Dubai’s economic department to roll out blockchain-based corporate KYC

Cointelegraph By Osato Avan-Nomayo

Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, or “Dubai Economy,” and the Dubai International Financial Centre are working to expand their KYC platform to financial institutions across the United Arab Emirates.

The DIFC made the planned project expansion known via an announcement published on its website on April 6.

According to the communique, both organizations have signed an agreement to put the necessary modalities in place to extend the KYC platform across the UAE.

The project was first announced back in February 2020 with 120 companies on-boarded as of July 2020 according to a Cointelegraph report at the time.

The DIFC said that the blockchain-based KYC platform now holds close to half of all electronic KYC records in the UAE.

Commenting on the need to accelerate the adoption of the blockchain KYC system, the DIFC stated that the platform will enable more efficient sharing of verified KYC data among licensing authorities.

For Abdulla Hassan, CEO corporate sector, Dubai Economy, UAE Dubai is an integral part of efforts by the government to position the country as a viable global investment destination:

“Following its launch in 2020, the platform has become increasingly crucial not only in simplifying the procedures for opening bank accounts for investors, but also in enabling banks to digitally receive verified KYC data. This initiative has a positive impact in attracting business and on the global ease of doing business ranking of Dubai and the UAE.”

The blockchain KYC consortium is one of many examples of the positive stance adopted by the Emirati government in dealing with crypto and blockchain technology.

Earlier in April, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri identified crypto and asset tokenization as being integral to the country’s plans of doubling the size of its economy within the next decade.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s financial regulators are already working on crypto regulations with members of the public recently given a 30-day window to comment on the proposed cryptocurrency laws.

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Native Bitcoin trading is coming to ShapeShift via THORChain (RUNE)

Shaurya Malwa

ShapeShift, a non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange, announced yesterday that it was now fully integrated with THORChain, the decentralized cross-chain liquidity network, as per a release.

Users can now trade native (unwrapped) Bitcoin with Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum (ETH) on ShapeShift’s mobile and desktop platforms.

The move allows Bitcoin traders and investors to participate more freely, securely, and privately in trading with other coins while expanding their options in the world of decentralized finance—using a single user-friendly and incentivized platform.

Thorchain on Shapeshift

THORChain solves the problem of cross-chain trading by building efficient, bi-directional bridges between blockchains at the protocol level in a permissionless, non-custodial manner.

ShapeShift, which announced decentralized exchange (DEX) trading for ETH and ERC-20 assets in January, has now expanded its DEX assets available for trade through this integration with the THORChain liquidity platform.

“We believe finance must be open and immutable. The THORChain team has built technology that brings these properties to the trading of bitcoin and other leading chains for the first time,” said Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift, in a statement.

He added:

“We saw the power of this technology and wanted to bring it to our users immediately. This is a continuation of our commitment to offering users an easy, self-custody platform for their decentralized trading needs.”

Only ShapeShift DEX users, including those making trades via the new THORChain integration, can earn FOX Tokens with every trade—qualifying them for Rainfall awards (free USDC rewarded to random ShapeShift users each time someone trades on the platform).

“The team saw an opportunity to provide a ‘public good’ network that would solve a weak point in the cryptocurrency ecosystem: decentralized, cross-chain exchanging,” said THORChain’s lead engineer.

The THORChain team remains pseudonymous, as is commonly seen in the industry for security, privacy, and project integrity reasons (as exemplified by Bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto). Their code is open source and available on Gitlab.

RUNE trades at $14.75 at press time and has a marketcap of over $3.4 billion.

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Ethereum (ETH) Approaches $2400 Levels with 10% Surge Ahead of Berlin Hard Fork Upgrade

In a massive price rally, ETH has moved all the way to $2400 registering over 200% gains since the beginning of 2021.

On Wednesday, April 14, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency ETH has registered a solid 10% surge hitting its new all-time high of $2397 before the upcoming Berlin hard fork . With this, Ethereum (ETH) has entered a price discovery zone pegging $275 billion in valuations. Meaning at the current price, Ethereum has outsized giant companies like the Intel Corporation.

