“Healthcare and public health is a key area where Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) can provide computational trust, and serve as a source of …
Acoer, developer of blockchain-enabled applications, is helping its healthcare and life sciences clients to easily track and visualize the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. It will do this using its HashLog data visualisation engine which uses the Hedera Hashgraph blockchain.
“There is a growing supply of data about the virus, but the information is not necessarily easy to visualize, consume, or extract in a simple way,” said Jim Nasr, CEO of Acoer. “With HashLog our objective is to make data collection automated, and data visualization rich, dynamic, and intuitive. Particularly with my own public health background and tenure at the CDC, we are also huge believers that supporting public health is an incredibly important mission and as much as we can do, it is our responsibility to innovate to enhance it.”
Coronavirus and a blockchain
Hedera Hashgraph is an enterprise-grade public ledger. The Coronavirus HashLog dashboard enables researchers, scientists and journalists to understand the spread of the virus and trends over time. To do this it holds a wide set of public data, including data from:
the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
the World Health Organization (WHO).
HashLog will provide real-time visualisation of Coronavirus data and trends including:
deaths and recoveries per hundred infections
trends over time
interactive views – with dynamic sort and filtering capabilities
the ability to download or extract directly from those visualisations.
“Healthcare and public health is a key area where Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) can provide computational trust, and serve as a source of truth for multiple parties to work from, delivering consistent, factual information across distributed communities,” said Mance Harmon, CEO of Hedera Hashgraph. “Acoer’s work to make this Coronavirus data so easy to visualize and understand is a great example of this, and we commend them for this innovative use of DLT for the public good.”
Acoer builds blockchain-enabled applications. These seek to ensure computational trust, transparency and auditable data by providing a secure and tamper-proof environment.
HashLog is a data collection and visualisation tool. It includes three sub-projects:
Health Data Explorer – a platform to support and improve medicolegal death investigation
Knowledge Seeker – a data analytics dashboard about clinical trials, dementia or mortality data
Ledger Explorer – this is a transaction explorer and analytics platform for Hedera Hashgraph which uses decentralised ledger technology (DLT or blockchain).
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
While the initial significance of the new Coronavirus infection was not fully appreciated, its rapid growth in Hubei province and then its spread through China and the wider world has driven a need for tools. This is what Acoer, with HashLog brings, broadening the information base.
From a blockchain perspective the HashLog/Hedera Hashgroup combination adds to the credibility of digital ledger technology. That the service is free for use is an added confirmation.
While Bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain are all about decentralizing power, many … making a reference to blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
While Bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain are all about decentralizing power, many in this budding industry have over the past few months found themselves uncharacteristically excited about a certain presidential candidate: Andrew Yang, a businessman and job creator who has worked with individuals in Silicon Valley before.
Although few knew of Yang before he announced his bid for the White House, he quickly grew a large following online, especially in the crypto community, due to his stances on how technology will change the world’s economies and how governments could mitigate the risk that comes with these changes.
In his last rally (for the time being), Yang said that per the numbers his campaign was receiving from the ballots, it was clear that he would not win the presidency, no matter what he did:
While there is great work left to be done, you know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race.
As Yang polled as high as being the fourth most favored candidate just weeks ago, this move to drop out of the race shocked many, though the businessman asserted that he does not want to continue to take donations and support when he knows he is unlikely to make it far.
Crypto Community Mourns Loss of Yang Candidacy
The crypto community was quick to mourn the loss of this candidate, who was the only one in the race who was talking about Bitcoin, crypto assets, and the blockchain revolution, especially in regards to how these technologies could positively affect America moving forward.
Prominent industry marketer and commentator Nathaniel Whittemore thanked Yang for his run, specifically citing the candidate’s propensity to talk about automation, Yang’s understanding of the internet, his being genuine, and Yang’s decision to engage “seriously with new economic paradigms like Bitcoin.”
