Binance and Cred Partner to Bring Decentralized Financial Services and LBA to Binance Chain 5005

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume and developer of proprietary blockchain Binance Chain, and Cred, the leading platform for crypto lending and borrowing, today announced an agreement to work together to spur the decentralization of finance. As part of the agreement, Cred will migrate a portion of its ERC20 LBA tokens to Binance Chain and will become the official lending and borrowing platform for the DeFi ecosystem. As both an investor and partner in Cred, Binance will also look for opportunities to leverage and support Cred’s industry-leading services within the Binance ecosystem.

“We are delighted to be working with Cred to help scale their efforts to more markets and users around the world through the power of the Binance Chain, which has a one-second block time and will ensure transactions and interactions by Cred’s users will be fast, efficient and effortless,” said Ted Lin, Chief Growth Officer of Binance.

Cred is a licensed lender, based in California and has secured over $300 million in lending capital. Cred enables crypto wallet providers, custodians, exchanges and crypto application providers the ability to offer some of the most competitive lending and borrowing rates in the industry. This year, Cred has announced partnerships with several influential organizations and custodians in the crypto community. Cred LBA holders will be able to commit their crypto to a fixed term and have the option to rollover assets for additional periods. Customers receive the best rates when staking Cred’s LBA token. No account minimum is needed and interest is paid out in Stablecoin. The principal is paid back in the crypto amounts that were initially received.

“Binance has been a strong partner and investor from Cred’s inception and we are very happy to support Binance Chain and continue to collaborate with Binance to bring decentralized finance to everyone in a sustainable way,” said Dan Schatt, Co-Founder of Cred. “We look forward to continuing the Cred-Binance partnership.”

Cred is backed by some of the largest investors in crypto and tech including Binance Labs, 500 Startups, Arrington XRP Capital, Blocktower and FBG Capital. Cred is also a founding member of the Universal Protocol Alliance, a board member of the Blockchain Advocacy Coalition.

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Former HSBC & Barclays Hacker to Demo Crypto Security Flaws at SXSW ‘19 3536

A former “ethical hacker” with a number of high-profile institutions plans to host a blockchain security demonstration live at South By South West (SXSW) 2019. According to a press release, Rob Pope, currently of Dogtown Media and formerly a security specialist with HSBC and Barclays, will present on the weaknesses of various encrypted systems associated with crypto.

Along with a live hacking demonstration, the presentation will aim to give the average crypto user tips on how to adequately secure their own digital asset holdings.

Crypto is Secure but Can’t Account for Human Error

The presentation will be titled, “Crypto Crime: How to Steal Cryptocurrency.” It will take place at South By South West (SXSW) 2019, one of the planet’s largest conferences and festivals of film, music, and tech. The event is being held in Austin, Texas between March 8 and 17.

Presenting the demonstration will be Rob Pope, the co-founder of Dogtown Media, a mobile technology company based in Venice Beach, California and boasting an impressive roster of clients – Google, YouTube, Lexus, RedBull, and Citi Bank, to name but a few. Previously, Pope has worked as an “ethical hacker” for Barclays, HSBC, and the London Metropolitan Police Department.

According to the press release, Pope will demonstrate:

“… why cryptocurrency is not as secure as the general public believes.”

Much of the rest of the release details various high-profile exchange hacks. It also highlights the total cost of such cyber criminal acts in recent years.

Although the precise content of the presentation remains to be seen, the wording of the press release implies that the $1.7 billion in stolen cryptocurrency reported last year was down to flaws in the blockchains and encryption methods used when building the cryptocurrencies themselves. Whilst it is true that certain cryptocurrencies have indeed been maliciously comprised previously, there has never been a reported incident of a private key being “hacked” in the purest sense.

Hackers reportedly stole $1.7 billion in crypto during 2018.

Cryptocurrencies are incredibly secure. Unfortunately, humans are often not. If the kind of security vulnerabilities hinted at in the SXSW press release were associated with any of the leading cryptos, there would be no conversation to be had about their security since the entire premise of crypto would have already failed. Hackers prey on human vulnerabilities much more successfully than they do on flaws in now-seriously-battled-tested code, as is the case with Bitcoin.

To illustrate this argue with an incredibly basic example: if you locked your car and left the keys on its roof overnight, can you really blame its security system when you wake up without a car?

