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Cryptocurrency And Blockchain Technology Could Help Facebook Recover From Massive Data Scandal

Emotions continue to run high as more news is disclosed around Facebook’s massive data scandal. This week, Cambridge Analytica’s former Business Development Director, Brittany Kaiser, told British lawmakers that the political data firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA), used numerous questionnaires to gather data from unknowing Facebook users.

Kaiser provided a written testimony to Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) on Tuesday, noting, "I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login.” In particular, Kaiser highlighted one quiz called, “sex compass.”

The data gathered from these quizzes are in addition to the now infamous “Thisisyourdigitallife” personality quiz - the Facebook-linked app that gained attention last month for collecting personal data from 50 million Facebook users (a figure that Facebook has now admitted could be as high as 87 million) without their consent.

Through the “Thisisyourdigitallife” app, CA member, Aleksandr Kogan, paid Facebook users in exchange for a detailed personality test, which was supposed to be used for “academic research” purposes. While it was reported that approximately 270,000 users consented to having their data collected, it was leaked last month that the app also pulled personal data from the Facebook friends of those users. That information — in the form of up to 87 million raw profiles — was then sold by the researcher to Cambridge Analytica, which used the data to manipulate Facebook users during the Trump campaign.

"I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities," Kaiser added in her statement to DCMSC.

Yet due to the exploitative nature of the way in which data is used today, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this is the case.

“A handful of incredibly powerful centralized companies — that are doing something so technical that people do not understand — have had the ability to wield an unknown amount of power and exploit people up until this point,” Kaiser stated in a Bustle article.

In an effort to protect user data moving forward, Kaiser believes that personal data should be treated the same as property. Additionally, Kaiser notes that data should be portable, with individuals having the right to delete and move their data among various platforms.

It makes sense that users should have full control of their personal data. However, this is easier said than done considering the centralized nature of most social media platforms.

" A centralized social media platform collects and stores the user’s data in a centralized way, solely owning the user’s data, managing it and providing access to it to benefit their business model often based on targeting ads. The centralized approach doesn’t give users the economic benefit of the use of their data (through token rewards) nor does it allow their valuable data to be portable from one platform to another, Eric Ly, CEO of Hub and former co-founder of LinkedIn told me. "

tFounder of Hub, Eric Ly (center), talks about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency at the Global Blockchain Forum in Santa Clara, CA

Blockchain Technology Lets Users Own Their Data

In order to solve the problems associated with user data being exploited on social media networks, Ly co-founded “Hub,” a “Human Trust Protocol” that uses blockchain technology to facilitate trust across the Internet.

Incentivizing meaningful transactions and interactions between strangers and establishing persistent, portable reputation histories is the project’s central focus. In other words, the project focuses on user control over “reputation data.”

" The Hub project was created with the goal of solving the problem of virtual trust by allowing users to assess trustworthiness at a distance across applications, Ly said. We facilitate a distributed ledger where any person can store and access their reputation information on a blockchain, e.g. actual, verified outcomes based on past interactions. In such a system, data is proprietary to a user and only given out by them in specified situations. In other words, by building a digital reputation, every user has the power to decide what reputation information they want to reveal in a particular use case. "

And to Kaiser’s point about being able to move user data across various networks, the “stored reputation” on Hub is portable in different domains. For example, a good reputation using Airbnb services combined with consistent on-time rent payments, can help users receive a loan, as their gained reputation will be spread across multiple domains. Additionally, users decide what part of their data they’d like to reveal for certain use cases.

Moreover, rather than having the protocol’s value come from extracting personal data (as in the case of Facebook and CA), the value of Hub’s Human Trust Protocol instead lies in the decentralization of data controlled by users.

This is where cryptocurrency enters the picture. In order to incentivize trust between users and the participation of sharing reputation data in the Hub protocol, a native token called “Hub” Token is used.  Hub works in the following way: during interactions and transactions participants pledge stakes. When a task is successful, participants earn a positive reputation and get their stake back in addition to Hub Token rewards.

Should Facebook Adopt Blockchain Technology?

While the concept behind Hub sounds similar to the Black Mirror episode, “Nosedive,” a model like this one could help solve the problems Facebook is encountering with the exploitation of personal user data.

Interestingly enough, before Facebook’s data scandal made headlines, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facbeook postthat his new years resolution for 2018 is to explore the use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

“Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Zuckerberg then mentioned that encryption and cryptocurrency could help solve these problems by putting power back into the user’s hands. However, this would also leave Facebook at a loss of control - a shift that could be powerful for users but not so profitable for Facebook.

Yet as the #DeleteFacebook hashtag continues to gain traction – it appeared more than 10,000 times within a two-hour period on Twitter following the news of the Facebook data scandal – Facebook might want to start looking more closely at blockchain technology and cryptocurrency sooner rather than later.

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have gained immense popularity thanks to their decentralized, secure and anonymous nature, which supports the peer-to-peer architecture and makes it possible to transfer funds and other digital assets between two different individuals without a central authority.

How does this automated and anonymous system of cryptocurrency ensure that all transactions are processed with due diligence and authenticity without any intervention? Enter the underlying concept and tools of cryptography, which form the backbone of cryptocurrency processing.

