Samsung Confirms Crypto Key Storage Feature For Galaxy S10 Flagship

Samsung’s latest flagship phone will include a dedicated secure storage function designed for cryptocurrency private keys.

The Galaxy S10, formally unveiled Wednesday, includes a new function targeted toward cryptocurrency users in the form of the Samsung Knox, the world’s largest smartphone producer announced.

In a press release, Samsung explained:

“Galaxy S10 is built with defense-grade Samsung Knox, as well as a secure storage backed by hardware, which houses your private keys for blockchain-enabled mobile services.”

The S10 comes with an upgraded camera system that features “advanced intelligence,” the ability to charge other phones wirelessly, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage (on the base model) and a number of other features, according to the release.

Further details about the Knox solution were not immediately available, and Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, the S10 joins a slowly growing line of smartphones designed with cryptocurrencies in mind, including HTC’s EXODUS 1 and Sirin Labs’ Finney, both of which were announced last year. However, Samsung is the largest phone manufacturer to unveil a blockchain feature in a phone to date, and unlike either of its competitors, may see the widest distribution.

The Galaxy is Samsung’s flagship line, with four different devices falling under the S10 umbrella intended to fill as wide a market as possible. In contrast, the HTC EXODUS 1 can only be bought using bitcoin or ether, and the Finney can only be purchased using the Sirin token.

Rumors that the Galaxy S10 might include a crypto wallet have been circulating since last year, though the firm did not formally confirm these until Wednesday.

Binance Launches Decentralized Crypto Exchange Testnet

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has rolled out public testing for a decentralized trading platform built on its own blockchain network.

The company announced on Wednesday the new platform – called Binance DEX – is now up for public testing where users can create their own wallets and interact with the trading platform’s interface.

In addition, Binance revealed the blockchain explorer for the testnet of its proprietary public network called Binance Chain, which empowers the DEX so that traders can participate as individual nodes and hold their own private keys to their crypto assets.

While the launch of the testnet is a major step towards a final roll-out of the decentralized exchange, Binance said it now needs to gather feedback from the community before it can reveal a timeline for the final launch.

“With Binance DEX, we provide a different balance of security, freedom, and ease-of-use, where you take more responsibility and are in more control of personal assets,” said Binance’s co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao.

The company added that Trust Wallet, the blockchain startup Binance recently acquired, and hardware wallet maker Ledger, have already integrated with Binance DEX. Meanwhile, BNB, the ERC20-based token launched by the exchange, will be migrated to Binance Chain upon its final launch.

Binance first announced the plan to develop its own blockchain and a decentralized exchange in March 2018, after it kicked off its centralized spot-trading exchange Binance.com in mid-2017.

In today’s announcement, Zhao further boasted that Binance Chain has “near-instant transaction finality with one-second block time.” He added that such capability can potentially enable Binance DEX to handle the same volume Binance.com is handling today.

That said, Zhao also indicated on Twitter days ago that there will be a listing fee of around $100,000 for tokens to be listed on Binance DEX – a high entry bar he said was set to reduce the number of scam projects.

Ethereum’s Constantinople Hard Fork Delayed Until February After Vulnerability Found

Core developers of Ethereum (ETH) have postponed the activation of the Constantinople hard fork until late February. The upgrade is now set to be implemented at ETH block 7,280,000, as announced by a team lead at Ethereum, Peter Szilagyi, in a tweet Jan. 18.

In his announcement, Szilagyi explains that the activation will take place at block number 7,280.000, which is expected to be mined on Feb. 27, 2019. The upgrade will reportedly be implemented as “a single fork on mainnet and a post-Constantinople-fixup fork on the testnets to get them back in line feature wise with the main network.”

The new deadline comes in the wake of an unexpected delay over a recently discovered security vulnerability allowing a reentrancy attack, which has been detected in Constantinople’s code by smart contract audit firm ChainSecurity.

The vulnerability purportedly allows a potential attacker to steal cryptocurrency from a smart contract on the network by repeatedly requesting funds from it while feeding it false data about the malicious actor’s actual ETH balance. In order to patch the loophole, the launch of the upgrade had been postponed until further notice.

The upcoming Constantinople hard fork is an upgrade to the ETH network, which encloses separate Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) in order to soften the transition from the current proof-of-work (PoW) to the more energy efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm.

Once implemented, the improvements would purportedly fundamentally change the Ethereum blockchain, preventing any backwards compatibility — meaning that network nodes must either update synchronically with the entire system or carry on running as a separate blockchain entity.

As Cointelegraph reported over the last several weeks, major cryptocurrency exchanges including Coinbase, Kraken, Huobi, and OKEx have confirmed their support of Constantinople.

