Much Ado, Much To Do – Part 2

This is the second post of three in a series on Ripple’s vision and product strategy. You can read the first here and the final post here.

Our Strategy: Partner and Rebuild

We learned early in our journey that despite what Bitcoin purists will preach, financial institutions aren’t the enemy. Money is a powerful tool — mostly used for constructive purposes — but can be used for harmful, criminal activity. To encourage constructive development and prevent criminal use, governments regulate payments.

Financial institutions have built the systems and teams to legally operate payments businesses.

They’re experts in operating payments businesses.

We don’t see a future without financial institutions.

Starting in the early days, we’ve taken the approach of partnering with financial institutions to rebuild payments infrastructure. They are our customers.

When we say “financial institutions,” we don’t just mean banks. Importantly, our customers are banks and many breeds of payment providers (money transfer operators, payment networks, mobile wallets, etc.).

There are challenges to partnering with financial institutions and rebuilding global payments infrastructure compliantly — it takes time. To solve a problem as big and complex and impactful as the one we’re solving, doing it the right way is worth the time investment!

By partnering with financial institutions (FIs), we attack three root cause issues with cross-border payments:

  • Speed and certainty
  • Liquidity management
  • Connection standardization

We’re working to address these three issues simultaneously.

Strategy One: Solve Speed and Certainty with xCurrent

Today, cross-border payments are slow, opaque and unreliable, in large part due to the fact that FIs can’t easily communicate information about a payment between each other.

xCurrent, software FIs install as part of their core payments processing infrastructure, enables FIs to communicate information about a payment between each other in real-time, and settle the payment instantly. xCurrent doesn’t use XRP as part of the solution. We’ll get to how XRP fits into the ecosystem next.

We first introduced xCurrent in late 2015 and we launched an enterprise-ready version of it in early 2016.

As the most mature in our product suite, it’s gained the most adoption across banks and payment providers. We only sign customers who are serious about using xCurrent commercially. We don’t waste our time on proofs of concept or science experiments at innovation labs.

Customers almost always start with a pilot that tests the software using real funds (duh!), before deploying xCurrent commercially. A commercial deployment means the institution processes their customers’ payments through xCurrent.

One customer describes the implementation process as sensitive as “changing a jet engine in flight” since xCurrent directly integrates with an FI’s core payments processing infrastructure. As you might expect, the process of signing an FI, running a pilot with them, completing a production deployment and then transitioning payments volume from their old system to xCurrent in a careful and measured way takes a matter of months.

SBI Remit and Siam Commercial Bank went live with Ripple-powered remittances last June. Their customers send more payments more frequently now — a strong signal they like the service!

SEB, a large Scandinavian bank, has now processed close to $1 billion in cross-border payments over xCurrent. Feedback has been so positive on speed and reliability, SEB is expanding its offering of Ripple-powered payments to more of its customers.

Considering FIs haven’t changed this infrastructure since the 1970s(!!), we’re incredibly pleased with the rate of adoption and the success these early adopters report back to us.

Continue reading, “Much Ado, Much To Do – Part 3.”

The post Much Ado, Much To Do – Part 2 appeared first on Ripple.

Much Ado, Much to Do – Part 1

This is the first post of three in a series on Ripple’s vision and product strategy. You can read the second here and the final post here.

Though it didn’t happen overnight, we’re living in a new world; blockchain and digital assets went from niche to mainstream in 2017.

Since 2014, Ripple has been focused on building products that solve the gross inefficiencies in cross-border payments. Those products are based on the technology and principles of the XRP Ledger and are built for those responsible for the world’s financial infrastructure — financial institutions.

We’ve focused our communications efforts on that target customer audience with the intended and happy by-product of other interested audiences consuming the Ripple story.

But for years, while we dedicated communication to our institutional customer base, interest and excitement in the promise and potential of blockchain and digital assets exploded. Retail speculation in digital assets took off.

As we saw this phenomenon take place, we came to recognize and embrace the important role that speculative liquidity plays in building payments liquidity. Put simply: Liquidity begets liquidity!

We’ve fielded a lot of questions as of late about our strategy (and how the speculative markets fit into it), and traction (and how real it is). We want to clearly communicate who we are, what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, not just to our institutional customers but all Ripple stakeholders and the XRP ecosystem.

