tip of the blockchain iceberg, though. While expanding the number of stores and chains that accept digital money remains an important avenue leading toward mass adoption, there are several other domains where distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be of help to the retail industry. Some of these solutions are already up and running, and some hold the promise to bring about massive changes within the next few years.
There is evidence that cryptocurrency payments are gradually moving away from the fringe. The Kaspersky Lab Global IT Security Risks Survey, published in February, reported that a respectable 13% of more than 12,000 consumers across 22 countries have used cryptocurrency to pay for their online purchases.
Companies that step on the path of accepting crypto might be driven by various motivations. Some might want to appeal to younger, technologically advanced customers by appearing savvy with the cutting-edge tech, while others embrace the promise of the technology and are bullish on crypto themselves. Digital money’s volatility remains the main deterrent for large corporate retailers. Intermediaries like Flexa, which are ready to stand in between corporate businesses and the dicey crypto market to absorb part of the uncertainty, come in handy as the big players find themselves willing to experiment with the new payment method yet are wary of potential risks.
It appears that this indirect model could become a dominant means of easing major retail chains into digital money payments in the next few years. For instance, this is how the recently announced crypto-payment partnership between Starbucks and fintech firm Bakkt is expected to work.
This running list tracks major stores and services that accept cryptocurrencies. You can already spend your digital money on travel, gift cards, jewelry, games and movies, moving services, gadgets, goods for your home and more. The list will surely keep growing.
Blockchain’s capacity to facilitate transmission of both value and information can give rise to more sophisticated, multifunctional forms of payments in the near future. A recently unveiled Civic Pay app is a vivid example: The solution will enable vending machine operators to simplify access to age-gated goods by combining payment, identity verification and earning reward points in one transaction.
Another important domain of the retail business that could use some optimization and enhanced fraud protection is loyalty programs. A primary tool for building a lasting relationship with a customer, these transaction-based programs oftentimes rely on infrastructure that is less secure than that of “real” payments, leading to a substantial increase in loyalty-fraud crime in recent years. Both value and personal data are subject to theft. In addition, many reward programs fall short of providing enough value to customers, as the ways of spending the hard-earned points are limited.
Introducing blockchain into the equation could help retailers address both issues. On the security side, hackers and fraudsters will have a much harder time penetrating a system that relies on a distributed ledger than one that stores all the data in a centralized database. In terms of consumer value, creating a token-based rewards ecosystem open to third-party businesses is a means of giving customers a wealth of diverse ways to spend their points.
This is exactly what American Express is looking to achieve with its Hyperledger-based rewards platform, which is geared toward enabling partner merchants to create customized rewards offers for the financial corporation’s clients. A prominent player in the space is Swiss firm Qiibee, which specializes in helping businesses tokenize their loyalty programs.
Supply chain tracking
Another well-established and profusely covered family of blockchain use cases in retail has to do with the technology’s capacity to make the goods’ origins transparent and verifiable. The demand for such transparency may stem from different considerations, depending on a particular industry, with three key concerns being safety, authenticity and ethical sourcing.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the arm of the federal government responsible for promoting and protecting public health and safety, estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illness. Outbreaks of diseases like E. coli and salmonella caused by bad groceries are still nothing irregular, and once the contaminated produce makes it to a large retailer’s enormous supply chain, it becomes difficult to track its origin in order to quickly extinguish the threat. It may take days until the source is identified, potentially causing the chain heavy losses and putting customers at risk.
Industry leaders have come to realize that recording every actionable event along the produce’s journey — from farm to table — on a blockchain is an efficient solution to this problem. It could also enhance stores’ ability to quickly identify and remove recalled foods, among other logistical benefits. The IBM Food Trust initiative, which offers its members a blockchain-based platform to track produce on every step of the supply chain, launched in the fall of 2016, when the U.S. retail giant Walmart began testing the system. Since then, Walmart has started requiring suppliers of certain types of produce to implement the DLT-powered solution. Other U.S. and global players in the field — such as Albertsons, Unilever, Nestlé and Carrefour — have joined the club as well, and many more are poised to follow suit.