New Zealand Crypto Exchange Reports Hack, Local Police Start Investigation

Exchange level security breaches and hacks were the biggest pain point for crypto exchanges in 2018 and the start of 2019 seems to be not very different. While we are still in the second week of New Year, we already have a reported ‘security breach’. This time the victim is Cryptopia, a popular New Zealand based exchange.

Police and the government agencies are looking into the matter

A few hours back, New Zealand based popular cryptocurrency exchange took onto twitter handle to announce that the exchange was a victim of the security breach that took place on January 14, 2019. Once the breach was identified, the exchange was put under maintenance to halt and assess the loses & damages that had occurred.

The notification also mentions that the exchange has faced some significant losses, although the exact amount of the loss is still unclear. Once the breach was confirmed, the exchange intimated appropriate government agencies including the local police and high-tech crime units.

While the investigation is still on, the exchange announced that it would continue to remain in maintenance mode and trading would stand as suspended.

While hacks have become pretty common among cryptocurrency exchanges since the time crypto coins have picked up in price, none expected these to continue in 2019.

Cryptopia is a very popular cryptocurrency exchange especially in New Zealand and Australia, where it drives its major volumes from. What made Cryptopia unique and popular is because of the large number of cryptocurrencies listed on its platform. The exchange currently has over 550 cryptocurrencies listed which made it a good place to buy low-cap coins that would rarely be found on other exchanges. With so many cryptocurrencies on board, it is bound that the loss would be much higher compared to the other exchanges that have been previously hacked.

With respect to the security and compliance, Cryptopia was registered as a financial service provider in New Zealand that operated a money or value transfer service. The exchange was also compliant with the appropriate regulations of the country.

Well, a hack, whether big or small, is never good for the ecosystem. This dampens the confidence of the investors and community across. While the investigation is underway, one can just hope that the hack isn’t large in magnitude and Cryptopia would rise back sooner.

Will this hack dampen crypto investor sentiments in Australia and New Zealand? Do let us know your views on the same

Facebook Is Developing a Cryptocurrency for Use in Whatsapp

Facebook Inc. is working on making a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on its WhatsApp messaging app, focusing first on the remittances market in India, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is developing a stablecoin – a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar – to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. Facebook is far from releasing the coin, because it’s still working on the strategy, including a plan for custody assets, or regular currencies that would be held to protect the value of the stablecoin, the people said.

Facebook has long been expected to make a move in financial services, after hiring former PayPal president David Marcus to run its Messenger app in 2014. In May, Marcus became the head of the company’s blockchain initiatives, which haven’t been discussed publicly in detail. Facebook has been on a hiring spree, and now has about 40 people in its blockchain group, according to employee titles on LinkedIn.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”

WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted mobile-messaging app, is popular in India, with more than 200 million users. The country also leads the world in remittances – people sent $69 billion home to India in 2017, the World Bank said this year.

The past year has seen a boom in crypto projects related to stablecoins. At one point, there were more than 120 ventures related to this theme, according to Stable.Report, a website that tracks stable tokens. The concept was created to create a digital coin that would be far easier to use on daily purchases because it would be more stable than currencies like Bitcoin.

The idea has proven tough to carry out in real life, with at least one high-profile project shuttered in recent weeks. A stablecoin known as Basis recently closed after eight months. The Hoboken, New Jersey-based company said there was no apparent way around being classified as a security as opposed to a currency, which could significantly reduce the number of potential buyers. The swift collapse came after Basis drew well-known backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Perhaps the most high-profile stablecoin to date, Tether, has also been surrounded by controversy. While Tether’s creators say each of its tokens is backed by one U.S. dollar, the company’s refusal to be audited has raised questions about whether that’s the case.

Facebook, which has 2.5 billion global users, more than $40 billion in annual revenue and greater experience navigating regulatory issues, may have a better chance of making a stablecoin that sticks. It would be the first large technology company to launch such a project. The company’s relationship with India has been fraught, mainly because some instances of fake news spread through WhatsApp have led to violence there. Still, Facebook sees tremendous growth opportunity in the country. India has 480 million internet users, second only to China. That number is projected to grow to 737 million by 2022, according to Forrester Research Inc.

US SEC Delays Bitcoin ETF Decisions

Home › Articles › U.S. SEC Delays Decision on VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF Until February 2019

U.S. SEC Delays Decision on VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF Until February 2019

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U.S. SEC Delays Decision on VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF Until February 2019

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has postponed its decision to approve or disapprove the VanEck/SolidX bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). Per an official document published by the agency, the new deadline to review the VanEck proposal has been shifted to February 27, 2019, which the regulator claims would afford it the time needed to review the potential rule change further.

The SEC stipulates that the commission must either approve or disapprove a proposal no later than “180 days after the date of publication of notice of the filing of the proposed rule change.” However, there is a special clause that permits the agency to extend this period by 60 days.

