UK: Bank of England Researching Digital Currency, No Plans To Launch

Despite rumours to the contrary, the UK government have announced that they will not be following the likes of Venezuela in launching their own digital currency for now. Whilst the Bank of England are indeed studying the implications of centrally-issued electronic currency, a government minister has stated that there are no plans in the immediate future to launch their own.

Government Respond to Opposition Query

According to the Independent, the issue was raised by a Labour MP in early February. Barry Sheerman asked “whether the Government will introduce a fiat digital currency.”

John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, has since responded in the negative:

“The Bank of England does not currently plan to issue a central bank-issued digital currency… However, the Bank is undertaking research to better understand the implications of a central bank issuing a digital currency.”

As mentioned, the Bank of England is studying the area closely. It has produced its own digital currencies page. It states that they are “carrying out ongoing research” into electronic currencies and their underlying technology. On the website, they are careful to differentiate between what they strangely refer to as “private digital currencies” such as Bitcoin (the entirely permission-less, border-less cryptocurrency that has no central issuing authority and can be accessed and used by any member of the public across the globe) and “central bank-issued digital currencies”. The latter would likely require all transactions be authorised by the bank themselves and thus entirely miss the point (and therefore the revolutionary and transformative power) of truly decentralised cryptocurrencies.

The page goes on to say that the Bank of England perceives no immediate threat from digital currencies. They state:

“We have assessed private digital currencies and concluded that while they are interesting, they do not currently pose a material risk to monetary or financial stability in the UK. We continue to monitor developments in this area.”

Whilst the recent announcement from Glen clearly states that a centrally-issued electronic currency would not be launched in the UK anytime soon, the research by the central bank, along with the lack of an explicit ruling out of the possibility in the future leaves the door open for a  U-turn at a later date.

As part of the bank’s research, the institution will no doubt be carefully following the development of Venezuela’s El Petro. The South American nation recently launched their own digital currency that is backed by their oil reserves. It will provide financial institutions around the globe a useful case study for developing their own policies towards electronically-issued currency and whether or not they too will launch their own.

Meanwhile, it appears that other nations are following Venezuela’s lead. Both Turkey and Iran have been considering the possibility of creating their own national digital currencies. Meanwhile, Russia is also taking steps in a similar direction. It’s thought that the CryptoRuble will help the nation avoid various international sanctions levied against it.


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On February 16, 2018, the first ever Digital Currency Blockchain Forum was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, during which, CAC, the high-profile Credit Asia Chain, was officially launched with a star-studded team and advisory committee spanning from blockchain experts, to consumer finance veterans, and government officials.

What is CAC?

“CAC (Credit Asia Chain) is a social credit platform based on blockchain technology. The system is designed to solve long-lasting issues of information asymmetry, high industry barriers and high regulatory costs in the credit markets of developing countries through establishing a blockchain-based credit system.”

 — Erlan Mermanov, CEO, CAC

With blockchain receiving significant public exposure during the last year, the next logical step in the ascendant of the blockchain industry is the in-depth integration of blockchain technology and actual economic activities. This will require the integration of multiple industry, technical and governmental entities to be co-involved. CAC emerges exactly in response to such a grand goal. Instead of unrealistically treating blockchain currency as the “Replacement of Fiat Currency”, CAC has a specific service scope and clearer roadmap. Powered by the cutting-edge blockchain technology and government support, it aims to escalate the financial industry and boost the social economy in developing countries based on an affordable, efficient, fair and just social credit platform.

CAC’s Ambition of Financial Industry Escalation in Developing Countries

Kazakhstan, a typical developing country in Central Asia, encounters many challenges despite its booming economy. The sluggish financial industry in Kazakhstan has seriously hampered its development, therefore it is urgently demanded that the financial sector be innovated.

Despite that Kazakhstan has a relatively compete financial infrastructure, it lacks an advanced and extensive social credit information system. Given that credit information is not negotiable between financial institutions, the issue of information asymmetry becomes increasingly evident. Barriers between industries further aggravates the segmentation of credit data, seriously affecting the efficiency and risk control capabilities of the banking business.

