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liquid-network

Blockstream’s Liquid Network Project Finally Goes Live

Blockstream, a blockchain technology company has recently announced the launch of the Liquid Network, the company’s revolutionary take on the concept of bitcoin sidechains. This project is expected to supersede the limitations of the regular bitcoin blockchain by being able to withstand heavy transaction volumes that are often experienced by brokers, exchanges and other cryptocurrency services experience. At launch, the Liquid Network already had over 20 exchanges including Xapo, BitMEX, and Bitfinex on boards which indicates how eager industry stakeholders are about solutions to the problems associated with volume transfers on the bitcoin blockchain.

What It Does

The primary purpose of the Liquid Network will be improving transaction speeds as well as efficiency on the bitcoin blockchain while at the same time facilitating a more ‘liquid’ movement of bitcoin between exchanges. In addition to the primary objectives, the Liquid Network will also introduce such features and functions as confidential transactions, issued assets, and a new token.

Liquid Network’s new token, L-BTC, is pegged to the price of bitcoin and its holders can readily trade it for BTC. Issued assets, on the other hand, will be Liquid Networks way of tokenizing fiat currencies, securities, and even gold and treating them as Bitcoin equivalents.

According to a blog post written by Blockstream, the Liquid Network went live om September, a few days prior to the announcement. The post further outlines the company’s plans to add more features in the future – these will include integration of the GreenAddress Wallet as well as third-party hardware wallet support from Trezor and Ledger.

How Does It Compare to The Lightning Network?

Both the Lightning Network and the Liquid Network are sidechains of the bitcoin blockchain, i.e., they allow for transactions to be performed off of bitcoin’s main blockchain thus allowing service providers to avoid the inconveniences of the bitcoin network. However, unlike the Liquid Network, the Lightning Network is primarily intended to cater for smaller transactions since it relies on the power of nodes with relatively limited capacities, perhaps one of the reasons why its adoption has been hampered.

“Liquid allows parties to send funds to any destination, without the need to establish channels ahead of time. Funds in Lightning are ‘hot’ (private keys are online), whereas you can store Liquid Bitcoin in both hot or cold wallets. Liquid also has the ability to have Lightning added as a second layer as well, so we view these two technologies as complementary and both important for the ecosystem,” Blockstream’s CSO, Samson Mow explained.

Blockstream’s short-term goal is to build out the features of the Liquid Network so as to ease its introduction, and subsequently, wider adoption in the wider crypto community. In the long term, the company is aiming to have bitcoin as the epicenter of more sidechains that will facilitate the seamless and interconnected exchange of the crypto industry’s many assets.

ags

AGS Gets Pa. Slot Machine & Table Games Manufacturer License

AGS, formerly known as the American Gaming Solutions, has recently been awarded a license to manufacture slot machines and table games by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. That said, the electronic gaming devices and table products designer and supplier will be able to deploy its gaming products in all of the Keystone State’s 12 licensed brick-and-mortar casinos, something that David Lopez, the company’s president and chief executive described as a huge milestone.

“The two Pennsylvania licenses represent a huge milestone for AGS, as we continue to expand our presence into new markets for our company. This is huge news for AGS and we can’t wait to start talking to Pennsylvania’s gaming operators about how we can deliver a great player experience and operating efficiencies with our innovative slot and table solutions,” David Lopez commented.

AGS expects to begin deploying its slot machines and table game products in the aforementioned Pennsylvanian casinos early next year, which is perfect timing since a number of the betting activities will kick off at around the same time considering how the statewide gambling expansion plans have been going so far – the move to award AGS with the manufacturing licenses follows from last week’s announcement that the gaming control board had approved the first two sports betting licenses in the state.

Prior to that, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board also approved interactive gaming licenses for a good number of the casinos that had applied. Hopefully, the entry of AGS into the Commonwealth’s gaming industry will trigger more improvements through collaborative efforts to deliver great gaming experiences to customers. Dauphin County-based Hollywood Casino and the Bensalem-based Park Casino, the first two casinos to be awarded sports betting licenses by the PGCB, will hopefully have their sports betting operations up and running by the time AGS begins to roll out its products but this does not dispel the opportunity for collaboration. In fact, all things considered, it is inevitable.

At the moment, the Commonwealth’s gaming industry consists of two resort casinos as well as 10 standalone and racetrack casinos, all generating about $1.4 billion in slot machine and table game tax revenue.

