Urvashi Verma

Blockchain Market Watch: Which Startups Are Top VC Firms Investing In?

VC firms are acutely aware of the potential of Blockchain to transform our world. While many companies will build solutions; which ones will succeed?
Blockchain Market Watch: Which Startups Are Top VC Firms Investing In?

VC firms are acutely aware of the potential of Blockchain to transform our world. While many companies will build solutions; which ones will succeed?

Two venture capital firms, Andreessen Horowitz (Andreessen) and Union Square Venture (USV) may have cracked the formula of how to make future bets on Blockchain.  Both have been investing in blockchain-based technologies and cryptocurrencies since 2013, according to CB Insights.

Factors Fueling Growth in Blockchain Market Cap

The demand for blockchain technology solutions is expected to increase rapidly due to the growing adoption of its distributed ledger technology. Global blockchain market size is expected to grow to 7.6 bln by 2022 from 411.5 mln last year, according to a report from Research and Markets.

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Factors fueling the exponential growth of the Blockchain market have been the rising cryptocurrency market capitalization rates and initial coin offerings combined with the benefits of processing transactions, the report says.

VC Investment Trends To Watch: Decentralized Apps

Investors have been pouring funds into decentralized applications (dApps).  

CryptoKitties, a decentralized app crypto-collectible digital cats raised $12 mln Series A at the end of March.  CryptoKitties, built using Ethereum, are digital pieces of content that are unique, have a fixed number that someone can own, buy, sell, trade.  USV described CryptoKitties, as digital collectibles that could not have existed before the emergence of Blockchain.

The company said in its blog post:

“We think digital collectibles and all of the games they enable will be one of the, if not the first, big consumer use cases for blockchain technologies.”

Andreessen recently invested in Dfinity a startup that plans to create a decentralized cloud capable of competing with Ethereum and other smart contract platforms. The company received  $61 mln in Feb. and intends to use them to incentivize developers to build on its cloud, according to CB Insights.

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Startups Taking on Bitcoin

USV’s 2018 investments target cryptocurrency startups like Algorand and Chia that are capable of building products that take direct aim at the existing limitations of Bitcoin. Algorand, a startup which is building a high-speed blockchain-based payments protocol raised $4 mln in its seed funding round in Feb.

Chia is a new cryptocurrency, which garnered $3.4 mln in seed funding at the end of March. The company says it uses a more energy-efficient mechanism than Bitcoin’s Proof of Work. While Bitcoin has a much more substantial market presence at this time; these companies are poised to challenge Bitcoin’s new Lightning Network, experts say.

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🤷 Opinions Katya Michaels

Facebook Token: Can the Media Giant Disrupt Itself? Expert Opinion

Opinions
Facebook’s flirtation with Blockchain may drive mass adoption, but would that be enough to fix everything that’s wrong with the platform?
Facebook Token: Can the Media Giant Disrupt Itself? Expert Opinion

Facebook has been facing a great deal of pressure recently, both from the public and the US government, regarding its exploitation of user data. In the aftermath of Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearing, decentralized platforms have been seizing the opportunity to capitalize on Facebook’s failures and deceptions, highlighting the advantages of storing personal data on the Blockchain.

Friday’s news of a possible Facebook token launch may have a dramatic effect on the scenario of centralized social media disruption. One of the major issues faced by Blockchain startups and decentralized platforms is the rate of adoption – and if Facebook can beat potential competitors to the punch, it could retain the social media hegemony that decentralized network supporters hope to dissolve.

A rising tide lifts all boats

Some members of the community reacted to the news with enthusiasm. Mick Hagen, CEO and Founder of Mainframe, a decentralized communications protocol that has recently been in the spotlight with ambitious and creative airdrops throughout Asia, believes Facebook’s access to a two billion audience will promote worldwide exposure to cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology. Hagen commented on Facebook’s move toward tokenization:

This is a really exciting development. It further validates that blockchain technology is here to stay. They are disrupting themselves before someone else – it's smart... This will bring a lot of new movement and momentum. A rising tide lifts all boats – this move from Facebook will help the entire ecosystem grow.

