Malta Partners With Blockchain Startup to Improve Public Transportation

The Transport Minister of Malta has announced a partnership with UK middleware blockchain startup Omnitude to improve the Maltese Public Transport Service, local news outlet The Malta Independent reported May 17.

Malta has expressed the aim of becoming the “Blockchain island,” a goal helped by major crypto exchange Binance – the world’s second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap  – announcing plans this March to open an office in the country. In April, OKEx, currently the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, also announced their intention of expanding to Malta.

Malta’s Transport Minister Ian Borg said that the partnership between Omnitude and the Maltese transport system to create a transport and logistics blockchain platform will “develop overall improvements in transport reliability.”

CEO and founder of Omnitude Chris Painter said that they “look forward to working with the Maltese Government to explore the capabilities of Omnitude’s broad based blockchain ecosystem:”

“Governments around the world are beginning to see the potential for blockchain to reduce costs and streamline services. Malta has an extremely progressive government and we’re excited about the potential this partnership brings.”

In mid-April, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) released a consultation paper on the possible introduction of a “Financial Instrument Test” that would legally define virtual tokens in another step towards regulatory clarity for blockchain and crypto projects.

Coincheck to Delist Privacy Coins Monero, Zcash, and Dash

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Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck has will delist trading pairs for privacy-centric cryptocurrencies monero (XMR), zcash (ZEC), and dash (DASH) next month.

The Tokyo-based exchange, which was purchased by brokerage firm Monex following a high-profile January hack that saw the platform lose $530 million in NEM tokens (XEM), announced on Friday that it will no longer facilitate trading for these cryptocurrencies, which provide their users with the ability to make transactions that are less traceable than those made with bitcoin and most other blockchain-based coins.

Coincheck said that it came to the decision to cease support for these cryptocurrencies following a “drastic review” of its internal control system and as part of a new “management strategy that thoroughly protects customers.” It is “not appropriate,” the firm said, to deal with these currencies, as they present risks to the firm’s ability to maintain compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

As CCN reported, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) — the regulatory agency that licenses cryptocurrency trading platforms to operate in the country — is rumored to be pressuring exchanges to delist privacy coins.

Coincheck, whose FSA license was pending at the time of the record-setting hack in January, was acquired by Monex in part because its former owners were said to be unable to abide by the business improvement order that the FSA issued to it following the theft. Consequently, the move to delist these privacy coins could be interpreted as an attempt by the new management to bring the platform back into the FSA’s good graces.

Augur’s reputation token (REP), which will be the native asset of the startup’s prediction market, will be delisted as well, perhaps due to its perceived association with unlicensed gambling.

Traders have until June 18 to withdraw their XRM, DASH, ZEC, and REP. Coins that are not withdrawn will be sold at market price and converted into JPY, which will then be credited to customer accounts.

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Former UK Visa CEO Takes Helm of Crypto Consumer Payment Startup

The former head of Visa in the UK and Ireland has joined a startup bringing crypto to consumer payments, Business Insider NL reports today, May 19.

Marc O’Brien, who worked for Visa between 2008 and 2014, has recently joined crypto consumer payment startup Crypterium, which aims to make it possible to spend crypto in everyday situations, Business Insider reports. Speaking on the importance of crypto adoption as a medium of exchange, O’Brien told Business Insider:

“The idea is that cryptocurrency is actually quite difficult today to use as an everyday method of payment. If you were to go to an exchange with your Bitcoin or your Ether it would probably take you 3 to 7 days to get that money paid out into a normal bank account. What Crypterium will do is make that whole process seamless and give an opportunity for a consumer to actually use their cryptocurrency to pay for everyday items.”

Crypterium was incorporated in Estonia in 2017, reportedly raising $52 mln through an initial coin offering (ICO) at the end of last year. The company is focused on developing technology to launch crypto-supporting payment cards, and hopes to partner with either Mastercard or Visa to launch its first products this fall, according to Business Insider.

When asked how such a mechanism would cope with the notoriously volatile market valuations of cryptocurrencies, O’Brien declined to reveal the company’s so-called “secret sauce,” saying there is “careful” protection surrounding the intellectual property of the system.

This spring, Visa’s chief financial officer Vasant Prabhu criticized crypto for enabling criminal activities, saying that “every crook and every dirty politician in the world, I bet, is in cryptocurrency,” given that “it’s very hard to get dirty money through a banking system.” In February, Visa drew widespread criticism from the crypto space for charging its customers multiple times for transactions on leading US crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase.

