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First Litecoin-Native Visa Debit Card Is Being Launched

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The first Litecoin (LTC) native Visa debit card is being launched by BlockCard. 

Charlie Lee told Cointelegraph this is their second attempt at the endeavour as the previous one failed: “We previously worked with LitePay on a debit card but that failed when LitePay went out of business.”

Lee also drew a distinction between this Litecoin-native debit card and other crypto cards that support the currency:

“There are other crypto debit cards available today that support Litecoin, but they only support funding with LTC. This card is natively LTC, so funds are kept in LTC until you swipe the card.”

Though Litecoiners can already sign up for the card, the service itself will not be made available for another few weeks. On a lighter note, Lee noted his opinion that there is no such thing as a “Litecoin maximalist”:

“I don’t think that even exists. Most Litecoiners support and hold BTC also.”

Users will be able to make deposits in twelve of the most popular crypto currencies, including all major stablecoins. According to Lee, approximately 300 users have signed up so far. Meanwhile Litecoin has continuously stayed among top ten coins by market capitalization and has one of the biggest followings on social media.



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Guide to Melbourne – Cointelegraph Magazine

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This “Crypto City” guide looks at Melbourne’s crypto culture, the city’s most notable projects and people, its financial infrastructure, which retailers accept crypto and where you can find blockchain education courses — and there’s even a short history with all the juicy details of famous controversies and collapses.

 

Fast facts

City: Melbourne
Country: Australia
Population: 5.15M
Established: 1835
Language: English

 

Australia’s second-largest city may lack Sydney’s amazing harbor views, but it makes up for it with a focus on art, sports and culture. There are more live music venues here per capita than any other city in the world, and the city has produced heaps of notable acts, including Nick Cave, Men at Work, The Avalanches and Kylie Minogue.

Located on the southern coast of Australia, Melbourne wasn’t founded until almost 50 years after Sydney, but it quickly became the wealthiest place in the world during the Gold Rush, from the 1850s to 1880s. It’s a very multicultural city, with the 10th-largest immigrant population globally. The city also ranks at number 27 on the Global Financial Centers Index and is home to the Australian Rules football code, the Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Open. It was the filming location for the first Mad Max film alongside Chopper and Animal Kingdom. Politically, Melbourne is more left-wing than any other city in the country and is home to the union movement.

 

The Yarra River in Melbourne. Source: Pexels

 

Crypto culture

Melbourne embraced cryptocurrencies early on, and a thriving community was built up through regular meetups including Blockchain Melbourne, Women in Blockchain, Web3 Melbourne and futureAUS. Karen Cohen, deputy chairperson of Blockchain Australia, recalls there being a huge influx of newcomers during the ICO boom in 2017.

“The meetup culture was really exciting. We couldn’t get enough space, so people were watching our meetups on Facebook Live because they couldn’t get into the room because it was so busy.”

Talk & Trade meetups were held every Wednesday from 2015 to 2019 at the Blockchain Centre. Located at the Victorian Innovation Hub in the docklands, the Blockchain Centre was the heart of the community in real life, at least until the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Melbourne has been home to numerous crypto exchanges since 2013, and a plethora of ICOs were also founded in the city in 2017 and 2018, including CanYa, which operates freelancer platform CanWork, and blockchain voting company Horizon State.

While the pandemic has moved most things online for the past 18 months, Blockchain Australia hosted a series of events at YBF Ventures in the Melbourne central business district (CBD) for the national Blockchain Week earlier this year, and Talk & Trade is now held at RMIT, in between lockdowns.

With live events beginning to reemerge as vaccine rates slowly grind up, YBF Ventures will relaunch its blockchain community meetups, supported by Cohen as the expert in residence for blockchain. “2020, sadly, has been hard with COVID, so it’s had to move online,” she says. “But I think if we were able to meet in real life, it would still have very much a meetup culture.”

 

Melbourne Trams
Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world. Source: Pexels

Projects and companies

Melbournites appear very interested in solving the problem of interblockchain communication, with at least three major cross-chain projects having strong ties to the city. CanYa founder JP Thor helped found the cross-chain decentralized liquidity protocol THORChain, and some of the anonymous local devs from THORChain went on to work on a similar project called Sifchain. Melbourne’s Simon Harman founded another cross-chain automated market maker, Chainflip, along with the privacy project Loki, which is now known as Oxen.

Web 3.0 developer studios Flex Dapps and TypeHuman are located here, as is the white-label blockchain services provider Pellar, whose infrastructure processes 10 million requests a day from around the world. Researchers from the government-run Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Monash University invented the MatRiCT technology (licensed to Hcash), which protects crypto from being cracked by quantum computers. NFT digital racehorse game Zed Run just raised $20 million from investors including TCG and Andreessen Horowitz. Algorand also has a noticeable presence in Melbourne, including through the Meld gold platform and Algomint.

