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IOTA (MIOTA) Based ProductID Unveiled by Things Labs
IOTA has proven over the years that their application is indeed very versatile and has even been used in several fields such as smart power and waste management. Now, they have been used by Things Lab, who have developed ProductID, an anti-countrified and product identity tool which makes use of a digital signature that is imputed into goods with the key for the signature stored in the ProductID smart card's internal memory while the public key needed to confirm the product's authenticity is stored on the blockchain. To make use of the ProductID solution, the tag will need to be initialized and this is done by making use of a card reader which redirects the user to the initial card's application which will be stored on the IOTA ledger along with the key and all product information such as its description.

Venezuela: Stock Market Trade Volume of $300K Pales in Comparison to LocalBitcoin Venezuela's $650K
Venezuela is seeing a meteoric rise in cryptocurrency adoption and use because of their desire to escape the effects of the damaging effects of the ongoing hyperinflation. The Venezuelan Stock Market (IBVC) decreased 51 points to 5972 compared to the previous trading session as locals are turning to Local Bitcoin. Crypto the Saving Grace for Venezuela That Venezuelans have been living with hyperinflation since way back as 2014 is an is an open secret when its national currency the Venezuelan Bolivar hit an inflation rate of 57.3 percent in February of that year. By September of 2014 analysts believe the inflation rate had surpassed 100 percent, meaning that as the bolivar was depreciating, the ordinary people had to have something to fill the void that was left by their only known means of exchange.

John Oliver Tackles Cryptocurrency on Last Week Tonight - blockchainreporter
With the long awaited geth 1.5 (let there bee light?) release, Swarm made it into the official go-ethereum release as an experimental feature. The current version of the code is POC 0.2 RC5 embrace your daemons (roadmap), which is the refactored and cleaner version of the codebase that was running on the Swarm toynet in the past months. The current release ships with the swarmcommand that launches a standalone Swarm daemon as separate process using your favourite IPC-compliant ethereum client if needed. Bandwidth accounting (using the Swarm Accounting Protocol = SWAP) is responsible for smooth operation and speedy content delivery by incentivising nodes to contribute their bandwidth and relay data. The SWAP system is functional but it is switched off by default. Storage incentives (punitive insurance) to protect availability of rarely-accessed content is planned to be operational in POC 0.4. So currently by default, the client uses the blockchain only for domain name resolution.

Bitcoin Futures Exchange BitMEX to Shut Down its US and Quebec-based Clients Trading Accounts
According to a report by South China Morning Post published on January 15, 2019, BitMEX, a Hong-Kong-based cryptocurrency has shuttered down the accounts of its US and Quebec, Canada, based clients amidst fears of stifling regulatory environment. Regulations have long been one of the chinks in the armor for digital currencies. Regulatory bodies the world over are not rushing at all to form a supervisory infrastructure for cryptocurrencies, and the same seems to hurt its development. However, the onus of the clampdown cannot be put solely on regulatory bodies. Rampant scams and exchange hacks have necessitated the need for a firm and conducive regulatory ecosystem for businesses operating in the nascent industry.

Brave Browser Rolls Out Paid to Watch Ads Preview
Brave uses an ad model different from the usual. Each ad is shown as an unobtrusive notification in the bottom left corner of the browser interface. A full page ad is shown when a user clicks on such pop-up notification; their number can be customized in browser's settings. Ads are shown at a time that the browser finds appropriate and not disruptive. Because Brave Ads are opt-in, they do not replace the normal ads on websites. Another welcome change compared to traditional ad platforms is that Brave does not save user data on its servers ad matching process happens on the device itself. This way, the privacy of user preferences is guaranteed.

NEO wins the Innovative Blockchain Project of the Year Award at World Blockchain Forum: Shenzen
According to a LinkedIn post published on January 14, 2019, by Jokia YIN, COO and Head of Communications at World Blockchain Forum, VeChain (VET), Litecoin (LTC), and NEO have won the award for the Innovative Blockchain Project of the Year. Other projects which were presented the award include the likes of Ontology (ONT), Hashgard, Ubank, Bitbeta, Decentraland, ArcadierX, and Rapidash. The World Blockchain Forum (WBF) held in Shenzen witnessed attendance from more than 500 attendees, 40 speakers, and 200 media personnel. The event saw inspiring speeches from more than 30 professionals in the fintech space and 3 panel discussions analyzing the impact of regulations the world over on blockchain technology.

