High Hopes as Third Bitcoin Halving Approaches

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There is currently a lot of chatter in the Bitcoin community and the crypto industry at large as Bitcoin’s third-ever block halving nears. Set to take place this month (May 2020), there has been a lot of speculation regarding what will happen to the digital currency’s price.

What the Halving Means

In essence, the bitcoin halving means that the reward for mining a block of bitcoin will be divided by two. When the network finally hits block number 630,000 the amount will drop from 12.5 BTC to just 6.25 BTC. This will be the third time that a halving will be happening since the Bitcoin network went live over a decade ago.

Halving is one of the things that set bitcoin apart from all other digital currencies including other popular digital currency networks such as Ethereum’s. In many ways, it is one of the things that drive the price and value of Bitcoin.

As for the impacts, some of them are already coming into play.

Mining Machines Become More Valuable

Needless to say, the halving will have a huge impact on the companies that depend on bitcoin mining. While the systems themselves will not be affected much, their value is a totally different thing altogether.

Now even mining rigs that were previously said to be obsolete have become profitable again. For instance, mining rigs such as the AntMiner s9 and the Avalon A851 are now able to generate between 10 percent to 20 percent gross margin at an average electricity cost of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). These margins could increase to as much as 30 percent to 40 percent to miners who adopt more efficient methods.

Even so, considering the dynamic nature of bitcoin mining, this might not be sustainable in the long term. As bitcoin’s halving approaches it is likely that many of the people relying on the older equipment will eventually be squeezed out by people using newer and more efficient mining rigs.

The Current State of Bitcoin

Over the past week, Bitcoin’s price has surged towards the $10,000 mark – this impressive rise has seen the cryptocurrency’s market return to its pre-coronavirus bull run. In fact, the crash losses that experienced because of the impacts of the pandemic have almost been completely erased.

“The interest in cryptocurrencies is now building as investors  look to the month-end and forward to May and June.”

-Marcus Swanepoel, chief executive of London-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Luno.

In general, members of the bitcoin community are pretty optimistic about the future of bitcoin’s price even after the supply squeeze that will take place this month. However, the actual impacts remain to be seen.

Germany To Become a Crypto Haven Thanks to New Law

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On November 29, the German parliament passed a bill that will allow banks in the country to sell and store digital currencies and crypto-assets. This will be effective from January 1, 2020, and only custody providers and cryptocurrency exchanges with licenses will be allowed to operate.

As such, these companies have the whole of December to apply for the necessary licenses in order to be able to legally operate in the country’s new crypto regime. To be eligible for the licenses, the companies will have to be registered as legal German entities with no less than two directors operating in the country by the end of the year.

Now, all that remains is for the bill which implements the “fourth EU Money Laundering Directive” amendment to be signed off by the 16 German states. It is expected that most, if not all, of the states will sign in favor of the bill.

The bill is a pretty huge step forward for crypto especially with regards to the quest for mainstream adoption of crypto. Before the German parliament passed the bill, banks in the country were prohibited from offering any sort of direct access to cryptocurrencies and related assets. Instead, the banks could only rely on external custodians or dedicated subsidiaries.

The Feedback

According to a number of experts in the financial sector, the move is definitely going to have a huge impact on the European crypto market. In fact, many of them have pointed out that it effectively paves the way for Germany’s ascension to crypto haven in the continent and possibly the rest of the world.

Since financial institutions already enjoy a tremendous amount of trust, they are probably the best options for the safekeeping of digital currencies and assets. Moreover, they will play a huge role in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing which are by far some of the biggest concerns when it comes to digital currencies.

Is A Crypto Migration Possible?

Well, considering how unconducive certain jurisdictions have become for crypto investors, a shift to friendlier places such as Germany is possible. For instance, China has been cracking down on a number of crypto-related currencies. This is perhaps in preparation for the state-sanctioned cryptocurrency that the country has been pursuing. Still, domestic users are definitely going to find workarounds.

Similarly, Russia also seems to be leaning towards a possible crypto ban – the country’s central bank has recently backed a potential ban on crypto payments. The reason this is a consideration is the large number of concerns that are associated with the sector. For now, nothing has been decided yet but given the recent history of crypto regulation, anything could happen.