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Not even Facebook can deny the power of decentralization

Others are more cautious, given Facebook’s history with user data and the fundamental differences between decentralized and centralized networks. Bill Ottman, CEO and Co-creator of Minds.com, a crypto social network that has been a harbor for disillusioned Facebook and Twitter users since 2015, is doubtful that Facebook can adopt Blockchain in its true sense.

Facebook's blockchain application will only have any potential value if it is fully free and open source software (which it really can't be unless Facebook open sources all of their code), has fair token economics and exists on a truly decentralized blockchain as opposed to a more centralized one. In reality, blockchain itself will never fix Facebook's deep underlying unethical practices. A total corporate and techno overhaul would be required, and even that can't fully undo the damage they've already caused.

At the same time, Ottman recognizes that Facebook’s move to get onboard with Blockchain shows the growing power of free software and the decentralization movement.

At the end of the day there's room for a diversity of dApps and the best will inevitably rise to the top.

Two roads diverged

If Facebook could give its two billion users the advantages of a true decentralized Blockchain economy on a platform that they are already using, it might have a chance of beating decentralized social media at its own game and fueling worldwide adoption of the technology.

On the other hand, it may turn out to be a case of “teaching an old dog new tricks,” or worse – “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” adding to the misunderstanding of and disillusionment with Blockchain technology by the public. Only time will tell which scenario will come to be realized.

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🕵️‍ ICO Watch Eric Eissler

Green Energy Competition Heats Up Down Under: Past-ICO Review

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On the road to a fall business launch, WePower sets itself apart from competition
Green Energy Competition Heats Up Down Under: Past-ICO Review

The tokenization (what isn’t getting tokenized these days) of electricity is one major use utility that has recently caught on in the Blockchain space. A number of similar projects have surfaced, with a major competitor, Power Ledger, vying for one of the same green energy markets in Australia.

High competition in this space plays a positive role overall as the driving force of innovation, but the implications for any individual company, including WePower, where total market dominance is not guaranteed, but rather working varied energy projects.

WePower and Power Ledger comparison: they are different

Thanks to some tweets,  we had a chance to get some info on what makes WePower stand apart from Power Ledger. WePower is focused on energy financing platform that will create and oppertuing for green energy production that will allow companies to raise capital by selling their “future energy production”. This is a major difference, is that they are selling energy before it is created. Whereas Power Ledger’s financing is equity based, which is similar to the current energy financing systems. WePower’s Smart contracts offer a much leaner and easier method of getting green energy projects financed. WePower is focusing on utility based energy transfers, where as Power Ledger is developing a p2p distribution network. WePower has a different blockchain and token, which accumulates value with the growth of the platform, where all energy is pooled and be bought or sold once it is produced. WPR token is also used for trading energy at auction. Power Ledger’s token is used for subsidizing energy retailers.  

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Throw another bill in the bank, mate!

ERC20 WPR token raised $40 mln in the initial ICO on Feb. 1, 2018. There was a presale that lasted from Sept. 22, 2017 to Feb. 1, 2018. So the company had a lot of time to raise the funding.

The token entered the market at $0.20 and then slid down to around $0.049 per token a 77 percent loss since its debut. It has a market cap of $22,281,006 and a rank of 284 with daily trading volumes around $460,130, according to CoinMarketCap.

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Team is not from Oz

The company is Lithuania based with an office in Estonia. They are working on power projects in their respective countries as well as, most notably in Australia and Spain- it’s pretty sunny in these countries.

  • Nikolaj Martyniuk Co-Founder

  • Artūras Asakavičius Co-Founder

  • Kaspar Kaarlep  CTO

  • Jon Matonis Blockchain advisor

  • Eyal Hertzog Blockchain advisor

  • Heikki Kolk is Energy IOT Expert

Incentives

WP’s main goal is to make green energy projects easily financed by allowing it to come from the community and individuals as opposed to the traditional top-down method of financing.

The financing model created by the WePower ICO incentivizes both producers and energy buyers to use the platform.

For producers, the model helps to increase return on equity by 20-25 percent, according to the website.

