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Nano Release Their Universal Block Canary, Signifying a Change to the Nano Ecosystem

On May 20, 2018, Nano officially released their latest update: the universal block canary. This is one of Nano’s largest updates and it makes a number of necessary changes to the source code, allowing it to be more palatable and functional to a greater audience.

Rather than introducing new features to the coin, the universal block canary makes preexisting features more user-friendly and future proof. Among which, perhaps the most important is that hosting a Nano node will now be cheaper. At the moment, it costs around $5.00 per month to host one of Nano’s nodes. The is a positive sign for the coin, as it will make hosting more appealing to those who wish to support the software. Note that unlike with Masternodes for other currencies such as DASH, there is no monetary incentive for running a Nano node— people simply choose to do so as a means of helping the cryptocurrency grow.

The update also makes it easier for the developers to prune older, less immediately useful, data to make the network run faster. According to Troy Retzer, one of the leading representatives for Nano, the update will also help developers to focus on ‘improving IO performance’ and ‘forward-back bootstrapping’.

Retzer also stated that the team will be ‘pushing adoption through use cases where Nano is a current value add’. Essentially, this means that Nano is moving towards advertising their coin properly and aiming for larger scale adoption. This is a move that most supporters have been looking forward to and should mean that more people outside of the crypto industry will find out about the existence of the cryptocurrency.

As of currently, Nano’s price is not reflective of its positive news, but this is a common occurrence for cryptocurrency during 2018. While many coins and tokens have been receiving highly uplifting news, their prices have not always been correlating in an expected fashion. Nano investors may have to wait sometime before they can see a significant rise in price.

Liverpool Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM

AlphaVend, the UK’s leading Bitcoin ATM manufacturers, have officially installed Liverpool’s first Bitcoin ATM. The machine is located inside the Herman Vapes shop on Cases Street and is currently ready for use by the public.

The Bitcoin ATM will give inexperienced users an opportunity to experiment with Bitcoin for the first time without needing to sign up to an exchange, while also giving veteran crypto enthusiasts an option to buy and sell bitcoin in a matter of just minutes.

Bitcoin ATMs are an extremely useful tool for introducing cryptocurrency to the public. They allow novices to see what exactly a bitcoin transaction is and how useful crypto can be. They also serve as a reminder that, at its heart, cryptocurrency is designed to be used as a means of payment rather than just an asset used to make a profit.

The fact that more Bitcoin ATMs are still being produced is a further sign of the cryptocurrency industry maturing as a whole. Market leaders are constantly making the process of handling cryptocurrency more accessible to the masses. Another way this is happening is through crypto debit cards such as those issued by Wirex. The Wirex crypto debit cards let users seamlessly pay for goods in shops around the world with their bitcoin or litecoin. Wirex cards handle both cryptocurrency and fiat cash together.

At the moment, Coin ATM Radar lists 125 Bitcoin ATMs within the United Kingdom. While this is an impressive number for such a small country, a substantial amount of them are located in London. The fact that more ATMs are now being installed in other areas is a positive sign for the UK’s future in cryptocurrency.

The ATM, located in Herman Vapes, will be available for use between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm Monday-Saturday, and 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sundays. A representative of Herman Vapes commented on the situation saying they are ‘really excited’ and that they are sure it will ‘attract plenty of interest’.

Crypto Market Maintains Bounce

Although it was a relatively quiet day on Monday, most cryptocurrencies continued to trade positively, backing up the weekend’s gains as they looked to recover from a negative week. Bitcoin traded between the $8350 and $850 levels – a tight trading range but still substantially better than Friday when it had even dropped slightly below the $8000 level.

Bitcoin Cash continued to recover and was up by around 12% over the previous two days to come close to the $1250 level yet again. There appears to be positive interest in this coin as more investors come into the market, and a boost is also being seen in mining for BCH. Ethereum also posted a good string of gains and was once again well above the $700-mark, trading at around $720 at press time as it looks to make another push for the $750 level.

Of the other cryptocurrencies with larger market caps, Ripple also made a modest push upwards and was trading at the $0.70 level on Monday morning. There seems to be a pause on the news for this innovative cryptocurrency and price movements have been very quiet of late. Litecoin also posted some good gains and appeared stable in the $32-135 range.

Currencies with smaller market cap saw considerable positive movement reversing most of the losses made last week. Chief of these was EOS, which was trading at around $14 after the US market opened – a considerable 14% increase over its lows of $12 established at the end of last week. With its main net launch approaching on 1st June, there could be considerable interest in this coin in the coming days. Stellar Lumens also registered an increase and was trading at around $0.32.

One of the stars regarding price movement was NEO which easily sailed past the $60 mark to trade at $63 on Monday morning – an excellent 8% increase. Dash again came close to retain the $400 mark with a fine push on Sunday although momentum appeared slightly stalled on Monday. Ethereum Classic appeared stable at the $18 mark, although there could be a slight push downwards on low volume. TRON shot up against Bitcoin with a 14% increase although that could be due to the speculation around its main net launch that should happen very soon.

Document Verification on the Blockchain

It’s common practice for CVs to include a certain level of embellishment. Someone applying for a job is hardly likely to use the term “loner” unless, perhaps, they are applying for a research post in Antarctica where they will be isolated from other individuals for a year at a time. Team player, diligent, and hardworking are all subjective terms, and it’s up to a prospective employer to check the validity of these claims, which requires the time-consuming process of checking references.

