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ING and Other Top Banks Join R3 to Take the Next Step with Blockchain Technology

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

In September Bitcoin Magazine reported that nine global banks were pooling resources to fund R3, a next-generation global financial services company focused on applications of cryptographic technology and distributed ledger-based protocols within global financial markets.

R3 will seek to establish consistent standards and protocols for this emerging technology across the financial industry in order to facilitate broader adoption and gain a network effect, according to an R3 press release.

Several other top banks joined R3 soon thereafter.

Now, five more banks – ING, BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, MacQuarie and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce – are joining R3, Reuters reports. R3, now supported by most of the world’s major banks (with notable exceptions in China), represents the first high-profile collaborative project to find out how blockchain technology can be used in finance.

Thirty banks across the world are now partnering with R3, signaling a significant commitment to collaboratively evaluate and apply this emerging technology to the global financial system.

“The combined strength of our technology team and the diverse global footprint of our member banks clearly differentiates us and puts us in a unique and exciting position within the distributed ledger space,” said R3's CEO David Rutter. “The R3 collaborative model is the best way to quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively deliver these new technologies to global financial markets. We look forward to welcoming more players to our growing team as the initiative continues to develop and evolve.”

Richard Gendal Brown, IBM's former executive architect of banking innovation, joined R3 in September as chief technology officer. In a recent post on his personal blog, he introduced his senior leadership team, which includes James Carlyle, formerly chief engineer at Barclays Personal and Corporate Bank, who joined R3 as chief engineer, and Bitcoin code developer Mike Hearn, who joined R3 as lead platform engineer. Ian Grigg joined R3 as architecture consultant, and Tim Swanson joined R3 as head of research.

Gendal Brown’s team will focus on the basics of fintech applications for banks and financial firms: “[W]hat properties does a technology platform need to possess if it is going to enable the world’s banks – and other firms – to deploy shared platforms to record, manage and report on their contractual agreements with each other and with their customers? What is the irreducible set of functional requirements we must provide? What are the non-negotiable non-functional requirements?”

A press release on ING Bank's website announced that, by joining R3, ING is taking the next step with blockchain technology to collaborate on research, design, and engineering that will advance innovative solutions for clients that meet banking requirements for security, reliability, performance, scalability, and auditing. ING Group, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Amsterdam, had more than 48 million individual and institutional clients in more than 40 countries in 2013.

“We are very excited about joining the R3 consortium and taking an important step forward in our payments innovation strategy,” said Mark Buitenhek, ING Global Head of Transaction Services. “We want to make the most of what blockchain technology has to offer our customers and the best way to achieve this is through global collaboration. Working together, we will develop innovative banking solutions for our clients with consistent standards and protocols guaranteeing widespread adoption. We are convinced that this initiative brings together unique sets of expertise and experience in electronic financial markets, distributed ledgers and blockchain technologies.”

The rapid rise of R3 shows that the adoption of blockchain technology in the financial sector is reaching a point of no return. On the other hand, it can also be interpreted in the context of the ongoing trend toward appropriation of blockchain technology by the mainstream financial world, which many early adopters and Bitcoin purists consider a disturbing trend.

The post ING and Other Top Banks Join R3 to Take the Next Step with Blockchain Technology appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Australian Miner Bitcoin Group’s IPO Postponed Again

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Australia-based startup and bitcoin miner Bitcoin Group is facing another delay in its quest to be the world’s first listed Bitcoin company. Bitcoin Group has reissued its prospectus for the third time after facing a requirement from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to appoint an “appropriately qualified independent expert.” The requirement comes after the commission requested the expert to look into details of the “bitcoin mining equation” that was established in the second prospectus. In a press release, Bitcoin Group has announced the IPO offer period to extend to 8 January 2015. The ASX listing is now scheduled […]

The post Australian Miner Bitcoin Group’s IPO Postponed Again appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Law Enforcement and Regulators Agree: Bitcoin Not Useful for Terrorists, Already Regulated Appropriately

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

In the aftermath of the Paris attack on November 13, the European Union (EU) is looking to crack down on bitcoin with the hope of preventing the financing of future attacks. Regulators and advocacy groups agree, though, that kneejerk regulation is not what is needed; rather, it’s an increase in education.