 For example, a typical farmer family in Kazakhstan often holds no credit history, not to mention any relevant knowledge in the area. Even if the family begins to leave credit footprints in the financial and commercial sectors, the records will look fractured and divided, institutions do now know how to gather and organize this into structured data for analysis. When a family applies for loans, the banks and credit agencies simply cannot fully grasp their credit status nor accurately assess their repayment ability and risk, making it difficult to provide suitable financial service to the family.

 It is not just common in Kazakhstan, but also a social and economic issue that generally applies to most developing countries worldwide. CAC is born to fundamentally solve this bottleneck and comprehensively upgrade the financial industries in developing countries, so as to put them on the track of steady and fast socio-economic development.

CAC’s Core Strength, In-depth Integration of Leading Blockchain Technology and the Financial Industry

The CAC adopts a decentralized structure design in which the blockchain functions as a hub of financial data sharing. The system provides various access control strategies, where the institutional and individual data are stored locally with access to the upper chain data. CAC employs a sharing-incentive mechanism to encourage the exchange of credit data. The shared data are priced and score-accumulated, and the transactions are billed and audited.

Such design enables CAC to be easily integrated into the existing financial systems, saving the time of transferring data to the cloud and ensuring data security and confidentiality. The fact that users, data providers and the platform itself all benefit from the CAC ecosystem has significantly stimulated more organizations and individuals to embrace the CAC with open arms. CAC acts as an intermediary to co-ordinate and structure the flow of data throughout the financial system

 Users are rewarded for providing data to CAC, then more organizations and individuals are willing to transfer their own data to the CAC platform. With these rich information resources, CAC can provide banks, merchants and credit agencies with one-stop credit service that stretches beyond industries, regions and even borders. Enterprises across the spectrum can obtain fair, untampered, genuine and reliable credit data from CAC at reasonable costs. In light of this, the credit barriers that once prevail in society will be shattered.

 On the CAC platform, the clear credit records of default in combination with the reward for compliance to the rules that CAC sets out ensures a very low ratio of bad debt and a balance of incentives in all stakeholders. CAC also employs advanced technologies in big data analysis and artificial intelligence to improve data utilization. Therefore, the financial institutions run more efficiently without unnecessary risks and costs.

 CAC’s Strong Backing, Powerful Team and Political Support

CAC’s deluxe lineup: Erlan, CEO of CAC, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan, the leading figure in Central Asian IT industry, whose business cover various fields and countries with close cooperation with local governments; CAC’s executives are all from large commercial banks, the Eurasian OECD, leading accounting firms and other first-class business and political institutions; CAC’s technical team are from extensive academic and commercial background, with years of experience in the blockchain, artificial intelligence, financial big data and other relevant fields.

Most importantly, CAC has gained strong support from various governments: Secretary-General of Kazakhstani official digital currency platform, Director of the Kazakhstani Prime Minister’s Office, members of the Kazakhstani National Assembly, Finance Director of the Russian State University of Finance and Economics, Executives of the largest bank in Turkey, Insurance Department Director of the largest bank in India … Influential political and business figures worldwide highly appreciate CAC’s vision and even become CAC’s official consultants, paving the way for CAC’s development in developing countries.

 Dozens of well-known professional investment institutions from around the world have also shown strong interest in participating in the future of CAC and have devoted rich resources into the platform. Composed of top elites from business, technology, government and investment sectors, CAC is “born with a silver spoon”. It is described as the rising star in the blockchain market and has been the focus of attention in the international financial and blockchain markets ever since its launch. 

CAC’s Roadmap of Ambition and Diligence

 CAC’s operations will commence in the first half of 2018 and will begin by cooperating with multinational financial institutions in the second half of the year. It aims to be integrated into the banking industries in various countries in 2019, and start to promote a leap in consumer finance in these developing countries.

In the mid-term future, CAC aims to build a unified mega-financial data platform across countries and function as the core hub of financial data and social credit system for the developing countries worldwide. In the coming years, CAC has planned out to eventually achieve this goal through uniting efforts by governments, industry elites and CAC teams. It will comprehensively reform the financial industries of all developing countries, push the developing countries on the track of rapid economic growth and uplift the credit industry of these developing countries and increase the speed of money cycle within their economic. CAC has devoted itself to building the financial system of the future.

