Besides examining agency spending and performance, the Government Accountability Office also has its eye on distributed ledger technologies.
GAO’s five-year strategic plan released in February identified blockchain and cryptocurrencies as technologies that have the ability “potentially transform” society.
Agencies considering using blockchain to improve government processes must develop policies and procedures that address risk, change management and training as part of their strategy, GAO Director of Financial Management and Assurance Asif Khan said. “Blockchain is so customizable and versatile so you need to clearly think through the needs in your environment,” he said at May 2 KPMG Future Ready Government event.
“We find people who are interested in blockchain because it is a buzzword,” Khan said. But with more experimentation and proofs of concept, “the word will get out as to how people can adopt blockchain within their own [agencies],” he said.
Agencies need risk-based policies and procedures for the blockchain projects. For instance, Khan said, agencies must have a game plan for what happens if the ledger is hacked and the chain can no longer be accessed for a specific project.
Change management and training enter the picture when blockchain starts making processes more efficient and eliminating redundancies. “Peoples’ roles are going to shift, so change management is necessary to show how [the project] will be implemented,” Khan said. “Each person needs to be trained on what their roles are in the environment.”
GAO itself is interested in using blockchain to verify information at the source level for its reports, but the idea has not gone beyond the discussion phase, Kahn said.
The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service, however, already has seen benefits from a blockchain proof of concept that inventoried employees’ computers and phones. However, it remains to be seen whether blockchain will be able to live up to the hype, said Craig Fischer, program manager for that agency’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation.
“The next step is [to] understand what this [type of project] means when it is moved to into an operational environment in the federal government,” Fischer said. “When you have a network that spans and effects several agencies, it could be useful, but we need to determine what the architecture for that would look like.”
Crypto News Flash: Bitcoin (BTC), Tron (TRX), Ripple and XRP, Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar (XLM)
Stellar (XLM), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin (BTC)
Brian Kelly, the CEO of crypto investment firm BKCM, says Stellar has earned its spot ahead of Litecoin in market cap.
“Stellar is both a currency and a platform, so it makes sense that it is more valuable than Litecoin,” Kelly told CNBC. “The partnership with IBM is very interesting and could add even more value as they build more products on the Stellar platform.”
As for the overall market, Kelly believes the bear market may have subsided. “The character of the market has appeared to have changed. For most of this year, every rally was met with aggressive selling. That has changed over the last two weeks. The potential for a currency war could be a tailwind for Bitcoin going forward.”
Crypto exchange Changelly has added Tron to its list of cryptocurrencies that can be easily bought with a bank card.
Join us on Telegram
In addition, a new Google Chrome extension for Tron is launching. Tronlink is designed to give developers an easy way to create decentralized apps that launch directly from the browser. Users will be able to see games, applications, sites and other DApps on Tron’s blockchain through TronLink. It will be available on the Chrome Web Store on July 31.
Check out Tronlink, the Chrome extension built by @TronWatch! Developers will now be able to create and interact with DApps from a browser, a major step before our Virtual Machine Testnet launch on July 30! Stay tuned https://t.co/4BuNDvPDTX
— Tron Foundation (@Tronfoundation) July 21, 2018
Ripple and XRP
A new poll from Weiss Ratings found XRP is the best cryptocurrency for moving funds between exchanges.
Out of 7,598 votes, XRP came in first at 78%. Ethereum and “other” tied for second with 8% each, and Bitcoin is in fourth place at 6%. Ripple owns 60% of the total supply of XRP.
Which is best for moving funds between exchanges?
— Weiss Ratings (@WeissRatings) July 20, 2018
Philippines Based LoyalCoin Is Using Cryptocurrency To Create The First Global Loyalty Scheme
Philippines-based LoyalCoin is aiming to create the world’s largest loyalty network where points from thousands of different brands are interchangeable – all thanks to cryptocurrency.
Customers will be able to turn reward points from numerous brands into taxi rides, air miles, fast food treats and pretty much anything else they want.
And from August this year they will also be able to cash out their points into Fiat currency for the very first time.
A groundbreaking digital asset, LoyalCoin is the brainchild of Filipino firm Appsolutely which has become a leading player in the loyalty and rewards sector over the last five years.
It is now using blockchain technology to create the only truly global rewards scheme where you can use your passion for pizza to jet off on holiday, and your grocery shopping bills to pay for a cab across town.
LoyalCoin Chief Operating Officer, Paolo Bediones, said: “It’s time for crypto to come into the rewards segment.
