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  • The crypto space isn’t known for its bleeding hearts. Most traders are too busy thinking about lambos to worry about universal health care, and they’re more likely to vote for Ron Paul than Bernie Sanders. But a leading crypto investment platform is launching a project that might combine cryptocurrency with a radical social experiment: Universal Basic Income.At a Web Summit presentation earlier this week, Yoni Assia, CEO of eToro, unveiled the GoodDollar: a project to reduce wealth inequality with cryptocurrency.  According to a later press release, the project is hoping to establish “a cryptocurrency that pays social interest to those who have less, and is continuously distributed to any verified participant for free, creating a global, open, universal basic income.”Although billed as an “experiment,” the project has already secured $1 million in funding from eToro, which urges other companies and individuals to contribute as well.“We believe that we can create a mass-market cryptocurrency that is engineered to reduce inequality and provide a universal basic income,” Mr. Assia said in a statement. “Engineers, product designers and economists are currently developing the prototype.”UBI: Not Your Parents SocialismFor those who aren’t recent college graduates, Universal Basic Income (UBI) represents the latest effort to produce a market-friendly welfare state.
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  • Economists find it increasingly likely that the US will soon experience a recession. Many Bitcoin speculators believe that the price of Bitcoin will rise in a recession, but that may be wishful thinking. Cryptocurrency behavior depends on what type of recession the economy is in. In a typical recession, Bitcoin would be sold down like any other risk asset, but it would thrive in a currency or a sovereign debt crisis. Bitcoin works as a hedge against calamity, not recession; it’s most likely to rise when there is inflation and declining trust in government.Choppy Waters AheadA recession is defined as a declining economy for two successive quarters, and we may be already be seeing signs of an early sell-off: the S&P 500 lost  more than 10% this October. Nouriel Roubini, one of few economists to predict the housing crash of 2008, has recently emphasized the US’ increasing financial obligations in mortgages, student loans and credit card debt. These factors, he notes, are expected to intensify the next recession, which could be worse than 2008. Roubini is confident that we will see a financial crisis by 2020.Other factors, such as the ten-year bull run in  the US equities market and the fact that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times this year, suggest that the US economy could soon experience a downturn. As Forbes wrote, two things are almost certain: (1) the US economy will sink into a recession and (2) no one knows when. Is Bitcoin a Lifeboat?Crypto enthusiasts like Anthony Pompliano have suggested “shorting bankers and longing Bitcoin” as an anti-recession hedge. Their reasoning is that, since Bitcoin is disconnected from the financial system and negatively correlated with equities markets, Bitcoin prices will rise if equities fall. This year, Bitcoin has become increasingly correlated with the S&P 500 (see graph below). The S&P actually hasn’t been negatively correlated with Bitcoin since late 2016, and even then, the range of correlations fell between -0.1 and +0.2, indicating little to no correlation in either direction.
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  • I have a soft spot for Ethereum Classic (ETC). I’ve been in regular contact with some of the project’s key developers since the summer when, to the surprise of many, ETC was listed on Coinbase. After two years of wandering in the wilderness, things finally started going right for a project that held the immutability of the blockchain as scripture.The Coinbase listing gave Ethereum Classic the publicity it needed to ramp up its programming efforts. In mid-September ETCDev, one of the key development companies working on the platform, released the Emerald sidechain development kit (SDK). It’s a one-stop shop, with a whole array of tools and resources needed to design an ETC dApp.The idea was to make building an Ethereum Classic dApp as easy as building a website. Projects can focus on their product, rather than the technicalities of the blockchain. “A lot of people find it hard to do dApp development,” said Stevan Lohja, ETDev’s tech writer. “Emerald means web designers don’t have to worry too much about hashing power and all the backend blockchain stuff.”When I first spoke to ETCDev about it, Lohja was on his way to San Francisco to talk to a number of developers about using Emerald. Part of his pitch was that the SDK would be far simpler and more lightweight than the other toolkits offered on other platforms.According to Zachary Belford, the Javascript developer who led the project, Emerald allows projects to set up a working Ethereum Classic dApp in minutes. “You can pick the tools and start building,” said Belford. “It’s like using WordPress or something, it’s the foundation that can be used by both novices and professionals.”
