In a bid to accelerate its efficiency and productivity via blockchain technology, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a Mumbai-based conglomerate holding firm that deals in petrochemicals, telecommunications. textiles and more, has invested $5 million into Vakt Holdings Limited, which is a U.K.-based distributed ledger technology (DLT) firm, reported VCCircle on December 24, 2018.

Energy Trading Company Adopts Blockchain Technology

Reliance Industries Limited is primarily focused on the exploration and production of oil and gas, but of recent, their attention has been drawn to blockchain technology.

This is evident in their 5.56 percent equity share in Vakt Holdings Limited which was bought at $5 million.

According to the Mumbai-based company, they aim to digitize their trading processes and also meet the trends in technology. Therefore, they have decided to employ a blockchain solution in their energy markets division to create an ecosystem that is secure and trusted.

While revealing the details of the said investment, RIL mentioned that regulations were not carried out before an agreement ensued between both parties.

Moreover, this is an investment that cannot be categorized under the “related party transactions.”

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Vakt, Formed by the Alliance of Reputable Companies

The U.K.-based startup, on the other hand, is a blockchain venture created in December 2017. It was formed as a result of an alliance with nine major energy companies and banks, including Shell, Statoil, Mercuria,  Societe Generale, and ABN Amro.

As per sources close to the matter, the DLT solution monitors the full life cycle of energy trading, as well a the manual processes of maintaining information on paper, as well as mitigating risks and fostering cost-efficiency.

Although Vakt is still in its development stages, there are plans that member companies will be among the first to gain access to it in 2019. These companies, as well as RIL, will be using it for the trading of oil and gas.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, an arm of Reliance Industries reportedly made it clear that they were also interested in modern technologies a few months ago.

A team was hired to look into the application of nascent technologies such as DLT, artificial intelligence  (AI), and machine learning.

On November 14, 2018, BTCManager reported that Shell and Equinor had sponsored a blockchain-based platform that is aimed at revolutionizing the oil and gas sector. In related news, on December 2, 2018, BTCManager informed the Vakt had been successfully launched, in a first of its kind occurrence for the oil and gas ecosystem.

Blockchain could make its way into disaster relief operations from the United States Department of Defense, the organization revealed in a press release Dec. 21.

During a presentation hosted by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) office in Philadelphia earlier this month, officials reviewed how blockchain technology could help emergencies responses.

Efforts to provide aid following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico were used as a case study.

“We think there’s a lot of potential [in blockchain],” CPI management analyst Elijah Londo commented, quoted in the press release:

“Where do we want to be as an organization in shaping and influencing where the [Department of Defense] goes with blockchain?”

The technological improvements would target centralized aspects of the current system, notably areas of logistics that depend on multiple centralized entities. Data sharing under such circumstances is an area ripe for innovation.

Also under review are “transaction processing and in-transit visibility of shipments.”

“This is where I can see where blockchain would have been a big help,” Construction and Equipment deputy director Marko Graham continued:

“Flowing [materiel [sic’ specifications and tracking data] from the manufacturer buying the raw materials to…getting the transportation and getting it on the barges.”

The broader U.S. defense setup has targeted blockchain’s benefits for several years, involving everything from blockchain workshops to a cryptographic chat platform.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Recent research by the Wall Street Journal published Dec. 27 revealed that hundreds of cryptocurrency offerings showed signs of fraudulent activity, improbable returns and plagiarism.

In the course of its research, the WSJ downloaded “white papers” of 3,291 cryptocurrency projects that announced an initial coin offering (ICO) from three websites — ICOBench.com, Tokendata.io and ICORating.com.

A white paper is an informational document issued by a company that describes the company’s position, team biography, and technical specifics of a project, and is designed to be used as a marketing tool for potential investors.

The reporters further conducted an analysis of the documents, excluding duplicate and non-English papers:

“To identify duplicate language, the Journal compared sentences with at least 10 unique words to every other sentence in other white papers. Reporters then read and reviewed nearly 10,000 sentences appearing more than once among the 3,291 papers analyzed and removed technical and legal sounding language. Then, the Journal compared reported offering dates to determine which document first published any given sentence and excluded those projects from this database.”

The analysis reportedly indicated that 16 percent — or 513 — of the aforementioned white papers showed signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of implausible returns. White papers of more than 2,000 of the 3,291 projects contained sentences with luring terms such as “nothing to lose, guaranteed profit, return on investment, highest return, high return, funds profit, no risk and little risk.”

