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Former US Senator Rick Santorum Joins Catholic-Focused Cryptocurrency Project

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum has joined the board of a Catholic community-oriented cryptocurrency project, according to a press release published on June 4.

The former senator and Republican presidential nominee is now a board member of the Catholic community-oriented cryptocurrency project dubbed Cathio.

The platform is designed to address the needs of the Catholic economy by ensuring lower costs, greater transaction visibility, and improved security for the community.

Santorum was a noted cultural conservative in U.S. politics, who strongly opposed abortion and same-sex marriage on his failed presidential campaigns in 2012 and 2016. Santorum argued that Cathio will also help better engage the youth:

“Millennials don’t carry cash, they date on apps and watch on-demand entertainment. We have to be there, we have to learn from successful tech companies, and we have to provide a universal solution that makes it easy for younger generations to engage with the Church.”

According to former Ambassador to the Holy See and Cathio Advisor Jim Nicholson, Cathio will not only save the Church money, but will also boost transparency of financial transactions and the connectivity of people, including greater donor development and promotion.

Commenting on the initiative, Cathio CEO Matthew Marcolini told the Financial Times that “when somebody’s doing the wrong thing, or if the government has a question, or if there’s any investigation into any wrongdoing, being able to track that information could be helpful for the Church.” However, when asked how to identify wrongdoers while keeping everyone else’s donations anonymous, Marcolini stated:

“The better question to ask isn’t so much about tracking and visibility and everything. But it’s focusing on how to bring millennials and Gen Xers into the fold to help them cultivate a culture of philanthropy or a culture of giving.”

Religion has intersected with the cryptocurrency space in various instances around the world. Last November, Switzerland-based fintech firm X8 AG received a certification from the Shariyah Review Bureau for its Ethereum-based stablecoin. The debate over whether cryptocurrencies are Sharia-compliant is centered on their compatibility with the Islamic prohibition on monetary speculation.

By contrast, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of the Russian Orthodox Church condemned the new asset class last January. “This innovation is representative of the entire banking system, where real assets are converted into virtual ones. This paves the way for usury, which the church has always spoken out against, but can do nothing about — we all have to keep our money in banks,” Alfeyev said.

Logistics Firm Panalpina Launches Blockchain Pilots in Its Supply Chain

Swiss forwarding and logistics services company Panalpina has started blockchain pilot projects aimed at optimizing of supply chains, according to a press release on June 11.

After joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) in May, Panalpina — one of the world’s largest transport and logistics companies, with consolidated profit of $76.3 million in 2018 — has launched two blockchain pilots in the air and ocean freight field with selected customers.

One of the projects will investigate blockchain applications in high-tech industrial goods, and the other will deal with office supplies.

Panalpina thus aims to digitize trade documents, store them in a cloud, and deploy blockchain tech to improve processes and reduce costs in the long term. Specifically, the company will use a blockchain-based tracking system to record the flow of imported goods from Asia to Europe, running in parallel to real shipments and without interfering with current processes. Cedric Rutishauser, senior venture development manager at the Panalpina Digital Hub, said:

“These early-stage projects are 85 percent about digitization and 15 percent about blockchain – we are starting to see clear benefits in cost savings through simplified and speedier processes, and lower document courier costs. But the real advantage of blockchain lies in the ‘single source of truth’. Improved data sharing between trade partners creates more transparency, with clear ownership and responsibility for each documented step in the supply chain.”

While Panalpina is testing various possible applications of blockchain technology in its business processes, it expressed caution regarding the nascent technology.

In the post, the company stresses that blockchain is an emerging technology and cites a study revealing that some senior supply chain managers are skeptical about the tech’s benefits, while others are convinced that it will advance security and transparency in supply chains.

Recently, French retail giant Carrefour reported an increase in sales after the implementation of a blockchain-based tracking system that enables customers to track the supply chain of 20 items, including meat, milk, and fruit from farms to stores. This year, the company reportedly plans to add 100 more products, including non-food lines, to the system.

