CEO of BBVA Bank: Blockchain ‘Is Immature and Has Major Challenges’

The CEO of Spain’s second largest bank said that blockchain is still an immature technology, but that once it has developed, it will be crucial to their business.

Carlos Torres, CEO of Spanish bank BBVA, said blockchain technology is “not mature” and faces major challenges, el Economista reported June 18.

Torres expressed his concerns about blockchain’s current limitations at an event organized by the Spanish Association for Economic Journalism which focused on the prospects of the technology.

According to Torres, the main challenges for blockchain are the “volatility of underlying currencies” and possible compatibility issues with tax authorities and financial regulators.

Despite its contemporary challenges, Torres said that the advantages of blockchain technology are so important to their business, that “when it is mature and regulators are ready,” BBVA wants to have the tools necessary to apply the technology to relevant use cases, such as syndicated loans.

Torres added that, given blockchain’s potential, there should be adequate, unrestricted, but supervised spaces for developing the technology.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) is a northern Spanish bank founded in Bilbao in the late 19th century. According to an Economipedia report, BBVA was Spain’s second largest bank by assets and capitalization in 2017.

In April, BBVA became the first global bank to issue a loan using blockchain technology. BBVA conducted the entire process of a €75 million loan, from the negotiation of terms to signing, on a distributed ledger.  

Issuing the loan using blockchain technology reportedly cut the time needed to complete the process from “days to hours.” At the time, Torres said that the bank had “several more transactions in the immediate pipeline,” and that BBVA would be launching a pilot program with Spanish telecoms firm Indra. Indra has described itself as “at the vanguard” of blockchain applications.

John McAfee Will No Longer Promote ICOs, Cites ‘SEC Threats’

John McAfee said that he is no longer promoting ICOs due to “SEC threats.”

Anti-virus pioneer and crypto evangelist John McAfee tweeted that he will no longer work with initial coin offerings (ICOs) or promote them due to “threats” from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC declined to comment on his statement.

In April, McAfee revealed that he charges $105,000 per tweet to promote cryptocurrency projects and products. McAfee claimed that if you divided the cost by his total number of Twitter followers, the “cost per investor reached” is only $0.13, to which he added, “This is orders of magnitude less than any other approach.”

In January, Cointelegraph asked McAfee in an interview whether anyone had tried to pay him for promoting a project or product, and if so, which projects. McAfee replied:

“I would say definitely they tried to pay me. I’m not going to talk about my personal finances where I make my money or from who. I set up on stage as it’s my business and it should be everybody’s business. And actually, I think it’s rude to even ask such questions of people. No offense.”

When asked whether he felt responsible for the pump-and-dump schemes that sometimes follow his endorsement, he said, “Absolutely not.”

Last month, McAfee announced plans to release his own “fiat” currency backed by cryptocurrency, which will be redeemable for face time with him. He said that the  McAfee Promissory Note will be connected to a blockchain by tokens and can be redeemed for up to 100 minutes of personal time with him at a location anywhere in the world.

The crypto advocate also hit headlines earlier this month when he announced a 2020 presidential bid as a way to serve the crypto community. McAfee then tweeted about the run, noting that although he doesn’t think he actually has a “chance of winning,” the bid will give him a platform to tell the “truth.”

Last month, the SEC launched a fake ICO website to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs and to promote investor education. The website includes such details as a misleading and blurry white paper, guaranteed returns claims, celebrity endorsements, and a countdown clock that is “quickly running out on the deal of a lifetime.”

In April, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson criticized ICOs, stating that the crypto space “has been full of troubling developments that we’ve seen at the SEC, and especially the ICO space.”

Ruian PD Dismantles Illegal Siacoin Mining Gang

The RuiAn Police Department in China recently dismantled a gang of hackers who were installing malware on the victims’ computers, using their resources to mine Siacoin (SC).

The information was covered by the Hz News newspaper, which mentioned some important numbers to understand the magnitude of this criminal operation.

Siacoin: The cryptocurrency mined by the Cyber-criminals

According to the original news, RuiAn police were able to identify 16 members of this operation. They have already infected thousands of computers in more than 30 cities across the country. making an estimated profit of at least RMB 5.1 million, which would be equivalent to almost RMB 1 million in a matter of months.