GDAX, the trading arm of cryptocurrency brokerage Coinbase, announced today that they will implement full SegWit support for Bitcoin transactions in the coming days. The protocol upgrade aims to make transactions quicker and cheaper for users of BTC.

GDAX Joins Coinbase and Bitfinex

GDAX are the latest of the cryptocurrency industry’s major players to offer support for SegWit. They follow their parent-company Coinbase and Hong Kong-based exchange Bitfinex in rolling out the upgrade. GDAX made the announcement earlier today via their blog:

“We are excited to announce that GDAX now supports Segregated Witness (SegWit) transactions on the Bitcoin network. Over the coming days, full support for SegWit transactions will be rolling out to 100% of our customers. SegWit is a critical step forward in the development of Bitcoin and we are thrilled to support it on GDAX.”

The post went on to explain how the SegWit (or Segregated Witness) upgrade works. Put simply, the transaction data is split using SegWit. This makes it possible to only store necessary transaction data on the blockchain. With transactions requiring less information be included on-chain, more of them can fit into each block. This, in turn, reduces the need for users to increase their transaction fees. Previously, when the blockchain was full, users would be required to use a large fee if they wanted the network to validate their transaction before others also waiting. This forced users to continually increase their fees until they reached the point where some declared the network as “broken“.

Later in GDAX’s post, they state that the address format that they will use will be compatible with all existing BTC addresses. All withdrawals from GDAX will, therefore, be sent using SegWit.

The company are careful to point out that the new format will no longer be the same as Bitcoin Cash (BCH) addresses, however. This means that if BCH is sent to GDAX’s BTC address, the funds will be lost forever. To reduce the likelihood of this occurring, an additional warning will be displayed when making deposits to the exchange. It will read:

“Only send Bitcoin (BTC) to this address.

Sending any other digital asset including Bitcoin Cash (BCH) or Tether will result in permanent loss of funds.”

GDAX go on to state their commitment to providing customers with the latest Bitcoin upgrades. They claim to be currently working on additional scalability improvements to help further reduce fees and increase the network’s capacity. These include “transaction batching and UTXO management.”

Finally, GDAX are appealing to anyone interested in working on scalability protocols such as the Lightning Network to contact them. They are currently hiring staff in New York, London, and San Francisco.

Since the announcement earlier this week that both Coinbase and Bitfinex have also implemented SegWit transactions, transaction fees on the Bitcoin network have fallen to historic lows.

Evidently, SegWit is helping to ease congestion on the Bitcoin network and this in turn is restoring the original cryptocurrency’s usability. As additional companies and wallet providers begin to integrate the upgrade, and more scaling techniques become available, the utility of the Bitcoin network is only set to grow.

Employees at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) spent the second day offline today, while security officials — including the FBI — continue to investigate a ransomware virus that hijacked computer files and demanded payment in Bitcoin for their return.

According to Amy Ford, a CDOT spokeswoman, only employee computers running Windows and equipped with McAfee security software were impacted.

“No one is back online. What we’re doing is working offline. All our critical services are still online — cameras, variable message boards, CoTrip, alerts on traffic. They are running on separate systems,” Ford said. “The message I’m sharing [with employees] is CDOT operated for a long time without computers so we’ll use pen and paper.”

SamSam

The ordeal began on Wednesday morning when CDOT shut down more than 2,000 employee computers and began investigating the attack. The malicious code was a variant of ransomware called SamSam, according to Brandi Simmons of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT). Later in the day, in attempts to prevent further damage, McAfee, the security software used by the CDOT computers, provided a software patch to stop the execution of the ransomware.

“This ransomware virus was a variant and the state worked with its antivirus software provider to implement a fix today. The state has robust backup and security tools and has no intention of paying ransomware. Teams will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be working into the night,” said OIT chief technology officer David McCurdy in a statement.

The OIT, which reached out to the FBI for assistance, are still investigating the attack and have not paid a cent to attackers — nor do they plan to according to Simmons:

“No payments have been made or will be made. We are still investigating to see whether or not files were damaged or recovered,” she said in an email.

