Category: Ethereum

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Why the SEC was right to reject nine BTC ETFs

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Smart Contracts, Technology, Tokens, Wallet, Security Tokens, Ethereum, Securities

Why the SEC was right to reject nine BTC ETFs

When news broke that the US SEC had rejected a total of nine separate applications for Bitcoin Exchange-traded fund (ETFs), a key player in the industry feared the worst for not just the markets, but the future of the technology as well. But this may not actually be the bad news that everyone first thought it would be and this is why.

Whilst the cryptocurrency industry is pretty keen to launch exchange-traded funds (ETFs), regulatory bodies such as the SEC do not share their enthusiasm. For many, a crypto-ETF is seen as the next big milestone in the mainstream adoption of crypto and virtual assets.

Over the last few years, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has received a number of ETF proposals from companies and individuals such as the Winklevoss twins, none of which have passed its stringent sets of criteria. It seems that they are not convinced that the world of cryptocurrencies is ready for ETFs just yet.

Back in 2013, the Winklevoss twins were the first to file a Bitcoin-based ETF proposal and the agency mulled over its decision before rejecting the proposal around four years later. Then, in June, the twins filed another proposal which was swiftly rejected by the agency. Following the most recent round of rejections, the SEC has promised to review its decision but it seems unlikely that they are set to rule in favour of BTC ETFs any time soon.

The main reason for all of these rejections has been cited as the risk of market manipulation and the fact that the regulated market is not big enough to warrant such a decision. The issue of market manipulation remains as one of the biggest concerns in the crypto world. As a very small number of people own a very large amount of cryptocurrency (known as whales) this means that technically, prices can be artificially increased or decreased to suit the agenda of a few. The fact of the matter is that most creators of cryptocurrency retain large amounts of the coin, for example, Satoshi Nakamoto has 5.88% of all BTC, Ripple owns 60% of the XRP supply and the majority of ICO companies retain around 25% of all their tokens.

Couple this with the paranoia around regulation and lack of protection for investors and stakeholders and it is not hard to see why the SEC is wary.

The only way that cryptocurrencies are going to be able to enter such a regulated market is through widespread regulation on a global scale. Until this happens, Bitcoin and any other cryptocurrency can say goodbye to any kind of regulated ETF.

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Indiegogo lists its very first security token 

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Wallet, Security Tokens, Ethereum, Securities

Indiegogo lists its very first security token

One of the world’s leading crowdfunding sites, Indiegogo has announced it is expanding its ICO listing service to include what will be the world’s first security ICO token.

The first token of this type to be made accessible through the Indiegogo platform was created by the St Regis Aspen Resort, a super-luxury resort, located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The offering which has been limited to accredited investors will allow them to purchase the Aspen Coin which represents a share of the single-asset real estate investment trust that was created to hold the $18 million of stock that is made available through the site.

“Security token offerings are the investment tool of the future, a mechanism designed to store wealth by utilizing income-producing digital assets,” said Stephane de Baets, founder and president of Elevated Returns, the asset management firm that owns the resort. “By allowing access to investing in traditional assets like real estate, we are creating a new opportunity for investors to explore an ownership stake in something previously only accessible to private investors and high net worth individuals. Indiegogo is a well known and trusted name in alternative funding and cryptocurrency, making them an incredible partner for us to leverage their influence, experience and global audience.”

Investors that meet the qualifying criteria are able to contribute to the ICO via means of USD, BTC or ETH. The Aspen Token is based on the ERC-20 platform, meaning they can be held in any Ethereum wallet in the world, but due to securities regulations in the US, they can only be traded on an SEC-approved trading system. In this case, that would be Templum Markets LLC, the broker who is overseeing the ICO with Indiegogo.

Co-founder of Indiegogo, Slava Rubin said:

“We have always strived to foster innovation and provide our users access to some of the most novel and interesting products and ideas from around the world. With the blockchain revolution fully underway, we are excited about the world-changing impact and potential of security tokens. Our goal is to provide an access point to our growing network of millions of customers and the opportunity to own a fragmented interest in the St. Regis Aspen Resort.”