The "Crypto" in Cryptography

The word “crypto” literally means concealed or secret – in this context, anonymous. Depending upon the configuration, the implemented cryptography technology ensures pseudo- or full anonymity. In principle, the cryptography guarantees the security of the transactions and the participants, independence of operations from a central authority, and protection from double spending.

Cryptography technology is used for multiple purposes – for securing the various transactions occurring on the network, for controlling the generation of new currency units, and for verification of the transfer of digital assets and tokens.

Lets draw an analogy with a real world transaction – like signing a bank check – that needs your signature. A trustworthy and secure signature requires it to have the following properties:

  1. it should be verifiable by others that it is indeed your signature;

  2. it should be counterfeit-proof such that no one else can forge your signature, and

  3. it should be secure from any possibility of denial by the signer later – that is, you cannot reneg on a commitment once signed.

Cryptocurrencies emulate the concept of real world signatures by using cryptography techniques and the encryption keys. Cryptography methods use advanced mathematical codes to store and transmit data values in a secure format that ensures only those, for whom the data or transaction is intended for, can receive, read and process it, and ensure the authenticity of the transaction and participant, like a real-world signature.

How Does Cryptography Work?

Think about receiving radio signals on your car’s radio that allows you to listen to the broadcast. This broadcast is public knowledge and open to everyone. By contrast, think about defense level communications, like that between soldiers on a combat mission. This communication will be secure and encrypted. It will be received by and known to only the intended participants instead of being open to the whole world. Cryptocurrency’s cryptography works in a similar way.

In the simplest terms, cryptography is a technique to send secure messages between two or more participants – the sender encrypts/hides a message using a type of key and algorithm, sends this encrypted form of message to the receiver, and the receiver decrypts it to generate the original message.

Encryption keys are the most important aspect of cryptography. They make a message, transaction or data value unreadable for an unauthorized reader or recipient, and it can be read and processed only by the intended recipient. Keys make the information “crypto”, or secret.

Many cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, may not explicitly use sending of such secret, encrypted messages, as most of the information that involves Bitcoin transactions is public to a good extent. However, there is a new breed of cryptocurrencies, like ZCash and Monero, which uses various forms of cryptography encryption to keep the transaction details secure and completely anonymous during transmission. 

Some of the tools that were developed as a part of cryptography have found important use in cryptocurrency working. They include functions of hashing and digital signatures that form an integral part of Bitcoin processing, even if Bitcoin does not directly use hidden messages. 

Cryptography Methods Used in Cryptocurrencies

Multiple methods exist for encryption in cryptography.

The first one is Symmetric Encryption Cryptography. It uses the same secret key to encrypt the raw message at source, transmit the encrypted message to the recipient, and then decrypt the message at the destination. A simple example is representing alphabets with numbers – say, ‘A’ is ‘01’, ‘B’ is ‘02’, and so on. A message like “HELLO” will be encrypted as “0805121215,” and this value will be transmitted over the network to the recipient(s). Once received, the recipient will decrypt it using the same reverse methodology – ‘08’ is ‘H’, ‘05’ is ‘E’, and so on, to get the original message value “HELLO.” Even if unauthorized parties receives the encrypted message “0805121215,” it will be of no value to them unless they know the encryption methodology.

The above is one of the simplest examples of symmetric encryption, but lots of complex variations exist for enhanced security. This method offers advantages of simple implementation with minimum operational overhead, but suffers from issues of security of shared key and problems of scalability.

The second method is Asymmetric Encryption Cryptography, which uses two different keys – public and private – to encrypt and decrypt data. The public key can be disseminated openly, like the address of the fund receiver, while the private key is known only to the owner. In this method, a person can encrypt a message using the receiver’s public key, but it can be decrypted only by the receiver's private key. This method helps achieve the two important functions of authentication and encryption for cryptocurrency transactions. The former is achieved as the public key verifies the paired private key for the genuine sender of the message, while the later is accomplished as only the paired private key holder can successfully decrypt the encrypted message.

The third cryptography method is Hashing, which is used to efficiently verify the integrity of data of transactions on the network. It maintains the structure of blockchain data, encodes people’s account addresses, is an integral part of the process of encrypting transactions that occur between accounts, and makes block mining possible. Additionally, Digital Signatures complement these various cryptography processes, by allowing genuine participants to prove their identities to the network.

Multiple variations of the above methods with desired levels of customization can be implemented across various cryptocurrency networks.

The Bottom Line

Anonymity and concealment is a key aspect of cryptocurrencies, and various methods used through cryptographic techniques ensure that participants as well as their activities remain hidden to the desired extent on the network.

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Stellar’s XLM currency rose on Tuesday to its best levels in six weeks, bringing its total market cap to a high of $5.9 billion. Although there was no immediate catalyst for the rally, excitement over a Stellar-backed cannabis ICO may have contributed to currency’s oversized gains.

XLM/USD Price Levels

The value of XLM reached a high near $0.32 on Tuesday, having gained nearly 12% from the previous day. The cryptocurrency was last seen trading at $0.30, where it was up 6.2%.

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XLM, which trades against other major cryptocurrencies, was last valued at 0.000038 BTC (-2.6%) and 0.000597 ETH (-1.7%).

By holding gains, Stellar overcame a broad reversal in the cryptocurrency market that began around 15:00 UTC. It remains the eighth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap and the 16th most traded by volume.