For consumers, buyers purchase energy upfront on the market for a reduced cost. Since the energy rights are held within a smart contract, energy that is not used is liquid and can be sold in the market.

This is tokenization in action right here, making things that are not normally liquid, ready to be sold at a moment’s notice.

Buyers, therefore, have access to cheaper energy, using only what is needed and reselling the rights to access the surplus.

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On schedule for business launch

WePower has some cool stuff going for it, and they are pushing ahead with releasing the v1 platform this month and are running ahead of schedule with the v2 platform. These platforms will help with new business and green energy project registrations. The official business launch is scheduled for the Fall 2018.

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Cryptotips George Shnurenko

How to Create Your Own Cryptocurrency- Beginner's Guide

💡 Cryptotips
Cryptocurrencies are enjoyed because of their accessibility in terms of owning it, but even beginners can access the technology to build their own versions
How to Create Your Own Cryptocurrency- Beginner's Guide

The recent surge in the value of cryptocurrency has triggered many responses as more and more cryptocurrencies have started popping up on the scene. Still, many are looking for answers to how to create a cryptocurrency? And even if you’re not much into coding, but have always observed different cryptocurrencies keenly, you’d also be looking to find out how to create my own cryptocurrency?

Well, creating a cryptocurrency of your own is very much possible, but you need to consider different options and have some caveats in your mind before actually taking this route.  So, let’s just not drag it further and find out how to create own cryptocurrency.

How to create your own cryptocurrency?

To be honest, with all the technological advancements and improved methodologies, it’s now become quite easier to create a Blockchain or an altcoin. All you need to do is follow some basic steps and you’ll be able to set up your own cryptocurrency. Here’s what you can do to start with:

1.     If you don’t have a technical background, you should better get someone with technical knowledge involved in the process. Your technical partner would help take care of the coding thing.

2.     Decide whether you’d like to create an all-new cryptocurrency or would like to set up your own Bitcoin fork. Just make sure that you go with the option that fulfills your requirements.

Let’s take a look at how you can approach both these options for setting up your own cryptocurrency.

Creating your new Blockchain

If you’re an expert who knows cryptocurrencies inside out and have a background in coding as well, you should better take this route. Setting up your cryptocurrency from scratch will allow you to have new, unique features and you’ll be the one to set up all its parameters as well. Here’s what you’ll be able to achieve when you take this route:

1.     There are quite a few customization options available and you’ll be able to create something that easily stands out from the crowd.

2.     It’s your decision whether you want to have minters or miners depending on earnings as per proof of stake or proof of work rewards.

3.     It’s you who decides the block size, maximum coin supply and the rate at which new coins will be issued.

Creating your Bitcoin fork

Even though it sounds tempting to have control of everything, there can be certain drawbacks associated with it as well. So, the alternate option for you is to create your Bitcoin fork. If you want to know how to create your own cryptocurrency for free, this might be the best option available to you.

Here you’ll be using a dependable open-source code that is readily available. For creating a unique coin that serves your purpose, it’s possible to use the code available for a coin that is the closest in features to what you want your cryptocurrency to look like. Here’s why you should be taking this route.

1.     When you launch your cryptocurrency with some secure Blockchain, it will help you keep it protected against any fraudulent attacks. For instance, you’re not exposed to double spending attacks because many miners are already on the network to secure it.

2.     Built-in decentralized exchanges and other similar features are already available, allowing everyone to trade using your cryptocoin to acquire digital assets.

3.     You’re also able to save so much of your time as you don’t have to do the coding and development.

So, that’s exactly how are cryptocurrencies created. Besides, there are a few aspects that you should take care of in order to launch a successful cryptocoin.

What to do for making your cryptocoin successful?

Now that you know how to create cryptocurrency let’s look into the aspects that you should be careful about to make it a successful launch. Here’s everything you need to know:

1.     What it has to offer to consumers

With everyone ready to find out how to create a cryptocurrency exchange and set up one of their own, it’s important that you come up with a unique offering. It’s really important to clearly define your currency’s USP so that it’s appealing to end users.