This is for good reasons: as aforementioned, Yang is a fan of Bitcoin. He, in a Bloomberg interview last month, said that innovators in this space are being hampered due to poor regulation:
“It’s bad for innovators who want to invest in this space. So that would be my priority: clear and transparent rules so everyone knows where they can head in the future and so we can maintain competitiveness [in crypto].”
That’s wasn’t all he had to say on cryptocurrency. In the same Bloomberg interview, Yang said that the aforementioned uniform regulation is needed due to the “high potential” of cryptocurrency and the “technology underlying this,” evidently making a reference to blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
He went as far as to say that regulation will not “impede” cryptocurrency, effectively stating that Bitcoin is impossible to stop.
“A ledger where you know everybody’s payments is not something that would … He also stressed the urgency of making quick progress on blockchain …
Bitcoin price and the overall crypto market reacted positively after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently stressed on the importance of private crypto-based transactions. He said that the Fed is working on a number of projects for digital currencies.
Bitcoin price surged over 5% on Tuesday, February 11, pushing it to a five-month high above $10,300 levels. With this move, BTC has surged nearly 50% since the beginning of 2020. At press time, BTC is trading 5.6% up for a price of $10, 304 with a market cap of $187 billion.
This latest price surge comes after the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell expressed his interest in digital currencies. Congressman Bill Foster raised concerns about China’s aggressive push to the use of digital currencies. Responding to this, Powell said that the Fed has several projects underway.
This was enough to usher a fresh optimism in the crypto market. Apart from Bitcoin, a majority of the top-ten cryptocurrencies are showing gains between 5-10%. The overall cryptocurrency market cap added $20 billion soon after Powell’s comments, taking it to above $300 billion.
Powell Stresses Need for Private Crypto Transactions
BREAKING: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell just came out in favor of private transactions for digital currencies.
He specifically said “A ledger where you know everybody’s payments is not something that would be particularly attractive in the context of the US.”
The Feb Chairman also assured that the U.S. is taking sufficient measures to keep with the pace of China’s development. Powell said that the Fed is currently investing a larger amount in digital currency developments. The cryptocurrency market took Powell’s comments is positive as the market surged soon after.
Besides, Powell also acknowledged that Facebook‘s entry in the crypto space with its native Libra cryptocurrency has been a game-changer. Facebook announced its Libra cryptocurrency in June 2019 but is yet to get regulatory approval for the same.
However, Powell admits that his agency understands the importance of digital currencies. And now it is working on further progress in this direction. He also stressed the urgency of making quick progress on blockchain development.
But Powell remains a bit skeptical about the implementation of the Digital Dollar due to privacy concerns. He added:
“The idea of having a ledger where you record everyone’s payments isn’t particularly attractive in the U.S.; it’s not a problem in China”.
It will be interesting to see how the Fed works out its way to accommodate digital currencies in the country’s financial ecosystem. One thing is sure that digital currencies have a huge role to play in the global economy for the next decade.
Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.
Many individuals and businesses hold some amount of cryptocurrency. According to a recent survey, nearly 10 percent of Americans have invested in cryptocurrency since the first Bitcoin was “mined” in 2009. And, along with the rise in prevalence of virtual currencies in recent years has come a surge in cryptocurrency theft, with one Ponzi scheme defrauding cryptocurrency investors out of $2.9 billion dollars in 2019. Those who invest in, use, and hold cryptocurrency should protect their assets. While individuals can purchase insurance to protect themselves if certain types of assets are destroyed or stolen, such as a house, car, or personal property, individuals may have difficulty obtaining coverage for their cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin is just one cryptocurrency built on the technology called the blockchain. Other virtual currencies include Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, and ZCash.
Homeowner’s insurance protects an insured against the loss of certain property. For example, if a thief breaks into your home and steals your television, that loss will likely be a covered loss of property under a standard homeowner’s policy. For an overview of what homeowners insurance typically covers, see here.
Is theft of cryptocurrency covered under homeowners insurance?
