Cryptospace News Digest: September 4 – 11

Bitcoin price consolidates at $625 while two websites related to cryptocurrencies are blocked Russia, ETC is added to the Jaxx wallet and DECENT content distribution network ICO is finally launched. These are just some of the news from the past week.

Russia

Two websites related to cryptocurrencies have been blocked in Russia this week. September 3, hosting provider timeweb.com, has blocked Bitcoininfo.ru pursuant to a notification from Roskomnadzor, (Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) stating that the website in question is now added to Russia’s Internet blacklist. This was preceded by the ruling of a St. Petersburg-based court dated July 18, 2016 following a district attorney’s lawsuit “in behalf of the public at large.”

The website’s owners have then switched to a different provider registering a mirror domain at Cryptorussia.ru. They also plan to challenge the court ruling. Remarkably, the notorious list of sources of information banned in Russia currently lacks bitcoininfo.ru.

Later the same week some providers started blocking Localbitcoins pursuant to a similar notification from Roskomnadzor. Again this was preceded by another court ruling originating from St. Petersburg, this time dated July 5, 2016.

However, notwithstanding the red-tape obstacles, Russia’s cryptocurrency community just won’t give up.

A notable example of this is the Kolionovo private farm located just outside Moscow that has recently integrated a part of its operations with the Emercoin blockchain. In an interview, the farm’s owner Mikhail Shlyapnikov told ForkLog about the first effects of this blockchainization.

According to him, all involved parties are currently satisfied with the results. Shlyapnikov also noted that all consumers, customers and shareholders are getting gradually familiarized with Emercoin wallets and find out more about cryptocurrencies and related technologies.

Meanwhile Mikhail Gzovski, a resident of Yekaterinburg, has put his Mercedes Benz on the bitcoin auction with the starting price of just 1 BTC. The money he intends to raise will be provided to his eight years-old daughter, who, despite her tender age, is already interested in cryptocurrencies and even has opened an account at a cloud mining service.

Big businesses keep on going as well. The Moscow Stock Exchange and payments giant QIWI have been announced as the industrial partners for the FinTech Pilotbed blockchain accelerator which is due to launch later this year. One of the criteria for selection of projects for the accelerator is usage of blockchain technology in deposit and settlement sectors.

One may hope these plans eventually may be about to bear fruit at some point. Still, Olga Skorobogatova, deputy chairwoman of the Bank of Russia, believes possible implementation of the blockchain technology in the country’s banking infrastructure may take up to four years.

“Last year, the interest in distributed ledger was really explosive. This year, the situation and the rhetoric have changed. Many regulators and companies have studied the issue closely and discovered multiple imperfections and risk zones. The myth of the blockchain, when people say that everything’s ready and one may cut expenses and get rid of banks has turned out to be a myth, indeed. The development will take three to four years, it’s absolutely clear,” she said at the International Bank Forum.

Ukraine

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the events are taking in a rather different direction. This week Bill No.3719 “On Introducing Amendments in Ukraine’s Criminal Procedural Code Regarding Particular Issues of Investigative Activities Set to Provide Additional Guarantees of Legality over Their Course” has passed first reading in the country’s Parliament (Verkhovna Rada). Ukraine’s deputy minister for infrastructure and transport systems, Yannika Merilo, believes it to be a great success.

“It’s a major victory for the IT community, investors and entrepreneurs, even though, on the other hand, it’s logical even in the absence of laws,” she wrote on Facebook.

The abovementioned community, however, was cautious about the law. Kuna Bitcoin Agency founder, Mikhail Chobanian, who had already suffered from law enforcement, commented:

“It’s a great law. Yannika and everyone involved are great guys. However, my expectations aren’t too high. The rule of law still doesn’t exist in this country, as opposed to the rule of rigged games. For that reason, I’m quite confident the law enforcements will find a way to bypass the law, be it absence of technical means or suspicion that something might be destroyed or feigned. We’ll see. Certainly, I’d be happy if something works, but as for now, I see no dramatic changes in our country.”

Nevertheless, Mikhail is still working on his projects. One of them is KUNA cryptocurrency exchange, and after several months of development it’s finally ready for the launch.

“It will be the final beta release in the exchange’s history. We’re ready to launch. We have uploaded the new release which is mostly focused on security. The case of Bitfinex was very useful in this regard. If everything’s fine we’ll commercial operation,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, on September 24/25 Kyiv will host an All-Ukraine Hackathon for blockchain developers under the auspices of Distributed Lab, IDF Reforms Lab and Gesellberg, while Kharkiv’s National University of Radioelectronics is launching a “Cryptocurrencies and Distributed Systems” course. The class starts on September 15.

Wallets and Payments Systems

After receiving “overwhelming flood of requests from the community,” cryptocurrency wallet Jaxx has added Ethereum Classic (ETC) as a supported cryptocurrency. ETC is available on seven of its nine platforms as Jaxx is still awaiting approval by the iOS App Store. The move comes shortly after Dash was rejected by the App Store.

