Japanese IT giant GMO Internet has published its third quarter report Monday, Nov. 12, revealing a “historical performance” of its crypto-related sectors despite “the harsh external environment.”

GMO claims its crypto businesses, including mining equipment production and its crypto exchange, have gained 2.6 billion yen ($22.8 million) in revenue over the third quarter “in just a year since the launch.”

GMO Coin, an exchange platform launched by the company, has reportedly seen up to 208,000 users trading about 89 billion yen ($781 million) in October. GMO also reports that the profits are up 34.4 percent quarter on quarter (QoQ).

In the meantime, the revenues for GMO’s mining segment are also up QoQ, but profit has been down in the second and third quarters. The company yet again links the decrease to the “worsening external environment” and “increasing depreciation cost.”  According to the statistics provided by GMO, in October their mining hashrate equaled 674 petahash per second (PH/s), but the company is planning to reach 800 PH/S within the year.

As for new mining rigs, the delivery of the GMO Miner B3 announced back in July and scheduled for October has been postponed due to the delay of some electronic components.

The company has also changed a ticker for its yen-backed currency, GMO Japanese Yen, from GJY to GYEN. The company announced the creation of the cryptographic stablecoin tied to Japanese fiat in early October, which targets international transactions and is set to launch in 2019.

In March, the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) — which regulates crypto exchanges in the country — sent a business improvement order to GMO Coin following January’s Coincheck hack. The company was forced to improve its services and provide reports on their risk management systems. GMO Coin then established a “Group Information Security Audit Office” in order to develop stronger security measures to protect customer information.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, major mining companies have recently released their Q3 reports. While AMD, a California-based semiconductor manufacturer, stated that its revenues for the period were negligible, Canada-based Bitcoin (BTC) mining company Hut 8 reported a record high $13.5 million for Q3.

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Dutch rights management company Fintage House has signed a deal with blockchain-based social entertainment platform TaTaTu to start accepting cryptocurrency for rights transactions, entertainment industry news outlet Variety reported Nov. 12.

Established in 1986, Fintage House specializes in the collection and management of TV, film and music publishing rights and licensing, as well as offering revenue collection and reporting for rights owners services.

The partnership with TaTaTu enables Fintage House to accept the platform’s native token TTU for film and TV rights transactions. TTU tokens were originally designed to let users pay for video content — so the platform can compensate content creators — as well as for advertising. Variety quotes Niels Teves, co-CEO of Fintage House:

“Soon we expect to start drafting the first agreements where we shall be accounting and paying out in TTU Tokens, whereby through the appropriate platforms the tokens could be exchanged in fiat currency.”

In late October, TaTaTu partnered with American actor and producer Johnny Depp, wherein Depp and TaTaTu founder Andrea Iervolino will jointly create and produce film and digital content. The content is set to be produced by the Infinitum Nihil film production firm owned by Johnny Depp.

Some of the original projects include a Lamborghini biopic starring Antonio Banderas and Alec Baldwin; a drama “The Sound of Freedom,” starring Jim Caviezel and Mira Sorvino; and a documentary on actor Jeremy Renner.

This summer TaTaTu completed a $575 million Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which was assessed as one of the largest in 2018, per cryptocurrency analytics firm One Alpha. In May, TaTaTu received $100 million in investment from rum heiress Lady Monika Bacardi. Lady Bacardi said that the platform, “reinforces [her] bullish stance on the promise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.”

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A major museum in the U.S. state of Ohio is the latest place to accept payment in Bitcoin, partly as a way to encourage adoption and turn Cleveland into a crypto- and blockchain hub.

Science and technology continue to evolve and to a large extent, dictate how we run our lives through the conveniences and necessities that they offer. Disruptive technology like blockchain and cryptocurrencies are doing the same, providing a more efficient and streamlined approach to finances and data management.

In an example of how these two worlds are merging, the U.S. state of Ohio’s Great Lakes Science Center has announced that they will now be accepting Bitcoin as payment. According to Crain’s Cleveland Business, the museum and educational center will make use of BitPay to process these transactions from the 13th of November.

