Akon Launches Cryptocurrency to Power Youth Entrepreneurship

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Senegal-born platinum-selling singer and philanthropist Akon has recently announced plans to build his own city in Senegal with his recently launched digital currency, Akoin, being the main form of exchange. Cryptocurrencies have had their fair share of celebrity backers but most of the support has been at face value, that is, most of them are just ambassadors for digital currency outfits. As such, the move by Akon to venture into the crypto space is not only bold but also game-changing.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 18 on a panel titled “Branding Africa: Blockchain, Entrepreneurship and Empowering the Future,” the Grammy-nominated performer said blockchain technology and cryptocurrency could be “the savior for Africa in many ways” especially because of its high-security factor.

“I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down,” Akon said during the panel event, according to Page Six.

A Crypto City?

According to an initial blurb posted by ICO Impact Group, Akon and his team have a more ambitious plan in the works and it involves a 100 percent crypto-based city. As mentioned earlier at the beginning of this post, Akoin will be the center of the transactional life of the city that has been dubbed “Akon Crypto City.”

As it turns out, the development of the Akon Crypto City is already underway and it began with the 2,000 acres of land that the singer was gifted by the President of Senegal. The city is located within 5 minutes on Senegal’s new international airport, and a short drive from Dakar, Senegal’s capital city. It is also close to the coast, which in addition to all the factors make it a strategic location for such a venture.

At the moment, there are so many reasons to be skeptical about the plan especially because of the blithe overuse of “blockchain” as a buzzword and panacea to existing financial problems. To make it worse, Akon’s responses to the technical questions during the panel were not exactly heartening either – PageSix reports him saying, “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.” This is not exactly reassuring especially considering how shaky the crypto space is.

However, if we consider Akon’s Akon Lighting Africa charity project and how it effectively helped 17 countries in Africa to arrange for financing for solar panels and small-scale lighting projects, then this ambitious endeavor might just pay off, eventually.

IMF Official Urges Central Banks to Compete With Crypto

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) deputy director, Dong He, on Thursday published an article that is meant to nudge the central banks to work on measures geared towards making fiat currencies “more attractive in the digital age.” Dong He believes that crypto may someday reduce the demand for central bank money and, therefore, these banks should consider adopting concepts to obstruct the competitive pressure that cryptocurrencies are already exerting on fiat currencies.

IMF’s stance when it comes to cryptocurrencies has not been particularly reassuring especially when it comes to the future of these digital assets. In an event in March, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde advised supervisors to prepare technical elements that would assist them in “fighting fire with fire.”

The deputy director reiterated this thought and outline his view that, at the moment, cryptocurrencies and other crypto assets have more adoption. Consequentially, the central banks are bound to eventually lose their command and influence on the economy, which is usually through strategies like interest rate charges.

“Second, government authorities should regulate the use of crypto assets to prevent regulatory arbitrage and any unfair competitive advantage crypto assets may derive from tighter regulation,” he pointed out. “That means rigorously applying measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, strengthening consumer protection, and effectively taxing crypto transactions.”

Dong He further pointed out some of the viable alternatives that the banks could adopt. These include the idea of the central banks moving to create their own digitized assets or digital currencies that could be exchanged in a peer-to-peer fashion, just like it is done for other cryptocurrencies.

“For example, they could make central bank money user-friendly in the digital world by issuing digital tokens of their own to supplement physical cash and bank reserves. Such central bank digital currency could be exchanged, peer to peer in a decentralized manner, much as crypto assets are,” a related excerpt from the article reads.

Already, a number of banks have been researching ways to implement such a move but there have been a number of setbacks, one of the most prominent being divergent opinions on whether such a move would pay off or not.

According to the deputy director, the central banks can actually profit from the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies – monetary policymaking will, without a doubt, benefit from such kind of technology by improving the banks’ forecasts using big data, machine learning, and, of course, artificial intelligence.

