Tim Draper Invests $1M into “Digital Court” Blockchain Project

Billionaire investor Tim Draper has invested a million dollars in Aragon, a blockchain-based startup aiming to facilitate the creation and management of DAOs and create the first digital jurisdiction. Aragon wants to decentralize power by creating a blockchain-based court system for community members to settle disputes.

Tim Draper Adds “Digital Court” Blockchain Project to His Crypto Portfolio

The legal system may be the next societal institution facing disintermediation by blockchain technology. Blockchain startup Aragon has been the latest crypto company to receive an investment from the legendary investor, Tim Draper.

Aragon is a blockchain for the creation and managing of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). It is also setting up the first digital court jurisdiction to settle any disputes that may arise from operating in a world of decentralized organizations.

The blockchain startup lets participants from all over the world, interact via decentralized organizations. Moreover, it works towards a common goal, engages in decision making, and governance with a voting process, and settle disputes in a similar way that court systems do currently.

Tim Draper has been a supporter of Bitcoin and blockchain technology and has made several bitcoin forecasts which made headlines. Aragon’s digital court system is now live on the Aragon mainnet. Participants can vote or act as jurors to settle disputes using the platform’s ANT token, or DAI the stable coin of MakerDAO. Since Aragon’s goal is more idealistic than many blockchain projects, the team has published a manifesto describing their vision.

People already hate court, is decentralized court any better?

Yaz Khoury, the Director of Developer Relations at ETCCooperative, was used for an example mock trial, to test out the Aragon platform, and is already feeling the legal pressure, even if it is a simulated dispute.

In the mock Aragon trial, the dispute resolves around Khoury getting 25 DAI in Gitcoin CLR which was highlighted in Vitalik’s blog. The Aragon team’s dispute simulation is making the case both for and against Khoury being blacklisted.

Even though the decision isn’t a real one, and is in no way binding to Khoury, it is still rather annoying, similar to an actual court case. Khoury points out that even though the trial is a mock trial, the Aragon team plans to use its results as the case-law of sorts, setting a digital legal precedent for similar disputes in the future.

Participating jurors paid a 100 DAI to take part in the mock trial. Needless to say, Khoury is not amused and has asked Aragon not to use his name in their mock trial.

Do you think Tim Draper has invested wisely in this blockchain project? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Crypto Exchange Coinfloor Now Focuses on Consumer BTC Services

While the crypto community is talking about “altcoin season”, one of the world’s oldest crypto exchanges (Coinfloor) is calling BS on everything that is not BTC. After turning into a Bitcoin (BTC)-only exchange, the United Kingdom’s oldest cryptocurrency exchange Coinfloor is now expanding its consumer BTC services.

Focused on Bitcoin, the world’s first-ever cryptocurrency exchange, Coinfloor is launching a range of new consumer-oriented investing and trading services in order to make Bitcoin easy for everyone. The firm said in an announcement on Feb 19.

Coinfloor wants to reduce the stress of buying Bitcoin

As part of its “no BS” approach to crypto, Coinfloor is starting to launch its new set of services with the “No BS Education” guide. The new educational section on the Coinfloor website is intended to provide free access to provide simple and trusted knowledge about cryptocurrencies and bitcoin such as on how to buy crypto and choose a crypto exchange.

Coinfloor’s No BS Education guide outlines that Bitcoin is the “most powerful form of money ever made” as well as the “best cryptocurrency for retail investors and traders” despite still not being perfect in terms of usability for everyday transactions. On the other hand, the guide notes that investing in altcoins – other cryptocurrencies than Bitcoin – “has historically been riskier than Bitcoin”.

Obi Nwosu, CEO and Founder of Coinfloor, emphasized that many crypto exchanges provide confusing or even dishonest services to benefit from beginners in the industry. According to the executive, the new crypto guide will help new Bitcoin adopters to learn the most proper information about the industry.

Nwosu further said:

Too many of our peers provide questionable, complicated and dishonest services to try and exploit novice consumers. It’s just as important to honesty educate people about crypto in clear language and reduce the complexity that’s prevented widespread adoption and stopped Bitcoin from fulfilling its increadible potential.

Reducing min deposit amount from $1,300 to about $300

Coinfloor’s other new services include auto-buying Bitcoin service and multi-signature Bitcoin custody. According to the announcement, Coinfloor’s Auto Buy option will be launched in March 2020.