Skychain News: ICO, Neural Network Development, Short-Term Plans, and More

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Skychain’s ICO was held from February 26 to April 8, 2018. In total, 10.3 million tokens have been sold at an average price of $1.05. Though Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies slumped in March, Skychain has successfully reached the soft cap, and then sold some more. When the ICO was over, the project team got 2 million tokens (which will be locked up for 2 years). The total capitalization of the project is SKCH 12.3 million. All the unsold tokens have been burned.

What does the project team do?

The Skychain project team is currently developing a few neural networks to diagnose different diseases:

  • A neural network to analyze magnetic resonance (MRI), computer tomography (CT), and X-ray images for cancer and other disease diagnostics.

Dmitry Musinov, one of its developers, says that even highly experienced doctors may have a hard time trying to make a diagnosis by looking at X-ray images. Skychain programmers have analyzed a few modern approaches to the problem and selected the most effective algorithm, which had been developed at Stanford University. Then they modified the neural network design by adding more layers. To speed up the deep learning process, they pre-processed the medical data to be used to train the neural network to detect diseases by analyzing X-ray images.    

Their neural network can already recognize the following abnormalities: atelectasis, cardiomegaly, effusion, infiltration, tumor-like mass, nodules, pneumonia, pneumothorax, consolidation, edema, emphysema, fibrosis, pleural thickening, and hernia. The average accuracy of diagnosis of these medical conditions is 82 percent.

  • A neural network to analyze tissue sample images for cancer differential diagnostics.

Before prescribing cancer treatment, the doctor needs to know the histological type of the malignant tumor. Both the choice of drugs to be used for the treatment and the prognosis will depend on that type. For example, there are several histological types of lung cancer, each of which has its own specifics and its own response to treatment.

  • A neural network to analyze electrocardiograms (ECG) for heart disease diagnostics.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Sometimes the doctor is unable to recognize a heart disease based on a single medical examination, so the patient has to wear a cardiac monitor for a few weeks until a sufficient amount of data is accumulated. It takes a lot of time to analyze all of that data manually, which can be a matter of life and death for the patient.  Thankfully, our neural network can recognize abnormalities almost instantly and much more accurately than a flesh-and-blood doctor.

If everything goes as planned, the Skychain project team will also develop a neural network for skin disease diagnostics.

The development of these neural networks will be completed in the fall of 2018.

The project team

Skychain has expanded its project team. Now seven programmers work on the project, and more will be added soon enough.

The majority of Skychain developers will be based in Moscow (Russia), and some developers will work in Yekaterinburg (Russia).

Short-term plans

The Skychain founder Gennady Popov says that they are going to bring their system to the market as soon as possible; to earn reputation and draw more participants, they will focus on the real needs of potential users.

Some major health facilities in Moscow have agreed to begin testing Skychain’s neural networks and actually using them to diagnose diseases this summer.

According to Skychain’s preliminary estimates, it is highly possible that the project will break even in late 2018 or in early 2019.

Financial prospects

The healthcare AI market capitalization grows steadily from year to year. Many health facilities will be able to reduce their costs by using Skychain. Thanks to the easy availability of its technology, in the long term, it will generate a tidy profit for its infrastructure participants and help improve the quality of medical care for the general public.

Listing SKCH on cryptocurrency exchanges

SKCH is already listed on IDEX: https://idex.market/eth/skch

Skychain website: https://skychain.global/

U.S.: Colorado Proposes Accepting Cryptocurrency for Political Campaigns

Political candidates in Colorado could soon accept Bitcoin or other digital currencies for their campaigns, according to reports by the Denver Post on May 17.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams made the proposal for allowing donations of cryptocurrencies in political campaigns in draft rules presented on May 16, the Denver Post reports.

The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) has already approved the acceptance of Bitcoin as in-kind donations for political campaigns, which gives the campaign 10 days to transfer the donated cryptocurrency into their campaign’s official depository.

Donations in crypto would be treated as cash donations, the value being determined at the time of donation. According to the Denver Post, Colorado is likely to follow the FEC’s designation of cryptocurrency being an in-kind donation, which would return or refund contributions back to the donators if the value of the donated cryptocurrency exceeds the aggregate limit.

While such donations may be convenient for the donator, Colorado’s deputy secretary of state Suzanne Staiert said, “[i]t’s going to be an accounting problem, potentially, for campaigns who want to use it.”  However, Staiert also added that the “FEC is doing it now, so we are just going along for the ride.”