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  • Blockchain technology might be able to save the ailing advertising industry, according to a recent study. The report, jointly published by Adledger and TV[R]EV, found that the majority of advertising executives consider the future of the advertising industry to be tied to digital ledger technology. In a survey of nearly 100 senior advertising executives, more than 70% of respondents “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” with the statement, “Blockchain is the future of advertising.” Less than 12 percent showed some level of disagreement, and 10.3 percent responded with “What’s blockchain?” Advertising “In Crisis”The study is intended to address what publishers describe as a “crisis” of the advertising industry. “Publisher profits are siphoned away by a complex middle layer in the name of greater efficiency,” the report says. “[R]oughly 70% of every ad dollar they spend disappears into the digital abyss.”The authors found that many of the problems in digital advertising stem from either intentional fraud or threats to user privacy. Unsavory clients can easily resort to automated bot programs to improve their viewership numbers with fake clicks, or use domain spoofing to defraud advertisers.
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  • Some say the future is on the blockchain, but the past is getting a fair shot too. In addition to the futuristic dApps and new fangled economic models, smart contracts are also giving a second chance to one of the oldest ideas in finance—the Tontine. TontineTrust says it wants to bring the financial instruments back, on the blockchain. “THE MOST POPULAR PEER-TO-PEER INSURANCE EVER BOUGHT,” the company announces in its website in giant capitals. “OVER $160BN* INVESTED SINCE 1653.”As TontineTrust explains:Following the creation of distributed ledger technology, the time is right for a trustless peer-to-peer system which offers users substantial cost savings and is properly secured by advanced mathematics, immutable ledgers & pseudonymous accounts.If you’re yourself looking up the word “Tontine” in a dictionary, you probably don’t read a lot of mystery novels.
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  • Ethereum (ETH) has had bad press lately. Erstwhile Ethereum dApps are moving onto other networks; prices are at rock bottom. At a conference not too long ago, one cryptocurrency trader described ether tokens as “practically dogshit.”  But through all of the trials and tribulations, some projects are rallying around to defend the grand old lady from mounting hostility. Ethereum is far from perfect, they say, but it is better than the other platforms out there.Uriel Peled is the co-founder of Orbs, an application for well-known consumer brands to use blockchain technology. Orbs is based on the Ethereum network; its principal purpose is to offer the technological equipage and infrastructure for big firms to build their own decentralized applications that are scalable, effective and secure. The project raised $118m in its ICO, which concluded in May this year.Speaking to Crypto Briefing over the phone, Peled explained how he had previously harbored deep-seated concerns about the platform: he didn’t think Ethereum had a future, due to crippling scalability issues which sapped confidence. “The network simply didn’t work,” he said. “It was a good proof-of-concept but my initial view was that it would be superseded by the next generation of platform networks.”“Now I think that the Ethereum network isn’t going anywhere”, he added.The network offers Ethereum dApps securityPeled thinks of Ethereum as the basic technological standard for the sector. There are hundreds of active ERC20 tokens (of varying quality) in the space. Most projects originally launched their public sales on the network, and  ether tokens were the moneta franca during last year’s ICO boom. “People and projects are simply more familiar with it [Ethereum] than they are with other projects”, he said. “I still haven’t seen a single network which can directly challenge them on this.”
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  • What Is Ethereum Classic?Ethereum Classic ETC is an Ethereum hard fork created to preserve the original Ethereum coding after The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (The DAO, an Ethereum-based project) was hacked. It caused a loss of over 6.2 million Ether and crippling decentralized application development. At block 1920000, Ethereum mining nodes were forked to return the stolen Ether, and the minority that continued running the original hacked ledger created Ethereum Classic.This makes ETC similar to Bitcoin forks like Bitcoin Cash in that its value will forever be tied to Ethereum, regardless of each project’s philosophical or technical differences down the line. It’s also not the only Ethereum fork, which include EtherZero, EthereumFog, Ether Gold, and EtherInc.And the upcoming Ethereum Casper update to Proof of Stake mining will almost certainly create another fork. ASIC mining companies like Bitmain, dApp projects like Cryptokitties, and even competitors like EOS ultimately depend on Ethereum. These simultaneous blockchain versions running can be seen similar to Microsoft supporting versions of its Windows OS all the way back to the original in special cases (such as satellites and equipment launched into space during those eras). In this context, having multiple versions running is a great toolkit for developers and users alike and expands on the Ethereum Foundation’s initial promise of a blockchain-based future.Before explaining the saga of how Ethereum Classic was created, let’s review ETC’s financial performance on the cryptocurrency market.