What follows isn’t any different from what we’ve said in the past. Our hope is that this comprehensive, unfiltered view of our strategy and traction will enlighten the conversations currently taking place about Ripple and XRP.

A Vision of Value

Chris Larsen, our co-founder and executive chairman, started talking about his vision for an Internet of Value in 2013 — before anyone had heard of such a thing.

His vision was and remains pretty mind blowing: enable the world to move value like information moves today.

Today, we can stream video from a space station using the internet but we can’t easily move and exchange different forms of value (dollars, euros, bitcoins, loyalty points, gold) around the world because the financial infrastructure uses the equivalent of analog technology.

The Internet of Value is about modernizing financial infrastructure using blockchain technologies and digital assets so that sending money from point A to point B is as fast, easy, transparent, reliable and inexpensive as it is to send a communication from point A to point B.

Frankly, “modernization” undersells the transformative potential of the Internet of Value. The internet as an innovation catalyzed a total revolution in the way the world works. By lowering the barriers to access information, the internet has connected people around the world and spawned new categories and businesses like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba. We see similar promise with the Internet of Value.

Chris articulated a vision sparked by a trio of developers. It’s important to know that the XRP Ledger has always been and will always be an open-source project that exists independently of Ripple, the company. The trio’s goal in developing the XRP Ledger at the time was to build a better Bitcoin — a faster, more scalable, stable, energy-conscious version. As early Bitcoin developers, they saw miners, not developers, reap the rewards of proof-of-work.

So after creating the Ledger and XRP, they decided to gift the majority of XRP to a private company who could use it to recruit full-time developers and business professionals to build an ecosystem around the technology and drive usage. Ripple did not create XRP. Ripple is a steward of XRP and the most interested party in its success.

Where to Start

Chris’ pitch on the Internet of Value is incredibly inspiring. It’s attracted the 200 of us who work at Ripple to leap at the opportunity to join the company and to give Ripple our all day-in and day-out.

But no one company can build the Internet of Value, just as no one company built the internet! (Not even Al Gore.) We decided early on that Ripple’s insertion point in enabling the Internet of Value would be in removing friction from cross-border payments.

It’s an audacious mission. According to McKinsey’s Global Payments report, today the world sends more than $150 trillion across borders. That figure climbs year to year as global commerce grows. And if we harken back to the internet analogy, the internet made information exchange across networks so efficient that the volume of information exchanged skyrocketed. We believe that when we’re successful at making global payments infrastructure hyper-efficient, the volume of cross-border and cross-network transactions will skyrocket. Point being, cross-border payments is a very large and expanding space.

If you’ve ever sent money internationally, you were probably underwhelmed or even very frustrated with your experience. It was probably expensive, slow and a mystery as to when your payment would be delivered. Maybe your institution even lost the payment — that happens surprisingly often. In a day and age where we can order food, rides, movies, groceries with a finger tap and then track order fulfillment and delivery minute-to-minute, global payments fall woefully short of our expectations.

Global payments run on an entrenched, antiquated system in which financial institutions relay payments from one to another, country to country. Like a relay in a foot race, each hand off of the payment from one institution to the next creates risk of delay, failure, miscommunication and cost. It’s why institutions regularly “drop the baton.”

The largest banks in the world sit in the middle of the relay and provide foreign exchange services. Because few banks are big enough to hold liquidity in many currencies in accounts around the world, payments liquidity isn’t very competitive. As a result, smaller financial institutions — banks and payment providers — wind up paying these big banks a premium for their services.

We can do better.

Continue reading, “Much Ado, Much to Do – Part 2”

The post Much Ado, Much to Do – Part 1 appeared first on Ripple.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, IOTA, Litecoin, NEM, Cardano: Price Analysis, Jan. 23

Take a look at what orders to place and what buys to avoid.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of authors/contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

When the markets are bullish, a lot of traders only focus on high target levels. This leads to a left out feeling among the ones who have missed out on the rally, and they rush to buy at elevated levels. This results in a huge loss of capital to the uninformed traders.

The opposite works when the market falls. One starts to hear bearish voices with the analysts forecasting apocalypse and novice traders get scared and dump their holdings. They buy when they should be selling and sell when they should be buying.