But, is an owner of cryptocurrency insured if a thief hacks their computer and steals virtual currency? Part of the answer relates to the question – what is cryptocurrency? Are these virtual currencies a security, money, property, a commodity, or something else? As discussed below, it seems unlikely, and inappropriate, for the loss of cryptocurrency to be a covered loss under a homeowners policy.
The Securities and Exchange Commission takes the position that cryptocurrency is, or at least can be, a “security” and cautions that “issuers [of virtual currencies] cannot avoid the federal securities laws just by labeling their product a cryptocurrency or a digital token.” On the other hand, the IRS has issued Notice 2014-21, identifying cryptocurrency as “property” for federal income tax purposes. Still a third possibility is that cryptocurrency, which can be used to purchase goods and services, is properly classified as money.
As the above demonstrates, the same word, or virtual product, can have different meanings depending on the context. Here, we are considering how cryptocurrency is interpreted under an insurance policy. There does not seem to be any reason why cryptocurrency must be treated as the same thing by the SEC, IRS and insurers. Therefore, the pronouncements of the SEC or IRS should be only of limited assistance.
A common homeowners insurance policy states that the insurer will cover the loss of the insured’s dwelling, other structures, and personal property. Crytocurrency is clearly not a dwelling or structure, so the question is whether cryptocurrency is “property” in the general sense because homeowners policies often protect against the loss of property. Beyond the IRS guidance discussed above, there is authority for the position that cryptocurrency is property. For example, an Ohio state trial court held that cryptocurrency was property covered by a homeowners policy. That ruling is discussed further below.
Not all homeowners policies are the same
Even if cryptocurrency is property in a general way, however, the insurance analysis does not end there because not all property is treated equally under a homeowners policy. For example, coverage for the loss of personal property often has a $200 sublimit for “money, bank notes, bullion, gold and [other precious metals], coins, medals, scrip, stored value cards and smart cards.” Likewise, a homeowners policy may have a sublimit of $1,500 for “securities, accounts, deeds, letters, of credit, notes other than bank notes, . . . tickets and stamps.” When considering these common sublimits, is it more appropriate to apply the $200 limit for money or the $1,500 limit for those items akin to securities? At least for some cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, an analogy to money seems more appropriate because Bitcoin is specifically designed to be an alternative to traditional currency. Considering an individual’s ownership of Bitcoin a security does not seem to make sense. After all, when one thinks of a person owning a security, such as a share of stock in Acme Corp, the comparisons with Bitcoin are thin.
Beyond the issue of whether cryptocurrency is insured generic property, money, or a security, there is another fundamental issue to consider under a homeowners policy. The insuring agreement in many homeowners policies states that personal property is insured for “direct physical loss to the property described” such loss from vandalism or theft. Because cryptocurrency is a virtual currency, there is nothing to physically lose or destroy. What is lost or destroyed is the record of ownership or the “key” to demonstrate ownership of the currency. Cash can be burden by fire – not so for a currency that never exists physically. A policyholder would have a difficult time explaining how the plain meaning of “direct physical loss” is met when the virtual currency is stolen.
A couple cautionary notes are required for this discussion. First, not all homeowners policies are the same. The terms and conditions of each policy will control; therefore, a generalized discussion about homeowners policies is just that – general. For example, some policies treat money and securities the same, which could change or eliminate the need for the above analysis.
Is cryptocurrency considered property under a homeowners policy
Second, individuals should not take too much comfort in the one reported decision on cryptocurrency as property under a homeowners policy. In the Kimmelman v. Wayne Insurance Group decision from an Ohio trial court, the court ruled that cryptocurrency was generic property, not money, and the policy’s $200 sublimit did not apply. Whether this decision is persuasive in other courts remains to be seen, but there are reasons why it should not. The Ohio court did not provide a fulsome analysis of the issues, which limits its usefulness. For example, there is no discussion on whether the policy’s submits for electronic funds or securities should apply. In addition, the policy language is at issue in that it was drafted in 1999, years before cryptocurrencies were invented. Newer policy language may not be the same. Finally, the court relied heavily on the IRS guidance mentioned above, which states that cryptocurrencies are treated as property. But that IRS guidance also states that cryptocurrency is treated as property “for income tax purposes.” While IRS guidance on tax issues is persuasive, that guidance should have no impact on how insurance contracts should be interpreted.