Crypto Gaming Platform Helping Physical Casinos Move Online

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Pbet, a brand new crypto-powered gambling platform has recently launched an initiative that is set to help land-based or physical casinos to move online. The initiative not only promises to see the casino operators incur much lower costs but also intends to afford them with the assurance of more savings. In addition to that, the platform is also meant to ensure better credibility for casino players thanks to its blockchain crypto-based Unified Gaming Platform.

Pbet is already considered to be a next-gen gaming platform and its crypto token that is referred to as “PBET” is also beginning to take off. In fact, the platform has already had its Initial Exchange Offering (IOE) in a number of popular cryptocurrency exchanges including the renowned P2PB2B. Furthermore, Pbet has gone ahead to further its participation through IEO sessions in a good number of other leading exchanges like ExMarkets. Now, after the Initial Exchange Offering (IEO), the platform’s token will now be officially listed on host exchanges where its holders will be able to trade it.

Revolutionary Casino Management System

Pbet has been around for over two years now and in that time, it has been able to penetrate the gaming market thanks to “Genuina”, its casino management system. Genuina is the brainchild of some hospitality and gaming industry veteran. Now, as mentioned earlier, Pbet has plans to create a smooth convergence of physical casinos and online casinos while at the same time integrating crypto-based payments.

The platform’s blockchain technology is set to help in ensuring that there is a trust factor for players through the delivery of transparency information among other things. This mission is based on the company’s vision to combine all the three pillars of physical casinos, that is, the players, the physical casinos themselves as well as Pbet.

One of the most notable but rather overlooked features is the fact that, with the adoption of blockchain technology, Pbet will now be able to offer the players crypto payment solutions that are not only more affordable but also assure the customers of much faster withdrawal speeds.

“We will enable physical casinos to beat the high cost of penetrating into online space with our blockchain crypto-based turn-key, zero fix fees, revenue sharing system. Pbet also assures almost ‘0’ transaction fees and super-fast withdrawals for players,” stated a Pbet spokesperson.

The convergence between crypto or blockchain and the gambling industry has been a long time coming but it is certainly refreshing to see companies such as Pbet take the leap forward by actualizing it. As such, it will not be long before even more companies begin to adopt the new model

Japan Ramps Up Crypto Gambling Regulation

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Even though Japan is known to be one of the most welcoming environments for new technologies, the country is seemingly very cautious when it comes to gambling. In fact, it has been very strict about the spread of crypto gambling activities and this has been a major obstacle for the most, if not all, of the crypto gambling companies.

Most recently, in March 2019, the company behind renowned cryptocurrency Tron announced that it would no longer allow gambling DApps (Decentralized Applications) based on its platform to be used in Japan – this move was in compliance with the country’s regulations. Moreover, Tron has discouraged crypto enthusiasts in Japan from creating similar DApps while also imploring non-Japanese developers to block the country’s IP addresses from using their gambling platforms. To top it all off, the company has promised to work alongside Japanese authorities in order to identify breaches of the laws and regulations.

The State of Online Gambling and Crypto in Japan

Japan has been one of the most resistive territories in the world when it comes to gambling. However, the country has softened its stance in recent years with the legalization of casinos and resorts casinos – there was significant resistance to these plans particularly due to concerns that the move would result in more case of gambling addiction. As it turns out, there are already a number of illegal casinos operating across the country’s cities and therefore regulation might have been the best way to go about the issue.

Digital currencies and blockchain have also taken off in recent years and people and business have been working hard to find uses for them across several different platforms. Crypto gambling, for instance, has been one of the most widespread and interesting applications of the technology. In the simplest form, these digital currencies can be used in place of fiat currency in online gambling sites and this means that online gambling will be less costly, transactions will be faster and the gamblers can place bets anonymously.

Anonymity, while considered to be a desirable feature by very many gamblers, is not a very appealing idea for regulators. As such, the Japanese authorities have come to the realization that crypto gambling poses a threat to its ability to regulate the activity. This is precisely the reason why the agreement with Tron to purge all gambling DApps from the territory is a major win for the country as it fights to keep gambling activities under its control.

EOSBet Unveils Bitcoin Betting and Account System

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After making history at the end of last year by becoming the very first blockchain-based casino to receive an official gambling license EOSBet decentralized application recently announced the next step in its journey toward mass adoption of crypto and blockchain. The platform has made its first big step in 2019 by launching a decentralized account system alongside a native bitcoin deposit and betting option.