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  • XRP might not be the Platonic ideal of a peer-to-peer currency, but a wave of new adoptions shows that Ripple must be doing something right. In addition to extending RippleNet to “close to 200 banking and financial partners”, and a handful more for xRapid, the company behind the third-largest cryptocurrency has also facilitated “billions” in inter-company payments for its banking partners in northern Europe.  In an interview with The Banker, Paula da Silva, head of transaction services at SEB, confirmed that the Sweden-based banking group had adapted Ripple’s fintech platforms for high-volume trades: We exploring the DLT. We are not yet using any crypto. We are fit yet for that, we believe. But other DLT, we are exploring how the benefits look and also how to connect those to legacy systems, as we have to live with both for quite a long time, probably.Mrs. Da Silva was speaking at the Sibos 2018 conference in Sydney. Her employer, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, serves 3,000 corporate clients and 400,000 SME’s, as well as four million private individuals. Crypto or not, Ripple’s ledger technology has been a hit, she confirmed:
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  • At press time, over 930 cryptocurrency projects have been pronounced deceased, riddled with malware or hacks; parodies; or just outright scams. What was the failure point of these projects that are no longer with us? Was it a lack of leadership? Too much control? Poor governance? Speed of implementation?For that matter, what has made Bitcoin successful for the past 10 years, where other projects have failed?According to crypto analyst Murad Mahmudov, the long and patient approach has been beneficial for Bitcoin’s resilience.“Governance of Bitcoin is not formally defined,” Murad Mahmudov said on Anthony Pompliano’s podcast Off the Chain. Mahmudov went on to say Bitcoin’s governance has a lot to do with its improvement process, which is a “very conservative, extremely meticulous process.” Something he considers to be a strength of Bitcoin, as altcoins are “much more centralized in relative terms,” and easier to change.An example of patience and pace demonstrated by Bitcoin’s meticulous processes includes the segregated witness (or SegWit) debates, which wouldn’t be implemented until 95% of Bitcoin miners signaled support. The upgrade implementation was introduced to the network in October of 2016 (6 months behind schedule), and took effect in August of 2017.
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  • America’s Securities and Exchange Commission, has successfully charged the founder of the token trading platform, EtherDelta. This is the first time that the US regulator has ever brought legal proceedings against a crypto exchange.The SEC announced earlier today that it had charged EtherDelta founder Zachary Coburn with operating an unlicensed exchange. Authorities said that during its 18 months of operation, Coburn was responsible for more than 3.6m orders, with some of them counting as unregistered securities.Coburn agreed to pay the SEC $300,000 as a disgorgement, as well as a $13,000 fee for prejudgment interest and a $75,000 penalty fine. The settlement agreement means he will not have to prove his innocence in a court of law. In total, the EtherDelta founder has paid just under $400,000 mainly for his role in utility tokens – initially sold in ICOs –  that should have really been classed as securities.In the full order, the SEC explains that most of EtherDelta’s trading activity began after the regulator had released its DAO report in the summer of 2017. The report warned cryptocurrency projects, and exchanges, that the SEC considered some utility tokens to actually be security tokens. This is the first ever time authorities have actually made any enforcement on this decision.Is EtherDelta the first of many?Coburn, who is no longer affiliated with EtherDelta, was at the time the principal actor behind most of the exchange’s trading activity. The SEC said that his actions made him liable to be charged in violation with existing financial regulation. “Coburn founded EtherDelta, wrote and deployed the EtherDelta smart contract to the Ethereum Blockchain, and exercised complete and sole control over EtherDelta’s operations”, the report said. “Coburn should have known that his actions would contribute to EtherDelta’s violations.”
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  • The Midterms are over, and the Blue wave wasn’t quite as deep as Democrats hoped. But, while political squabbling has no end in sight, cryptocurrency came out several steps ahead. Blockchain-friendly candidates scored major victories in both parties. On the right, Arizona’s David Schweikert will return to his Congressional seat, and Greg Abbott—whose campaign accepted Bitcoin donations—was re-elected Governor of Texas. But, perhaps most impressive of all was the election of a progressive Democrat, with a promise to turn Colorado into a center of blockchain innovation. The word ‘politician’ originates from the Greek root polis, but supporters of the new Colorado governor say that Jared Polis is nothing like a typical politician. Prior to public service, Polis founded not one, but three tech startups, two of which reached valuations in the hundreds of millions.While in Congress, Polis was a co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, and pushed back against anti-Bitcoin hysteria with a satirical proposal to abolish the US Dollar.And Polis’ actions have shown that his words aren’t just lip service. As a candidate, his gubernatorial platform outlined five measures “to establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government,” including measures to develop the legal and financial frameworks to foster blockchain development. 