“Central banks should continue to strive to make fiat currencies better and more stable units of account. The best response by central banks to crypto is to continue running effective monetary policy while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve,” he noted.  “That means rigorously applying measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, strengthening consumer protection, and effectively taxing crypto transactions.”

Coinbase to Rebrand Its Cryptocurrency Exchange Service

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Renowned United States-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has purchased a platform known as Paredex that deals with cryptocurrency trading. The move comes with the launch of a new version of Coinbase’s GDAX platform that has now been rebranded to Coinbase Pro and it will expand the company’s operations to non-U.S. customers by allowing them to trade hundreds of Ethereum-based coins directly with each other.

In a Wednesday blog post, Coinbase explained that Coinbase Pro will add on to what GDAX was as a platform that was specifically designed to tend to the needs of individual cryptocurrency traders. Coinbase Pro will also feature some major improvements that are meant to make using the platform easier and more intuitive. This will include such neat features as simplified deposit and withdrawal services as well as a decent number of extra services such as staking and protocol voting. Also, customers who were on the GDAX platform will be happy to know that all of their GDAX activity will be ported over to the new Coinbase Pro platform and therefore they will not need to worry about starting from scratch.

Paradex will play a critical role in this expansion simply because it will significantly increase the types of digital currencies that the Coinbase Pro customers will have access to. However, even though Coinbase in a United States-based company, the Coinbase Pro services will in the initial stages be available to only non-U.S. customers before being eventually brought back home one the company obtains a regulatory clearance.

In addition to the revamped exchanged platform, Coinbase also revealed that it would be launching its own self-titled cryptocurrency wallet in the near future to compete with similar offerings. The Coinbase Wallet is going to combine a neat set of features from the Toshi toolkit that powers the existing version of Coinbase’s cryptocurrency wallet, and others from the newly acquired Paradex.

“Our vision is to give customers the ability to participate in services like staking and protocol voting that are distinct to crypto. As the decentralized ecosystem advances, we expect there will be many more opportunities for customers to interact with digital assets in new and unique ways,” reads the Coinbase release.

A Little More About Paradex

Paradex is a cryptocurrency relay platform that allows its users or investors to trade ERC-20 tokens directly from their digital wallets – no third party is needed to take custody of the token during trading. This is accomplished through the use of a blockchain protocol that was developed by Ox which also happens to be advised by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and two other former Coinbase employees.

“Our team couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve accomplished over the past year,” said Paradex CEO, Ron Bernstein. “And we couldn’t be more excited about this new chapter under the Coinbase umbrella.”

Paradex’s technology will be directly integrated with the newly rebranded Coinbase Pro over the next few weeks.

CoinPoker to Launch First-Ever Crypto Series of Poker

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CoinPoker, a unique online poker room built on blockchain technology, is about to revolutionize the concept of online poker with the launch of the world’s first Crypto Series of Poker (CSOP). The poker room that has always reiterated that it is built on trust and transparency announced that the daily tournaments of CSOP will take place as from May 27 to June 3 and will feature a total prize pool of ten million CHP (the operator’s in-house cryptocurrency).

“Join in on a week of daily tournaments taking place between May 27 and June 3. The series kicks off with a quarter and half a million CHP prize pools, and ends with an epic final event where 2,500,000 CHP is yours for the taking,” said CoinPoker spokesperson from.

The company through its spokesperson also added that the unique poker series is being launched to give back to the poker room’s early adopters who have, without a doubt, contributed immensely to the growth of CoinPoker. However, every other player will also get to enjoy the best of what the platform has to offer.

Online poker has certainly grown in popularity over the past few years, players still have to put up with a variety of complex problems that include the lack of control over the funds, problematic withdrawal services, and lack of transparency as well as high burn rates for recreational players. CoinPoker found a way of going around all these problems by utilizing a fully decentralized set of contracts – the platform operates on the Ethereum smart contract based cryptocurrency protocols.

