Crypto Throwback Thursdays: Lift off at Libra and trouble for Telegram

What’s been happening in crypto this week? A LOT. Make sure you’re keeping up with the conversation by reading below.

A rollercoaster week for Libra

It was a breathless week over at Libra. The weekend saw more high profile departures, following PayPal’s decision to abandon ship earlier in the month. Mastercard, Visa, Stripe, Mercado Pago, and eBay all announced that they have bowed out of the project, at least for the time being.

A Visa spokesperson told the Financial Times that the payment giant has decided not to join the Libra Association “at the time”. They added: “We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”

There was better news at the project’s inaugural meeting in Geneva on Monday. Twenty-one organisations officially signed the Libra Association charter. They also selected its board of directors and formalised the consortium’s executive team.

Calibra CEO and former Facebook blockchain lead David Marcus will take a seat on the five-person board of directors. He’s joined by Katie Haun, a general partner with Andreessen Horowitz; Wences Cesares, CEO of Xapo; Patrick Ellis, general counsel at PayU; and Matthew Davie, chief strategy officer of Kiva. Bertrand Perez, Dante Disparte and Kurt Hemecker – all former PayPal employees – will take leadership roles in the association’s executive team.

The 21 members of the association are: Calibra, Coinbase, Xapo, Anchorage, Bison Trails, Creative Destruction Lab, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, Ribbit Capital, Union Square Ventures, Breakthrough Initiatives, Illiad, Vodafone, Farfetch, Uber, Lyft, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking, Spotify, and PayU.

Of concern may be that just one finance company remains in the association — PayU, a Dutch payment firm. According to a Libra Association representative though, “the plan is to have up to 100 members” and some 1,500 firms have already expressed interest in joining the project, with roughly 180 meeting the given criteria. The only hindrance is that fourteen of the original 21 members must agree to each new party joining the project.

Telegram hits a roadblock

On Friday last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it had secured an emergency action and restraining order against the Telegram Group and its subsidiary TON Issuer for their $1.7 billion token sale.

Telegram sold 2.9 billion gram tokens “at discounted prices to 171 initial purchasers worldwide,” according to the release. This included more than 1 billion grams sold to US investors. The SEC alleged that Telegram failed to register its offer or sale.

“Our emergency action today is intended to prevent Telegram from flooding the U.S. markets with digital tokens that we allege were unlawfully sold,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We allege that the defendants have failed to provide investors with information regarding Grams and Telegram’s business operations, financial condition, risk factors, and management that the securities laws require.”

Telegram has since notified investors that the TON blockchain project will now launch later than planned, pushing the deadline back to 30 April 2020. The email stated that:

“We had intended to launch the TON network in late October. However, the recent SEC lawsuit has made that timing unachievable. We disagree with the SEC’s legal position and intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit. We are proposing to extend the deadline date in order to provide additional time to resolve the SEC’s lawsuit and work with other governmental authorities in advance of the launch of the TON network.”

Major car manufacturers experimenting with blockchain

A couple of interesting new blockchain projects popped up in the automobile industry this week.

First, the world’s leading car manufacturers – BMW, General Motors, Ford, Renault, and Honda – will start testing a blockchain-based identification and payment network in the US next month.

The system will remove the need for cash, credit or debit cards when settling tolls, payments for parking, etc. Each automobile is given a unique digital IDs which is linked to data about their ownership and service histories. Fees will then be paid automatically.

Testing will take place on typical commuting routes. The group has been working on the system under the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) since last year. As automated cars evolve and begin to enter the mainstream, such technology could prove increasingly important.

Ford also announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with the City of Cologne for a new blockchain project to monitor and automatically implement fuel efficient driving modes for a fleet of vehicles. The pilot program is also taking place in London, England, and Valencia, Spain.

The pilot will see Ford outfit 10 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with cellular modems that enable geofencing. When the vehicles enter low-emission zones, they will automatically switch to electric-drive.

Satoshi joins the dictionary ?

The word ‘satoshi’ has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary! If there was ever an indicator of mainstream acceptance, this is it.

Satoshi is the newest word added to the dictionary, having only been in existence for seven years. It was added as part of a quarterly update to the respected source’s database. Joining satoshi were the words ‘Manhattanhenge’, ‘whatevs’, and ‘chillax’.

The dictionary defines satoshi as ‘the smallest monetary unit in the bitcoin digital payment system, equal to one hundred millionth of a bitcoin,’ or 0.00000001 BTC.” As a cryptocurrency exchange well-versed with the issue, we can confirm that they are indeed correct. Congratulations, guys!

The respect resource added Bitcoin at the end of 2014. They defined it as ‘a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank.’

Are you feeling Brave?

Time to say goodbye to Google? Probably not, but California-based web browser Brave is certainly proving a worthy competitor.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Brave announced that it has now reached 8 million monthly users.

The privacy-focused platform uses locally-stored data to target ads without third-party tracking, while users to tip websites and content creators with BAT tokens. The firm claims that ads on their open-source browser now have a click-through-rate of 14%—seven times more engagement than the industry average.

The number of daily active users has also hit the 2.8 million mark. The post added that there are now over 290,000 verified publishers, the majority of which are YouTube content creators.

Whale of the week

In what is almost becoming a regular feature in this column, we’ve got another whale! The Bitcoin network once again carried a stunning amount of value in a single transaction, with 112,027 BTC ($933,000,000 USD) transferred in a single transaction. The fee? Just $3.89.

And finally…

Keep an eye out for the 18 millionth Bitcoin to be mined this week! Don’t panic, though. According to analyst Rhythm, it will take another approximately 120 years to mine the remaining 3,000,000 Bitcoin. So there’s still time for you.

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