2.     Use the community

You’re mistaken if you believe that people will readily accept the cryptocurrency as soon as you push it out. Rather you should keep your focus on finding out points where other currencies lack and come up with use-cases as well as reasons why your currency should exist and survive. Once you’re done with that, you can go ahead and do the coding.

3.     Know which development method you’ll be going with

Both the methods for creating your cryptocurrency have been described above but if you want to keep things under your control, you should code everything on your own or with the assistance of your technical partner. Just make sure you know which language you’ll be coding in and then stick to your choice.

4.     Use a prototype to begin

Forgetting everyone in the community onboard, you should have a prototype ready for approval so that you don’t have to explain everything to everyone. It will help ensure your concept’s clarity.

5.     Security is important

Go with a hacker’s mindset and find loopholes or drawbacks of your cryptocurrency so that you can work to improve it. Try to think like a hacker to find vulnerabilities and then do everything you can to fix them.

6.     Find your miners

Once your product is ready, you’ll be in need of miners. Just make sure you don’t oversell your product, rather you should build trust and express your intentions and vision to get them onboard. This will give everyone a clear understanding of what you’re going to achieve with your product and the idea behind it and they’ll be ready to stick to it for long.

7.     Don’t rush for investors

This should be the last thing on your list of to-dos. People often start looking for investors when they even don’t know how unique their product is. Simply avoid it and your first point of focus should be exceptional execution only.

So, that’s how to create a cryptocurrency and make it successful. Just make sure that you lay down a perfect plan and execute it. You’re sure to make it big in the world of Blockchain!

Cryptotips
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Exchanges Guide George Shnurenko

Bithumb Guide

🎓 Exchanges Guide
Being founded in 2013, Bithumb suffered from a few major cyber attacks, but managed to overcome these hurdles remaining at the top of its game.
Bithumb Guide

What is Bithumb?

So, what is Bithumb? Based in Seoul, South Korea, Bithumb is a reputed exchange with a daily trading volume of more than $465 million. Statistically speaking, about ¾ of all Bitcoin (BTC) trading volume and half of all Ethereum (ETC) trading volume in South Korea comes via Bithumb.
 

home page


Bithumb is available all over the world, but it has recently banned 11 countries (including Serbia, Yemen and Syria) from accessing the exchange due to anti-money laundering regulations. Their official website bithumb.com translated into multiple languages. However, Bithumb is not that foreign-friendly when it comes to fiat money, since the South Korean Won (KRW) is the only available traditional currency here.

South Korea, a major crypto hub that is expected to become the first crypto-powered nation, banned ICO just weeks after the same decision was announced in China in 2017. This country doesn’t have the same rancorous attitude to cryptocurrencies as China, but the ban still caused a frenzy in the community. Nevertheless, Korean crypto-insiders remain optimistic.

Bithumb exchange, on the hand, claims that right regulations are beneficial for them since it helps to make the cryptomarket more transparent and protect its clients. It is worth mentioning that the recent government investigation didn’t reveal any wrongdoings on the Bithumb’s side (illegitimate activities, tax evasion, etc.).


Bithumb Review

Bitcoin (BTC) is the main cryptocurrency which is traded here, but Bithumb also offers other altcoins to choose from. All in all, there are currently 12 available coins which (apart from Bitcoin) include some other major currencies such as Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bithumb Monero (XMR). As mentioned above, these currencies can be only bought with the Korean Won. The exchange wants to make sure that any coin featured Bithumb is relevant enough for the Korean cryptomarket. It explains a rather meagre choice that is typical for all South Korean exchanges. Rumor has it that the exchange is going to add NEO Bithumb in the nearest future, but the company still hasn’t made any official announcement whether it is indeed planning to enlist Bithumb NEO.

In addition to cryptocurrencies, there are also Bitcoin gift vouchers that can be given out to family member or friends and later converted into the equivalent value in BTC. Each gift voucher is worth at least 10,000 Won which is close to $10.

Bithumb conveniently shows the list of all your financial operations which makes it easy to check any transaction or monitor your profit with the help of the blockchain explorer. Such a feature can’t be found on any other exchange.

The exchange is also constantly expanding its online influence: it has recently launched a brand-new service which allows paying with crypto in a great number of physical stores across the country. On top of that, Bithumb is also constantly improving its online support (it has opened 8 consulting centers so far).

