The top news in the last 24 hours are shown below:
Starbucks Going Crypto, Received ‘Significant Equity’ in Bakkt to Integrate Bitcoin Payments in Stores: Report
Starbucks now holds “significant equity” in the upcoming crypto platform Bakkt, according to a new report. The coffee giant earned its shares as part of a mutually beneficial agreement. Starbucks will install Bakkt’s payment software in its stores, which customers can use to pay with crypto, reports The Block. The digital assets will be instantly converted to fiat, in order to keep cryptocurrencies off of Starbucks’ books. The amount of equity Starbucks received in the deal is confidential, but sources “suggest it is disproportionately high given they did not actually make a cash investment.” Starbucks’ partnership with Bakkt was first revealed in August of last year.
Tether and TRON Collaborate to Issue New Version of USDT Tokens
Tether is partnering with the Tron Foundation in an effort to pursue the launch the dollar-pegged USDT stable coin as a TRC-20 token. TRC-20 is a technical standard used by the Tron blockchain for implementing tokens, similar to and compatible with Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard. They are planning to introduce USDT to the Tron network by Q2 2019. This will allow users to more easily transact with decentralized applications (dApps) and protocols based on the Tron blockchain, the companies said. Specifically, they hope to improve decentralized exchange liquidity and make Tron more accessible to institutional investors by providing a stable coin option to the network.
Circle Further Bids for Mass Tokenization, Officially Completes SeedInvest Acquisition
Circle, blockchain startup backed by Goldman Sachs, has officially completed the acquisition of equity crowdfunding firm SeedInvest. The announcement comes amid realizing Circle’s fundraising plans. In the future, the company wants to tokenize securities and become a fully SEC-regulated broker-dealer. In a blog post, Circle said:
“The acquisition is a further step toward realizing our vision of a more open, global, connected, and inclusive financial system. Broadly, we aspire to bring the economic and technical breakthroughs of crypto assets and blockchain technology to traditional forms of financial contracts such as equities and other securities.”
TradingView Lists Its First Crypto Index, the Huobi HB10
Despite the recent market slowdown, traditional financial players are looking keen to dip their toe in the crypto sector. This indicates that the cryptocurrency market is now moving towards attaining more maturity. In a recent development, TradingView has announced to list a cryptocurrency index for the very first time. TradingView adds Huobi’s HB10 crypto index to its platform. TradingView is a U.S.-based provider of financial trading charts and analysis. While commenting on the latest development, Livio Weng, CEO of Huobi Global, said:
“As a go-to site for high-volume and API [application programming interface] traders as well as the retail commodity, forex, and of course crypto trading community around the world, we feel TradingView is a perfect fit for HB10. “We’re both pleased and honoured to have ours be the first crypto fund of its kind listed there.”
Coinbase Sack Members of Neutrino Team
The Coinbase Neutrino story keeps developing. As a response to pressure from the #deletecoinbase Twitter campaign Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has confirmed that they have sacked some of the Neutrino team who used to work for the controversial analytics firm, Hacking Team. For the past week, a grassroots Twitter campaign known as #deletecoinbase has been growing momentum on Twitter. It was discovered that three Neutrino employees had previously for Hacking Team. The company had been linked to providing spying software to countries which used the software for human rights abuses.
QuadrigaCX Cold Wallets Reportedly Found To Be Empty, $150 Million Mysteriously Missing
The plot is thickening when it comes to the aftermath of QuadrigaCX’s recent debacle. Now, recent reports have surfaced alleging that some of QuadrigaCX’s cold wallets are empty – meaning many millions worth of funds is unaccounted for. To recap, all of this began this January, when QuadrigaCX announced that it had lost access to approximately $150 million following the supposed death of the exchange’s CEO, Gerald Cotten. The narrative that QuadrigaCX’s CEO suddenly passed away while being the sole person with access to customer funds.
