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Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes Hostile Senate Hearing

Ahead of the launch of its new global cryptocurrency, Facebook (FBGet Report) sent its crypto chief David Marcus to the Senate Tuesday to face questioning from the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The mixed reaction Marcus received among senators was mostly divided along party lines, with some of the toughest questioning coming from Democratic Senators still skeptical of the company in the wake of the Russian election hacking scandal that Democrats blame for their candidate’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

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Senator Mark Warren (D-VA) stated that “Facebook has a history of buying or copying competing technologies,” before demanding that Marcus assure the panel that competing digital wallets wouldn’t be hindered on WhatsApp and Messenger, two of Facebook’s most popular products.

Marcus went back and forth with Warner before assuring Warner that users would be able to send and receive non-Libra digital currencies on Facebook’s networks. But Marcus would not commit to embedding those competing currencies on its platforms.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) baldly stated that “Facebook is dangerous,” saying that the company has continued to misuse customer data while continually referring to each instance as a “learning experience.”

Brown concluded his remarks by saying that “it takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance to look at that record” and believe that the next move for the company should be to create a digital currency.

Republican Senators were more forgiving for the most part, with Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) applauding the company’s efforts to provide financial services for the under-banked.

“I want to make clear that we are only at the beginning of this journey,” Marcus said. “We expect the review of Libra to be one of the most extensive ever. Facebook will not offer the Libra currency until we have addressed the concerns and receive appropriate approvals.”

Marcus also stated the Calibra network will have the “highest standards” when it comes to privacy and that the social and financial data will be completely separated.

Users will have to provide an authentic government ID so sign up for Calibra and will not be able to register by simply using their existing Facebook profiles.

Marcus stressed Calibra’s independence from Facebook, stating that the company has taken the lead in developing the technology but that it would give up the lead once the digital currency is launched.

“We will not control Libra and will be one of over 100 participants that will govern over the currency,” Marcus said. ” We will have to gain people’s trust if we want people to use our network over the hundreds of competing companies.”

Facebook shares were up 0.18% to $204.27 on Tuesday early afternoon and are up more than 55% this year.

Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.

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Source: Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes-Hostile Senate Hearing

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US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

The CFTC tapped Heath Tarbert as incoming chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), replacing current chairman and “Crypto Dad” J. Christopher Giancarlo. The announcement was made yesterday during a Senate confirmation hearing.

The CFTC is tasked with regulating derivatives, digital assets, and over-the-counter trades. The regulatory authority has taken a light-handed approach towards the cryptocurrency industry under outgoing chair Giancarlo.

“During my time of service, it has been a priority to transform the CFTC into a 21st Century regulator for today’s digital markets. With Dr. Tarbert’s confirmation, I know the agency is in safe hands to continue this transition,” said Giancarlo in a statement regarding the succession.

Prior to this designation, Tarbert served a short stint as Acting Under Secretary for International Affairs, beginning April 16, 2019. Before that Tarbert served as Assistant Secretary for International Markets for two years, to which he was confirmed by a vote of 87-8, showing a high degree of bipartisan support.

Politico previously reported Tarbert would likely succeed Giancarlo as chief derivatives regulator.

Tarbert is a member of the Financial Stability Board, the international body established after the financial crisis to monitor global markets, and serves on its steering committee, according to his Treasury Department biography.

Giancarlo has committed to stay on as chairman until July 15, 2019, as Tarbert completes his current Treasury obligations.

J. Christopher Giancarlo image via CoinDesk archives

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Source: US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

Can Bitcoin’s Lightning Network Power Payments in a Japanese Bar?

A bar in Japan is teaming up with a locally-based lightning startup to let customers pay for sparkling wine and soft drinks using the experimental payments network.

For the month of June, the Japan-based lightning startup Nayuta will be partnering with Awabar Fukouka to trial the payment system in what they’re calling a “field test.”

The Lightning Network is seen by its supporters as the best way to scale bitcoin so that more people can use the payment system at once, but the technology is still rather experimental and even risky to use. To that end, Nayuta sees this project as an way to further analyze how the technology works in the real world and to find out what still needs to be done to make it easier to use.

Though Awabar said their role is “small,” as the bar did not design the technology (Nayuta did), they’re “delighted” to participate, offering a place for the experimental technology to be tested in a brick-and-mortar context.

The company said in a statement:

“We hope it helps familiarize the community with the lightning network payment system.”

The following video shows how the point of sale app (created by Nayuta and run on the open source payment processor BTCPay) will look for customers purchasing their drinks:

Nayuta is known for helping to draw up specifications for the lightning network and recently launched its own implementation of the budding payment layer geared specifically for connected devices or the Internet of Things (IoT).

The idea is that as the tech components grow less expensive, more devices such as refrigerators and TVs will connect to the internet for data collection.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

Why You Should Store Your Recovery Phrase and Private Keys With CRYPTOTAG

In 2018 alone more than $1 Billion of crypto was stolen. Most people’s funds were stolen in hacks and scams. Others could not reach their crypto, because they lost their private keys or recovery phrases.

One thing all the cases have in common is poor private key management.