ETH has had a phenomenal price rally this year with its valuations soaring nearing 200%, so far in 2021. This also means that Ethereum (ETH) has outperformed Bitcoin (BTC) with 2x the margin.

Ethereum’s recent price rally comes on the backdrop of a sharp surge in the DeFi activity on the Ethereum blockchain network. The explosion in the DeFi space has contributed to massive transaction volumes taking place on the Ethereum network.

Interestingly, Ethereum’s latest price rally coincides with its ongoing network development. The Berlin hard fork is scheduled for release later today on April 14. However, the Berlin hard fork is less impactful for the short term. The good thing is it will pave the fork for the London hard fork scheduled ahead in July 2021.

ETH Gas Fee Issue and London Hard Fork

With a massive surge in the DeFi activity, the Ethereum network has been facing strong congestion. This has turned into the miners paradise as the ETH gas fee soared to the highs of $38 during February 2021. Although the situation has now cooled down and the gas feed has dropped to $11.

However, the Ethereum developers are working out a long-term solution to this. Thus, they have proposed the implementation of the EIP 1559 Fee Market protocol during the London hard fork ahead this year.

The EIP 1559 helps to reduce the volatility of transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain. But this implementation has drawn the anger of Ethereum miners who are unhappy with this proposition.

Under the current scenario, a user transacting on Ethereum sends the gas fee directly to the miner, included in the transaction block. With EIP 1559 implementation, the gas fee shall directly go to the network as “burn”. This “burn” is the base fee with a very small tip going to the miner.

Thus, the EIP 1559 implementation reduces miner monopoly in the supply/demand auction-style system. On the contrary, Ethereum developers are confident that this proposal will be net positive for its users in the long term.

Altcoin News, Blockchain News, Cryptocurrency news, Ethereum News, News

Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.

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Kardiachain’s ‘KAIDEX’ aims to bring DeFi and CeFi to crypto traders

Shaurya Malwa

Traders have become used to the decentralized functionality offered to them through the explosion in DEXs that have flooded the cryptocurrency space this year, but one project wants to bring to blockchain the functionality that traders see in the traditional finance space.

Vietnamese blockchain Kardiachain has taken a step towards its goal of launching such a project, KAIDEX. It describes the project as a unique DEX platform that gives traders unparalleled functionality.

Dual node technology

The platform has been designed from the ground up to use Kardiachain’s dual node technology, which gives users all the benefits of a DEX. 

It gives uses complete control over their wallets and assets along with the ability to seamlessly switch between blockchains—both public and private—to aid communication and boost speed.

“KardiaChain’s Team is working hard to build a user-centric platform. We want to bring users the ultimate DEX experience and aim to increase mass adoption of blockchain and crypto with our unique products,” said Huy Nguyen, CTO and Co-founder of Kardiachain, 

He noted the team’s objective was to have KAIDEX ready for launch later this year, adding:

“Launching the KAIDEX landing page is the first step to the next phase. This will feature IDO Platform (Initial Dex Offering), cross-chain lending, cross-chain swap, and cross-chain farming.”

New DEX tech

KAIDEX is built upon Dual Node, a patent-pending technology that Kardiachain believes can revolutionize multi-chain swapping, and which they say allows simultaneous access to ledgers of KardiaChain and another blockchain of choice.

Kardiachain is working to include a host of features on the platform, including Trading tools: Stop and Market Order, and Limit Order, low slippage, fast transfer speed, and low fees.

The objective is to deliver speed and performance that matches centralized exchanges, and provides customers with high liquidity and very fast settlements. 

KardiaChain is the world’s first fully interoperable and non-invasive blockchain platform. Its mission is to bring a competitive edge to enterprises and governments through blockchain technology. 

The firm’s approach is to partner with existing service providers (enterprises and governments), and help them transform their centralized products/services.

Using its patented cross-chain technology, KardiaChain’s Private-Public Blockchain Platform (PPBP) solves the biggest dilemma in blockchain adoption for institutional clients: privacy versus transparency.