Why AGS?

It came as no surprise that the gaming control board chose to award AGS the manufacturer license. This is primarily because the gaming product designer and supplier has made a name for itself as global innovation powerhouse with a reputation for creating a diverse variety of immersive and entertaining gaming experiences that appeal to several different kinds of players.

The company has often leaned more towards the Class II Native American gaming market but this has not stopped it from growing and developing a customer-centric culture that has led it to become a leading all-inclusive commercial gaming supplier.

bitcoin-lightning

Lightning Network’s New Use Cases Could Be Big Boost for BTC

Bitcoin has continued to trade on a rather narrow range, reflecting on the overall mood of the market following the weekend consolidation. Fortunately, things are about to get more interesting following a recent Lightning Network breakthrough that is definitely going to give bitcoin proponents some renewed optimism in regards to mainstream commercial adoption of bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general.

The growth and widespread adoption of the Lightning Network has been going quite well and with more developments being unraveled, it is expected to be a major catalyst to spearhead the adoption of bitcoin.

Ricardo Reis, a cryptocurrency and tech enthusiast from Brazil has recently been all the buzz in the crypto circles after he created a new use case for the Lightning Network that allows users to buy Coca-Cola bottles (or any other items) from vending machines.

How It Works

In a 42-second video titled “Coke vending machine that accepts Bitcoin payments through Lightning Network,” the computer programmer demonstrates how easy it is to pay for certain items using the new infrastructure layer. Reis used a handful of off-the-shelf materials such as a water pump, a Raspberry Pi, some wood, a touch screen, and some programming skill to build a handmade automated vending machine that accepts bitcoin payments for Coca-Cola bottles. The modified machine uses the Lightning Network to process the bitcoin transactions.

As seen from the video, the bitcoin users would be required to scan a QR code which then requests a bitcoin payment that is then issued by the customer using their BTC wallet. Once the payment is received by the modified vending machine, it dispenses the Coca-Cola bottle while at also paying a negligible amount in transaction fees to the Lightning Network which supports the service.

Could This Be It?

As much as this new modified bitcoin-Lightning Network vending machine is without a doubt a novel demonstration of how both technologies can be easily integrated into thousands of different services, it also acts as a more practical and serious demonstration of the open source nature of the blockchain. Both of these factors are what will drive the cryptocurrency revolution that we are all waiting for.

Unfortunately, the vending machine is just a proof-of-concept and is still at its earliest stages – in fact, of course, it still has no affiliation to the actual Coca-Cola company.  The Lighting Network and the payment solutions it supports are still in their in their early stages of development but such innovation as the one that we have discussed above will be a great move forward for the entire cryptocurrency market.

google-adwords

Google Lifts Its Ban on Cryptocurrency Advertisements

Earlier this year (in March), Google announced a cryptocurrency ad ban that it went on to roll out in June – these were intended to protect its consumers and involved wallets, trading services, and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). This is all about to change with the company on September 25 ending the ban on cryptocurrency advertisements.

In a new update to its advertising policies, the company emphasizes that at the ads that would be allowed would only be those of “regulated” trading sites.

“The Google Ads policy on Financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan,” Google explained. “Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October. This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products. For more details, see About restricted financial products certification. The Financial products and services page will be updated once the policy goes into effect.”

Google was one of the tech companies that moved to prohibit cryptocurrency advertisements alongside Twitter and Facebook, though the latter later relaxed some of the restrictions it had placed on cryptocurrency-related advertisements. Google’s ban was so wide-ranging that it affected offerings from both legitimate wallet services and trading professionals.

This crackdown on crypto went on to rapidly spread across the internet leading to various bans from other companies, including LinkedIn, MailChimp and Snapchat. Even though this was meant to stop or at least slow down scammers on the internet it also whipped out legitimate blockchain projects which in turn slowed down adoption of digital currencies, stifled promotion and stoked more fears about mainstream acceptance of crypto.

The Reason Is Yet to Be Known

As is it stands, there has not been a clear explanation as to why the tech giant has chosen to lift the ban barely four months after it imposed it. It is speculated that the company believes that the hype that surrounded crypto, as well as the negative side effects associated with the skyrocketing values, have finally died down are at least reduced significantly. Still, it is possible that Google is simply keeping its eye on the prize i.e., the valuable ad money that crypto will bring in.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Google’s Scott Spencer said in June when the original ban was rolled out.

crypto-regulation

Treasury Committee Report Calls for Crypto Regulation

MPs on the Treasury select committee have recently issued a report that states that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “wild west” assets that expose investors to a litany of risks and therefore, there is an urgent need for their regulation. The report further pointed out concerns that consumers were left unprotected from the unregulated crypto market which also happens to be a conduit for criminal activities such as money laundering and illegal trade.