Hence, it is always better to take these forecasts with a pinch of salt. We, therefore, avoid giving unrealistic target levels to our readers and try to keep them on the right side of the trade.

BTC/USD

In our previous analysis, we had predicted that Bitcoin would turn down from the $13,202 levels and that is what happened. The cryptocurrency topped out at $12,988.89 on Jan. 20. It is currently retesting the critical support zone of $10,704.99 to $9,300.  

BTC

For the past two days, the bulls are defending the $10,000 levels. If this level holds, we may see another attempt to pull back. The trend will turn positive in the short-term only when the BTC/USD pair breaks out of the down trendline 1.

This trade should be taken with only 50 percent allocation because on the way up, Bitcoin will face resistance at the neckline of the head and shoulders pattern and at the down trendline 2.

On the downside, a break of $10,000 is likely to hurt sentiment, resulting in a decline to $8,000 levels.

ETH/USD

We had forecast a rally to $1174.36, which is the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement level of the recent fall from $1424 to $770 and Ethereum topped out at $1,160 on Jan 20.   

ETH

The price has returned to the trendline support, which has offered strong support since Dec. 10.

The bulls have been attempting to hold the trendline support for the past two days. We believe the support zone between $900 and $845 is likely to be defended strongly by the bulls. The ETH/USD pair will indicate a change in trend only after it breaks out of the down trendline.

If the above-mentioned support zone breaks, the decline can extend to $770 levels. We don’t find any buy setups; hence, we are not suggesting any trade on it.  

BCH/USD

In our previous analysis, we had anticipated Bitcoin Cash to return from the $2,072 levels, and it topped out at $2,112.11 on Jan. 20.

BCH

The moving average has completed a bearish crossover, and the price is quoting below the 20-day EMA and the 50-day SMA; which is advantageous to bears. If the retest of the recent lows at $1364.96 fails, a fall to $1194 is likely.

If the bulls defend the $1364.96 levels, the BCH/USD pair is likely to become range-bound for a few days.

As the trend is still down, we are not suggesting any trade on it.

XRP/USD

Ripple returned from the 20-day EMA on Jan. 18. It currently has support at the $0.87 levels.

XPR

We believe that the XRP/USD pair will become range bound for the next few days between the support of $0.87 and the resistance of $1.74.

We shall wait for a breakout above the overhead resistance to initiate any long positions. On the downside, though we expect the $0.87 to hold, it might be reasonable to wait for a bounce before buying. As the trading inside the range is likely to be volatile, we shall only try to buy closer to the supports.      

IOTA/USD

We had mentioned that $3.032 is the critical level for IOTA and a failure to break out above it will attract another bout of selling and that is what happened.

IOTA

The cryptocurrency is currently attempting to hold the Jan. 16 low of $1.923. If the bears succeed in breaking down this support, a fall to the lows of Dec. 22 of $1.10 is likely.

If the bulls hold the $1.923 levels, the IOTA/USD pair is likely to remain range bound for the next few days. It will become positive only if the price breaks out of the down trendline of the descending triangle.

LTC/USD

Litecoin broke above $205, but could not reach $225, as we had expected. It turned down from $214.48 levels on Jan. 20.

LTC

The bears are trying to break down of the critical support level of $175.19. If successful, a fall to $140 is likely.

In the short-term, the first sign of bullishness will be when the LTC/USD pair breaks out of $215. Currently, we don’t find any trade set up on it.

XEM/USD

On Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, the bulls could not sustain above the downtrend line. As a result, NEM has resumed its decline.

XEM

Currently, the bulls are attempting to hold the $0.86 level. If this breaks, a fall to the Jan. 16 lows of $0.551 is likely.

On the upside, the down trendline is likely to offer strong resistance. The first signs of bullishness will be when price breaks out of the $1.21 levels.

We don’t find any trade setups on the XEM/USD pair.

ADA/BTC

Cardano could not break out of the 0.00006 levels. It is now likely to gradually fall to the support levels of 0.000047, and after that to 0.00004070.

ADA

For the next few days, we expect the ADA/BTC pair to remain range bound between 0.00004070 on the downside and 0.00006915 on the upside.

We shall wait for the pair to bounce from one of the support levels before initiating any trade. At the present levels, we don’t find any bullish setups on it.