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Dogecoin (DOGE) hits a new ATH as Bitcoin bulls try to flip $63K to support

Cointelegraph By Jordan Finneseth

The price of Dogecoin (DOGE) experienced a strong 36% rally on April 13 and established a new all-time high at $0.0961. While the exact reason for the rally is unknown, the crypto market’s most popular meme coin now finds itself on the shortlist of cryptocurrencies being considered as a payment option in today’s post-pandemic business reopenings. 

Data from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that DOGE rose 36% from a low of $0.07 in the early hours on April 13 to an intraday high of $0.0961 on $5.4 billion of trading volume.

DOGE/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Price growth for Dogecoin has become one of the biggest stories of 2021 as big-name influencers like Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg and Mark Cuban are proud members of the “Dogecoin Army,” as evidenced by a large number of DOGE-related tweets on their timelines.

VORTECS data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for DOGE on April 11, prior to the recent price rise.

The VORTECS Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

VORTECS Score (green) vs. DOGE price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen in the chart above, the VORTECS Score for DOGE first began turning green on April 8 and then reached a high of 67 on April 10 around three hours before staging a brief 30% rally on April 11. Following that rally, the VORTECS Score began to rapidly rise on April 12 and reached a high of 87 on April 13 as DOGE began to rally another 40%.

Now that cryptocurrencies are receiving mainstream attention, with new signs of adoption showing up daily, projects like Dogecoin with large communities and celebrity endorsements are poised to see a fresh wave of interest as new users enter the space looking for the next big moonshot.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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DeFi mutual fund Sheesha Finance raises $9.4M

Cointelegraph By Sam Bourgi

Sheesha Finance, a decentralized finance mutual fund based in the United Arab Emirates, has raised $9.44 million over a two-week token sale — underscoring heightened investor demand for DeFi applications. 

The token sale, known as a liquidity generation event, or LGE, excluded private sales and early contribution bonuses, which allowed micro-investments of as little as 0.0001 Ether (ETH). In total, LGE contributors doled out 3,171.31 ETH, valued at $6.35 million, and 7,769.43 Binance Coin (BNB), worth $3.08 million.

Investors who contributed to the LGE can claim their liquidity provider tokens for staking in exchange for the native SHEESHA token. Holders of SHEESHA are eligible to receive rewards with every block mined.

Saeed Hareb Al Darmaki, founder of Sheesha Finance, credited the “strong support” from the DeFi community for his company’s initial success:

“With the strong support of the DeFi community, strategic advisors and partners onboard, we can provide exposure to reputable projects in the DeFi space while offering the best APY options for our ecosystem participants.”

Sheesha’s advisory board includes David Namdar, founding partner of Galaxy Digital; Stakehound CEO Albert Castellana; and Michael Terpin of Transform Group, among others.

Sheesha is attempting to make DeFi more accessible to mainstream investors by creating “easily convertible assets” that can be used to gain exposure to both new and existing projects in the space. Decentralized finance remains one of the hottest verticals in the blockchain industry. DeFi protocols have locked in nearly $108 billion worth of assets, according to the latest industry figures.

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North American crypto miners prepare to challenge China’s dominance – Cointelegraph Magazine

Cointelegraph By Andrew Singer

Springtime is coming to the North American cryptocurrency mining industry. With access to robust capital markets, cheap power, a stable political climate and increasing participation of technological innovators, industrial-grade mining operations are burgeoning in the United States and Canada, providing competition to Chinese mining pools that now control more than half of the world’s hashing power.

These new ventures are acutely aware of the need to minimize mining’s carbon footprint. In March, when Neptune Digital Assets and Link Global announced they would develop a new five-megawatt Bitcoin mining facility in Alberta, Canada, for instance, Neptune CEO Cale Moodie cited the “substantial global pressure to develop sustainable [emphasis added] Bitcoin mining operations around the world” — adding that the project would be powered by solar, wind and natural gas.

