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Chinese Insurance Giant Ping An Partners With Decentralized AI Startup SingularityNET

Chinese insurance giant Ping An has partnered with Ethereum-based decentralized AI startup SingularityNET.

Chinese insurance giant Ping An has partnered with Ethereum (ETH)-based decentralized artificial intelligence (AI) startup SingularityNET. The latter company announced the collaboration in a press release published on Medium on March 14.

Per the release, the collaboration will at first focus on Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Computer Vision (CV) and model training. SingularityNET notes that the scope of the partnership is expected to expand to multiple industries and initiatives in the future.

The announcement has been made shortly after SingularityNET officially launched a beta version of its Ethereum-based decentralized marketplace on Thursday, Feb. 28. In January last year, the company also announced a partnership with agriculture-focused blockchain startup Hara at the World Web Forum.

Ping An is reportedly the world’s most valuable insurance company, it serves 170 million customers, and ranked tenth in the Forbes Global 2000 list of world’s largest public companies. As Cointelegraph reported in November last year, Ping An and the Sanya municipal government also signed a strategic cooperation agreement for “Smart City” construction involving blockchain.

The press release notes that Ping An’s “One Minute Clinics” for medical consultations, which are unstaffed and use AI, are already in use in eight Chinese cities.

During the same month, Cointelegraph also reported that Ping An’s banking subsidiary Ping An Bank will launch a boutique bank using blockchain, cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT) tech.

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Insurance Giant AXA XL Launches Security Token and Crowdfunding Insurance Service

Insurance Giant AXA XL partnered with insurance technology startup Assurely to jointly launch a new insurance product covering equity crowdfunding and security token offerings.

Insurance giant AXA XL and insurance technology startup Assurely have jointly launched a new insurance product covering equity crowdfunding and Security Token Offerings (STOs), according to a press release published on March 6.

The new product dubbed CrowdProtector is designed for issuers and investors, and purportedly protects new online capital formation strategies like equity crowdfunding and STOs. The product also aims increase trust, confidence and safety to potential investors guaranteeing that the issuer is insured. According to Ty Sagalow, CEO of Assurely, the parties have managed to increase underwriting. The releases states:

“CrowdProtector provides Issuers protection against investor complaints and lawsuits as well as serve as a communication to investors that they may get their principal investment returned should the issuer misuse the funds, purposefully misrepresent information in their offering documents, or steal the money.”

In the release, it is noted that until recently, investing in private companies has been available to accredited investors, —  having a net worth of higher than $1 million, or earned income exceeding $200,000 — leaving a large amount of potential investors on the sidelines.

AXA XL is reportedly the second largest insurer in Europe, also providing risk management and reinsurance services to insurance companies globally. In 2018, the company’s net profit was reportedly 2.14 billion euro ($2.42 billion), having fallen by 66 percent from a year earlier. At the same time, the company’s earnings in 2018 rose by three percent, with dividends up by six percent to 1.34 euro ($1.52) per share.

Back in 2015, AXA XL revealed its plans to use Bitcoin (BTC) for remittances in order to streamline payments around the world. At the time, the company stated that many use cases related to Bitcoin had not yet been explored.

As Cointelegraph reported in February, blockchain security firm and crypto wallet service BitGo announced plans to offer crypto insurance through Lloyd’s of London. BitGo Business Wallet clients will purportedly be able to acquire insurance for their digital assets held on BitGo’s Business Wallet service and Custodial offering.

Additional reporting by Adrian Zmudzinski

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CBOE Will Not List Bitcoin Futures in March, Cites Need to Asses Crypto Derivatives

The Chicago Board Options Exchange will not add a new Bitcoin futures market his month.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) will not add a new Bitcoin (BTC) futures market in March, the firm said in a statement on March 14.

Per the statement, CBOE is re-evaluating how it approaches trading digital assets. CBOE said:

“CFE is not adding a Cboe Bitcoin (USD) (“XBT”) futures contract for trading in March 2019. CFE is assessing its approach with respect to how it plans to continue to offer digital asset derivatives for trading. While it considers its next steps, CFE does not currently intend to list additional XBT futures contracts for trading.”

The currently listed futures, XBTM19, will expire in June. CBOE notes that all currently listed futures are still available for trading.