 

 

Crypto exchanges headquartered in Melbourne include BTC Markets, Cointree, CoinSpot, CoinJar, noncustodial exchange Elbaite and OTC service Caleb and Brown. Major global fiat-to-crypto on-ramp Banxa is also based in the city.

Up-and-coming projects include insurance platform Day By Day, onboarding and fraud protection platform FrankieOne and accounting software AEM. DeFi-focused crypto fund Apollo Capital — which is a big investor in Synthetix and Internet Computer, among others — is also based in Melbourne. Apollo’s chief investment officer, Henrik Andersson, co-founded the decentralized pool trading platform dHEDGE and yield platform mStable (and helped out with a few ideas for this guide).

 

Bitcoin ATM
Melbourne only has a dozen or so Bitcoin ATMs. Source: Pexels

Financial infrastructure

The first Bitcoin ATM was installed at the Emporium in 2014, but there are only 13 Bitcoin ATMs dotted around Melbourne, mostly in big shopping centers. Australian banks have a slightly wary approach to crypto — while many banks are happy to allow users to send funds to exchanges, plenty of users have reported being suddenly debanked, especially those running crypto-related businesses. “They close accounts at will based on crypto use, and we’ve seen that happen, so they’re still not supportive as an industry,” says Cohen.

The New Payments Platform in Australia is something of a competitor to crypto (at least in terms of payments), allowing instant, 24/7 bank transfers using a phone number or email address. Often referred to as PayID, it was cited by the Reserve Bank of Australia as a reason that a central bank digital currency is not needed in Australia just yet. There are hundreds of retailers here in the Blueshyft network (Synthetix founder Kain Warwick’s other project) that accept cash payments over the counter for crypto exchanges.

Where can I spend crypto?

According to Coinmap, you’ll struggle to spend cryptocurrency directly in Melbourne at present, with fewer than 40 retail outlets accepting Bitcoin. (By way of comparison, Ljubljana in Slovenia has half the population but 554 crypto-accepting merchants.) It wasn’t always like this, with swathes of Melbourne cafes and businesses accepting crypto a few years ago, but then removing the option after it failed to take off.

Many retailers used the crypto payment service from TravelbyBit; however, it was dropped after the company merged with Travala in mid-2020. Australia’s oldest, biggest board game retailer in the CBD, Mind Games, gladly accepts Bitcoin via the Lightning Network. You can also learn rock climbing at Melbourne Climbing School, get fit at the women’s-only Fernwood Gym in Bulleen, get your computer fixed at Another World Computer Centre in Coburg or grab some raver gear from Ministry of Style in Collingwood.

If you’re relying on Coinmap’s data, note that some retailers featured have since gone out of business (most likely due to the pandemic), including cult book store Polyester Books, gift shop Vera Chan and various cafes.

Approximately 20 small businesses accept Bitcoin Cash, according to Bitcoin.com, including Japanese wellness clinic Sensu Spa and ties and cufflinks merchant Jay Kirby Ties in the CBD.

Despite the lack of merchants accepting direct crypto payments, you can pay for pretty much everything in Melbourne using crypto via intermediary services that transform it into cash. Living Room of Satoshi lets you pay any Bpay biller or bank account using 18 different cryptocurrencies.

 

RMIT boasts the Blockchain Innovation Hub. Source: Pexels

 

Education

RMIT University’s Blockchain Innovation Hub studies the social and business implications of blockchain, while Monash University’s Blockchain Technology Centre provides training and conducts research. There’s a Blockchain Innovation Lab at Swinburne University and Deakin University, both of which conduct research.

Controversies and collapses

Auscoin was perhaps the most controversial project to emerge from the city. Founded by Lambo-driving souvlaki chain-store owner Sam Karagiozis, the token was created to fund the rollout of 1,200 Bitcoin ATMs. The Aussie version of 60 Minutes dubbed it an “$80 million scam” that was built on nothing more than “grandiose promises,” although the ICO only raised $2 million. Auscoin was ordered by AUSTRAC to cease operations after Karagiozis was charged with trafficking 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of drugs via the dark web.

Elsewhere, up to 200 investors lost about $10 million between them when Melbourne-based crypto exchange ACX mysteriously collapsed at the end of 2019. It was operated by Blockchain Global, whose founder Sam Lee was instrumental in setting up the Blockchain Centre.