As noted, the ransomware was a variant of SamSam, which last made headlines in January after targeting the healthcare industry. It encrypted files and renamed them “I’m sorry,” according to a report by security firm TrendMicro. One hospital in Indiana, Hancock Health, paid $55,000 to get its files back. To make things worse, a growing problem is that paying cyber-jackers in itself isn’t always easy— sometimes other hackers hijack the ransom payments before they are received and redirect them into their own cryptocurrency wallets.

These remote hacks are becoming more and more common — just last week Elon Musk’s cloud was hacked. In this case, though, the cyber-attackers didn’t steal information: They used his computer system’s power to mine cryptocurrencies, deeming it more profitable than extracting files and demanding ransom.  

  • ALAX’s token-based technology will provide access to tens of millions of ‘unbanked’ customers worldwide
  • ALAX TGE set to commence on April 17th 2018, with the platform scheduled to be available immediately following its conclusion.

ALAX, a new venture between blockchain technology company DECENT and games distribution platform Dragonfly, has today released a white paper outlining further details of its token structure and confirming that it’s TGE will commence on April 17th, 2018.

A number of intended partnerships are set to be announced in the coming days, which will see the platform preinstalled on millions of smartphones, particularly in the fast-growing South-East Asian and South Asian mobile markets.

Access to millions of ‘unbanked’ consumers

The token-based ALAX platform will give developers access to tens of millions of game and app consumers who do not use credit or debit cards (the World Bank Global Finance Index 2014 identified 2 billion ‘unbanked’ adults worldwide), yet do have relatively easy access to cash and 3G/LTE smartphones.

With the ALAX platform, customers will be able to purchase ALA tokens in cash through the existing Dragonfly retailer network. ALA tokens are then used in-app to purchase games and apps direct from the developer. Not only does this quicken the transaction, and reduce the price of content, it also opens gaming and app purchases to customers without access to traditional methods of payment.

The platform will also represent a fairer deal for developers: DECENT estimates that traditional purchase methods result in game developers currently receiving a maximum of 70% profit from an app, with payments often taking 3-6 months to be processed. In contrast, ALA token payments will be made directly to the developer, and can then be exchanged for a FIAT currency (USD, EUR, THB, PH, etc) at any time.

Mobile games revenue in Southeast Asia is predicted to reach $2.4 billion by 2021 and, with other intended partnerships also in the pipeline, ALAX is set to provide app and game developers with access to millions of new consumers in emerging markets.

TGE to commence on April 17th 2018

The ALAX Token Generation Event (TGE) is set to commence on April 17th, and will last 6 days. 1 billion ALX tokens will be issued, and these tokens can be used to acquire ALA tokens (tied to FIAT and used for in-platform purchases) on the one-way ALX/ALA exchange at a 20% discount, with full details available in a published one pager.

The ALAX platform will be immediately available to consumers and developers following the TGE’s conclusion.

About ALAX

ALAX is a Mobile Game Distribution Platform, based on blockchain technology, which is set to transform the gaming industry around the world. It is a joint venture from blockchain technology business DECENT and app and game distribution platform Dragonfly, and aims to provide a platform for content creators and gamers alike, including ‘unbanked’ consumers worldwide.

 

Just as decentralized economies have reduced the obligations of customers towards monopolistic central banking conglomerates; a new contender has similarly emerged in the ‘Search engine’ field that may just change Data Services and the Digital Advertising sector entirely.

It’s called Bitclave, and it’s a decentralized blockchain based platform with integrated tools which allow businesses to market directly to potential customers.

Read more about their groundbreaking new token economy and search platform over at their website, by reading their whitepaper, or on their Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out the latest trade prices for their CAT coin over at Coinmarketcap.com.

Here are a few problems which Bitclave’s unique system is set to successfully resolve;

#1: A Lack of Objectivity, Transparency

Problem: The accuracy and objectivity of information presented upon using ‘search engines’ and ‘social media’ platforms are somewhat disputed.

Facebook has drawn the attention of many crypto enthusiasts due to their decision to outright ban cryptocurrency ICO ads in late January, due to the risk of scams. Due diligence is always encouraged when investing; however, it’s simply ignorant to cast a blanket ban, on account of bad actors who do not represent the whole community.