CoinPoker’s ambitious new venture is however not the first time that the platform is commanding a lot of attention from poker enthusiasts. The company has previously been part of partnerships with some of the largest poker tournaments such as the Japanese Poker Association (JPA) for 2018’s Japan Poker Cup that begun in April and is set to continue till later in August.

 “On top of the benefits for online poker players, our collaboration with multiple poker leagues in the form of online satellites make live poker events accessible to players in different corners of the world,” says Paulius Mikaliunas, CoinPoker’s Head of Poker Operations. “The release of our upcoming mobile app will help boost these efforts, alongside ambitious plans for diversifying the games on our platform to ultimately give CHP investors and CoinPoker players more value.”

ZeroEdge.Bet to Launch Its Second Pre-ICO Offering on June 1

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Renowned blockchain based online casino platform ZeroEdge.bet will be launching the second part of its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) on June 1 with a whopping 58 percent discount bonus. Even though there is still some doubt pertaining to the true nature of the platform, it has always been set to revolutionize the online gaming industry with its unique approach.

The platform made its mark by offering its games at zero percent house edge (hence its name) at a time when all other online casino sites were offering casino games that came with house edges ranging between 1 percent and 10 percent. Therefore, unlike its online game provider counterparts, ZeroEdge.Bet’s games give players fair chances of winning, for free!

“We can see why other blockchain-based gambling projects haven’t penetrated the market, so we want to come in well-prepared to be among the first to do this. We believe the experienced team and accomplished advisors are the keys here,” said Adrian Casey, the ZeroEdge.Bet CEO. “Zero Edge offers a unique gambling model which potentially could revolutionize the $70 Billion gambling industry. Players won’t be losing money but instead earning from the increasing Zerocoin value. Our ultimate goal is to become a leading gambling platform in the online gambling industry where thousands of different games are played each day using Zerocoin and where players have the best chance of winning.”

The platform operates on a closed loop economy that is driven by the high demand for zero percent games which in turn results in the increase in demand for Zerocoin, the company’s in-house digital currency. With this revolutionary gambling model in place, gamblers who choose the platform will not lose money but instead gain the value of Zerocoin increases.

The Zerocoin Token will be availed to interested investors during the planned Initial Coin offering (ICO) at the beginning of next month if everything goes as planned.

France Lowers Crypto Taxes, Labels Them ‘Moveable Property’

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According to April 26 report from Le Monde, a local news outlet in France, the Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) of the country has lowered the tax rate on cryptocurrencies from the initial 45 percent to a flat rate of 19 percent. In addition to this, all the profit that will arise from cryptocurrency sales will be considered as capital gains of ‘moveable property’ as stipulated by the new regulations. This move follows the reclassification of bitcoin that is separate from commercial and non-commercial activity.

According to the Council, “The sale of ‘bitcoins’ [fell under] the principle from the category of capital gains of movable property.”

The news report also mentioned that the Council of State’s decision was partly motivated by an appeal that was filed earlier this year to the country’s highest regulatory body. The appeal sort to have the harsh regulations reviewed and changed so as to ensure the survival and growth of the French crypto industry.

Profits amassed from cryptocurrency mining will, however, be exempted from this and they will, therefore, incur higher tax rates as they are still considered to be industrial and commercial profits. These harsh cryptocurrency-focused tax rules that initially encompassed all transactions came to be in mid-2014. Four years down the line, Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, assembled a task force for the sole purpose of scrutinizing the state of cryptocurrency regulations in France.

“Our goal is to provide legal certainty for those who seek it, without hindering those who want to follow their own path. We have a rather liberal approach. We work for a flexible, non-dissuasive framework. At the same time, we are not naive either, we know that these products can be risky” noted the finance ministry.

Other than the finance ministry’s efforts in putting together a task force to review the country’s cryptocurrency regulations, it has also been reported that it the financial market regulator has been considering legislation that would foster the development of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in France.

