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Cryptocurrency And Blockchain News Update 12th March 2020

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Kraken Moving Into India

The U.S. based crypto exchange Kraken will start to increase its operations in the Indian market following the recent ruling of the country’s Supreme Court to lift banks’ banning to do business with crypto companies, according to a March 9th announcement. According to Kraken, its growth in India was hampered by the ban on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). However, they did not give further details regarding the plans for this large market.

U.S. Congressman Working On Crypto Regulation

A United States congressman is the latest working to clarify and determine which U.S. regulator is responsible for which digital assets. On March 9, Representative Paul Gosar who is a republican from the great state of Arizona, introduced the “Crypto-Currency Act of 2020,” a bill that looks to choreograph a wide range of digital assets to answer to the appropriate regulator.

Robinhood Goes Down Twice In Two Weeks

After experiencing a major outage last week, major stock and cryptocurrency trading app Robinhood is in trouble again. Robinhood encountered another technical outage on Monday, causing its platform to halt trading services, according to a March 9 tweet by Robinhood’s support team.   The firm has said that Trading is currently down on Robinhood and they are investigating the issue, but they are focused on getting back up and running as soon as possible.

Japan Real Estate Using Blockchain

Two companies have developed a blockchain-based solution to address the large number of vacant homes in the Japanese countryside. Securitize, a compliance platform for token issuers, has joined forces with Tokyo-based LIFULL to create a funding platform using digital securities to invest in real estate. According to a March 10 press release, the collaboration has been successful in proving that blockchain technology and digital securities are more effective crowdfunding for the Japanese real estate market than traditional methods

Russian Rubble Falling After Oil War With Saudis

The Russian Rubble (RUB) has dipped, down 20% this year with 10% of it just today after Saudi Arabia began pumping oil production. Saudi oil minister) tried to get Russia to agree to a plan to reduce oil production by a million barrels in light of significant fall in demand. President Putin more or less said no, and the Crown Prince basically said ‘crash it,’ offering a $6 to $8 discount to western markets, so sending oil to $30 or so.  Now, if the value of the Rubble falls drastically, Russians are able to buy less bitcoin, meaning there is less demand, and so its global price might be affected.

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HIVE Blockchain Buys A Bitcoin Mining Facility for $2.8M

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HIVE Blockchain Buys A Bitcoin Mining Facility for $2.8M
HIVE Blockchain Buys A Bitcoin Mining Facility for $2.8M

HIVE Blockchain Technologies, a Canadian publicly-traded ether (ETH) mining firm, has announced on March 30 the acquisition of a dedicated cryptocurrency mining operation with access to 30 megawatts of low-cost green power. The transaction was valued at CAD $4 million (USD $2.8 M). The facility, leased by Cryptologic Corp, is located in Lachute, Quebec. The firm intends to expand its total available power capacity globally to approximately 50MW, whose mining activities in Europe are focused on the Ethereum network, while Bitcoin miners will be supported in Quebec’s facility.

According to Frank Holmes, interim executive chairman of HIVE:

“The acquisition provides us with an advanced, operating Bitcoin mining facility ready to transition to next generation mining hardware with access to some of the lowest cost electricity on the planet. The cost of US$95,000 per MW is less than half the industry standard build cost per MW.”

HIVE hopes to add flexibility for future expansion plans. The firm already has a presence in Sweden. As detailed by the Canadian firm, the facility offers about $0.04 / kWh in electricity costs, and the electrical infrastructure expects to provide triple redundancy systems for power and internet connectivity, operational staff, and approximately 14,000 Bitmain S9 miners that are currently installed. Holmes highlighted some reasons behind expanding into Quebec:

“A blend of factors makes Quebec a very attractive location for us: geographical diversification, competitive green energy costs, the cost of skilled labor and VAT costs. The acquisition provides us direct control of our destiny, including significant capacity for expansion and flexibility for our future operations. And of course, the positive outlook for blockchain adoption is a reason for our expansion.”