“There’s nothing wrong with Bitcoin, it just means it’s another part of our financial system,” said Dana Syracuse, managing director and a member in the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Regulatory Compliance Practice at K2 Intelligence, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

K2 Intelligence is an investigative, compliance, and cyber defense services firm. Prior to joining K2 Intelligence, he worked in the New York State Department of Financial Services and was the author of BitLicense.

“As time goes on, Bitcoin’s place is going to grow," Syracuse said. "One of the things that I talk about is, if you look at the story of bitcoin and the kind of enforcement and prosecutorial action, it shows the evolution and growth of the space.”

“Bitcoin is not the problem, and further restrictions on it are not the solution. Criminals and terrorists are using all sorts of technology to try to hide their activities over the Internet, but those who turn to bitcoin as part of that effort are making a big mistake,” said Jason Weinstein, director of the Blockchain Alliance, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) explained at a Digital Currency Summit held by the Department of Justice that $4 million worth of bitcoin is circulated through regulated entities. Outside the regulated entities, $10 million worth of bitcoin is circulated. At the event, Calvery made clear that her agency didn’t regulate bitcoin; instead, it regulated the financial institutions.

Perianne Boring, the founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, echoed those thoughts. In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine , she said, “Virtual currency is already highly regulated, especially within the G7 nations. Despite the high degree of regulation, the majority of bitcoin transactions are taking place outside regulated entities, which are mostly outside the G7 nations.”

“Increasing regulation within the G7 would only increase burdens on the companies that are working hard to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and related regulations and could potentially push more bitcoin into the unregulated entities,” Boring said.

“What is needed is rolling out regulations in a rational, thoughtful, and constructive way,” said Syracuse. “When you regulate in the face of a crisis, there is often a temptation to overcorrect, which you want to guard against. We have to be careful on the back end of a travesty like this not to overregulate.”

Regulation is not the problem; it is education

Fundamentally, it is education that is problem, not regulation. Once regulators have sufficient education, they tend to come to the same conclusion that many others do: Bitcoin is not the problem.

“I’m a little skeptical of what new regulation would exist that would help,” said Vincent D’Agostino, associate managing director in the U.S. Cyber Investigations and Incident Response practice at K2 Intelligence, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Before joining K2 Intelligence, he was the FBI’s trial agent for Silk Road 1 and the case agent for Silk Road 2.

“If more people on the counter-terrorism side took the time to educate themselves on blockchain technology, so when they did a raid and the first thing they did was take that seized data and identify the public keys so they could start to make links," he said. "They could go, we didn’t know who this linked to, but now we know everything they’ve done. It attaches that person to those wallet files."

“Every financial innovation, every new form of value transfer brings with it its own unique challenges," Syracuse explained. "Bitcoin is not unique in that. Terrorism is a major concern of major financial systems. The use of bitcoin in those kinds of activities is no different than what goes on in the traditional banking system. Education in this space is key, and that is what will lead to rational and productive regulation and communication between the regulators.”

According to a report by the U.K. Treasury, “there is little evidence to indicate that the use of digital currencies has been adopted by criminals involved in terrorist financing, whether as a means by which to raise funds (crowd funding etc.), to pay for infrastructure (e.g. server rental), or to transfer funds.”

The report also explains, “The money laundering risk associated with digital currencies is low, though if the use of digital currencies was to become more prevalent in the U.K. this risk could rise.”

That is because bitcoin is actually an inefficient method for transferring value for illicit purposes since it is a completely public ledger.

“It would be far easier to launder euros or dollars than it would be to launder a decentralized, blockchain-based currency like bitcoin,” said David Long, the principal and senior consultant at the Northern California Fraud Prevention Solutions, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine . “Though from an initial investigative standpoint, bitcoin might present more of a challenge due to the necessity of uncovering who is actually responsible for a given transaction or transactions. However, once the actor's identity is uncovered, the blockchain makes it possible to uncover most, if not all, of a person's transactions. This capability is without parallel when the subject is dealing in euros or dollars.”

Weinstein further confirmed that point, saying, “Reports of bitcoin’s anonymity are greatly exaggerated. Criminals or terrorists who use bitcoin to facilitate their activities are foolish, because bitcoin is traceable in a way that other payment methods, including cash, are not.”

Bitcoin is pseudonymous in that all that is shown is on the public ledger is a public address. However, once a law enforcement officer is able to identify who owns that public address, he would then be able to track every transaction that went to and from that address. If the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were to transfer bitcoin, and a law enforcement officer knew that it was their address, he could track each transaction and start building a case accordingly.

