Zimbabwe Bans Banks from All Bitcoin Dealings

Zimbabwe Bans Banks from All Bitcoin Dealings


Bitcoin Zimbabwe

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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has banned financial institutions in the country from processing cryptocurrency transactions for cryptocurrency traders and investors despite growing interest in digital monetary assets in the country.

“In order to safeguard the integrity, safety and soundness of the country’s financial system, and to protect the public in general, all financial institutions are hereby required to ensure that they do not use, trade, hold and/or transact in any way in virtual currencies,” the Zimbabwean central bank said in a circular to banks on Friday.

The decision has sparked debate in Zimbabwe over the central bank’s heavy handedness in regulating cryptocurrencies in the country, which has for long struggled for foreign currency and liquidity amid cash shortages at the banks.

In December 2017, the Apex Bank said in a circular to banks that it was risky to trade in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

From the circular:

“As monetary authorities, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is the custodian of public trust and has an obligation to safeguard the integrity of payment systems. Cryptocurrencies have strong linkages and interconnectedness with standard means of payments and trading applications and rely on much of the same institutional infrastructure that serves the overall financial system.”

Golix is the biggest cryptocurrency exchange platform in Zimbabwe, and it also hosts a bitcoin ATM at its Harare offices. Officials at Golix say bitcoin trade is growing in Zimbabwe as it helps plug financial shortages in the country.

Although Golix is the most popular exchange platform for cryptocurrencies in Zimbabwe, the central bank has identified other exchanges such as Styx24.

The decision by the Zimbabwean central bank to prohibit banks from facilitating trade in cryptocurrencies, it said, stems from other “financial regulators around the world (who) have identified the dangers and risks presented by virtual currencies to financial stability which include risk of loss due to price volatility, theft or fraud, money laundering and other criminal” activities.

“Further, cryptocurrencies can be used to facilitate tax evasion as well as externalization of funds in violation of a country’s laws,” the bank said.

This is in stark contrast to South Africa, which said this year it intended to tax cryptocurrencies.

Featured Image from Shutterstock

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Cryptocurrency Market Drops $9 Billion, Bitcoin and Major Currencies Remain Volatile

Cryptocurrency Market Drops $9 Billion, Bitcoin and Major Currencies Remain Volatile


Bitcoin price wild ride

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The cryptocurrency market has dropped $9 billion over the past 24 hours after demonstrating a $30 billion increase in valuation from $370 to $400 billion.

Bitcoin Struggle at $8,500

The bitcoin price has struggled to surpass the $8,500 mark on throughout May 14, even after surpassing $8,700 on May 13. The market started to recover as the bitcoin price rebounded to the $8,500 and tokens like Ontology (ONT) recorded gains in the 20 to 30 percent region, but the market failed to sustain momentum at the $400 billion mark.

In an interview with The Express, cryptocurrency analyst and researcher Matthew Newton stated that major banks have already invested heavily in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum, and the entire cryptocurrency market, echoing a similar stance as Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager at $364 billion investment firm Federated Investors.

In the short to mid-term, Newton emphasized that the entrance of banks could trigger institutional demand for cryptocurrency to rise, allowing the market to recover to its previous levels.

“Despite some initial posturing, the reality is most big banks have already invested significant amounts in research and development into blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies themselves. It will still take time for institutional investors to fully come around – and the fact that Goldman won’t be buying or selling actual coins suggest some scepticism remains – but there’s a growing acceptance that these assets are here to stay,” said Newton.

Many traders believe that the Blockchain Week in New York marked by the start of Consensus 2018 will help the bitcoin price recover and the market to rebound. Over the past week, the market has not been able to record any major movement on the upside and if the bitcoin price remains below the $8,500 mark, it is likely that other major cryptocurrencies and tokens will continue to slump throughout the week.

But, if bitcoin can secure the $8,800 support level and eye a move towards $9,500 by the end of the week, the cryptocurrency market could experience a surge in volume and inflow of new capital.

Already, the volume of the market has increased to around $21 billion, up by more than $5 billion since May 11. Depending on the volume, the bitcoin price could regain momentum and move towards the $8,800 mark or test the $8,000 resistance level in the short-term.