The charts for the analysis are provided by TradingView

Payment Processor Stripe Ends Support for Bitcoin, Hypes Altcoins

Payment processor Stripe ends support for Bitcoin, citing high fees and slow confirmations.

Stripe, the mobile payment processor with a $9 bln valuation, has announced that it is officially winding down its Bitcoin integration. Over the next three months, Stripe customers will be encouraged to migrate away from Bitcoin payments. After that, Bitcoin will no longer be accepted at all.

Stripe made waves in 2015 when it fully integrated Bitcoin, allowing all vendors who use the platform to accept Bitcoin payments. Many saw this as a sign of impending mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment method, but high fees and slow transaction confirmations have hobbled the network.

Disappointment

In a blog post, Stripe noted the high hopes the company had for Bitcoin when it first integrated the currency into its platform:

“Our hope was that Bitcoin could become a universal, decentralized substrate for online transactions and help our customers enable buyers in places that had less credit card penetration or use cases where credit card fees were prohibitive.”

Stripe cites slow confirmation times and high fees as the reason for its abandonment of Bitcoin as a payment method:

“This has led to Bitcoin becoming less useful for payments, however. Transaction confirmation times have risen substantially; this, in turn, has led to an increase in the failure rate of transactions denominated in fiat currencies. (By the time the transaction is confirmed, fluctuations in Bitcoin price mean that it’s for the “wrong” amount.) Furthermore, fees have risen a great deal. For a regular Bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of U.S. dollars is common, making Bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires.”

Bitcoin as an asset

Stripe remains optimistic about cryptocurrency as a whole, but the company sees Bitcoin as more of an asset than a payment network:

“Over the past year or two, as block size limits have been reached, Bitcoin has evolved to become better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange. Given the overall success that the Bitcoin community has achieved, it’s hard to quibble with the decisions that have been made along the way. (And we’re certainly happy to see any novel, ambitious project do so well.)”

The company’s comments echo those of others in the digital currency space, such as Max Keiser, who see Bitcoin as a sort of “Gold 2.0” rather than a medium of exchange:

“[The digital currency] Dash is emerging as the crypto payment rail while Bitcoin asserts itself as Gold 2.0. I suggest those frustrated by the Bitcoin scaling debate to embrace Dash for payments and leave Bitcoin Core alone to continue working on Gold 2.0.”

Enter the altcoins

While Keiser cites Dash as a more viable payment network than Bitcoin, Stripe cites several other currencies as contenders:

“OmiseGO is an ambitious and clever proposal; more broadly, Ethereum continues to spawn many high-potential projects. We may add support for Stellar (to which we provided seed funding) if substantive use continues to grow. It’s possible that Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, or another Bitcoin variant, will find a way to achieve significant popularity while keeping settlement times and transaction fees very low.”

Notably, the company has no plans to integrate any of those supposedly “better” currencies into its platform.

Reversible

Stripe has left itself open to reconsider Bitcoin as a payment method in the future:

“We’re interested in what’s happening with Lightning and other proposals to enable faster payments…Bitcoin itself may become viable for payments again in the future.”

With the slow uptake of Segregated Witness and the effective death of plans to increase Bitcoin’s blocksize, all eyes turn to the Lightning Network to make Bitcoin viable again for payments. The Lightning Network has been under development for quite awhile, and there are several competing implementations. None of them are considered to be safe or suitable for general use, however. With Stripe, Steam and others ending their acceptance of Bitcoin payments, it’s clear that if the currency is to be considered a viable network for payments, lightning better strike soon.

Bitcoin Price Watch; Here’s What’s On Tonight

We are closing in on the end of the European session in the bitcoin price and – just as was the case yesterday – we’ve had a wild day in the markets. We were hoping (as we outlined this morning) to see some degree of fundamental shift in sentiment and – subsequent to the shift – an overarching turnaround in the bitcoin price and the price of some of its peer assets.

As it turns out, we’ve not got exactly what we were hoping for. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. We did see some degree of strength, especially heading into the later part of the afternoon out of Europe, but it’s far from enough to say with certainty that we expect markets to turn around longer term based on what we’ve seen.

As we always say, however, all we can do (when it comes to our intraday strategy, that is) is take the levels as they come and try to capitalize on any volatility, whichever direction it happens to be in.