The Indiegogo platform was originally launched back in December 2017 with the first project listing of Fan-Controlled Football League reaching its $5 million target in a very short time. But, despite lots of interest from companies wanting to list ICOs on the platform, Indiegogo declined to list any during the first two quarters of 2018.

 

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Why Stellar is the best platform for smart contracts?

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Smart Contracts, Ethereum, DLT

Why Stellar is the best platform for smart contracts?

When it comes to decentralised and highly scalable blockchain solutions, investors and developers are always looking for the next big thing. Whilst Ethereum has been the go-to platform of choice when creating smart contracts and tokens, a growing number of ICOs are considering other blockchains.

A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore, Singapore’s Yale-NUS College, and the University College of London discovered several flaws and vulnerabilities within the Ethereum smart contracts. In one particular incident, the team were able to single out an incident where a user was able to indefinitely lock-down over $200 million of ETH on the Parity Project blockchain. This, along with other incidences has led to developers considering other platforms such as Stellar (XLM) which prides itself on having its own type of smart contract.

It is a common occurrence to find flaws in new types of technology. After the ground-breaking release, the technology performs very well until a bug is discovered or a mistake is made. When these incidents occur, other mistakes and vulnerabilities are often found, especially in the case of Ethereum smart contracts.

The aforementioned research team carried out extensive testing over 970,000 live smart contracts and found that 34,200 of them had vulnerabilities of some description. The issues with the security of the smart contracts were all discovered within the first 10 seconds of testing.

Stellar Smart Contracts (SSC)

Because of this, Stellar Smart Contracts are providing a possible alternative for Ethereum based smart contracts. Whilst XLM contracts are more expressive than ETH based ones, they do have limitations and are not as flexible as their Ethereum counterparts. This does, however, mean that they are less accessible to hackers.

The fact that SSCs require multi-signature authentication on transactions is also another feather in their cap as this sort of precaution would have eliminated some of the vulnerabilities with the Parity project. Furthermore, SSCs have the ability to conduct Batching and Atomicity transactions which means they have the ability to put together several operations in one single execution. Atomicity is a guarantee that if one of the operations in the batch fails, the rest of them will not go through. The process of Sequencing that is also present with SSCs ensures that certain operations do not go through successfully if and when other transactions are submitted. Last but not least, time constraints ensure that all transactions are completed within a set time and if they fail, they will become null and void.

For a Stellar Smart Contract to work, a team must sit down and agree on conditions, design, and the overall purpose of the contract and a consensus must be reached in order for it to function.

 

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Why is data the new currency?

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, GDPR, Technology, Payments, Bitcoin, Data Protection, Ethereum

Why is data the new currency?

The EU GDPR came into force at the end of May 2018, and since then our data has become a currency. We now have the ability to earn money from our own data and this has to lead many to call it the “new oil”.

Before the GDPR, companies such as Facebook and Google-owned all of our data, so essentially they owned our currency. Now, this is no longer the case. The concept of Vendor Relationship Management has been around for some time, fuelled by the ambitions of those at places such as Harvard who believe that the internet giants use of our own private data is wrong.

All of our data has value and as the customer and owner of it, we should receive its value. Whether you are browsing for new clothes, a holiday, or cinema tickets, you should be able to publicise this fact and wait for the offers to come to you.

Killi is a new application owned by Freckle IoT which allows this to happen. Since its launch, big names such as Staceys, McDonald’s, and GM have already signed up and are paying money to people for the things that they sell them. Whilst Killi has its limitations, it is most definitely a step in the right direction.

Issues such as connecting to other sites through APIs that can be changed without warning can be overcome, and whilst it may not be paying out big bucks at the moment, this is just the beginning. The idea needs appropriate scale, and like the fax machine, it is useless if there is only one other person with the app. Whilst Killi has 70,000 subscribers and counting, it needs a lot more users before it will have any real value.

This is great news for those that were shaken by the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the fact that all internet companies have been shamelessly harvesting our user data without telling us.

What is really interesting about this concept, however, is the fact that it all takes place on the IoT via a blockchain platform. This is a great example of a real-world use case for both bits of tech and shows how easy it is to disappear this technology into everyday life. What’s more is, this is a great example of a company doing something sensible about the privacy issue rather than just writing an angry article or vowing to delete Facebook.

