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US Navy awards $1.5M jet fighter contract to blockchain project

US Navy awards $1.5M jet fighter contract to blockchain project

SIMBA Chain, a cloud-based smart contract platform, has been tasked with revamping the supply chain of the United States military after it received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Navy Research.

The project will be responsible for developing a blockchain-based solution to enable demand sensing for critical military weaponry parts. Demand sensing is a forecasting technique used in supply chain logistics that processes information in real-time to accurately predict demand ahead of time.

Work will reportedly focus on constructing a use case centered on the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet — a combat jet which had its first variant introduced in the 1980s, and which still forms the backbone of the U.S Navy today.

SIMBA Chain commenced work on Jan. 6 at a naval air station in Jacksonville, Florida, where it will work in tandem with the Naval Enterprise Sustainment Technology Team (NESTT).

Project lead for NESTT, Steve McKee, said the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was allocated $30 million in 2020 to develop technological innovations that improve military readiness:

“In 2020, the Department of the Navy’s SBIR Program allocated over $30 million to help advance innovations to improve readiness. This blockchain project with SIMBA Chain exemplifies the role of technology in revitalizing not just our military facilities, but our systems as well. Pilot projects like this one with the Fleet Readiness Center in Jacksonville drive both innovation, and ultimately positive outcomes,”

SIMBA Chain CEO Joel Neidig said blockchain was up to the task of forming the backbone of an effective military supply chain, thanks to the irreversibility of transactions, its tamper-proof nature and its ability to be accurately audited.

“Blockchain is well suited to solve complex supply chain pain points as it enables a decentralized mechanism for the recording of non-repudiable transactions, making data both immutable and auditable, and lastly, tamper proof once written,” said Neidig.

SIMBA Chain was developed by Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies and theUniversity of Notre Dame in 2017, as a result of a research grant awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Since then, the project has delivered multiple contracts for DARPA, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense.

In October 2020, SIMBA Chain won first prize in a war games scenario hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense. SIMBA took home $100,000 for its implementation of a secure, blockchain-based communications network, beating out competitors from Boeing in the process.

GateHub to continue supporting XRP despite Ripple’s legal issues

As Ripple faces serious legal charges over its associated token XRP, many crypto platforms have decided to drop support for the coin until things are settled.  

However, GateHub, a United Kingdom-based cryptocurrency gateway service, has decided to continue listing XRP.

According to a Jan. 12 announcement, GateHub will not delist XRP unless a decision from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission makes it necessary:

“Please be advised that GateHub Ltd. will continue listing XRP until the SEC’s complaint against Ripple is adjudicated and a final decision entered that XRP is properly classified as a ‘security,’ or until we receive a cease-and-desist notice from the SEC.”

GateHub said that the decision to keep XRP on its platform follows some careful review of the SEC’s complaint against Ripple, which claimed that the firm sold XRP as an unlicensed security. GateHub expressed optimism about the future of XRP, claiming that the company is confident that XRP is not a security:

“We have never believed that XRP is a ‘security’ under the prevailing ‘Howey’ test in the US, and regard XRP primarily as a ‘utility’ token whose value is based on its use in payments and foreign exchange. Nor have we personally witnessed any improper market conduct by Ripple Labs or its senior officers.”

The firm went on to say that Ripple should be subject to appropriate enforcement actions if U.S. authorities prove that Ripple and related executives have defrauded investors. But that is a far cry from an action brought by the SEC classifying XRP as a security, GateHub said, emphasizing that this action potentially has catastrophic consequences for investors who did nothing wrong.

GateHub’s decision to keep XRP on its platform is another twist in a series of events in the aftermath of the SEC filing a $1.3 billion lawsuit against Ripple on Dec. 22, 2020. A number of major crypto companies including Coinbase, Binance.US, and OKCoin subsequently delisted XRP, while some companies like Uphold, and now GateHub, have decided to keep XRP until the lawsuit is resolved.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Binance.US is preparing to delist XRP today. On Jan. 11, the CEO of Bakkt, one of the biggest U.S.-based cryptocurrency companies, said that the firm will not list XRP as part of its further product development.

Huobi Global now supports ruble deposits and withdrawals

Major global cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is introducing Russia’s national fiat currency on its trading platform.