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  • The midterms were more carefully-watched than usual this year because it was the first time the American electorate went to the polls to express their opinion on the Trump presidency.And it proved to be an interesting test for the decentralized predictions market, Augur (REP).Augur’s surge in popularity in the immediate run-up to the midterms was due to bets on the electoral outcome. Two weeks ago, when Crypto Briefing originally looked into the increasing popularity of the platform, it was the third largest bet on the predictions platform. This week it became the largest, with roughly $1.3m worth of Ether (ETH) at stake; for perspective, the second biggest bet currently has just over half a million.That’s interesting because the platform had suffered from a marked decline in daily active users since it launched back in the summer. As Crypto Briefing has already highlighted, at one point in September there were just 38 active users. Although this doesn’t necessarily effect open bets, it suggested Augur was struggling to expand outside of its base.But what if it transpired that the big midterm Augur bet was principally made up of two whales?  
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  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but it seems the crypto world didn’t get the memo. Every week we hear about someone getting burned by a fake Twitter giveaway, and Initiative Q keeps claiming new converts. Now it looks like Jed McCaleb has been hacked too, and the Stellar Development Foundation is holding its own token giveaway. Luckily, this time it’s not a Twitter lookalike, and you don’t even have to send any XLM first. As the Foundation, paired with Blockchain, announced in a blog post:We’re thrilled to announce SDF’s largest lumen distribution to date: an up-to-500 million XLM distribution to users of leading digital asset wallet provider, Blockchain. This airdrop will put the Stellar name and technology in front of Blockchain’s 30 million account holders, and will bring many new users into our ecosystem.Each (KYC-verified) Blockchain wallet holder will receive 100 lumens (worth around $25), and the wallet creator will continue using airdrops like these to drive adoption. In addition to attracting new crypto users, the airdrop is expected to increase network effects and ultimately improve the utility of Stellar and other blockchain currencies. “Blockchain Airdrops are a great way for crypto creators to drive decentralization and adoption for new networks,” Blockchain said in a blog post. “We think they’re great for crypto users too. They let you test, trade, and transact with the next generation of crypto assets without having to buy them or mine them.”
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  • What Is Monero?Monero (XMR) is a cryptocurrency which focuses on being untraceable and private. Its design differs from Bitcoin’s in a few key ways, but it should be understood as a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin – it can be used to buy and sell things, and can be exchanged for other  coins or tokens.So Monero XMR is a cryptocurrency focused on privacy and anonymity. Bitcoin is actually pseudonymous and BTC transactions are still traceable, but XMR transactions can be fully anonymized like physical cash. It is a fork of Bytecoin, the original privacy coin.Of course, each physical dollar has a serial number on it that’s traced by FDIC-insured banks and governments. But it’s not necessary to see someone’s bank account balance to accept their dollar bill. In the same way, retailers only need to verify you have enough to cover your transaction when you use a debit or credit card.Monero uses ring signature cryptography to reduce the amount of information used in cryptocurrency transactions. This gives the sender and receiver of XMR transactions the ability to verify the transaction in privacy.Strong encryption, a streamlined blockchain, and infinite supply make Monero a strong privacy coin with a solid future ahead of it. Before diving into the nuts and bolts of the project, let’s look at the crypto market performance of the Monero XMR crypto coin.
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  • November is a miserable month. Temperatures sink, nights draw in, everywhere looks grim and depressing as leaves turn brown and fall to the ground.But, unlike what’s outside the window, crypto markets are looking green and perky.Cryptocurrencies have been on the rise since the start of November. The total value of the cryptocurrency sector was  around $203bn, at the beginning of the month. Excluding a $6bn spike last Wednesday, prices have been on a gradual upswing during the first week; this has slowly started to accelerate.The market has increased by approximately $17bn in the past seven days, leading to its current valuation at just under $220bn at the time of writing.  This represents an 8% rise in the total value of cryptocurrencies. The sector’s high expectations at the beginning of the year were unrealistic. Participants were bound to be let down and so they were when nearly $400bn was wiped off in the latter part of January. In the first two quarters, investors still held out hopes for a returning bull market. There were two promising signs, but ultimately these only led to further market corrections.
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