So, let’s try and do just that.

As ever, take a quick look at the chart below before we get started so as to get an idea what’s on. It’s a one-minute candlestick chart and it’s got our primary range overlaid in green.

As the chart shows, the range that we are looking to carry into the session this evening comes in as defined by support to the downside at 11108 and resistance to the upside at 11251.

We’re going to get into a long trade if price closes above resistance, with an immediate upside target of 11400. Conversely, if we see price close below support, we’ll get in short towards a downside target of 11000 flat.

Let’s see how things play out and we will revisit tomorrow morning to try and respond to whatever happens overnight.

Charts courtesy of Trading View

The post Bitcoin Price Watch; Here’s What’s On Tonight appeared first on NewsBTC.

IOTA wallet hackers make off with $4m loot

Just weeks after a digital wallet provider for Stellar Lumens was hacked another altcoin wallet has been hit. This time Iota users found their wallets emptied by hackers using malicious online seed generators. It was estimated that $4 million in Iota tokens was stolen in the digital heist.

According to the IB Times the attackers used spurious websites to generate password details for the fintech network. The hackers also used DDoS attacks during the incursion and succeeded in moving IOTA users’ assets to their wallets via seeds they got from a compromised website.

Stolen seeds

Seed generation is a process whereby an 81 character string is created to open or protect an Iota wallet. It is the equivalent of a username and password, or a digital key. Online seed generating websites can perform this task which is quite complex. It can also be carried out offline however requires some technical expertise.

The website exploited was iotaseed.io which generated the string by users moving their mouse randomly on the screen. The site has since gone offline leaving the unceremonious message “Taken down. Apologies.” It was the top result in the search pages for online seed generators – possibly an advert for a phishing site that had paid Google to be at the top.

IOTA secure

The Iota distributed ledger remains secure and only the wallets accessed with compromised seeds suffered losses. IOTA Evangelist Network member, Ralf Rottmann, took to Medium to explain the situation.

“From what I’ve heard, many users who lost their funds created their seeds at iotaseed.io. Chances are, the folks behind this and potentially other seed generators have sat tight for a while, collecting piles of seeds, though the actual numbers of users affected are not known to me. The fact, that iotaseed.io is still online at the time of this writing might suggest that the site got compromised itself, and its not the folks behind the service who ran the attack.”

Rottmann went on to state;

“The victims literally shared the keys to their wallets with the attackers by using the attackers’ website. In essence, from a purely technical and security perspective, all transfers that happened under this attack, are legitimate transactions. The attackers knew the seeds. You invited them into your wallet, by handing them your keys on a silver platter. The attackers did not leverage anything IOTA specific! This is super important.”

Some observers commented that the situation could have been avoided if Iota ran and maintained its own seed generator. However Iota co-founder, David Sønstebø, had little sympathy and said users should be responsible for their own security, he went on to add;

“Some inexperienced users went to a website that was listed in Google Ads to generate a password i.e a phishing site. As a consequence, they essentially gave their password to this nefarious operator. IOTA the technology has not been affected at all.”

The attack comes just a week after $450,000 of XLM was lifted a from compromised third party Stellar Lumens digital wallet provider.

The post IOTA wallet hackers make off with $4m loot appeared first on NewsBTC.

Huobi Token To be Released on Jan 23: “It is Not an ICO”

huobi choice exchange

The cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has declared that the Huobi Token or known as HT will be issued on January 23. At 500 mil tokens the offering will capped, out of which 300 mil will be delivered to the investors.

Based on the Huobi press release – the offering is not of the Initial Coin Offering kind as only users who participating on a standard bases through the platform can receive HT.

“HT is not an initial coin offering (ICO). Users can only get HT by purchasing ‘Point Card’ on Huobi Pro. Point Card is Huobi’s pre-paid card for basic service charge. 1 point = 1 USDT.”

The announcement has pointed also out that the firm will be putting around 20 percent of each year gain to a so-called buyback program to bring HT off the market. By structuring utilities on the network this way, the company will be able to collect fees in advance and maintain customer loyalty over the long haul.

“For example, if you purchase the 1,000 HT package, it will only cost USDT 990, and you will get 1,000 HT for free. HT can be used for offsetting the trading fees.”