Since the proposed rule change was initially published in the Federal Register on July 2, 2018, December 29, 2018, would have made it 180 days. The extension to February 27, 2019, falls within the 60-day special consideration.

The statement from the SEC reads:

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change.”

The director of Digital Asset Strategy at VanEck/MVIS, Gabor Gurbacs, remains optimistic despite the delay from the financial regulator. He sent out a tweet saying while today’s delay was expected, the SEC’s concerns are being worked on and rectified in the form of “improvements in the markets on pricing, custody & surveillance.”

Speaking at a recent event in New York, the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton spoke on why the commission might not approve a bitcoin ETF soon. Clayton had argued that most of the agency’s concerns, such as market manipulations, surveillance, and custody, were yet to be addressed by crypto operators.

“What investors expect is that the trading in that commodity that’s underlying the ETF is trading that makes sense, is free from the risk or significant risk of manipulation. Those kinds of safeguards don’t exist in many of the markets where digital currencies trade,” Clayton had remarked

Venezuelan President Maduro Raises Petro’s Value by 150 Percent

Venezuela’s рresident, Nicolas Maduro, has raised the reference value of the national cryptocurrency, Petro, the president’s official Twitter tweeted Nov. 30.

According to major Latin American television channel TeleSur, Maduro first announced the new Petro rate on Thursday, Nov. 29, against the background of the country’s ongoing hyperinflation. The value of the Petro is now set at 9,000 sovereign bolivars, instead of the previous 3,600 bolivars.

Speaking in Caracas that day, Maduro also ordered an increase in the monthly minimum wage by 150 percent, which is the sixth increase in 2018 and 25th in total during Maduro’s presidency.

Later that week, Venezuela also devalued Dicom, the official exchange rate in the country, Bloomberg reported Saturday, Dec. 1. The national fiat has dropped by as much as 40 percent, from 96.84 sovereign bolivars per dollar on Nov. 30 to 171.67 the following day.

Leonardo Buniak, a Venezuelan economist cited by major Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, called the move “very bad news for Venezuelans.” He believes that the government is unable to fund the wage increase, which will inevitably lead to another price hike and, yet again, hyperinflation. “To anchor the bolivar to Petro is equal to anchoring it to nothing,” he said.

The ongoing economic crisis in the country has been provoked by a shortage of revenue from oil production. According to Bloomberg’s Cafe Con Leche Index, which tracks hyperinflation in Venezuela using an average price of coffee cup as an example, the annual inflation rate in the country has climbed up to 200,000 percent.

As Cointelegraph reported in August, Maduro made Petro a unit of account within the country, tying salaries and a pricing system for goods and services to the oil-backed national cryptocurrency.

The official sale of Petro in Venezuela started this November, with several top officials — including Maduro — purchasing it via the official website. However, the currency is not yet available on any major crypto exchanges, nor can it be traded in pairs with other coins.

Experts are concerned about the actual existence of Petro after a Reuter’s report on the nature of the state-owned coin, issued in August, that turned up little evidence of the coin’s oil-backed reserves.

According to the investigation, the Atapirire area that Maduro claimed was the actual petroleum center for backing the coin showed no signs of recent activity. Other experts told news outlet Wired that Petro was nothing more than a “smoke curtain” to conceal Maduro’s recent failure to reanimate the national fiat currency, the sovereign bolivar.

Singapore's Central Bank Finalizes Regulatory Framework for Crypto Payment Services

The central bank of Singapore has finalized the country’s new regulatory framework for payment services, which now includes cryptocurrency. Crypto payment service providers, which fall outside of the current regulatory framework, will need to be licensed under the new regime.

Regulating Crypto Payment Services

Singapore Finalizes Regulatory Framework for Cryptocurrency Payment ServicesThe Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, announced on Monday that it has finalized the new regulatory framework for payment services. The Payment Services Bill “will provide a more conducive environment for innovation in payment services, whilst ensuring that risks across the payments value chain are mitigated,” the central bank explained. The bill was submitted to parliament by Education Minister and MAS board member Ong Ye Kung, the Straits Times reported.

Cryptocurrency service providers that fall outside of the current regulation can expect to be licensed under the new regulatory framework, the publication described. “It is expected to affect electronic wallets and digital payment tokens such as Grabpay, bitcoin and ethereum,” the news outlet added, noting:

Activities to be regulated by the bill include the issuing of accounts and electronic money, the transfer of money within and out of Singapore, the acquisition of merchants who will use their platform, money changing, and the dealing in and exchange of digital payment tokens such as bitcoin.

Parallel Frameworks and Licenses

Singapore Finalizes Regulatory Framework for Cryptocurrency Payment ServicesAccording to the central bank’s announcement, the bill comprises two parallel regulatory frameworks. The first enables the central bank “to regulate systemically important payment systems for financial stability as well as efficiency reasons.” The other requires retail payment service providers to be licensed. One license is needed per service provider at any point in time, the MAS noted.