It also brings into question whether there are other influencers of this decision, such as existing corporate relationships or vested interests.

The Bitclave Solution

  • Blockchain verification: all information logged and sent is viewable publicly (whilst maintaining the privacy of user information).
  • Information can be replaced, but never removed entirely from the blockchain; consistency and transparency are maintained throughout all operations.
  • All paying store partners who are advertising on the system are verified; customers will not have to be afraid of sharing their data with potentially malicious parties.

#2: Disproportionate Value Proposition of Ad Services for Businesses

Problem: The current customer segmentation tools which have been put in place by the market leaders have proven themselves to be fairly ineffective at best. They charge a large amount of money on a “pay-per-click” or “pay-per-reaction” basis, however business owners have expressed doubt over the veracity of their Facebook-ad traffic.

Worst of all is the extortionate levies imposed against business owners who seek to use such platforms for advertising. These sites inflate their ad prices greatly, based on an inappropriate value system prioritizing the supply/demand of advertisers – rather than that of users.

These companies prioritize their own profits but sacrifice the interests of both the advertisers who fund them and their service users.

The Bitclave Solution

  • A static fee charged to advertisers for their usage of various services; not based on how many advertisers are competing for the same group.
  • Advertisers can present direct offers to specific users – and determine rates of compensation for the users who view them in their searches.
  • The transparency and anonymity of data afforded by the use of a public blockchain strongly discourages bad practice

#3: Customer Confidence, and Opt-In Data Privacy

ProblemGoogle and Facebook cultivate and maintain the majority of their intrinsic value through their ability to gather, interpret, organise, and represent large amounts of data; for their partners, users, and clients.

A controversial phenomenon has been the use of devices and software services in performing more invasive tracking. Due to their ubiquity, however, many users feel that the value these platforms bring overrides the ethical concerns that such processes otherwise bring.

The use of this data is often used to predict user interests and purchasing decisions through dynamic algorithms. Poor algorithms mean that users are shown adverts they do not wish to see; but conversely, algorithms which are too good can be perceived as “creepy”.

Invasive behavior can result in a decrease in trust on behalf of the service users, which itself results in a decrease in overall consumer confidence.

The Bitclave Solution:

  • Advertisers enter a mutual (smart) contract with the search user; who can opt-in to sharing their personal data in return for a financial reward in the form of CAT tokens.
  • This helps to drive customer satisfaction and confidence, and the nature of the platform distances service quality from the vested interests of its creators.

#4 Quantity over Quality

Much of the valuable information gathered and distributed by the ‘Ad-Tech’ sector comes from a combination of public or anonymous data (also known as “metadata”).

The ease with which these companies can amass such data comes from the fact that it is legally obtainable and codified in user agreements, and therefore can be obtained without directly asking for the users’ permission.

At the same time metadata, by its nature, is anonymous – and relations between various causes and effects of user browsing have to be assumed by algorithms based on correlations.

The value of the data, as such, comes from quantity rather than quality; as the more instances of actions which are tracked – the greater the evidence for speculative assumptions and trend predictions.

Customers are identified through targeting of identified audience segments, based on these assumptions; and the companies pay the advert sellers based on how many people click through – rather than on who clicks through. Clicks do not always result in conversions, which further supports our previous claim that these adverts offer a poor value proposition to many business owners.

The Bitclave Solution:

  • Qualitative data gathered from users and distributed upon their permission.
  • Compensation for users based on how much data they wish to share, directly from the advertising businesses.
  • Direct user targeting by advertisers: whilst restoring a direct connection between the two parties.

 

“In Sharing We Trust”

— Anton Solodikov, CEO of Sharpay.io

Sharpay is a new share and multi-share button for websites with blockchain-based rewards of content promotion for users. Multisharing is an opportunity to share content on several social networks with one click. Users receive rewards for sharing or visits of other users via the shared links. This means conversion growth for sites and comfortable sharing for users.

There are about 1 bln sites in the world and its number is growing every day. Only 3% (30 mln) of them have a sharing button. More than 3 bln people use social networks,  and approximately 10% of them are active users.