According to a Jan. 12 announcement, Huobi Global now supports deposits and withdrawals in the Russian ruble. The new feature enables users to purchase and sell major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), and Litecoin (LTC) for rubles. Other supported coins include EOS, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Bitcoin SV (BSV), DASH, as well as two Huobi-backed tokens like Huobi Token (HT) and Huobi Pool Token (HPT).

To add ruble support, Huobi partnered with AdvCash, a fiat and crypto payment processor. The exchange previously collaborated with AdvCash to introduce ruble-denominated crypto purchases on its over-the-counter desk. AdvCash also provides fiat onramp services to Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange.

The maximum deposit and withdrawal amounts are capped at 100,000 rubles ($1,350) and 50,000 rubles ($670), respectively. In order to deposit or withdraw rubles on Huobi, users will have to proceed with Know Your Customer checks.

Huobi has been actively expanding into the Russian market. In September 2020, Huobi Global rolled out a mobile app in Russia, allowing local users to buy major cryptos like Bitcoin through the app. The exchange said that Russian residents make up 10% of its total spot trading volume.

At the beginning of the year, Russia’s long-awaited crypto law “On Digital Financial Assets” finally came into effect. The law provides a legal basis for the crypto industry but prohibits Russians from using crypto as payment.

‘Thankfully’ my son owns Bitcoin, says $140B asset management CEO

Bitcoin (BTC) at $34,000 may have gained a new convert after billionaire investor Howard Marks admitted that he needed to change his “skeptical view.”

In his latest investor memo dated Jan. 11, Marks, who is co-chairman and co-founder of the $140 billion Oaktree Capital Group, noted that while he was critical of Bitcoin during its 2017 bull run, his son had “thankfully” bought in. 

Marks on crypto: Do you own research

“Back in 2017, my memo ‘There They Go Again… Again’ included a section on cryptocurrencies in which I stated a high level of skepticism. This view has been a subject of much discussion for me and  Andrew, who is quite positive on Bitcoin and several others and thankfully owns a meaningful amount for our family,” the memo reads.

“While the story is far from fully written, the least I can say is that my skeptical view has not borne out to date.”

The past few months has become a notable for U-turns on Bitcoin’s merits. As Cointelegraph reported, figures from investors to banks have challenged their bearish prognoses on the cryptocurrency, some even pledging to expose their portfolios to include it.

Marks did not make a similar commitment, but accepted the need to at least examine cryptocurrency and assess its potential.

“The nature of innovation generally is such that, in the beginning, only a few believe in something that seems absurd when compared to the deeply entrenched status quo,” he wrote.

“When innovations work, it’s only later that what first seemed crazy becomes consensus. Without attaining real knowledge of what’s going on and attempting to fully understand the positive case, it’s impossible to have a sufficiently informed view to warrant the dismissiveness that many of us exhibit in the face of innovation.” 

Warren Buffett next?

Reactions to Marks were nonetheless more than favorable, given his previous reputation as a steadfast Bitcoin detractor.

“Really awesome to see billionaire Howard Marks talking so favorably about #Bitcoin!” Preston Pysh of The Investor’s Podcast Network tweeted in response to the memo.

Fellow investment guru Lyn Alden, herself a public proponent of Bitcoin, even suggested that Mark’s change in stance would lead stalwart critic Warren Buffett to cryptocurrency.

2021 thus leaves Bitcoin’s remaining outspoken bears in an rapidly decreasing minority. Among them remains gold bug Peter Schiff, whose outright dismissal of Bitcoin continues to cause outrage on social media and beyond.

“Very few institutional investors are buying #Bitcoin,” he claimed on Monda.

“It just that those few that are buying are extremely vocal about their positions. They need to convince others to buy to push up the price so they can sell. The financial media also gives them a platform to talk their books.”

Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder of exchange Gemini, subsequently called Schiff’s words “completely false.”

Bitcoin is ‘non-sensical’ asset that still makes sense, says UK investment manager

The chairman of a British investment firm says Bitcoin (BTC) is a seemingly “non-sensical” asset — but one that still makes sense after the coin’s winter price movement proved profitable. His firm, Ruffer Investment company, converted a portion of its gold holdings into Bitcoin in November.