The Straits Times detailed that payment service providers must apply for a license as either a money-changer, a standard payment institution, or a major payment institution. The former two will be regulated primarily for money laundering and terrorism financing risks while the latter more comprehensively. “Payment service providers can apply to be a standard or major payment institution, depending on their transaction volumes,” the publication conveyed, elaborating:

The MAS will allow up to 12 months for payment service providers to comply with the changes after the new Act is in force. Those who provide digital payment tokens will be given six months to comply.

What do you think of Singapore’s regulation for crypto payment services? Let us know in the comments section below.

NYSE Operator’s Crypto Platform Bakkt Completes $182.5 Million Funding Round

Facebook Inc. is working on making a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on its WhatsApp messaging app, focusing first on the remittances market in India, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is developing a stablecoin – a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar – to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. Facebook is far from releasing the coin, because it’s still working on the strategy, including a plan for custody assets, or regular currencies that would be held to protect the value of the stablecoin, the people said.

Facebook has long been expected to make a move in financial services, after hiring former PayPal president David Marcus to run its Messenger app in 2014. In May, Marcus became the head of the company’s blockchain initiatives, which haven’t been discussed publicly in detail. Facebook has been on a hiring spree, and now has about 40 people in its blockchain group, according to employee titles on LinkedIn.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”

WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted mobile-messaging app, is popular in India, with more than 200 million users. The country also leads the world in remittances – people sent $69 billion home to India in 2017, the World Bank said this year.

The past year has seen a boom in crypto projects related to stablecoins. At one point, there were more than 120 ventures related to this theme, according to Stable.Report, a website that tracks stable tokens. The concept was created to create a digital coin that would be far easier to use on daily purchases because it would be more stable than currencies like Bitcoin.

The idea has proven tough to carry out in real life, with at least one high-profile project shuttered in recent weeks. A stablecoin known as Basis recently closed after eight months. The Hoboken, New Jersey-based company said there was no apparent way around being classified as a security as opposed to a currency, which could significantly reduce the number of potential buyers. The swift collapse came after Basis drew well-known backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Perhaps the most high-profile stablecoin to date, Tether, has also been surrounded by controversy. While Tether’s creators say each of its tokens is backed by one U.S. dollar, the company’s refusal to be audited has raised questions about whether that’s the case.

Facebook, which has 2.5 billion global users, more than $40 billion in annual revenue and greater experience navigating regulatory issues, may have a better chance of making a stablecoin that sticks. It would be the first large technology company to launch such a project. The company’s relationship with India has been fraught, mainly because some instances of fake news spread through WhatsApp have led to violence there. Still, Facebook sees tremendous growth opportunity in the country. India has 480 million internet users, second only to China. That number is projected to grow to 737 million by 2022, according to Forrester Research Inc.

Indian Government to Present Draft Bill on Crypto Regulation in December, Documents Show

The Indian government is actively preparing a draft bill on crypto regulation, which is expected to see light this December, according to documents obtained by digital news website Quartz India Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The government has filed a counter-affidavit yesterday, Nov. 19 in the Supreme Court of India, which is currently hearing a case filed by several crypto exchanges against the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The document states that the Indian finance ministry panel, responsible for the draft and headed by secretary in the department of economic affairs Subhash Chandra Garg, will present its first version in December:

“Currently, serious efforts are going on for preparation of the draft report and the draft bill on virtual currencies, use of distributed ledger technology in the financial system and framework for digital currency in India.”

Quartz India reports that the draft report and bill will be sent out to members of the inter-ministerial committee (IMC), and that the next meeting of the IMC will specifically discuss the draft legislation. The documents notes that it is “expected that the draft report will be placed before the IMC by next month.”

Moreover, Garg’s panel has scheduled two meeting on crypto regulation in January 2019. According to Quartz India, the members of the committee will present the legislation and accept propositions during the meetings.

The legal battle over crypto regulations started April 2018, when the RBI announced that it would cease to provide services to persons or legal entities involved in cryptocurrencies. Following the move, eleven crypto businesses filed a case against the RBI in the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. After several postponements, the hearing was finally held late October.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court set a two-week deadline for the Indian government to announce its official stance on crypto. Shortly after the hearing, the Indian secretary of Economic Affairs recommended that the country’s Ministry of Finance to impose a ban on “private cryptocurrencies.”

As Cointelegraph previously reported, while the legal crypto framework in India remains unclear, Indian authorities arrested the developers of country’s first Bitcoin (BTC) “ATM” in the city of Bangalore under criminal charges. According to local news outlets, the two co-founders of the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange, Unocoin, were booked under serious criminal charges, including criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery.