Cryptocurrency Will Have to Clean Up If It’s Going to Be Globally Accepted 4 224

Ignorance breeds misunderstanding. And that’s been an issue with cryptocurrency since its creation. Most of the public is either unaware or only partially aware that digital currencies exist. And a slimmer number of them know why. What generally makes the headlines is the volatility of Bitcoin and Ripple and shocking hacker attacks.

People either associate cryptocurrency with making a lot of money or losing a lot of money. And there’s something just a little bit shady about a decentralized alternative currency that isn’t regulated or globally approved.

For every brilliant ICO that comes out another 50 lackluster ones spring up. According to Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin, 90 percent of ICOs will fail.

There are plenty of scammers out there looking to raise funds fast with no intention of following through. And now that China has gone all out and banned cryptocurrency completely, one thing is clear: Crypto has a long way to go if it’s ever going to become the new norm and be accepted around the globe.

Crack Down on Illicit Actions

In an attempt to self-regulate, the cryptocurrency world is starting to produce sites that will pre-vet ICOs and offer opinions and feedback. It’s not a hard and fast guarantee, but taking advice from trustworthy sites will help investors steer away from scam artists, or at least know what to look for when investing in cryptocurrency.

Cases of hacking will have to cease for people to start fully trusting in cryptocurrencies, and more information needs to be available. In fact, one hacker recently returned $26 million in stolen Ether, several months after his ICO theft. That’s unlikely to set a precedent for the rest of these cyber criminals, but if ICOs are required to adhere to certain professional and coding standards, they will be harder to hack.

ICOs can use safe holdings, for example, in which investments are accumulated in the accounts of investors, rather than being held in one common account that’s easy to hack into from outside.

A Rise in Regulation

It’s been the elephant in the room for some time. Everyone knows that Bitcoin, Ether and friends need regulation. Some rules and best practices need to be established to protect investors. Yet, no one is rushing to do it because of a fear of restricting crypto’s innovation and growth. But, if cryptocurrency is going to become globally accepted, it’s going to have to be subject to greater regulation.

The European Union will be holding meetings to discuss how to go about monitoring crypto, and Japan is also looking at creating a regulatory framework in order to weed out scam artists. This would apply to Japanese companies trying to raise funds through ICOs.

As token sales begin to gain in popularity within Japan, the Financial Service Agency is soon to revise its relevant laws and regulations to include ICOs, as well as revising the existing Bitcoin payment law that came out in April of 2017. In fact, Japan’s FSA is already monitoring any ICO that targets Japanese investors.

Other nations are also making moves to renew or revise their laws when it comes to ICOs. These include Austria, who recently announced their plans to create regulations specific to cryptocurrency, but using their existing rules for gold trading as a model.

The Takeaway

After the epic rise and fall of Bitcoin’s value, Ripple’s insanely volatile worth, hacking attacks and scam artists, crypto has gotten a bad name. But if digital currency is going to move forward and allow instant transactions without fees and an easier way to pay, this year, it will surely see more regulation before wide scale adoption occurs.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 9 9306

The “Silicon Savannah” is moving deeper in direction of tech. The Kenyan government has announced a plan to manage the property allocation and funding of 500,000 affordable housing units with blockchain technology.

The units, which the government aims to build by 2022, will be set aside for households with an annual income below 100,000 Kenyan Shillings, about $990 USD. The World Bank estimates Kenya’s gross national income per capita at $1,290, according to Business Daily.

Blockchain will help ensure that the affordable housing is in fact going to those who fall below the average income bracket. Land title fraud has caused problems for Kenyans, as land grabbers target homes and even schools for illegal sales and development. Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable proof of title could help safeguard against fraudsters.

“Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” said Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga, speaking with the World Bank on Monday.

Hinga said the plan will be financed by the National Housing Fund, which will raise over $59.5 million per month to get the project underway. But Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia said it will take $31.7 billion to build a million homes, each of which will cost between $3,000 and $30,000. Macharia called for support from private sector financing.

Under the financing plan, working Kenyans will contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, which will be matched by their employers. “On affordable housing one should not spend more than 30% of their disposable income for housing,” Hinga tweeted yesterday. “Anything above 30% is not affordable.”