The court was also persuaded that Bitcoin was general property, not money, because it could be exchanged for money, i.e. it is a convertible virtual currency. But that rationale doesn’t explain that various forms of currency are converted to other kinds of currency all the time, e.g. Euros are converted into dollars. Indeed, Bitcoin was originally conceived as a currency “akin to cash” by Satoshi Nakkamoto in his whitepaper Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. And outlets such as the Wall Street Journal report Bitcoin value under “Currencies” with the Euro, U.S. Dollar, the Japanese Yen, etc., not under Stocks, Bonds or Commodities. No one would argue that the Yen is not money but is property that can be converted into U.S. Dollars.
It also bears a mention that the focus on Bitcoin, even if the Ohio decision were correct, does not necessarily apply to other cryptocurrency platforms that have different purposes from Bitcoin. For example, Ethereum was created for a different purpose from Bitcoin. Ethereum, while it has a value associated with its coins/tokens, its original and fundamental purpose included providing a platform where one can build out new applications rather than simply being a substitute for traditional currency. (For an explanation of the different types of cryptocurrencies, see this tutorial (last updated Jan. 2020)). In all, I believe that Kimmelman was wrongly decided or, at least, of limited persuasive value that other courts should not find persuasive.
What Can Individuals Do?
The bottom line is that individuals should not rely on their homeowners policies to protect them from the loss of cryptocurrencies. Commercial entities, in contrast, can buy crime policies or cyber insurance policies, which are largely unavailable to private individuals. What can individuals do? They must take proactive steps to protect themselves rather than relying on someone compensate them if their assets are lost or stolen.
For example, if an individual is using “hot” storage for their Bitcoin, i.e. having the virtual currency accessible online, the currency is vulnerable to theft by hacking or ransomware attack. The owner might consider, therefore, having a commercial third party hold the virtual token or coin in its digital wallet for the individual. That commercial entity can be insured under a crime or cyber policy. If the individual is using “cold” storage, e.g. storing the currency offline on a flash drive, the cold storage is vulnerable to physical destruction or old-fashioned theft. In that case, the individual should secure the flash drive from theft and physical description by keeping it in a fire-proof safe. Frankly, these are precautions that individuals should be taking even if the risk of loss were covered by a homeowners policy. But, until coverage for cybercurrency for individuals is widely available under a homeowners policy, owners would be wise to take steps to protect their digital assets from bad actors and physical accidents.
Michael Menapace is a Non-Resident Scholar of the Insurance Information Institute, a partner at Wiggin and Dana LLP, and a professor of Insurance Law at the Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot being said about “cryptocurrencies” and “blockchain” being a game-changer. But the majority of the …
What are Cryptocurrencies?
Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot being said about “cryptocurrencies” and “blockchain” being a game-changer. But the majority of the common public today still has little to no knowledge about what these terms mean. According to Wikipedia, “A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to
secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets”. In simpler terms, cryptocurrencies are a form of encrypted virtual currency where encryption helps provide more secure and faster transactions.
The technology on which this currency is based is called blockchain technology. Blockchain is a chain of encrypted units called blocks. These blocks store all the records of all the programs or transactions that are executed using the blockchain.
The credit for the first blockchain and cryptocurrency goes to Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for a single or a group of developers responsible for creation on Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency created and as a part of its implementation, the first blockchain was also created.
