Morgan Stanley CEO: Bitcoin Is ‘More Than Just A Fad’
The head of one of Wall Street’s biggest banks believes bitcoin is “more than just a fad.”
James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, made the comments during an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal today. According to Bloomberg, Gorman said that the privacy features of cryptocurrency are compelling.
“The concept of anonymous currency is a very interesting concept – interesting for the privacy protections it gives people, interesting because what it says to the central banking system about controlling that.”
That said, Gorman isn’t personally invested, though he did say he has encountered a number of people who have bought a stake in the market.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have,” he said at the event. “It’s obviously highly speculative but it’s not something that’s inherently bad. It’s a natural consequence of the whole blockchain technology.”
Gorman’s moderated stance stands in contrast to comments issued this month by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who made headlines when he said he believes bitcoin is a “fraud.” He later doubled down on those remarks, predicting that governments would move more forcefully to crack down on cryptocurrencies.
According to Bloomberg, Gorman himself pointed to that question of future regulatory developments around cryptocurrencies, wondering aloud when regulators would “decide [they] want to control monetary flows for money laundering and privacy and capital outflows and all the other reasons.”
Image Credit: World Economic Forum – Remy Steinegger/Flickr
Written By Coin Desk
Hyperledger Blockchain ‘Shadows’ Canadian Bank’s International Payments
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is using Blockchain-based Hyperledger for its US – Canada interbank settlements.
In exclusive comments to Reuters Thursday, Executive Vice President for Innovation and Technology Martin Wildberger said the technology had been “shadowing” the bank’s legacy transaction monitoring ledger for “several weeks.”
“Everybody recognizes Blockchain will be transformative and critical,” he told the publication. “At the same point in time, I think everybody recognizes these are early days.”
The move marks the latest entry for Hyperledger into the traditional payments industry, with multiple major organizations worldwide already leveraging Blockchain to save time and money while improving security.
RBC, which is now talking up so-called “distributed ledger technology,” contrasts with the Canadian central bank’s decision in May this year not to deploy Blockchain for its domestic payments.
“We wanted to set it up as a shadow ledger so that we can demonstrate our leadership in exploiting that technology, while at the same time recognizing that the technology is still early in its adoption phase,” Wildberger added.
Earlier this month, authorities approved the country’s first registered fund manager for Bitcoin from First Block Capital.
At the same time, the central bank has produced warnings on ICOs, a result of which Canadian messaging platform Kik froze local investors out of its $98 mln token sale.
Written By Cointelegraph
Sebi working on framework to regulate bitcoin market
Mumbai: India’s market regulator is planning a framework to regulate the country’s bitcoin market, said three persons with direct knowledge of the matter. They declined to be named.
In its first meeting on 19 September, the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (Sebi) recently formed committee on financial and regulatory technologies (CFRT) concluded that it may be crucial to regulate bitcoin transactions to ensure that India’s public issue norms are not breached.
The Sebi panel also intends to ensure that bitcoins, its derivatives, or any other cryptocurrency are not being used as a medium for funding illegal activities and no entity is able to divert black money through the virtual currency market.
An email sent to Sebi remained unanswered.
The Sebi panel, which includes Reserve Bank of India (RBI) officials as members, also fears that through bitcoin exchanges, several entities may be potentially flouting private placement norms by collecting money from more than 200 random individuals.
The regulator pointed to the presence of numerous websites and mobile apps, which act as bitcoin exchanges for transacting in goods and services.
Zebpay Bitcoin India is one of the well-known Android apps that enables transactions in bitcoins.
Regulators in India are yet to ascertain if these cryptocurrency exchanges, which compete with regulated payment gateways such as banks and VISA, are legal or not.
In 2009, bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency.
After linking a bank account to any mobile app or website, the cryptocurrency market enables any individual to create a cryptocurrency wallet and earn or pay any entity digitally.
Additionally, cryptocurrency enables any entity to collect money from far more than 200 investors in a financial year without requiring to follow public issue norms as under the country’s Companies Act.
Also, the gains made by an individual through transactions in cryptocurrency cannot be taxed as the real source of the gain is unknown and mostly unregulated.
Moreover, blockchain—or the technology used to power cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins—make it impossible to trace the actual use of funds and the controls employed to manage the flow of virtual money to a number of entities spread across the world.