Some individuals go much further than minor embellishment and include false qualifications on their CV. Presumably, they are hoping that employers will be suitably impressed but too busy to verify that the candidate actually has the qualifications. Often, employers will ask those shortlisted to bring along their qualifications, but these days it is almost impossible to know whether the documents have been forged. For university degrees the employer could try contacting the academic institution but records are often only retained for 6 years.

Even where records are retained indefinitely, it doesn’t mean the records are necessarily accurate. In April 2018, Enrique Álvarez Conde, director of the Public Law Institute at King Juan Carlos University (URJC) in Madrid was suspended. It was alleged that he may have falsified the grades of Madrid premier, Cristina Cifuentes. Cifuentes supposedly obtained a master’s degree from the university in 2012, but she has subsequently stated that she didn’t complete the course and someone altered her grades.

The University of Nicosia has been using blockchain technology since 2014 to validate student certificates. Each student receives their course grade via a PDF document that is encrypted with blockchain verifiable data. A prospective employer can check the authenticity of the certificate in less than sixty seconds by uploading the certificate to a validator on the university’s website. As blockchain data is immutable, the employer knows that it hasn’t been altered since it was first recorded. The university also provides a GitHub repository for anyone to verify the PDF certificate without accessing their website. This ensures the results can be safely validated even if the website has been compromised by a man in the middle (MITM) attack.

The University of Basel announced April 30, 2018, that they were also introducing a similar system. They are partnering with an award-winning Swiss Fintech business, Proxeus, and students of the blockchain course will be the first to receive verifiable certificates. Dr. Fabian Schär stated: “By securing credentials on the Blockchain, we provide an extra layer of security for graduates and potential employers. These credentials can’t be faked, and can be easily verified online. It will introduce a new paradigm of security and offer value to all parties – employers don’t lose time checking credentials, graduates have an edge, and the institutions themselves reduce their reputational risk and a significant administrative burden.

“Red Flags” at Wall St. Journal

The market for ICOs is still going strong. Despite the fact that global authorities, both public and private, have done what they can to curb the growth of ICOs, it is estimated that they raised more than $13 billion USD in 2017 and Q1 2018.

Now the Wall St. Journal (WSJ) has come out with a story that states that nearly one-fifth of ICOs raise “red flags”. By that, they mean that many ICO’s could be fraudulent and just be looking to fleece investors. They cite things like the absence of a corporate address or lack of transparency in the offering.

There is little doubt that there will be some amount of fraud in a market that is free from regulation, and selling a product that has the allure of the cryptos that made numerous millionaires practically overnight. But as Zhao Changpeng, CEO of Binance points out, “Scams exist everywhere, in every industry.”

Company Players

The WSJ is a long-standing mouthpiece of the established US financial system.

Today, a new market is sucking up a lot of investment money and that fact is probably worrying the major players on Wall St. Banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may be thinking about all those billions that could be flowing through their fingers.

Banks really don’t like competition, and the kind of investment model that ICOs engender totally removed major investment banks from the entire equation.

When a company goes public, investment banks win many times over. Not only do they get to charge the company huge fees to take their equity to market, they also get to buy the shares up on the cheap, and sell them off as they rise after the trading begins.

Taking companies public is an amazing business model, and when people realize that DLT-based technology make it far less attractive, the big Wall St. banks have every reason to worry.

Questionable Motivations

Like any idea, it is very important to consider the source of the information. Possibly the biggest black eye in Wall St’s recent history is the Bernie Madoff scandal, and according to Harry Markopolos, the WSJ wouldn’t take the crooked con man to task.

Mr. Markopolos alleged, while under oath in the US Congress, that he communicated for years with an investigative reporter from the WSJ, only to have the editorial board in New York kill every attempt to expose an obvious fraud.

In fact, this isn’t the only time that WSJ has participated in a fud-attack against the crypto community. Early May 2018, the WSJ published a false rumor that the SEC would be conducting a hearing about whether ether would be considered a security or not.

More recently, the WSJ ran an ‘exclusive’ story that detailed how YouTube megastar PewDiePie has Nazi leanings. Two WSJ reporters had to sift through thousands of hours of video in order to find a few minutes of PewDiePie doing comic material that some might find offensive. If a person has never been exposed to Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”, perhaps PewDiePie’s antics could be seen as insensitive.

But why is the WSJ looking to smear an up-and-coming personality with ridiculous accusations?

Perhaps it is the same reason they are making a big deal about potential fraud in a popular new market and asset class. The old models are being left behind, and it is happening at a frightening pace.

Brave New Capital Formation

Of course, there is fraud in the ICO market. With all the money that is being thrown around and a near total lack of regulation, there is bound to be some unscrupulous activity.

But as Zhao Changpeng remarked, “I still receive phone calls and SMS telling me I won a grand prize, but I need to make a bank transfer to someone first. Does that mean we should stop using phones, SMS, and banks?”

The answer is clearly no.

It is worth remembering that in the Venture Capital market around 70% of the companies go bust within three years. New businesses are dangerous, new markets are doubly so. People that do their homework will probably do better than those that don’t, and people who believe in fairy tales aren’t likely to do well at all.

For example, believing that an investment manager could deliver double-digit returns every year for decades seems pretty suspect, no matter how well he (Bernie Madoff) was connected to the Wall St. power structure.