The co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple, Chris Larsen, is revealing his vision for crypto’s path into the mainstream.
At the Crypto Finance Conference in Half Moon Bay, California, Larsen told Cheddar cross-border payments will prove to be the killer app for crypto and blockchain.
“We’ve been doing this now, focusing on cross-border payments for enterprise for four years-plus. So it’s good to see people finally realizing ‘yes’, this is the area that’s going to have the highest impact. We think this really is the killer app for this whole blockchain movement.
But we’ve been at it for longer than anybody. And what matters here is what corridors you have, the number of partners. We’ve got hundreds of banks and payment providers, remittance companies not just in experimentation mode, but full production mode.”
Larsen also offered his take on a series of lawsuits against Ripple alleging XRP is a security controlled and issued by the company.
“I think what’s really important is that any digital asset to be valuable has to be serving an actual use case. It can’t just be speculation. Obviously a lot of the market today is really speculative. But we think over the long run it’s going to be that combination of deep liquidity, market makers, institutional bets being made. But very importantly, it has to have a use case.
We think the use case for the XRP ledger and XRP the digital asset is really around, initially, reducing the cost of liquidity for cross-border payments. Long-term, though, we think it’s a key winner in this race to be another digital asset for the world for all kinds of use cases. It’s a long-term play. Has to have value. Can’t just be a store of value for store of value’s sake. Has to actually have a use case. And that’s how we see this evolving.”
According to Larson, questions about the centralization of XRP and the fact that the cryptocurrency is pre-mined are part of a “religious war” and an effort to create fear, uncertainty and doubt.
“I think this comes from the Bitcoin community, the Ethereum community. There’s a religious war going on between platforms, and that whole idea around centralization is bogus. Please look – it’s an open-source system. It’s permissionless. You’ve got 140 public validators. Ripple has like 7%, the company, of those.
If Ripple went away tomorrow, XRP continues as an open source, permissionless ledger. We would say it’s easily as decentralized as Bitcoin or Ethereum. In some ways, you’d argue, even more so, given that proof-of-work leads to more centralization as you’re seeing with Bitmain in China, and whereas consensus systems become more and more decentralized. Again, it’s important to remember this is a religious war between these platforms. You see a lot of nonsense and FUD out there. Look at the facts and I think, you know, it’s pretty clear.”
Firefox Browser Adds Option to Automatically Block Crypto Mining Scripts
Mozilla has released an update for its Firefox browser which includes an option to block cryptocurrency mining scripts on websites.
The option is being offered alongside control of cookies and trackers in the “Privacy & Security” tab of the browser, where users can now also choose to tick a box that prevents “cryptominers” from running, Mozilla announced on its blog Tuesday.
Crypto-mining scripts on websites run in the browser, normally without users’ knowledge or consent, using the power of the computer processor to mine cryptocurrency for hackers’ personal gain.
“These scripts slow down your computer, drain your battery and rack up your electric bill,” Mozilla said.
The option to block mining scripts has been available in beta since the feature’s initial launch in April, with Mozilla partnering with cybersecurity firm Disconnect for the service.
Mozilla revealed its plan to offer the feature last August, saying its goal was to prevent third-party scripts from hampering the user experience. Web browser Opera also offers miner protection in its smartphone version, while Google’s Chrome has banned miners from its extensions.
Illicit crypto mining, sometimes called crypto-jacking, is fast gaining in popularity with criminals (there are more legitimate uses too). The code that carries out the task of mining can be propagated by malware and placed directly within computer systems, or it can be placed on websites by hackers to mine using victims’ machines through browsers.
A report from Skybox Security last year found that the method now account for 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent.
In 2017, Skybox found that the situation was almost exactly reversed. While ransomware attacks – in which the data on an individual’s computer is encrypted by malware and only unlocked upon payment of a fee – made up 32 percent of all attacks, cryptojacking represented 7 percent of the total at the time.
Crypto Lending Startup BlockFi Slashing Interest Rates on Ether Deposits
Cryptocurrency lending startup BlockFi is almost halving the interest rates it offers on ether (ETH) deposits, while some bitcoin (BTC) rates will increase slightly.
From June 1, customers with 25–100 ETH balances in a BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) will see the interest rate drop from the current 6.2 percent annual percentage yield (APY) to 3.25 percent, the startup announced Tuesday. Those holding over 100 ETH balances will earn just 0.2 percent APY.
Some BTC balances, on the other hand, will see a slight interest rate increase – up to 2.15 percent from the current 2 percent – for deposits of over 25 BTC. Those holding 0.5–25 BTC will continue to earn 6.2 percent APY, BlockFi said.
The firm cited the reason for the increased interest rate on larger BTC deposits as being because borrowing and lending markets for the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization “have developed into a vibrant and growing field.”
On the contrary, the ether lending market has become “stagnant” over the last couple quarters, BlockFi said. The firm’s terms and conditions state that it can change interest rates at its discretion.
The company launched the BIA in March, offering an annual interest rate of 6 percent, paid on a monthly basis in cryptocurrency. That monthly interest is then compounded to produce a 6.2 percent APY.
BIA crypto holdings are custodied at the Gemini Trust Company, which is regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services and also offers insurance coverage for the digital assets it holds in custody.
In Tuesday’s update, BlockFi further updated that the BIA now has over $100 million in assets under management – almost double the $53 million it had as of last month.
BlockFi is backed by notable investors including Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Ventures and Anthony Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital. The firm raised $4 million last December, and previously raised $52.5 million last July.
IRS Says It Will ‘Soon’ Issue Crypto Tax Guidance in First Since 2014
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is working on its first tax guidance for cryptocurrency since 2014, the agency’s commissioner told a lawmaker Monday.
In a reply to Rep. Tom Emmer’s request for further guidance on reporting cryptocurrencies, IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig outlined a non-specific plan to release in-depth guidance in the near future.
“I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions and have made it a priority of the IRS to issue guidance,” Rettig wrote.
The IRS is working on guidance for “acceptable methods for calculating cost basis, acceptable methods of cost basis assignment, and the tax treatment of forks” according to the letter.
Guidance on these and other issues will be published “soon,” Rettig wrote.
5.16.2019 emmer 2019-11771 by John Biggs on Scribd
“I am glad to hear of the IRS’ plans to issue guidance on this important issue,” Rep. Emmer said in a statement after receiving Rettig’s reply. “Taxpayers deserve clarity on several basic questions regarding federal taxation of these emerging exchanges of value. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming proposal, and working together to serve the American taxpayers.”
Rep. Emmer is part of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a group of lawmakers that aims, among other goals, to solidify the reporting requirements and legal requirements associated with cryptocurrencies.
His original request called for the IRS to “issue more robust guidance clarifying taxpayers’ obligations when using virtual currencies” with a deadline of May 15, 2019.
2019 IRS Letter Final by John Biggs on Scribd