Based on these facts, it seems more likely that Pope’s demonstration will be much more about how more traditional hacking tools like key loggers, as well as more modern attacks such as those used in the recent CookieMiner effort to compromise Mac users’ exchange accounts, are being used against crypto holders.

As mentioned, Pope’s presentation will also highlight ways in which users can improve their own security when using digital assets. Such education is crucial if the kind of universal monetary sovereignty promoted by Bitcoin is to one day be achieved.

Data Suggests That the US and China are Caught in a Blockchain Arms Race 3299

Much to the ire of cryptocurrency advocates, the general public tends to conflate blockchain – which is the tech underlying cryptocurrencies – and the digital assets themselves. Despite their strong connections, the two technologies are separate in many ways, and many analysts believe that as the general public becomes more interested in blockchain, they will eventually grow more comfortable with blockchain-powered digital currencies.

Now, data composed by The Next Web that was ascertained from Glassdoor signals that the United States currently has an edge over China with regards to blockchain-related job growth as the two countries engage in a quasi-blockchain employment arms race.

The Blockchain Job Market is Booming

In late-2017 and early-2018 blockchain became a piping hot hype word that was widely associated with cryptocurrencies – which at the time were experiencing massive, albeit unsustainable, growth.

Although the hype surrounding crypto has faltered as the ongoing bear market persists, job growth relating to the blockchain industry is on the up-and-up, and recent data signals that some major US-based companies are leading the hiring charge.

According to the data set, out of the 5,711 blockchain jobs being advertised on Glassdoor globally, employers in the United States account for half of all those jobs, followed by the UK, and then India.

Of the employers that account for the majority of these job openings, IBM takes the cake, as the tech-giant currently has nearly 110 open job positions for people familiar with the relatively new technology.

Other notable companies with an abundance of blockchain-related job openings are Ernst & Young, Oracle, Deloit, and PWC.

Interestingly, of the top ten companies with an abundance of job openings, only three are directly related to cryptocurrencies, with Foris Limited coming in at number four, Crypto.com at number nine, and Wirex at number ten.

China Could be the United States’ Main Blockchain Competitor, Despite Data

Although the Glassdoor data places China quite far down on the list of countries with large blockchain-related job offerings, The Next Web importantly notes that because Glassdoor is a US-based, English-centric, site, the results may be skewed.

A report from PWC UK in late-August of 2018 explained that China is only a hair behind the US when it comes to development of the nascent tech, and that the rapidly growing country is widely expected to overtake the US when it comes to development in the next three to five years.

As the digital ledger technology industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds every month, it is likely that the technology’s inexorable ties to cryptocurrency will ultimately lead some of this development to spill into the crypto industry.

Fidelity Bitcoin Custody Launched, Is This The End of Personal Integrity? 3050

There is much talk of 2019 being the year that institutional money comes. And with the recent update by Fidelity on its Bitcoin custodial service, there is renewed hope for an end to the bear market. However, by welcoming this news, does that mean we have collectively abandoned our principles?

While the goal of institutional investing is to make money on behalf of members, this cannot be at the expense of diligence. Concerns over excessive volatility, uncertain regulatory framework, and technical barriers present something of a problem. But despite this, further developments in this space suggest that institutions are coming.

Fidelity Acknowledges Blockchain’s Potential

Back in May 2017, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson delivered a keynote speech discussing the problems of working with blockchain technology. She explained that challenges related to scalability, regulation, and governance needed to be addressed.

And while it lacked specifics, the acknowledge of blockchain’s potential to revolutionize investing was there.

Since then, the past few weeks has seen news filtering out regarding developments at Fidelity. They had previously announced their intent to build institutional-grade infrastructure for securing, trading and supporting digital assets. And yesterday they confirmed initial testing of a final product.

In an update, they go on to say:

“Our initial clients are an important part of our final testing and process refinement periods, which will eventually enable us to provide these services to a broader set of eligible institutions.”

The Bitcoin Paradox

Most see this as a positive move, but the arrival of institutional money once again brings to light fractures within the community. While Fidelity’s clout is expected to help legitimize crypto and bring benefits to retail investors through increased volume and stability, one cannot ignore the fundamental philosophies that spawned blockchain in the first place.

This split in opinion is firmly down to individual expectations. On the one hand, those who expect to get wealthy from crypto investing would see this as a natural development of the space. But idealists would sooner build a more equitable economic system to which corporate interest has no part. On that note, the acceptance of institutional money flies in the face of Nakamoto’s vision of a decentralized and trustless mechanism.

Nik Bhatia agrees with this. He has openly criticized institutional interest by saying:

“Bitcoin does not need Fidelity to become legitimate; rather Fidelity launched bitcoin custodial services because bitcoin has already achieved legitimacy.”

And therein lies the paradox to Bitcoin. While blockchain enthusiasts, who believe in personal sovereignty, want mass adoption. This can never happen without the involvement of centralized authorities. With that in mind, you may ask yourself whether the acceptance of institutional money is, in fact, a selling out of one’s principles.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Arrives Sans Bitcoin, Only Ethereum is Supported 3173

The internet was set ablaze when rumors began circulating that Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10, may potentially support cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum via a Blockchain Keystore application.

Samsung’s reveal event confirmed the existence of the Blockchain Keystore app that serves as a crypto wallet for top cryptocurrencies, however, the most important cryptocurrency of all won’t be supported at launch, according to initial reports from unboxing videos from around the web.

Samsung Blockchain Keystore Neglects Bitcoin, Ethereum Support Ready at Launch

The Samsung Galaxy S10 doesn’t officially drop for two more days on March 8, 2019, but some lucky smartphone enthusiasts have already gotten their hands on the final retail version of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone. Those with early access to the Galaxy S10 have uploaded unboxing videos to demonstrate the phone’s key features – one of which is a new crypto wallet called Blockchain Keystore.

One particular video demonstration reveals that the Samsung Galaxy S10 will launch without supporting Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency by market cap and undoubtedly the most important asset in the crypto space. The app, however, does support Ethereum out of the box.

It’s not known at this time if ERC-20 tokens are further supported using the Ethereum wallet address. Many other crypto wallets prioritize Ethereum due to the same wallet address being used to receive Ether (ETH) in addition to a variety of ERC-20 tokens such as Basic Attention Token (BAT), 0x (ZRX), Maker (MKR), and hundreds more.

However, the absence of Bitcoin is a glaring omission, as Bitcoin has the highest market cap out of any cryptocurrencies, has the most regulatory support, and the highest transaction volume. It’s also the face of cryptocurrency in the public’s eye.

Bitcoin may eventually make its way onto the Samsung Galaxy S10’s Blockchain Keystore app via updates, and it may happen sooner than later. It’s not uncommon for smartphone manufacturers to debut their products on the same day a major software update is released. However, given the limited interest in cryptocurrencies by the general public, Samsung may not view further developing the app as a priority.

Are Blockchain And Crypto Wallets The Next Big Trend in Smartphones?

Blockchain-based smartphones that come equipped with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet is a growing trend in the space, as smartphone manufacturers seek to find a differentiating selling point amongst the sea of similarly functioning smartphones.

In addition to the Samsung flagship, the HTC Exodus has blockchain-based features that are separated from the Android operating system, while the newcomer Sirin Labs has recently released the blockchain-based FINNY smartphone, and Pundi X is preparing the XPhone for a Q2 2019 launch. It’s expected that as cryptocurrency adoption grows, other companies will follow suit, including Apple who has dominated the smartphone market since its inception.

From Retailers to Major Banks, How the Crypto Sector of Japan is Exponentially Growing 3942

In a recent development in Japan’s crypto industry, Mizuho Financial Group announced that it would launch its digital currency on March 1.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the 1.8-trillion megabank’s digital currency service would allow users to exchange their yens for a cryptocurrency called J-Coin through an app of the same name. The experience will be similar to other payment applications: users would scan a QR code through the app and transfer money to the intended receivers.

At the same time, the best thing J-Coin app would offer will be a ‘zero transaction fee’ structure. Merchants will not be required to pay a transaction fee when transferring money from J-Coin wallet to their bank accounts. In comparison, traditional payment apps charge 3-to-5% processing fee on each transaction. That is where J-Coin’s crypto innovation is proving useful for users.

Credit Goes to Friendly Crypto Regulations

Mizuho’s move follows years of regulatory development inside the Japanese cryptocurrency industry. Three years after the Mt. Gox incident, the country brought cryptocurrencies like bitcoin under their Payment Service Act, giving them the status of money. It subsequently offered clear tax guidelines for crypto investors. In contrast, western countries were slower than Japan while developing a robust legal framework for cryptocurrencies.