 

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Contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out more.

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EOS crowned the world’s best digital currency

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Technology, Trading, Bitcoin, Ethereum, DLT

EOS crowned the world’s best digital currency

EOS has once again been crowned the world’s top cryptocurrency by the Chinese government. The criteria for the award is based on innovation and application rather than market capitalisation. Whilst EOS takes the top spot, Bitcoin, the world’s leading cryptocurrency in terms of trading volume and market cap moved up seven places from June.

The Chinese Centre for Information Industry Development has made public the third edition of the Global Public Chain Technology Evaluation Index which lists dozens of cryptocurrencies in terms of satisfying a range of criteria. EOS has come first for the second consecutive time, despite issues around the platform’s mainnet launch back in June.

Part of the success of EOS has been put down to its scalability as the platform’s proof-of-stake protocol is able to process a large number of transactions in comparison to other leading blockchains.

Similar to the previous edition, Ethereum came in at number two but NEO dropped out of the top three to be replaced by Komodo which last time, had failed to crack the top 10.

The top 10 are as follows;

  1. EOS
  2. Ethereum
  3. Komodo
  4. Nebulas
  5. NEO
  6. Stellar
  7. Lisk
  8. GXChain
  9. Steem
  10. Bitcoin

Whilst Bitcoin has not performed particularly well on the first two CCID reports, it has seen a rise through the rankings following a big shift in the crypto-market. The dominance rate of Bitcoin has increased 40% over the past three months and it now accounts for over 52% of the entire market capitalisation.

EOS and Ethereum have seen big decreases in value over the same few months, with Ether reaching a 14-month low last week, leading to alarm bells ringing in the ICO sector.

The growing market share of Bitcoin means that other digital assets and currencies are destined to rise and fall with it. Whilst it is seen as a good sign if a cryptocurrency does not correlate with Bitcoin, recent price developments show that investors are stopping speculative bets for assets with a proven and demonstrable track record. Founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin said that this will no doubt lead to a new year of ICOs with better protocols and improved business models. He believes that this paradigm, dubbed “Tokens 2.0” could materialise by the beginning of next year.

E&S Group is a leading law firm offering various services with regards to ICOs. Feel free to contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out how E&S can help you in ‘making things happen’.

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Ethereum PoA algorithm introduced on Azure

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Smart Contracts, Technology, Tokens, Ethereum, Applications

Ethereum PoA algorithm introduced on Azure

Azure, the cloud platform created by Microsoft has introduced a proof-of authority (PoA) algorithm that will facilitate a more efficient way of designing and executing decentralised applications (DApps) for use in private or consortium networks.

The new algorithm will function in a network where all consensus participants are both known and reputable and it will work as a direct contrast to the current proof-of-work (PoW) protocol that is being used. The new principle is based on approved identities and validators and does not require any form of competition in completing any of the transactions.

The new feature, powered by Ethereum will utilise a number of features that will ensure the correct functioning and security of the platform. These will include an identity leasing system, web-assembly support, Azure Monitor and a Governance DApp.

The web-assembly support will be powered by Partiy and will drastically simplify the process of designing and building smart contracts. This enables customers to create them in programming languages that they are familiar with, rather than the Solidity language that is used on the Ethereum blockchain. The new system will allow programmers to write in C, C++ and Rust.

Through the new Governance DApp solution, processes such as voting, validator delegation, and participation in consortiums can also be simplified. This feature will also allow customers to enjoy a certain level of abstraction which will also allow them to privatise all relevant data about an object in order to boost efficiency.

The launch of the Ethereum-based Azure cloud computing platform was first announced back in late 2015, whilst the original platform was founded in 2010. Azure now provides global networks managed by Microsoft data centres that develop, test, deploy, and manage a range of applications and services.

Back in June, the R3 blockchain consortium made an announcement that they along with 39 international financial companies had tested a new KYC application that runs 45 nodes over Microsoft Azure.