“A large investment in North America mining infrastructure is currently taking place,” Ethan Vera, co-founder and chief financial officer of Luxor Technologies and of Hashrate Index, tells Magazine, while CoinShares chief strategy officer Meltem Demirors writes in a recent blog post: “We have seen over $200M of capital deployed into building onshore mining capacity in the United States alone.”

“There’s an upwards trend in mining companies looking at the U.S. and North America,” Amy Davine Kim, chief policy officer of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, tells Magazine, and there is a growing willingness among some U.S. states to support such crypto mining ventures. Kentucky, for instance, passed two bills in March that give tax breaks to crypto miners, whom the state wants to attract in order to create jobs and energize local economies.

“North American capital has been unleashed,” Vera explains, adding: “Public and private markets are pouring money into Bitcoin mining,” and it is all setting the stage “for large-scale North American build-out.”

What took so long?

Some wonder how and why Western nations allowed China to take such a lead in crypto mining in the first place. China now accounts for 65% of global BTC mining, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. This is compared with only 7.24% for the U.S., which is the second-largest hub, though no one really knows the global distribution with certainty. 

Some have pegged the Chinese share to be lower. For example, a 2020 study commissioned by Fidelity Investments estimates that 50% of global mining power capacity is “likely” in China, with 14% in the United States. Meanwhile, an April 6 paper written by academics from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Cornell University and the University of Surrey in Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed journal, estimates the Chinese share to be much higher: “As of April 2020, China accounts for more than 75% of Bitcoin blockchain operation around the world.

The paper goes on to explain that some of China’s rural areas are considered an “ideal destination for Bitcoin mining” because of cheaper electricity prices and large tracts of undeveloped land for mining pool construction.

“In the early days, the Wild-West nature of the mining industry held back major investments,” says Vera, explaining how Bitcoin mining became so geographically skewed. “The opaqueness of the ASIC supply chain” — the application-specific integrated circuits that are specifically designed to perform the hashing calculations demanded of miners — “and mining pool auditability led capital to be sidelined.” 

With regard to “auditability,” he further explains that “Most miners didn’t know if they were getting underpaid for their hashrate to mining pools. If mining pools quoted them a fee it was very hard to check that was the actual fee being charged. In many cases miners blamed mining pools for underpayment.” More recently, however, “There has been a large improvement in the mining supply chain professionalism,” Vera adds.

China’s dominance is perhaps better explained in macro terms, suggests Yu Xiong, associate dean international at Surrey University and chair of business analytics at Surrey Business School — and one of the authors of the Nature Communications paper. North America is saddled with higher labor costs and energy costs than China, which leads the world with roughly 30% of global hydropower capacity and a 50% share of coal power generation. “Those facilitated the mining industry in China,” Xiong tells Magazine.

Chase Lochmiller, CEO and co-founder of Crusoe Energy Systems — a Colorado company that uses waste gas from oil well sites to power Bitcoin mining rigs — tells Magazine that more miners are now migrating to North America, driven by the increased attention paid to BTC by investors and society in general.

Bitcoin mining “slammed” by environmentalists

Any movement to North America could also invite further scrutiny from environmentalists who have attacked Bitcoin’s prodigious consumption of energy — and its related climate-threatening emissions. The annualized energy consumption of the Bitcoin mining industry in China alone will peak in 2024 at 296.59 terawatt-hours, according to the Nature Communications paper, which “exceeds the total energy consumption level of Italy and Saudi Arabia” in 2016.

In March, Bank of America analysts “slammed” Bitcoin mining for its environmental wantonness, noting that “A single Bitcoin purchase at a price of ~$50,000 has a carbon footprint of 270 tons, the equivalent of 60 ICE [internal combustion engine] cars.”

The proof-of-work consensus mechanism used to verify Bitcoin transactions requires would-be miners to compete against each other to solve complicated mathematical puzzles. Computers, such as ASICs, specially built to solve those problems burn through immense amounts of electricity. Miners that solve the puzzle get to form and confirm the next “block” of transactions, and they receive BTC as a reward for their efforts.

Still, “This is a security feature of PoW not a bug,” says Vera. If the puzzles to be solved — the answers to which are called “hashes” — are too easy to solve, the network invites denial-of-service attacks from hackers.