Sharpay, the new SMM tool is capable of helping the websites generate a multiple-fold increase in traffic and sales. In addition, the platform also helps socially active users monetize their popularity by earning cryptocurrency. 

Sharpay is a high-tech, yet simple sharing button solution with no analogues. By installing the button on their website, owners encourage users to share and gain rewards for their actions. 

Sharpay’s “blockchain profit for content sharing and multi-sharing”  is an innovative concept with both the options together in a single package. It is a unique project based on technology that has the Eurasian international patent priority. 

Project facts:

  • The Project is in the MVP alpha testing stage, but more than 150 sites have already installed  the Sharpay button.
  • Sharpay has 4.7/5 rating given by independent experts of ICObench, it is one of TOP 5 worldwide evaluated projects.
  • Sharpay team completed Presale in advance and achieved its maximum sale target (80 mln tokens for 2400 ETH)
  • The main Token Sale stage starts 1/03/2018 with a 40% WhiteList Bonus

Just by its appearance, Sharpay improves the whole market. It makes easy for various economic agents to find and cooperate with each other to ensure that the goods, products, and services are distributed faster than ever.

The growing blockchain popularization and tokenization of old technologies fosters Sharpay’s development and success.

More information about Sharpay — the share button with blockchain profit is available at www.sharpay.io.


Note: The above information is for informational purposes only. Sharpay tokens can be purchased if it’s legally allowed. The participation in Sharpay Token Sale is prohibited for residents of those countries, where participation is directly/partly restricted or prohibited (USA, Singapore, Vietnam, etc). Sharpay is not responsible for Token Sale participants violating the laws, even if the violation is due to ignorance.

Cryptocurrency markets are not off to a good start in 2018. Most markets have lost nearly half of their value during the first few weeks. This most recent dip has pushed the momentum back as well. Even so, analysts are convinced this year will be very bullish for all cryptocurrency markets in the long run. Especially Bitcoin may see some big gains.

Bitcoin Scalability Improvements?

All cryptocurrency markets have seen major declines throughout the first seven weeks of 2018. Although Bitcoin showed some good momentum this week, most gains have been lost once again. Whether or not this is a bubble effectively bursting, remains to be determined. However, there are still a few solid reasons as to why things may turn out for the better. Julian Hosp remains bullish on cryptocurrency for quite some time to come.

Especially where Bitcoin is concerned, things can still improve quite a bit. With new scaling solutions coming to the ecosystem, a lot of progress will be made. Segregated Witness is now enabled by default through the Core client. It has also become more convenient to use altogether. If this adoption rate improves, the Lightning Network has a fair chance of succeeding as well. For now, there is no official release date for the Lightning Network as of yet.

With a lack of scaling, Bitcoin made a lot of headlines due to mounting fees. At one point, a Bitcoin transaction cost over $20. It is far from ideal, yet solving the problem is not all that easy. With SegWit and LN, those fees should eventually come down over time. Only time will tell if this works as people expect it to. Moreover, the addition of smart contracts to Bitcoin through Rootstock is something to look forward to.

Other Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

Cryptocurrency is about so much more than just Bitcoin, though. More regulation of this entire industry can be a good thing in many different ways. If an industry is regulated, it is “validated” in the eyes of the general public. For now, we see dozens of countries looking into regulating Bitcoin and other currencies. Not everyone is a big fan of regulation, as it imposes severe restrictions in some cases. For now, it seems further regulation will help legitimize cryptocurrencies and digital tokens moving forward.

Most people expected institutional investors to make a big impact on cryptocurrency. Through the Bitcoin futures, that should have happened some time ago. So far, the initial interest in such futures has been rather limited. Even though the volume is picking up, it remains to be seen if institutional investors effectively show a real interest in cryptocurrency. Depending on how this trend evolves, we may see some big progress in overall prices moving forward.

Last but not least, the elephant in the room is the ICO industry. To many people, it seems initial coin offerings are the downfall of cryptocurrency. With the SEC cracking down on illicit projects, things will improve moving forward. It all comes down to more legitimate coin offerings in the future, and which companies will embrace this model. Especially with Telegram turning their ICO into an IPO of sorts, it is evident the business model itself may see some big changes.