 

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EY announces the launch of new decentralised-based tax auditing tool

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Technology, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Exchanges, DLT, Litecoin

EY announces the launch of new decentralised-based tax auditing tool

One of the world’s Big Four accounting and auditing firms, EY has announced the purchase of crypto-related assets that were developed by a San Francisco based company called Elevated Consciousness.

One of the tools that it has purchased includes the Andy Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax (CAAT) which works by linking up with multiple crypto-wallets and exchanges and allowing users to experience enhanced visibility over all transactions and inventory.

The Global vice-chair of the EY Tax Services Division, state that the CAAT tool will enable the auditing firm to offer services to a range of organisations that are looking to adopt cryptocurrency assets into their business model. Michael Meisler, Tax Blockchain Leader at Ernst & Young LLP, said that bits of tech such as CAAT will enable member firms and their clients to be able to adequately assess risk when it comes to the reporting of taxable income for cryptocurrency assets.

The CAAT tool was developed in collaboration with Silicon Valley entrepreneur VJ Anma who has previously worked as a crypto-fund manager.

“We plan to integrate the CAAT tool into our Blockchain Analyzer portfolio to develop one of the industry’s broadest sets of technology and process services in tax and assurance,” EY’s global innovation leader for Blockchain, Paul Brody said when asked about the suite of technologies that was launched earlier in 2018.

The Blockchain Analyzer was designed to target businesses that work with cryptocurrencies and to enable EY to collect all transaction data over multiple blockchain ledgers. The Analyzer has been developed to work with Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin currencies.

It is no secret that Ernst & Young have been blockchain trailblazers for quite some time now. Last September, it was reported that the firm had teamed up with Maersk and Microsoft to launch the very first marine insurance blockchain platform. This solution was designed with the aim of improving efficiency in the 400-year-old marine insurance marketplace.

In addition to this, the Swiss arm of Ernst & Young became the first one of the Big Four accounting and auditing companies to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment for its services in December 2016.

 

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Virtual currencies need to improve its usability says Buterin

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Technology, Ethereum

Virtual currencies need to improve its usability says Buterin

The founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin has said that he believes the cryptocurrency community places too much importance on an Exchange-traded fund (ETFs) rather than improving its usability. He believes that there needs to be more work to make it easier for consumers to purchase products and services using cryptocurrencies via payment cards and other methods.

He made the comments in a recent tweet, adding that making it easier for people to access will do more for mass adoption than by placing an emphasis on investors and ETFs.

Encouraging people to adopt crypto

Unsurprisingly, the tweet garnered a lot of attention and commentators were quick to point out that as soon as people are able to earn their cryptocurrency, it will encourage them to adopt it because when someone earns in a particular crypto coin, there would be no need to convert it to fiat.

Another Twitter user noted that various attempts to make crypto usable for retail transactions were stopped due to regulatory concerns stopping businesses from issuing cards.

A catalyst for mass adoption

Whilst it is clear that Buterin considers ease of use as the main catalyst for mass adoption, many believe that the availability of cryptocurrency ETFs would also help things along a little.

Recently, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently stated that Bitcoin and Ethereum are not securities- a decision that was welcomed by the cryptocurrency community. Some have viewed the SEC’s clarification as further validation of Coinbases’s recent move to support the ERC-20 token standard. Coinbase’s general manager and VP San Romero recently said that the current phase of crypto-regulation should allow a company to integrate their digital assets as long as they are not considered as securities.

There is no doubt that the adoption of cryptocurrency by the masses is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later, how it will happen is a matter for much debate. One thing is clear and that is that stakeholders need to work together to create a business, regulatory, and social environment where the benefits of this new technology can be seen and tried by all.

 

E&S Group is a leading law firm offering various services with regards to ICOs. Feel free to contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out how E&S can help you in ‘making things happen’.

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What improvements are expected from distributed technologies in 2018?

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Technology, Bitcoin, Tokens, Wallet, Ethereum

What improvements are expected from distributed technologies in 2018?

One of the most fascinating things about blockchain is that it is still very much in its infancy and at this stage, it is very difficult to tell where it is heading. When the technology was first designed, it was only meant to function as a decentralised ledger for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Fast forward almost 10 years and it is on the cusp of disrupting every industry imaginable from corporate services to healthcare to logistics.