What are private keys and recovery phrases? And how should you protect yourself from losing your funds? Bear with us while we try to explain it in a simple way.

What Is a Private Key?

A private key is the most important information in crypto. Without your private key, you cannot access your crypto. You can compare it with the PIN of your debit card.

If you have forgotten your PIN or if you have lost your bank card, you can call your bank. Then they will send you a new PIN or a new bank card, and you will regain access to your money.

The big difference in the crypto world is that there is no bank or other central organization that can help you recover your funds.

So if you lose your private key, there is no one that can help you to regain access to your funds. If you lose your private key, you cannot call anyone for help, and you will lose your coins forever.

What Is a Recovery Phrase or Recovery Seed?

A recovery phrase is used by crypto wallets like Ledger Nano and Trezor. These phrases or seeds usually contain between 12-24 words.

Compared to a private key a recovery phrase is easier to read for humans. But more importantly, is that the use of recovery phrases enables crypto wallets to store multiple private keys with one recovery phrase.

For example, you have a Ledger Wallet with Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum on it. Each coin has its own private key. You do not have to save all those private keys because by making a backup of your Ledger Wallet, you make a backup of all private keys on the Ledger Wallet.

Ways to store your crypto:

Exchanges

This is the riskiest way to store your crypto because your funds are in the hands of a third party. The exchange or custodian is holding your crypto in their wallets. So they control your private keys or recovery phrases of these wallets.

There are countless stories about exchanges being hacked and losing funds of their clients. It is ok to have some of your funds on an exchange for trading purposes. Longtime holdings should never be stored on an exchange because you are not the owner of your keys.

Software Wallets

These wallets like Jaxx, Electrum, and Exodus can be downloaded for free. They enable their users to receive, send and store different types of cryptocurrencies.

Software wallets generate private keys. And you can easily make a backup of a software wallet by saving the recovery phrase offline. This means that with a software wallet you are the owner of your (private) keys.

A software wallet does have the risk that malware or viruses can cause your software wallet to be hacked.

Hardware Wallets

The risks associated with software wallets are solved by hardware wallets like the Trezor and Ledger. The big advantage is that these wallets are secure stand-alone devices that are not connected to the internet.

Recovery phrases are used to back up the private keys stored on the devices. Owning a hardware wallet is a great step in securing your crypto because you are storing your private keys offline. The big risk here is the loss of the recovery phase.

So you did all the right things. You went online, did your research, ordered a hardware wallet, and you are ready to set it up. After a while, you are done, and you are left with a surprise.

You realize that the device itself is not the most important thing. No! The most important thing right now is the piece of paper with your recovery phrase written on it.

All this effort and eventually your early retirement is dependent on a piece of paper? No way!

The CRYPTOTAG

CRYPTOTAG closes the last line of defense with its premium backup system that enables people around the world to truly be their own bank by immortalizing their recovery phrases in titanium.

The CRYPTOTAG handles extreme circumstances like no other. Temperatures up to 3050 °F / 1.668 °C, corrosion and extreme pressure are no problem. Extreme tests have been carried out on the product, and the 6mm thick Titanium is literally bulletproof.

The Amsterdam based team has been testing different engraving methods and have developed a full backup system. During the development, they have been influenced by goldsmiths, metal workers, the aviation industry and old engraving techniques.

These influences are visible in the components included such as the hammer, punching letters, anvil and the use of titanium.

Source: Why You Should Store Your Recovery Phrase and Private Keys With CRYPTOTAG

20% of 18-34 Year Olds in America ‘Own Bitcoin,’ Recent Survey Reveals – Omar Faridi

Spencer Bogart, a general partner at Blockchain Capital, recently revealed the results of a survey which suggest that despite the extended cryptocurrency bear market, “Bitcoin awareness, familiarity, perception, conviction, propensity to purchase and ownership all increased/improved significantly.”

According to a blog post, published on April 30th, 2019, by Bogart, the survey “results highlight that Bitcoin is a demographic mega-trend led by younger age groups.” Bogart also wrote that the “only area where older demographics matched younger demographics was awareness.”

Notably, the survey was “conducted online by The Harris Poll, on behalf of Blockchain Capital, from April 23–25, 2019 among 2,029 American adults.”

Most Americans Have “Heard Of Bitcoin”

Bogart, a business economics graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, explained that those surveyed had a relatively high awareness about cryptocurrencies. He noted that “regardless of age, the vast majority of the American population has heard of Bitcoin.”

As mentioned in Bogart’s blog, the “percentage of [US residents] that have heard of Bitcoin rose from 77% in October 2017 to 89% in April 2019.”

18-34 Year Olds Have “Highest Rate Of Awareness”

Moreover, the survey results indicated that overall “awareness of Bitcoin is strong across all age groups — those aged 18–34 have the highest rates of awareness at 90% and those aged 65+ have the lowest at 88%.”

60% Of 18-34 Year Olds Are “Somewhat Familiar” With Bitcoin

When compared to last year, the “percentage of people that have not heard of Bitcoin fell by more than half — from 23% in October 2017 to 11% in April 2019,” the survey data revealed.