Closely related to food safety but a conceptually different consumer demand is the need to verify that the product in question has been ethically sourced. As millennials and gen Z-ers are becoming the driving force of global capitalism, concerns over businesses’ environmental and social responsibility are becoming an increasingly conspicuous factor in purchasing behavior. Again, recording the product’s journey on an immutable ledger and creating a consumer-friendly interface enabling customers to obtain a clear picture of its origins can become a powerful tool for companies to build trust and get rewarded for transparency and responsible sourcing practices.
Some examples include the World Wildlife Fund-Australia championing the use of OpenSC, a supply chain tracking tool built on blockchain, to enable consumers make ethical choices when purchasing food. Customers will be able to obtain information regarding the products’ origins and life cycle by scanning a QR code on the package.
On another note, the Ford Motor Company is testing an IBM-built system running on Hyperledger Fabric that will trace supplies of cobalt — a material used in lithium-ion batteries that is seeing increased demand as the electric vehicles market expands. A large share of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where child labor and slave-like working conditions are widespread. The blockchain initiative would address these issues by providing Western corporations with a means of ensuring that the cobalt they purchase comes from the mines where a certain level of labor protection is enforced.
Finally, when it comes to luxury consumer goods, being able to establish the provenance of an item is of utmost importance. The diamond industry’s largest players, such as Alrosa and De Beers, have adopted blockchain-based solutions to track gems from mine to store and verify that their origins are clean — in both literal sense and with respect to previous ownership. Luxury apparel brand Alyx will implement Iota’s blockchain solution to showcase sustainable practices used on every step of its supply chain.
Customer data management, security and sharing
Retailers routinely record, store and utilize vast amounts of customer data. Blockchain applications related to streamlining processes in this line of their work present a less explored yet immensely promising area. Harnessing the benefits of distributed ledger technology could improve security, give customers more control over their data, and create new forms of marketing to help retailers meet consumer needs with higher precision and capture the value otherwise missed.
With the help of an artificial intelligence-powered recommendation system, retailers would be able to identify customers’ needs and advertise highly tailored offers to them. With advertising expenditures thus optimized, merchants will be able to reward those who opted into opening their data with tokens spendable at the store.
With a blockchain data-sharing system in place, customers could also proactively let retailers know about their needs and preferences, sending them shopping lists in the form of smart contracts. Coupled with the potential affordances of the Internet of Things to outsource the execution and delivery of such orders to machines, blockchain could become a fundamental infrastructure for the new era of fully automated shopping.
Malaysia’s securities commission has begun registering cryptocurrency exchanges after it started regulating the crypto space earlier this year. The first three crypto trading platform operators have been conditionally approved and given nine months to comply with registration requirements. Meanwhile, 19 crypto exchanges have been told to cease operations.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) announced Tuesday that it has registered three Recognized Market Operators (RMOs) to establish and operate digital asset exchanges (DAX) in the country. Malaysia started regulating its crypto industry in January, requiring anyone interested in operating a crypto exchange to register as an RMO with the commission. According to the announcement:
The three registered DAX operators are: Luno Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Sinegy Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd, Tokenize Technology (M) Sdn Bhd. The SC has given the new RMOs up to nine months to fully comply with all regulatory requirements.
The three will become the country’s first regulated crypto exchanges once they comply with the regulatory requirements. The commission also “advises members of the public to be mindful of the risks related to trading in digital assets, including risks of trading on exchanges that are not registered with the SC.”
David Low, general manager of crypto exchange Luno’s Southeast Asian operations, confirmed that once his exchange has met the commission’s conditions, it “will become one of only three digital asset exchanges to be regulated in Malaysia, allowing investors to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies.” Headquartered in London with regional hubs in Singapore and Cape Town, Luno entered Malaysia in 2015. The exchange claims to have close to 3 million opened wallets across over 40 countries.
