Sweden Is Testing Its New Central Bank Digital Currency

The country of Sweden has begun testing an e-krona, bringing it that much closer to the proper release of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The pilot program will be in operation for one year, until February 2021. If and when the e-krona formally launches for use by the public, the idea is that this blockchain-powered currency would drive conventional payments and banking activities throughout the country. Instead of swiping a credit card or spending fiat currency, everyday transacting can move to the blockchain. CBDCs are a hot topic these…

Brazilian Central Bank Promises Instant Payment Platform to Compete With Crypto

The Central Bank of Brazil (BCB) has announced a plan to launch a new near-instant payment system during November. The platform, called the Brazilian Instant Payment Scheme (PIX), will facilitate peer-to-peer and business-to-business transactions in 10 seconds or less via mobile phone, internet banking, or select ATMs.  According to a press release published Feb. 20, It is mandatory for all financial and payment institutions licenced by the BCB to provide their 500,000 active customer accounts with the functionalities required to facilitate PIX transfers. The release states that transactions will be…

Cardano to Undergo Network Upgrade in Preparation for Shelley

The Cardano (ADA) network will perform a scheduled upgrade on Feb. 20 to introduce Ouroboros BFT, an improved consensus mechanism. The update is an intermediate step between the current Byron era and Shelley, which will introduce staking on mainnet. Announced by IOHK on Feb. 19, the upgrade will be executed on Thursday at 9:44 PM UTC, or 4:44 PM EST. The network will undergo a hard fork, though the team emphasizes that “it is a planned and managed protocol upgrade.” What is Ouroboros BFT? The new protocol is a development…

Crypto Accused of Facilitating Illegal Gambling — What Are the Odds?

Last week, a report claimed that cryptocurrency-based illegal gambling has surged in many parts of Asia owing to the rise of this novel asset class in recent years. In this regard, the article further added that over the course of the last five years or so, betting amounts have become substantially larger, partly because of traditional payment methods being replaced by cryptocurrencies.  From a more technical standpoint, a research study released by Transparency International, a nongovernment organization based in Berlin, Asia’s illicit gambling market was found to be worth a…

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse Tells Banks That ‘Crypto Is Not a Bad Word’

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse’s mission is to demolish bankers’ fear of cryptocurrencies and get them on board with the new asset class. During a recent interview with CNN, Garlinghouse explained that “once regulators understand you’re not circumventing regulatory frameworks they get very comfortable very quickly.” Garlinghouse said that someone at the World Economic Forum in Davos told him that “crypto is still a bad word here.” Because of this attitude in traditional finance, a big part of his work is explaining to bankers how crypto can solve real-world problems while…

Dutch Authorities Arrest Two Men for Alleged Crypto Money Laundering

The Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) has arrested two men for allegedly laundering money with cryptocurrencies. According to a statement released by the International Revenue Service on Feb. 18, the two men were arrested on Feb. 17 in connection to two separate criminal investigations into money laundering using cryptocurrencies. Both investigations were led by the National Office for Serious Fraud, Environmental Crime and Asset Confiscation. The money trail One of the suspects was a 45-year-old man who is accused of laundering 2.1 million euros. He purportedly used large…

XRP Price May Face 25% Drop if Recent High Breaks Down — Peter Brandt

XRP traders may be in for further losses as one trader warned that a bearish price feature was yet to complete its impact on the market. In a tweet on Feb. 20, Peter Brandt, well known as a trader of both cryptocurrency and traditional assets, said that a “head and shoulders” pattern in XRP/USD this month had the potential to send prices lower.  Brandt: “possibility” XRP goes to $0.20 XRP reached highs of almost $0.35 in recent days but subsequently fell conspicuously to press-time levels of close to $0.27. Brandt…

EU Can’t Decide What to do with Libra

Governments around the world are facing hard choices when it comes to cryptocurrency: overregulate it and risk losing the benefits to the economy, or do nothing and make themselves vulnerable to those who step up. Currently, the European Union can’t figure out what to do about Libra, the digital currency set to be released by Facebook in 2020.  According to a Feb. 19 memo released by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis on behalf of the European Commission, the Libra Association has fallen short in its responses to questions from the EU. As…

Julian Assange Allegedly Offered Pardon for Denying Russian Hacking

A lawyer for Julian Assange spoke in court on Wednesday, claiming a former Republican congressman offered the WikiLeaks founder a presidential pardon. This clemency was to be in exchange for denying Russian involvement in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email hack.  Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, declared in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Feb. 19 that former congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California’s 48th district had spoken to his client on behalf of the U.S. President. The congressman offered to arrange a presidential pardon from Trump if he would “play ball” by…

Gram Token Injunction Could Go Down to the Wire

Following a two-hour hearing, a New York federal judge has extended the restraining order that prohibits Telegram from distributing its Gram tokens. On Feb 19, Judge P. Kevin Castel of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York reserved judgment on the US Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC)’s request for a preliminary injunction regarding Telegram’s 2019 Gram sale. The SEC believes that the Gram token – which the company described as a utility token for the forthcoming Telegram Open Network (TON) – is a security. The regulator…