Apparently, the government and regulators have not been proactive in handling the arising issues that are associated with the crypto market – according to the Treasury Committee.

“Crypto-asset investors are currently afforded very little protection from the litany of risks. Namely, there are no formal mechanisms for consumer redress, nor compensation,” said the committee. “As the government and regulators decide whether the current Wild West situation is allowed to continue, or whether they are going to introduce regulation, consumers remain unprotected.”

Cryptocurrencies are currently covered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City regulator, and there are still no formal mechanisms for investor compensation or consumer redress, something that Nicky Morgan, a conservative MP and the chair of the committee, says is unsustainable.

“Bitcoin and other crypto-assets exist in the wild west industry of crypto-assets. This unregulated industry leaves investors facing numerous risks,” Nicky Morgan said. “Given the high price volatility, the hacking vulnerability of exchanges and the potential role in money laundering, the Treasury committee strongly believes that regulation should be introduced… It’s unsustainable for the government and regulators to bumble along issuing feeble warnings to potential investors, yet refrain from acting. At a minimum, regulation should address consumer protection and anti-money-laundering.”

The Treasury Committee believes that there should at least be some regulation to add customer protection and fight money laundering. All of these issues stem from concerns regarding the volatility of digital assets – the prices of cryptocurrencies were so volatile that while the potential gains are quite large, so are the potential losses.

“The FCA agrees with the committee’s conclusion that bitcoin and similar crypto-assets are ill-suited to retail investors, and as we have warned in the past, investors in this type of crypto-asset should be prepared to lose all their money.”

The Treasury Committee’s recommendations have been noted and echoed by a number of stakeholders in the cryptocurrency industry including CryptoUK, a self-regulatory trade association for the United Kingdom’s digital currency industry.

“As an industry, we have been calling for the introduction of proportionate regulation to improve standards and encourage growth,” said Iqbal Gandham, the chairman of CryptoUK. “Self-regulation by the industry was always intended to be a starting point – this must now be matched by government action.”

Hero_gaming

Hero Gaming Debuts A Faster Online Slots Interface

Hero Gaming is famous for being an innovative creator of fun gaming experiences which can be attested by its solid portfolio which includes online gaming platforms like Speedy Casino, Casino Heroes and sports betting site Betser. Now the Malta-based company is taking the next step with the recent unveiling of Blitz, a new slots interface that will allow players to spin up to six times faster than they used to.

The idea behind Blitz which was developed in collaboration with NetEnt was letting the customers play faster without having to wait for the slots to be displayed after each spin – quite a number of slot players have cited the waiting period to be time-consuming for them. Blitz further allows the players to stop the game at any time, leaving the updated account balance and remaining spins completely visible to the player.

“There’s a lot going on in the gaming world right now, and our focus is always on developing innovative gaming experiences that are both entertaining and technically in the forefront. Behind Blitz is a complex technical solution that meets the needs of today’s gamers – it should be easy and fast while the pleasure factor is high. You should not be disturbed by information and graphics if you don’t want to. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort in developing a technical platform that has both flexibility and strength. Blitz is an example of what we can create on it,” Tomas Bäckman, CEO of Hero Gaming commented. “This is a collaboration between two driven and innovative players, utilizing both companies’ strengths. NetEnt has contributed with significant insights and technical know-how in this process. My assessment is that Blitz will be a contribution to the gaming market.”

The new slots interface has been developed as an overlay on top of NetEnt’s technology, something that is already proving to be immensely beneficial to both companies. While Hero Gaming’s business will be receiving a significant boost from the technological resources that NetEnt has to offer, the operator will be bringing a set of innovative gambling offerings to the table.

“We are pleased that Hero Gaming has chosen to develop Blitz on NetEnt’s platform. Our ambition is to be at the forefront, and we welcome innovative thinking and creative initiatives from our customers. In the future, I think we will see more of this type of products and solutions – to tailor the experience to different gamers. It will be exciting to see how gamers will use Blitz and we are looking forward to following developments,” NetEnt’s chief of product, Henrik Fagerlund said.