Nwosu noted in an email to the media that both No BS Education and Auto Buy were developed by Coinfloor’s internal team. Outlining Coinfloor’s ambitious status of the longest-running crypto exchange, Nwosu continued saying:

With nearly 6 years worth of Bitcoin Audits, no one comes close to our level of experience in transparently proving our solvency to our exchange clients. Also, our Bitcoin only decision, experience running an exchange since 2013, and our track record rolling out products like physically delivered futures over the years, gives us the experience needed to provide our Auto Buy service.

As part of Coinfloor’s call to provide more accessible Bitcoin services, Coinfloor has also reduced the minimum deposit for its professional trader customers from 1,000 British pounds ($1300) to 250 pounds ($325).

The London-based is “preemptively compliant” with crypto regulation

As Coinfloor is a major crypto exchange based in the U.K., the platform is apparently subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that strengthened its AML control in January 2020. According to Nwosu, FCA’s increased AML procedures don’t raise any concerns for the exchange as Coinfloor positions itself as “preemptively compliant”.

Obi Nwosu, who previously participated in a select committee on crypto regulation in the U.K said:

As Coinfloor has always sought to be preemptively compliant, the introduction of crypto specific regulation is a benefit to us. Because it provides clarity to our clients, suppliers, and ourselves. We do believe that it may be difficult for some of the smaller established companies in the space to meet the regulatory requirements and have shared these concerns with the FCA in the past.

Coinfloor announced its intention to delist all cryptocurrencies but Bitcoin in December 2019, promising the public that the exchange will become a Bitcoin-only exchange in January 2020. As of press time, Coinfloor’s average daily trading volume accounts for $1.4 million or about 138 Bitcoin, according to data from Coin360.

According to Coingecko, Coinfloor now indeed supports only Bitcoin, with just two trading pairs, BTC/GBP and BTC?EUR.


Tim Draper’s Startup Launch Blockchain Browser to Avoid Censorship

Unstoppable Domains, a tech firm backed by prominent blockchain supporter Tim Draper, is rolling out a blockchain-based browser set to provide users with access to the decentralized web.

Per a Feb 18 announcement, Unstoppable Blockchain Browser is designed to simplify access to the decentralized web, also known as web 3.0. This kind of the internet enables peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions with no involvement of a middleman, reportedly designed to avoid censorship.

Blockchain Browser Unstoppable Domains another step forward

Unstoppable Domain’s CEO, Matthew Gould, said:

We believe that a decentralized web is critical for protecting free speech around the world. The Unstoppable Blockchain Browser is the first browser that makes visiting decentralized websites as easy as a traditional .com website. All browsers should embrace the decentralized web.

As such, the news marks another step in the company’s mission to provide blockchain-powered uncensorable websites, as well as simple payments in major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and others.

Unstoppable Domain’s websites are stored in a user’s wallet, while the content is stored on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) or other decentralized storage networks.

Last October, Unstoppable Domains launched a crypto domain registry on the Ethereum blockchain. The registry allows users to connect any cryptocurrency address to their domain, enabling payments to be made using just the domain name.

Efforts toward web 3.0

The industry has a number of web 3.0 supporters, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, investor Fred Wilson, co-founder of Coinbase Brian Armstrong and the founder of Twitter and payments operator Square Jack Dorsey. Back in December 2019, Dorsey announced a new team dubbed Bluesky to work on decentralized social media standards.

Last October, web browser developer Opera Software AS launched added support for in-browser transactions with Bitcoin and Tron (TRX), which came as part of the company’s grander plan to make the “Web 3.0” easier to access for the average consumer. That followed the company’s initial launch of an in-browser Ether wallet in 2018.

In the meantime, Brave was the first to reimaging using browsers as a tool to foster crypto adoption through its privacy-focused blockchain-based Brave Browser. The browser gives internet users power over their data by blocking tracking services and ads.


Blockchain for the Environment: It’s Real and It’s Here

Every week sears a new image of climate change into our collective consciousness. A few decades ago, we heard about ozone holes and ice melting at slightly higher rates than anticipated. Today, the reminders of climate change are more visceral and immediate: California’s hills and forests burn, Venice’s city council chamber floods, and Iceland holds a funeral for a glacier.

The United Nations held a global Climate Summit at the end of September last year, though there were real disappointments – with the United States notable for its silence. Political and business leaders alike agreed that more needed to be done and committed to taking real action to combat the environmental decline. Everyday citizens around the world approve, as the worldwide climate protests showed. Dozens of industries have parts to play in the struggle against climate change, including blockchain – notorious for running dirty.

Blockchain Concept Is Simplifying for People Outside the Tech Industry

For many people outside of the tech industry, blockchain is synonymous with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The Bitcoin chain was the first blockchain designed and deployed, but many new iterations of the technology have appeared in the decade since the first links in the blockchain were assembled.