State and federal regulators in the United States have previously cracked down on various offerings with similar language, issuing cease and desist orders and at times filing charges against alleged offenders.

Additionally, the WSJ tried to identify fake team members by reverse image search of photos of people associated with 343 crypto projects, which did not cite key data about team members. Some documents did not list team members at all, so the Journal searched for names appearing in a list of over one million managed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In August, the WSJ claimed in a study that cryptocurrency price manipulation was largely conducted by organized “trading groups” using services such as Telegram. The WSJ suggested that coordinated “pump and dump” schemes had seen traders inflate and crash the prices of various cryptocurrencies this year.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Japan is one of the largest crypto hubs across the globe. Along with the United States, it’s the only country that enforces some sort of licensing structure for companies looking to enter the crypto space, and as it turns out, most companies are looking to get a piece of that action.

According to Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), approximately 190 new cryptocurrency firms are seeking entry to Japan’s digital asset market. Four months ago, that number stood at only 160, suggesting an increase of roughly 30 companies in a relatively short period.

Japan’s Crypto Scene Is Expanding

The FSA has issued a statement, explaining:

“Including preliminary consultation/ inquiries regarding registration, more than 190 operators are expressing their intention of market entry.”

This presents an interesting scenario in the sense that most companies are showing interest in being part of a legit enterprise. Japan’s FSA has sworn to become far more involved in the nation’s crypto arena following the Coincheck debacle that occurred last January. More than $500 million in crypto funds were stolen, and the exchange was widely criticized for its utilization of hot wallet over cold storage tactics.

The FSA then began working with Coincheck and competing exchanges to update their security protocols. The organization also began issuing warnings to exchanges advising them to cooperate with its new licensing structure and explaining that those who refused would face the possibility of shutdown.

There are roughly 16 licensed cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan including GMO Coin and SBI Virtual Currency. All cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the FSA before opening their doors for public trade.

The fact that Japan is being strict with crypto-based businesses and operations, yet so many companies want in suggests that these enterprises strongly desire regulation and a sense of legitimacy. Among the companies looking to perform crypto-related business in Japan are Yahoo!, Daiwa Securities Group, Money Forward Inc., Yamane Medical Corp., Avex Inc. and Samurai & J Partners.

The FSA Is Always Watching

In addition, the FSA has also given approval to Coincheck (following an extensive audit), Lastroots and Everybody’s Bitcoin as cryptocurrency dealers. This gives them and companies like them the opportunity to operate in Japan’s primary crypto sector while their applications are still under review.

Coincheck has slowly been reintroducing its services to customers after it was obtained by the Monex Group just a few months ago.

Are we likely to see other companies banging on Japan’s cryptocurrency doors? Post your thoughts and comments below.

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

A Taiwanese man suspected of stealing electricity worth over $3 million to mine Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) has been arrested, according to a report from local news channel EBC Dongsen News Dec. 26.

The suspect, whose surname has been given as Yang, has been accused of allegedly stealing the electricity to successfully mine cryptocurrencies worth over 100 million yuan (around $14.5 million). Yang is purported to have used a minimum of 17 various business premises to open toy shops or internet cafes there as a facade for his alleged crypto mining activities.

The report claims Yang hired electricians to rewire the premises in such a way as to evade electricity metering and detection of the stolen power. State-owned utility provider the Taiwan Power Company is reported to have first noticed irregularities in the power supply, prompting a police investigation. In addition to Yang, a suspected accomplice has also been reportedly identified.

Wang Zhicheng, deputy head of the fourth brigade of Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, is quoted by EBC Dongsen News as saying that:

“The [suspects] recruited electricians who managed to break into the sealed meters in order to add in private lines to use electricity for free before that usage reaches the meters.”

Suspected power theft to fuel crypto mining operations is not unprecedented; this October, a man in China’s northern Shanxi province  was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for allegedly stealing power from a train station to fuel his Bitcoin mining operations.

Also in China — this time in the country’s Anhui province — a separate suspect was arrested for attempting to steal electricity to fund his reportedly “unprofitable” mining operations.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has launched a cross-border remittance product based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology, according to an announcement published Dec. 27.