“The idea is that customers can combine their loyalty points from different merchants into one place.
“That means they can much more easily keep track of them and trade them for things they actually want – and in more ways than they previously thought possible.”
Working with peer-to-peer blockchain platform the NEM Foundation, LoyalCoin already has a 200,000-strong community and nine billion coins in circulation.
It is rated 268 out of 1,656 coins on CoinMarketCap and is being traded on Cryptopia and the NEM Exchange.
LoyalCoin is currently operating in the Philippines but is set to expand into South Korea, Japan and the United States by the end of the year. A route into the European market is slated for 2019.
And it already has some big brands on board.
In May it signed a deal with Cebu Pacific to harness the Filipino airline’s existing GetGo points system.
Agreements with international convenience store giant 7-Eleven and ride-hailing company Grab, which acquired Uber’s South East Asia operations earlier this year, have also been confirmed.
Mr Bediones added: “There are thousands of loyalty programmes but businesses still lose repeat customers who can’t keep track of them all and who can only use their points in a few places.
“With LoyalCoin it will be possible to use and trade them everywhere – it will unite all points and programmes into one.
“Businesses will gain customers and revenue, and people will actively use their rewards points. Meanwhile, coin-holders will see their points appreciate as the new loyalty economy expands.”
The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) currently allows crypto platforms to operate in the country but the Philippines central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is working towards official regulation due to be in place by the end of the year.
Mr Bediones said: “Regulation is crucial to the advance of cryptocurrency globally, however there has to be some give and take.
“It is important but there should be room for growth within that.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Palacios, said: “LoyalCoin is a digital rewards wallet that can be used within the group of merchants that we partner with.
“Essentially is solves the problem of consumers not be able to use their points anytime, anywhere.”
LoyalCoin is stored in a LoyalWallet, a secure blockchain-backed system that is available for both iOS and Android operating systems.
Mr Bediones said: “Like a traditional rewards point, LoyalCoin can be used to redeem rewards from any participating merchant.
“That means that your points from one merchant can be redeemed with every other merchant within the system.
“However, LoyalCoin can also be sent to and received from other people, and used as payment with participating merchants.”
It has already made waves in the cryptocurrency world through its partnership with United Kingdom e-bike retailer 50cycles.
Last month the British company announced a new range of electric bikes called Toba, on which riders can earn LoyalCoin while they pedal – at the rate of around £20 ($26.50) for every 1,000 miles they cover.
For further details visit loyalcoin.io.
LoyalCoin CEO Patrick Palacios
LoyalCoin COO Paolo Bediones
Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government
According to the head of Iran’s Blockchain Association, over 500 BTC belonging to Iranians were confiscated by the U.S. government last year, and the number is still rising. He explains that Iranians are unable to take action through proper channels from within their country due to Iran’s legal status of cryptocurrency.
Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space
Iranians’ 500 BTC Seized by US Government
Sepehr Mohammadi, the president of Iran’s Blockchain Association, told Ibena news outlet last week:
Last year, a remarkable volume of bitcoins which belonged to some Iranians were confiscated for unspecific reasons by the federal government of the United States, and the process of confiscation is still continuing.
He admitted that the exact number of confiscated BTC “is not clear, but it is expected to be over 500 bitcoins, worth approximately 25 billion tomans ($5.77 million)” at the time, the publication quoted him.
“Some people believe that this confiscation is because bitcoin owners were circumventing U.S. sanctions,” Mohammadi added.
Recently, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the government of Iran is considering using cryptocurrencies to evade long-held U.S. economic sanctions. Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Economic Commission, said in an interview with Mizan news agency on July 15 that digital currencies are among the major mechanisms that Iran can use to the evade the sanctions. He noted that the Iranian parliament will soon discuss this issue.
Mohammadi further explained to Ibena the challenges Iranian citizens face to recover their cryptocurrencies:
The owners of confiscated bitcoins are unable to take legal action against the U.S. inside Iran as cryptocurrencies are banned in the country. The association is looking to take international legal action, but they have not yet found a legal expert in anti-money laundering law who will handle the case.
In April, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) bannedbanks and financial institutions in the country from dealing with cryptocurrencies. The CBI claimed that “All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money.”
Nonetheless, Pour-Ebrahimi told Ibena in May that even though “few people in Iran are cryptocurrency users,” according to his data, “more than 2.5 billion dollars has been sent out of the country for buying digital currencies.”
What do you think of the US government seizing Iranians’ BTC? Let us know in the comments section below.