This could mark the most recent attempt by the exchange to re-form the business model following up the Chinese regulations that have taking place towards ICOs and crypto-exchanges.

The post Huobi Token To be Released on Jan 23: “It is Not an ICO” appeared first on Ethereum World News.

US Government Implements Blockchain Programs to Improve Transparency and Efficiency: Expert Blog

US Government agencies launch new projects to keep up with the economy’s digital transformation. Blockchain and cryptocurrency issues are on the agenda of the World Economic Forum

Expert Blog is Cointelegraph’s new series of articles by crypto industry leaders. It covers everything from Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to ICO regulation and investment analysis. If you want to become our guest author and get published on Cointelegraph, please send us an email at mike@cointelegraph.com.

Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain will be front and center at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos with several cryptocurrency and Blockchain-related panels on the agenda.

The US government have been evaluating Blockchain technology since they have funded, collaborated and partnered with business, other countries as well as educational institutions in fostering and continuously developing innovative technologies and science. Contracts, transactions and the records of intellectual property (IP) are among the defining structures of the US economic, legal and political system. And the government agencies formed to manage them need to keep up with the economy’s digital transformation. Accordingly, Blockchain technology is under evaluation or is being implemented by several US government agencies to improve transparency, efficiency and trust in information sharing in:

  •       Financial management
  •       Procurement
  •       IT asset and supply chain management
  •       Smart contracts
  •       Patents, Trademarks Copyrights, Royalties
  •       Government-issued credentials like visas, passports, SSN and birth certificates
  •       Federal personnel workforce data
  •       Appropriated funds
  •       Federal assistance and foreign aid delivery

The General Services Administration (GSA)

GSA’s Emerging Citizen Technology Office launched the US Federal Blockchain program for federal agencies and US businesses that are interested in exploring Blockchain technology and its implementation within the US government. So far, GSA has used Blockchain to automate and speed up contracts review for its FASt Lane program.

Department of Treasury

The Treasury Department is running a pilot program to determine whether Blockchain technology can be utilized for supply chain management, which has accelerated, processing times, created efficiencies and strengthened financial controls in the private sector.

The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who sits on a Davos Blockchain panel, believes that forming public-private partnerships (PPP) with foreign investors to fund Trump’s public infrastructure plan without incurring additional debt will be key to fulfilling the promise to upgrade US roads, bridges, airports and other public works. It will stimulate the economic growth with the aim of passing on substantial risk of funding to the private sector.

PPPs typically involve a government agency identifying a potential project, determining that there is sufficient revenue potential from the project to attract investor interest, soliciting competitive bids, and then selecting one or more private sector entities to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the project. In a PPP, the government generally owns the project but grants the private sector significant authority over its development and operation.

“Working with foreign investors is going to be a critical part of any plan we put forward and public-private partnerships are crucial to ensuring that the American taxpayer does not bear the full cost of any proposed program,” Mnuchin explained.

The Treasury Department has also undertaken initiatives to improve the “anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT)” laws for Blockchain based cryptocurrencies and formed PPPs with financial institutions, to share information.

US State Department

The US State Department underscores the importance of innovation in world economic development and encourages dialogue with the private sector partners currently using Blockchain technology.

“The State Department supports public-private-partnerships. For example, in maximizing the impact and accountability of foreign development/assistance, Blockchain technology by bringing transparency, may address corruption, fraud or misappropriation of funds and inefficiencies within the public procurement funding process itself,” explained Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan.

Government procurement accounts for a substantial part of the global economy 20 percent of GDP or around $9.5 tln of public money. According to an OECD study, corruption drains off between 20 and 25 percent or around $2 tln annually.  It accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money and remains the government activity most vulnerable to waste, fraud and corruption due to the size of the financial flows involved. Corruption distorts the fair awarding of contracts, reduces the quality of basic public services, limits opportunities to develop a competitive private sector and undermines trust in public institutions.

Countries around the world are putting technological innovation at the heart of public procurement, to reshape procurement into a strategic tool for income growth, national competitiveness and improvements in the health, economic well-being and overall quality of life.  More than four-dozen countries have created national innovation strategies and/or launched national innovation foundations. These countries are relaxing foreign direct investment constraints, providing funding, financing, using public-private collaborations, tax breaks and asking the private sector from outside their borders for commitments to their countries. In maximizing the impact and accountability of foreign development/assistance, Blockchain technology may address corruption, fraud or misappropriation of funds and inefficiencies within the funding process.