Mr Liu, a cybercafé owner who spoke to Hz News, said concerns arose when they noticed a significant drop in computer performance and an increase in electricity bills.

Seeing that the problem was common among other similar stores, the concerns turned into suspicion, prompting several business owners to file a collective complaint with the police:

“With so many computers collectively poisoning, and every month’s electricity bills escalating, this business simply cannot be done.” Seeing customers constantly losing, Mr. Liu and other Internet cafe owners have complained. On August 1 last year, many Internet cafe owners reported to the Ruian police collectively.”

The Internet Police Brigade of RuiAn City’s Public Security Bureau took the case and finally identified a hidden malware installed on the computers. This malware run once the computer is turned on and used its resources to mine Siacoin.

Unlike other similar malwares, such as those used to mine Monero (XMR), this program did not run in a camouflaged manner; on the contrary, it used as many resources as possible to mine, which made the users quickly suspicious.Police investigations are still in full swing, but they have been able to decipher the criminal group’s M.O. behind these computer attacks.

RuiAn City
RuiAn City

The leader of the organization (Liu) worked as a technical service and was the one who designed the malware, however, the work of iinstalling the program on the computers was carried out by his accomplices, who were employees of the establishments pointed to be attacked. The names of the identified subjects are Zhou and Xiong.

After the virus was introduced, the profits from the mining were distributed among the members of the criminal organization. A total of about $1 million is estimated to be the result of illegal Siacoin mining.

During the investigation, RuiAn police identified other members of the criminal organization in Yunnan, Hunan, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Zhejiang and other places. The number of people captured so far is 12 who were sentenced to prosecutions on charges of illegal control of computer information systems, crimes of tools and the illegal control of computer information systems.

The investigation is still ongoing, so it is hoped that the number of detainees may increase. The number of affected computers has not been 100% identified although the band is already inoperative due to the efforts of the police.

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Cobra Calls for a Change in Bitcoin (BTC) PoW to Fight Centralization

The enigmatic and famous Cobra, co-owner of Bitcoin.org and bitcointalk.org, again sparked controversy in the crypto community by publishing a series of tweets questioning the current situation of Bitcoin (BTC).

According to Cobra, one of the main problems with Bitcoin’s blockchain is the fact that it has such centralized mining power.

According to his opinion, a coordinated strike by three mining pools would be enough to successfully carry out a 51% attack on the Bitcoin network.

Cobra: Security is More Important than Profitability

Cobra is one of the main characters warning of the possible dangers of maintaining the current design of Bitcoin’s consensus algorithm (BTC). In February 2018, he had already made specific considerations in an open letter.

For Cobra, the level of centralization and control over the Bitcoin network is essentially a monopoly. He mentioned Bitmain as the villain of the film, not only because of the mining power but also because of other factors such as support for altcoin Bitcoin Cash or the possibility of being controlled by China:

“People talk about “new entrants” to the mining scene, but it’s almost impossible for anyone to catch up to the total domination of the mining space by BITMAIN. They are light years ahead.

The hashrate has already been abused to give political support to reckless and dangerous hard fork attempts. They have questionable allegiance to Bitcoin at best, seeming more interested in supporting Bitcoin Cash, undermining the very network that employs them.”

With this in mind, Cobra called on the community to change the mining algorithm – which he believes is the root cause of all Bitcoin’s problems – in order to get rid of miners and solve the situation that threatens the Bitcoin network:

“This mining problem is the root cause of all of Bitcoin’s problems. It’s the miners that have supported every hostile attempt to take over the network. It’s the miners who block new features for their strange political agenda … We need to get rid of them while we still can, they’re no longer a useful part of our community. Hard forks are scary, but let’s not be afraid to try at least to build consensus when we can all see the problem right in front of us.”

A Personal War?

To emphasize his toughts, Cobra wrote that Bitmain could entirely control the Bitcoin network (BTC) by having a stake in the Bitcoin.com, AntPool and ViaBTC pools. He questioned Bitmain’s claims that they do not control most of the hashing power.

Does Bitcoin really need another fork?

More than competing against Bitmain, Cobra called for changing the mining algorithm, thus avoiding a repetition of the problem. For him, Bitmain’s power is hard to fight against:

Cobra’s opinions generated diverse responses and reactions. bch-oriented websites and pro-bitmain forums quickly hastened to discredit him while the community proceeded to comment, posting tweets of support and criticism almost equally.