Lochmiller says that high energy usage in itself is “not necessarily a bad thing” if it is done right. Crusoe Energy, for instance, has developed a technology that captures the natural gas that is “flared” into the atmosphere at oil well sites and uses this waste gas “to power modular data centers [mining rigs] deployed directly at the wellsite.” 

When co-locating rigs in this manner — as the company has done in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota — the result is an overall 71% reduction in CO2 emissions when compared with flaring, Lochmiller tells Magazine. “It’s a net benefit to the environment, and a net advantage to BTC.”

The ecological challenges attached to crypto mining “are easily addressable,” Clark Swanson, CEO of Blockcap — one of the largest Bitcoin mining operations in North America — tells Magazine, adding:

“The Bitcoin network is the first use of energy that does not require its source of energy to be co-located near the end user population.” 

Swanson stresses that BTC mining is moving toward making renewables the primary source “and perhaps one day the sole source of energy to the Bitcoin network.” Even today, Blockcap utilizes power that achieves a nearly 50% carbon-neutral output. “We are continuing to drive our carbon-emission target to neutral.” At present, however, most Bitcoin mining globally is not powered by renewable energy sources like solar, wind or hydro. According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, “39% of hashing’s total energy consumption comes from renewables.”

Not all are impressed by recent measures, however. Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist, calls the co-location solution preposterous, telling Magazine: “We’re not having a climate change problem because fossil fuel extraction is not efficient enough.” He adds:

“Using a byproduct of fossil fuel extraction still means Bitcoin is running on fossil fuels, and it only adds to the bottom line of fossil fuel companies.” 

De Vries admits that solar panels provide green energy and are an improvement over using flared gas, “but so far the only substantial source of renewable energy going into the Bitcoin network is dodgy hydropower that can only be obtained for just a couple of months per year,” as is the case in China’s Sichuan provincethe world’s largest BTC mining hub. 

Even if the Bitcoin network were to run entirely on renewable energy, continues de Vries, it wouldn’t solve all its PoW-related problems. “This network runs on highly specialized equipment that cannot be repurposed,” and the growing demand for the ASIC machinery “already adds to the disruption in the global semiconductor supply chain.” The end result will be “a substantial pile of electronic waste on top of all that energy consumption. No amount of green energy can fix that.”

Optics will become more important, arguably, if the mining industry’s center of gravity shifts from China to North America, where regulators and environmentalists might be more sensitive than China’s energy authorities to the industry’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

A security risk?

Beyond the energy and environmental questions, others see significant security risks in Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism. “Just consider that half of the network’s hashrate is physically located in China,” says de Vries. “That’s a major security risk.”

Something similar was suggested by Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen in an opinion piece for The Hill in August 2020. He wrote: “At least 65 percent of cryptocurrency mining is concentrated in China, which means the Chinese government has the majority needed to wield control over those protocols and can effectively block or reverse transactions.”



In the same vein, former Acting U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks noted in November 2020 that China has captured more than 51% of the mining capacity on the Bitcoin blockchain, “which means that the very first Internet of Money […] is now essentially owned by China. So, as a country, we now face a geostrategic competitiveness issue, which is: Do we in the United States want to own Internet 2.0 in the same way that we own Internet 1.0?” 

Warnings about a 51% attack on the Bitcoin network from China or elsewhere crop up fairly regularly in the cryptoverse, but the risk is mostly theoretical, writes developer Jameson Lopp in an August 2020 blog post. Irrespective of its “scary-sounding” name, if such an attack were to come, it would be “limited in its effectiveness” and “unlikely to disrupt network operations for more than a short period of time.” 