Things have changed, but honesty is important: if blockchain has had a reputation with environmentalists for much of its history, it has deserved it. Bitcoin relies on intentionally wasteful calculations for its security encryption. Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, wanted to make his ledgers impossible to attack by making the cost of a hack ruinously expensive. He succeeded, but the environment suffered.

The Bitcoin miners who run the calculations producing new coins emit nation-state levels of pollution. Thankfully, most contemporary blockchains don’t operate like Bitcoin. New technical protocols like Proof-of-Stake reduce the processing and electrical power that Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work encryption mandates. Post-Satoshi developers have found ways to harness the security, decentralization, and safety of blockchain without maiming the environment.

So, what can the new blockchain technology do for the environment?

As a paper presented to the European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ECEEE, argued: Blockchain can streamline processes, eliminate wasteful portions of a supply chain, and cut inefficiency-driving middlemen. The authors also call attention to blockchain’s potential for tracking and thereby discouraging environmentally destructive behavior.

Utility companies, to take just one example, could use blockchain to provide to consumers that the energy they use derives from clean and sustainable sources, rather than oil, gas, and coal. In one case, blockchain helps the environment by stopping unsustainable practices. In the other case, blockchain spurs change by shining light on bad actors. However, in both scenarios, the world changes for the better.

While the ECEEE paper’s lead author, Beatrice Marchi, is affiliated with the University of Brescia, Italy, blockchain for the environment isn’t confined to academic theory. Several firms have already begun applying blockchain principles to environmental goals.

AmpleMeter is a community-led blockchain initiative that encourages students, faculty, and staff at universities to save tokens. Though it began on-campus, there are few reasons it cannot spread elsewhere. If we look further afield, we find Australia’s Mobi, an environmentally conscious ridesharing app that incorporates blockchain. And there’s even an active utility program that uses blockchain: SolarCoin is a decentralized reward program that incentivizes energy providers to earn blockchain-based digital tokens.

Does emerging technology has the chance to battle against climate change?

AmpleMeter, Mobi and SolarCoin are among the first projects to use distributed ledgers and blockchains to address the most pressing issue of our time; they will not be the last. More than half of Americans believe that climate change is a major threat, and people all over the world are especially concerned, as the global climate strikers showed this year. Blockchain is a young technology that offers new solutions to the problem. Climate change is accelerating, but so too are the efforts to combat it. The blockchain industry has the chance to play a vital role in this great drama. I’m happy that innovators have already begun efforts to change the world for the better. I look forward to seeing what they will do in the months and years ahead. I expect great things.

Credit goes to David Mansell for this analysis who is the co-founder and director of NEM Ventures, the venture capital and investment arm of the NEM blockchain ecosystem. 

So, what do you guys think? Could this young and emerging technology be the key to fight the world’s most challenging problem: climate change? Share your views!

Israeli Banks Should Not Deny Services to Crypto Firms: Attorney General

Israeli banks shouldn’t deny services to firms involved with cryptocurrencies, according to Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

Instead of halting financial services for all crypto firms, banks should closely examine each case for indicators of money laundering risks or other illicit financial practices, Mandelblit told the Tel Aviv District Court.

Mandelblit’s stance purportedly opposed to a position by Israeli central bank

Mandelblit’s stance – reported by Israeli news agency Globes on Feb 19 – is in opposition to the view of the country’s central bank, the Bank of Israel.

During 2019 a number of Israeli banks froze the accounts of customers receiving transfers derived from crypto. As reported earlier, the action meant some Israeli Bitcoin (BTC) investors were unable to pay their taxes because banks would not accept their deposits.

In August 2019, an investor sued Israeli Bank Hapoalim for nearly $23 million, accusing it of refusing to accept deposits of profits earned through bitcoin.

It’s a similar story in other parts of the world. The Internet and Mobile Association of India is currently fighting against the country’s central bank’s prohibitions against the provision of financial services to crypto firms.

A number of state agencies allegedly supports Mandelblit

Mandelblit’s position was filed in a case involving Mercantile Discount Bank’s refusal to authorize a transfer from local crypto exchange BIT2C. According to Globes, the AG’s stance was based on the recommendations of an inter-ministerial team headed by Erex Kaminitz, the deputy attorney general at the Civil Law Department.

The team includes representatives from a number of state agencies and departments such as the Ministry of Justice, the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, the Israel Capital Markets, Insurance, and Savings Authority, and others.

Despite the stance of Israeli banks, the government of Israel has been looking closely at blockchain technology. Last month the Israeli Securities Authority issued an information request to identify regulations that are preventing the development of blockchain-based ventures in the country.