The main argument against Cobra’s statements is that Pools are a group of people and not just a central entity. The main argument in supporting him is precisely the need for a fork that is hard to achieve because of the big number of users already comfortable with BTC’s PoW.

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Most Millionaires Are Interested In Cryptocurrencies, Survey Finds

A poll conducted by Capgemini found that the majority of millionaires are very or somewhat interested in holding cryptocurrencies as an investment and as a store of value. While most wealth management firms have been ambivalent regarding providing virtual currency investment information to clients, over two-thirds of high-net-worth individuals aged 40 and below would find it valuable.

Poll Says 55.9% of Millionaires Consider Investing In Cryptocurrencies

Capgemini, a leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing services based in France, released The World Wealth Report 2018 (WWR) on Tuesday. The document states that high-net-worth individuals’ wealth – defined as those having investable assets of US$1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables – has surpassed the US$70 trillion threshold for the first time ever in 2017.

The survey, which was based on responses from more than 2,600 HNWIs across 19 major wealth markets in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, found that millionaires have grown their interest in cryptocurrencies but remain cautious regarding the asset that peaked in market capitalization in early January 2018.

The poll found that 29 percent of participants have a high degree of interest, while 26.9 percent said they are somewhat interested in cryptocurrencies for its potential for investment returns and as a store of value. There is a negative correlation between their age and their interest in virtual currencies, with 71.1 percent of HNWIs aged 40 and below placing high importance on receiving information from their wealth managers. Only 13 percent of millionaires aged 60 and above have that kind of interest.

Most wealth management firms, however, have yet to onboard the cryptocurrency investment train as only 34.6 percent of the high-net-worth individuals surveyed have received information on the topic from their wealth managers. The report point to regulatory uncertainty and firm caution as the main causes of cryptocurrencies’ lack of penetration within the wealth management industry. Younger millionaires and their growing cryptocurrency enthusiasm, however, may force wealth managers to at least develop and offer analysis on the topic in the coming months.

The buy-side business seems to be failing to connect “very well” to its clients on Capgemini standards. The French consulting group draws the line at 70 percent, but approximately 56 percent of millionaires feel connected to their wealth managers that much.

Many wealth management firms have been progressively entering the cryptocurrency game and financial institution ratings agency Weiss Ratings has become the first to publish cryptocurrency ratings, with grades ranging from A to F. The highest rated digital assets include Ethereum and EOS with a B, while Bitcoin obtained a C+.

 

 

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Ethereum (ETH) For Tracking Ad Data by Global Leading Brewer

Ethereum Future Tech

Using blockchain tech, world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to revolutionize the digital advertising supply chain and how we know it.

Ethereum (ETH) on It Again

Via Kiip mobile market app that uses Ethereum’s platform to track information, AB InBev has commenced its first blockchain based ad campaign. Based on what was released on the post, for now the target is to monitor the data, while thinking about to expand the reach of a specific ad.

“We’re building a company to last for the next 100 plus years and that can only be done by disrupting existing paradigms through innovation and putting consumers at the heart of everything we do,” said Lucas Herscovici, AB InBev’s Global Marketing Vice President of Consumer Connections, Insights and Innovation. “As the world’s largest brewer and brand builders, we take our responsibility for the stewardship of the category seriously through our approach to advertising and the ways we create meaningful experiences for consumers with our brand content. This campaign will increase transparency in programmatic ad buying and support the ways our brands earn consumers attention.”

The project has launched two weeks ago, which ad-highlighted five of the brewer’s most popular brands: Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Estrellas and Limeatrita.

The product that Kiip is delivering, aims to enhance transparency and offers solutions to issues like mobile ad fraud by keeping the campaign database available to all players in mobile ad sales.

Different metrics – including impressions, engagement and price – are encoded on the ethereum blockchain, and AB InBev can track these ad activities every hour.

Despite that there are tons of other platforms in the market, like: NEO, LISK, QTUM or EOS, CyClean, similar to AB – InBev, chose Ethereum as its ground floor for further development. With that move done, the two are working very well together.

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Blockchain Platform to Challenge App Stores With ‘Borderless Payments’

A blockchain network plans to aggregate hundreds of payment methods, connecting businesses with unbanked consumers in emerging markets.

A new platform is going to allow anyone to establish their own eCommerce content store and receive payments from anywhere in the world – reducing costs for their consumers and opening the door to fast-growing emerging markets. The platform would allow service providers and other entreprises to build up applications or services on it’s blockchain.

Bezant claims that many small businesses and individuals are missing out on opportunities to thrive because they cannot accept alternative payment methods. Credit cards and bank transfers are the most commonly used and accepted means of payment worldwide, but unbanked consumers without access to these services are left isolated. This means businesses are missing out on large numbers of potential clients who have money to spend.

The company says its “dynamic” blockchain-based system will help services with significant numbers of users and subscribers – such as social networks, game developers and video streaming sites – benefit from an “end-to-end distribution and payment platform” where transaction fees are greatly reduced.

According to Bezant’s white paper, major players in the global market such as Apple’s App Store are putting small providers at a disadvantage. Its research claims 94 percent of total revenues on the platform are dominated by just one percent of content developers. Many fledgling providers are left with less than 50 percent of their net revenues once marketing fees and Apple’s commissions have been deducted – and on top of this, “unfair policies” mean it can take weeks until this payment reaches their account.

The company cites research from Statista which values the digital payments industry at $3.6 trln this year – and projected to grow at a compound rate of 13.5 percent each year until 2022. The proportion of transactions completed on smartphones is also increasing, and Bezant intends to ensure all of these payments can be “borderless.”

“Instantaneous, exchangeable, global, convenient”

Bezant’s blockchain service platform will be made available to merchants and consumers worldwide through the Jehmi Payment Network – described as a network where “hundreds of payment methods” are aggregated in one place. It believes this solution will transcend limitations found in emerging markets and empower sellers with the tools they need to maximize revenues.

As well as cash payments, bank transfers, prepaid cards and billing through SMS, Jehmi will also accept Bezant tokens, the platform’s own cryptocurrency. The company believes its blockchain will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 transactions per second – more than double the number of all paid apps sold globally in 2017. Shoppers will not be charged transfer fees when they use Bezant tokens, a gesture which the company hopes will incentivize adoption.

The company says using Jehmi “enables local payments on a global scale,” as both digital and physical goods can be purchased using the fiat currencies of emerging markets. A hard wallet feature will also ensure that Bezant tokens can be stored safely offline.

Bezant also hopes to challenge major app stores through the Jehmi Content Platform, where content providers, end users and distribution partners will enjoy a “better ecosystem” for delivering digital content.

The year ahead

Most of the company’s staff are focused on development in its studio in Seoul, South Korea – a country which is a hotbed of activity for cryptocurrencies. Recent research reported by Cointelegraph shows 21.6 percent of respondents in the country are aware of digital currencies – and almost a quarter of survey participants in their twenties are eager to invest.

Bezant’s chief cryptocurrency officer is Dae-sik Kim, the founder and former CEO of Bithumb – one of the world’s largest exchanges in terms of daily trading volume.

Bezant’s token sale is now underway. The company said that it reached its pre-sale target of $16.8 mln an hour after the token sale opened and had received $126 mln by the time it concluded. A pre-sale bonus round of $4 mln was concluded in under five minutes.

 

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.

IBM Launches Blockchain-Powered Media Transactions Tracker to Prevent Advertising Fraud

Digital giant IBM introduces a blockchain-based pilot for tracking digital media transactions to “clean things up” in ad industry.

IBM iX has partnered with software supplier Mediaocean to launch a blockchain-powered tracker for digital media transactions, the company tweeted June 19. IBM iX is the business and tech consulting wing of international technology giant IBM.

According to IBM iX, the main purpose for applying blockchain in the media ecosystem is to “clean things up” in the media buying industry.  

The tracker will ostensibly address digital ad fraud by preventing payments from going to the wrong parties. Partner in global marketing at IBM iX Babs Rangaiah said that the blockchain pilot will help track the flow of money among media players and cut out unnecessary middlemen:

“Once you identify where the money is going, who the players are and what each of them are doing, I think you’ll see some redundancies in the supply chain that will allow some of that production money now going to the middle players to come back and hit the publishers.”