Crypto Trading Has Not Been Banned In India, Govt. Confirms

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As mentioned in the Friday news post, the cryptocurrency situation in India is quite unstable at the moment. Still, it is worth noting that there have been a lot of misconceptions regarding the recent decision by the Indian government with a number of media outlets claiming that India has banned trading in bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies for that matter. This is certainly not the case. Just to be clear, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only cut ties between its own banks and any entity that deals with cryptocurrencies.

No Cause for Alarm?

It goes without saying that the RBI press release indeed caused quite a stir especially because it somehow translates to a total ban on bitcoin trading, depending on how one interprets it. While this is not the case, it cannot be said that there is nothing worry about since the RBI’s ultimatum is still rather significant for cryptocurrency users.

All banks that are currently servicing any entities that deal in cryptocurrencies have a three-month deadline looming over their operations. Any bank that fails to sever its ties with the crypto users the will no longer be considered as a partner of the Reserve Bank of India.

What It Implies

According to Unocoin, there is not much cause for alarm since the RBI has not deemed bitcoin as an illegal currency and there is no ban on cryptocurrencies. For now, Unocoin will continue operating as usual until the banks it is affiliated with state otherwise. The three-month ultimatum creates room for a lot of changes and adjustments but everything will become crystal clear after that. So far, the damage is going to be minimal even though this is subject to abrupt change, but such kind of change is something you get used to when you stay in the crypto-world for long.

The decision by Indian officials is not entirely surprising since the RBI has for several months now reiterated the risks associated with cryptocurrencies. As such, it is likely that many of the India cryptocurrency entities have always been prepared for such developments. In other countries, the alternative has been moving to crypto-friendly countries such as Malta and Switzerland. All that matters now is that bitcoin trading has not been banned in the country but in case it happens, there are viable options for the crypto operations. We will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

RBI Bans Regulated Entities from Dealing in Cryptocurrencies

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Even though it is currently exploring the creation of its own cryptocurrency, India’s central bank on April 5 escalated a crackdown on existing digital currencies like bitcoin. In an official statement released by the Reserve Bank of India, it was directed that all regulated entities, including banks, should stop providing services to individuals or even businesses that are users, holders and traders of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the central bank has set up a panel that will be tasked with studying the feasibility and the desirability of introducing a fiat digital currency. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) confirmed in a statement on Thursday that the panel will be expected to submit a report by the end of June this year.

“It has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling virtual currencies,” the RBI said. “Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time. A circular in this regard is being issued separately.”

As far as the specified time frame is concerned, the RBI gave the regulated entities three months to unwind their positions with the crypto-related entities. This move comes after over three warnings that were issued to the public in regards to the risks of dealing with decentralized digital currencies. It also follows in the footsteps of several other governments around the world that have been strengthening scrutiny of the virtual currencies. In fact, by its own admission, the RBI affirmed that this move is geared towards protecting the regulated entities form the risks associated with digital currencies.

“Virtual Currencies (VCs), also variously referred to as cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, raise concerns of consumer protection, market integrity and money laundering, among others… In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs,” the RBI said in an April 5 statement.

Possible Introduction of a Fiat Digital Currency

The new RBI regulations certainly have rather significant implications for the crypto market in India. However, the central bank is taking steps that will maintain or draw from certain aspects of the crypto-ecosystem. The underlying blockchain technology, for instance, is quite promising and the RBI acknowledges this fact – the bank will be investigating ways of exploiting the blockchain technology in order to achieve financial inclusion and enhance the efficiency of the country’s financial system.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the RBI is exploring the concept of a fiat digital currency that will be issued by the bank and thus will be considered to be its liability. The new currency will in circulation alongside the tradition paper currency – if it succeeds it also holds the promise if reducing the costs of printing the paper currencies.

CoinPoker Responds to Poker Bot, Security Issues Allegations

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Just a few weeks ago, CoinPoker’s real money tables went live and the site is celebrating by running a number of generous promotions. However, according to PartTimepoker.com writer and GameIntel Managing Editor Alex Weldon, these generous promotions have been contributing to the cryptocurrency-based online poker site’s bot-driven player traffic. Weldon also believes that CoinPoker is struggling with security protocols on the site.

