A new platform built on Stellar is taking steps to make the digital currency useful in a real-life, practical way as crypto pushes towards mass adoption. After a trial run at the Chicago Food Truck Festival, Stellar Payband announced that their new contactless wristband technology was a success.
During the trial, select guests were given a near field communication (NFC) wristband designed to work with point of sale (POS) merchant management systems. The wristband was connected to a Stellar Lumens wallet, while the POS software was connected to the merchant’s wallet. With the flick of a wrist, customers were able to transfer their Lumens (XLM) directly to the merchant to purchase goods.
— Stellar Payband (@StellarPayband) September 23, 2018
According to the company’s Reddit account,
“The technology was initially designed for festivals, fairs, conferences and events where wristband technology is far superior to cellphones because of ease of use. Cell phones die…wristbands do not. Going cashless at festivals is the new trend. Why not use the fastest and cheapest method of sending money?”
Festivals are aiming to cut down on cash transactions. Scott Feehan, executive director of the Festival International de Louisiane, a performing arts festival in Lafayette, has already started using wristbands preloaded with the consumer’s money.
“Tickets, logistically, are tough, from getting them out during festival hours, keeping them staffed, managing the cash. It’s a tough process. Some of the vendor booths, they turn the tickets in and weigh them. There’s a ton of challenges with tickets. We’ve been looking for a solution for years.”
Marketed as the world’s first cryptocurrency wristband, Stellar Payband was conceived in 2017 and completed as of July 2018. The development team plans to make the hardware and software available to the public this fall.
Stellar Payband at the Chicago Food Truck Festival transacting drink tickets with Lumens on a wristband, because money should move like email. #massadoption @chgofoodtruck @MartialArtsCoin @SwapStellar @StellarOrg pic.twitter.com/hSlt4mHJw1
— Stellar Payband (@StellarPayband) September 23, 2018
Aside from consumer-to-merchant transfers, Stellar Payband says their technology will enable peer-to-peer XLM transfers as well.
The Chicago Food Truck Festival is home to one of the largest congregations of food trucks in the country, featuring over 55 food trucks and 50,000 attendees.
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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