More than $112.5 million in XLM exchanged hands on Tuesday, according to CoinMarketCap. Binance accounted for roughly 30% of the total while Upbit processed more than a fifth of daily transactions.

Stellar: Future ICO Platform

In addition to riding the momentum of the most recent cryptocurrency recovery, Stellar is benefiting from positive speculation about its utility as an ICO platform. Case in point: Canadian cannabis company Nezly will launch its Stellar-backed token raise on Friday following a six-week pre-sale. The company is utilizing XLM blockchain “for enhanced crypto security, speed and robust intelligence.”

Nezly has a hard cap of $36.5 million U.S., with 120 million tokens available for purchase. The token raise accepts bitcoin, Ethereum and U.S. dollars as payment.

In November, Smartlands became the first ICO to launch on the Stellar network, raising a total $1.75 million.

For many, Stellar is one of a select few blockchains that can compete with Ethereum for ICO dominance. When it comes to ICOs, Stellar has several unique benefits, including decentralized exchange services embedded directly on the platform. This makes it easier to trade new tokens without having to pursue listings on major exchanges.

Stellar is also said to have customizable features that could appeal to many segments of the ICO market, which cuts across several industries and sectors. At the same time, it has purposely limited certain features to keep malicious actors from exploiting the program.

It will take a lot of work for Stellar to unseed Ethereum as the go-to ICO platform, but there are features in place that could make it more popular among developers wishing to launch a new token.

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The market correction has begun. Hopes that ‘tax day’ in the US would induce more bullish momentum have faded and buying pressure has largely been exhausted. Crypto markets are retreating a little during the morning’s Asian trading session, led once again by Bitcoin which has lost 1% on the day falling back under $8,000 once again. In the repetitive cycle we keep witnessing this has dragged most of the altcoins down with it, albeit marginally. One or two seem to be faring much better than the rest this morning and leading the way at the moment is Stellar Lumens.

Coinmarketcap is reporting an 11% gains for XLM during the morning’s trading in Asia. Most other altcoins are marginally up or down but very few are showing double digit gains. Stellar is currently trading at $0.31 up from $0.28 this time yesterday, over the week it has gained 55% from $0.20 the same time last Wednesday. The monthly picture is even brighter with Stellar climbing over 85% from its low of $0.167 on March 18. Against Bitcoin XLM is up 12% on the day to 3920 satoshis from 3500 sats this time yesterday. Over the past week Stellar has strengthened 34% against BTC from 2925 satoshis the same time last week.

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Momentum has been largely driven by general positive market sentiment for all cryptocurrencies over the past week or so. Those that had the biggest losses such as Lumens and Cardano seem to have rebounded faster as traders and investors stock up on them at low prices. A number of build challenges and hackathons announced on their Twitter feed have kept the community busy and the altcoin was recently listed on Coindirect and Buybit.

The majority of trade in Asia this morning has been on Binance which commands 30% of the total volume. South Korean’s have been busy with it also as Upbit and Gopax are second and third with trade in KRW. Total XLM volume has increased over the past 24 hours by over 60% to $121 million. Stellar has remained firmly in the top ten for some time now and is currently 8th position with a market cap of $5.7 billion.

Total crypto market capitalization has remained stable over the past day and currently sits at around $326 billion. If the bears can be held off, upward momentum may continue. Other altcoins having a solid morning during Asian trading include Nem, Bytecoin and Steem.

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Award-winning global financial software technology and systems integration provider, Novatti Group, has partnered Stellar Network on the integration of blockchain payments on its proprietary payments platform. The move will facilitate cross-border payment and open Novatti Group to opportunities within the blockchain industry.

Being a blockchain technology, the Stellar network is an open-source, distributed and community protocol that enables the connection of banks, payments systems, and people together in a reliable, fast and low-cost manner. It has the potential to manage fiat-based currencies and between cryptocurrencies.

Novatti and Stellar are going to be benefiting from the collaboration, it will increase their users and open them to myriads of opportunities.
According to a statement by Peter Cook, the Chief executive officer of Novatti Group, “Completing the integration of Novatti’s Payments Platform into Stellar’s network lays the foundations to build future high-growth revenue streams driven by transactions across the blockchain network.”

“We are focused on leveraging our strong relationship with Stellar to securing additional agreements with its partner network to drive high growth revenue streams in the payments and billing space, driven by growing transactions processing.”

Confirming the collaboration in a tweet, Ella Qiang, who leads Stellar’s strategic partnerships in China said: “Congrats to our anchor partner @NovattiPayments on completion of Stellar integration! Look forward to seeing transaction commencement in the coming month. #Stellar #futureofpayments.”

Stellar is growing. The platform keeps on announcing partnerships with financial service providers in the nooks and crannies of the world. In March, Stellar announced a partnership with Keybase, the producer of free security app for mobile phones and computers.

Speaking on the move, the Stellar team stated that they are “most interested in their (Keybase) ground-breaking effort to link strong cryptography to real-world identity.”

“We see a future where, say, I can send my friend 100XLM, and, via Keybase, I can send it to her by knowing only her Twitter or Reddit handle. I won’t need some long string of digits as a key, just a human-readable username that I already know. In short, I can interact with her financially in the same way I interact with her socially. The end product would be like a global, decentralized Venmo, where you can send around every asset under the sun, not just your local currency—that’s where money is heading, and we want to get Stellar started along the path.”

