Weekend Roundup: Singapore to Become Asia's Blockchain Hub, Blocknet Launches Think Tank

Weekend roundup from Cointelegraph.

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Weekend Roundup: Singapore to Become Asia's Blockchain Hub, Blocknet Launches Think Tank

Four Arrested in US$307M Pyramid Scheme 'UFun'

Thai police have arrested four executives of UFun Store Co. Ltd., a business that operates a massive pyramid scheme.

The company has reportedly made some 14,700 victims from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, with an estimate of 10 billion baht (US$307 million) in possible damages.

Members of the scheme were asked to persuade others to join by buying UToken, a virtual currency issued by the company and used to buy products on UFun Store.

Other suspects on arrest warrants are three Malaysians and one Thai, believes to be the masterminds of the scheme.

Singapore Govt-Backed FinTech Accelerator Boosts 3 Bitcoin Startups

Startupbootcamp FinTech, announced on Monday the top 10 finalists to join its Singapore program, among which are blockchain-based startups Otonomos, CryptoSigma and DeBuNe, demonstrating that Singapore’s government is serious about its ambitions to become Asia’s blockchain technology hub.

M-Pesa Shuts Down as Servers Move from Germany to Kenya

This week, Safaricom customers were greeted with the news that they should prepare themselves for an M-Pesa service shutdown over the coming weekend, on April 18 and 19. Engineers will be handling a critical part of the two-year project of moving its servers from Germany to Kenya.

Are We Owned by NSA? Bitcoin Experts Discuss How to Evade Hardware Hacking

Vinay Gupta a cryptographic application designer and Ethereum release coordinator, argued that "in the long run, Bitcoin is forcing us to confront the fact that in all probability, Intel processors have been compromised by the NSA.”

CoinTelegraph asked Gupta whether blockchains could bring any protection. His response was to suggest a kind of cloud computing:

"Yes, absolutely. This is a little technical, but the bottom line is that the processor which Ethereum runs on, the Ethereum Virtual Machine [EVM] has a level of security that a physical processor doesn't: it's being run thousands of times, and the results compared and published before a conclusion is reached."

BitPay Reveals the (Good) Reason Why Bitcoin Price Is Down

The Bitcoin price fall has coincided with a doubling of the network's transaction volume and a halving of the average order value. This means that Bitcoin is no longer a speculative investment, but is becoming an everyday payment method, according to BitPay's research data.


An increasing number of charities are turning to bitcoin to tap into a whole new pool of possible donors, reported the Wall Street Journal. "There is a sense that this is growing in acceptance in the nonprofit sector," Ettore Rossetti, director, social media and digital marketing at Save the Children, told the media outlet.

Hoping to bring together experts from around the globe, the MIT's Media Lab has announced the beginning of its digital currency initiative. The unit seeks to unite disparate members of the digital currency community, and produce evidence-based research to support future policy and regulatory standards.

Blocknet has formed a think-tank to work on the potential benefits of inter-blockchain communication and consensus. "The idea of an Internet of blockchains is a paradigm-shifter – it can take a bit of thought before people realize what they are dealing with and the vast potential it offers – and so it needs creative and critical thinking," the organization said in a release.

The final ”BitLicense” proposal should be published "very soon," reported CoinDesk. The deputy superintendent for public affaires of New York Department of Financial Services, Matt Anderson, said: " We take some time to review the comments for potential changes or modifications, and hopefully will publish a final rule soon."

New Bitcoin ATMs

In light of CoinTelegraph's partnership with Coin ATM Radar, we have compiled a list of the latest bitcoin ATMs that went live this week.

In Spain, a BTCPoint two-way bitcoin ATM was installed at Infocoste Salou, Carrer de Barcelona, 70 43840 Salou, in the city of Tarragona. Operated by ATMs Bitcoin Exchange SL, the machine doesn't require identification for purchases and charges 5% for buys and 3% for sells. Transactions are limited to €1,000.

In Missouri, USA, a new Skyhook one-way bitcoin ATM was installed in Colombia, at Mid-City Lumber Company, 4709 Paris Rd. The device is limited to US$500 per transaction and charges 5% from Coinbase.

On Thursday, Red Leaf Chicago installed its 7th bitcoin ATM. Located in an office building at 35 S Washington St, in Naperville, the device is a Genesis Coin two-way ATM.

In Atlanta, a new BitAccess two-way bitcoin ATM was installed at the Pool Hall, 30 Irby Ave NW. The machine is operated by ZenBox.

In Monument, Colorado, XBTeller launched its third bitcoin ATM at Cruisers Haircuts for Men, Unit A, 481 CO-105. The device is a BitAccess two-way bitcoin ATM.

Market Activity

The bitcoin price has continued to decline this week, oscillating between 237 and 216 USD/BTC, according to Blockchain.info data.

New research data compiled by BitPay suggest that the price decline might be due to a shift in the digital currency's use moving from being an investment commodity to an actually everyday currency.

"The investors are usually the first ones to hop on new technology, but as bitcoin circulates more, and as the amount of transactions increases, we should see bitcoin being used by more and more average consumers," Wouter Vonk, BitPay's European marketing manager, told the International Business Times UK.

According to the Atlanta-based startup, which currently serves 53% out of the 100,000 merchants that accept bitcoin, the number of transactions doubled this year, while the average value halved, indicating that bitcoin adoption has significantly increased. 

While it is still unsure where the bitcoin price is heading in the short-term, the next reward halving set to take place in 2016, should considerably boost the bitcoin price in the long-term. 

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