A Trustless Relationship Between People and Government

The initiative represents a considerable push to solve housing and title problems for the nation’s lower income families. But how will the government decide to whom the housing units will go? With so much talk about financing underway, people are already calling on the government to outline a plan for how they’ll distribute the affordable housing units.

The government will need to deliver the housing projects in a time when, Hinga acknowledges, the public is skeptical. Earlier this year $78 million went missing in a corruption scandal involving the National Youth Services. Where there is little trust between the people and their government, Kenya hopes to establish transparency through the blockchain’s distributed ledger system.

Kenya’s Move Toward Tech

In March, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology appointed a blockchain taskforce to explore the ways the nation could use blockchain technology in the public and private sectors. They called it the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, and by September its chairman, Bitange Ndemo, was calling on the government to tokenize the economy.

Ndemo also proposed government implementation of blockchain to certify the authenticity of retail goods, so consumers can be sure of where their food is coming from, for example.

Governor of Kenya’s central bank Patrick Njoroge has also voiced support for the use of blockchain technology to strengthen service delivery, although he’s opposed the use of tokens and digital currencies.

But the affordable housing initiative could be the Kenyan government’s first real world implementation of the blockchain.

There’s an Inflatable ‘Bitcoin Rat’ Staring Down the Fed 92 2406

Someone has put a giant inflatable rat outside the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

It’s covered in Bitcoin code, printed in rainbow colors, and is apparently a piece of installation art aimed at subverting the federal institution that controls the US dollar. Or is it pale, puffed-up pariah a commentary on Bitcoin bros themselves? Or does it have something to do with Warren Buffett, who earlier this year called Bitcoin “rat poison squared”? According to CoinDesk, who first reported on the inflatable rat, the meaning is intentionally ambiguous.

The artist behind the puzzling prank is Nelson Saiers. He describes his own work as “mystifying” and “singularly original”, notwithstanding the long history of rats being inflated as protests or used as economic and political icons in art and entertainment around the world.

“It’s art, so I hope they’re entertained by it,” he said, apparently implying that art is entertainment. “It’s informative, I hope people will learn [and] I’m hoping it’ll at least help people understand bitcoin better and be kind of faithful to what Satoshi would have wanted,” he added, citing the mysterious pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder with a touch of reverence.

A $50 Million Artist

Saiers, a phD in theoretical mathematics, was a hedge fund manager who did that thing where you give up all the money to chase your dream of being an artist.

His financial experience includes a stint as managing director at Deutsche Bank’s prop trading desk, before becoming CIO of Saiers Capital, the hedge fund that bears his name. His creative career gives credence to the theory that working as an artist is more and more a privilege of the very wealthy.

CNBC estimated Saiers’s wealth to be around $50 million at the time of he departed from the financial industry to pick up his paintbrushes.

The Rat Joins a Tradition of Sculpture-as-Commentary in FiDi

The Bitcoin rat, which stands on Maiden Lane, isn’t the first pop up sculpture to grace Manhattan’s financial district. Last year, Kristen Visbal’s 50 inch bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue made waves by staring down the famous ‘Charging Bull’, to the outrage of ‘Charging Bull’ sculptor Arturo Di Modica. The 3.5 ton ‘Charging Bull’ itself was left on Wall Street in the middle of the night when Di Modica originally created it, obstructing traffic and drawing the curiosity of passers by.

When Saiers placed the Bitcoin rat, he initially set it up on private property and was promptly ushered off by security guards, who he says were good natured about the situation. He expects the sculpture to be more temporary than the aforementioned Wall Street bronzes, and will probably only be around for a few days.

A Critique of the 2008 Bailouts

The placement of the rat on Maiden Lane seems to be no accident, but rather a reference to the Maiden Lane Transactions, more commonly known as that time when the Fed bailed out the big banks after they all caused the 2008 market crash. The Bitcoin crowd’s antipathy towards the Fed and the big banks is palpable in Sairs’s rat sculpture, and while a more specific meaning eludes, perhaps the success of the piece depends upon its ability to start conversations about the state of finance.

We’ll leave it to the viewers to decide who’s the rat—the Federal Reserve, or Bitcoin itself—and what that means for the future of currencies.

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