NBA Professional Goes Ahead with Tokenizing His Playing Contract

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has announced this week that he plans to go ahead with the launch of his token-based investment tool despite NBA’s threat to ban him from the professional basketball league.

According to several reports, the star bastketball player will launch his token-based investment tool on January 13th.

“The Spencer Dinwiddie bond launches January 13th. I’ll also be taking 8 fans to ASW with me. #NBAVote,” he tweeted on January 10th. The bond will be issued with the help of security token platform Securitize, whose CEO Carlos Domingo announced the partnership on Twitter.

Initially, the basketball star player revealed his idea back in October 2019, stating that he wanted to launch DREAM Fan shares – a blockchain-based investment, where he would sell 90 tokens called SD8 coins.

This tool was developed with the goal to let Dinwiddie’s fans own a portion of his contract via the DREAM Fan Shares. This way, Dinwiddie would be able to digitize part of his contract and the tokenized shares would be then made available to fans seeking to increase their stake in the player’s career.

Each coin represents a tokenized share in his $34 million contract. Following that, Dinwiddie would be able to collect up to $13.5 million of his guaranteed three-year agreement without having to wait until the final years of the contract. Essentially, the agreement provides him with a new age business loan.

However, the NBA had not approved of this strategy, citing breach of the NBA players’ collective-bargaining agreement. It is further explained that the third year of his contract was optional, which meant that investors would gain more in dividends in 2021 if Dinwiddie decided to pursue a higher-paying contract elsewhere.

Over the past three months, Dinwiddie has had several discussions with the NBA’s legal team and the Nets player has eventually decided to remove the initial promise of potentially higher dividends in the third year.

Following the revised proposal, Dinwiddie will now sell his securities-based SD8 tokens, which can’t be traded for a year, for $150,000 apiece to verified accredited investors under SEC Regulation D, Rule 506 (c).

The SD8 coin will be a three-year bond with a monthly 4.95% base interest with the full principal paid out at the end of the period upon maturity in a bullet payment. If everything follows the schedule, the investment period will start with the launch date and ends on February 10th, with the bond notes maturing and paying out in full three years later.

However, it remains unclear whether the platform will indeed go live as soon as specified, becuase the league is still reviewing the revised proposal and his previous attempts at launching his own token and platform had been thwarted by the NBA.

Siam Commercial Bank Working with Ripple for Cross-Border Payments Application

Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is collaborating with Ripple to develop a mobile application powered by blockchain to offer real-time low-cost cross-border payments.

According to a blog post published on January 8, Ripple announced the launch of a new application – dubbed the SCB Easy – which has already been demonstrated back in December during Swell, the company’s annual customer event. The demo app displayed its ability to send cross-border payments in seconds.

At the meeting, SCB’s senior vice president of commercial banking, Arthit Sriumporn, displayed how the app runs as well as explained the advatanges of their app:

“It is so difficult to send and receive money today. People must physically go to a bank branch, fill out long and complicated forms and wait for payments to be received—with no transparency. With our service, their loved ones from abroad can transfer payment and receive money immediately.”

Sriumporn then proceeded to show the app in action by sending a payment to recipient’s bank account and within 40 seconds, the money was transferred.

As a result of this partnership, SCB will be able to fulfill its 16 million customer demands for fast and secure low cost cross-border payments as well as provide a better customer experience.

In addition to that, SCB and Ripple are working together to provide EMVCo QR payments via the app. Whilst QR payments are a popular payment method across Southeast Asia, they are typically only used in the local areas.

However, by capitalizing on this, it will allow SCB to provide micro payment services to clients along with remittances. A recent research conducted by PwC reported that a staggering 86% of Chinese citizens use mobile payment apps and in Thailand, the numbers rise as high as 67%.

In the meantime, the senior vice president took the stage to also discuss their journey and the plans for the future.

The 112-year-old SCB is Thailand’s first domestic bank as well as the largest bank in terms of assets. In 2018 the bank reported assets in value of 3,187 billion baht ($105 billion) and an operating income of 138.2 billion baht ($4.6 billion).

Following this new app development, the bank aims to improve customer experience as well as expand its reach to other countries.

This year, SCB plans to expand into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where less than 35% of the population have bank accounts. One of the features of SCB Easy is that it allows opening new accounts online, without actually visiting a physical location.

“One connection equals many possibilities,” Sriumporn explained on stage at Swell.

Sriumporn expressed excitement in working with Ripple’s technology and is happy to offer this unique service to its customers as well as to tourists and new customers:

“Imagine you are a tourist coming to Thailand, and you can use your home country mobile application to scan for payment and eliminate the need to exchange for local currency. You can use your mobile app, scan the QR payment and receive goods right away.” 

Chinese Giant Ant Financial Reveals the Upcoming Launch of its Blockchain Network

Chinese payment services Ant Financial – a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba and operator of Alipay – is set to launch its enterprise-focused Ant Blockchain Open Alliance platform this month.

According to local media outlets on January 8th, Guofei Jiang, vice president of Ant Financial, announced the news at the company’s annual media meeting. He further revealed that the blockchain platform had been available in beta form since last November and will be launched soon as a fully operational chain.

Jiang claims the platform will be the first open alliance chain to share platform user rights that will help small and micro enterprises to develop as well as launch their own blockchain applications at a lower cost. He further added that the platform can support 1 billion daily transactions as well as achieve 100,000 cross-chain information processing capabilities per second.

According to the company, the Ant blockchain open alliance has helped resolve trust issues across 40 sectors, including cross-border remittances and trade finance.

The platform had been announced by Jiang in September 2018, stating at that time the project came to be to help improve the technology as well as expand the company’s in-house technologies to the wider commercial sector.