Cleveland to Host Upcoming Blockchain Event

The move comes just in time for the Blockland Solutions Conference, which will also be held in Cleveland. The event will be a way to showcase the benefits of blockchain which will be done through presentations and case studies. It is being organized by Bernie Moreno, a successful car dealership owner, and entrepreneur. His goal is to turn the city into a blockchain hub partly through the creation of a $150 million incubator.

The conference has attracted the attention and support of many big names in the disruptive industry. According to the event’s website, the impressive list of speakers includes IBM’s Vice President of Blockchain Technology, Jerry Cuomo; the founder of ConsenSys, Joseph Lubin and industry pioneer, Nick Szabo.

Suffice it to say, the conference is poised to attract quite a few industry enthusiasts and even potential investors. Great Lakes Science Center wants to be a part of pushing Cleveland to become a blockchain hotspot and part of this is accepting crypto payments. The center’s CEO, Kirsten Ellenbogen, explained:

There is a lot of excitement around the conference. Accepting bitcoin is just a small part of the momentum to grow a blockchain ecosystem in Cleveland.

LBN Beijing Sci-Tech Report Bitcoin

Bitcoin Acceptance Continue to Grow

However, the center’s acceptance of virtual currencies is also a testament to their own growth and desire to be on the cutting edge of this digital revolution. Ellenbogen added:

Last year we launched our mobile app that uses augmented and virtual reality to allow guests to experiment with flames in space and test spacecraft designs re-entering Earth’s atmosphere when they visit the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, and now they’ll be able to use their phone to pay for their admission using Bitcoin.

Great Lakes Science Center joins a growing list of establishments that are accepting cryptocurrencies as payment. Live Bitcoin News recently reported that Skoda Minotti, a U.S.-based business advisory firm, is also now accepting crypto payments. Acceptance is growing in the rest of the world as well with a French-based university accepting tuition in Bitcoin and a London brewery taking crypto payments.

Do you think that the Great Lakes Science Center will see an increase in visitors with their new payment option? Let us know in the comments below!

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

The Michigan Secretary of State has formally barred cryptocurrencies from being used as donations to political campaigns, according to a letter published last Thursday.

Michigan state legislature candidate William Baker, who lost his race in the Nov. 6 election, asked how cryptocurrencies’ value may be recorded for political donations, as well as how they may be used. He also asked whether cryptocurrency exchanges qualify as valid secondary depositories for storing digital assets.

In its response, the department disagreed with Baker’s premise that “it is ‘self-evident’ that digital currency is a valid way to receive political contributions,” writing that “the law does not authorize such a vehicle, and the Department has never determined that digital currencies are a valid way to receive political contributions.”

The letter explained that the Michigan Campaign Finance Act defines contributions as a “donation of money or anything of ascertainable monetary value,” emphasizing that the value of any donation must be “exact, precise and certain or can be determined with certainty.”

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are too volatile to qualify for such donations, the Secretary of State’s office continued, writing:

“Cryptocurrency is not a mere transfer of controlled funds deposited or withdrawn through a financial institution, but rather is traded anonymously through an electronic platform. As with stocks and commodities, Bitcoin’s worth fluctuates daily, there is no way to ascertain the precise monetary value of one Bitcoin on any particular day. Further the Act requires that committees deposit funds in an account in a financial institution, which is not an option for cryptocurrency.”

Michigan isn’t the only state to bar cryptocurrencies from political donations: California announced in September that it would also prohibit digital assets from being used.

However, Stephen Middlebrook, a fintech attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson, noted that campaigns are already allowed to accept “nonmonetary and in-kind contributions,” which are typically valued at “the fair market value of the goods when received.”

As such, he added, “it’s unclear why that rule wouldn’t work for virtual currency contributions. The fact that the value of cryptocurrency or other goods donated to a campaign may fluctuate over time doesn’t sound like an insurmountable obstacle.”