Colorado would not be the first U.S. state to allow donations to political campaigns in cryptocurrency — the first being New Hampshire, which began allowing candidates to accept contributions in cryptocurrency in 2014.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph reported that a piece of state legislation to create guidelines for identifying crypto tokens was voted down in the Colorado state Senate, in what some perceived as a blow to blockchain innovation in the state.

GANA Technologies Completes a Successful Private Token Sale, Prepares to Start Public Sale on May 21

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Green and Nature Association (GANA) Technologies, provides AI and blockchain technology-based solutions to the cannabis industry. GANA is all set to start the public sale after a 100% successful private sale of 10K ETH. GANA’s vision is to become the biggest data holder in the cannabis industry. Accordingly, consult new and existing cannabis businesses and provide more healthier and efficient service to cannabis users.

May 16, 2018: Following the end of a successful private token sale, Green and Nature Association (GANA) Technology is delighted to announce the official start of the public sale of GANA token on May 21.  This blockchain start-up promises to be a gamechanger in the cannabis sector by providing blockchain and AI technologies solutions to individuals and research institutes through an ecosystem that collects and shares key industry data. A total supply of 2,400,000,000 GANA tokens will be up for sale during the first public sale to be conducted by GANA Technologies.  

Over the last few years, the field of AI has progressed in leaps and bounds in almost all industries. However, when it comes to decision making, there has always been a constant debate over the ethical responsibilities of AI. In case of the medical industry including that of Cannabis, a thorough management of such AI’s must be undertaken.

The GANA ecosystem looks to solve the inadequacies of the current cannabis industry by collecting data from the users, retailers, researchers, and other data sources and providing target-based content provision. Utilizing the groundbreaking blockchain technology, GANA ensures transparent data management for providing valuable information to both the consumers and companies. By offering quality authentication system and business intelligence platform, they want to provide an artificial intelligence based personal assistance service to cannabis users. The ultimate goal for GANA is to become the largest data holder in the global cannabis industry.

Some of the key benefits of the new concept created by GANA Technologies are

  • Product quality authentication system: A blockchain based authentication system that tracks seed-to-sale process using QR code.
  • Artificial intelligence based image recognition: GANA is currently working on developing a function of mobile application that can scan a bud and calculate the possibilities of containing substances using artificial intelligence based image recognition technology.
  • Collecting consumer data: GANA aims on collecting consumer data to carry out consumer analytics just like Amazon, Facebook and YouTube. By analyzing data generated by the users, they are looking to provide more optimized recommendations.
  • Personal assistant service: This feature will be particularly useful for the new cannabis users that do not know which type to consume in a given situation and purpose.
  • Business intelligence platform: Cannabis companies often have customer data that can be used for understanding them better and creating better services or products, but lack the knowledge to deal with those data. GANA aspires to become their consultants by sharing the data and artificial intelligence based analysis tools to provide insights for their business.
  • Payment system: Users can use GANA payment to purchase products, services and digital contents using GANA tokens.

“GANA Technologies provides blockchain and AI technologies solutions which are required by individuals and research institutes through establishing an ecosystem that collects and shares cannabis industry data with lagged technology,” says Gapseong Noh, the CEO and Founder of GANA Technologies.

The upcoming public sale of GANA tokens will take place over four different rounds.    
Mentioned below are some key points related to this taken sale.

  • Total token amount: 2,400,000,000 GANA
  • Token rate: 1 ETH= 20,000 GANA
  • Bonus rate: 1ETH = 20,000 + 0 ~ 2,000 GANA (+ 0 ~ 10% bonus) 
  • Hard cap = 60,000 ETH
  • Coin allocation: GANA sale 50%, reserve pool 15%, team 15%, advisors and partners 10%, and company 10%.    

To find out more about Green and Nature Association (GANA) Technologies, please visit https://ganacoin.io/ico

About GANA Technologies: GANA Technologies provides optimized blockchain and AI technologies based solutions to individuals and research institutes by establishing an ecosystem which collects and shares data from the cannabis industry. The data learned by their AI model is based on data collected by the users themselves. This makes the users themselves part of the indirect developers of such models since GANA provides full authorities to the type and range of their data for learning. GANA aims on providing transparent management of development process to establish trust with users.  

Contact:  Ellie

Website: https://ganacoin.io/ico

Email: [email protected]

VC Firm Behind Snapchat Looks to Ramp up its Crypto Investments, Report Says

The venture capital firm behind Snapchat is looking at ways to increase their investments in the crypto industry, tech journal Recode reported May 17.