After receiving its official gambling license, EOSBet became one of top-rated EOS dApps and it will be taking its proactive approach towards innovation into the future with its new and impressive betting option and its neat account system.

The EOS Account System

One of the biggest challenges experienced by users of blockchain technology is the numerous entry barriers that often come in the form of lengthy wallet setup processes among other things. The EOSBet system seeks to solve this problem by developing a system that allows users to deposit funds directly from any source thus eliminating the need for the use of any wallet or third-party software. Furthermore, the system will also cover all the blockchain costs for the players thus allowing them to enjoy the same gaming experience they would find at a tradition centralized casino on the decentralized one.

EOSBet’s account system, just like every other aspect of the platform, is decentralized and completely on-chain which means that all the actions are fully viewable on any block explorer. All the actions also eventually become part of the EOS blockchain and since the system is non-custodial, the players will always be in total control of their funds.

To make the experience even better, the EOSBet team chose to use a simple two-click sign up process that is not only very intuitive but also optimized to work seamlessly across a wide range of devices. With the new system, even people who do not have accounts with ESO can bet securely and get to participate in its very generous player rewards program.

Bitcoin Betting Is Officially Here!

While there have been a number of previous attempts at bitcoin betting with varying degrees of success, EOSBet has beat every other company to becoming the very first on-chain casino to natively accept bitcoin. As if that is not enough, the company plans to implement several other digital currencies in the near future. The betting platform works very well – all a player needs to do is to deposit bitcoin to their accounts, play instantly and then withdraw whenever they may wish to do so.

Both the betting option and the accounts system are slated to take the online gambling industry by storm and this is certainly going to play a huge role in the long-awaited mainstream adoption of digital currencies and blockchain. 2019 might be the year it finally happens.

Crypto Regulation: What Was and What Could Be

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2018 was without a big year for cryptocurrencies as a whole particularly because it saw through a number of developments that kicked off in late 2017. There has been an equal measure of ups and downs in the crypto space which, in one way or the other, have been key to the growth of the industry. Keeping all that in mind, one of the key considerations that many people had in the last year and are looking to improve upon is regulation. With more and more institutional investors streaming into the blockchain and crypto space, there has been an outcry for increased regulation which is expected to be a key driver of the crypto bear market of the past year.

Most of these investors also blamed the initial coin offering (ICO) market’s cool-down on potential threats. To put this into perspective, in October 2018, initial coin offering issuers collected close to $770 million, which is a 50 percent drop of what they raised in December 2017. Apparently, this slowdown was a result of continued pronouncements by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton that said ICOs are securities which imply that those that do not register with the SEC would face dire legal consequences.

What This year Holds

One thing that we can all agree on is that 2019 will certainly be the year that crypto regulation climbs to greater heights. In essence, this means that it is likely that various crypto regulations will become a defining move for such organizations as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as other financial bodies in all parts of the globe. While some crypto-related businesses may be reluctant to follow the SEC’s rules, existing regulations are already taking a massive toll on a number of crypto businesses and this is likely to increase further as the year progresses.

Regulation, as always, is always going to be double-sided phenomena. On one hand, existing and future regulations may inhibit innovation – some companies may close their doors and others may avoid starting up altogether. The main takeaway here is that we might go through a transition period where companies and businesses that are not able to play by the rules will be forced to step aside.

On the other hand, proving that cryptocurrencies do indeed have some legitimacy might actually be easier with more regulation in place. Already, the entry of institutional investors is starting to becoming a big deal for people who were skeptical of crypto. It is well known that the borderless and anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies makes them nearly impossible to control but with more regulation, reasonable solutions are certainly bound to be found.

Major U.S. Science Museum Now Accepting Payments in Bitcoin

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Bitcoin has made yet another step in the right direction towards mass adoption thanks to a museum located in Cleveland, Ohio that will be taking payments in crypto as from November 13. Great Lakes Science Center, the museum in question plans to use BitPay to process the BTC payments that it will be receiving from the visitors who will want to pay in BTC.

According to the Kirsten Ellenbogen, the museums chief executive, by accepting payments in BTC this early on, the institution hopes to facilitate the growth of the blockchain ecosystem. Moreover, there is much more optimism with regards to blockchain technology thanks to a number of promising developments. For instance, a Swiss luxury watchmaker known as Hublot successfully integrated the bitcoin and the blockchain to sell 210 pieces of its limited edition BTC-themed sports watch – the company made a whopping $5.25 million in revenue from the sales that were conducted solely through BTC with each piece fetching no less than $25,000.

