- The International Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with two blockchain initiatives in an effort to fight climate change.
- A 1kg Bitcoin node has become the first active cryptocurrency on the International Space Station.
- Millennials are turning to Bitcoin investments as younger generations deal with the fallout of the global financial crisis.
- A group of fraudsters was hit with multiple charges after running an unregistered Bitcoin investment group and scamming investors out of $722 million.
In a press release sent out this week, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) announced that it was working with blockchain firm Perlin and blockchain-based carbon offset exchange AirCarbon to provide $40 billion for climate projects in the aviation industry. The three organizations launched this initiative to coincide with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which is taking place this week in Madrid, Spain.
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton called the project “part of ICC’s declaration for the next century of global business,” adding that the organization was “committed to making climate action everyone’s business by supporting the research, development, and deployment of digitally-enabled solutions.” According to Denton, the partnership “will harness the power of technology to accelerate innovation, and inspire real, concrete action to keep our air carbon-free.”
The ICC previously cooperated with Perlin on an e-registry system for ships this year. In October, the Singapore Shipping Association and the ICC began work on the International E-Registry of Ships system based on Perlin’s Wavelet.
At the same time, blockchain technology is increasingly viewed with skepticism by major global bodies. This week, the World Trade Organization published what it called a “reality check” for blockchain in international trade.
David Bischof, deputy director at the ICC’s finance for development hub, described the report as “an indispensable tool for the entire trade ecosystem, but foremost clearly shows that standardisation in trade and trade finance is a key challenge to ensure the numerous blockchain-based platforms are of use for businesses that trade.”
That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Bitcoin. Last Thursday, a Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with some interesting cargo attached: a Bitcoin wallet. Built by the developers at SpaceChain, which bills itself as “a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build the world’s first open-source blockchain-based satellite network,” the 1kg Bitcoin node was just a small part of the rocket’s 12,600kg payload.
Small though it may be, the rocket-strapped crypto wallet reached a pretty big milestone: the first active Bitcoin node on the International Space Station. It will be installed in the ISS by astronauts and operate for about a year, securing multi-signature transactions from space.
CEO Zee Zheng told Coindesk that SpaceChain “put all the company’s resources into it,” noting the challenges of having to adapt their technology to work in outer space. “There’s no existing space-tested hardware available, so even to install our own software we needed to make major changes.” Those changes included retrofitting SpaceChain’s open-source protocol for the space station’s plug architecture, which had to be approved by NASA.
Only a few months ago it received a 60,000 euro grant from the European Space Agency. Zheng said the exposure that comes with NASA and SpaceX will help it grow to the larger mission.
But he insists SpaceChain is rocket agnostic. It’s willing to contract with any agency, anywhere, whenever the time is right. NASA and SpaceX happened to be the ideal partners for the Dec. 5 launch, just as Chinese partners were for their first two. Future launches won’t necessarily be.
“Actually, next March we’re going to use an Indian rocket,” said Zheng, referring to one of the two SpaceChain launches he says is coming in the next 18 months.
In 10 years, perhaps, SpaceChain will deploy a network of dedicated satellites that “speak to each other” and run far more blockchain infrastructure than any single ISS wallet ever could, said Zheng. Until then, Zheng said he and SpaceChain will continue to rally toward its orbital goal.
“We’re welcoming anyone to join the revolution,” he said.
Somewhere along the way to killing napkins and restaurant chains, millennials have grown up and found modern ways to invest. And exactly what is this key demographic putting their hard-earned money into? Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Facebook, and Bitcoin. According to a report from the Grayscale Investments Bitcoin Trust, Bitcoin rounds out the top five equity holders for this age group, beating out other modern giants like Netflix, Microsoft, and Disney.
Grayscale recorded inflows of $255 million for the third quarter among millennials, which Forbes reports is “up three-fold on the previous quarter.” Around 1.84% of millennials hold equity in the Grayscale Investments Bitcoin Trust; according to the report, younger generations are turning to cryptocurrency in response “as they deal with the long-term effects of the global financial crisis and a lack of trust in the traditional financial services sector.”
Earlier this year, Grayscale Investments launched a campaign called #DropGold, aiming to make “investment portfolios to reflect that bitcoin has become digital gold for today’s forward-thinking investors.”
“There is a generational shift in how individuals are approaching investing. We strongly believe that investments in gold will be reallocated to bitcoin as Baby Boomers begin transferring their wealth to a younger generation of investors, one that wasn’t raised on the gold standard,” said Barry Silbert, founder and chief executive of Digital Currency Group and its subsidiary Grayscale Investments, said at the time.
In a stunning example of why you should only use secure, globally proven cryptocurrency exchanges, five New Jersey men were charged this week in a five-year “high-tech Ponzi scheme” that defrauded people out of hundreds of millions of dollars. According to prosecutors in the case, the group founded the BitClub Network in April 2014 with the purpose of “soliciting money from individuals in exchange for shares of purported cryptocurrency mining pools.” It also rewarded investors for bringing in new clients, which makes it similar to modern-day multi-level marketing schemes.
The group did not register their business with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a major red flag, and bolstered their business by providing misleading information about “Bitcoin mining earnings.” Driven by greed, they were able to con investors out of $722 million before being caught and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to offer and sell unregistered securities.
In September 2017, Goettsche sent an email to another alleged conspirator, suggesting that BitClub Network “[d]rop mining earnings significantly starting now” so he could “retire RAF!!! (rich as f—),” according to the indictment.
But court documents indicate that cracks were showing. Weeks remarked in an email to Goettsche and another accused conspirator in June 2017 that BitClub’s selling shares and not using the money to buy mining equipment was “not right.”
Four of the men were scheduled to make court appearances Tuesday. Authorities also are seeking a fifth man, whose identity was redacted pending his arrest.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on the fraud conspiracy count. The charge of conspiracy to sell unregistered securities carries a maximum sentence of five years with a $250,000 fine.
That’s the roundup for December 14, 2019. Check in next week for the latest news of cryptocurrency innovation and regulation around the world!
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