The banker to the banks of world is looking all set to explor blockchain technology. World Bank is going to issue a $73 million bond on 28th of August in collaboration with Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (CBA) over blockchain, which will mark a historic event in the history of both World Bank and cryptocurrencies. CBA was chosen by World Bank as sole arranger of this bond, and given CBA’s interest and expertise in blockchain technology it was only obvious that blockchain found its place in this transaction.

The bond is engineered to provide a 2.2% annual return, and its maturity period is two years. Dubbed “Bondi”, it’s an experiment on World Bank’s and CBA’s part to find out whether blockchain can be used to automate the process of bond issuance or not.

The blockchain platform that will be used to issue this bond has been developed in-house by CBA. The Commonwealth Bank is highly optimistic about the success of this transaction, and it’s touting this thing as world’s first use of blockchain technology to raise money from public investors.

The transaction will be a part of bonds worth $50-$60 billion that are issued by World Bank every year to help battle with poverty and improve sustainability around the globe. World Bank’s bonds carry an AAA rating, and the bank uses its borrowing power to create new bond markets and shape the ways securities are issued. And the institution is claiming that just like its other bonds this one has also been received very well among the investors. World Bank Treasurer Arunma Oteh said about it:

“I am delighted that this pioneer bond transaction using the distributed ledger technology, bond-i, was extremely well received by investors. We are particularly impressed with the breath of interest from official institutions… these high-quality investors understood the value of leveraging technology for innovation in capital markets.”

If oversubscribed, the bond issue may actually raise much more than $72 million for World Bank. Based on initial interest CBA is pegging the amount at $80.48 million. The final amount will become clear only on 28th of August though.

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George Popescu has come down hard on the American Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. tax code in general as stifling instead of enabling innovation through cryptocurrency adoption. In a Medium post published on August 22, 2018, the founder of crypto industry publication Blockchain Times and augmented reality startup Lampix stated that tax policy is effectively blocking crypto payments from taking off by placing inconvenient burdens on users.
Confusing tax Requirements
According to Popescu, the IRS places a mandatory tax requirement on every transaction carried out with crypto because cryptocurrency coins are viewed as property and not money.
This distinction means that carrying out simple everyday transactions like paying for meals or groceries attracts a transaction tax that ordinarily does not apply to fiat transactions. The tax itself is calculated by factoring in a series of complex variables including the crypto coin’s purchase price and selling price.
Thus, a simple act of buying a drink with bitcoin can result in a taxable event that is opaque, unclear, and convoluted. This dilemma is further compounded if an individual carries out multiple transactions using crypto. An individual that regularly exchanges bitcoin for ether or other cryptos, for example, could, in theory, be subject to various taxes that would be further compounded if they choose to sell crypto holdings to pay the tax liability.
This, iterates Popescu, makes the notion of doing business in cryptocurrency in the U.S. a total non-starter.

Comparison with Other Major Economies
In the article, Popescu contrasts the U.S. policy on crypto payments with Germany, which treats crypto payments as subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) instead of property tax. Germany thus charges something closely resembling the U.S. sales tax on crypto transactions, which is sufficiently bearable and straightforward as not to stifle the use of cryptos.
He also states that China has overtaken the U.S. in the digital payments space despite its draconian stance on cryptocurrencies, illustrated by its 2018 digital transaction value of $1.04 trillion. China and Germany he says, are two countries that have actively chosen to encourage innovation instead of using tax policy as a lever to discourage or stifle it. In his words:
“If the United States wants to remain competitive and continue playing the international role it has played since [WWI] in finance and technology it must stay at least in line with its peers in tax policy. I strongly believe that a simpler tax policy that will allow consumers and businesses to explore using cryptocurrencies as a payment method is needed.”
Popescu’s opinion is that crypto payments are the future of digital payments because they offer substantially cheaper costs than credit cards, instantaneous and worldwide coverage, reasonable cross-border payments, no chargebacks, trustless payments and a public ledger that can be scrutinized for credit purposes and by tax authorities.
Ever the optimist, Popescu still believes that crypto will eventually establish itself in America as the government will, in time, come to see the value of facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. He concludes:
“I believe it is just a matter of time before the US tax policy on crypto assets will be reviewed and I look forward to being able to pay for my coffee with a cryptocurrency in New York.”

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China’s government will take steps to further block access to more than 120 offshore cryptocurrency exchanges whose websites are still accessible on the mainland.

Citing local financial news outlets, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reports that authorities associated with the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation — which was founded in 2016 and run by top central bank officials — will begin blocking IP addresses belonging to 124 cryptocurrency trading platforms that still serve mainland residents, despite local prohibitions on these activities.

CCN first reported in February that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, was preparing new measures to stamp out the local cryptocurrency trading industry, which continues to thrive in defiance of bans first put in place during Sept. 2017.

The actions are the latest in what increasingly appears like a coordinated crackdown on the part of Chinese authorities. Last Friday, authorities in Beijing’s downtown Chaoyang district circulated an order barring public venues such as shopping malls and hotels from hosting cryptocurrency-related events.