Coinbase becomes Direct Visa Card Issuer with Principal Membership

Coinbase is now a principal member of VISA, according to the Feb 19 announcement. This will allow it to issue debit cards without relying on third parties. The membership is an evolution of Coinbase’s current relationship with VISA, with the cryptocurrency exchange providing a Visa debit card. Called Coinbase Card, it allows customers residing in the European Union or European Community to spend multiple cryptocurrencies.

While the card itself can function globally, people residing outside of the supported areas can’t order it. Coinbase reports that the card is seeing the most usage in the United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Spain, and France. Through the direct integration with VISA, Coinbase promises that it now can provide additional services and support more markets. The company, however, asserts that it is the first “pure-play crypto company” to become a principal member.

Long History of Debit Cards

The current iteration of the card was launched in 2019 in the U.K., but Coinbase previously supported the Shift crypto card, which drew funds from the user’s exchange balance. The service was launched in 2015.

Like many other crypto cards, Shift was hit hard by the revocation of WaveCrest’s Visa license in early 2018. The Gibraltar company was the effective issuer of almost all debit cards that served cryptocurrency users. Shift finally shut down operations in early 2019.

The new version is supported by Paysafe Financial Services Ltd, the company behind consumer products such as Skrill and PaysafeCard. It is unclear when or how the transaction to Coinbase-issued cards will occur.

Coinbase representatives didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. We’ll update you once we receive more information regarding this.

In the meantime, tell us what do you think about this subject matter? Share your views in the comment section


Irish Court Seizes $56 Million in Bitcoin From Alleged Drug Dealer

An alleged drug dealer lost $52 million euro (over $56 million) in Bitcoin after the Irish High Court ruled that they were criminal proceeds and should be confiscated.

Local news outlet independent.ie reported on Feb 19 that the court accepted that Clifton Collins was involved in drug trafficking. Collins didn’t content the Criminal Assets Bureau’s (CAB) application for the seizure of his assets.

Authorities began investigating Collins when police found a quantity of cannabis in his vehicle during a traffic stop. This led police to search an address in a village in Galway and discover a large number of cannabis plants, allegedly linked to Collins.

Collins was an early Bitcoin Investor

Collins is believed to have invested in Bitcoin at an early stage and received great returns on his investment. The CAB imposed a freeze on his cryptocurrency in an attempt to ensure that it could not be moved without the court’s approval.

The court decided to consider the investment as criminal proceeds, presumably implying that the initial investment was money obtained through drug sales.

The seizure of Collins’s Bitcoin was largely responsible for 2019’s record value of assets seized by the CAB, amounting to €62 million (nearly $67 million) in total.

Cryptocurrencies and Drug Dealers

The correlation between cryptocurrencies and crime is largely caused by their permissionless nature and the ability to hold a crypto address that isn’t linked to one’s identity.

As such, authorities are increasingly finding cryptocurrencies in their investigations of drug dealers and online markets for illicit substances. In October 2018, Christopher Bania was ordered by a Wisconsin court to give up almost 17 bitcoin (worth $150,000 at the time) after pleading guilty to drug distribution.

At the end of August, Neil Wals, chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Cybercrime Program, warned that cryptocurrencies have made combating money laundering significantly harder.

Report: Bank of Korea Seeks to Deploy Blockchain in Bond Market

Global central banks are increasingly looking at blockchain technology as a tool to make interbanking processes more efficient and transparent. Following the World Bank’s exemplary experience of blockchain bond transactions, South Korea’s central bank is working on its own blockchain-based bonds. The report comes first in the press on Feb 18.

Bank of Korea started the project in late 2019

According to the report by local publication Yonhap Infomax, the Bank of Korea has been seeking a blockchain services provider to build a blockchain bond system. It should allow the distribution of the bond records among all participants.

The Bank of Korea reportedly launched a Proof of Concept (PoC) project in late 2019 in order to move bond transaction records that are currently maintained by the Kora Securities Depository to a blockchain-powered base of records accessible by multiple nodes.

South Korea’s Central Bank to evaluate blockchain’s capabilities in speeding up transactions

The blockchain bond project would involve separate nodes operated by South Korea’s regulatory authority, the Korea Fair Trade Commission, the Bank of Korea and other financial institutions, the report notes.

A local official reportedly confirmed that South Korea‘s financial authorities have been testing the potential of blockchain in terms of issuing state bonds to record transactions:

We are using government bonds to record securities and cash transactions in a distributed ledger and test whether a real-time simultaneous payments trading system is possible.

According to Yonhap Infomax, the Bank of Korea’s blockchain research regarding the bond market is being conducted with reference to the purported first-ever blockchain bond transaction handled by the World Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia back in 2018.