During such an assault, the attacker couldn’t actually steal people’s Bitcoin arbitrarily, explains Lopp, and attackers could only double-spend only their own coins. Also, the hackers could neither make invalid transactions valid nor change consensus rules. These limitations, continues Lopp, probably make cryptocurrency exchanges the “juiciest targets” for 51% attacks. But there are numerous downsides for even these more limited assaults, including the fact that “Any exchange with decent liquidity to make them attack-worthy will likely have withdrawal limits.” Lopp adds that the threat from China, limited as it is, will further diminish over time:

“Over the very long term I expect we will see semiconductor foundries outside of Asia begin producing more mining chips and countries with even cheaper power sources will continue to become more industrialized, thus providing more competition when miners are seeking out new locations to set up shop. China’s mining dominance is unlikely to last; I expect that this theoretical attack will become less and less likely.”

It isn’t environmentalists, hackers or even hegemonic nation-states that will eventually doom the PoW mining model, according to Kevin Dowd, professor of finance and economics at Durham University in the United Kingdom — it’s the basic laws of economics.

Dowd argues that Bitcoin mining has the industrial structure of a natural monopoly — i.e., where production is cheapest with one producer. “There are inherent centralizing tendencies that will eventually undermine its value proposition,” Dowd tells Magazine. This problem of excessive centralization isn’t going away, even if most BTC mining shifts from China to North America, he asserts.

Is the PoW consensus doomed?

Does the PoW protocol come with its own expiration date, then? After all, Ethereum, which boasts the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is moving to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism that should bring with it significantly reduced energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint — along with increased speed, if all goes well. Does this represent the future of blockchain technology?

“Proof-of-work is the only battle tested consensus mechanism,” says Vera. “While proof-of-stake may work, it is still an experiment.” His business believes that Bitcoin will remain attached to a PoW consensus “indefinitely — and it will only get better with time.”

“I see value in both consensus mechanisms,” Lochmiller tells Magazine. The sheer size of investment required to undertake BTC mining discourages cyberattacks, while PoS is “still in its infancy, still being rolled out.” Swanson adds that in Bitcoin’s 12 years of existence, the PoW consensus protocol has successfully thwarted all attacks on the network, stating:

“While a proof of stake protocol may be more efficient from the use of power utilization and computational speed, it has inherent deficiencies that make it insufficient as a long-term Bitcoin protocol.” 

When asked if mining is Bitcoin’s Achilles’ heel, Kim answers: “I disagree. There are ways to incentivize appropriate energy consumption.” Bitcoin mining, as currently constituted, may be wasteful, but other things waste a lot of energy and emit lots of carbon, including the U.S. military. Ecology alone may not be a sufficient reason to abandon PoW mining. 

“First, we need better data,” adds Kim. How much ecological damage is really being done? “We also have to look at the benefits” of the Bitcoin network, which allows a safe, secure way to transfer value anywhere in the world and can bring millions of unbanked individuals into the world’s financial system for the first time — to cite two potential benefits. Ecology is a concern, yes, “But it’s important not just to talk about climate only,” says Kim.

A new center of gravity for BTC mining?

Can one really expect Bitcoin mining activity to shift significantly from China toward North America in the next few years? Given its higher energy and labor costs and its stricter regulations, Xiong is doubtful that North America will dethrone China anytime soon. Perhaps, however, “Some other countries with more renewable energy, and lower operation costs, could rival China,” he tells Magazine.

“The U.S. is growing aggressively” as a mining venue, says Lochmiller, partly a result of the “professionalization” of the sector. But all those Chinese mining groups aren’t going to vanish overnight — barring some major regulatory intervention. As such, Lochmiller expects China to still claim 40% to 50% of the world’s BTC mining activity three years hence, with perhaps 30% from North America, 20% from Europe and the remaining 10% from elsewhere.

Regarding mining’s future configuration, “I’d love to see it inverted,” says Kim, with 65% for the U.S. and 7% for China — though that probably isn’t likely. The key thing is the U.S. needs a comprehensive policy at both the state and federal levels to attract and keep innovative crypto and blockchain firms. 

Kim adds: “We want that work here — as happened with the Internet and Silicon Valley.” Already, states like Kentucky and Texas and cities like Miami are recognizing that blockchain represents the future, “So I anticipate seeing some progress on the mining front over the next three years.” 