In December 2017, CBOE launched Bitcoin futures trading, followed closely by its competitor, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

Futures contracts give investors exposure to an underlying asset — in this case Bitcoin — without the need to actually own any. Instead, investors buy contracts that track the underlying price of the asset and speculate on whether the contract price will increase or decrease by its expiration date. In the case of the CBOE Bitcoin futures market, the difference is then settled in U.S. dollars.

Earlier this week, a report from Bloomberg stated that the Bitcoin price could be headed for another large selloff. Analysts said that key technical indicators such as the Moving Average Convergence Divergence had been moving downward since mid-February. Bloomberg analyst Mike McGlone said:

“The entire industry is ripe to resume a path to lower prices. Conditions are akin to November [2018], just prior to the collapse…”

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Canadian Police Asks for Public Assistance to Identify Bitcoin Fraudsters

The Calgary Police Service Cybercrime Team has asked the public to assist in the identification of four individuals allegedly involved in multiple fraudulent Bitcoin transactions.

Canadian police are seeking information on individuals alleged to be involved in defrauding Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs (BTMs), according to an announcement published by the Toronto Police Service on March 13.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) Cybercrime Team has asked the public to assist in the identification of four individuals allegedly involved in multiple fraudulent transactions made within the country and targeting one Canadian Bitcoin firm. The CPS initially received the information in October 2018.

The press release states that in September of last year, the suspects allegedly made 112 fraudulent transactions at BTMs in seven Canadian cities, including Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Winnipeg, and Sherwood Park. The CPS believes that the suspects made “double-spend” attacks.

In such attacks, the suspect allegedly withdrew money from a kiosk and subsequently cancelled their transaction remotely before the BTM operator could process the withdrawal. The fraud reportedly resulted in CA$195,000 ($146,666) in losses to the company.

Recent research published by crypto analytics company CipherTrace in January revealed that about $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency had been obtained via illicit means in 2018. Of that $1.7 billion, over $950 million was stolen from crypto exchanges, representing a 3.6 times increase over 2017. In 2018, at least $725 million was lost to scams such as ponzi schemes, exit schemes and fraudulent initial coin offerings.

At the same time, analytics company Chainalysis reported that cryptocurrency-related crime has decreased over the past few years, only accounting for 1 percent of all Bitcoin transactions in 2018. Chainalysis also made a prediction of criminal trends in the space in 2019, outlining increased usage of decentralized platforms and efforts to move and launder money around the world through cryptocurrencies.

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Major UK Energy Company Acquires Stake in Blockchain Firm Electron

U.K. energy supplier OVO has announced a strategic investment in blockchain energy technology company Electron.

Major United Kingdom energy company OVO has invested in blockchain firm Electron through its recently launched technology division, Kaluza. The development was announced in an OVO blog post published on March 12.

Kaluza —  an intelligent grid technology company that provides software and hardware products to the energy sector — has reportedly made an investment in Electron, a London-based energy tech company that uses blockchain technology. The move aims to facilitate Electron’s deployment of distributed energy trading platforms.

Electron will purportedly use the proceeds of the investment to develop its energy platforms and systems, or its distributed flexibility marketplace. “The development of Electron’s shared asset register will be crucial to supporting the growth of Kaluza and deliver on its mission to securely connect all devices to an intelligent zero-carbon grid,” the post explains.

The new investment from OVO is reportedly the first since Mitsubishi acquired a 20 percent stake in the firm. OVO is reportedly the seventh largest energy supplier in the U.K.

Blockchain has seen multiple applications in the energy sector globally. Earlier in March, Thai petroleum refining firm Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited (BCP) began testing a blockchain-based energy trading platform and commercial microgrid. The platform will support the basic electricity needs of an average BCP fuel station in addition to generating, distributing and storing energy for neighboring shopping mall tenants.

Last month, Japan’s solar power supplier Kyocera partnered with LO3 Energy to test blockchain-based virtual power plants (VPP) for improved energy distribution. The test will allow the companies to evaluate the the feasibility of VPPs that promote low-carbon use without fuels or carbon emissions based on peer-to-peer distributed consensus network.

According to recent research from Infoholic Research LLP, the global blockchain in energy utilities market is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2024. The market was assessed to be $210.4 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2024. Infoholic Research predicts the growth at a compound annual growth rate of 59.4 percent from 2018 to 2024.