Department of Defense (DoD)

As reflected in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810) as signed into law on Dec. 12, 2017, the US federal government and its agencies are exploring the adoption of Blockchain technology in various areas, after carefully studying the risks posed by this new distributed ledger technology. This evaluation will shed light on the Blockchain technology capabilities to both the Federal Government and Department of Defense IT environments.   

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DHS is awarding Small Business Innovation Research grants to develop a use case for Blockchain technology’s role in border security.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Efficient communications systems and effective computing techniques are crucial to ensure the success of each NASA mission. Greater accessibility of digital information and cost-effective technologies of manned and unmanned space flights are expected to become much better integrated via Blockchain technology. A new grant from NASA to the University of Akron in Ohio will fund research to use deep-learning artificial intelligence that works over an Ethereum Blockchain network to develop a resilient networking and computing paradigm in various space communication environments.

Conclusion

Blockchain is not a silver bullet for digital government, but as this technology is more widely implemented, it could represent the future of smart, legal contracts and how entire industries in partnership with the US government conduct themselves in a transparent and streamlined manner.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA is an international tax attorney and CPA who frequently writes about tax, legal and accounting issues for TaxNotes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA is an international tax attorney and CPA who frequently writes about tax, legal and accounting issues for TaxNotes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.

Disclaimer. The views and interpretations in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cointelegraph.

Bank Regrets Blocking Bitcoin Transactions – Santander Allowing Transfers

Bitcoin investment

Portuguese Santander Branch has taken a step back and re-thought the idea of letting individuals handle BTC related transactions through the bank after being impacted by a significant backlash over the previous chosen action [blocking BTC transfers].

As it is known, banks do attempt to prevent users from trading Bitcoin while using different methods like declaring out that trading could lead to loss of your share, not a regulated market or even blocking the whole transfers. This situation has become a global phenomenon in the past few years. Santander has its fame set throughout the community for being more open and attracted towards the blockchain technology lately. But, branches of course can have their own saying what is taking place in their house. One Portuguese branch did terminate and activity towards Bitcoin, especially hitting harder those that involve Bitstamp and Coinbase.

Customers were not too happy about what the bank had chosen to do so they decided to put together a petition that gathered more than 1,000 signatures. As such, the Portuguese parliament was forced to review this petition and pass it along. The petition claims how Santander was deviating the country outside the financial innovation wave that is taking up the globe. It looked like these words did hit bulls-eye with the members of parliament. After all, the bank branch quickly changed its mind in this regard.

With this change now in effect, things are looking up. The local branch will no longer block any Bitcoin-related transactions whatsoever. Users can send money to both Bitstamp and Coinbase without any delays or extra fees. It is a small victory for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole. Unfortunately, stories like these are very rare. It is equally possible the branch will revert this decision in a few months from now. For now, we should cherish this decision as long as it stands.

Despite the win, as mentioned in the beginning obviously banks will continue to have an against-side of idea on BTC. These developments are not even taken kindly by major banks and for various reasons, they choose to believe that the user should not buy or sell Bitcoin as they do not know what they are doing. However, it should be up to the user to choose what to invest in/buy or sell.

The post Bank Regrets Blocking Bitcoin Transactions – Santander Allowing Transfers appeared first on Ethereum World News.

How to Guarantee a More Predictable Tax Result Until IRS Has a Special Crypto Amnesty: Expert Blog

Although there is not yet an IRS amnesty for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency taxpayers, there still is one for offshore accounts.

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There has long been speculation that a special IRS amnesty program will be announced for Bitcoin and other digital currency taxpayers. It seems overdue. There’s a good deal of tax cleanup that some people need to do. But so far, we don’t have one. In the meantime, we still must file tax returns every year.

For crypto investors who need to fess up to past transgressions, there is no formal IRS program to control risks and to guarantee a particular formulaic result. A predictable tax and penalty result is what IRS amnesty programs usually provide. You can address this without a formal amnesty, of course.

For instance, amending a few returns to pick up additional income you failed to report is usually pretty safe. Of course, timing is key. If the IRS finds you first through an audit, you won’t be protected. In some cases, even criminal prosecution is possible.