“North America is on the verge of an explosion of hashrate growth, leveraging robust capital markets, sophisticated energy infrastructure and political climate,” says Vera. “I expect North America to gain another 10% of global hashrate market share over the next year.”

Clearly though, as the North American mining industry develops, it has to be mindful of the ecological costs of growth, and continued movement toward renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources is critical if it is to gain mining share, stresses Vera. “As Bitcoin gains mass adoption, this [the environmental impacts] will continue to be the major argument against it.”

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Polkadot and Cosmos connect as Plasm and Secret Network release bridge MVP

Cointelegraph By Andrey Shevchenko

Plasm Network and Secret Network, two projects based on Polkadot and Cosmos, respectively, have launched the first iteration of a bridge to connect the two ecosystems, each representing a different “layer-zero” protocol.

The bridge, deployed on Tuesday on Plasm’s testnet, allows users to transfer assets between Plasm Network and Secret, allowing them to enjoy transaction privacy and use SecretSwap, the first automated market maker exchange on Secret Network. The bridge would allow Plasm users to benefit from Secret Network’s privacy layer, which is based on hardware guarantees offered by trusted execution environment, or TEE, cells. Secret nodes and validators use the TEE to perform operations requiring privacy, which makes them untraceable for the nodes themselves.

In the long-term, the Plasm team expects to become the gateway to Cosmos for other Polkadot projects. Key to this is winning the parachain auctions on Kusama and Polkadot, becoming fully embedded in their environments, Plasm co-founder Sota Watanabe told Cointelegraph:

“Currently, we are focusing on becoming one of the first Kusama parachains. After becoming a parachain, we will implement [the bridge] on the mainnet and make it more and more decentralized and trustless step by step.”

The current implementation of the bridge is based on the SecretBridge framework by Secret, which uses multisignature custody with dedicated validators performing the conversions. This architecture is currently the most prevalent within various bridges and interoperability solutions — for example, underpinning bridges from Ethereum to other layer-one platforms like Solana and Avalanche.

Though there are various proposed solutions to decentralize the bridging process, such as by introducing a dynamic validator selection process, the “holy grail” for blockchain bridges is the light client model. In this architecture, one blockchain is able to independently evaluate transaction proofs from another chain and make that data available to a smart contract, removing the necessity of any type of middleman.

Watanabe said that light clients are the goal, but there are still some hurdles to overcome:

“We have considered the light client implementation. And we are highly likely to take this approach after becoming a Kusama Parachain. The implementation we have today is a MVP [minimum viable product]. […] Currently, we are discussing this topic in another group with the Cosmos team. One big issue is that we need no_std versions of some of the underlying libs.”

The “no_std” moniker is used in the Rust programming language to denote applications that do not use the standard library. This can be a very restrictive limitation, as Rust’s standard library defines many features that would be considered core attributes in higher-level languages — for example, dynamic arrays and memory. In blockchain usage, no_std is a necessity due to WebAssembly, the virtual machine framework used by Polkadot and other blockchains, which has its own standard library.

Nonetheless, the Plasm and Secret bridge would mark the first time that Polkadot and Cosmos are connected. Watanabe said that the concept could easily be expanded to more Cosmos blockchains, while another option is directly implementing Cosmos’ Inter-Blockchain Communication framework on Plasm and Substrate. The current bridge design can still connect with the entire Cosmos ecosystem, provided that they pass through Secret.

Though Cosmos and Polkadot are sometimes seen as competitors, Watanabe said the bridge drives forward a different vision:

“This is the first commercial trial that brings Cosmos assets to the Polkadot ecosystem and vice versa. We would like to make the idea of ‘Cosmos vs Polkadot’ obsolete.”

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Judge Denies SEC Probe into Ripple Executive’s Personal Financial Record

XRP, the digital currency that is central to the SEC onslaught, has caught on a new fire fueled by the latest victory Ripple inked.

Judge Sarah Netburn, a United States Magistrate Judge has handed blockchain payments firm Ripple Labs yet another victory over the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As reported by Coindesk, Judge Netburn has denied the market regulator’s request to look into the personal financial records of the company’s two executives indicted in its ongoing court duel with the firm.