HIVE’s interim executive chairman clarifies that the facility operates entirely on renewable hydroelectricity, thus maintaining 100% green energy. Also, he added that their GPU-based resources provide flexibility to identify and focus computing resources on existing and new cryptocurrencies as they become more profitable to mine.

The news comes after HIVE Blockchain Technologies announced on March 6, the two-phase expansion of its Ether mining operations by more than 20% at the company’s facility in Sweden. In a recent interview Holmes commented on the company’s intentions to improve the profitability of the Iceland facility, as they have done in Sweden.

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Dutch Government Looking To Use Blockchain In The Fight Against The Pandemic

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Dutch Government Looking To Use Blockchain In The Fight Against The Pandemic
Dutch Government Looking To Use Blockchain In The Fight Against The Pandemic

A consortium of Dutch companies has launched the “Tech against Corona” initiative. Participating firms will freely provide the Dutch government with access to innovative technologies that can be used in the fight against COVID-19. Netherlands-based distributed ledger technology (DLT) firm, Tymlez, is one of more than 10 companies who are freely providing their services and technologies to the government.

Tymlez has offered its blockchain platform as the underlying technology to “model the medical goods ecosystem through a platform that matches supply and demand.” The firm’s blockchain will be used to ensure transparency across the supply chain — preventing predatory value extraction, such as price gouging, amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some of the other local companies contributing to the initiative include cybersecurity firm, Cybersprint — who is providing security services to several hospitals, information security firm, Taxion — who will freely administer online systems to organize volunteer workers, and IT firm, Compumatica — who will enhance the internet connections of home workers operating in critical service industries. Dutch telecommunications company, KPN, will also partner with global IT conglomerate, Microsoft, to provide computing systems as part of the initiative.

Bitcoin (BTC) is also being used in the fight against COVID-19 in the Netherlands, with the Dutch Red Cross accepting Bitcoin donations through its website. The Italian Red Cross has also embraced crypto — raising nearly $20,000 in BTC for the purchase of medical supplies, including an advanced medical post for pre-triage treatment of coronavirus patients.

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University Students Using The Power Of Blockchain For Elections

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University Students Using The Power Of Blockchain For Elections
University Students Using The Power Of Blockchain For Elections

Students enrolled in the University of Malta’s Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies masters program have built a decentralized application (Dapp) that has been used for voting in upcoming student representative elections, per a March 28 press release. The Dapp is built on top of a decentralized digital identity platform that was provided to the students by Vodafone. The election was the first live project to be executed using Vodafone’s digital identity platform. “We are pleased to have been the first use-case for the Vodafone [digital identity] platform, and as far as we can tell a world first to hold a student election on a blockchain,” said Joshua Ellul, the director of the University of Malta’s Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies.

While the application was built to allow voters autonomous control over their data rather than relinquishing personal data to a centralized entity, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some of the advantages offered by remote voting platforms. Ellul stated:

“At this time especially, given the current situation, it was important to have a remote voting mechanism in place that enables trust and transparency thanks to the Blockchain-based solution.”

Ellul stated the biggest challenge to developing the platform was “onboarding users in a trusted manner,” adding that “digital identity platforms such as that provided by Vodafone provide a solution.” Voting is private but transparent, meaning that the results of an election can be publicly verified. The University of Malta introduced its blockchain masters course during October 2019.

Malta has long been a crypto-friendly jurisdiction. Whether that would remain the case appeared unclear when the now-former Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, resigned after facing widespread allegations of corruption and ties to the political assassination of a journalist. While the new government-issued statements indicating that leading crypto exchange, Binance, is licensed in the country shortly after taking office, the new government has expressed that its position regarding blockchain has not changed for the time being. They added that it will seek to consolidate blockchain with other emerging industries under the umbrella of “Digital, Financial and Innovative services.”

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