Israeli-led Blockchain App Company to Make Extensive Layoffs While Restructuring
Gibraltar-registered Israeli blockchain application platform First Digital Assets (FDA) will fire most its employees in a major restructuring process, the company confirmed to Israeli English-language news resource Globes on March 4. FDA, which operates multiple spin-off companies in the blockchain space, will merge all but one of them into their parent company. Its research arm, One Alpha, will reportedly close entirely. The latest company in the blockchain industry to perform a drastic cost-cutting exercise, FDA said harsh market conditions lay at the heart of its decision.
PwC: Bitcoin Ransomware Hackers Laundered Money via WEX Exchange
Big Four consulting and auditing company PwC has linked Iranian nationals behind Bitcoin (BTC) ransomware scheme SamSam to the crypto exchange WEX in a recent report published in February. The report is based on information that was previously disclosed by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). As per the DOJ, two Iranians — Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri — were responsible for creating SamSam. SamSam is a ransomware demanding Bitcoin that reportedly damaged multiple U.S. companies, government agencies, universities, and hospitals. Within 34 months the hackers managed to extort over $6 million in Bitcoin and cause over $30 million in losses.
Revolut CEO Refutes Claims of Negligence and Money Laundering Breach
The founder and CEO of United Kingdom-based digital banking app Revolut publicly denied allegations of a money laundering breach and negligence by the company in a blog post on March 1. The latest in a series of publicity disasters to afflict Revolut, as U.K. newspaper the Telegraph last week alleged that executives had deliberately decommissioned Anti-Money Laundering (AML) software earlier last year. Further reporting by the Telegraph has revealed that the company had attracted the attention of the U.K.’s finance regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Russia to Introduce Special Crypto Regulations for ‘Russian Offshores’
The new set of measures in respect to the development of “Russian offshores” will affect digital assets, major Russian news agency TASS reported on Mar. 1. The Russian Ministry of Economic Development is reportedly working on the third set of measures for the development of so-called “Russian offshores” — places where companies can legitimately be exempt from paying taxes or follow relaxed regulations, — which will include a special regulation of digital assets and shipping.
Crypto Trading Platform Tagomi Nets $12 Million in New Funding Round
New York-based cryptocurrency brokerage and trading platform Tagomi Holdings raised $12 million in its latest funding round from investors including the Yale-backed Paradigm Fund, the company confirmed in a press release on Mar. 4. Tagomi, which now has total funding of $28 million after its launch in December 2018, also added cryptocurrency industry giant Pantera Capital to its rake of investors. The company offers Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and other altcoin trading, along with products geared to institutional investors, like a portfolio management interface and API for programmatic trading.
Coinbase Technology Partner Refutes Alleged Collection, Sale of User Data to Third Parties
London-based blockchain analytics firm Elliptic — which provides technology to major United States crypto exchange Coinbase — has refuted allegations that it collects and sells clients’ user data to third parties for financial gain. In an official statement published on March 4, Elliptic’s CEO and co-founder James Smith stated that the firm has never “enabled the violation of individuals’ financial privacy,” and that such accusations represent a fundamental misunderstanding of Elliptic’s industry role. Elliptic is one of the key players in the blockchain intelligence sector, providing analytics tools that allow companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies to monitor blockchain transactions and track suspected illicit activities, such as money laundering.
Ex-IBM Chair: No Solution Yet Found to Bring Public Blockchains Under EU Privacy Laws
Sam Palmisano — retired IBM chairman and current chairman of the United States nonprofit The Center for Global Enterprise — says he doesn’t know of a solution that has been found to make public blockchain networks compatible with European data privacy laws. Palmisano made his remarks during a joint interview for Bloomberg Markets with David Kappos, a partner at U.S. law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which was broadcast on the Bloomberg Technology channel on March 4. Palmisano and Kappos focused on the interaction between blockchain innovation and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a landmark European Union-wide legal framework for personal data privacy, which took effect in May 2018.