Bitcoin Fails to Hold $8K as Cryptos Trade Sideways, Stocks Tumble After Recent Surge

Tuesday, June 11 — crypto markets are trading sideways, with the top 20 coins by market cap predominantly seeing red at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) has failed to hold the $8,000 price point that it broke yesterday after seeing another dip below $7,900 before. At press time, bitcoin is trading at $7,878, down 0.82% over the past 24 hours, seeing a sufficient recovery from the intraday low of $7,778. The biggest cryptocurrency is up 1% over the past 7 days.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ether (ETH), the second cryptocurrency by market cap, is down 0.85% over the day to trade at $242.97. Over the past 7 days, the altcoin is down around 0.38%.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP), the third top cryptocurrency by market cap is down 1.44%. The major coin is down 3.15% over the past 7 days. Yesterday, Ripple was reported to expand its operations to Brazil as part of plans to expand into Latin American markets generally.

Ripple 7-day price chart

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

While the majority of the top 20 coins by market capitalization are seeing losses at press time, Tezos (XTZ), ranked 19th, is seeing the biggest losses of around 3.2%.

Total market capitalization has recovered to $252 billion at press time after dropping to as low as $248 billion earlier today. Daily trade volume has significantly declined from $67 billion in the beginning of the day to $57 billion at press time.

Total market capitalization 24-hour chart

Total market capitalization 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Earlier today, major South Korean bank KB Kookmin Bank announced a partnership with blockchain technology firm Atomrigs Lab to explore digital asset management and protection solutions. According to a recent tweet by crypto and blockchain writer Joseph Young, Kookmin Bank announced on June 10 that it is planning to launch custody services for digital assets.

Also today, Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange, has revealed plans to release an institutional-grade crypto pricing product in collaboration with cryptocurrency data provider CryptoCompare.

The United States stock market has rallied earlier today amid the anticipation that the Federal Reserve should soon reduce interest rates, CNBC reports. However, stocks have subsequently reversed to see losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) having dropped about 0.2% at press time. The S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (NASDAQ) Composite are down 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively.

Oil prices have seen mixed signals today, with the OPEC basket surging 3.5%, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil edged up 0.1% and Brent crude dropped 0.1% at press time, according to Oilprice.com.

Meanwhile, gold prices dipped earlier today as investors allegedly booked profits after big gains over the past weeks. At press time, spot gold has tumbled about 0.3%, while U.S. gold futures gained 0.2%.

Austrian Postal Service Releases Crypto Collectible Stamps

The Austrian Post has released a line of crypto collectible stamps, according to a press release on June 11.

According to the press release, the so-dubbed “crypto stamp” is the first stamp in the world to be authenticated via blockchain technology. The postal service has reportedly issued 150,000 copies sold at € 6.90 apiece.

When purchased, the stamp set comes in two parts. As pictured below, the left part, which is stylized with a unicorn associated with Ethereum, functions as a standard stamp that can be used to send mail. The right section, on the other hand, contains the credentials used to authenticate the crypto collectible via blockchain.

Image of stamp set. Source: APA-OTS

Image of stamp set. Source: APA-OTS

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, a crypto collectible (virtual) racing car recently sold for $110,600. The “1-1-1” car, the first and only to be issued, was auctioned off in advance for the release of blockchain racing game F1 Delta Time.

As per the official description for F1 Delta Time, the title is a competitive racing game where different cars have various in-game attributes:

“The game will center around the collection and trading of unique Cars, Drivers and Components – all of which will exist as non-fungible tokens based on the ERC-721 token standard. […] Tokens are produced in limited quantities as determined by their level of rarity, with the rarest tokens possessing the most impressive racing attributes.”

Sale of Telegram’s Token GRAM on Exchange Liquid Is Not Official: Source

Liquid’s intention to sell encrypted messenger Telegram’s token, GRAM , is not connected to the company, a source close to Telegram told Cointelegraph in private comments on June 11.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier Tuesday, cryptocurrency exchange Liquid had announced that on July 10, it would be the representative of sales of Telegram’s GRAM tokens for Gram Asia. Gram Asia is allegedly the largest holder of the token in Asia, Liquid’s press release notes: however, a source close to Telegram noted that it was the first time that they had heard of Gram Asia.