Ruffer Investment Company Limited reallocated 2.5% of its Multi-Strategies Fund from gold to Bitcoin in November as a hedge against the “continued devaluation” of fiat. Since then, the value of gold appreciated by 4%, while the value of Bitcoin grew by 92% — a figure which briefly rose to 123% during BTC’s short stay above $40,000 on Jan. 10.

Writing in an investment review for the final quarter of 2020, Ruffer chairman Jonathan Ruffer said that after much internal deliberation, his firm had added exposure to Bitcoin because it thought BTC could challenge gold’s status as the one “supra-currency”. He wrote:

“Our underlying reasoning is that bitcoin is becoming a challenger to gold’s standing as the one supra-currency, the thing to own when fiat currencies are kerplunked.”

Ruffer said Bitcoin was a “unique beast” which was subject to a “longish” assessment before being introduced to the multi-strat fund:

“We have done much work on assessing the danger that bitcoin is a wrong’un. We have been watching it for a longish time, and our judgement is that it is a unique beast as an emerging store of value, blending some of the benefits of technology and gold.”

The Ruffer firm had 20.3 billion pounds ($27.5 billion) in assets under management as of Nov. 30. The company was founded in 1994 and employs 330 people, serving around 6,600 clients comprised of pension funds, families, charities and individuals worldwide.

Jonathan Ruffer told readers on the company website that even though Bitcoin seemed like a “non-sensical” asset, it was one that aligned with the firm’s perspective on the world:

“Yes, it is a seemingly non-sensical asset — but one that makes absolute sense for how we see the world.”

Despite Bitcoin’s ascendance to new all-time highs over the winter period, Ruffer said he felt only “nervously satisfied” with the outcome, and that keeping clients safe was more important than short-term price pumps.

SolidX files lawsuit against VanEck alleging Bitcoin ETF ‘plagiarism’

Global investment management firm VanEck, is facing a lawsuit from blockchain firm and former-partner SolidX over a Bitcoin ETF that VanEck filed for SEC approval less than two weeks ago.

In 2017, VanEck became the first company to file for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund registered under the Investment Company Act, while SolidX has been working to bring a Bitcoin ETF to market since 2015. The two firms joined forces in June 2018, with SolidX touting its deep experience with crypto as a compliment to VanEck’s extensive background in issuing financial products.

However, after withdrawing their most recent joint application for a Bitcoin ETF in September 2019, the two firms parted ways in August 2020. SolidX’s complaint describes the split as a “bad faith termination” of their agreement.

On Dec. 31, VanEck announced it had filed a new application for a Bitcoin ETF.

According to the lawsuit, VanEck’s SEC filings suggest the firm was “surreptitiously working on its own Bitcoin product even while telling the world that it was ‘married’ to SolidX.” The blockchain firm asserts:

“Using SolidX’s work and work product to compete with it is bad enough, but the registration statement VanEck filed would be called plagiarism in any other context: the structure of VanEck’s proposed Bitcoin ETF is substantively identical, or virtually so, to the structure for which SolidX sought SEC approval.”

The plaintiff also alleges that “VanEck began announcing products that directly compete” within weeks of their terminated agreement, and that VanEck “could not have begun to issue [said products] without working against SolidX’s interests while still its business partner.”

In November, VanEck launched a physically-backed Bitcoin exchange-traded note on Germany’s Deutsche Börse Xetra market.

SolidX states that VanEck’s “marquee” brand and “credibility” as an ETF issuer informed its decision to team up with the firm, claiming that VanEck “had little, if any, expertise in Bitcoin” and hired SolidX for its expertise on crypto assets.

Uniswap’s growth lead bites back over Yearn Finance’s SushiSwap merger

Uniswap growth lead Ashleigh Schap has slammed a recent article from Yearn Finance founder Cronje that criticized forked protocols in the DeFi space, with Schap describing Yearn’s recent merger with SushiSwap as validating a “stolen DApp”. 

Cronje’s Jan.12 blog post, “Building in DeFi sucks,” complained about the risk of competitors forking his code, and combining such with attractive tokenomics in a bid to siphon away users from the products that he has invested significant time into building. He wrote:

“I can build the superior product even, but a competitor can just fork my code, and a token that infinitely mints, and they’ll have twice the users in a week.”