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Blockchain Platform Prepares To Test Cryptocurrency Payment System In Major Shopping Mall

A Blockchain-driven platform has announced it will begin testing a brand-new transaction system for cryptocurrency payments within the coming days.

Eligma says the beta version of its EliPay technology is going to be rolled out to selected retailers in BTC City, one of Europe’s largest shopping centers.

The company says that the Slovenia-based complex, which boasts more than 450 stores, will become the first mall in the world where cryptocurrencies can be used to buy products. Letters of intent have already been signed with several major retailers.

EliPay is one component of a platform with the objective of helping shoppers find the products they desire simply – with thousands of eCommerce platforms vying for their attention on a daily basis. This is going to be achieved through an artificial intelligence (AI) system that keeps track of transactions and makes recommendations based on past purchases.

For greater ease, Eligma’s users will have a single account which can be used to shop on multiple websites – eradicating the need for dreaded “forgotten password” emails while also ensuring they don’t need to enter their personal information every time they’re interested in buying from a new store.

Eligma says it has now concluded its presale, and the level of contributions successfully reached the company’s soft cap.

Dejan Roljič, the founder and CEO of Eligma, told Cointelegraph: “Both Blockchain and AI are in their infancy. This makes us pioneers of the economy of the future.

The fruits of our labor will become visible in the years to come, which is why the support of Blockchain communities and novelty embracers is crucial at this point.”

Eligma’s crowdsale begins

The company’s crowdsale commenced on April 17, with executives announcing that Ethereum’s price will be locked at $800 because of “volatile market conditions.”

Although this is higher than the market price, Eligma says this will help them “offset the exchange ratio drop that would hurt early contributors.”

The next phase of its contribution drive comes shortly after Charlie Shrem – described as “one of the most renowned representatives of the crypto community” – joined Eligma’s advisory board.

Meanwhile, in March, Mr Roljič helped his company win an award for best pitch at Zurich’s Crypto Summit 2018 – defeating 22 rivals.

In a new team video, the CEO and his team have explained the vision behind Eligma – with Mr Roljič saying that the platform is determined to “enable everyone to get the best offer that they or their household needs.”

With the company enabling shoppers to create an inventory of their items – with its AI system helping them learn when is the most financially suitable time to sell their second-hand, unwanted goods – adviser Andy Baynes said: “Eligma is one of those opportunities and innovations that hit the right time.

“People are now moving to online shopping first and traditional retail second. The next big wave is about doing that conveniently – and Eligma is all of those things.”

Mr Shrem, a founding partner of the Bitcoin Foundation, added: “What the team is developing is exactly what the crypto community needs after a decade: a way to move crypto from exchanges to enable us to use them to buy everyday stuff with systems like EliPay.

“This is the right direction to show the true value of digital currencies.”

Eligma says another pillar that will underpin its business model is loyalty, with the company gearing up to create a universal loyalty program that rewards shoppers in the platform’s utility token, which is called ELI.

The company hopes that this will help customers gain better value for money, and make fragmented loyalty schemes a thing of the past.
Eligma’s crowdsale is scheduled to end on May 8.

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India has effectively banned cryptocurrencies.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently mandated any financial institutions and banks that fall within its regulatory purview to terminate any association and service provision to individuals or businesses dealing with virtual currencies. In effect, investors in India will no longer be able to go through established financial institutions and transfer money from their bank accounts to their crypto wallets to invest in cryptocurrencies, moving with the intent to ultimately eliminate cryptocurrencies from the country’s investment space.

Cryptocurrency has, from early on, faced incessant criticism in India, voiced by the country’s government and regulatory authorities. The finance minister earlier in a speech said that cryptocurrency would not be considered legal tender in India. The central bank of the country too had, on multiple occasions, cautioned against the use of, and investment in cryptocurrencies, citing high price volatility as a potential pain point, especially for retail investors, threatening financial instability.

With the recent RBI announcement, India now joins a club of countries including China and Japan, who are all proactively working to regulate and highly restrict or ban market operations in cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency market in India was approaching substantial size, with investor numbers reaching 5m and bitcoin investments in India approaching $2bn. The announcement by the central bank has, however, sent the price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin crashing by around 10-15% in local exchanges and resulted in elevated investor concern towards cryptocurrencies.

The Motivation behind the Move

The announcement came as a surprise for investors as the central bank had previously created a panel to formulate a framework for effective and regulated cryptocurrency operations. Rumours also abounded that the RBI was exploring possibilities to release its own digital currency. What seems to be the motivating factor behind such a radical turnaround in position is the RBI’s moral imperative towards investor protection and its obligation to safeguard against the potential use of cryptocurrency in illicit operations, while maintaining an atmosphere conducive towards investments that promote foundational growth, aligning with the government’s manifesto.

Cryptocurrency represents investments that have high mobility to move out of India with no capital controls and are hence not localised to contribute towards Indian economic development. As such, these investments do not contribute to centralised infrastructure building which will further the growth of the Indian economy, an objective the government is eagerly working to promote.

Major concerns regarding the price volatility of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and increased investor exposure were creating possibilities of financial instability. The government had earlier drawn comparisons between cryptocurrencies and ‘Ponzi schemes’ as fraudulent investment operations and the policy is argued to be a move towards consumer and investor protection. The use of cryptocurrencies to finance illegal activities and its potential use in money laundering activities also promoted the regulatory body to impose such severe restrictions.