By contrast, the Federal Election Commission ruled in May 2014 that Political Action Committees (PACs) could accept small dollar amounts of cryptocurrency. The PAC accepting the donation would be required to collect information on the donor and value the contribution based on market value.

Middlebrook added that “the federal rule is certainly more flexible and I think sets a better model for states to follow.”

“One solution would simply be to require campaigns to sell crypto for dollars within 24 hours of receipt,” he added.

The fact that some investors can donate cryptocurrencies anonymously is another issue cited by Michigan officials, as anonymous donations are also forbidden under the act.

Middlebrook questioned this aspect of the document as well, saying that this should not be an issue if campaigns take steps to verify donor identities.

“Campaigns can accept donations of doughnuts and coffee, both of which are anonymous, without violating the law,” he said. “They just need to know who brought in the pastries.”

Given that cryptocurrencies under the office’s interpretation cannot be used in political donations, the Michigan letter declined to respond to the question about crypto exchanges.

When reached for comment, Baker said he hoped that more politicians who better understand cryptocurrencies would be elected before passing laws regulating the space.

“However, at this time, this is not to be, as the Michigan Bureau of Elections notes that absent further direction from the Legislature, they cannot allow donations of Bitcoin or other digital assets,” he said.

He did note that the elections bureau would accept public comments on the matter until Nov. 16, according to an email he received.

This post is credited to coindesk

One of Japan’s largest insurance companies, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, and IT firm NTT DATA have completed a trial that put the paperwork for marine cargo insurance claims on a blockchain.

Tokio Marine & Nichido said in a press release Wednesday that its blockchain proof-of-concept (PoC) had seen participation from eight overseas claims-settling agents and surveyors located in Europe, America and Asia.

The key goal of the project was to achieve faster insurance payouts by providing a system to collect and share the required information “promptly and accurately” with involved parties located internationally.

Currently, the process of filing a marine cargo insurance claim is carried out manually, involving agents collecting the required documents, including damage reports, invoices and insurance policies, in paper form or PDF files. The documentation is then shared with surveyors via email.

Aiming to revamp this slow and inefficient process, the two firms said the trial allowed them to quickly share all the information required for a claim – including larger files like photographs of damage to cargo – with the agents and surveyors.

The blockchain system ultimately allowed insurance payout period to be reduced from over a month to “one week at most,” while performance and operational efficiency was improved, the release states, adding:

“We have confirmed the effectiveness of blockchain technology in marine cargo insurance claims procedures through this PoC.”

The two companies first announced the project in October last year and carried out the trial from November 2017 to August 2018.

The firms said they expect to continue to work on platform going forward, and aim to achieve the “practical use” of the technology in financial year 2019.

This post is credited to coindesk

Major oil companies BP, Shell, and Equinor have united with large banks and trading houses to launch a blockchain-driven platform Vakt for energy commodity trading. The partnership was reported by independent news agency covering energy and commodities markets S&P Global Platts Monday, Nov. 12.

Apart from the three oil companies mentioned above, Vakt includes banks ABN Amro, ING, and Societe Generale, along with trading houses Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading, and Mercuria. The blockchain solution, first announced in November 2017, will enable major industry players to move from “cumbersome” paperwork to smart contracts, thereby helping to reduce time spent on operations and make trading more efficient.

While participating in the S&P Global Platts Digital Commodities Summit in London today, Nov. 12, Lyon Hardgrave, product development vice president of Vakt, stated that the platform will launch by the end of November in the North Sea oil market. Hardgrave has also hinted about Vakt’s future plans for 2019:

“In 2019 we will look at ARA barges, waterborne markets and US crude pipelines. And by January we expect the first licensees will come on board, in addition to our shareholders.”

Hardgrave also added that Vakt is receiving requests to look at petrochemicals and U.S. gas. He further stresses that the blockchain-driven platform, once fully operational, could cut up to 40 percent of costs in the post-trade resolution.