Approximately 60% of survey participants aged between 18 and 34 said that they were “at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with Bitcoin — up from 42% in October 2017.” Moreover, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are “3x as likely to be at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with Bitcoin as those aged 65 and over,” the survey data suggested.

More Americans Now Believe Bitcoin Is “A Positive Innovation”

Other notable survey results indicate that the “percentage of [Americans] who ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that ‘Bitcoin is a positive innovation in financial technology’ rose 9 percentage points — from 34% in October 2017 to 43% in April 2019.”

Meanwhile, the “younger demographics were most inclined to have a positive view of Bitcoin,” the survey results suggested. In fact, around “59% of those aged 18–34 ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that” the Bitcoin protocol will have a positive impact on the world’s existing financial system. Notably, the overall positive attitude towards Bitcoin (BTC) among younger US residents increased by as much as 11% “from October 2017.”

Many Americans Think “Most People Will Be Using Bitcoin” In The Next Decade

Interestingly, more Americans now believe that “most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years.” According to survey data, the percentage of US citizens who think Bitcoin will play a significant role in the future economy increased “ from 28% in October 2017 to 33% in April 2019.”

Survey results also indicate that “48% of those aged 18–34 ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that ‘it’s likely most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years’ — up 6 percentage points from October 2017.”

Significantly More Americans Are Now Planning To Buy Bitcoin

According to recent survey data, 27% of Americans said “they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to buy Bitcoin in the next 5 years” – up “from 19% in October 2017.”

Other key findings from the survey are as follows:

  • “21% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to government bonds — up from 18% in October 2017,”
  • “17% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to stocks — up from 14% in October 2017,”
  • “14% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to real estate — up from 12% in October 2017,”
  • “12% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to gold — up from 8% in October 2017,”
  • “11% of the [American] population owns Bitcoin — including 20% of those aged 18–34 and 15% of those aged 35–44.”

Source: CryptoGlobe

Bank of England: Cryptoassets Still ‘Too Volatile,’ Not a Good Store of Value By Omar Faridi

David Ramsden, the Deputy Governor of Markets and Banking at the Bank of England (BoE), has argued that cryptocurrencies are “too volatile” to be considered a reliable store-of-value (SoV).

In a brief interview with CNBC on April 30th, 2019, Ramsden said that BoE’s officials have been keeping track of the “emerging developments and then thinking about what they mean” or how they’re relevant to our current economic system.

The Deputy Governor noted that “just over a year ago, the financial policy committee looked at cryptoassets in some detail” – as “supported by” and within the context of the latest developments in FinTech and modern banking services. He confirmed that England’s central bank still believes blockchain-based digital assets are highly volatile, based on their recent price movements.

Cryptoassets Not An Effective SoV Or MoE

Cryptoassets are also not a reliable medium-of-exchange (MoE) because the “cost of transactions” remains quite high, Ramsden claims. Because of these issues, the BoE’s management thinks cryptocurrencies don’t satisfy the basic “principles of being a currency.”

Ramsden also pointed out that “this is why” the BoE considers them to be cryptoassets, and not cryptocurrencies. Ramsden further noted that cryptoassets “did not pose a risk” to the overall stability of the much larger traditional financial system. This, as the current market capitalization of the crypto market, which presently stands at over $174 billion, is relatively small compared to the multi-trillion dollar global financial market.

BoE Continues To Monitor Crypto Markets

Despite not being able to negatively affect the traditional financial system, Ramsden said that the BoE continues to monitor cryptoassets. He revealed that the UK’s Treasury Department, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Cryptoassets Task Force carefully examined the crypto industry.

According to the regulators, cryptoassets that “fall within” the current regulatory framework must comply with the European nation’s existing financial policies. However, Ramsden said that UK’s financial regulators “also had to be very mindful of [digital] assets and exchanges that [may be operating] in or outside” the UK’s regulatory guidelines.

“Very Positive” About DLT

Ramsden added that the BoE and other regulatory bodies in the UK “remained very vigilant about cryptoassets.” He continued to note that the BoE is “very positive” about the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that “underlies” cryptoassets. He also noted that part of his role “in embracing FinTech across the BoE” involves looking closely at the potential benefits of blockchain tech.

He also mentioned:

We are looking at the potential of DLT … for example, in the payments space, we’re making sure that our real-time gross settlement system can interface and be interoperable with blockchain/DLT technology.

Source: CryptoGlobe

Singaporean Cryptocurrency Exchange Seeks to Become the New Binance

There are more than 500 active cryptocurrency exchanges in existence, and as the market continues to expand and evolve, the number is expected to increase in the years to come. Although there’s no exact information on the number of people holding a crypto wallet, Blockchain.com, the world’s most popular wallet provider recently topped 34 million users. Given the sheer number of options, choosing an exchange to trade cryptocurrency can often be a daunting task, for both beginners and experienced traders. Following a rather challenging year, crypto enthusiasts have become more cautious. Reputation, due diligence, fee analysis, and platform user-friendliness are important attributes that should be considered before making a final choice.

Source: Singaporean Cryptocurrency Exchange Seeks to Become the New Binance

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