Cash, on the other hand, is completely anonymous. An individual in ISIL could take envelopes of cash across state borders and easily pay for the necessary assets for committing an act of terror. A law enforcement official would have no way of verifying how the funds were used. Long gave an example where a trade-based money-laundering scheme using dollars or euros conducted by professionals could be virtually undetectable.

The problem with this is that more people don’t realize it.

“They [law enforcement] are not using bitcoin as much as they should,” D’Agostino said. “As long as there are human beings involved in the transfer of bitcoin, the creation and maintenance of those wallets, and the movement of that digital code, they are going to make a mistake at some point. If it’s a group of people like a terror network with moving money in both directions, they’re going to make a mistake. They’ll forget to encrypt their wallets or leave their keys on an old wallet. That’ll give you an opening, a door crack, to give you [law enforcement ] a chance to exploit that information.”

The key is educating law enforcement and national security authorities about how the technology works, so they can enhance their ability to use it to follow the money and protect public safety, Weinstein said. "We need more education, not more regulation.”

Jerry Brito, the executive director of Coin Center, explained in a recent blog post why more education is needed: “Overreaction by jittery policymakers in the wake of a crisis is always a concern, which is why education before such crises is so important. We’ve been engaged in just such education for over a year, and we’re hopeful policymakers understand that an overreaction would be counterproductive, whatever the headlines may say."

Brito echoed the point made clear by Boring and Weinstein: "The fact is that regulators understand that digital currencies do not pose the greatest risk for terrorist financing, and to the extent digital currencies pose some risk, a 'crack down' on their use would likely only serve to drive out legitimate players, which in turn would only serve to limit governments’ visibility into illicit uses.”

Bitcoin financial institutions already follow many of the same money transmitter laws that traditional institutions have to follow. Creating further regulation over them will not help prevent further acts of terrorism. Instead, educating law enforcement on the ways in which it can use the blockchain to seek and capture terrorists is one way to prevent future catastrophes.

Photo StockMonkeys.com / Flickr(CC)

Jacob Donnelly is a freelance journalist and a consultant in the bitcoin/blockchain space. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post Law Enforcement and Regulators Agree: Bitcoin Not Useful for Terrorists, Already Regulated Appropriately appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Improving Data Security Through Big Data Analytics

Forbes, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Anyone working in IT knows the headlines that security breaches create. The cost is measured in money, of course, but also in a commodity that is harder to recover once it’s lost: Trust. Brands can suffer tremendous blows when they do not safeguard their customers’ information or the interests of stakeholders. The ripple effects can continue for some time.

Bitcoin Miner Faces New Pressure from Australian Regulator

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Australian bitcoin firm Bitcoin Group is hiring a bitcoin expert after the country's top regulator raised concerns about its forthcoming IPO.

The Bitcoin Black Friday Guide has been published to BitcoinBlackFriday.info

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Nail All the Best Bitcoin Black Friday Deals Quickly and Easily. Bitcoin Press Release: ‘Tis the season for excellent deals on presents and personal goodies for the upcoming holiday, and Bitcoin Black Friday is better and stronger than ever, bringing with it a large number of participating merchants! Coming up just three days from now, Bitcoin Black Friday will be unleashing the most valuable deals found on the Internet, and BitcoinBlackFriday.info is there to ensure readers can quickly and easily nail down on what they want and snag it – easy as cake! Normally, finding all of the available deals […]

The post The Bitcoin Black Friday Guide has been published to BitcoinBlackFriday.info appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin Price Holding Steady

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin price held above support despite the potential for a large sell-off earlier today. Price was sold down to a supporting level in the BTC/CNY charts but vigorous buying prevented further decline.. This analysis is provided by xbt.social with a 3-hour delay. Read the full analysis here. Not a member? Join now and receive a $29 discount using the code CCN29. Bitcoin Price Analysis Time of analysis: 12h15 UTC Bitfinex 1-Hour Chart From the analysis pages of xbt.social, earlier today: In what would have been the juncture from where bitcoin price usually sells off, price maintained position above support, today. […]

The post Bitcoin Price Holding Steady appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Coinbase introduces Bitcoin debit card

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

BII Bitcoin millennials

Coinbase, one of the largest Bitcoin wallet providers, debuted a Visa-branded Bitcoin debit card Friday. The card will be the first widely-available Bitcoin debit card in the US, according to Wired. Users will be able to make fee-less Bitcoin payments at any US retailer that accepts Visa debit, and will only be charged fees if they use the card at an ATM or to make purchases internationally, according to Tech Crunch.