In addition to providing transparency in the industry, the pilot also aims to reduce the time and cost of media transactions. The pilot will involve media deals for Unilever, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Pfizer, Kellogg, and Watson. According to Mediaocean CEO Bill Wise, the pilot will be fully applied by the “majority” of the digital media industry by the end 2019:

“I think by the end of next year we will have a fully functioning scalable solution that will be adopted by the majority of the industry.”

In April, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer reported that around 20-30 percent of advertising budgets are wasted in the media supply chain due to “lack of viewability, non-transparent contracts, non-transparent measurement of inputs, fraud, and now even your ads showing up in unsafe places.” According to estimates from Juniper Research, fraud will cost digital advertisers $52 million per day in 2018.

The recent project is not the first initiative by IBM to integrate blockchain technology into the advertising industry. On April 18, IBM announced a pilot of a proof-of-concept (PoC) blockchain product to “short-circuit intermediaries” between advertisers, publishers, and consumers as well as to provide clear records of contracts and publisher payments.

Two of Russia’s Largest Banks to Offer Crypto Trading in Six Top Coins

Two of Russia’s largest banks, Alfa Bank and Sberbank, will soon be offering clients access to cryptocurrency portfolios that will permit the trading of six popular coins on major exchanges Kraken and Bitstamp.

Crypto Trading Portfolio

Alfa Bank is the largest private bank in Russia, while Sberbank is state-owned and is responsible for processing government employee pay checks.

According to reports from Russian news outlet Kommersant, the two banks plan to enter crypto trading by seeking help from Group IB and AddCapital investment fund, which will be in charge of providing technical solutions for the project. Also aiding in the development is the National Settlement Depository (part of the Moscow Exchange Group), which will be the portfolio’s custodian. 

Anton Rakhmanov, manager of Alfa Bank’s private banking branch said that he hopes the move will ‘speed-up the recognition of the digital assets as legitimate financial assets as soon as possible.’

The portfolio will include the six most popular cryptocurrencies. As per CoinMarketCap, these are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, and Litecoin. When operational, the portfolio will be altered at least four times in a given year when a trading algorithm will alter the combination of coins offered as necessary.

Alexey Prokofyev, CEO of AddCapital, provided further details:

“The investment process will see investors purchase a share of the fund as the shares are liquid and a client can send them for fiat currencies any time.”

Ana Ivanchuk, Deputy Chairman of Private Banking at Sberbank, was quoted as saying:

“We’d like to offer our clients an absolutely transparent way to invest in digital assets with a full compliance with regulations that will let them invest in the product they are interested in Russia.”

Russian Crypto Regulation

Late last week, also according to Kommersant, Russia’s head of the State Duma Financial Market Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, noted there would soon be some significant changes made to a set of draft laws intended to regulate cryptocurrency in the country.

“Three draft laws are currently being prepared for consideration in the State Duma: ‘On Digital Financial Assets’ (CFA), ‘On Crowd Funding’ (in terms of issue and circulation of tokens), as well as a package of amendments to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation,” Aksakov said.

The changes will mean that usual terms like ‘digital currency’ and ‘digital money’ will be replaced with the term ‘digital rights’ in any legal documents that deal with cryptocurrency regulations.

Additionally, Aksakov clarified that these “digital rights” will not be considered property, as they were previously defined by the Russian Ministry of Justice. It is also possible that “investment platform” and “token exchange operator” will be fused under a single term.

According to the report, the revised bills are expected to be adopted before the first of July. If the laws are adopted, Aksakov said Russia ‘will need to change something in the Tax Code to describe how digital rights will be taken into account for tax purposes.’

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Cointelegraph Launches Aggregator Platform for DApp Discovery, Analysis

Cointelegraph launches decentralized application aggregator and rankings at dapphub.cointelegraph.com.

Tuesday, June 19, Cointelegraph is announcing the launch of an aggregator for decentralized applications (DApps), DApphub, for easy discovery and analysis of the growing number of DApps in existence.

Cointelegraph’s DApphub allows crypto enthusiasts to view information about each DApp in one place, including a description, specifics about current status, developers, and popularity.

DApphub’s listings can be arranged according to various criteria, including their Ethereum (ETH) balance and number of users, to determine a given DApp’s popularity.

Any DApphub user can also submit a DApp to potentially be listed by filling out a submission form on the DApphub page.

DAPPHUB