Pros And Cons of Cryptocurrencies
Ever since Bitcoin was released, there has been the release of a lot more variants of cryptocurrencies and blockchains which has led to an increasing call for these cryptocurrencies replacing the fiat currency due to the numerous advantages they offer over the existing system like:
Decentralized systems increase privacy and safety.
Decentralized systems also reduce the control of any single entity like a government or a central bank can have over the currency.
The transaction records made using cryptocurrency are stored in the blockchain and are immutable.
The transactions are quicker and much more efficient compared to traditional banking transactions.
Cross-border transactions are a lot easier due to lower charges and instantaneous transactions from yours to the other persons’ wallet.
However, this system also has its own set of disadvantages like:
The value of cryptocurrency is volatile and can be influenced very easily if a small number of people hold a large number of tokens of the currency. They can
pump-and-dump causing a crash in the value of the currency.
The lack of regulations in the use of currency makes it difficult to be used as a reliable currency.
Cryptocurrencies cannot be used as legal tender in most countries.
The amount of knowledge the people have about cryptocurrency is nowhere close to optimal which makes them wary of using or trading in cryptocurrencies.
Government policies in many countries discourage people from considering cryptocurrencies as a viable investment.
If the blockchain on which the cryptocurrency is implemented is deleted due to a malfunction, everything on it, including the currency, will be erased.
If you lose your private key, you will not be able to access your wallet and lose your cryptocurrency.
State-Issued Cryptocurrency and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
CBDC is a form of a digital currency issued by the government and is a recognized legal tender. It was initially proposed by The Bank Of England to be used in the case that for some reason, cash is no longer available.
There can be two types of CBDC- Digital form of fiat currency and State-Issued Cryptocurrency. A digital form of fiat currency is not encrypted and does not use blockchain as its underlying technology. State-Issued cryptocurrency is a form of cryptocurrency issued by the Government. It is similar to the other private cryptocurrencies available in the market.
Pros And Cons for CBDC
There are quite a few countries that are planning to adopt CBDCs. There are reports of quite a few pilot programs and some countries have already released their forms of CBDCs to the public. This concept has many advantages like:
CBDCs will help facilitate easier and quicker cross border transactions helping in improving the process of foreign exchange.
It will reduce the cost of production of money by a huge factor as maintaining and printing cash takes a lot of resources.
It is a great means of providing a better system of payments to unbanked individuals.
It creates a more stable digital payment system when compared to the ones available in the market.
It provides immutable transaction records making it easier for the government to track money and reducing money laundering and crime funding.
If the CBDC performs well in the foreign markets, it provides a boost to the countries economy and helps reduce the national debt.
However, this concept also has some major cons:
If people decide to hold more CBDCs, it will reduce the deposits in commercial banks.
This will, in turn, make the banks increase the interest on deposits and on the loans to maintain their margins. This will create a huge competition between banks which might result in huge losses for the banks.
The core principle of decentralization behind cryptocurrencies will be compromised in CBDCs. Since the issuing and distribution are controlled by the government, decentralization cannot be achieved.
It reduces the anonymity and freedom of transactions that other cryptocurrencies provide.
Countries Using CBDC
There are a few countries that are taking a step in this direction and are introducing their cryptocurrencies as a form of legal tender. They are:
Dubai: Dubai announced in 2017 that it will be releasing a digital currency known as Emcash.This is a government-backed, official digital currency pegged to the Dinar. I was created to increase the ease of transactions in both local and foreign markets.
Venezuela: Venezuela introduced the Petro, its official cryptocurrency pegged to its petroleum and other natural resources. It was introduced to help in reducing the huge amount of national debt but it was rejected worldwide and failed to make an impact on the national economy. The value of one Petro is equal to the value of one barrel of petroleum. Recently, the government of Venezuela announced that it will accept payments for petroleum products in Petro making it the official commercial currency.
Africa. It is majorly used in West Afican countries and holds the same value as the fiat currency CFA Franc. It is a legal tender and used as a digital version of CFA Franc.
