China: Blockchain Tourism Initiative Launched, Bitcoin Miners Busted

China: Blockchain Tourism Initiative Launched, Bitcoin Miners Busted 101
Yunnan Province, China. Source: iStock/AlexBrylov

China’s crypto-crackdown remains firmly in place, but interest in all things blockchain and cryptocurrency-related remains high in the Middle Kingdom.

Per Xinhua, tourists and tour operators visiting attractions in the Yunnan Province will soon be able to obtain blockchain-powered invoices for online and mobile payments.

The news outlet states that buyers will be able to apply for blockchain-powered invoices using smartphones, and receive the new invoices in their email inboxes within 48 hours. The project operators state that the blockchain technology that they will use “makes it impossible to tamper with invoice information, and will save significant costs of printing traditional paper invoices for the tourist attractions in the province.”

Elsewhere in the country, AFPBB reports that Jiangsu Province police have arrested 13 people for stealing USD 2.8 million worth of electricity from a power plant – using the energy to power a massive Bitcoin mining scheme. The group is accused of running the sophisticated operation for two years – from May 2017 to May 2019.

Prosecutors say the group rented office space at 10 factories outside the city of Zhejiang City, and rather than use power at the factories they were occupying, instead diverted power from a large range of nearby offices in an effort to throw electricity authoritie

Interesting Times as BNB Token Listed on BQT Exchange

Brand new cryptocurrency exchange BQT has listed BNB, the native token of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by trading volume.

Up until now, the primary purpose of the BNB token has been in a supporting role on the Binance exchange.

According to the Binance website, “Binance Coin (BNB) powers the Binance Ecosystem. As the native coin of Binance Chain, BNB has multiple use cases: fueling transactions on the Chain, paying for transaction fees on Binance Exchange, making in-store payments, and many more.”

Working together

BQT was also honored by Binance CEO, CZ, a prolific cryptocurrency social media communicator, when he retweeted BQT’s announcement Twitter announcement.

In the announcement, BQT commended BNB as “one of the most reliable and secure #crypto in the whole #market,” indicating that this sentiment was a primary determining factor in selecting BNB as a first listing.

BQT is a newcomer in the growing cryptocurrency exchange market. The premise behind this exchange is also new but unique in the space.

The BQT team has publicly committed to supporting and promoting a decentralized exchange economy through the development of synergistic relationships with other exchanges.

By listing a competitor token, BQT is practicing what it preaches. The BNB listing demonstrates increasing value of the BNB token as well as a definite engagement in the BQT pledge to contribute to a collaborative exchange environment for cryptocurrency.

BNB has been on an interesting ride this year, and not just because of the status of the Binance exchange and its high profile CEO, CZ Zhao.

Starting April 23, 2019, Binance launched a custom mainnet blockchain, the Binance Chain. Designed specifically to support the BNB cryptocurrency that powers its platform, it is set to support over $4 billion worth of the native token.

Binance Chain is a decentralized exchange (DEX). In a May 2019 interview with Forbes, CZ Zhao stated the following:

“We believe decentralized exchanges bring new hope and new possibilities, offering a trustless and transparent financial system. … With no central custody of funds, Binance DEX offers far more control over your own assets.”

In addition to bringing its decentralized exchange vision to life, Binance is also supporting new cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and blockchain projects.

BNB, Burns, and BQT

In addition, the existing features of BNB remain intact. Specifically, the fact that at the moment, Binance still offers discounted transaction fees when paying with BNB. Other features also exist, including dust conversion, zero fees for certain token withdrawals, and the ability to use BNB as a base trading coin.

Prior to the Binance Chain launch, BNB was run on Ethereum. Holders of BNB were directed to migrate all balances to the new ne

S Korean Telecoms, Food Giants Team up for Blockchain Project

S Korean Telecoms, Food Giants Team up for Blockchain Project 101
Source: Helloquence/Unsplash

Two of South Korea’s most blockchain-keen conglomerates say they will team up for a joint food supply chain project that makes use of the technology.

Telecoms giant KT has sealed a deal with food producer Nongshim’s own tech arm, Nongshim Data System (NDS). The companies say they will create a blockchain-powered food safety network and create a range of services that will allow retailers, farmers and distributors to maintain transparent supply chains.

NDS says, per First Media, that it has already conducted a range of tests on its own distribution network, and says that with the use of blockchain technology, it can now access supply chain data on its beef products in the space of 10 minutes. Without the blockchain network, the company says the checking process would take up to six days.

The companies say that their new platform will allow customers to access full supply chain data by scanning QR codes on products available at supermarkets. NDS and KT say they hope to complete work on the project by the end of 2019.

KT says it will also step up its services offerings. The company released details of its GiGA Chain Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) platform in March this year, and now says it is ready to offer cloud-based blockchain development services to companies.

