Ethereum Classic Successfully Completes Hard Fork Upgrade

The team behind Ethereum Classic (ETC) has successfully activated the Atlantis hard fork upgrade which brings additional functionality and compatibility with Ethereum (ETH).

With the hard fork completed at block 8,772,000, all software users are required to upgrade their clients in order to continue using the main chain.

Afri Schoedon coordinated the upgrade process and congratulated everyone involved for a job well done.

“And we are on Atlantis. Congratulations, everyone,” said Afri Schoedon during a public dev call.

This hard fork was implemented to improve security, add opcodes, precompiled contracts and zk-SNARKs, as well as introduce compatibility with the Ethereum blockchain, making it easier to collaborate between the blockchains.

Ethereum Classic was itself a fork of Ethereum following the DAO hack, which at the time split the community. While the projects remain separate, they still share many of the same goals.

While ETC Labs worked together with Chainsafe System and ETC Cooperative to go through with the hard fork, Atlantis was well-received and backed by the whole community.

Data shows that over 60 percent of nodes and over 75 percent of hashing power had confirmed the upgrade. Following the hard fork announcement, ETC has received support from an array of industry players, including major cryptocurrency exchanges.

ETC Lab’s president Terry Culver also stated that Atlantis is a step forward for collaboration with Ethereum. Many of Atlantis’ Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) have been on Ethereum for some time. With the improved compatibility, the two platforms can now benefit from a cross-over collaboration.

“The hard fork clearly shows we are committed to compatibly and working with ethereum,” Culver said. “What we would like to do is find ways to make the two chains support one another.”

The team behind Ethereum Classic said they are not finished and they will continue to strive to make improvements to the blockchain with upcoming upgrades Agharta and Atzlan. The results of Atlantis fork are set to be reviewed along with ETC’s future at the ETC Summit, scheduled for the beginning of October.

Mastercard Partners with R3 to Pilot Cross-Border Payment System

Mastercard has joined forces with R3 to develop a blockchain-powered cross-border payments system connecting global faster payments infrastructures.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Mastercard said the two firms have signed a deal to develop and pilot the payments solution. The collaboration plan brings together Mastercard’s payment systems assets, brand and distribution with R3’s blockchain expertise.

The partnering firms want to tackle industry issues such as costly payments processing, liquidity management and a row of standardization and connectivity issues between banks and domestic clearing systems.

R3 CEO David E. Rutter said:

“All institutions – large or small – rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive. Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point.”

According to the press release this is part of Mastercard’s plans to strengthen its cross border payments network, expanding on its recent acquisition of global payments company Transfast earlier this year.

The collaboration with R3 is part of the payment giant’s multi-rail strategy, which aims to improve worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account interactions.

The latest deal adds to this by providing access to R3’s Corda ecosystem, which includes more than 300 of the world’s leading financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators and trade associations.

Peter Klein, Executive Vice President of New Payments Platforms at Mastercard, stated:

“Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3. It confirms our commitment to innovation, both home-grown and through partnerships and acquisitions, to support advances and innovation in the increasingly complex global payment infrastructure space.”

David Rutter, CEO, R3, added:

“Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and we look forward supporting Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.”

The R3 agreement comes just days after Mastercard joined the blockchain-based Marco Polo trade finance network. The card firm’s rival Visa is also working hard in the space, recently officially launching its distributed ledger-based, non-card platform for high-value corporate, cross-border payments, B2B Connect.

Facebook’s Libra Seeks License from Swiss FINMA

The Libra Association— the non-profit organization behind Facebook’s Libra— has announced it is seeking to apply to become a licensed payment system under the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

The association announced on Wednesday that the license under FINMA can empower billions of people. In addition to that, the association has also submitted a request for an assessment of how it would classify the Libra project.

The Swiss financial regulator further noted that due to the issuance of Libra payment tokens, the services planned by the Libra project would clearly go beyond those of a pure payment system, signifying it would be subject to additional requirements.

The agency further explained that such additional requirements would relate in particular to capital allocation (for credit, market and operational risks), risk concentration and liquidity as well as the management of the Libra reserve.

On the other hand, the Libra association has explained in a statement that Switzerland provides a pathway for responsible financial services innovation harmonized with global financial norms and strong oversight.

It further added:

 “We are engaging in constructive dialogue with FINMA and we see a feasible pathway for an open-source blockchain network to become a regulated, low-friction, high-security payment system.”

Ever since Libra launched, regulators all over the world have shown concerns over Libra raising the risk of money laundering through its global cryptocurrency available to millions of users on Facebook. Just yesterday, U.S. Treasury official Sigal Mandelker reiterated that Facebook’s Libra project must without doubt meet the highest standards of regulatory compliance prior to its launch.

Most recently a group of U.S. lawmakers, led by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, met FINMA officials to discuss the Libra project. However, the meeting did not erase Waters’ concerns. In fact, Congresswoman Maxine Waters—who called for a moratorium to halt the project—recently traveled to Switzerland to examine how the Libra project would work.

Global money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is also said to be looking into Libra. FATF President Xiangmin Liu stated that they want to make sure that in case there are significant risks, they must be addressed and dealt with.

In response to the abundance of criticism, the Libra association has reiterated its commitment to work with regulators.

“Since our vision for the Libra project was announced three months ago, we have maintained our commitment that technology-powered financial services innovation and strong regulatory compliance and oversight are not in competition,” said Dante Disparte, Libra Association’s head of policy and communications.