As per the earlier report, the World Bank raised a total of $74 million for its two-year blockchain bond as of August 2019. According to the bank, the bond is the first to be created, allocated, transferred, and managed throughout its life cycle using distributed ledger technology.

Regarding the Bank of Korea, South Korea’s central bank announced in late 2019 that it will be setting up a dedicated group to research central bank digital currency in 2020.

Crypto Exchange Tokenomica Now Offers OTC Crypto-to-Euro Trading

Tokenomica, a crypto asset exchange based in Malta, has announced over-the-counter, or OTC, cryptocurrency trading for large participants. The Mediterranean-based exchange now offers participants the ability to trade large amounts of BTC for Euros, separate from the exchange’s order books. The first announcement comes directly from Toenomica through its blog post on Feb 18.

The exchange’s announcement made clear that other cryptocurrencies would also be available for OTC trading but remained ambiguous as to other trading pairs with the Euro.

OTC trading can prevent large price hiccups

Crypto exchanges have order books hosting various price levels at which buyers and sellers look to transact each different digital asset. If a large buyer (or seller) comes along and buys all the available offers in the order book close to any given asset’s market price, then that asset would likely move dramatically at price. To prevent such drastic fluctuations, some entities offer OTC trading, which essentially allows large buyers and sellers to agree on a price and transact away from order books.

Several U.S. based outfits offer OTC crypto trading, including Gemini and Coinbase. Similar to Tokenomica, Binance is another Malta-based crypto exchange that offers OTC trading.

Tokenomica Offers large traders Euros for BTC

Large traders can swap BTC for real fiat Euros on Tokenomica in contrast to the stablecoins used in various capacities on a number of exchanges. Tokenomica pointed out in its announcement, adding that participants can also transfer fiat funds to and from their bank accounts.

Bitcoin OTC trades on Tokenomica must be between 5 and 50 BTC in size and incur a 0.75% trading fee. Large crypto participants can also use Tokenomica’s OTC trading for any digital assets available on the exchange, the announcement noted.

Additionally, just a few days ago, one of the largest digital asset OTC dealers, B2C2, joined forces with U.S. based crypto business SFOX, showing that OTC markets are big business in the crypto space.

European Space Agency Funds Blockchain Project to Record Satellite Data

While Bitcoin (BTC) might not be ready for the moon yet, its underlying technology of blockchain is being increasingly adopted in space. The European Space Agency (ESA), a major intergovernmental organization dedicated to space exploration, is funding a new blockchain project aiming to boost the world’s mining industry.

A known contributor to blockchain technology applications, the ESA has now co-funded a joint project with Scottish startup Hypervine to improve data transparency for the mining industry by combining satellite data and blockchain. The news was reported by oil and gas oriented publication Oil & Gas Middle East.

Blockchain to Prevent Potentially Fatal Accidents in Mining Work

The project has the ambitious mission of preventing miscalculations and potentially catastrophic or fatal accidents in the mining industry by providing a unified and immutable database of mining data. The project is based on Hypervine’s technology, which enables mining teams and their subsidiaries to clearly record data on an unchangeable ledger. As a result, eliminating the risk of the smallest data alterations being magnified down a chain.

Specifically, the initiative aims to record satellite-sourced information on a distributed ledger to provide mining firms with a trusted and coordinated source of data, replacing paper-based sources that need to be cross-checked by multiple teams in different locations. As mining companies may spend months in order to obtain the right data from often-fragmented sources, the blockchain-powered satellite database project is also designed to cut costs of the mining industry.

Positive Environmental Projection

Finally, apart from boosting accuracy and reducing human error and potential risks, the ESA-supported project will also positively impact environmental conditions by reducing carbon emissions powered by operational efficiencies.

Beatrice Barresi, the technical officer at ESA Space Solutions, outlined that the use of satellite-based data for mining is seeing rising investment while expanding such initiatives with technologies like blockchain is expected to provide better commercial outcomes. Barresi continued:

It is a core goal of ours to make industries such as quarrying safer, cleaner and more accountable. Working with companies such as Hypervine allows us to achieve these goals whilst improving the standards across multiple industries. It has been great working with Hypervine on this project and we look forward to the next phases to come.

The ESA has been actively exploring the blockchain industry alongside space research. In September 2019, the agency granted blockchain startup SpaceChain about $66,000 to commercially develop a multi-signature satellite wallet. Previously, the ESA issued a white paper on a potential future roadmap for blockchain implementation for Earth observation.

So, what do you think about the blockchain project by the European Space Agency? Do let us know in the comment section