Disco-Bar-7s

Booming Games Releases New Disco Bar 7s Slot

The 70s were a great period that was mostly defined by great outfits and hairstyles, great dance and music, the amazing outfits, and, of course, the simple and captivating slots games that were based on various outstanding elements borrowed from the aspects of the era. In fact, slots were all the buzz back in the day with people obsessing over them thanks to the excitement they offered and the possibilities of huge wins.

Well, if you are nostalgic about the casino offerings from the 70s, then this is your lucky day. Booming Games has recently released a new slot game that will take you on a trip back in time to the dancing 70s. Titled Disco Bar 7s, the new disco title features classic designs similar to what existed in the 70s but it will certainly appeal to each and every slots machine enthusiast on the planet. There are a number of other great slot machine offerings but this is definitely among the very best of them.

Disco Bar 7s consists of 3 reels and 10 paylines which are accompanied with a 95.96 percent RTP – these, in addition to the funky tunes and fast-paced gaming that the slot game features make the game a worthy use of your precious time. Winning big is made even easier with a number of cool multipliers, and Wild and Scatters.

Uniquely Themed

Even though Disco Bar 7s is prominently themed to match the look of offerings from the 1970s, Booming Games went out of their way to make sure that the game was a treat for players. Therefore, they opted to pattern it after the classic fruit slot machines and the results speak for themselves – there is nothing like it.

Disco Bar 7s is a very colorful slot game with its bright blues and purples on the reels. However, every colorful element that is added to the game also serves other purposes by contributing to the overall functionality of the game. Players can find Disco Ball Wilds on the reels – this pays the most and doubles wins when it is part of a winning combination. Similarly, the scatters offer nice multipliers when found on the reels.

The Game Play

From the very first glance, players will notice that Booming Games’ intention with this particular offering was replicating the real casino experience. Once they start playing it becomes even more pronounced as they will feel like they are sitting at a slot machine at a real 70s casino. Furthermore, this extends to playing on the go as well – Booming Games also ensure that the game can be accessed on mobile phones and tablets. Whichever method you choose to access the games, the experience will be nearly the same thanks to some next level optimization built into the game.

crypto-Investigation

200 ICOs and Cryptocurrencies Under Active Investigation

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), an international task force that is tasked with tackling securities violations in the cryptocurrency industry, on August 28 announced that it has opened active investigations into over 200 initial coin offerings (ICOs) and crypto-related investment products.

First launched in May, the operation – referred to as “Operation Cryptosweep” – has been targeting a number of suspicious crypto investment products. It is composed of regulators from the United States and Canada which makes it the largest coordinated investigation by state and provincial officials. It has also already seen through 47 enforcement actions against ICOs and cryptocurrency investment funds in the U.S. and Canada, something that has earned its praise from Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The violations the operation has uncovered range from securities fraud to failure to properly register products before offering access to investors.

According to NASAA president and Alabama Securities Commission director Joseph Borg, the regulatory operation continues to commit significant resources to ensure that retail investors are protected. This is especially because many cryptocurrency advocates and financial watchdogs are split on how the ICOs and crypto firms should be regulated. NASAA’s contribution is, therefore, one of the best developments in the sector since other than protecting the retail investors, it will also serve to raise awareness among industry participants in regards to their regulatory obligations and responsibilities.

“While not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is a fraud, it is important for individuals and firms selling these products to be mindful that they are not doing so in a vacuum; state and provincial laws or regulations may apply, especially securities laws. Sponsors of these products should seek the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel to ensure they do not run afoul of the law. Furthermore, a strong culture of compliance should be in place before, not after, these products are marketed to investors,” Joseph Borg added.

Do Your Homework, Investors Told

As it stands, NASAA is the oldest international organization whose main focus is investor protection – it is based on voluntary association and boasts of 67 member states, provinces and territories across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. However, despite its far-reaching capabilities in handling irregularities in the crypto within the mentioned areas, there still needs to be some element of support from other stakeholders.

The operations president has highlighted the need for ICOs to register with the appropriate agencies or, if possible, contact regulators to check whether they qualify for exemptions or not. He further warned investors against dealing with ICO promoters claiming their products is exempt from securities registration unless of course, the claim is verifiable.

“Do your homework and contact your state or provincial securities regulator with any concerns before parting with your hard-earned money — afterward may be too late,” he pointed out.