Implications of the Policy

With the increasing proliferation of cryptocurrency investments in Indian markets, there were significant investments made by many retail investors, some even being financed by household savings. The announcement ensued huge losses for investors as cryptocurrency prices fell in local exchanges and reduced the ability of crypto investors to unwind positions in the market profitably as trading volumes
reduced considerably. There now remain very few, if any, feasible exit options for such investors. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) were also gaining popularity among Indian start-ups to finance growth and this method of financing has also been made redundant overnight.

A significant cost of this policy will also be borne by the Indian government in terms of tax revenue collection. Tax revenue to the tune of around $13m from cryptocurrency operations had been collected by the government the previous year. Proceeding to terminate crypto operations, which were witnessing strong growth and adoption in Indian markets, is effectively cutting out a potential source of considerable tax revenue.

Many crypto exchanges based in India are now also looking to move elsewhere in search of a more conducive framework for business operations. Heightened investor concern and a sell-off in crypto markets in India have created worry amongst exchanges as they face a potential shut down of operations and investments from Indian investors. Moving base to countries such as Singapore will allow these exchanges to continue their operations, consequently leaving the Indian government with another lost source of tax revenue as profits from such business operations will no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian government to collect.

End of Crypto in India?

Such policy implementation and the crackdown on cryptocurrency signal an intent of the regulatory authorities towards eliminating cryptocurrency from the Indian market and economic system. However, the policy leaves certain loopholes which investors have picked up on.

Since the RBI requires financial institutions to not facilitate or be involved in virtual currency transactions, cash transactions and OTC markets now seem to be the new interest story for Indian crypto enthusiasts. As was done previously, investors will now look to transact using cash rather than through regulated financial channels like banks, potentially opening another gateway to cryptocurrency. Traders and investors might now also have greater incentive to use cash to unwind their existing crypto positions and potentially evade monitoring by regulatory authorities and thus, contrary to RBI objectives, encourage more black-market transactions. Investors may also now look towards a peer-to-peer (P2P) market model which would eliminate the need for fiat currency and circumvent the RBI policy while also potentially exploring options to invest directly in overseas cryptocurrency markets.

Although such channels do exist for investors to continue trading in cryptocurrency, the RBI policy has effectively clamped down on cryptocurrency integration in Indian markets as it is now near impossible to engage in such investments through established institutional channels, making it much harder for cryptocurrencies to gain wide-stream integration that was necessary for their growth and proliferation in Indian investment portfolios.

The RBI mandate will certainly subdue crypto investments by Indian investors, however there remain channels for enthusiastic traders and investors to circumvent the system, something that the central bank may look to plug in the future. The future looks uncertain as to how India will approach cryptocurrency but at the moment, at the expense of bearing considerable costs, the Indian government and
central bank appear determined to curtail and suppress the adoption of cryptocurrency in the country.

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Ripple (XRP) and Stellar Lumens (XLM) are two superpowers in a new world order. The former has the most resources at its disposal and has done well to set its mark in the crypto community despite much hate and negativity. The latter has garnered support as a ‘decentralized’ alternative of Ripple (XRP) with a smaller coin supply. However, it would be tough to choose between the two. Savvy investors who believe in Ripple (XRP) and Stellar Lumens (XLM) both try to invest in both so as to use one as a hedge against another.

Ripple (XRP) is the third largest coin by market cap and for good reason. The company is right to claim that it is one of the few projects in the market with the most use cases and adoption. Despite the general animosity towards Ripple (XRP) from most crypto loyalists and staunch believers of a decentralized system, it is impressive how much Ripple (XRP) has achieved so far. The team behind Ripple is a very ambitious and talented one. They have already reached out to most large institutions and forged some game changing partnerships.

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Ripple (XRP) also surpassed Ethereum (ETH) in market cap briefly in 2017 which resulted in plenty of debates about Ripple (XRP) surpassing even Bitcoin (BTC) in market cap to become the number one coin. The team behind Ripple did not focus much on XRP at the beginning but when debates about the use of XRP sparked and investors started discussing if Ripple really needs XRP to function, the company increased its promotion of XRP. They have published a number of videos on Youtube where they explain how important it is for large financial institutions to hold XRP for liquidity. According to Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, big banks hold trillions of dollars in Nostro accounts globally. These funds are not being used; they just lie in those accounts to help with liquidity. What if Ripple (XRP) were to capture a percentage of that trillion dollars market? That certainly shows that XRP might have a lot of potential despite its big coin supply problem. Ripple also tried to address the supply issue by locking 55 Billion XRP coins in Escrow. Another thing with Ripple, as with most cryptocurrencies is that the price could shoot up astronomically in a short time if for instance; big financial institutions start using XRP on a large scale.

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Stellar on the other hand relies on support from IBM for its partnerships and mass adoption. Stellar (XLM) is also keen on projecting itself as a coin to be used by central banks. If central banks decide to issue their own cryptocurrencies, they can still use the Stellar blockchain as IBM already covers most of the fintech needs of these banks. Stellar is also committed to providing a banking solution to third world countries that do not have access to banks and have difficulty sending and receiving funds. Stellar (XLM) seems more than prepared to stand its test of time and also has the potential for one of the most returns on investment with a fairly low risk/reward. The current sentiment about Stellar (XLM) in the market is euphoric and investors are eager to pick up some coins as soon as a recovery is sighted. While Ripple seems to have set its mark as a market leader in the cross border payments industry, Stellar cannot be ignored as one of the most undervalued projects in the market right now.