Japanese regulator Financial Services Agency (FSA) also granted crypto industry to form an independent self-regulatory body to formulate rules and regulations. Dubbed as the Japanese Virtual Currency Association, the body enabled the crypto industry to remain flexible and adhere to Japanese laws without trampling innovation surrounding crypto assets.

Such initiatives enabled the FSA to study various aspects of the cryptocurrency industry deeply. The agency is now seeking to force ICOs into registrations before they raise funds – much like their counterparts in the US and Europe. It is also imposing strong KYC/AML compliance, in addition to limiting the amount of leveraged trading and enforcing advertising restrictions.

The reformist moves allowed the Japanese crypto industry to flourish amidst minimum risks. FSA recognized that over 200 companies were seeking regulatory approval at the end of 2018. Coinbase, a US-based crypto exchange, is awaiting approval from the FSA to operate within Japan. Huobi, another crypto exchanged, purchased a Japanese company to expand its operations in the region. In a similar move, Yahoo Japan acquired BitARG crypto exchange to launch its crypto services in Japan.

Merchant Adoption

Japan’s service industry also explored cryptocurrencies in the wake of friendly regulations. Bic Camera, the region’s biggest electronics retailer, announced in June 2018 that it would accept bitcoins as payments.

Rakuten, Japan’s biggest e-commerce store, not only planned to integrate a crypto payment option but also announced that it would acquire a local bitcoin exchange for $2.4 million.

Regardless of being primarily a cash-based nation, Japan is looking to jump two-steps ahead of other countries: a direct switch from cash to digital currency. The entrance of larger institutions like Mizuho certainly validates the potential demand for cryptocurrencies in the region. It would make Japan a frontrunner in crypto adoption as far as 2019 is concerned.

London Stock Exchange Invests $20 Million in Crypto Bond, Rapid Institutional Adoption 3589

The London Stock Exchange (LSEG) has led a $20 million funding round for London-based Nivura, a blockchain startup primarily known for issuing the world’s first automated crypto bond.

Nivaura is a digital platform which utilizes the blockchain technology to automate the issuance of bonds, derivatives, and equities.   The process eliminates the need for human involvement; it leads to speedy administration and settlement using digital tokens, value-enabled assets that are issued on blockchain ledger, the technology which supports Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Nikhil Rathi, the head of international development at LSEG, said that buying small stakes in Nivaura was their way to leverage blockchain technology. Rathi indicated that they would be able to issue digitized financial instruments on blockchain using Nivaura’s settlement solutions.

“The investment strengthens our existing relationship with Nivaura and underlines the Group’s partnership approach in innovating to support our clients in accessing global investment pools,” Rathi added.

The $20 million funding round by LSEG, which also received participation from Santander InnoVentures, Aegon, Transamerica Ventures, Digital Currency Group, and MiddleGame Ventures is the latest attempt to push the ongoing blockchain trend. The mainstream influence indicates that the public ledger technology would prove useful when it comes to upending issuance, settlement, and trade in the global financial sector.

Crypto Regulatory Blockade

In its current state, issuing and settling financial instruments is a costly process. The reason for it is the involvement of one-too-many middlemen. More steps lead to more delays, and more delays lead to more costs. With blockchain, authorities can easily automate the entire process via tokenization. The integration could save up to 80 percent in time and money, according to Nivaura.

At the same time, the startup recognized the regulatory blockades that could come before while issuing tokenized financial instruments.

“We re-engineered some of our key workflows to make tokenized instruments compliant under Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR),” said Nivaura CEO Avtar Sehra about the European regulatory reform. “Then it doesn’t matter which blockchain you use – a private or public one – ultimately the token created on that chain will comply under CSDR and can be traded on a regulated trading venue.”

According to reports, a group of CSDRs from Europe and Asia is already exploring custody digital assets to study its potential integration in the traditional financial sector. They would present their findings at the annual SIBOS conference, which will take place in London in October this year.

Blockchain-not-Bitcoin

To be sure, the integration of blockchain into the mainstream does not concern the growth of bitcoin. The digital currency, while on a path of institutional adoption, remains a risky asset for a majority of established financial actors. JP Morgan, for instance, has admitted its negative stance towards bitcoin but has yet launched a digital token based on the technology that powers the cryptocurrency.

Similarly, HSBC explored blockchain to create a payment settlement system that does not use bitcoin. Mizuho, Japan’s megabank, also announced that it was launching J-Coin for cross border settlements and payments over blockchain.