Retail Giant Carrefour Applies Blockchain for Tracking Milk Product Supply Chain
French retail giant Carrefour has continued blockchain development by applying the technology for tracking milk, according to a press release published on March 1. Starting from March, the retail giant is gradually rolling out its new blockchain-powered product, Carrefour Quality Line (CQL) micro-filtered full-fat milk. CQL is touted to guarantee consumers complete product traceability across the entire supply chain — from farmers to the store shelves. With CQL, consumers will be able to see the GPS coordinates of farmers whose animals’ milk was collected, get information about when the milk was collected and packaged, as well as find out about various stakeholders involved in the product line.
Parity CEO Jutta Steiner: New Ethereum Function Would Have Prevented the Parity Freeze
Parity CEO Jutta Steiner has said that the new controversial Create2 Ethereum (ETH) function would have prevented the Parity multisig freeze. Steiner spoke on the subject during an interview with Fortune published on March 5. Create2, the new function added to Ethereum with the Constantinople update that has been rumored to introduce a new attack vector — a claim since denied by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin — could have prevented this attack, according to Steiner. As she noted during the interview:
“If that functionality Create2 had existed at the time, there wouldn’t have been a vulnerability, basically.”
From Stablecoins to Blockchain Trials: Japanese Players Are Going Crypto as the Local Government Is Overseeing the Market
The beginning of the year was particularly eventful for the Japanese crypto ecosystem, which is generally considered to be a significant part of the industry. First of all, Japan’s Central Bank (BoJ) issued a study on the role of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the current monetary system, a topic that was widely discussed by the country’s officials last year. Secondly, major domestic trading company and investment bank, Marubeni Corporation and Daiwa Securities Group, reported blockchain-related advancements in their businesses. Finally, local banking giant Mizuho Financial Group announced the launch of its custom stable coin.
Cryptopia Website Goes Live After Slight Delay, User Balances Held from Pre-Hack State
Recently hacked crypto exchange Cryptopia has relaunched its website in a read-only format, along with resuming user balances to its pre-hacked state, the exchange tweeted on March 5. Following last week’s announcement of a March 4 launch date, Cryptopia has slightly delayed the relaunch by providing the live website on Tuesday, March 5, one day later. In the latest series of tweets, Cryptopia confirmed it would be using customers’ balances held from Jan. 14 as a basis for further calculating rebates.
Majority of 400 Vulnerable Docker Servers Found to Be Mining Monero, Research Shows
About 400 servers running virtualization software Docker were found to be vulnerable to outside exploitation. Most of them were seemingly running Monero (XMR) mining software, cybersecurity company Imperva reports on March 4. A misconfiguration of the vulnerable Docker hosts permits public access to the Docker API, which should only be locally accessible. This misconfiguration, combined with a newly discovered vulnerability, allows attackers to obtain administrator rights on the server and install software of their choice.
US Crypto Exchange ErisX Hires Former Wells Fargo Executive as Business Developer
United States-based cryptocurrency exchange ErisX announced that it hired former Wells Fargo executive Kyle Unterseher as a business development executive. The news was reported in a Medium post published by the exchange’s head of marketing on March 5. Unterseher joins the ErisX business development team and will be reporting directly to ErisX chief commercial officer Kelly Brown. In the post, Brown stated:
“We were impressed with Kyle’s wide range of global experiences working with FCMs as well as in managing and operating critical growth departments […] He is a significant addition to the team as we gear up to launch one platform for spot and regulated futures on digital assets.”
Nordea Bank Faces Allegations of Laundering Russian Millions
Finnish public broadcaster YLE will air a damning program on March 4 that reveals Nordea Bank’s alleged involvement in a multi-million-dollar money laundering scheme. The program will show how dirty money, mostly from Russian criminals, passed through Nordea, the biggest lender in the Nordic region.
Indian Supreme Court Advocate Says Cryptocurrencies Cannot Be Regulated
A supreme court advocate has explained the limitations of the Indian government’s power to regulate cryptocurrency, determining that the court should not get involved. Meanwhile, the crypto community awaits the government’s regulatory framework and the supreme court hearing of the petitions against the banking ban by the central bank.