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The last one hour indicators for all the coin in the cryptocurrency market at 1:11 PM UTC was seen to be red and the coins like Cardano [ADA] and IOTA [MIOTA] that had a gain till now have gone red. The coin market capital has come down to the $320 levels and now stands at $320.504 billion. The Bitcoin dominance at the time of writing is at 42.2%. Cardano, however, still retains a 9% gain in the last 24 hours. IOTA’s price dipped by 6.59% in the last 24 hours which is the highest in comparison with other major coins. OmiseGO still has a 1.14% gain in the last 24 hours. Today’s market is characterized by high volatility and major changes in the prices.

The sentiment analysis segment gives you the sentiments and opinions of people, including experts, from around the world which are recorded as it is. This segment includes expert opinions of people about the current market trends of various coins. We have carefully structured this segment after taking an interview of a group of investors, miners, skeptics, analysts, influencers, and henceforth recording their valuable comments. This analysis is focused on Stellar Lumens [XLM] which is currently at the 8th spot in the rankings.

Stellar Lumens [XLM]

Stellar Lumens, at 1:26 PM UTC was seen to be trading at $0.275 with a market capitalization of $5.117 billion. Stellar was seen to have crossed the $0.30 mark and it peaked at an intraday high of $0.306 at 1:09 AM UTC before dropping down to a swing low of 0.273 at 1:31 PM UTC which continues to drop. Stellar Lumens hit the $0.30 mark for the first time since the 14th of March. The coin rallied 15.6% on Sunday to end the weekend at $0.294. The coin was seen to have broken the resistance level of $0.295, moving it way up to the $30 mark. The bearish trend that kicked in since the high of $0.281 on the 20th of March and it was broken on the 6th of April after hitting the bottom at $0.185.

Matthew Bailey, an XLM investor from New Castle says:

“A bull run was expected of XLM and the targets were set at $0.338 which is the 0.5 of the Fibonacci level. The coin rose to a profit of 18.23% during the last bull run. The MACD indicators have crossed which signals a major chance in the trend. The RSI is heading towards an oversold position in the four-hour chart of Stellar Lumens.”

Chris Mackellar, an altcoin enthusiast from Genoa says:

“Looks like Stellar is going to linger between $0.26-$0.28 levels for some time as there is no indication for a bullish or a bearish trend. The coin has a selling pressure now and looks like it has gotten exhausted. My personal advise to all the Stelllar investors is to HODL till a bullish reversal happens.”

Gayathri Suthar, a journalist from Jaipur says:

“Stellar sentiments have been weak across the market and a recovery is expected by the community as they feel optimistic looking at how the coin rallied on Sunday. The coin has to depend upon its investors as they should HODL at the present moment to keep the coin in the game. Reports say that if the coin drops below $0.25, then a reversal would be hard unless it goes down further.”

To conclude, 59% of Stellar Lumens respondents feel bullish as the coin had crossed the $0.30 mark after a while and it broke the major resistances revealing its potential. Another 41% of Stellar’s respondents feel bearish looking at the hourly charts of the coin. They feel that $0.25 mark is crucial for the coin and it may be broken.

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Earlier this week in New York, Kik gathered up the strongest believers in its plan to create a new revenue model for services online using its Kin token. The team has been working relentlessly for a long time to get things right and they have been successful as well. The XLM token is one of the most stable currencies as claimed by analysts and has managed to stay in the top 10 ever since.

Another lesser known fact about XLM is it is one of the least distributed cryptocurrency assets in terms of percentage vs inflation-adjusted supply among the big ones. The technical team has been up to date with the necessary upgrades and adoptions to keep the network going smooth. In a recent Ask Me Anything [AMA] session in a subreddit platform which was hosted together by Stellar’s team and the Kin Foundation, they discussed in detail about the existing partnerships and future plans highlighting the Atomic Swap on Stellar.

Jonas Baewert, a Twitterati says:

“People are scared of the high total supply. Burn 50bil tokens. Then we’ll be talking!”

Stellar Lumens [XLM] is currently trading at $0.28/USD. When observed, Stellar has been pretty quick in a majority of the recoveries from market crashes and FUDs. The coin is slowly pacing up after a week with almost 40% gain in trading volume.

Apart from being listed on top exchanges like Upbit, Binance, Poloneix, and Bittrex, XLM was recently listed on Coindirect and Buybit.

A Leadership event is scheduled on April 19th in San Francisco, California where Jed McCaleb, the Founder of Stellar will discuss and reveal the future of Stellar, outlining the road ahead along with his journey as the Founder.

Richard Cooney, a Stellar enthusiast says:

“I love how there’s no drama on XLM. It just hides in the corner waiting for its turn to bust out and shine.”

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Despite many advantages, cryptocurrency still suffers from some highly noticeable disadvantages. Firstly, its lack of fungibility—the inability to convert the currency into readily available goods and services—prevents the “hands-on” experience that this area requires. But what if there were a way to convert our crypto into something fungible, like a gift card?