Artificial intelligence is both a blessing and a curse rolled into one. Some people are convinced AI will improve our society, whereas others remain fearful. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin donated $763,000 to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. With this money, the organization can further study potential hazards or artificial intelligence, among other things.

MIRI is Popular Among Cryptocurrency Users

Cryptocurrency can be used for many different purposes. Using it to fund other projects or even scientific research is one example. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin is doing exactly that. Last year, he contributed nearly 764,000 in Ethereum to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. This nonprofit wants to address hazards associated with artificial intelligence now and in the future.

It is not uncommon for cryptocurrency users to contribute to scientific research. MIRI received nearly two-thirds of all donations in cryptocurrency. That shows people are more than willing to spread the wealth around and help improve our society. The donation by Vitalik Buterin is the largest of 2017. It’s also the third-largest donation in history.

Scientific research initiatives can benefit from cryptocurrencies. Although these markets are very volatile, it’s also a new source of donations for research. In the case of Bitcoin and Ethereum, there’s a good chance their value will go up in the future. For now, MIRI hasn’t confirmed if they converted the donation to fiat currency already. The nonprofit received twice the expected amount in donations during December 2017. This shows there are some real concerns associated with artificial intelligence.

Vitalik Buterin and AI

To some people, it may seem odd Vitalik Buterin is funding this research. Ethereum is known for its smart contract technology, among other things. These contracts are, according to some individuals, somewhat similar to AI. They automate processes and require no real maintenance by its creator once created. That is, assuming the contract is built properly and its code has been audited at some point.

Additionally, Ethereum supported the concept of a decentralized autonomous organization. This is another solution which is not all that different from how most people perceive artificial intelligence. At the same time, Ethereum is not using a coding language which “learns” automatically either. Developers make some vast improvements over time, but automation and AI are not the same by default.

For now, Vitalik Buterin is doing his good deed by donating to MIRI. It would be interesting to see who else donated to this particular nonprofit in December of 2017. Given the interest in what this group is doing, their research appears to be quite valuable. Whether or not Vitalik Buterin will make other similar donations, remains to be seen. Initiatives like these bring some positive momentum to the cryptocurrency industry as well.

Statements from both Iran and Turkey suggest that the two countries are about to launch a national cryptocurrency, stressing the need for strong regulation.

Following in the Wake of El Petro

As Venezuela’s El Petro raised over $700 million dollars in its first round of private funding, President Modoru took the podium the next day to announce the countries follow up, Petro Gold.

Instead of oil, this second currency’s value will be pegged to precious metals. This was about all the information given about the new token but it must have been convincing enough for Iran.

Despite overwhelming criticism and doubt cast on to the value and feasibility of the Petro, its sales figures were heard loud and clear as Iran announced that the framework for a cloud-based digital currency is being developed for submission to the national banking system.

The announcement was tweeted out by Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi who heads Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology after a meeting with state-owned Post Bank of Iran.

Though no information was given as to what role the cryptocurrency would take in the economy–for instance if it would also somehow be pegged to oil as the Petro is–the government has given hints in the past that it was considering adopting digital currency into the financial system.

Both In and Out

In direct conflict with Jahromi’s announcement, the Central Bank of Iran released a statement the same day denying that the republic recognizes Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as legal tender.

“The wild fluctuations of the digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid scheme have made the market of these currencies highly unreliable and risky,”

The central bank was quoted by the Iranian Front Page News.

The story went on to warn Iranian citizens that they “may lose their financial assets” due to the extreme volatility of the cryptocurrency marketplace.

Likewise, the Turkish Government which had previously taken a negative stance on cryptocurrency, even ruling Bitcoin to be un-Islamic, has now announced plans for a “national Bitcoin” called the Turkcoin.

“The world is advancing toward a new digital system. Turkey should create its own digital system and currency before it’s too late,”  Former minister Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu one of the authors of a report detailing the issue told Al- monitor.

Fears that nationally backed cryptocurrency by countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia all of which are under US-backed economic sanctions may undermine financial restrictions meant to promote human rights or stem military aggression have been voiced internationally.

The US treasury department put out a statement following the launch of the Petro that anyone investing in the coin could be treated as a creditor to the restricted nation and face penalties accordingly.