19 Exchanges Must Cease Operations
The Securities Commission Malaysia has also ordered 19 crypto trading platforms to cease operations in the country and return funds and assets to investors, effective June 1. “Entities which have not been approved by the SC, including those which have previously been operating under the transitional period, are required to cease all activities immediately and return all monies and assets collected from investors,” the regulator emphasized, noting:
Operating a DAX without authorisation from the SC is an offence under securities laws … A person in breach may be liable to a fine or imprisonment term or both.
The commission maintains a regularly updated list of all approved exchange operators and those that are required to cease operations.
The 19 exchanges are Aes Signatum Berhad, Arbor Digital, B4u Exc, Belfrics Malaysia, Bitpoint Malaysia, Blokmy, Chako Global, Ezytronics (World Cloud Ventures), Finx Blockchain (Finx Capital), Getcoinapp, Gigaex, Mcp International, Mx Global, Pinkexc, Mbaex Online Pte Ltd. (Tezatech), Udax International, Upbit Malaysia, Vardiz Commerce, and Xbit Asia.
Regulation and Registration
Malaysia enacted the “Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019” on Jan. 15. The SC subsequently amended its Guidelines on Recognized Markets on Jan. 31 to introduce new requirements for crypto trading platform operators.
On Jan. 15, 45 crypto exchanges were operating in the country, according to the regulator’s website. Anyone wanting to operate a crypto asset platform had to submit an application to the commission by March 1, the regulator said at the time. Twenty-one of them were ordered to cease operations on March 1.
Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, the chairman of Securities Commission Malaysia, explained that “The new framework is part of the SC’s efforts to promote innovation while ensuring investor protection in the trading of digital assets.”
Low commented on Tuesday that “The regulation will ultimately bring clarity and protection to consumers and will ensure that all cryptocurrency businesses have adequate standards in place to protect investors and their funds.”
Another country that requires crypto exchanges to register with its financial regulator is Japan. However, they have to fully satisfy all the requirements before they can be registered. So far, 19 crypto exchanges have been registered and more than 140 have expressed interest in registering, the country’s top financial regulator has told news.Bitcoin.com. In addition, the media reported last week that the G20 leaders will discuss having a crypto exchange registry.
What do you think of how Malaysia regulates crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Securities Commission Malaysia.
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On June 3, crypto startups Anypay and Cointext debuted a global remittance application for independent merchants. The new payment solution utilizes bitcoin cash (BCH) and allows anyone from anywhere to send funds faster and cheaper than traditional remittance platforms.
The New Anypay and Cointext Remittance Solution Aids Capital Mobility
The value of remittances being sent overseas and across borders is greater than ever and Anypay.global has teamed up with Cointext.io to make cross-border payments easier. For less than a U.S. penny per transaction, bitcoin cash can be easily transferred across the globe in a permissionless manner. Both startups believe that cross-border, crypto remittance can be a thousand times cheaper than traditional banks, forex firms, and even alternative financial transfer operations. When Anypay and Cointext revealed the latest partnership and the launch of the new remittance platform, Cointext founder Vin Armani detailed how low cost, decentralized payment networks like bitcoin cash can transform the remittance industry.
“One of the most overlooked prerequisites for the spread of economic prosperity and individual sovereignty is capital mobility — So often, when we see communities lifted from poverty it is due to an influx of outside capital, making an investment or purchasing goods and services from productive individuals,” Armani told news.Bitcoin.com after the announcement. “Entrepreneurs who have brilliant solutions to pressing problems don’t just come from the developed world.” Armani added:
Enabling money to flow, from any human on the planet to any other human on the planet, instantly and at incredibly low cost, is the great promise of Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash enables that promise to still be realized. I know that this remittance platform with Anypay and Cointext is just the first glimpse of what will become a global movement of individuals taking back their financial sovereignty and connecting a global community dedicated to increasing human flourishing.