Aaron Batalion, a partner at venture capital firm Lightspeed, is leading an effort to boost the firm’s investment by exploring three methods: setting up a new fund, carving out a portion of an existing fund, or launching an entirely new project, Recode reports, citing “sources”.

According to Recode, Lightspeed is leaning toward carving out part of an existing fund for crypto investments rather than setting up an entirely new fund, which they had been considering over the past few months.

Recode also adds that Batalion reportedly may not want to wait and is considering stepping down from his position as a general partner at Lightspeed to launch his own crypto-focused project. Citing a source close to Batalion, Recode reports that Lightspeed is prepared to financially back the new potential project.

Batalion is not the only partner at Lightspeed interested in cryptocurrencies. Jeremy Liew, who led the firm’s investment into Snapchat and is now a bullish Bitcoin proponent, was a part of Lightspeed’s backing of crypto wallet Blockchain.com’s initial funding in 2014.

Lightspeed’s interest in cryptocurrency is shared by multiple other major traditional VC firms. As Cointelegraph reported last month, both Comcast Ventures and the Rockefeller family’s venture capital arm Venrock are making their own moves into the crypto space.

Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Poor Week, Ether Gains 5% and Aelf Rises 17%

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The cryptocurrency market has rebounded over the past 24 hours by around $17 billion, from $365 billion to $382 billion. Major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, Ether and EOS increased in the 3 to 7 percent range, pushing the cryptocurrency market towards the $400 region.

Ethereum and Tokens

Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network, has been the best performing cryptocurrency amongst major digital assets in the likes of bitcoin, EOS, and Cardano. The price of Ether recovered to $713, rising by more than 5 percent.

The daily trading volume of Ether has started to near its previous levels in early January and February, during a period in which the price and volume of Ether achieved an all-time high. The rise in the volume of Ether has demonstrated the increase in the demand for cryptocurrencies from investors in the global market, especially in regions like Japan and South Korea.

According to CryptoCompare, a cryptocurrency market data provider, the daily trading volume of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Japan and South Korea had significantly dropped from May 15 to 18, by nearly 30 percent.

Some experts including Bithumb and UPbit executives previously stated that the imposition of impractical policies by the South Korean government led the volumes of exchanges to fall, but it remains unclear as to why the volume of Japanese exchanges suddenly fell within a 3-day period. It is possible that rumors surrounding bitFlyer caused the market to lose confidence temporarily, as the volume of the Japanese market started to recover after bitFlyer executives refuted rumors of potential hacking attacks.

As seen in the chart below, the volume of bitcoin has continuously declined since it tested the $10,000 support level earlier this month. After reaching $9,900, the price of bitcoin dipped below $7,900 and the volume of the global market declined.

Unlike bitcoin, the daily trading volume of Ether has been relatively stable and in comparison to its volume in January, when the valuation of the cryptocurrency market was still in the $500 billion region, the volume of Ether has not fallen substantially. As such, in the short-term, it is highly likely that Ether will outperform most cryptocurrencies in the market.

Investors in the cryptocurrency market often reallocate their funds in major cryptocurrencies to tokens and small-scale cryptocurrencies if they start to become more confident in the short-term future of the market.

Over the past 24 hours, tokens such as 0x (ZRX), Aelf (ELF), and Polychain (POLY) increased by around 10 to 20 percent, signifying the improvement of market conditions and increase in confidence from investors in the global cryptocurrency market. With the exception of some tokens such as DigixDAO, Binance Coin, and Storm, the majority of tokens outperformed bitcoin over the past 24 hours, gaining by more than 5 percent in value.

No Consensus Pump

Earlier today, Tom Lee, an analyst at Wall Street firm Fundstrat, stated that the cryptocurrency market did not benefit from the Consensus 2018 event, which Fundstrat previously described as a potential catalyst that could lead the cryptocurrency market to rebound.

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WSJ: Coinbase Spoke to U.S. Regulators About Acquiring Federal Banking License

Major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase spoke to regulators about obtaining a federal banking charter, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) May 18.

Citing “a person familiar with the matter”, the WSJ reports that Coinbase spoke to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) at the beginning of 2018 both about a bank charter and about their business model.

A spokesperson for Coinbase declined to comment on the meeting to the WSJ, but added that the company is “committed to working closely with state and federal regulators to ensure we are properly licensed for the products and services we offer.” The OCC and Coinbase have not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment by press time.