The source close to Telegram has stated to Cointelegraph that there was no relationship between Liquid and Telegram.

In separate comments, an investor in Telegram’s token told Cointelegraph that no one has rights to sell the tokens before their official launch, according to an agreement that all investors signed.

According to the aforementioned purchase agreement for GRAM’s — also reviewed by Cointelegraph — purchasers of GRAM tokens are not allowed to sell the tokens during a restricted period from the date of the purchase agreement to 18 months after the TON launch date.

According to the document, the purchaser is also restricted from entering into a swap or agreement that transfers the ownership of an investment contract in GRAM tokens, in whole or in part. The document states that GRAM token purchasers agree not to:

“ENTER INTO ANY swap or other AGREEMENT THAT TRANSFERS, in whole or in part, ANY OF THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF OWNERSHIP OF THE INVESTMENT CONTRACT represented by this Purchase Agreement or any Tokens.”

Telegram had conducted two private token sale to accredited investors last year, reportedly netting a total of $1.7 billion. At the time, multiple reports of fake Telegram token sale websites were reported, some using the already-leaked white paper to lend authenticity to the scam.

Visa Launches Global Cross-Border Network Based on Certain Aspects of Blockchain

United States’ payment giant Visa has launched a cross-border payment network derived from some aspects of blockchain technology, Reuters reports June 11.

The network, called “Visa B2B Connect,” is designed to facilitate international payments made by global financial institutions by enabling direct interbanking transactions between businesses and beneficiaries.

According to the report, the network already covers 30 trade channels worldwide to enable faster and cheaper cross-border payments, and is expected to expand to 90 markets by the end of 2019.

Visa B2B Connect is partially based on blockchain technology, containing elements of Hyperledger, the open source distributed ledger technology (DLT) developed by a group led by the Linux Foundation, the report notes.

Specifically, certain aspects of blockchain tech were reportedly used due to its capability to transfer more data on a payment than any existing payment system, global head of Visa Business Solutions Kevin Phalen said in the report.

The new network is a result of collaboration with tech global giant IBM, as well as e-payment operator Bottomline Technologies and fintech firm FIS. In order to develop the product, Visa was reportedly initially working with cryptographic ledger systems builder Chain.

Recently, Visa also partnered with the fintech operator of Japanese messaging app LINE — LINE Pay Corporation — in order to develop new blockchain and digital payments solutions.

Earlier this year, software startup DataLight released a report claiming that bitcoin (BTC) has a potential to replace global payment systems such as Visa and MasterCard within ten years.

Nasdaq and CryptoCompare Partner on Institution-Oriented Crypto Pricing Product

The world’s second-largest stock exchange, Nasdaq, and crypto data provider CryptoCompare have partnered to release a cryptocurrency pricing product targeted at institutional investors. The news was revealed in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on June 11.

The new product, dubbed the “Nasdaq/CryptoCompare Aggregate Crypto Reference Prices,” will be made available on the Nasdaq-owned platform Quandl — which reportedly provides financial and economic alternative datasets for over 400,000 financial professionals globally.

The new Nasdaq-CryptoCompare pricing product will be based on CryptoCompare’s aggregate index datasets, which provide ostensibly minute-by-minute pricing data from those cryptocurrency markets that have the highest liquidity.

The product aims to enhance institutional investors’ capabilities in the crypto markets, across “trading strategy, quantitative research, risk modelling, NAV calculations and back-testing,” the press release notes.

In an official statement, CryptoCompare CEO and co-founder Charles Hayter has argued that “reliable data is the bedrock of transparent, liquid markets,” and can offer global, institutional investors and traders a competitive edge in the crypto sector.

In late 2018, Nasdaq had ostensibly confirmed its plans to launch bitcoin futures in the first half of 2019, having deferred an earlier planned rollout.

In February 2019, Nasdaq started listing two cryptocurrency price indices from United States blockchain and crypto market data firm Brave New Coin (BNC), including BNC’s Bitcoin Liquid Index (BLX) and Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX).

Cryptocompare has meanwhile just this week partnered with major crypto derivatives platform BitMEX to jointly construct a real-time crypto futures dataset, which will be delivered to financial markets data provider Refinitiv.