VeChain (VET) Week in Review: NTT Docomo Partnership, VET Price, and 2019 Road Map
VeChain, the Singapore-based blockchain supply chain management platform had quite a spectacular 2018, and the community hopes to carry the positive momentum into 2019. The project, known for forming high-profile partnerships with organizations the world over and providing blockchain-based product management solutions recently formed an allegiance with Japan's largest mobile network provider, NTT Docomo. The development has been lauded by many in the cryptoverse and could provide entry to NTT's 76.3 million Japanese users. VeChain published a report on its blog, on January 9, 2019, titled A 2018 Reflection and 2019 Outlook.

Bitwise Files for ETF with the SEC
On the 10th of January 2019, Bitwise officially filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a new Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). The proposed ETF would track the Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index. This ETF intends to set itself apart from others in the market by tracking prices from various exchanges to give a more accurate picture of BTC price points. The index itself will be calculated based on the prices of bitcoin that the Index Provider derives from bitcoin price transactions occurring on various cryptocurrency exchanges. The ETF will work with third parties who will be responsible for holding on to the physical Bitcoins.

ElaadNL & IOTA - Self Balancing Grid with Smart Transformers & Devices
In 2017, an electric vehicle charger was developed by ElaadNL. However, it only used IOTA as a payment communication solution. Now they have created a new smart charging station which is just one part of the entire vision they have in mind. While this model is intended to be used on a massive scale in the future, the charging station is the first device in their smart grid and consumes a lot of energy. ElaadNL has been trying to find ways to use less energy. However, they expect the station to remain relatively power hungry. This is where the IOTA Charge Station steps in. IOTA Charge Station can be used for machine to machine communication with the car. This means that it could also communicate with the grid. The grid will be connecting devices to a specific part of the grid as well as the transformer which supplies the energy to that part of the grid.

IOTA Partners with Odyssey Hackathon to Propel Real-world Use Cases of the Tangle
A Tweet by Odyssey, the world's largest blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) hackathon, posted on January 11, 2019, states the community has entered into a partnership with IOTA. The official announcement was made by IOTA co-founder, Dominik Schiener. The IOTA Foundation looks to carry over the positive momentum it possessed in 2018. The recent partnership with crypto storage AG, announced on January 9, 2019, is a testimony to that. However, the newly-formed collaboration with Odyssey will have its own share of implications for IOTA. Odyssey is slated to host the third edition of the biggest blockchain, AI, and IoT hackathon in the Netherlands this year. The event is specifically aimed at developers, entrepreneurs, and other tech-savvy individuals.

TronGoo becomes the Number 1 dApp in Volume across All Blockchains in Existence
According to a Tweet by Tron Arcade, posted on January 10, 2019, the newly christened dApp TronGoo has emerged as the leader among all the gaming dApps across all the blockchains. TronGoo reached the first position in volume (#2 in users) in less than 5 days since launching on the Tron Network. Tron's $100 million blockchain-based gaming fund Tron Arcade, announced on January 5, 2019, about the inclusion of TronGoo in the Tron universe. The Medium post stated the Tron Network is aiming towards revitalizing one of the top Ethereum-based gaming dApps, EtherGoo. The team claims that TronGoo trumps its older versions because of the Tron Network's faster transactions to deliver a smoother experience to users.

UK: 167.7 Monero (XMR) Tokens Sold During a Live Crypto Online Auction
According to a report by Oracle Times, published on January 8, 2019, Monero (XMR) tokens were sold during a live cryptocurrency online auction organized by Wilsons Auctions. Notably, the XMR tokens were previously seized by the British law enforcement agencies. Per sources close to the matter, Wilsons Auctions is one of Northern Ireland's largest independent auction companies. The firm organized a public sell-off of Monero (XMR) tokens on January 7, 2019, which saw 167.7 XMR coins sold to interested parties. The bids for the sell-off were placed online. The participating bidders had the option to compare the demanded price with the current market price of each of the crypto tokens lots and accordingly place their bid price.

VeChain Thor Network Partners with Japan's NTT Docomo
VeChain Thor,  a distributed ledger technology (DLT) project focused on providing users with robust identity management solutions and more, has inked a strategic partnership deal with Japan's largest mobile network, NTT Docomo, to enable the latter integrate VeChain (VET) into its 5G network scheduled to go live by 2020, reported U Today on January 8, 2019. Another Excellent VeChain (VET) Achievement As part of its strategy to become a formidable force in the ever-evolving blockchain technology ecosystem, VeChain has reportedly joined forces with NTT Docomo, Japan's most extensive mobile phone network with an impressive user base of more than 70 million subscribers.