At the beginning of April, the WSJ reported that Coinbase was also looking into registering as a licensed brokerage firm and electronic-trading venue with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Earlier this week, Coinbase had announced plans to launch a new suite of products targeting institutional investors like hedge funds.

As the WSJ points out, a federal banking license would allow Coinbase to offer its own custody and payment services using an OCC limited-purpose charter, also helping the company attract more institutional customers. It would also allow Coinbase to deal with only one federal regulator, as opposed to a multitude of state ones, as well as offer users federally insured bank accounts.

However, the OCC’s Joseph Otting said at a banking association meeting in April that most fintech firms that come in with the intention of obtaining a banking charter to avoid state regulations do not follow through:

“When they come and they speak to us, and they understand what it really takes to be a bank, they kind of glaze over and often leave skid marks leaving the building.”

The U.S. government has recently begun looking more into regulations for cryptocurrencies, with the SEC launching a probe into crypto businesses in the beginning of March. In mid-March, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment held a hearing on cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), with Coinbase’s Chief Legal and Risk Officer Mike Lempres as one of the four industry witnesses.

During the hearing Lempres referred to the current US regulatory system for cryptocurrencies as “harming healthy innovation”, due to a lack of clarity.

Bitcoin Magazine’s Week in Review: Blockchain’s Big Gathering

This week’s news was dominated by stories out of Blockchain Week and the Consensus 2018 conference held in New York City. There was free beer served from an ID-validating dispenser, Warren Buffet was criticized for his “rat poison” view of cryptocurrency, and there were plenty of business announcements, including news from eToro, Netki, Bitmain and Circle. Catch up on these stories and more in this week’s Bitcoin Magazine review.

Featured stories by Amy Castor, Colin Harper and  Kyle Torpey

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Fred Wilson Explains Why Warren Buffett Doesn’t Get Bitcoin

In his 2018 annual shareholder meeting at Berkshire Hathaway recently, Warren Buffet referred to bitcoin as “rat poison.” Venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Balaji Srinivasan had a chat with Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Vigna on the mainstage of Consensus 2018. The pair of tech investors pointed out the differences between Buffett’s approach to investing and how the crypto asset market works.

Civic Demos Proof of Concept With Beer Vending Machines, Launches ID Codes

Blockchain identity verification platform Civic has emerged from Consensus 2018 with a project that imagines a network of validators and service providers who work together to verify individual identities. Conceptually, new users would put identity information on a smart contract that would get validated with references on the blockchain that attest to its validity. Then service providers can request to validate said information, which would streamline ID checks and help prevent against fraud.

Civic showed a working proof of concept using their Civic app. Anyone verified on the platform can scan a QR code to prove that they’re of legal drinking age. In a partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Civic unveiled the vending machine at Consensus 2018, offering anyone who used it a free brew from the “world’s first crypto beer vending machine.”

Digital Identity Company Netki Launches Investor Validation Solution

Los Angeles based Netki just made it easier for companies launching token sales to onboard their customers in a way that supports compliance with existing security laws, using their digital identity confirmation platform. The company is adding investor validation to its existing know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) solution. The service allows investors to upload requisite documents via a web browser or mobile app.  Compliance is a huge concern for ICO projects right now. Regulators are in the midst of trying to decide how to label virtual currencies, and it is looking as if they may rule that many existing tokens are non-compliant securities.

Social Cryptocurrency Trading and Brokerage Firm eToro Is Expanding to U.S.

eToro is a regulated global brokerage firm located in Israel that trades in cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities, ETFs and more. Having recently received $100 million in funding, the company is currently in talks with U.S. financial institutions, regulators and regulatory advisors, and has already registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The company is opening an office in New Jersey and plans launch a crypto wallet later this year.

Bitmain Leads Circle’s $110 Million Round; Teams Up to Create Stable Coin

Bitmain continues to make news. The largest of the Bitcoin mining operations is putting its muscle behind mobile payments and cryptocurrency trading firm Circle by leading a $110 million Series E round of funding, the companies announced at Consensus this week.

They are also joining forces to create a “stablecoin,” a cryptocurrency that is pegged to a stable asset. The goal is to eventually have lots of stable tokens, all backed by different fiat currencies, managed by CENTRE, but the first will be Circle USD Coin (USDC), a coin backed one-to-one by the U.S. dollar with the fiat to be stored in an auditable bank account and redeemable by verified buyers.