Coinbase introduced the debit card with the ultimate goal of making Bitcoin more prevalent in the US.

  • Americans are becoming more aware of Bitcoin, but use isn't changing much. Coinbase has 2.8 million Bitcoin wallets — an all time high — but only 20% are used to make payments. The vast majority of these wallets are instead used for speculative trading, treating Bitcoin as a commodity. Even the majority of millennials, the generation most open to using new technology, haven't used the currency and don't intend to in the near future. 
  • That puts Bitcoin in a bind. Because a relatively low number of users make payments with the cryptocurrency, very few established merchants accept it directly — the total global Bitcoin volume represented just 0.015% of US retail sales in 2014. And lack of merchant acceptance makes it more challenging for customers to develop habitual use. 
  • That's where Coinbase believes its debit product can help. Because the card is accepted anywhere that takes Visa debit, consumers now have an easy way to pay with Bitcoin at almost any merchant in the country, which could lead to more widespread use. This might give consumers a reason to expect direct Bitcoin payment options from retailers, and give merchants a reason to add them.

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If the card is successful, it could be another technology for card networks to worry about. Bitcoin payments are currently verified on the blockchain, a distributed ledger technology, and carry no fee. Offering direct bitcoin payments might be appealing for merchants because it allows them to avoid paying card network interchange fees.

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After the Hacking of Crowdfunding Site Patreon, its Users Are Now Being Blackmailed

Inc, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The extorters are demanding Bitcoin ransoms.








Europol Seeks Intern With Bitcoin Tracing Skills

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Europol wants an intern with blockchain analysis skills for an open source intelligence project.

Interview: Australian Chicken Farmer Encourages Bitcoin Payments

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Readers have no doubt by now seen the ABC profile of Mark Burgunder, an Australian independent chicken farmer and Bitcoin enthusiast who was noteworthy because he prefers bitcoins over fiat money. To quote the ABC feature, which says Burgunder is “laying the foundations for agriculture Bitcoin economy”: Mr Burgunder is yet to convince any of his customers to start paying for their eggs using the digital currency. Nonetheless, CCN decided to interview Burgunder about the implications of Bitcoin in agriculture, why he believes in Bitcoin, and what he's doing locally to increase access to it. Burgunder describes the scale of […]

The post Interview: Australian Chicken Farmer Encourages Bitcoin Payments appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

These economic 'swans' could rock the global markets

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Societe Generale is out with its latest quarterly chart of "swan risks" that threaten to rock the global financial markets. For the most part, the risks remain unchanged from September.

SocGen analysts reiterated that the two highest probability risks are a Brexit (45%) and an economic hard landing in China (30%). And what makes these two particularly notable is the possibility of spillover effects in both cases.

With a Brexit, there's the potential economic ripple effect into the rest of Europe, which is already more politically divided than it has been in ages. As for the China hard landing (and/order the resulting EM crisis), it has the potential to trigger "a shock that could trigger global recession."

However, "a China hard landing does not automatically lead to global recession; the quality of the policy response would matter given that indirect financial channels would be the main transmission channels to the advanced economies outside of Asia," SocGen analysts write.

It's worth noting that, technically speaking, "Black swan" risks are by definition extremely unlikely and nearly impossible to predict. So it's a bit of a contradiction to assign such high probabilities to any of these events. Nevertheless, when these events do materialize, it's bad. SocGen's swan chart is just trying to show that major economic and geopolitical risks are brewing that could cause serious problems should they ever come into fruition.

On the positive end, SocGen also points to three upside risks: stronger investment and trade; more fiscal accommodation; and the possibility of fast-track reform.

Check out all the stewing swans below.

swans

SEE ALSO: 14 incredible facts about Texas

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NOW WATCH: The killer jobs report could mean a rate hike in December

IRS issues corporate anti-inversion rules

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A sign is seen at the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, November 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Tom Bergin

CFO Insider is a daily newsletter from Business Insider that delivers the top news and commentary for chief financial officers and other finance experts.

New corporate anti-inversion rules issued (Journal of Accountancy)

On Thursday, the IRS announced new corporate anti-inversion rules. 