Ant Blockchain Open Alliance was then beta-launched in November 2019, with key words such as low-cost, low-threshold, trusted and multi-value networks. Once the beta testing had begun, Ant Finacial senior director of technology and business innovation Jieli Li carefully used the word “open” for the blockchain platform, saying that whilst the platform’s name does include the word ‘open’, not everyone would be able to run the network’s nodes.

 “As for the selection of node operators, we are more cautious. […] Because to form a credible value network, not only do they need to be a consensus accounting node, but they also need to provide authoritative endorsements,” Jieli said at the time.

In the meantime, vice president Jiang believes blockchain to be the most valuable technology in the current era, explaining that the technology will change people’s productivity and life and mobile payments and will ultimately become the infrastructure of the digital economy.

Ant Financial has been steadily diversifying its blockchain investments over the years. In 2018, same month that the company had announced the Ant Blockchain Open Alliance platform, the company also launched its blockchain-as-a-service platform, having trialed its first-ever blockchain remittances in the summer of 2018, using its new blockchain-based electronic wallet cross border remittance service.

In 2019, Ant Financial expanded its involvement in global blockchain development by taking part in a $10 million Series A round for an Israeli blockchain privacy solutions firm that develops zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology.

In addition to that, the company has also joined hands with pharmaceutical giant Bayer Crop Science, to create a blockchain solution for the food and crop industry.

Korean Crypto Exchange Bithumb Launches Blockchain Research Center

Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange – Bithumb – has announced the launch of its own research and development (R&D) center.

The exchange made an announcement, stating that it will be setting up a research center in an effort to strengthen blockchain technology and exchange operation. According to an exchange official, Bithumb is the first company in South Korea with a research center dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrency analysis. The newly established center will start its activities this month.

He further added:

“The center will help the firm become a blockchain-based comprehensive financial platform whose service will encompass big data, security and online trading systems,” he added.

The new research and development center will be comprised of 30 members and will consist of three divisions, each specializing in blockchain, architecture and overall development. The firm further added that IT experts will join the center over the next few months.

Firstly, the blockchain research division will focus on analyzing public blockchain transactions as well as private keys with the goal of strengthening its system security. The team will create a private key security protection technology, which will allow the securing and safe storage of private keys.

Private keys are otherwise known as secret keys, which are a highly secure variable in cryptography used with an algorithm for encryption and decryption of codes.

Blockchain analysis will also source cryptocurrency transactions, meaning the team will be analyzing blockchains in order to isolate cryptocurrency trading transactions and develop a system to better manage user addresses and deposits/withdrawals on its exchange platform.

In the meantime, the architecture team will focus on developing a high-performance transaction matching system that can process simultaneously large volume transactions without technical difficulties.

Additionally, the research team will also work on high-availability and high-performance data exchange between blockchains and databases, which will ultimately improve the operation speed as well as maximize the usage of stored data.

Last but not least, the development team will be tasked with setting up an application programming interface (API) gateway for its crypto trading platform in order to strengthen the service interface efficiency. Overall, Bithumb’s main goal is convenient user security with key functions of streamlined verification processes and easy user experience.

Following the announcement, the exchange expressed high hopes for the research center’s impact on the company:

“Bithumb will become a leading company in the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem by strengthening its own R&D capabilities.”

Meanwhile, Bithumb is not the only one investing in the research of blockchain and digital assets. Certainly, with the rapid growth of this new sector and its potential, it is natural that more companies pour funds into relevant research.

Chinese multinational conglomerate Tencent – the operator of Chinese social media app WeChat – is also planning to create a digital currency research group for the further advancement of blockchain technology research projects.

According to Chinese state-run publication Xinhua, the nation’s spending on blockchain technology will exceed $2 billion in 2023. Likewise, a report published in September 2019 by market research firm Global Market Insights suggests that the global blockchain technology market is set to surpass $16 billion by 2024.

Ethereum Completes Hard Fork to Delay Difficulty Bomb

The Ethereum network has completed the Muir Glacier hard fork on January 2, although it was scheduled for the first day of the year.

The Muir Glacier update with its sole improvement proposal (EIP 2384) was activated at block number 9,200,000. The only purpose of the update is to delay the notorious difficulty bomb for Ethereum, a built-in algorithm of the blockchain that could suddenly increase the mining difficulty if left unchecked. The Muir Glacier update will delay the difficulty bomb for another 4,000,000 blocks, which represents approximately 610 days.

The network upgrade is a necessary step, since the performance of the Ethereum blockchain started to slow down with block generation time increasing on average.

After 2018 and 2019, this is the third difficulty bomb delay deployed on the Ethereum network. The Muir Glacier is also a quick-fix update due to a miscalculation when planning Istanbul according to the core developers of the network.

The developer community estimated the difficulty bomb to become noticeable in mid-2020, but performance issues started to appear in October 2019, forcing the community to address the issue sooner.

This latest fork in Ethereum 1.0 has been hard coded to ensure that the network maintains an average block time by adjusting the mining difficulty that is required to produce new blocks.

The Ethereum network will have another 610 days of optimal performance until the difficulty bomb issue re-surfaces. The Ethereum community plans to release Ethereum 2.0 by that point, making the difficulty bomb obsolete. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen whether Ethereum 2.0 is close to being deployed and if its launch will take place smoothly.

The update didn’t complete as quickly as expected, since the timing of the latest improvement was unfortunate.

Node operators and developers were advised to prepare for the hard fork before the holidays by upgrading their nodes and downloading the latest versions. However, there are still some clients unprepared for the Muir Glacier fork.

Fortunately, all major exchanges have provided support for the latest hard fork, meaning that users will not be in any way affected by the update.