This is exactly what happened when SushiSwap was forked from Uniswap in late August 2020, with the new project launching a native token and yield farming program to successfully leech more than $1 billion worth of liquidity away from Uniswap.

In early December 2020, Yearn Finance merged with SushiSwap, drawing the ire of the Uniswap community. As such, the apparent hypocrisy of Cronje’s comments was not lost on Uniswap’s growth lead, who tweeted:

“One of your complaints is that anyone can steal your work in defi. And yet YFI chooses to partner with Sushi. When a legit dapp validates a stolen dapp buy partnering, it just encourages that kind of behavior.”

Schap also took aim at Cronje’s comments in which he described the notion of community within the crypto sector as “bullshit” which featured alongside the claim that “governance and community kill innovation.”

The thread sparked a debate among the crypto community with Hasu calling it “a rare look behind the curtain” at Uniswap headquarters, that revealed the outfit considers SushiSwap to be “a ‘stolen DApp’ that should be socially shunned.”

FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried, who was handed control of SushiSwap for a short time last year, defended the cloned protocol:

“This is maybe harsh, but I believe it. Uniswap had a long time to do something, anything, with its product. It didn’t. This wasn’t Sushiswap copying brand new code in real time. It was practically public domain.”

Uniswap was able to reclaim its position as the leading DEX by value locked after SushiSwap’s first liquidity vampire attack in August by instituting its own native token and liquidity farming rewards. However, after UNI rewards ended in November, SushiSwap reclaimed its billion-dollar TVL by offering yield incentives for the same pairings that Uniswap had previously incentivized.

In December, Yearn Finance announced a merger with SushiSwap in an effort to expand its ecosystem and pool development expertise. In total, Yearn absorbed seven prominent DeFi protocols late last year, including SushiSwap, Deriswap, Cream Finance, Cover Protocol, Akropolis, Bounce Finance, and Pickle Finance.

Number of financial planners investing in crypto increases by 50%

A survey published by crypto index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management has found the number of financial advisors allocating capital toward crypto has increased by roughly 50% in one year.

The survey, conducted in partnership with investment website ETF Trends, queried nearly U.S.-based 1,000 financial advisors in December. The findings indicate that 9.4% of client portfolios were exposed to crypto assets — up from 6.3% one year ago.

Of the investment advisors who have not yet allocated to crypto, 15% stated they will “probably” invest in virtual currency during 2021, with 2% stating they will “definitely” invest in the asset class this year.

Financial planners are much more keen to invest their personal wealth in cryptocurrency, with 24% saying they have already done so.

The global economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic appears to be the primary motivation that is driving financial planners towards crypto assets, with 54% of respondents describing “uncorrelated returns” as the principal benefit of cryptocurrency exposure.

One-quarter of survey participants described “inflation hedging” as crypto’s most-attractive utility, up from 9% the previous year. Demand from clients also appears significant, with 81% of advisers reporting that clients have queried them regarding crypto assets in 2020, up from 76% in 2019.

Despite the growth in financial advisors making allocations to crypto, Bitwise’s CIO remarked that “the survey shows it’s still early days for crypto, with less than 10% of advisors allocating today,” adding:

“At the same time, adoption and interest are growing: The survey suggests the number of advisors allocating could double or more in the year ahead.”

ETF Trends CEO Tom Lydon stated: “Financial advisors are increasingly looking for exposure to alternative assets, and interest in crypto is rising.”

The number of crypto-naysayers within the investments advisor community is also falling, with the number of respondents predicting BTC will plummet to zero dropping from 14% in 2019 to 8% last year, and then halving to just 4% this year.

Conversely, the number of advisors predicting six-figure Bitcoin prices within five years has increased from 4% to 15% in a single year.

Altcoins move higher while Bitcoin price finds resistance near $35,000

On Jan. 12 Bitcoin (BTC) price rebounded slightly as the price attempted to re-enter the $37,000 range but at the time of writing increased selling is pushing the price back toward the $32,000 mark.

While the bearish price action may have shaken out newer investors who are unfamiliar with Bitcoin’s whipsaw volatility, the recent 28% drop doesnt even maike it on the list of the top-5 worst BTC pullbacks in history. In fact, today’s 20% rebound marked one of Bitcoin’s largest one-day rebounds ever.