Connecting Cross-Border Payments to Friends and Family, No Matter the Distance
Essentially Cointext users can send any amount of BCH to a mobile phone in 42 countries by text message. If an individual wants to utilize the Cointext and Anypay remittance solution, all they would have to do is visit an Anypay.global merchant and request a specific amount of cash. Then the merchant can generate an Anypay invoice which will contain a five-digit short code specifically designed for Cointext users. After that, when the shopkeeper’s invoice is paid by the person sending funds using Cointext, the vendor can hand the cash to the recipient. Anypay cofounder Steven Zeiler said that he was thrilled to launch an application that transcends borders for far less than what today’s remittance incumbents charge.
“Anypay connects friends and family no matter the distance,” said Zeiler. “Instantly receive money from anywhere for free — It’s easy.
BCH evangelist ‘Käptn Kook’ published a video that demonstrates just how easy the Cointext and Anypay.global remittance solution can be with a man named Mohammed Mustapha Yakubu who lives in Accra, Ghana. Mohammed’s brother Lamin resides in Heidelberg, Germany and Mohammed requested cash from a local vendor and relayed the shortcode to his brother on a phone call. Lamin simply paid the invoice using the Cointext shortcode and the merchant gave Mohammed the cash in just a few minutes. “What just happened here is Mohammed bought cash in Ghana and he did it by having his friend in Germany send cryptocurrency to the store,” remarked Anypay cofounder Derrick Freeman.
The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community was pleased to hear about the partnership between Anypay and Cointext and the announcement was a top post on the Reddit forum r/btc. A report by the World Bank estimates global remittances are well over half a trillion dollars annually and climbing. Many BCH supporters believe that bitcoin cash can make a significant dent in the $600 billion per year overseas remittance industry. Anypay and Cointext’s solution, alongside the benefits of BCH cross-border transfers, give the end user lower costs and quicker global money payments within minutes.
What do you think about the Cointext and Anypay.global remittance solution? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Anypay.global, Pixabay, and Cointext.
Polish cryptocurrency exchange Coinroom has reportedly shut down its operations and disappeared with customer funds.
Polish cryptocurrency exchange Coinroom has reportedly shut down its operations and disappeared with customer funds, local business news outlet money.pl reported on May 31.
Money.pl received an email from one of its readers, who stated that Coinroom — which was registered in 2016 — ceased operations overnight and disappeared with customers’ money in April. Some users say they had up to 60,000 zloty (around $15,790) in their accounts.
Before ceasing its operations, Coinroom reportedly sent emails to its customers, containing information about contract terminations. Coiroom customers had only one day to withdraw their money, which was in accordance with Coinroom regulations signed by users. However, customers reportedly claim that some of them got only part of the money, while most of them did not receive their funds back at all.
One of the exchange’s customers told money.pl that he had lost 2.005 bitcoins (BTC) (nearly $15,000 at press time). Another user stated that “on the second day after sending the e-mail I went to the Coinroom headquarters. The lady at the reception did not want to let me in, she claimed that nobody was in the office. Instead, she called someone from the company. I was asked to leave my details. Nobody contacted me.”
Spokesman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw, Łukasz Łapczyński revealed that the office had initiated proceedings against Coinroom in connection with unauthorized activities providing payment services that intermediates in the exchange of cryptocurrencies. The office is also reportedly identifying other possible victims.
CoinMarketCap’s cryptocurrency exchange index shows that Coinroom has terminated its activities. The firm’s Twitter page has also seemingly been deleted.
As reported in mid-May, blockchain startups RepuX and JoyToken reportedly pulled a joint initial coin offering (ICO) exit scam. The companies reportedly ran their ICO promotions during March and April of 2018, and got away with $4.7 million and $3.3 million, respectively.