The Marshall Islands: The Marshall Islands was the first country to make cryptocurrency a legal tender. It is used as a mainstream currency along with the USD which is the official fiat currency of the island nation. This currency is called Sovereign (SOV). This step was taken to introduce a local currency and reduce the dependency on USD.
Russia: Russia recently announced that it was developing its CBDC called the Cryptoruble. This Cryptoruble will be the digital form of the Ruble and will mirror its value. This currency is still in its development phase.
Sweden: Sweden is also in the process of developing its form of CBDC called the E-krona. This currency is still early in its development and is being researched for the Swedish market.
China: China recently announced that its process of creating a state-issued cryptocurrency is being expedited to compete with Libra, the cryptocurrency proposed by Facebook. This currency has no official name yet but it is reported to be backed by the Yuan.
Tunisia: Tunisia has recently announced that they are considering different alternatives for an official cryptocurrency. They are in the early stages of development and have not yet announced any official name for the currency.
Japan: Japan has released the -coin a digital currency created to increase the ease of transactions. This is just a digital form of the fiat currency, Yen and not a blockchain-based cryptocurrency.
Estonia: Estonia had proposed the Estcoin, a nationalized cryptocurrency but the project was later canceled by the government.
There are a few more countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc, considering making their version of cryptocurrency which is a very promising development.
For better results, countries need to improve the execution of their plans. They need to retain the basic core principles of cryptocurrency and find ways to ensure that the ones issued by them are accepted worldwide and not rejected as in the case of Venezuela’s Petro.
The International Monetary Fund is also assisting countries in this field. They are helping the countries with policies, pilot programs and investigating alternate payment options. Its teams are already working towards modernizing payment systems and in researching the implications of CBDCs on the international market and the country’s economy.
While many countries are showing an inclination towards CBDCs, some countries are still rigid in their views. They believe that the disadvantages and dangers of adopting digital currencies outweigh the positives. They have made it illegal to use any form of digital currency- crypto or otherwise- as a form of money. In these countries, only peer-to-peer and broker-to-peer trading is the only use for digital currencies. However, any countries are adopting the blockchain technology in their operations. The use of this technology has the potential to increase efficiency and speed of operations. The immutable and decentralized property of the blocks has inspired a lot of countries and organizations as a distributed ledger to store records of their operations.
Some countries are also planning to release payment gateways and wallets using bitcoin technology to be able to track the transactions. These systems are also increasing the transparency in organizations since anyone on the blockchain network being used, can access the records.
While there is still a long way to go, the recent developments are very encouraging from the consumers’ point of view. The transactions are getting faster, safer and easier, and the data is getting decentralized. But it will still be years before we achieve the perfect system, combining the best of the past with the promise of the future.
The increased use of blockchain technology across various fields like payments, social media, real estate, and currencies has the potential to pave the way for mass adoption. If the consumers gradually shift towards products and services using blockchain technology, organizations and governments too, are likely to start integrating it into their systems. For example, the thought of sending money to any part of the world by just having someone’s email id was unfathomable before PayPal came in and changed the game. Similarly Amazon, Uber, and Netflix caused seismic shifts in their respective markets.
Cryptocurrency too does have the potential and promise to impact such a change. But before we move towards a system purely based on cryptocurrencies, we need to go through a transition phase where we maintain a balance between new and conventional. To achieve that balance, state-issued cryptocurrencies may not be such a bad idea. With the right amount of regulations and freedom and the right execution, these currencies can help achieve that balance and pave the way for a more transparent and efficient banking system.
A Beginners Guide to State-Issued Cryptocurrency and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
Cryptocurrency and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a form of a digital currency issued by the government and is a recognized legal tender. It was initially proposed by The Bank Of England to be used in the case that for some reason, cash is no longer available.
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DisclaimerThe views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of CoinGape. Do your market research before investing in cryptocurrencies. The author or publication does not hold any responsibility for your personal financial loss.