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

Despite Bitcoin’s swift 20% bounce, many analysts have voiced caution, warning that the top cryptocurrency is not out of the woods yet due to a high funding rate in the futures market and the growing strength of the U.S. dollar index (DXY).

Longer-term and institutional-level investors seem unmoved by the correction and likely believe that it is nothing more than a short-term pullback.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs suggested that the recent developments are a sign that “the market is beginning to become more mature,” and that the sector has great potential for growth due to the fact that institutional involvement only comprises 1% of the current market.

Stocks search for support

While Bitcoin and altcoins saw a healthy rebound, the traditional markets continued to face pressure due to the possibility of continued political unrest in the United States and concerns about the economic impact of new COVID-19 restrictions.

Signs of a strengthening dollar are putting pressure on global financial markets worldwide and some analysts have even cautioned that a strong dollar is bad for Bitcoin price.

The main indices were under pressure all day and ended mixed at the closing bell, with the S&P 500 and Dow slightly up 0.04% and 0.19% respectively while the NASDAQ closed down 0.08%

Altcoins show strength as Bitcoin attempts to find a new trading range

Bitcoin now appears to be entering a new range where $30,000 is support and the $35,000 level may act as resistance. As this occurs, select altcoins have moved higher and traders capitalize on BTC’s stability by shifting to altcoins.

BTC/USDT 1-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Ether (ETH) price pushed back above $1,000 and at the time of writing the altcoin trades for $1,050. Stellar (XLM) also recovered well on Tuesday as the digital asset gained 22.16%.

The DeFi sector also continued to show strength as Maker’s governance token (MKR) rallied more than 31%. Synthetix (SNX) and AAVE also gained 23% as both rallied toward new highs for the year.

BTC/USD daily chart. Source: Coin360

The overall cryptocurrency market cap now stands at $924.5 billion and Bitcoin’s dominance rate is 68.4%.

Crypto leaders worry over threat from ‘big tech’ censorship

A change to WhatsApp’s terms of service has triggered a mass exodus from the messaging platform to more private and independent rivals like Telegram and Signal, which have registered millions of new users over the last week. 

Rather than agreeing to new terms specifying the app’s right to share user data with Facebook, millions of WhatsApp users simply gave up using the platform, abandoning it for less-intrusive competitors. Telegram alone has been downloaded 25 million times in the last 72 hours.

Some of those new sign-ups include refugees from the free speech platform Parler, looking for a way to connect and organize after the right-wing Twitter alternative was suddenly yanked offline by hosting services provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The ability of web hosting giants like AWS to unilaterally close down sites and infrastructure has some in the cryptocurrency industry worried for the future health of blockchain-related projects.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin described Parler’s takedown as “very worrying” in a series of tweets, noting that AWS was much more of a “common infrastructure provider” than a social media site. Buterin also expressed a certain level of dismay over Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump from its platform:

“The fact that so many people who would normally never support such corporate power are now cheering tech CEOs running roughshod over democratically elected officials deserves some introspection…”

In the past, estimates have suggested that around 60% of Ethereum nodes run on AWS.

EOS and Bitshares co-founder Daniel Larimer recently called for the mass abandonment of big social media platforms prior to the takedown of Parler. He correctly predicted that it may have been the “last chance” to download certain social media apps. Larimer recently quit his position as CTO at EOSIO developers block.one, vowing to work on censorship-resistant platforms which he believes will become increasingly important as more people find themselves banned or suspended from traditional platforms.

Other crypto projects are wary of the centralized nature of tech giants like Amazon and anticipate problems relying upon them. The decentralized liquidity network THORChain, for example, incentivizes nodes running its software to avoid AWS by awarding them extra perks for using alternative service providers.

Decentralized solutions providers, like domain name server Handshake, are censorship-resistant in that they avoid reliance on classical processes for domain name resolution. Pirate academic journal archivists Sci-Hub switched DNS providers using Handshake, as mentioned by Buterin.

Censorship concerns aren’t the only reason why reliance on a single hosting service provider poses risks to crypto-based services. In November, AWS outages affected Coinbase, causing users to have problems logging in to and navigating their accounts.