In addition, S&P Global Platts has conducted a poll throughout the summit, finding that a vast majority of participants expect blockchain applications to have reached mass retail market adoption by 2025.

S&P Global Platts itself has previously trialed blockchain solutions for oil industry. In February 2018, the company announced it was launching a decentralized platform that would “allow market participants to submit weekly inventory oil storage data.” The platform to track oil storage was deployed in the UAE’s Fujairah Oil Industry Zone (FOIZ).

A platform similar to Vakt already exists in Switzerland, where a group of major global banks, trading firms, and a leading energy company launched a joint venture, dubbed komgo SA, to oversee a new blockchain-based platform for financing the trading of commodities. The initiatives share some of the same participants, including ABN AMRO, ING, Koch Supply & Trading, Mercuria, Shell, and Societe Generale.

This post is credit to cointelegraph

U.S. citizen Joseph Kim of Phoenix, Arizona has been fined $1.1 million and sentenced to 15 months in jail for misappropriating Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC) from several people, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reports Friday, Nov. 9.

The CFTC found out that Kim defrauded his employer, a Chicago-based proprietary trading firm, transferring approximately $601,000 worth amount of BTC and LTC to his own accounts in 2017. When asked about missing cryptocurrencies, Kim falsely claimed that security issues made him transfer digital currencies to several accounts. Shortly after, the misappropriation was discovered and Kim was fired.

Kim reportedly then defrauded private investors in order to return funds to his employer. According to the CFTC, he lured around $545,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from five individuals, falsely stating that he had left the company voluntarily to start his own trading company. Kim later lost all the investors’ funds following a high-risk bet.

Given the circumstances of the case, the CFTC has ordered Kim to pay $1.1 million in restitution to his company and customers. Moreover, the commission has imposed a permanent trading and solicitation ban on him.

In a separate criminal action brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Kim pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer and misappropriating private investors’ funds, and has received a 15 month sentence.

The CFTC Director of Enforcement, James McDonald, says the commission will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FBI in order to prevent crypto-related crimes.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Zachary Coburn, the founder of crypto token trading platform EtherDelta, with operating an unregistered securities exchange. He agreed to pay up to $400,000 in fines for an 18 month operating period.

This post is credit to cointelegraph

The Electronic Payment Practitioners Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) is asking government regulators in the country for clearer guidelines to drive the industry forward.

This follows reports, including a statement by E-PPAN, that there is a growing possibility of fintech businesses offering blockchain services being driven overseas unless both the Nigerian government and the Central Bank of Nigeria can offer clarification on its view towards cryptocurrency.

A new Nigerian blockchain hub was announced by the government in August in conjunction with UK blockchain firm Coinfirm. The resulting launch of the Africa Blockchain Lab promises to offer financial inclusion to many Nigerians outside of the country’s financial system and also to attract new startups as part of the country’s drive to support the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies in the continent.

However, the Bitcoin Exchange Guide claims that Central Bank governor Godwin Emifele has done little to encourage the growth of cryptocurrency; investors continue to be reluctant owing to the government’s lack of guidelines. Despite the launching of the Africa Blockchain Lab by state-backed KAD ICT Hub, cryptocurrency still struggles to receive recognition in Nigeria due to its continued links to criminal activities by authorities.

“Investments in blockchain-based financial services such as cryptocurrency are today going to Rwanda and Malta, which have provided regulatory frameworks that guide operators of the technology,” claims Ade Atobatele, founder of Gboza Gboza Technology Ltd, and member of E-PPAN.

This hasn’t stopped PundiX setting its sights on Nigeria, recently introducing Point of Sale (POS) machines which enable users to pay in Bitcoin and Ether along with the country’s local currency, the Naira. Nigeria certainly has the potential to accommodate such facilities with Africa’s largest contingent of Bitcoin holders and a population of 185 million, representing the continent’s largest population of potential users and investors. Localbitcoins is reported to have seen a trading volume of USD 260 million this year to date.

