Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of social media platform Facebook, appeared before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee to testify on the prospective global cryptocurrency Libra, which his company is backing. Not many new details emerged over the course of the six hours. The CEO emphasized a patriotic angle, seeking to win sympathies of those concerned with maintaining America’s global influence, suggested that Libra is the kind of fintech innovation that the U.S. needs in order to stand up to the emerging threat of China’s digital yuan. Also this week, David Marcus, who heads the Libra project, emphasized that the "efficacy of sanction enforcing can be much higher on Libra than other payments networks.” U.S. legislators remain thoroughly unmoved, and in Europe, the five largest countries are teaming up to make it as difficult as possible for the Facebook-led virtual currency to launch next year.
China’s President Xi Jinping has called for the country to accelerate its adoption of blockchain technologies as a core for innovation. Xi stressed that the implementation of integrated blockchain technologies is key in promoting technological innovation and transforming industries. It was also recently said by Huang Qifan, Vice Chairman of a Chinese think tank, that he believes the People's Bank of China has been studying a digital currency for five or six years and that they will be the first "central bank in the world to issue sovereign digital currency".
Cryptocurrency custody and futures trading platform Bakkt has announced its coming entry into mobile payments with a consumer app. Though the announcement is vague on the specifics of the app’s functionalities, coffee empire Starbucks is the first major retailer to commit to the new payments application. Note that Starbucks and other retailers will not directly accept digital assets. Rather the exchange will convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars, which can be used at Starbucks.
Canadian investment fund manager 3IQ Corp has announced that it has received "favourable ruling" from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) for "The Bitcoin Fund," a non-redeemable investment fund that is expected to be listed for trading on major Canadian stock exchanges. The fund provides investors exposure to bitcoin through a long-term holding strategy of bitcoins sourced from firms like cryptocurrency exchanges. 3IQ hopes to have the fund listed this quarter.
Bitcoin continues to set new records for its network hash rate this month, a sign that miners have shaken off weak price performance. Data from monitoring resource Blockchain confirmed hash rate hit 114 quintillion hashes per second on Oct. 23. Hash rate refers to the overall computing power involved in validating transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. More power suggests greater network security, as well as interest in the profitability potential of Bitcoin mining.
Web browser Opera now allows making payments with Bitcoin (BTC) directly inside its Android, iOS and desktop browsers. If a website accepts BTC payment, you can send coin without leaving the application. Brave Browser is also looking to integrate a crypto wallet into a browser. Developing convenient tools for cryptocurrency is half the battle of mainstreaming its use.
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