Another local exchange that mysteriously folded was MyCryptoWallet. Founded in 2017, National Australia Bank froze its accounts in early 2019. The exchange found alternate banking services and recovered temporarily, but later that year, users found they had lost access to their funds. As of April, they had yet to recover their funds, and Australia’s corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, was said to be looking into it. Huobi Australia launched in Melbourne in 2018 but quickly shuttered due to a lack of business during crypto winter. Horizon State, a promising blockchain-based voting platform, launched in Melbourne and then moved to New Zealand where it was on the verge of doing great things when a mysterious court case back in Melbourne scuppered the entire project. In a happy ending, the community is resurrecting it from the ashes with a crowd equity raise.

 

Notable figures

Ethereum influencer Anthony Sassano; BTC Markets CEO Caroline Bowler; Apollo Capital chief investment officer Henrik AnderssonA. J. Milne of Meld Ventures and Algomint; Blockchain Australia CEO Steve VallasTom Nash and Alex Ramsey of Flex Dapps; Women in Blockchain International manager Akasha Indream; Algorand Foundation chief operating officer Jason Lee; CanYa and THORChain founder JP Thor; “Satoshi’s sister” Lisa Edwards; Blockchain Centre founder Sam Lee (also of the now-defunct ACX); RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub professor Jason Potts; Joseph Liu, director of the Monash Blockchain Technology Centre and inventor of the tech behind Monero; Oxen chief technology officer Kee Jefferys; Emerging Tech Talent founder Karen Cohen; Ethitech head of education Anouk Pinchetti; TypeHuman director Nick Byrne; Auscoin founder Sam Karagiozis; and blockchain law specialists Joni Pirovich of Mills Oakley and John Bassilios of Hall & Wilcox. Cointelegraph team members and contributors based in Melbourne: Andrew Fenton, Brian Quarmby, Kelsie Nabben.

 

Suggestions for additions to this guide are welcome. Please email: andrewfenton@cointelegraph.com

 





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SpaceChain, Blockstream and Cryptosat – Cointelegraph Magazine

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In the 1988 “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto,” engineer, author and cypherpunk Timothy C. May predicted a social and economic revolution enabled by technological developments, including high-speed networks, personal computers and satellites. Today, former Bitcoin core developer Jeff Garzik — now with SpaceChain — and others are making this vision a reality. Private crypto companies including SpaceChain, Blockstream, Cryptosat and others are rapidly launching satellites into orbit to offer blockchain validation, multisignature wallets and verifiable time-delay functions from space.

As the cryptocurrency market continues its overall moonward trajectory, the stakes are getting higher for blockchain protocols. Blockchains must not only maintain their security in the technical sense but they need to be able to withstand regulatory setbacks as well. If governments are a potential threat to the visions of unstoppable, decentralized networks on Earth, then putting blockchain validator nodes in space is a “backup.”

Garzik, the co-founder and chief technology officer of SpaceChain, argues that placing nodes out of human reach, in space, “can help address security and vulnerability issues facing centralized land-based servers on Earth, and unfurl new and exciting opportunities for other commercial use cases.” 

This means that even if nodes fail, or are compromised or shut down — or even if the internet is somehow turned off — a verifiable copy of the blockchain will persist in space, adding to the “immutability” and censorship-resistant attributes of this technology. Now, “Space is for everyone,” states Garzik.

More companies are finding cheaper ways to provide blockchain-oriented “space-as-a-service.” Nominally, San Francisco-based company Cryptosat is “interested in using the properties of space, to benefit blockchain,” the co-founders tell Magazine. They are leveraging premade components to launch miniature, coffee mug-sized “cubesats” and simple on-ground infrastructure deployed on enterprise cloud-web providers for an end-to-end system where anyone can assemble, launch and communicate with a satellite providing blockchain nodes in space. 

 

 

 

 

Space infrastructure is offering whole new possibilities for composable, decentralized infrastructure. SpaceChain and Cryptosat are investigating a range of use cases in addition to nodes, including randomness beacons and “verifiable delay functions” (VDFs). Randomness beacons provide trusted sources of entropy and are a fundamental component for generating an unpredictable result. 

In cryptography, for example, the initial trusted setup of key pairs requires a source of randomness. VDFs execute functions after a certain amount of time has passed, for transactions or smart contract functions. With satellites, these cryptographically signed timestamps can be determined by orbits around the Earth and transmitted from space. “It’s basically like a trusted clock in space,” Gil Shotan, co-founder of Cryptosat, tells Magazine. These interact with software interfaces for enterprise clients, such as digital asset management company Nexus Inc. and cryptocurrency exchange Biteeu, for secure in-orbit multisignature transactions.

