In this week’s cryptocurrency round-up, Denver is using blockchain technology to vote, a well-known cryptocurrency trader and entrepreneur gets caught up by law enforcement, and Morgan Stanley might finally be stepping into the crypto world. As if that wasn’t enough news, Texas wants to know the identities of those involved in cryptocurrency transactions, Binance announces a system upgrade, Max Keiser thinks that we should abandon the dollar for Bitcoin. Last but not least: the United States and China appear to be racing to hire as many blockchain-related positions as possible.
Denver Using Blockchain To Vote
There are many that have speculated about how blockchain can help revolutionize the voting industry. The idea is that blockchain would allow for less fraud in the voting sector because of its immutability, and there are elections around the world that have actually already utilized blockchain. However, it appears as though Denver is now another city that will run a pilot for smartphone voting that will utilize blockchain. This will be capable thanks to a mobile app by the name of Voatz, which markets itself as “on a mission to make voting safer and more accessible”.
The announcement was made on the verified @DenverElections Twitter account, and points out that this will allow military and overseas voters to actually allow their voice to be heard. This will apply to May 2019 municipal elections. The city is not actually funding the project, but Bradley Tusk, who used to manage Bloomberg’s campaign, will be covering the cost, which is believed to be somewhere around $180,000. This actually isn’t the first that Tusk has done this, as he helped this happen in West Virginia, which was the first state to use blockchain for voting purposes.
Currently, ballots can be e-mailed from overseas, but many believe Voatz to be a considerable improvement over that particular system. The idea is that Voatz is more secure than e-mail ballots. In addition, many believe that this method will allow more individuals to vote than ever before, which is great for those cities who might experience a low voter turnout because of the time/energy/money required to vote at a certain location at a certain time.
Australian Bitcoin Trader Arrested
There are many cryptocurrency proponents and enthusiasts that hope that the public perception of Bitcoin changes, as many still believe that the digital asset is used mainly by criminals. While that perception has shifted somewhat, the truth is that there are still individuals and influencers that are making it difficult for legitimate investors to take cryptocurrency seriously. Unfortunately, Bitcoin trader Sam Karagiozis isn’t making things easier, as he was recently arrested for trafficking 30 kilograms of drugs.
For those who are unaware, Karagiozis has had no problem showing off his affluent lifestyle, often showing off the fact that he owned exotic cars such as Lamborghini and a Bentley, and that he was friends with sports athletes such as Nick Krygios. Karagiozis wasn’t just a trader, either, as he also founded the “Auscoin” Bitcoin ATM company. Karagioizis had previously bragged about the company’s revenue, claiming in late January that the ATMs were bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars per week. He also famously predicted that Bitcoin would hit $100,000 before the end of 2018, and the prediction was, of course, way off.
It is now believed that Karagiozis was part of a larger organized crime syndicate, and that he was purchasing drugs off of the dark web. Australian Federal Police charged Sam Karagiozis for trading cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine, and also raided his various properties, where they found steroids, cash, and “cryptocurrency-related items”. He was refused bail.
Morgan Stanley Stepping In?
Ever since Fidelity Investments has expressed interest in cryptocurrency, many believed that there were countless companies that were ready to follow. After all, Fidelity literally manages trillions of dollars in assets, and is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It is only natural to assume that many companies would consider stepping into the crypto space to keep up with the times. For those who are unaware, the CEO of Fidelity Investments, Abigail Johnson, originally hinted at Fidelity Investments’ new direction in September of last year, during Boston’s Fintech week. Fidelity Investments even recently announced that their crypto custody service is now live and operational. It should be noted, however, that the service is only live to a select group of customers.
There are other major global financial players that have expressed interest in cryptocurrency, some independent of Fidelity Investments. This includes Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but it now appears as though Morgan Stanley might finally be interested. This is significant because many believe that it will be institutional money that truly is the catalyst for the next cryptocurrency bull run. After all, Fidelity Investments manages over two trillion dollars, which is far more than the market capitalization of any cryptocurrency by a long shot, including Bitcoin (BTC).
While no concrete announcement has been made, there are sources close to the company that seem to indicate that initiatives are being explored, as the company feels “behind” in relation to the competition and cryptocurrency.
Texas Wants Info
It’s no secret that politicians all around the world are trying to figure out the right regulatory framework that can simultaneously deter fraud and crime without stifling the innovation of blockchain technology, and there are many varying opinions as to what that looks like. For example, there are countries like China, which are cracking down hard on the cryptocurrency sector even though they seem to believe in blockchain, and then there are countries such as Malta, which are hoping to win big economically by embracing both cryptocurrency and blockchain. Either way, in Texas, it appears as though the state is concerned with anonymous cryptocurrency transactions, and whether it should be allowed.
Republican member of the House Phil Stephenson wants to verify the identity of individuals involved in cryptocurrency transactions. Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts are pushing back against the bill, and it is uncertain whether the bill will pass. Many believe that the bill, HB 4371, is trying to centralize the cryptocurrency world, and it is unclear how law enforcement would enforce the bill.
The most popular cryptocurrency exchange in the world by daily volume will be suspending withdrawals and deposits for a system upgrade that will supposedly take 8 hours. The CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ”, tweeted about the system upgrade, without offering much information besides the fact that “funds are SAFU”. The phrase “SAFU” went viral last year as an alternative to the word “safe”.
Binance handles hundreds of millions of dollars in trading a day, so eight hours is a considerable amount of time, and many are speculating about the exact nature of the system upgrade. Binance does note that the eight hour time estimate “may vary”. The exchange also apologizes for “any inconvenience this may have caused”, as well.
Keiser Calls For Abandoning The Dollar
There are many influencers within the cryptocurrency sector, for very different reasons. There are some individuals that believe in cryptocurrency because of core principles such as privacy and access to financial services, and there are also finance execs that believe in blockchain because of how it can help the global payments sector, for instance. One early cryptocurrency supporter is Max Keiser, an American broadcaster and film maker that hosts The Keiser Report, which has been running on RT UK since 2009. The show centers around financial news, but has also featured notable celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Roseanne Barr, Russell Brand, and others.
The U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency for banks and global markets, and Keiser thinks that this should stop, and believes that Bitcoin (BTC) might be the global currency to replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency.. Keiser believes the economy is becoming less globalized, as well, and that investors are looking more towards cryptocurrency rather than the stock market for gains.
China and US Blockchain Wars
It’s no secret that China and US currently are in a trade war that many other countries are concerned about, but the two countries also seem to be in a blockchain race as well. It is no secret that many corporations are interested in hiring jobs that have to do with blockchain, and Facebook is apparently looking to launch a stablecoin, as well. Some of the most influential companies in the world are hiring blockchain jobs, as well, such as Oracle, Deloitte, PwC, and Ernst and Young. IBM currently has over 100 job offers related to blockchain, as well.
The United States accounts for half of the blockchain jobs being advertised on Glassdoor, followed by UK and India. China might end up becoming the biggest competitor for blockchain jobs, as China and the United States are constantly competing in a technological sense. Tensions have only heightened as a result of Huawei, which many believe is the subject of a “cold war” with regards to technology between the two superpowers.