Perhaps, the Bithumb trading platform is more suitable for beginners than for experienced traders due to the absence of any advanced features. Furthermore, Bithumb doesn’t allow you to trade with leverage, which may sound even more discouraging for big-league investors.

When it comes to spot trading, there are three main mods. They offer traders room to decide how they would like to purchase and sell cryptocurrency here.

General Trade

Simply buying or selling a specific amount of coins with the help of the slider.

Easy Trade

Placing a pre-order while the transaction is conducted automatically.

Reversed Trade

Purchasing crypto at the reversed base price. Basically, your order won’t be fulfilled until the price reaches a certain limit.


You should consider engaging in Bithumb arbitrage trading, since Bitcoin prices tend to be a bit higher on this exchange. Hence, you may speculate on this discrepancy and profit off selling Bitcoin on Bithumb. However, many Bithumb US customers claim that the Korean exchange usually takes a rather hostile stance towards non-Korean traders and goes as far as throttling international transactions.
 

trade

How to Use Bithumb?

  1. In order to register for Bithumb services, click on the ‘Sign Up’ button and type in the required information. Once you’ve done that, you will receive a verification number to your phone (2FV). Later you can also create a Bithumb API key that you have to remember along with your secret key.
     

    sign UP

     

  2. Looking at the home page, you can see the main services that you can take advantage of (‘Exchange’, ‘Bithumb Cash’, ‘Wallet’, ‘Remittance’).

  3. The list of all the currencies is traditionally located in the left top corner while the market status with current Bitcoin prices is on the right.
     

    coins

     

  4. In the center of the page, there is ‘Buy/Sell’ section where you can see three aforementioned trading modes. Simply click on ‘Buy Order’ in order to conduct a transaction.
     

    buy order


     

Is Bithumb Safe?


A few weeks ago, the crypto world was shaken by the Bithumb news about a major hack which resulted in more than $30 million dollars being stolen from the Korean exchange. Bithumb announced on Twitter that they were planning to move all their funds to the cold storage days before the full-blown cyber attack happened. While all the details of this major security breach remained undisclosed, pundits point out failed security enhancement as the main reason. It is peculiar that Ripple (Bithumb XRP) was the main cryptocurrency targeted by hackers, and it is unclear whether other digital currencies were compromised as well.

Despite covering the losses, Bithumb must fight tooth and nail to preserve its reputation, since it is not the first time when they face a major security issue. Back in July 2017, more than 30,000 customers suffered from hackers who aimed at stealing their personal information.

So, what’s the bottom line? Is Bithumb safe? This exchange has been on the market for five years and has proven to be a very reputable platform (regulatory compliance, a huge customer base, payment of taxes and so on). The recent hack clearly pales in comparison to other attacks directed at now-dead exchanges, but the fact that Bithumb quickly recovered and managed to repay all the stolen money from its own reserve in to time just proves how big this exchange really is.


Bithumb Verification

You can deposit or withdraw money from Bithumb without confirming your identity (about 60% of its clients do not use real-name accounts). If you want to get verified, simply upload your ID scans. In order to get unlimited access to all four levels of this exchange, you actually have to provide more information about yourself (a personally written pledge and scans/photos of your utility bills for address confirmation). Bithumb verification helps to reach a higher daily trading limit.

Bithumb Fees

Despite a relatively small number of trading pairs and bias accusations, Bithumb still remains one of the biggest players on market partly due to its low trading fees that are praised in practically any Bithumb review. Again, the need to exchange US dollars into Korean Won can be considered a major drawback for Bithumb USA traders, but competitive fees can definitely compensate this effort.

There are no Bithumb fees when it comes to making a deposit in KRW or BTC. The withdrawal fees are the following (depending on the currency of your choice):

  • 1,000 KRW (roughly $0.9);

  • 0.0005 BTC;

  • 0.01 ETH;

  • 0.01 XRP.