It has been a busy few weeks for KT and its blockchain activities. The company recently announced it was joining a mobile authentication platform project based on blockchain technology with its two biggest ri

VC Investments Fall, but Blockchain Space Gets ‘a Second Wind’

VC Investments Fall, but Blockchain Space Gets 'a Second Wind' 101
Source: iStock/Marco Rosario Venturini Autieri

The future seems brighter for blockchain, as the speculation and overall market confidence have somewhat rebounded in 2019 from the crypto winter, finds CB Insights, a tech market intelligence platform. They note that market capitalizations of tokens and cryptocurrencies signal a renewed interest in the space, and though there is high uncertainty in the market, many new developments “have given the space a second wind.”

CB Insight’s report “Blockchain Trends in Review”, looked into the factors that created the current blockchain industry and what its near future might bring. And it starts off quite bleak. Some of the conclusion they’ve reached include:

  • tokens and cryptocurrencies are at a fraction of their peak market caps
  • corporate participation in blockchain has declined, there being only 96 corporate deals in 2019
  • a growing share of equity deals go to early-stage startups
  • whereas venture capital (VC) was once bypassed and millions of dollars were raised in the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) boom, now VC “accounts for much more than ICO funding, marking an end of the ICO era”
  • the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) strict position towards token offerings has further contributed to ICO’s near-death state
  • VC investment in blockchain has declined in 2019, from the USD 4.1 billion last year, to USD 1.6 billion it’ll get this year if this rate continues
  • challenges for VC include price volatility, regulatory setbacks, and scaling issues (especially with Bitcoin and Ethereum).

However, the report reminds that the volume and speculation of major currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have surged in recent months and adds other positive points such as:

  • there’s renewed corporate interest in the space, with major companies like Facebook, JPMorgan, and Visa entering the space
  • total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has doubled since January 2019
  • though there is a decline in VC investments in blockchain, equity investment in 2019 “will likely surpass the totals seen in 2017, when there were fewer companies and arguably less bubble mania driving private deals”
  • startups are in a good position to help major organizations and companies join the space.

“Because the space is highly technical, startups are well-positioned to help large corporations and institutions enter the field. The concept of blockchain is only 10 years old, likely tilting the scale towards M&A [mergers and acquisitions] when corporates are deciding to “build versus buy

Top ICO of 2017, Polkadot, to Start Important Experiment

Top ICO of 2017, Polkadot, to Start Important Experiment 101
Source: a screenshot of kusama.network

A highly anticipated blockchain and one of the top 10 ICO’s of 2017 Polkadot Network has announced its “canary network”, Kusama – an experimental version of Polkadot, with real economic conditions, for developers to experiment in and test out a Polkadot-like environment.

Polkadot is a blockchain created by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum, which “empowers blockchain networks to work together under the protection of shared security”, as the website says. It has a form of proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus for a larger ecosystem of blockchains connected to it and it’s not exclusive to blockchains, allowing other data structures to connect to the network as ‘parachains.’ For the blockchains that plug into its ‘Relay Chain’ to work together, Polkadot aims to improve major areas it identified as points of struggle for blockchains: interoperability, scalability, and shared security.

Meanwhile, Kusama is “an early, unaudited and unrefined release of Polkadot” – it’s its experimental version, made to provide a “proving ground” in the form of a Polkadot-like environment with real economic conditions, where developers and teams can “build and deploy a parachain or try out Polkadot’s governance, staking, nomination and validation functionality in a real environment.”

This ‘canary-net’ will point to and warn about issues and dangers, in order to maintain security for the developers (as canaries would, when taken into a mine; hence the name Kusama came up with). “Without a network like Kusama, there is no reasonable way to fully understand the potential dangers that lie ahead”, stands in the announcement. “We are building bleeding-edge, experimental technology, which means there are no promises about what

LG Claims Blockchain First with Insurance Platform for Mobiles

LG Claims Blockchain First with Insurance Platform for Mobiles 101
Source: Instagram, LG

Mobile carrier LG U+ (the telecoms arm of the LG Group) says it will begin offering blockchain technology-powered mobile phone insurance as of July 17.

The carrier says that its product will allow customers to receive same-day compensation for damage done to handsets, and will not require users to submit any documentation when making claims. LG U+ says that the platform will also allow customers to select replacement mobile phones following accidents, and receive handsets on the same day.

Currently, most South Korean insurance claims platforms require customers to submit paper documents, repair reports and service receipts. The new platform means users will no longer need to fax documents to insurance providers, says LG U+, submit photographs via apps or upload such evidence to websites.

The app makes use of the Monacoin blockchain platform developed by the LG Group’s IT services arm, LG CNS.

Per Chosun Biz, the insurance platform is the nation’s first to make use of blockchain technology, and has been developed in conjunction with KB Bank’s insurance subsidiary, KB Insurance.

As previously reported, LG and KB are collaborating on a number of blockchain projects, with some reports claiming the companies may be at work on a cryptocurrency-related project that could eventually produce an LG coin.

LG U+ states that the new blockchain in