Wordpress Bloggers can Now Receive Payments in Cryptocurrencies
A WordPress plugin developed by programmers Dan Darden, Laszlo Molnarfi, and Lacicloud allows bloggers to accept payments in MIOTA for their website. The plug-in, named PayIOTA.me enables blog owners to receive payments in the IOTA cryptocurrency. The plug-in is compatible with the popular WordPress security add-on, named WordFence. WordFence is the go-to plugin for all WP bloggers to secure their websites from hack and spam attacks. The plugin regularly alerts the website owners of possible security threats and breaches. With regard to PayIOTA's compatibility with WordFence, the post reads in part:

Japan: FSA Exploring Industry Interest in Cryptocurrency ETF
After abandoning plans to approve cryptocurrency futures contracts, Japan's financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) is reportedly looking to support crypto-based ETFs this year, according to a Bloomberg report on January 7, 2018. Japan's FSA Set to Approve Bitcoin ETFs Per sources close to the development, crypto-friendly Japan is on the verge of becoming the first nation to approve a cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). The move comes several months after the country's authorities abandoned plans to greenlight the launch of crypto-based futures contracts. Regulators had reportedly decided against amending the existing securities law to make it possible for cryptocurrency exchanges to list the products because according to sources, the FSA felt there was insignificant interest in cryptocurrency futures products.

Ledger Unveils Nano X, a Bluetooth-Enabled Crypto Wallet
Leading cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger is unveiling its latest hardware wallet. The Bluetooth-enabled Ledger Nano X features an App that enables users to manage their funds remotely.   Remotely Transfer Cryptocurrencies Using Bluetooth Feature The French-based startup Ledger dropped the hot news about its latest device on Sunday, January 6, 2019, during the ongoing annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) happening in Las Vegas. According to the company, the Ledger Nano X is a Bluetooth enabled wallet meaning users can send and receive cryptocurrency tokens via their mobile devices.

Crypto Adoption on the Rise: Circle now Boasts 8 Million Users Across the World
Circle Internet Financial,  a United States-based fintech firm that makes it possible for clients to send, receive money and make payments via cryptoassets has released its achievements for 2018 and what it plans to complete this year, according to a Medium blog post on January 3, 2018. A Year of Sterling Achievements While 2018 was unfavorable for a vast array of bitcoin businesses due to the crypto price slump, Circle has revealed that last year was an excellent year for it as it accomplished several significant milestones. As stated in its Medium blog post, Circle claims to now have more than 8 million customers from 195 nations globally and has handled more than 200 million transactions worth a total of $75 billion.

Cardano (ADA) Publishes Long-awaited Proof of Stake Paper
IOHK has finally published the long-awaited paper outlining the formal structure for proof-of-stake sidechains via a rigorous cryptographic definition. The paper outlines sidechain constructions compatible with Ouroboros and related PoS systems. Cardanos Sebastian Guillemot tweeted on December 31, 2018, to say a team of IOHK researchers had published the proof of stake paper titled the Proof-of-Stake Sidechains. The team, according to the paper, comprised of Peter Ga'i, Aggelos Kiayias, and Dionysis Zindros. The research initially offers a formalization of the construction for PoS blockchains like Cardano's Ouroboros before stretching to renditions like Ouroboros Praos, Ouroboros Genesis, Snow White, and Algorand later.

Hacker Group Steals Documents Relating to 9/11, Demands Ransom in Bitcoin
2018 certainly ended on an eventful note. On the 31st of December, a hacker group announced that they had gotten access to the private files of a law firm handling insurance with regards to the 9/11 attacks. They also promised to release the files to the public if their demands were not met. This is not the first incident regarding the group, known as the Dark Overlord. They had previously targeted a number of establishments such as a Netflix studio and a medical center. Details on the case According to the group's post on Pastebin, some of the insurers and Law firms that they have hacked include Hiscox Syndicates Ltd, Lloyds of London, and Silverstein Properties.

Monero (XMR) now Exclusively Accepted at Fortnite Merchandise Store
To kick off the year, Monero has reached a huge milestone. According to a tweet sent out by the official Monero twitter account, Retail row, which acts as the official merchandise store for Fortnite, a popular online game, now exclusively accepts Monero as currency. The official Fortnite Merch Store is now exclusively accepting #Monero as a cryptocurrency payment option! https://t.co/NWmHhzE6Kg Monero || #xmr (@monero) January 1, 2019 This is a huge deal as Fortnite is one of the most popular online games on the planet and has millions of accounts. Retail row supports GlobalBee, which allows buyers to pay merchants in a number of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and XRP. A gaming world

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