LG Developing Blockchain Phone According to Industry Sources

South Korean tech giant LG is said to be working with blockchain developers to launch blockchain-based smartphones in response to Samsung’s recently unveiled Klaytn Phone, according to sources within the industry.

LG Blockchain Phone

According to media outlet IT Chosun, the tech giant plans to expand the next generation of its smartphones to introduce blockchain-friendly smartphones, making it the second major South Korean phone manufacturer to make a move in that direction. An industry insider said LG had already gone through market research of blockchain firms as well as held discussions with local decentralized application (DApp) developers, devising a use case for its future product.

The industry insider noted that “LG is likely to respond to Samsung’s innovation initiative.” Another source familiar with the LG Group told the media outlet that the company has been “struggling to apply blockchain to smartphones without any dissimilarity.”

The news follows just as last week LG’s rival Samsung launched yet another blockchain-friendly smartphone, dubbed KlaytnPhone, as a Galaxy Note 10 variant. The device will come with a wallet and a free handout of KLAY, the token developed by Kakao off-shoot, GroundX.

Currently the smartphone is available only in South Korea and is named after Kakao’s blockchain subsidiary GroundX’s blockchain platform Klaytn.

Rivalry with Samsung

Earlier this year, Samsung also launched the Galaxy S10 smartphone, which provides users with a cryptocurrency wallet and dApps, and has been adding a number of decentralized apps (or dapps) to its official DApp store, Blockchain Keystore.

The media outlet further quoted an anonymous source as saying that Samsung is a more attractive proposition for blockchain developers as the company already has a crypto wallet for smartphones and a dapps marketplace, whereas LG does not support blockchain technology yet.

However another unnamed source pointed out that LG has joined Klaytn Governance Council, an alliance of multinational businesses and organizations, responsible for Klaytn’s governance, consensus node operation, and ecosystem growth, in June this year.

Although no definite details about LG’s future smartphone have been disclosed, this move marks promising new waves of blockchain- friendly smartphones as well as encourages more adoption for the industry.

LG Exploring Blockchain

Other blockchain – friendly smartphones that are currently available in the market include Sirin Labs’ FINNEY and HTC’s EXODUS. Last year, Pundi X unveiled its blockchain phone XPhone, which allows users to switch between a traditional mode supporting Android apps and a blockchain mode which will enable them to access dapps loaded on the device.

Meanwhile, LG has been exploring a range of blockchain-related business avenues. For instance, the company has launched its own Monachain blockchain platform, and is working with major bank KB on a token of some form – thought by many to be a cryptocurrency or a stablecoin.

Most recently, LG filed a trademark application for ThinQWallet in the U.S. aiming to provide a number of services such as issuance of cyber money, a computer software platform for blockchain, and mobile electronic wallet for cryptocurrency.

K-Pop Giant SM Entertainment Plans to Launch Blockchain Platform

Amidst a shareholder battle and a falling stock price, SM Entertainment – one of Korea’s top-three talent agencies – has announced plans for building its own blockchain platform with a native cryptocurrency with goal to power business growth.

According to a report from local media outlet Chosun Ilbo, Joo Sang-sik, director of the company’s technology arm – CT-AI Labs, made the announcement at the Upbit Developer Conference in Incheon on September 4th.

Founded in 1995 by Lee Soo-man, the company is home to some of the biggest names in K-pop – including groups EXO, NCT, Super Junior, Red Velvet and Girls Generation. Last year, SM raked in $518 million in revenues.

SM Entertainment is currently listed on the Korean stock exchange and has a market capitalization of roughly $600 million. The firm has recently gone through a management reshuffle, as shareholders raised concerns about its finances and some of its business decisions. Its stock price has dropped 43% since last November.

According to Joo, the entertainment business currently uses an inefficient payment and settlement systems, therefore he believes blockchain to be the solution that could help address those issues.

Joo stated that the company is aiming to “launch its own blockchain-powered mainnet” and has no plans to use an existing platform. He further explained that the blockchain network would allow fans to be more engaged with the entertainment ecosystem by investing in artists’ work through digital currencies.

SM said it intended to pursue private and public blockchain initiatives and said that it is also currently talking to a number of potential partners regarding the construction of its forthcoming blockchain business.

The report further noted that Joo responded positively to questions about the possibility of launching an SM token, however declined to give a definite answer on the matter. The company strongly believes that a token economy built using cryptocurrency would allow artists to create higher-quality content, powered by fan contributions.

According to the report, the entertainment company sees blockchain as a long-term plan, and that fans could expect to see it develop in stages, according to priority.

As previously reported, several smaller South Korean companies have attempted to link the increasingly lucrative world of K-pop to cryptocurrencies with decidedly mixed results. Last year, a platform called Ko-fun was launched with the objective to allow K-pop-related crypto transactions on a blockchain network. For reference, the platform planned to create coins for individual acts such as a BTS Coin.

However, SM would become the first major South Korean entertainment company to try and move into the cryptoverse in earnest. Prior to this, the company had showed interest in pursuing blockhain, and earlier this year joined Sony and several South Korean entertainment providers on an initiative named snowM.

The joint partnership aims to build and develop a blockchain-powered fan community, and will make use of Dunamu’s Lambda256 blockchain platform.