New Crypto Payment Services Launch; Blockchain Pilots Announced for Agriculture, Textile, Seafood Supply Chains; DeFi Project Hacked for $7 Million

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New Crypto Payment Services Launch, Bitcoin ATM Firm Asserts Patent Rights

By: Joanna F. Wasick

Late last week, BitPay, a major cryptocurrency payment provider, announced the introduction of BitPay Send, a new mass payout service that enables organizations to pay employees, affiliates, customers, vendors, contractors and others with cryptocurrency. According to a press release, for a 1 percent fee, payments can be made 24/7, anywhere around the world. Recipients can participate without a bank account, and only need a BitPay ID and cryptocurrency wallet. The press release notes that companies do not need to own or manage cryptocurrency, and that no foreign exchange fees apply.

Also last week, Peninsula Visa, a U.S. passport and visa expeditor, announced it will accept bitcoin payments, using the payment services arm of a U.S. major cryptocurrency exchange as its processor. Bitcoin payments will only be accepted for select passport services, including renewals and name change. However, additional passport and visa services for which Peninsula will accept bitcoin payment will be rolled out over the next 12 months.

Belarusbank, the largest financial institution in Belarus, recently announced plans to launch a service allowing users to exchange cryptocurrency using a major credit card company’s payment card. The service is available to citizens of Belarus and Russia, and also enables trading cryptocurrency with fiat currencies, including the Belarusian ruble, the U.S. dollar and the euro.

Earlier this month, Bots Inc., a software company that develops artificial intelligence-based chatbots, announced that it was taking steps to enforce its Bitcoin ATM patent, which it acquired late last month. The patent relates to protocols underpinning the operation of “Bitcoin ATMs,” which enable purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies through web-linked kiosks that accept cash or debit or credit cards. In a statement, Bots said it was meeting with a major law firm to discuss enforcement of the patent to make Bitcoin ATM operators pay royalties to Bots. Bots also said it was contacting individual ATM operators to reach an amicable arrangement without litigation, while inviting those operators to join a consortium of Bitcoin ATMs.

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Blockchain Pilots Announced in the Agricultural, Textile and Seafood Industries

By: Robert A. Musiala Jr.

Two recent partnerships have been announced for blockchain solutions in the agricultural sector. Late last month, a major U.S. financial services firm announced a collaboration with GrainChain to develop and implement a blockchain platform “to forensically track commodities, from the initial inputs and raw materials to harvesting and processing to logistics and delivery to the consumer’s hands.” And this week, a major German pharmaceutical firm and BlockApps, an enterprise blockchain platform provider, announced the launch of TraceHarvest, an Ethereum-based network designed to “enhance food quality, safety and sustainability by bringing supply chain efficiencies, transparency, compliance and stewardship to agricultural products.”

Also this week, a major U.S. technology firm announced a collaboration with KAYA&KATO, “a textile company that manufactures uniforms and work wear,” to develop “a blockchain network for the fashion industry … designed to create transparency about the origin of garments, from the fiber used to the completion of the final product, and to provide consumers with the knowledge that their clothes are sustainably produced.” In another recent development, Australian tech firm Two Hands announced that it had successfully completed a pilot of its GoTrace blockchain platform to track a shipment of southern rock lobsters from Melbourne, Australia, to Shanghai, China, where the lobsters were served at a hotel wedding banquet.

A recent paper published by academics at MIT addresses “voting over the Internet” or “voting on the blockchain” and finds that “Internet and blockchain-based voting would greatly increase the risk of undetectable, nation-scale election failures.” The paper “analyzes … the security risks of online and electronic voting, and show[s] that not only do these risks persist in blockchain-based voting systems, but blockchains may introduce additional problems for voting systems.”

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Spanish Police Target Crypto Front Company, DeFi Project Hacked for $7 Million

By: Jordan R. Silversmith

Last week, Spanish police arrested a man alleged to be a former member of the Colombian Cali Cartel in relation to a cryptocurrency money laundering operation. The police claim that after the arrests of the Cali Cartel’s heads in 1995 and the subsequent decline of the gang’s drug empire, the man founded a cryptocurrency company that was a front for his money laundering activities. The Spanish police believe that the man has laundered over $7.1 million in drug and crime proceeds through cryptocurrencies.

A Chinese crypto blogger reported on Monday that cryptocurrency miners in China have been struggling to pay for electricity as a result of a recent crackdown by Chinese authorities on the country’s over-the-counter (OTC) brokers, which the cryptocurrency miners use to convert newly mined bitcoin to yuan. Chinese regulators have been increasing efforts to block bank accounts potentially related to money laundering via cryptocurrency and have recently investigated the two largest cryptocurrency OTC brokers in China.

Stablecoin project Origin Dollar (OUSD) recently experienced a DeFi attack that resulted in a loss of $7 million, including over $1 million deposited by Origin and its founders and employees. The attack used a flash loan and flaws in OUSD smart contracts to initiate a “rebase” that artificially inflated the supply of OUSD tokens in the protocol before swapping out the newly printed tokens for USDT. The team subsequently disabled deposits as the project’s native token has dropped 85% since the attack. The attack comes as the U.S. dollar value of cryptocurrency liquidity stored in DeFi projects reportedly hit $13.6 billion.

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