The rules are "designed to curtail the ability of an inverted company to access foreign subsidiaries' earnings without paying US tax," according to the Journal of Accountancy.  

Corporate inversion occurs when a multinational company based in the US acquires a foreign company in order to move its corporate address overseas. 

The new rules will apply to deals completed on or after November 19, 2015. 

"Among the new rules will be one requiring the foreign acquiring corporation to be subject to tax as a resident of the foreign country in order to be deemed to have substantial business activities in the foreign country," the Journal of Accountancy reports. 

The IRS also issued rules to deal with post-inversion deals and other types of corporate transfers. 

Siemens CFO: We're going to stop wasting money (Reuters)

Siemens CFO Ralf Thomas promised to "get a grip" on problems surrounding big projects that have caused "hundreds of millions of euros worth of charges in the past."

"We have set up 'guard rails' for new projects to make the risk structure of projects transparent. Transparency of margins and risks in our order book is bigger than ever in the history of Siemens," German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung quoted Thomas as saying in an interview published on Saturday.

The tech company "booked one-off charges of 900 million euros ($958 million) in its financial year through the end of September 2014."

Why CFOs need to pay attention to blockchain technology (CFO.com)

"Bitcoin is beginning to disrupt the old establishment not only as a currency but also as a means of securely tracking and verifying transactions," according to CFO.com.

The publication argues that bitcoin's central technology, known as blockchain, should be watched closely by CFOs. 

"This public ledger uses a decentralized, mathematically encrypted network of computer nodes to verify and record transactions," reports CFO.com. "Through this medium, a distributed ledger is updated in real time, allowing for an immutable forensic audit trail of all transactions — potentially a CFO's dream."

Goldman Sachs and Citibank are already deploying teams to eventually incorporate blockchain technology, and other companies are likely to follow in their footsteps. 

"The technology allows for a scalable and secure ledger with unlimited account creation and programmable, trackable money. Thus, CFOs would have access to a record of each cent that moves through their systems in real time," CFO.com adds.

SEE ALSO: 17 highly successful executives explain how they balance work and life

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NOW WATCH: Former Navy SEALs reveal what Hollywood gets wrong about the elite warriors

BTCC Launches BlockPriority, An Expedited Bitcoin Confirmation Service

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

BTCC, the Chinese bitcoin conglomerate, has launched a bitcoin service that prioritizes bitcoin transaction confirmations for its customers, the company announced on its website. The BlockPriority service expedites confirmations of bitcoin transactions sent through BTCC services even when the bitcoin network is stressed or facing spam attacks. BlockPriority is available only to BTCC users, said Samson Mow, the company’s chief operating officer. BTTC automatically provides the service to its customers with no additional charge. The service works by submitting bitcoin transactions sent to or from any BTCC wallet address directly to the BTCC mining pool and provides rapid confirmation. BTCC claims its […]

The post BTCC Launches BlockPriority, An Expedited Bitcoin Confirmation Service appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Extortionists Target CCN in a DDoS Attack; 5 Bitcoins Bounty

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

CryptoCoinsNews and sister-site Hacked have both been targeted in a DDoS attack by extortionists demanding a bitcoin payment. The extortionists also claimed further threats in exchange for a ransom. CryptoCoinsNews, a prominent resource and news outlet for readers looking into bitcoin-, alternative currencies-, block chain-, and fintech-related news was the target of a DDoS attack earlier this morning. One of the extortionists, going by the name ‘Jon’, sent in an email demanding 2 Bitcoins to reveal ‘fatal security vulnerabilities’ on the website while threatening to contact our advertisers to let them know the websites are down. However, all we had […]

The post Extortionists Target CCN in a DDoS Attack; 5 Bitcoins Bounty appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Drone Whistleblowers Kicked Out of Fiat System – Consider Bitcoin?

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

According to National Security and Human Rights lawyer Jesselyn Radack, a group of her clients is being ostracized from the fiat financial system as a result of blowing the whistle on certain aspects of the US government's drone program. Taking to Twitter to complain, she asked if anyone had any suggestions. Soon, Bitcoiner Rey Poullard had suggested the new Coinbase debit card – apparently not seeing the irony, since one cannot have a Coinbase account without a bank account. Nevertheless, for the purposes of moving money around, Bitcoin could still be of use to these patriots. Although they'll have difficulty […]

The post Drone Whistleblowers Kicked Out of Fiat System – Consider Bitcoin? appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

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