Major Korean Bank Signs MoU With Atomrigs Lab to Explore Crypto Asset Management

This article has been updated to correct the name of Atomrigs Lab.

Major South Korean commercial lender KB Kookmin Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with blockchain technology firm Atomrigs Lab to jointly explore digital asset management and protection solutions. The news was released at a press conference at the bank’s office in Seoul on June 11.

The MoU — signed yesterday, June 10, in Seoul — establishes that the two partners will focus on digital asset market growth and new crypto-related businesses, according to Korean news outlet Yonhap News.

Atomrigs Lab is a firm specializing in blockchain development for the financial sector, and has been developing blockchain-based digital asset protection technologies using next-generation cryptography.

The two firms will further cooperate on developing digital asset management services that harness both Atomrigs Lab’s technology and KB Kookmin Bank’s internal control infrastructure and data protection technologies, the report notes.

Another key area of cooperation will ostensibly be the creation of an ecosystem that would bridge the blockchain and financial sectors.

As Yonhap writes, KB Kookmin has determined its core technological focus using the acronym “ABCDE” — standing for artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, data and ecosystem. The bank has reportedly made the promotion of digital transformation a priority as of last year.

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, KB Kookmin Bank came under regulatory scrutiny last year from Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). In its joint review of the bank and its fellow domestic institution Nonghyup Bank, the FSS criticized both banks’ management of cryptocurrency transactions in regard to anti-money laundering regulations.

Notably, the FSS’ subsequent order for improvement applied only to accounts that had been contracted with a real-name verification service, not crypto counterparty (exchange) accounts.

The bank had previously faced inspections from Korea’s Financial Services Commission as part of a series of strict compliance checks on domestic banks servicing crypto exchanges.

Digital Asset Security Startup Fireblocks Leaves Stealth Mode With $16 Million in Funding

Digital asset cybersecurity startup Fireblocks announced its launch out of stealth mode with $16 million in funding, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on June 11.

Per the release, Fireblocks obtained the capital during its Series A funding round from Cyberstarts, Tenaya Capital, EightRoads (Fidelity INTL), Swisscom Ventures and MState. The startup reportedly counts crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, over-the-counter digital trading platform Genesis Global Trading and others among its customers, with the company declaring:

“Currently, Fireblocks is integrated with 15 digital asset exchanges and offers support for over 180 cryptocurrencies, tokens, and stablecoins.”

The author of the release claims that over $3 billion in digital assets have been stolen by hackers in the past 18 months and cites the 7,000 bitcoins (BTC) stolen from major crypto exchange Binance (worth $40,705,000 at the time). Michael Shaulov, CEO and co-founder of Fireblocks, is quoted in the announcement as saying:

“While Blockchain based assets by themselves are cryptographically secure, moving digital assets is a nightmare. After interviewing over 100 institutional customers, including hedge funds, broker-dealers, exchanges, and banks, we concluded that the current process is slow and highly susceptible to cyber attacks and human errors.”

Lastly, Shaulov claims that his startup created a platform which “secures the process and simplifies the movement of funds into one or two steps.”

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, cryptocurrency wallet provider Komodo effectively hacked itself to prevent fraudsters from accessing its users’ funds.

In May, Sean Coonce, engineering manager at cryptocurrency custodian BitGo, announced that he had fallen victim to a SIM swapping hack.

Philippines’ Central Bank Will Continue to Closely Monitor Crypto, Citing Terror Financing

The governor of the Philippines’ central bank, Benjamin Diokno, has warned against the potential use of cryptocurrencies for terrorism financing and underscored that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will continue to closely monitor their use in the country. The news was reported by local English language newspaper The Philippine Star on June 10.

In addition to Diokno’s remarks, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo reportedly provided further insights into the institution’s stance toward cryptocurrencies during the launch of an unnamed book about bitcoin (BTC).

Diokno ostensibly criticized bitcoin’s potential to function as a unit of account, medium of exchange and store of value, claiming that the top cryptocurrency’s volatility inhibits its usefulness on all three points.