The adoption of the digital currency as a means of payment comes ahead of the museum and education center’s inaugural Blockland Solutions Conference which is a four-day event scheduled for December 2018. One of the core agenda of the conference will be to explore and educate the attendees about the future of blockchain technology.

“There is a lot of excitement around the conference. Accepting bitcoin is just a small part of the momentum to grow a blockchain ecosystem in Cleveland,” Ellenbogen said.

Tried and Tested

Fortunately, the Great Lakes Science Center will not be venturing into unknown grounds since two other casinos in the United States – Museum of the Coastal Bend in Texas and St. Petersburg Museum of History in Florida – have succeeded in integrating bitcoin as a payment system. When it kicked off the initiative in 2013, the Museum of the Coastal Bend’s officials were quite skeptical about anyone visiting and using BTC but they went ahead with it because there really wasn’t as much risk.

Five years down the line and bitcoin has become quite a big deal and is worth upwards of $110 billion. The digital currency is also considered to be a proper asset by mainstream institutions such as Nasdaq, Fidelity, ICE and even the New York Stock Exchange. The Great Lakes Science Center hopes to also tap into the ecosystem with its own set of unique offerings that will include the ability to purchase admission tickets to visit NASA’s Glenn Visitor Center.

All this will be possible through an app that the museum launched a year ago. The app utilizes augmented reality and virtual reality to allow visitors to experiment with various elements of space phenomena such as flames and space-craft designs when they visit the Glenn Visitor Center.

Such developments are clear proof that the integration of trusted or major digital currencies like bitcoin is the new trend in the global market.

US Legalizes Esports Betting, Approves Unikrn’s License

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Last Tuesday, Unikrn, a gaming operator known for its blockchain-infused esports betting projects, had its esports betting license approved by the Isle of Man, a move that has officially laid the groundwork for legal and regulated sports betting in the United States. Esports fans both within the United States and some other international markets will soon be able to bet on various esports events including tournaments and championship matches.

Unikrn, which is the world’s first betting platform to be built entirely on blockchain technology has had plans to merge real-money betting on competitive video gaming with crypto and blockchain technologies. The approval of its licenses by the Isle of Man is a huge step forward for the company and which has already moved fast to deploy its crypto esports gambling services in 20 different regions – the company began rolling out its online gaming products to the 20 countries as soon as the Isle of Man approved its license.

It plans to follow through by offering esports betting to European countries, South Korean and other Asian nations as well as parts of Latin America. In the US, the company will be offering several types of esports gambling services save for spectator betting which is yet to be legalized.

With the new products, the platform’s users in the countries where sports betting is legal will have the opportunity to bet on major esports competitions like the forthcoming League of Legends World Championship. Unlike traditional sportsbooks, Unikrn will be taking a unique approach that will be based on skill-based bets – this will allow the gamers to bet on their game performance for in games such as Player Unknown: Battlegrounds and Fortnite.

High Hopes Esports Betting Market

The approval of Unikrn esports betting license is certainly going to pave way for more companies to venture into the space – in fact, a number of esports betting platforms already exist but they have yet to be officially recognized by the Isle of Man. Still, the market is expected to significantly grow further from here on out. According to Rahul Sood, Unikrn’s CEO, the esports betting market could be worth $9 billion by 2020 if it’s nurtured properly.

“There is finally a legitimate, regulated operator in the space that has a pretty comprehensive offering,” Sood commented on his company’s approved esports betting license. “It’s huge.”

For the esports betting venture, Unikrn will also be featuring technology from Bittrex, a US-based asset trading platform. Bittrex’s technology will assist Unikrn in establishing a system for seamless crypto accessibility for the users of the gaming platform. The company’s in-house cryptocurrency, UnikoinGold (UKG) will be the primary token for esports spectator wagering in the 20 regions where Unikrn his set to begin operations.

Revolutionary BTC Sidechain, The Liquid Network, Goes Live

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For a while now there has been a lot of buzz regarding such developments as the Lightning Network, which scales up the bitcoin network so that it can keep up with digital currencies like Ripple and Tron. The Lightning Network, for instance, has shown a lot of promise and is expected to take off on a large scale pretty soon. In the meantime, Blockstream, a company that majors in blockchain development projects, is hell-bent on completely revolutionizing how the world’s oldest and most popular digital currency works.