According to coinmarketcap.com, a website offering global data on cryptocurrency, as on 23 September, there were at least 5,511 markets trading in 1,117 types of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.
The total market cap of cryptocurrencies stood at $127.61 billion globally as on Saturday, 23 September, with bitcoin alone commanding a market cap of $61.68 billion.
The regulators also fear that since several websites and mobile apps enable cross-border transactions, “if the increasing trades in cryptocurrencies are not curbed, it may pose a substantial risk to the local currency, especially because the exchange rates are not regulated by any legal authority,” said one of the three persons cited above, who has direct knowledge of the Sebi panel’s Tuesday meeting .
“Cryptocurrency wallets are independent of formal banking systems and, therefore, in the absence of any regulations, the income in such wallets cannot be treated as taxable. Also, multiple bitcoins can be created to conceal the relationship between the source and the destination of digital transactions, which may work as an easier route for an individual to carry out anonymous transactions in order to launder money,” he said.
Saurabh Agrawal, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zebpay, feels Sebi’s concerns are valid.
He said Zebpay adheres to a self-regulation structure, in line with the Digital Assets and Blockchain Foundation India (DABFI) in the absence of any regulation for blockchain technology in India at present.
“We strictly follow the KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) norms while allowing customers to subscribe with Zebpay for dealing in bitcoins. We also carry a disclaimer on our front page to make the consumer fully aware of volatility in prices and other risks of dealing in cryptocurrencies. However, there are a number of apps and sites that may not be following the KYC and AML norms like us and the government should ideally ban those entities after bringing in laws for cryptocurrency,” Agrawal said.
According to Surojit Nandy, co-founder of alternative investment market platform GREX, cryptocurrency is posing some real and immediate regulatory questions transcending multiple financial laws around security transactions, public issues, exchange laws, currency regulations and the need for a central regulator itself. “Government needs to very quickly respond to such questions. Cryptocurrency on one hand is a very positive disruption and, on the other hand, poses serious challenges to traditional regulatory infrastructure, especially when it touches multiple financial laws of the land. We should see clarifications coming out of government and regulators very soon.”
Written by Livemint
Blockchain Powers Shift To Decentralization In Media
Strict editorial control may have its benefits, but it is rarely unbiased. Audiences that face a flow of slanted information from a centralized outlet are not likely to get a full picture of a story.
This state of affairs is widely criticized as a threat to true freedom of speech, especially in authoritarian nations where media are commonly used to implement propagandist agenda. Extensive usage of social networks by media and public figures effectively follows the same pattern.
An alternative decentralized environment might become the way to obtain more impartial information based on a manifold of independent opinions.
For numerous up-and-coming companies, Blockchain offers a chance to implement an independent and decentralized media outlet while providing the means for distributed data storage, transparent incentive models, and community moderation.
Decentralized Social Networks
Currently there are only a handful of viable products in this area, though there have been numerous attempts to build such a platform. For instance, sharing and tipping platform CoinAwesome went silent after two failed crowdsale attempts.
Blockchain-based social network Minds.com that sought to “take on Facebook” didn’t get much attention either; a Q&A reputation-driven system Reveal has gained initial traction, but withered away as well in the wake of unpleasant issues with users’ cryptocurrency accounts.
In most cases, when it comes to creating a decentralized Blockchain-powered media, it results in creation of a social network of some sort.
There are some notable examples of projects that seek to build a working decentralized social environment using Blockchain-powered solution. Some of them are already operational, while others are still under development or seeking funding through ICO’s and token sales.
One of the most remarkable examples in this area is Steemit, which has been operational for more than a year. It is a system built around community-driven posting, evaluation, and curation of content, based on the Steem Blockchain.
While the “traditional” social media outlets extract value from their audience for their own benefit, Steemit distributes the benefits of so-called “attention economy” among its participants.
The system rewards users for posts and content curation: users upvote posts they like, upvoted posts get popular, authors of the popular posts and users who upvoted them get STEEM token rewards. Steemit also employs a logarithmic reputation system, in which every member has a score that represents their individual contribution to the platform and its community.
Japan boasts its own local initiative called Alis, which is somewhat similar to Steemit. The service enables users to consume reliable information from experts, post articles and receive rewards in ALIS tokens for trustworthy and valuable content.
