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Billionaire UK newspaper owner calls DeFi technology ‘revolutionary’

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Alexander Lebedev, the owner of U.K. newspapers Evening Standard and The Independent, along with Russian publication Novaya Gazeta, has spoken glowingly of the potential for cryptocurrency and smart contracts to revolutionize finance.

In an extensive 1800 word opinion piece published in The Independent on October 13, the billionaire predicted blockchain tech will disrupt what he described as a parasitic global banking oligopoly, asserting that “blockchain technologies and smart contracts will make it unnecessary to employ the vast majority of people in the financial sector.”

Although he thinks the current “explosive growth of DeFi platforms is driven by a rapid influx of liquidity” and “cannot continue indefinitely” he says that nevertheless:

“The technologies embedded in this infrastructure open up tremendous opportunities for rebuilding the global financial system.”

Lebedev said that smart contracts allow customers to access financial services “without the participation of an intermediary in the form of the bank itself,” preventing “greedy bankers” from stealing clients’ funds.

Lebedev also revealed he has invested $100,000 into an Estonia-based yield farming protocol as “an experiment” and seemed surprised at the quick returns. He is now looking to establish an “Independent Decentralized Financial Ecosystem” of his own.

The platform will seek to offer “the full range of services of traditional banks,” including “currency exchange, deposits, lending, settlement and cash services, [and] local and international transfers.”

The former banker noted that global regulators are increasingly warming to crypto assets, citing recent moves to recognize stablecoins and security tokens on the part of German, Chinese, Swiss, and U.S lawmakers.

“The next step will be the ‘digitalization’ of real assets, including production facilities, real estate, goods and services, with their holding in distributed ledgers.”

Part of the reason for his belief in the potential of cryptocurrency is that in its current form, Lebedev asserts that the global financial system is “leading the world economy to disaster.”

Lebedev devoted 25 years to banking and purchased Russia’s third-largest private bank, the National Reserve Bank in 1995. He claims to have observed a shift in contemporary banking practices among his competitors toward “pocketing clients’ money.” Lebedev added that thousands of Russian “banksters” have misappropriated “more than $100 million of their clients’ money” since the 1990s.

He said that “billions of people are completely cut off from banking services” due to their reduced access to financial resources, attributing their economic exclusion to the banking class having nothing to steal from them.

“Perhaps we are on the verge of a real revolution in the international financial system, and the end of the bankster.”



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Blockstack PBC changes its name to ‘Hiro’

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Blockchain software firm Blockstack PBC announced that it will be changing its name to “Hiro Systems PBC.”

Muneeb Ali, co-founder and CEO of Blockstack, told Cointelegraph that the team plans to focus on a narrower set of priorities once the stacks 2.0 mainnet launches — something they believe has the potential to unlock an “immense amount of value and possibility”:

“We’ll narrow our focus to building tools for developers that are building apps and smart contracts on Bitcoin. This is enabled by the fact that the ecosystem around Stacks has matured (…) With key functions being taken care of by other organizations, PBC will no longer need to spend the majority of its time at the ecosystem growth or pubic infrastructure (blockchain) layer.”

In a previous interview, Ali said that the best way to bring about a user-owned internet “is to anchor applications and smart contracts to the Bitcoin network in a way that uses Bitcoin as a reserve currency and its powerful blockchain as a security mechanism.”

In June, Algorand and Blockstack launched a joint open-source project to support the development of a smart contract language dubbed “Clarity.” Both companies claimed that existing smart contract languages are neither secure nor predictable enough to meet the growing needs of the emerging industry.



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South Korean telecom launches blockchain wallet for official documents

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The South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom has announced it will issue its first digital wallet for blockchain-powered digital certificate storage and management with the approval of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

According to NewsTomato, SK’s Wallet is compatible with the ministry’s own Government24 digital certificate initiative, which promotes the use of electronic certificate issuance and distribution systems in South Korea in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SK Telecom’s digitalized public certificates include copies of resident registration cards, health insurance qualification certificates, immigration certificates, among other documents previously issued on paper and signed by hand. They will be now issued through a mobile app backed by blockchain technology.

Certificates issued through the Government24 app can be received in the SK’s wallet and later submitted to public entities, financial institutions, and private companies as electronic documents.

In the initial stage, 13 types of certificates will be compatible with the wallet, but at the end of the year, SK Telecom plans to make it compatible with “a total of 100 types” of certificates, including tax-related documents.

Oh Se-hyun, head of SK Telecom’s Blockchain & Certification Business Division, argued that blockchain is an essential technology in a society that is “rapidly changing due to the need for non-face-to-face solutions where we need innovation in the process of submitting and processing certificates centered on paper documents and manual work.”

He also highlighted the security advantages that the technology could bring to such processes.

Recently, it was revealed that one million South Koreans have foregone their physical drivers licenses in favor of a blockchain-powered digital alternative used in conjunction with the PASS smartphone app.

This represents more than 3% of the entire driving population in South Korea, which sat at 32.6 million licensed drivers in 2019 according to Statista.



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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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