Established in 1952, the NBK is the largest financial institution in terms of assets in Kuwait. Per the bank’s 2017 annual report, the NBK has over $86.3 billion in total assets.

The NBK has reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — “NBK Direct Remit” — for international live payments based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology. The product will purportedly speed up cross-border money transfers.

Dimitrios Kokosioulis, the deputy CEO of group operations and technology, said that the blockchain-based solution allows the bank’s customers to “make money transfers within seconds” and “anytime of the day.” Kokosioulis added that the service will also be available in Jordan, and will subsequently expand to other countries.

In November, Malaysian lending giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd joined RippleNet. CIMB will integrate Ripple’s XCurrent product, a software solution for expediting cross-border payments, for its “SpeedSend” remittance product.

Also that month, Japanese bank and financial services firm Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. said it will use Ripple to create a new cross-border payments service to Brazil through partnership with Banco Bradesco. The product aims to “assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil.”

In October, Ripple launched its real-time settlement platform xRapid for commercial use. xRapid is a platform designed to speed up international payments, while eliminating the need for a pre-funded nostro account.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Could India potentially put an end to its present crypto ban? According to the New India Express, the answer might be “yes.”

The publication recently stated that an interdisciplinary committee created by the Indian government has had several meetings regarding cryptocurrency activity in the country and is allegedly in favor of both regulating and legalizing cryptocurrencies rather than fully banning them.

Will Crypto Come Back to India?

An anonymous senior official explained to the publication:

“We have already had two meetings. There is a consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders. Deliberations are on.”

India first sought to ban the sale and trades of cryptocurrencies in April of 2018. The nation’s central bank – the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – made the announcement in its first policy statement for the fiscal year, citing volatility and cyber theft as the primary reasons as to why banks would no longer be permitted to work with firms or agencies that dealt in cryptocurrencies.

The bank stated:

“In view of the associated risk, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or selling [virtual currencies].”

Many blockchain and crypto-based businesses took offense to the notion of a potential crypto ban throughout the country. Sathvik Vishwanath – co-founder of Unocoin – explained:

“No other player in India was foreseeing this, and it comes as a shock. People are trying to exit as they feel they won’t be able to cash out after three months. Selling volumes in bitcoin are as high as 1.5 times in a single day and the price has gone down by ten percent of what it should ideally be.”

This presents something of a two-sided coin in the sense that while the ban was set in motion roughly eight months ago, the interdisciplinary committee was created just a year earlier. Why would India design a body to manage cryptocurrencies if it was planning to shun them?

The organization is composed of representatives from other government associations, banking platforms and “relevant agencies.” Allegedly, the committee’s original goal to was to ban private currencies circulating regularly in India, though this stance appears to be softening.

Another meeting is already scheduled for January. The Committee has also been ordered by the country’s supreme court to provide clear legislation regarding cryptocurrency exchange operations by February of 2019.

Moving Forward in the Crypto Space

The anonymous official explains:

“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and we will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity.”

Will India move forward with allowing crypto trades? Post your comments below.

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

Blockchain Cuties, one of the most popular crypto collectible games today, is officially launching on Tron Arcade on December 28, making it the first full-features gaming dApp to launch on the platform, BlockTribune reported on December 25, 2018.

Blockchain Cuties Collectibles Game Launches on Tron Arcade

Blockchain Cuties, a crypto collectible game that rose to popularity for being the first Gaming Dapp to achieve interoperability and simultaneous gameplay across multiple blockchains, is officially launching on Tron Arcade.

According to the company, the official launch of Blockchain Cuties on TRON is scheduled for December 28, 2018, making it the first full-featured gaming dapp to launch on the platform.

When Cuties launches on TRON, they will again become the first gaming Dapp to build cross-chain functionality for three different networks, Tron explained in a Medium post. The company noted that this type of operability could help blockchain games realize their potential in delivering a new gaming experience.

Despite being a crypto collectible game at its core, Blockchain Cuties aims to provide a unique experience to its users. There are many strategic elements to the game itself, as each Cutie has a has a unique genome that serves as an analog for human DNA. Arguably the most exciting part of the metagame is to decode the breeding system to create the most valuable and appealing Cutie.

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Tron Arcade has started a pre-sale to prepare for the official launch of the game, where users can buy the Cuties version of the company’s mascot Tronbeary. The pre-sale also features a Cutie version of Justin Sun, Tron’s CEO, with his patented pineapple sneakers.