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eToro Brings Bitcoin to Premier League Football Clubs

Global online investment, FOREX and crypto trading platform, eToro yesterday (August 21, 2018) announced that it has entered into marketing partnerships with seven different Premier League football clubs. The partnership venture which is funded by bitcoin is the very first of its kind and will involve the following football clubs: Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., Cardiff City F.C., Crystal Palace F.C., Leicester City F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Southampton F.C., and Tottenham Hotspur.

“As a global multi-asset platform where you can purchase the world’s biggest crypto assets alongside more traditional investments, we are excited to be partnering with so many Premier League clubs and make history by being the first company ever to pay for a Premier League partnership in bitcoin,” Iqbal V. Gandham, UK Managing Director at eToro said in a statement that accompanied the announcement.

This move is considered to be another great leap forward for bitcoin and the crypto industry as a whole since it is anticipated that it will expose many more people to the idea of digital currencies. Hopefully, this will, in turn, result in new investments, most ideally through the eToro platform.

“The blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin brings transparency, which we believe can improve the experience for everyone who loves the ‘beautiful game’, from fans being targeted by ticket touts, or a club negotiating a transfer, we believe that blockchain will revolutionize the world of football,” the managing director added.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of speculation regarding how the move by eToro to partner with soccer clubs will benefit the cryptocurrency industry – the trading platform is now among a growing number of blockchain-based companies that have either inked sponsorship deals with sports clubs or are hoping to do so in the near future. However, it is quite obvious that the money involved in this case is pretty huge and it would be a mistake not to take. Furthermore, it opens up doors for greater opportunities in the world of sports. As for how this will impact the crypto industry, we will just have to wait and see.

What It Entails

The partnerships will involve in-game advertising on digital perimeter boards as well as exposure on each of the seven cub’s social media channels through the creation of what they have termed as “unique content”. The clubs will also be working closely with eToro in a bid to find ways of harnessing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology at each of the stadiums.

“We are pleased to welcome eToro to the club as an Official Partner, it is exciting to be working with such an innovative industry leader. Much like Leicester City, eToro is an ambitious brand with a significant global reach and we look forward to working together throughout the season,” Jonathan Gregory, Leicester City’s commercial director commented.

India_crypto

India Considering Crypto Tokens for Financial Transactions

Indian authorities have recently revealed that the country has been exploring tokenized datasets and other cryptographic forms of blockchain technology albeit while still maintaining their rather unfavorable stance towards cryptocurrencies citing their potential role in unlawful activities such as money laundering. As such, the prevailing ban on cryptocurrencies is likely to continue regardless of the government’s interest in issuing digital tokens for financial transactions.

“There are lots of issues that need understanding and lots of studying needs to be done,” a government official who requested to remain anonymous said. “Blockchain is an interesting thing. We definitely want to milk it effectively for financial transactions. So all officials are really trying hard to understand how to separately use blockchain, without cryptocurrency. And understanding a new software takes time.”

According to local Indian news outlet, DNA India, the country’s government have been considering the applications of crypto tokens in several different areas. However, as clarified by the new outlet, the government has excluded any use of cryptography and blockchain technology for the purposes of cryptocurrencies or any other sophisticated means of money transfer and international transactions. In fact, the officials believe that the crypto-tokens, including the ones they are exploring, do not themselves hold any inherent value. Instead, they represent an underlying asset that is only accessible to the private key holders. This implies that the crypto tokens will certainly not be serving as a substitute for fiat currency but will be representing an underlying value so as to enable faster and more transparent payments.

“One will need to pay physical money to buy a token which could be stored as a code in any basic mobile feature phone. It can even be used for remittances. So, it is easy to implement from technology as well as a regulatory point of view. But in the case of cryptocurrency, one needs to allow it as a legal tender first,” the DNA India report explained.

Spearheaded by a Committee

India’s finance ministry has since set up a committee headed by the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for this initiative. The committee has been tasked with working on a set of regulations and a roadmap to guide the use of the proposed assets in India. A drafty of these regulations, once drafted, will be forwarded to the country’s parliament for further approval.

“The committee is studying the possibility of using cryptocurrencies or crypto technology (distributed ledger technology) for financial transactions and also what kind of regulations are needed for that [while] the currency is totally banned, the committee is discussing its other uses and how it can be mainstreamed in India,” Subhash Chandra Garg the DEA secretary, who is heading the committee, said.