Bithumb Withdrawal Limits

Withdrawal limits correlate with your verification level. In May 2018, Bithumb announced about sticker requirements to the verification of foreign users and lowered withdrawal limits for unverified users. Until recently, the daily withdrawal limit was set at 50 million KRW, but it has been decreased to 45 million. Bithumb claims that such measures are important in order to prevent financial crimes fueled by anonymous transactions. Go to Bithumb Reddit or Bithumb Twitter for more information about withdrawal limits.

 

Exchanges Guide
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Darryn Pollock

Vietnam’s Blanket Crackdown on Bitcoin Leaves the Country in a Disappointing Limbo

Vietnam was a country that strongly looked to embrace Blockchain and Bitcoin, but its recent crackdown has left Blockchain innovation out in the cold
Vietnam’s Blanket Crackdown on Bitcoin Leaves the Country in a Disappointing Limbo

Vietnam, like many countries, especially in Asia, is struggling from a lack of a balanced legal framework to outline the manner in which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be taxed, regulated and controlled.

There have been some rules and regulations that have cropped up in different sectors, most notably a strong banning from the central bank, but the general blanketing of Bitcoins and Blockchain as negative is making it difficult for users and the technology to grow and take hold.

Balancing act

As it has become apparent in other nations, the regulation of the fast-moving and unprecedented digital currency revolution has to be a balanced process that protects against scams, hacks, money laundering and other scrupulous means while still allowing innovation to flourish.

But the problem in Vietnam is that there is no unified front in achieving a balanced regulatory framework- in fact, there is no framework in place at all, rather a decree from the central bank effectively determined that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not legal means of payment.

These decree from the bank came to the fore due to a number of negative factors that country faced in terms of cryptocurrencies. In September last year tax authorities lost a lawsuit against a citizen who had amassed an untaxed fortune from trading Bitcoin. Because Bitcoin is not considered an asset under Vietnamese law, the court ruled authorities had no legal authority to tax him.

This instance, as well as a recent case of a Bitcoin mining startup scam that was uncovered, has to be pushing the regulators in the Asian country to implement a broad and negative ban against the cryptocurrency space which has halted innovation and left many businesses that had been in operation before the regulation, in limbo.

Sky Mining Scam

Recently, more than 300 investors in Vietnam reported a mining scam after the head of the company, Sky Mining disappeared along with $35 mln in client money.

Le Minh Tam, director of Sky Mining, reportedly absconded to the US a few days ago.

The issue is that mining and using cryptocurrencies remains illegal in Vietnam, according to the central bank. Based on the new monetary law issued by the bank that came into effect during the first quarter of 2018, Bitcoin and others are already considered illegal and their use is prohibited in the country.

Vietnam has reacted heavily to the dangerous side of Bitcoin that has come out because of a lack of regulatory framework. With these scams, tax avoidance issues and others, the country has decided to put up a blanket ban to quash the entire ecosystem.

The bank’s ban

The regulatory foundation is currently represented by a State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and it’s move on Oct. 30 effectively determined that Bitcoin is not a legal means of payment. But it was more than that as they also effectively outlawed the issuance, supply and use of cryptocurrencies.

Those found in violation of the decree and other relevant legal principles face fines of up to 200 mln Dong (around $9,000).

The problem is that the bank has gone somewhat off the predicted script. Before this banking decree, it appeared as if the government would be actively working to recognize and promote Bitcoin, but it has not gone that way.

Then, in January, Vietnamese State Securities Commission (SSC) requested security trading firms not to provide cryptocurrency services including consultancy, brokerage, issuance and transactions.

Left in Limbo

The problem is the move by the central bank has put a spanner in the works for many who have been involved and built businesses around cryptocurrencies. These companies now sit in limbo with the rules and regulations not directly applied and all too ambiguous.

Not to mention that the mining crackdown has also caused problems with the equipment entering the country being held up thanks to an importation ban on such machinery.

Thus, it becomes problematic that any innovation or growth for the citizens that could come from a booming cryptocurrency industry is being stymied, but not enough to cause all to abandon hope.

There is enough to suggest that some of the cryptocurrency and Blockchain projects can work within the ambiguous framework that is predominantly negative but with its loopholes. But of course, this is not a situation that encourages growth and prosperity.

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