We are still considered a cash-based society, despite popular belief. However, while cash still finds a comfortable spot in our wallets, the demand for debit cards, credit cards, and gift cards is most definitely there. Why? It’s more seamless and easier to carry around a few pieces of plastic than a bulky wallet with a lot of green. At least that holds true with the millennial demographic.

Gift cards provide a mechanism by which individuals are able to easily and seamlessly convert their funds into readily available goods and services.
But where cryptocurrency falters, gift cards excel. “It’s a means to an end for the crypto product, not the other way around,” according to Zeex, a platform that allows users to buy and sell gift cards—digitally or physically, using fiat money.

By allowing individuals to buy cryptocurrency with their gift cards and vouchers, they can then liquidate their money at any time, instantly.


Currently, gift cards face the challenge of answering to intermediaries. They are tied to individual holders. Implementing this mechanism would seamlessly connect both spaces, allowing for seamless transferability between holders.
The underlying blockchain technology makes intermediaries obsolete by embedding transaction records in a distributed database, which reduces transaction costs and market friction.


While crypto-based credit cards aim to bridge the gap between the intangible fungibility of cryptocurrency and tangible fiat, they are not without their issues. As we’ve heard countless times already, blockchain presents a solution to addressing insecurity and decentralization, allowing merchants and buyers to connect directly.


The first issue is that many of these crypto-based cards still have an insane amount of fees. Individuals who wish to use their crypto-money at any given moment should be able to do so, without the hassle of having to pay exchange fees or conversion fees. The team behind Zeex believes that utilizing a platform which allows a holder to go around the credit card companies, directly to merchants, minimizes the stress of conversion fees.


Secondly, utilizing an intermediary opens up the very real possibility that the “cord” could be cut at any given time, even mid-use. “Having the ability to purchase crypto-giftcards directly from partner vendors via fiat and sold to crypto-users is a huge step in a positive direction,” according to Zeex.


Thirdly, digital gift cards are no stranger to payment fraud and the double-spend scenario. Payment fraud, also known as buyer fraud, involves the use of stolen financials when purchasing digital gift cards from an e-commerce merchant. The liability for the chargeback, and the overall risk on the merchant’s end, are exorbitant.

The other form of this, known as the double spending issue, involves having keys passed around before a holder has the chance to use it. When an individual comes to possess the card, the funds are already insecure. Why? Because all parties now hold and/or own the same code, and can use it at any moment.

This problem presents the need to create a protocol that provides merchants with the ability to distribute and sell gift cards on a blockchain, in a safe manner, without worrying about the double spending issue.

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Japan is quickly becoming a global center for blockchain ventures and cryptocurrency firms. Despite the region’s colorful history–involving Mt. Gox, for example–the local authorities see merit in these new technologies in the global cryptocurrency industry. Major local conglomerates have begun to enter the sector, with some of them operating cryptocurrency exchanges.

Japan’s Checked History With Bitcoin

When people discuss Bitcoin, the topic of Mt. Gox will come up at some point. This now defunct trading platform made the world’s leading cryptocurrency very appealing years ago. Unfortunately, the platform suffered from alleged hacks and other oddities. While many people see Mt. Gox as a black page in the history books, it also created a vibrant crypto ecosystem in Japan.

Ever since the exchange disappeared, the demand for regulation has grown. Investors lost a lot of money through this exchange, yet the interest in Bitcoin never waned. Local officials took a proactive approach to cryptocurrencies rather than banning it. Even the recent Coincheck hack has not diminished the positive attitude toward Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Japan stands out when it comes to the regulatory aspect. Various other governments – including China, India, and some US states – make it nearly impossible for crypto firms to exist, let alone thrive. The firm support for this nascent industry makes Japan a haven for this type of activity. Even major domestic firms are now entering this booming industry through various means.

Japanese Companies Embrace Cryptocurrency

A fair few technology and financial giants are based in Japan. Among those companies are Rakuten, Line, SBI, DMM, and GMO Internet. Every single one of these firms if currently active in the cryptocurrency world. Ranging from accepting Bitcoin payments to launching or operating a trading platform, the opportunities are virtually limitless.

GMO Internet is perhaps the most intriguing entity of them all. The company, valued at $2bn according to Bloomberg, is active in the mining and exchange industry. Additionally, they also announced a Bitcoin payroll service for its employees. In Japan, it will be possible to receive part of your paycheck in Bitcoin. 

A novel approach to dealing with recurring payments.

All of this further confirms Japan will continue to quest to become a global cryptocurrency hub. With troubled exchange Coincheck recently being acquired by Monex, another interesting development takes place. The country continues to show the rest of the world how a positive approach to cryptocurrency regulation can open a lot of new doors.

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While there have been significant cryptocurrency regulations and bans put in place by national governments around the world, very few regulators have put an emphasis on educational campaigns as a way to teach new investors about the potential risks of investing in crypto.

So who’s teaching about these risks? So far we have seen a variety of nonprofits, legal journal publications, and tax services publish information about the risks of purchasing cryptocurrency.

Let’s take a look at some of the current educational campaigns on the risks involved in cryptocurrency transactions and what strategies they’re giving to help people mitigate risk.

Hong Kong’s Official Efforts

Thus far, Hong Kong is leading the way in an effort to create an official, government-led cryptocurrency education campaign. On January 29, 2018, the Hong Kong government’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and the Investor Education Centre (IEC) launched a cryptocurrency education campaign that includes a series of videos, infographics, and articles on this website.