Nigeria should be looking to overseas for regulation, according to E-PPAN member Michael Kiberu, calling for regulators to look to countries such as Uganda, Switzerland, Kenya, and Japan, where cryptocurrency guidelines are clear and operate with legal status, while creating a healthy flow of capital into the financial sector.

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Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX), along with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), have successfully tested the use of blockchain technology for tokenized assets settlement, according to a SGX release issued Sunday, Nov. 11.

The report reveals the data on the trial that began in August, shortly after MAS and SGX had partnered with U.S. stock market Nasdaq, “big four” consulting company Deloitte, and Singaporean tech company Anquan. As per the release, the partners have developed a blockchain-driven solution for Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities — a settlement procedure where the buyer’s payment for securities is due at the time of delivery.

The trial has shown that financial institutions and corporate investors are able to carry out the exchange and final settlement of tokenized assets on different blockchain platforms simultaneously. SGX believes that this could increase operational efficiency and reduce settlement risks. Moreover, the technology could further help automate DvP settlement processes by using smart contracts, the report concludes.

Tinku Gupta, Head of Technology at SGX, also revealed that the exchange has filed its first-ever patent:

“Based on the unique methodology that SGX developed to enable real-world interoperability of platforms, as well as the simultaneous exchange of digital tokens and securities, we have applied for our first-ever technology patent.”

As Cointelegraph has frequently reported, Singapore-based companies are actively testing blockchain solutions in different areas.

For example, in July, local government-owned service provider CrimsonLogic unveiled its cross-border blockchain network for global trade in order to boost the efficiency of trade corridors between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations. And in October, a major corporation providing electricity and gas transmission in Singapore, SP Group, launched a blockchain-powered renewable energy certificate marketplace to buy and sell solar energy worldwide.

In late October, Nasdaq also won a U.S. patent for a smart-contract based information release system, which would allow to keep data safe before the issue. The stock market is awaiting decisions for other blockchain-related patents as well.

This post is credit to cointelegraph

Headmaster Lei Hua has been fired from his job at a school in Hunan, China, after a total of nine mining rigs were found stealing his school’s electricity to mine Ethereum, the BBC reported on Friday.

School Foots the Electricity Bill

The scheme was uncovered after staff heard mysterious whirring noises produced by the machines and decided to investigate. All told, the secret rigs cost the school a total of 14,700 yuan, the equivalent of $2,100 USD.

Cybersecurity expert Matthew Hickey was quoted by the BBC as saying the noise and heat generated by the rigs would be “very noticeable,” but Hua reportedly staved off concerns over the noise by claiming it came from the school’s heating and air conditioning units.

The headmaster installed mining rigs in the school’s computer lab between the summers of 2017 and 2018. Each of these mining machines cost Hua over $1,500 USD. He decided to use the school’s power because of the electricity costs associated with mining at home. 

Headmaster Hua was fired in October following the incident. The ninth machine belonged to the school’s deputy headmaster, who was let-off with an official reprimand. Local authorities also seized any cryptocurrency mined from the operation.

Hickey says stealing energy to mine crypto isn’t uncommon given the high energy costs:

“Sadly, stealing electricity is one way that people have tried to maximize their revenue – by avoiding those costs it can drastically improve returns on a mining operation.”

In addition to offsetting energy costs, the headmaster and his deputy were also able to harness the school’s computing power to mine Ethereum at scale.

Other Schools Targeted for Illicit Mining

Canadian University Shuts Down Entire Network After Mining Attack
Related: Canadian University Shuts Down Entire Network After Mining Attack

A similar hijacking incident occurred last week at St. Francis Zavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. The university discovered that the school’s entire network was compromised with mining malware.

suspected phishing attack installed malicious software on the school’s network and the software tried to hijack the university’s 150 computer servers for illicit mining. In response, an administrator from St. Francis shut down their network for four days. The perpetrators of the attack have yet to be identified.

This post is credited to cryptoslate