The verdict is the second victory Ripple has landed over the SEC since the duo started appearing in court per claims that the former sold XRP digital currency as a security to investors. The first victory came when Judge Netburn granted the company unrestricted access to documents regarding Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) to discover why they were classified as digital currencies but XRP was not.

Per the latest verdict, Judge Netburn wrote:

“The SEC shall withdraw its requests for production seeking the individual defendants’ personal financial records and withdraw its third-party subpoenas seeking the same.”

However, the SEC may reapply to gain access to these records if it uncovers new evidence that suggests CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Co-founder Chris Larsen lied about their XRP transaction records over the years.

The Ripple-SEC legal battle has been a major setback for the company in the United States as evident in the squashed business partnership between the firm and its ally, American money transfer company, Moneygram International Inc (NASDAQ: MGI). Both companies parted ways back in March after initially placing the relationship on hold.

XRP Pumping as Latest Verdict in the Case between SEC and Ripple Excites Investors

XRP, the digital currency that is central to the SEC onslaught, has caught on a new fire fueled by the latest victory Ripple inked. The coin has surged by over 64.56% in the past week, and by more than 23.70% in the last 24 hours to be exchanging hands at $1.70 according to data from CoinMarketCap.

The current price XRP is trading is arguably the highest price level the coin has witnessed in the past year. This bullish trend comes after major cryptocurrency exchanges delisted the digital currency in the wake of the SEC lawsuit, however, its ongoing bullish surge is a testament to the cryptocurrency’s investors’ resilience in backing the coin in its most challenging times.

Unlike the top three cryptocurrencies which XRP is trailing behind, the coin is still trading at 55.55% below its All-Time High (ATH) price of $3.84. This price level represents a major hurdle that XRP bulls may be willing to overcome as the anticipation for better days lies ahead.

Altcoin News, Blockchain News, Cryptocurrency news, News, XRP News

Benjamin Godfrey is a blockchain enthusiast and journalists who relish writing about the real life applications of blockchain technology and innovations to drive general acceptance and worldwide integration of the emerging technology. His desires to educate people about cryptocurrencies inspires his contributions to renowned blockchain based media and sites. Benjamin Godfrey is a lover of sports and agriculture.

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DeFi tracker Step Finance raises $2M from Solana ecosystem investors

Cointelegraph By Andrey Shevchenko

Step Finance, a Solana-native decentralized finance protocol, announced the completion of a private token sale for $2 million, which will help build and develop its platform.

The round, disclosed on Tuesday, saw participation from notable Solana backers including Alameda Research, the hedge fund known for launching and backing FTX and Serum. Other investors include Raydium, One Block, 3 Commas Capital, Solidity Ventures and some undisclosed individual investors within the Solana ecosystem.

Step Finance is a DeFi position manager and aggregator, offering similar functionality to Ethereum’s Zapper. George Harrap, co-founder of Step, explained the current issues the project is trying to solve:

“The biggest problem in the Solana ecosystem is how most projects are siloed from one another. There is no way to know your token and LP balances, current position sizes, etc., without actually visiting each website individually and logging in to understand your portfolio — and performance.”

The Step Finance project emerged from the Solana hackathon held in March in collaboration with Serum. Though the project did not win any prize during the event, it appears to have provided the team with the necessary experience to pursue further funding. Harrap added:

“It’s hard to track anything on Solana because what Step is doing doesn’t exist yet, so there is a clear market fit that investors saw. Our team is made up of known people in the crypto industry who have raised money, built projects, companies, and start-ups, and the investors knew that their money was in safe hands.”

Beyond the position and yield aggregation, the platform also seeks to provide insight into the user’s portfolio risk through parameters like the Sortino score. The platform is primarily meant for power users in Solana DeFi, where projects generally focus on more traditional trading platforms.

Solana is making a powerful push toward onboarding the “accessory” projects that simplify the use of other DeFi protocols. In the latest Hackathon, winners also included projects that emulate the functionality of platforms like Synthetix or, in addition to unique additions such as tax reporting management.

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