Articles and infographics on the site are written in English. Videos are produced in Cantonese.  The site offers a few succinct explanations of cryptocurrency and ICO investment risks. It also explains other FinTech terms like “P2P lending” and “equity crowdfunding”.

US Campaigns/Non-Profits

While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have had several meetings discussing how the US government will govern cryptocurrency in the future, there are presently no official government educational campaigns on the risks of crypto. However, a few organizations have produced some educational materials.

Legal Publications

In January 2018, the New Jersey Law Journal released an article on what people should be aware of when investing in cryptocurrency. This article gives an unbiased, factual assessment of some of the previous hacks of top cryptos and gives reasons why some cryptos might or might not be good transaction decisions. It also explains some of the basic differences between top cryptos like BTC and ETH.

Advocacy Groups

Educational campaigns from Super PACs like Cryptocurrency Alliance are also becoming more popular. This Super PAC is committed to creating more public awareness surrounding cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrency Alliance also seeks to “oppose legislation and political candidates who intend to regulate cryptocurrencies at the expense of consumer privacy”. According to the group’s website, 20+ people are now core members of this organization.

Universities/Online Courses

Universities are perhaps the biggest adopters of educational campaigns on cryptocurrencies to date. Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duke, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland, and a few other major universities in the US have added courses on cryptocurrency technology, economics, law, and other specific subjects.

While it’s difficult to say exactly how the blockchain technology and market trends of cryptocurrency will evolve, professors can generally guide students to develop sound investment principles and educate them on how to keep investments secure.

In addition, online learning platforms are also beginning to offer more courses related to blockchain and cryptocurrency. For example, Coursera offers a Princeton class on a wide range of topics about Bitcoin and various other cryptos.

What’s Next for Educational Campaigns?
Current educational campaigns on the risks of cryptocurrency transactions are still few and far between. While universities are likely to expand course offerings about blockchain and cryptocurrency, other segments of the population also need to learn more about how to make wiser cryptocurrency transaction decisions.

For the most part, HODLers and day traders alike have to find out about risks through their own research. Perhaps, one of the most important ways for newer investors to become more aware of potential risks is through using a combination of age-old investment advice (i.e. general principles associated with stock market investing) and self-education through research (i.e. learning about wallet storage, security measures, etc.)

Investors should remember classic advice like “don’t invest more than one can afford to lose” or “buy low, sell high.” However, they should also look for more resources which teach essential blockchain/cryptocurrency technology concepts.

As the cryptocurrency market continues to mature and newer investors begin to gain interest in the market, official educational campaigns will likely play a more important role in teaching people investment principles and technology concepts. For now, the educational gap for newer investors still remains rather large.

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Total cryptocurrency market capitalization is now at $321,233,020,883 according to CoinFi, a cryptocurrency market intelligence platform. Given that, it's no surprise most know about it. But that's where the knowing stops, according to December 2017 survey data. 

Of the 1,035 American adults polled for the survey, 78 percent didn't know where to buy cryptocurrencies and another 66% didn't know what an "ICO" was.

“Crypto is outperforming almost every other traditional investment at the moment" says Han Chang, CoinFi co-founder "yet it’s still widely misunderstood and can be unpredictable without the right background and knowledge.” And misunderstood it is.

One of the biggest myths surrounding cryptocurrency is that it has no real value or practical application.

Turns out virtually all the major coins have real life goals, and are tied to either improving (or disrupting) existing industries.

Let's start with Ethereum

It was built partly to execute "smart contracts." These smart contracts have an unlimited number of applications. For one, they can facilitate safer transactions, like fulfilling them only once certain conditions are met. 

A great example of this was reported in Newsweek back in October 2017 when TechCrunch founder founder Michael Arrington bought a $60,000 apartment in Kiev, Ukraine using smart contracts and Ethereum all without ever stepping foot in the country. It can manage agreements between people, executing the terms of a contract only when the mutually agreed upon terms and conditions are met.

This is why ETH has been one of the primary platforms for ICO's: in 2017, $5.6b was raised via ICO's that mostly took place on the ETH platform.

Or take Ripple.

It's focused on corporate solutions. Global inter-banking, which is dominated by the likes of SWIFT, is a $150 trillion dollar market. Ripple was designed to speed up money transfers and international transactions. Now they take days. Ripple aims to decrease transfer time to seconds while also cutting transfer costs down by 60%.

Back in January MoneyGram, the money transfer giant, agreed to test Ripple due to its claimed greater speed and efficiency. The CEO of Ripple had this to say about the test run, which perfectly encapsulates its practical application: "The inefficiencies of global payments don't just affect banks, they also affect institutions like MoneyGram. ... By using a digital asset like XRP that settles in three seconds or less, they can now move money as quickly as information."

The most obvious benefit of Bitcoin is its role as a decentralized currency. What does this mean? That it's not controlled by any one governing body or directly tied to any one government's legal tender. If an entire government falls, the value of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin would likely be unaffected. This benefit may seem unnecessary to your average American, but in countries with instability this decentralization has a very real and practical impact.

Take Venezuelans. They're seeking out Bitcoin in droves due to their country's hyperinflation problem, as first reported in The Atlantic last year.

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