So far, 2018 has been a whirlwind of new developments and use cases, but the best is yet to come. Here is what we are looking forward to in the second half of 2018.

Faster

It is a well-known fact that the blockchain network is a little bit sluggish. As a result, many projects have popped up alongside various altcoins and their own, faster blockchains. All of these projects will continue to compete with each other meaning we can expect to see a dramatic increase in the speed of new networks in the coming months.

Better

We have had a glimpse at the potential that smart contracts have to offer, but there is so much more to come. Various professional industries such as the legal and insurance sector are set to be completely transformed by the power of blockchain.

It seems probable that in the next few months to a year, we could see all insurance claims being settled automatically based on algorithms that are stored with smart contracts. All of the information that one might need to process a claim will be stored in one place, and the outcome will be decided based on certain standards and actions being satisfied. In other words, the process of settling an insurance claim can be done without the need for any human interaction.

Not only will this increase the accuracy of claim settling but it will significantly decrease the cost for insurance companies which could lead to them reducing premiums if they are so inclined.

Stronger

One of the most eagerly anticipated uses of blockchain is a decentralised autonomous organisation of DAO. Over $150 million of venture capital funds have been raised to create and launch the first DAO back in 2016 but unfortunately, the project was the victim of hackers and was quickly cancelled.

Since then, the hype surrounding DAOs died down but there is still plenty of work going on in the sector to improve its capability. May still believe that we are not far from seeing the first business or corporation that is managed by a program, rather than a human. Scary stuff!

Whilst it is difficult to predict the direction that blockchain will take, we can safely say that so far we have only scratched the surface of its capabilities.

 

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Virtual Currencies are increasing in value

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Smart Contracts, Cryptocurrency Exchange, Payments, Bitcoin, Regulation, Ethereum, Ripple, Market, Market Cap

Virtual Currencies are increasing in value

For the first time in two months, the value of Bitcoin has exceeded $8200 and it seems that slowly but surely the value of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is regaining some of the strength that it had before the spectacular crash of January 2018.

In July, the value spiked rather suddenly and it value started to creep towards the price it reached two months ago at $7502. But what is causing its price to grow? Here are five reasons why?

Facebook and Google relax their rules

When news broke that both Google and Facebook had relaxed their rules around advertising cryptocurrencies and related products on their platforms. Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world is now allowed to advertise its services on Facebook and Google has now listed the top cryptocurrencies in its exchange rate converted. This newly founded web visibility and a significant vote of confidence from the world’s largest tech giants has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the value of BTC.

The possibility of a BTC ETF

Another big vote of confidence for BTC was the announcement from the Chicago Board Options Exchange that they had sought approval for a Bitcoin ETF. This request from one of the most well-known exchanges comes at the same time as a number of similar requests from other leading big names. Whether or not the application will be approved, remains to be seen but in the meantime, this news is believed to have helped create the surge in value that we are seeing today.

Approval from big institutions

Some of the world’s leading banks such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have started showing more and more interest in cryptocurrencies. At one time, leading figures in the industry were quick to criticise and dismiss the technology, but it appears that the tides have turned. The fact that such prominent names have shown interest in investing in and utilising the technology has been a big boost for the industry as a whole.

Regulatory changes

Following in the footsteps of Malta that recently introduced three new Acts that would support the growth and development of cryptocurrencies, ICOs and blockchain technology, more and more jurisdictions are considering changing their approach. The market has suffered from a lack of regulation or unclear laws which has lead to confusion, abuse, and crippling of cryptocurrencies value. Now the US Chamber of Commerce along with the SEC and CFTC are working on creating a better regulatory environment, crypto is set to thrive.

It’s summer!

The price of BTC seems to surge every summer and 2018 is no exception. Whilst the leap of 2017 was the largest so far, before that we saw considerable upswings during the summer season. So far, the level of growth in 2018 pales in comparison to previous years, we still have August to go and considering points 1-4, we could be in for a pleasant surprise.

If you have invested in Bitcoin or are considering doing so, contact one of our team today to ensure that you are making the best out of your investment and that you are in compliance with all applicable fiscal regulations.

 

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