Alex Weldon first wrote about this on a March 17 PartTimePoker.com article title ‘CoinPoker’s Traffic is a Farce’ in which he detailed the findings from his research of the traffic numbers for GameIntel – the company that supplies data to PokerScout, an established website that tracks online poker traffic of nearly all online poker sites.

Weldon’s research was apparently prompted by what he describes as “abnormal traffic patterns.” For instance, he noticed that a number of players were simultaneously playing a number of tables for hours at a time. Furthermore, the said set group accounts dominated the huge volume of gameplay with a significantly small number of other players getting in on the action from time to time.

The players that caught Weldon’s eye all played at minimum stakes for each of the site’s leaderboard levels with each of the level of the leaderboard having nearly the same of player at the tables, though with different names. The wagering patterns of the massively multi-tabling players made Weldon even more suspicious as they seemed to be making programmed decisions.

CoinPoker’s initial response was the closure of three accounts as further investigations are carried out. The site’s officials also pointed out that “Malicious poker bots have not been a significant issue thus far, but we will continue to investigate the problematic accounts that pop up on our leaderboard.” Still, CoinPoker’s security protocols and the site as a whole have been subject to a number of questions.

To further prove their dedication to handling the issue as expected, the online poker operator decided to limit the number of simultaneously played tables to 8 per player. In addition to this, the site plans to integrate a verification tool called Civic to their platform.

“With these measures in place, we can, with a high degree of confidence, say that our final leaderboards reflect players who have played fairly and worked hard to win prizes in our current 5MM CHP Giveaway Promotion,” they wrote.

On the issue of security protocols that was a key concern for many of the stakeholders of the poker site, CoinPoker confirmed that the launch of its peer-to-peer security system was still scheduled for October this year. The new security system will be replacing the existing security system that runs on a hybrid platform that combines standard online gambling security measures and blockchain technology

Bitcoin Mining Has Just Been Banned in Small New York Town

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Plattsburgh, a small lakeside town in northeastern New York has banned the establishment of new bitcoin mining firms for the next year and a half citing the fact that the miners have been exploiting its low-cost electricity. This comes at about the same time that the New York public utilities arm gave a ruling that allowed the municipal power authorities to charge higher electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners.

The town which is quite close to the Canadian border put the one and a half year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining in a bid to preserve its natural resources, the health of its residents as well as the “character and direction” of the city. Thus, for the next 18 months, the city will not be considering any new applications for commercial cryptocurrency mining. Breaking this rule will attract a fine amounting to $1,000 daily for the period that the moratorium is violated.

“It is the purpose of this Local Law to facilitate the adoption of land use and zoning and/or municipal lighting department regulations to protect and enhance the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources,” Plattsburgh officials said after holding a public hearing on the matter Thursday.

Cryptocurrency mining is the process by which mining firms or individuals get paid with cryptocurrencies for running complex mathematical equations on high-powered computers in order to confirm the validity of transactions. This process needs enormous computing power and thus is very energy-intensive hence miners will almost naturally be drawn to areas with significantly lower electricity costs. Thanks to its hydropower plants and the subsidies that some of the municipal power authorities allow on the electricity, some parts of New York are able to offer electricity rates that are as competitive as the Chinese bitcoin mining market. Furthermore, the naturally lower temperatures in the state also significantly reduce the cost of cooling facilities at the mining firms.

It Is a Positive Move, Some Agree

While this might not be a favourable ruling for cryptocurrency miners, one local bitcoin mining operation, Plattsburgh BTC, has expressed its support for the ruling. David Bowman, the founder and CEO of the bitcoin mining firm said in an email that the move was a positive one for both the city of Plattsburgh and crypto mining as a whole.

“We will be actively working with the city right away to find solutions that work in all of our interests, like possibly shutting off the machines if we are in danger of going over the city’s quota, looking into energy recapture as a way to heat buildings,” he added. “Anything is on the table.”