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Amid IRS bounty and competitor progress, Monero developers ship a major update

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First announced in September, Monero developers today went live with a network update featuring a new version of its node software, codenamed ‘Oxygen Orion.’ The product of 30 contributors, the update promises significant improvement across nearly all aspects of the privacy-focused cryptocurrency’s performance. 

The highlight of the new update is the compact linkable spontaneous anonymous group (CLSAG) feature. According to the Monero blog, CLSAG will reduce transaction sizes by 25% and improve transaction times by 10% while maintaining transactional privacy.

The developers wrote: 

“CLSAG enables smaller and faster transactions with rigorous security.” 

In addition to CLSAG, the new update brings security improvements to the network especially with regard to Dandelion ++, which is responsible for hiding user IP addresses.

Technically speaking, Monero updates are hard forks so it is imperative that network participants make sure that their software is up to date. Users who store their XMR in a hardware wallet will need to stay updated with the latest firmware, the blog noted. 

This latest update comes amidst an uncertain outlook for the cryptocurrency due to pressures on multiple fronts. 

In September the U.S Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offer a bounty of up to $ 625,000 to anyone who can crack Monero’s privacy. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security claimed to have acquired software that can track Monero transactions, though some researchers question the veracity of those claims. 

Meanwhile, rival privacy cryptocurrency Zcash is heading into a halving event sometime this November, which some analysts believe will lead to bullish price action for the competing asset. 

In spite of these headwinds, positive social media sentiment for XMR is up roughly 4% in the past week, according to analytics provided by TheTIE. 



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Blockchain

In China, most blockchain R&D funds are going toward this segment

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A report published by Securities Daily explained how China’s publicly-listed companies spend the millions they have allocated toward blockchain R&D. The study surveyed 23 companies in China who began working with blockchain back in 2016. Figures suggest that companies allocate an average 20% of their annual revenues toward such purposes. The majority of these funds are spent to further government-related solutions.

The report highlighted that Yuanguang Software, an enterprise software provider, have increased their related research spending by around $24.3 million since 2016. Other companies, such as Xinchen Technology, have actively spent funds on blockchain-related government research projects in an effort to strengthen the nation’s financial sector.

Chen Xiaohua, the chairman of the China Mobile Communications Federation’s Blockchain Professional Committee, commented on how blockchain interest has grown amongst publicly-listed Chinese companies:

“Listed companies can use blockchain technology to improve their products on the one hand. Awareness and brand promotion, on the other hand, use blockchain technology to improve its own technological level, break the structural constraints of the traditional Internet model, and an in-depth layout of the digital economy.”

According to a report titled “2020 Blockchain Industry Development”, Chinese companies have applied for 4,435 blockchain patents — over half of all global blockchain patents. This surge in interest followed Chinese president Xi Jinping’s endorsement of the industry.



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An encryption study revealed a surprising fact about blockchain adoption in Mexico

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A report called “Encryption Trends in Mexico 2020/2021” surveyed a total of 353 representatives from companies throughout Mexico.

The study, published by privacy research center the Ponemon Institute, indicated that 40% of the Mexican companies surveyed were looking to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies in some form. Out of this segment, 71% were focused specifically on crypto usage.

The figures also showed that 51% of these companies were intent on implementing blockchain for asset management and transaction handling purposes, while 37% expressed an interest in the implementation of smart contracts. Many of these companies could ultimately use blockchain to improve their security systems and guarantee proper encryption processes, the study said.

Though Mexico is not often viewed as a major blockchain player on a global scale, the country has played an active and ongoing role in terms of adoption. In September, Mexico announced plans to enable a blockchain-based electronic voting system for certain citizens residing abroad. The county aims to make this available in time for its 2021 election cycle.

Cointelegraph Spanish reported in August that Mexican companies had raised over $1.3 billion in the fintech sector. Part of these funds went toward blockchain technology development within the country.



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With job listing, Canada’s central bank takes additional steps towards a CBDC

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The Bank of Canada is looking to hire an economist who has a deep knowledge of financial technology and digital currencies, potentially signaling the latest in a series of steps towards a Canadian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). 

According to the bank’s official page, the economist’s duties will be to monitor and analyze the latest developments related to electronic funds and payments, implement research projects, prepare analytical notes, and work on the “potential development of a CBDC.”

The Bank has defined a set of requirements that the applicant must meet, among which are an in-depth knowledge of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrency platforms, as well as familiarity with traditional payments systems like card networks, merchant acquirers, and point of sale technologies. 

The applicant must also have experience in handling and analyzing public blockchain data and analyzing consumer survey data.

Oct. 25th, 2020 is the deadline for receiving applications.

The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Canada, Timothy Lane, has recently called on central banks worldwide to issue their own digital currencies, highlighting their importance for the economy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the Central Bank Payments Conference Lane also said that Canada’s CBDC development was progressing at “a good pace.”

In laying the foundation for a CBDC, the Bank joins the Bank of England, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, among others, who have also begun conducting research into the viability of CBDCs. 



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