All submissions are evaluated by the community; members click the like button to upvote the articles they enjoy and find credible. Authors of highly rated materials gain token rewards, recognition and trust from community members. The project is currently raising funds for further development and is focused mostly on the Japanese community.
Content distribution platforms
Another effort in decentralization of media is the DECENT Network. Unlike Alis and Steemit, which are essentially social networks, DECENT is a Blockchain-based content distribution platform that ensures invariant storage of published materials and eliminates any intermediaries along with their potential influence and distribution fees.
The network can be used to publish any sort of media: music, programming code, video, images, books, etc. DECENT’s native DCT token is used to facilitate media assets trading. DCT token awards also incentivize network nodes to store content and verify new blocks with metadata and transactions. The network provides its members with a transparent, trustless and decentralized environment to store, consume and monetize original media content.
One more notable specimen is the Synereo project, a middle ground between DECENT and social media platforms like Steemit. It is a decentralized social network aiming to provide its users with the tools to monetize their original content or good taste in content curation.
The system is built on a Blockchain 2.0 employing Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm. The native AMP token serves as a measurement of users’ interest in the particular submission and as an incentive to exchange information.
An interesting post may be sponsored by its author or grateful readers who leave AMP tokens as tips. Authors of popular posts get a share of the tokens invested into their posts as a reward. For advertisers who use Synereo platform to promote their product, AMP tokens provide both the leverage to reach wider audiences and a reliable performance indicator.
Finally, there is Snip, a project which deviates from the obvious social media-focused trend and builds a decentralized news outlet. It provides a decentralized environment for user-generated news, free of any censorship and editorial control over the published material.
Every user of the platform is able to write and post concise stories on any desired topic and access a personalized newsfeed tailored to their individual preferences. The system employs so-called SnipCoin as an incentive for authors to submit relevant content, while giving readers the means to express their gratitude to contributors of interesting stories.
Since community feedback directly influences the popularity of the story in question and its author’s welfare, users are encouraged to submit only interesting and unbiased news.
Media today is headed towards decentralization. This trend manifests itself in the growing number of new companies that employ Blockchain technology, and may result in tokenization of existing media businesses. Even though most attempts at a decentralized media outlet are not fully developed yet, this trend seems to be positive.
It’s likely that at least one decentralized media platform will gain significant traction, so old-school centralized outlets and clickbait media may eventually be forced to adapt to the changing landscape. Otherwise they risk becoming obsolete in the decentralized society of tomorrow.
Written by Cointelegraph
Bitcoin blow as fund drops U.S. exchange application
(Reuters) – An effort to allow investors to trade digital currencies as easily as stocks in the United States stumbled when the backer of a bitcoin fund said an application to list on an exchange had been withdrawn.
Grayscale Investments LLC said Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s (ICE.N) NYSE Arca exchange withdrew a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to list its Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC.PK), in the latest setback to the digital currency.
“Although digital currency market regulation continues to rapidly evolve, at this time Grayscale does not believe there have been enough regulatory developments to prompt the SEC to approve the … application,” the fund’s issuers said in a statement. They said they would continue their dialogue with regulators, but could not predict when they may get approved.
The Bitcoin Investment Trust is currently traded “over the counter” in less formal exchanges than those used for typical stock transactions and at far higher prices than the bitcoin it holds. On Wednesday, shares closed at $739.50, while the bitcoin it holds were worth less than $373, according to the issuer.
The shares are nonetheless trading up 508 percent this year, more even than the meteoric rise of the digital currency, which JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon this month called “a fraud” that will blow up.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government.
Approval from the SEC could bring more investors into the asset, yet the regulatory agency has expressed doubts over the fact that the bitcoin market is unregulated.
In March, the SEC denied two applications to list bitcoin products on exchanges, including one backed by investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins best known for a feud with Facebook Inc (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg which was dramatized in the 2010 film “The Social Network.”
CBOE Holdings Inc’s (CBOE.O) Bats exchange, which wanted to host the Winklevoss-backed exchange traded fund (ETF), has appealed the SEC’s ruling.
A proposal to list a product based on ether, a rival digital currency, was pulled earlier this month.
Regulators have not yet weighed in on two other efforts to bring a digital currency to U.S. exchanges. Similar products already trade in Europe and one is being considered in Canada.
NYSE and the SEC were not immediately reachable for comment.
Written by Reuters
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