The governor reportedly recognized that blockchain and certain implementations of distributed ledger technologies can be useful for payments and settlements for peer-to-peer transactions, presenting this as a potential risk to the traditional banking sector:

“Game theory dictates possible dysfunction when there is market breakdown, when everyone may distrust one another. There cannot be a total disregard for a central bank or a third party that provides lender of last resort facility.”

Guinigundo said the central bank would approach fintech development using regulatory sandboxes in order to balance the prospective benefits of innovative financial technologies with robust consumer and investor protection.

The Philippine Star cites fresh data from BSP’s Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department, which has reportedly revealed that the value of cryptocurrency transactions almost doubled in 2018 — hitting $390.37 million as compared with $189.18 million in 2017.

The data breakdown indicated that conversion from fiat currencies into cryptocurrencies accounted for $208.27 million, crypto-fiat conversion for  $173.33 million, and crypto-enabled international incoming remittances for $8.77 million.

In February of this year, the Philippines introduced a new set of rules governing the issuance and acquisition of utility and security tokens.

BSP has required domestic crypto exchanges to register as remittance and transfer companies and implement specific safeguards — covering AML, CFT, risk management and consumer protection — since February 2017.

Earlier this month, BitMEX Ventures invested in a crypto exchange officially licensed by BSP, and in April, payment services firm Bitspark revealed plans to release a cryptocurrency pegged to the Philippines’ national fiat currency, the peso.

Liquid Cryptocurrency Exchange to Host Public Phase of Telegram ICO

Cryptocurrency exchange Liquid will be the first to host encrypted messaging app Telegram’s Gram tokens when they go on public sale, a press release confirmed on June 11.

Telegram, which has not provided an official statement on the move, became the focus of international attention last year when it held a private initial coin offering (ICO) for Gram, which raised $1.7 billion for its Telegram Open Network (TON) project.

At the time, it was thought no public phase would follow, but the largest Gram holder organization, Gram Asia, will now offer an undisclosed number before a full sale in October.

“We share the vision for a more secure and open value transfer system in order to enable the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies,” Liquid CEO, Mike Kayamori, commented in the press release. He added:

“The TON Blockchain infrastructure can help enhance Telegram’s current capabilities as a peer to peer network of value, with the launch of their cryptocurrency light wallets for Telegram’s highly engaged user base.”

The requirements for participation in the initial public sale are stringent. A raft of countries’ citizens are excluded for regulatory reasons, while grams will not in fact be tradeable, instead held in stablecoin USDC until October.

The move comes roughly two weeks after Telegram released a testnet version of the TON client, which itself follows an extensive development process and the Q3 launch date.

Report: Liquid Cryptocurrency Exchange to Host Public Phase of Telegram ICO

This article has been updated to include that Cointelegraph has reached out to Telegram for comment.

Cryptocurrency exchange Liquid will reportedly be the first to host encrypted messaging app Telegram’s Gram tokens when they go on public sale, a press release confirmed on June 11.

Telegram, which has not provided an official statement on the move, became the focus of international attention last year when it held a private initial coin offering (ICO) for Gram, which raised $1.7 billion for its Telegram Open Network (TON) project.

A message from an unofficial TON channel on Telegram wrote that Liquid could be attempting to catch on to the hype surrounding the as-of-yet unreleased token, and that investors should wait for official information from Telegram.

After Telegram’s ICO, it was thought no public phase would follow, but the largest Gram holder organization, Gram Asia, will now reportedly offer an undisclosed number before a full sale in October, according to the release.

“We share the vision for a more secure and open value transfer system in order to enable the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies,” Liquid CEO, Mike Kayamori, commented in the press release. He added:

“The TON Blockchain infrastructure can help enhance Telegram’s current capabilities as a peer to peer network of value, with the launch of their cryptocurrency light wallets for Telegram’s highly engaged user base.”

The requirements for participation in the initial public sale are stringent. A raft of countries’ citizens are excluded for regulatory reasons, while grams will not in fact be tradeable, instead held in stablecoin USDC until October.

The move comes roughly two weeks after Telegram released a testnet version of the TON client, which itself follows an extensive development process and the Q3 launch date.

Telegram has not responded to a request for comment by press time.