Concurrently, China-based social media giant WeChat shut down accounts run by at least eight blockchain and cryptocurrency media outlets for allegedly violating regulations from official internet censors.

Some industry observers had said that, though these actions do not appear overly-serious when viewed in isolation, they likely foreshadow a broader clampdown timed for the one-year anniversary of China’s initial coin offering (ICO) and cryptocurrency trading ban.

Last month, the PBoC reaffirmed its commitment to act with “vigilance” to prevent foreign ICOs, which are illegal in China, from marketing their tokens on the mainland.

Even so, ICO scams have managed to grift hundreds of millions of dollars from Chinese investors. Just this month, a company called Shenzhen Puyin Blockchain Group raised $60 million through three separate ICOs, only to pull what may be the largest-ever ICO exit scam.

The cryptocurrency markets traded down on Thursday, though it’s not clear to what extent the decline stemmed from the news of China’s reinvigorated trading ban. The bitcoin price declined approximately three percent for the day, while other large-cap coins saw pullbacks as large as six percent.’

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Bitcoin miners are flocking to places like Iceland, Oregon, Washington State and Canada to take advantage of cheap power (that happens to be green).

If you’ve been following the cryptocurrency space for a while, chances are you’ve heard this one: “Bitcoin uses more energy than <insert country here>.” The story will hit the top of Google News every few months or so, helping the perma-bears pat themselves on the back while striking fear in the hearts of the true believers. But what if I were to tell you that it’s not that big of a deal?

Hear me out. Yes, Bitcoin does use a lot of electricity. Enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes in the United States, in fact. It’s just as they say. But this problem is not new. With every significant technological development comes a price. In Bitcoin’s case, it’s electricity.
It’s important to understand that Bitcoin miners aren’t simply pouring gasoline into a fire. These miners using energy to maintain a network, store data and process transactions.
This energy usage is often at the core of the debate over consensus mechanisms. While many praise the benefits of proof-of-stake protocols which use significantly less energy to achieve a similar outcome, it can be argued that proof-of-work protocols are still safer and more suited to a decentralized end-game.
Contrary to proof-of-stake protocols, proof-of-work requires miners to expend electricity to create new blocks. Simply put, miners are trading electricity for currency.
And increasingly, they’re doing it with relatively green energy.

Bitcoin’s green energy revolution

The how’s and why’s of consensus algorithms aside, Bitcoin miners want to remain profitable. It’s their business, after all.
And though much of the focus in the “Bitcoin energy consumption scandal” falls on how much energy is being used, there’s very little emphasis on where the energy comes from.
This is actually the most important factor in the debate.
Global energy consumption is on the rise, and so are fossil fuel prices. Political squabbles and market uncertainties have made this fact very clear. At the same time, however, green energy is becoming much cheaper and significantly more accessible. In fact, in some areas, there is so much excess power that producers are practically giving it away.
Bitcoin miners have been quick to identify this trend, and they are flocking to places like Iceland, Oregon, Washington State and Canada to take advantage of cheap power (that happens to be green). And for producers, this piqued interest is music to their ears.
Take the small town of East Wenatchee, Washington, for example. With the help of the Columbia River streaming straight from the Rockies, the region boasts five massive hydropower dams, providing some of the cheapest electricity on the planet.
Previously, most of the energy was exported to markets like Seattle or Los Angeles, but bitcoin miners have since seized the opportunity, building huge operations in the area.
“By the end of 2018, according to some estimates, miners here could account for anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of all bitcoin mining in the world,” Paul Roberts writes in a segment for Politico.

How bitcoin can subsidize green energy projects

As energy storage technology struggles to keep up with the growing demand for green energy, there are an increasing number of renewable power projects that lack the means to properly store or distribute energy. In turn, solar and wind farms may be losing important revenue that could make or break the endeavor.
Andreas Antonopoulos explains that, instead of renewable energy producers curbing their output or wasting their energy, bitcoin miners could pay for and utilize that energy allowing producers to earn more revenue on their efforts and become profitable in a shorter amount of time, effectively subsidizing the project.
Antonopoulos argues that “the decentralization of bitcoin is driving the decentralization of energy production.”
And he may be on to something.
While blockchain technology has been hailed as a beacon of hope for the decentralization of energy distribution and the utilities sector, the idea that green energy projects could use bitcoin mining to subsidize their power plants is somewhat of a revelation. And that’s just the beginning. There is another piece of the energy sector that could blossom with the help of bitcoin miners.