While SpaceChain and Cryptosat are blockchain-agnostic integrators for space services, Blockstream, which was co-founded by Adam Back — one of the original cypherpunks and the inventor of “Hashcash,” a proof-of-work precursor mentioned in the Bitcoin white paper — is specifically focused on using space to expand the capabilities of the Bitcoin network. 

The Blockstream Satellite network broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain around the world, 24/7, to provide connectivity for continual access to the Bitcoin network to mitigate the threat of network interruptions or IP traceability. Anyone can purchase a small satellite antenna and USB receiver to view these blocks to ensure their node is in sync.

How do you get “to space”?

Getting your node into space is not as difficult as one might think.

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, known by most simply as NASA, reserves spots for commercial launches on each mission. Based on a proposal that emphasized the security use case for blockchains, SpaceChain, which was founded in 2017, was the first blockchain company to launch with NASA.

 With the goal to provide “open and neutral” space infrastructure, SpaceChain launched its first payload (cargo) carrying a node to the International Space Station in 2019. Its fourth node, an Ethereum validator, was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2021. This allows an immutable record of blockchain transactions to be not only global but universal, to further the functionality of decentralized applications in space. 

 

 

 

 

While one might think that the ISS or a satellite is quite the target for attack by anyone that really doesn’t like blockchains, SpaceChain is convinced of the opposite. 

“As long as it doesn’t get killed, it will bounce back,” states Zee Zheng, co-founder and CEO of SpaceChain. Space infrastructure offers enhanced security properties, as it is freely and continually monitored by every space agency in the stratosphere. While this still doesn’t solve the intractable problem of trust in hardware support chains, if tampered with once launched, everyone will know. In fact, governments are quite interested in supporting blockchains in space.

Who pays in space?

Putting blockchains in space is often positioned as an ideological pursuit for decentralization, away from the reach of untrusted intermediaries. Yet, space infrastructure is a highly sought after, often publicly funded and privately provided service. The commercial case for space is quite compelling. 

SpaceChain secured approximately $60,000 in funding from the European Space Agency for its first payload, and more recently it received 440,000 British pounds ($605,000) in funding from Enterprise Singapore and Innovate UK to develop “Decentralized Satellite Infrastructure” (DSI), a real-time blockchain-operated network of satellites.

 

 

 

 

For some like SpaceChain’s Garzik, “Space is not about the dollars,” as decentralized currencies surpass the need for terrestrial money. For others like Cryptosat and Loft Orbital, money is a factor. Loft Orbital shuttles payloads for companies, including the recent Ethereum node for SpaceChain, and raised $13 million in a Series A funding round in 2019. “There is still money to be made on earth,” Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of Cryptosat, tells Magazine.

Governance and politics in space

Governance in space could go in several directions. Space is known as an arena for geopolitical competition, enhanced by an entanglement of interests between state and private actors. 

SpaceChain’s network of low Earth orbit satellites, known as a “constellation,” is operated by multiple parties in multiple jurisdictions. It is set to offer a collaborative model where infrastructure is non-territorial and accessible to commercial and government users. While SpaceChain hopes that its infrastructure mediates a collaborative model between numerous countries and commercial entities, attempting to establish resilient, decentralized networks can also create new vulnerabilities.

Commercial interests, mixed with competing players, may result in new rivalries, not least of which includes Elon Musk’s plan to put “literal Dogecoin on the literal moon.” In June, Musk declared that “a new space race has begun!” via Twitter, in response to crypto exchange Bitmex, which vowed to beat Dogecoin to the moon with Bitcoin. 

Garzik thanked Musk and SpaceX on Twitter but pointed out that SpaceChain “has ALREADY ridden your rockets to space,” adding that SpaceChain “is an integrator, and happily accepts BTC ETH SPC and now DOGE” for customer space missions.

Perhaps the next decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, will be in outer space?

According to some, the future could involve the multispecies population of multiplanetary systems, with multiple digital currencies. Whether blockchain capabilities enhance space or space enhances blockchain here on earth, “Space is closer to us than you think,” Winetraub tells Magazine.

 





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CryptoArena – Cointelegraph Magazine

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Cointelegraph Magazine is a new publication that goes beyond the daily news and delves much more deeply into the stories, trends, and personalities that inspire cryptocurrency and blockchain conversations around the world.

We are people-centric, delving into *why* the true believers of blockchain feel they can change the world (and why they think it needs to be changed).

Through long-form features, thoughtful analysis, and a little humor and satire, we illustrate how the implementation of this technology is affecting the lives of countless people — today, right now, not at some distant point in the future.

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