On October 10, the company officially announced the launch of the Liquid Network, a project they are touting as an inter-exchange settlement network that connects digital currency exchanges, financial institutions, market makers and brokers from all around the globe. This comes in a little less than a year after Blockstream introduced the concept of the Lightning Network during the Blockchain Association of Canada’s Government Forum that was held in Ottawa.

What It Does and How It Does It

Well, unlike the famous Lightning Network which has also been all the buzz lately, the Liquid Network is a secondary layer that was built as a sidechain of bitcoin – the sidechain essentially qualifies to be referred to as an extension of the bitcoin blockchain. However, it is not exclusive to the bitcoin blockchain. This sidechain allows its users to swap coins from the main blockchain to its sidechain in a 1-to-1 parity, something that is usually aimed at tapping in certain features that the main network may be lacking.

In the case of the Liquid Network, the feature that is tapped in is incredibly fast transactions with the main focus being on enhancing the exchange of large sums between the crypto exchanges, market makers and the financers. As it turns out, the members of the Liquid Network will be the ones providing the liquidity because they will be the people responsible for keeping a balance of L-BTC which they would then allow their users to trade.

“The members of Liquid secure the network by running functionary servers that run the Liquid blockchain as well as maintaining the two-way peg to the Bitcoin blockchain,” Blockstream’s CSO Samson Mow said in a recent interview. “When someone wants to move BTC to the Liquid sidechain, they send it to a unique peg-in address. When someone is ready to move their money back to the Bitcoin blockchain, they can make a peg-out transaction that will tell the [Liquid members] to send Bitcoin to the desired address.”

What Next?

At launch, the Liquid Network project had a total of 23 partners who are now the so-called Liquid members. Blockstream hopes to expand Liquid’s membership moving forward and at the same time build out its services to include such things as Issued Assets (IA) which would include tokenized commodities, tokens, and even Ethereum.

In the meantime, the company will be focusing on extending the features of the Lightning Network to specifically ease its introduction and adoption in the global cryptocurrency community.

Japanese Regulators Ramp Up Scrutiny of Crypto Exchanges

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For quite some time now, Japan has been at the forefront of the cryptocurrency industry thanks to the innovators and forward-thinking stakeholders residing in the country who have quickly adopted the technology. Even though most Japanese citizens are all for the crypto revolution, the regulatory bodies in the country are taking a more cautious stance in a bid to protect the citizens from scams or hacks.

On that note, the country’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), has reportedly introduced new screening requirement for cryptocurrency exchanges that are seeking approval to operate within Japanese borders. As reported by the Japan Times, the agency has “tightened its registration screening for cryptocurrency exchanges to see whether they are properly conducting risk management.”

As such, FSA’s focus extends beyond the registrant’s financial health and system safety measures to more explicit criteria such as the crypto exchanges’ links to antisocial groups and their decision-making process. The Japan Times further revealed that the agency will now have about 400 screening questions which is about four times the number they would ask in the past.

“It [FSA] now obligates applicants to submit minutes of board meetings so it can check whether enough discussions have been held about measures to sustain the company’s financial health and ensure the security of its computer system,” the sources told the Japan Times. “The upgraded screening process also regularly reviews the composition of an applicant company’s shareholders, while examining if an internal system is in place to check for links to antisocial groups.”

The FSA’s decree that the exchanges submit board meeting minutes is not only meant to ensure security but also confirm that the executive members of the company are proactively and legitimately involved in the various exchanges’ decision-making processes. In addition to this, the screening process will involve a regular review of the primary shareholders so as to “examine if an internal system is in place to check for links to antisocial groups.”

A Drawback?

Even though this will go a long way in filtering out scams and shady business, analysts are worried that the new regulatory move might end up hampering the development of the cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. However, there are close to zero other ways of handling the situation at the moment.

One of the factors that incentivized the FSA’s move was an inspection of Coincheck, a crypto exchange that was hacked in January, and 23 others. A report that was recently revealed by the agency cited “sloppy internal controls” and “lack of board meetings.” These findings were not very reassuring especially considering the fact that about 160  cryptocurrency exchanges are now interested in entering the Japanese market.