Can we turn waste into bitcoin?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director for the World Bank’s social, urban, rural, and resilience global practice, predicts that the world’s waste could soar from 1.3 billion tons to 4 billion by 2100, an issue which, if not addressed, could have dire consequences for public health and environmental sustainability.
Typically, waste is dealt with in outdated and uneconomical means. It is burned, dumped or stored and the process is costly and inefficient. But this trend is beginning to change course, with more efforts being placed into bio-fuel research and waste-to-energy technology.
This presents another opportunity for bitcoin miners to take advantage of new developments in energy technology, and it’s not going unnoticed.
In November 2017, PRTI and Standard American Mining set out to turn trash into crypto, and they succeeded. PRTI explains “The business of turning tires into oil, steel, and carbon is lucrative, but the true value lies in monetizing the power in a new way.”
Though PRTI and Standard American Mining may be the first ever waste-to-bitcoin producers, they certainly won’t be the last.
Moving forward, it’s clear that bitcoin miners have the power to drive innovation in the green energy sector, but the challenge will be convincing the two industries to work together. Though bitcoin is relatively new, it presents an excellent opportunity for energy producers to add a new source of revenue to their projects or even fund new technologies that could pay off down the line.
Bitcoin certainly isn’t the evil “ocean boiling” tech that it is made out to be, in fact, it may end up being just the opposite.

This post is credited to cryptoinsider.21mil

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC) has announced plans to utilize blockchain technology to offer real-time polling results and thus improve vote integrity and trust in the voting process.

Speaking in a statement, IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati said that the technology will be used to give presidential candidates secure access to live results as the country struggles to shake off the legacy of the violent 2007 and 2017 elections which saw hundreds killed and hundreds of thousands displaced across the country.

Kenya’s Electoral Problem

Elections are often a hotly contested affair in Kenya, with candidates regularly trading accusations of vote tampering, rigging and voter intimidation. The 2017 presidential election between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga saw the country split down ethnic and regional lines as Odinga and his supporters refused to accept Kenyatta’s victory.

Despite losing a rerun ordered by the Kenyan Supreme Court, Odinga declared himself the ‘People’s President‘, and even held a swearing in ceremony for maximum effect. Though the election did not erupt into the ferocious ethnic violence of 2007, the experience has made the IEBC consider new ways of carrying out elections in such a way as to be transparent and acceptable to all contestants.

Blockchain in Kenya

Kenya is renowned for hosting one of the busiest and most successful technology hubs in Africa sometimes known as ;Silicon Savannah’, and it boasts world-leading statistics in terms of access to mobile digital payments solutions.

The Blockchain Association of Kenya has long advocated for the use of blockchain technology in solving the country’s intractable electoral problem. A September 2017 editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper openly admonished the IEBC to start using the blockchain to build voter trust, and the calls appear to have been heeded.

If the plans do come to fruition, Kenya would become one of the world’s first government-level blockchain adopters and it would become the second African country to use blockchain technology to some extent in its electoral process after Sierra Leone in 2018.

In addition to elections, Kenya also has big plans for blockchain technology in other parts of government service delivery. Speaking to the BBC in May, Information Minister Joseph Mucheru confirmed that the country is looking into deploying blockchain technology in the country’s land registry.

Under the framework, Kenya’s notoriously porous land registry database will be recorded on a blockchain, effectively making it impervious to fraudulent changes that corrupt officials currently effect in exchange for a bribe.

In April, CCN reported that Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) recommended the creation of a special unit for handling cryptocurrency related issues as the country increasingly takes to blockchain technology.

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By Helen Partz
Japan’s SBI Group to Develop Crypto Derivatives Platform Following New Investment
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Japan’s SBI Group to Develop Crypto Derivatives Platform Following New InvestmentNEWS
Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings will expand its crypto business portfolio by acquiring a 12 percent stake in Clear Markets, according to SBI’s financial results report published July 31. SBI is scheduled to acquire up to 20 percent in the future.

Clear Markets is a U.S.-based electronic trading platform developer and operator that offers over-the-counter derivatives electronic trading services in the U.S., U.K., and Japan.
SBI’s new stake in Clear Markets is part of an effort to create a cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform catered toward institutional investors. The platform will reportedly allow financial institutions to trade more smoothly on the crypto derivatives market.
Clear Markets will provide hedging for cryptocurrency swap transaction services which is “necessary for the handling of cryptocurrencies and financial instruments that use cryptocurrencies.” In the report, SBI Group noted that the increased use of cryptocurrencies and its derivatives will increase liquidity levels.
While the price of the stake was not disclosed, according to Nikkei Asian Review, it is likely worth around $9 million.
Clear Markets is planning to launch а crypto swap trading service and holds a swap execution facility (SEF) license from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and derivatives brokerage in the U.K. and 32 countries in Europe. The company is an an affiliate of QUICK Corp. which is a subsidiary of Japan’s Nikkei Inc.
SBI has invested in more than 20 crypto crypto-related projects over the past year, and formally launched the public version of its cryptocurrency exchange VCTRADE July 17.
Japan is one of the leading countries in terms of cryptocurrency adoption. According to Clear Markets chief executive Mark Brickell, “as much as 50 percent of cash trading in cryptocurrency,” has taken place in the country.
Last week, the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) announced it will require its member exchanges to place limits on the trading activity of some clients in an attempt to prevent investors with “small assets” from suffering heavy losses.