Last week, Apple issued a directive, which identified six supported cryptocurrencies. These are Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ether, Ripple and DAO tokens. As a result, Jaxx is forced to remove Dash from the iOS version of the wallet by September 14, 2016.

Meanwhile, Bitwala has announced it intends to focus on Bitcoin-related services from now on, as “no one uses altocoins”.

LocalBitcoins, a platform focused on physical sale of Bitcoins, has announced it halves all fees in the UK. The company elaborated that the move was justified by their wish to stimulate bitcoin sales in Britain following the Brexit vote.

Dutch banking giant ABN Amro has quashed rumors suggesting it is developing a cryptocurrency wallet. The bank’s representatives noted that such developments had been underway three or four years ago, but the project proved unsuccessful and was closed.

WebMoney Transfer has added an option of paying with Bitcoins at system-authorized stores for all customers, including those not using WebMoney services.

Companies and Banks

The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project has just announced its partnership with the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group. As the largest private property developer in the world and the biggest cinema chain operator globally, the firm plans to help create an open blockchain standard with the Linux collaborative project. The group is headed by Wang Jianlin, China’s wealthiest entrepreneur according to the Forbes.

Barclays reported earlier this week that two of its partners were able to successfully transfer trade documentation via a blockchain platform created by its accelerator program graduate, Wave. The Israel-based startup graduated from the TechStars FinTech accelerator last year. The Barclays partners in question were Ireland-based agriculture co-operative Ornua and food product distributor Seychelles Trading Company.

Four months after launching over-the-counter trading, and fueled with US$1.6 million in funding from Bitmain Technologies, Shenzhen-based BitKan is looking to kick off its expansion plans starting with the US market. BitKan offers Bitcoin-related tools and services such as aggregated news, mining monitoring and price alerts.

A group of advertising experts and blockchain specialists have joined forces to create Mass Network, a project seeking to tackle the most crucial problems of online advertising. Mass Network will incorporate representatives for Colu, Mycelium, Evernote, BitFury, Capital Deutsche Bank and IBM, with at least two more major cryptocurrency companies negotiating their participation in the project.

A securities affiliate of Spanish banking group Banco Santander is predicting bitcoin will have a significant impact on the legacy finance ecosystem should it see wider adoption. The report stems from a meeting involving Santander researchers, Santander Investment Securities, Brazilian bitcoin brokerage Mercado Bitcoin and local investors. The document offers a take on the risks card issuers, acquirers, exchanges and banks would face in a future should the use of digital currency become more mainstream.

“Simply put, we believe a future with bitcoin transactions with their low (or no) costs and fees puts at risk the entire business model of credit and debit card companies. Acquirers such as Cielo (through net MDRs and POS revenue) and issuer banks (through interchange fees) potentially could suffer the most, in our view,” the report says.

DLT Financial, a spin-off of well-known firm Tramonex has announced its plans to launch a new Bitcoin fund. The fund follows the company’s recent launch of its cryptocurrency index. The DLT10 Index lists 10 different cryptocurrencies namely; Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Stellar, Litecoin, Dogecoin, MaidSafeCoin, NameCoin, Factom, and NXT. According to the DLT10 Index website, the index allows users to track the performance of these 10 digital tokens for the purpose of investment.

Italian ministry of economy and finance’s tax department has proposed a bill to tax Bitcoin companies. For now, the proposal only seems to focus on companies dealing with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Consumers and other individuals who deal with Bitcoin will not be subject to this proposal, assuming it becomes a law in the end.

Controversies

BTC-e exchange faces new accusations. Certain Boris Zabavnikov, one of the exchange’s customers, claims that his account has been hacked and $7,000 stolen. A few weeks ago he discovered that someone hacked his account, ran a test transaction, and finally withdrew all his assets in two transactions. Zabavnikov notes that he resides in Moscow, while the alleged thieves’ IP address was Ukrainian.

Those accusations came to light as LeakedSource published new data on recent hacks of BTC-e and BitcoinTalk. In October 2014 alone, hackers have stolen personal data of 568,355 BTC-e users, including names, e-mails, passwords, IP addresses, registration dates and other items.

Elsewhere

A surprising statement came from Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winner in economy and professor at the University of Columbia. He amazed the community with the statement that the US government was totally right “shutting down” Bitcoin.

Famous Bangkok restaurant Eat Me, one of the top 50 restaurants in all of Asia, recently started accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method. A Reddit user gave the restaurant a phone call to confirm the acceptance of Bitcoin, which came back affirmative.

A group of students from Berlin Technical University has had a chess game using Ethereum-based software. Their goal was to explore potential use of smart contracts in step-by-step games. According to one of the project’s participants Paul Grau, the experiment employed Solidity and Ethereum to research all positive and negative features of both platforms.

September 6, streaming platform Crackle has published the first episode of the StartUp series, whose protagonists become involved in a criminal scheme with cryptocurrencies, and have to fight FBI agents. The series produced by Sony Pictures contains 10 episodes, and stars Martin Freeman and Adam Brody.