Tron Actively Trying to Break into Gaming

While blockchain gaming isn’t a new phenomenon, the industry has had a tough time penetrating the lucrative gaming industry for quite some time.

With many of the most popular blockchain networks being too slow to support thousands of users that these games would bring, some industry leaders have focused on building stand-alone systems that would be used only for games.

Tron’s Mainnet managed to solve the issues networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum had when faced with a large scale gaming operation – scalability. To do that, the Tron Foundation launched the Tron Arcade earlier in November and dedicated a $100 million fund that would be used to improve the company’s gaming blockchain.

Tron’s founder and CEO, Justin Sun, commented on the matter in a November press release, saying:

“Tron strives to tackle existing issues faced by the gaming industry by leveraging the open, transparent, and immutability of blockchain technology. Tron Arcade will play a crucial role in encouraging developers to join in our mission and provide the best blockchain gaming experience to users around the world.”

This post is credited to btcmanager

Blockchain technology is primed to take over the automotive industry in the next three years. if senior executives in the sector are to be believed, reported Times of India on December 24, 2018.

Blockchain to Augment Business Processes

In a joint study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics, researchers concluded 64 percent of surveyed executives working in the automotive sector believe blockchain and distributed computing systems will become a dominant force in the industry by 2021. The belief is centered on the technology’s potential to “strengthen trust and collaboration” between consumers, businesses, and IoT-enabled vehicles.

In addition, 54 percent of all executives think newer business models will be formulated to influence institutional investing in blockchain-focused companies, while over 50 percent of existing players implementing the technology within production frameworks would deploy their first commercial blockchain product by 2021.

Overall, the researchers interviewed 1,314 executives across ten functional areas in ten emerging and developed markets. The study added that maturation of blockchain networks, with existing and developing business frameworks, will ultimately provide companies with new revenue streams and customers with sophisticated services.

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The study added:

“By overcoming constraints of technical challenges of storing, processing, sharing and analyzing data, blockchain can shift information [paradigms] from error-prone to value-add. [Shared] information becomes a lifetime history of an asset (such as a vehicle) or transaction and is transparent to all.”

Information Friction and the Lack of Blockchain Awareness

As per opinion, executives note blockchain can provide deep insights into “information friction” faced by the automotive industry, with 55 percent of equipment manufacturers and 40 percent of suppliers feeling such risks can be vastly improved. Furthermore, 43 percent and 29 percent of both groups respectively believe a distributed ledger would increase the ability of participants to access information needed for crucial transactions.

Areas most affected by information friction include finance, supply chain, and mobility services; which all form vital functional areas in a business. Most surveyed individuals see blockchain technology as the answer to reducing the fallacy.

Meanwhile, collated data showed after sales services and quality tracking was the most in Germany, China, and Mexico; three highly-rated areas for original equipment manufacturing.

However, only a small number of executives displayed stated that their organization was “ready” for the commercial usage of blockchain technology. Lack of education and awareness of blockchain technology among executives was determined as the foremost reason for the slow development in deploying a distributed ledger-based product, while regulatory constraints formed the other major aspect.

This post is credited to btcmanager

Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group plans to introduce a digital currency to be used for remittances and payments in March, English-language Asian media Nikkei reports Dec. 26.

According to the article, the fees that the retail shops will be required to pay for accepting the currency will be significantly lower than the fees charged for credit card usage. The transfer of funds back and forth between the digital wallet and the bank account will reportedly be free, as will be sending funds to other users.

Furthermore, according to Nikkei, the bank brought “about 60 regional banks on board” to promote cashless payments. Moreover, regional banks will reportedly be able to provide the service under a common name, which hasn’t been established yet.

The currency will reportedly be managed by a dedicated smartphone app, and the payments will be made using QR codes. The token will be a stablecoin fixed at a price of 1 yen per unit, Nikkei writes.

Mizuho Financial Group is a public banking holding company that reported 1.45 trillion yen of revenue in 2017, equivalent to over $13 billion. The virtual currency is the result of the development of J-Coin, announced in September 2017 by Mizuho.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank, will also launch its own digital currency: MUFG coin.

In regard to crypto legislation within Japan, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering placing cryptocurrencies into a dedicated legal category called “crypto-assets” to prevent confusion with legal tender.

This post is credited to cointelegraph