But what if you aren’t comfortable just preparing and filing a few tax returns or a few amended tax returns to correct your mistakes? For more serious transgressions, traditionally, if you voluntarily go to the IRS through a lawyer to correct your tax problems before the IRS discovers them, you won’t be prosecuted.

Although there is not yet a special IRS amnesty for crypto, there still is one for offshore accounts. So, if you have an offshore account, the IRS amnesty can offer crypto investors a back door. With extensive data swapping deals between the IRS, foreign governments and foreign banks, almost no offshore account is secret anymore.

Even so, the IRS amnesty is still on offer. Offshore account holders can still safely fix their problems, even if they intentionally evaded reporting in the past. The cost of the IRS amnesty can be small compared to the risk of vastly larger civil penalties, and the threat of criminal prosecution. For offshore bank accounts, civil FBAR (Report of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts) penalties alone can entirely wipe out foreign accounts.

There are two IRS programs. The OVDP or Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is a clean wash-your-hands kind of way to correct past tax filings and come clean. It involves filing up to eight years of tax returns (or amended tax returns) and FBARs.

You pay taxes, interest and a 20 percent penalty on whatever you owe. For most people, there’s also a 27.5 percent penalty on your highest offshore account balance. In some cases, that penalty can be 50 percent, depending on the bank and timing.

In contrast, the Streamlined program involves only three years of tax returns. You file six FBARs instead of three, to match the longer FBAR statute of limitations. The Foreign Streamlined program (for US persons abroad) has no penalty. The Domestic one involves a five percent penalty pegged to the highest offshore account balance over the six FBAR years.

The Streamlined program requires a non-willfulness statement that can be risky in some cases. And Streamlined filings are subject to IRS audit. These audits can be brutal, so in choosing OVDP or streamlined, you should consider IRS audits. Thus, for crypto investors with risk, the OVDP seems a far better hook for resolving crypto tax problems.

As long as you are filing amended tax returns, other corrections unrelated to your foreign accounts can be handled too. After all, before you sign amended tax returns under penalties of perjury, you need to make sure they are accurate. If you failed to report any other income, you should include it on your amended returns.

By its terms, the OVDP applies to foreign account matters. Other corrections are technically not part of it, so the IRS could pursue these items outside the OVDP. In reality, though, the IRS appears to be processing them all together. In short, if you have other unrelated corrections to your returns, by all means, make them.

Cleaning up domestic tax problems is a feature of many OVDP cases. The IRS appears to be accustomed to the usual full disclosure including domestic tax problems too.

The domestic issues might be large, particularly given the dramatic run-up of crypto investments. However, the OVDP should still allow the IRS to collect taxes, interest, plus a 20 percent penalty on any unreported income. Remember, a key IRS tradition is that tax evaders who voluntarily step forward before they are found are usually not prosecuted.

OVDP tax return packages can fix domestic tax problems unrelated to foreign accounts. All usually seems to go fine, and there may be no real alternative. Given the costs, most taxpayers have an easier time deciding to file Streamlined rather than the more expensive OVDP.

The OVDP precludes criminal prosecution and ends in a closing agreement. In contrast, Streamlined filers can face a civil audit or conceivably even prosecution. A key for any Streamlined filer is to be non-willful and to certify that.

Negligence, inadvertence or mistake are all OK, but intent to conceal or to evade taxes is not. And the IRS has criteria for objective indicators. It is hard to say you were non-willful if you behaved secretively, did partial reporting of accounts or income, etc.

Everyone knows that tax compliance with crypto has been poor. That’s why the IRS has trained criminal IRS agents to pursue this. It’s why the IRS is using tracking software. And it’s why the IRS successfully went after Coinbase accounts via summons.

The bottom line is that crypto investors with tax problems might consider the OVDP. Using it until the IRS has a special crypto amnesty might be worth a look.

Robert W. Wood is a tax lawyer representing clients worldwide from offices at Wood LLP, in San Francisco (www.WoodLLP.com). He is the author of numerous tax books and frequently writes about taxes for Forbes.com, Tax Notes, and other publications.  This discussion is not intended as legal advice.

Disclaimer. The views and interpretations in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cointelegraph.