Tokens

Several tokens such as Salt, Ontology, and Storm have been able to record major gains against both bitcoin and US dollar over the past week. Considering that tokens experience intensified movements on both the upside and downside, the value of most tokens will depend on the short-term trend of bitcoin and Ethereum.

With the bitcoin dominance index below 37 percent, it is evident that tokens and other small cryptocurrencies have started to outperform major digital assets. As the market conditions improve in the upcoming days, tokens like Ontology, Storm, and EOS that have strong volumes on major exchanges like Binance will likely perform well against bitcoin.

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LG Subsidiary Launches Enterprise Blockchain Platform ‘Monachain’

LG Subsidiary Launches Enterprise Blockchain Platform ‘Monachain’


LG Blockchain

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The IT subsidiary of electronics giant LG has launched its enterprise blockchain platform that can be applied in a number of sectors including finance and manufacturing.

Dubbed ‘Monachain’ by LG CNS, the in-house enterprise blockchain platform will reportedly focus its applicability in digital authentication, digital supply chain management, and digital currency, according to a Korea Times report.

Curiously, Monachain also enables participants to create their own digital currency wallets, a feature that can see local governments issue local currency and welfare payments to end users on a blockchain LG CNS said. Further, the LG group arm revealed it is working toward a community banking infrastructure with commercial banks, enabling them to issue and distribute digital currency through a blockchain platform, a Yonhap news report revealed.

The company added in a statement:

Even further, Monachain can help business owners boost productivity as the company provides a digital supply chain management system that enables suppliers to manage the entire production processing efficiently.

Monachain uses a decentralized identifier to enable verifiable digital identity wherein participants in the blockchain will be able to self-verify their identity over a smartphone before making a payment or remittance.

As reported previously, LG CNS first announced details of its first enterprise blockchain in mid-2017. The platform is based on Corda, a permission distributed ledger software developed by global banking blockchain consortium led by New York-based industry firm R3.

Featured image from Shutterstock,

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Trump’s latest tweets create another twist in U.S.-China trade talks | CBC News

Trump’s latest tweets create another twist in U.S.-China trade talks | CBC News

With a couple of tweets, U.S. President Donald Trump may have brightened the mood of this week’s trade talks between China and the United States.

But he’s also increased confusion here in Beijing. In this months-long stand-off, does this latest twist from Trump create breathing room or a bargaining chip?

A high-level Chinese delegation led by President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Vice-Premier Liu He, will meet with U.S. officials in Washington on Tuesday. This is the second round in so-far fruitless discussions to head off a trade war between the world’s two biggest economic powers.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Beijing is ready to defend its interests after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to slap tariffs on nearly $50 billion in Chinese imports. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

Trump has pushed for tough measures to force China to reduce a record $375-billion US trade deficit in 2017 and to punish Beijing for what Washington calls theft of intellectual property by Chinese technology companies. Specific targets for U.S. action are set to be finalized next week.

So, what to believe from Trump now? A sunny Sunday tweet saying “be cool, it will all work out?” Or previous dark threats from Trump that China is engaging in “unfair,” “stupid trade” that “cannot continue?”

Notably, Trump is now promising a possible reprieve for Chinese cell phone maker ZTE, which is on the verge of being wiped out by U.S. legal action.

In a second tweet, he said he’s instructed officials to ease restrictions recently imposed on ZTE so it can “get back into business, fast.”

“Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump wrote. “Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

A controversial firm

The big Shanghai company announced last week that it had ceased “major operating activities” after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American companies from selling to the firm for seven years. This, as punishment for ZTE breaking an agreement reached after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran.

ZTE’s 75,000 employees make phones and telecommunications equipment shipped to 160 countries, using key American components such as microchips and operating systems unavailable from China.

The ZTE case is technically separate from Washington’s broader trade crackdown, but in China, it has become a symbol of what many consider U.S. bullying.

“The U.S. should be aware that it must become more cooperative and constructive in the trade talks with China,” said the China Daily, the country’s official English-language newspaper, in a Monday editorial.

“It should bear in mind that the outcomes of dialogue should be mutually beneficial and China will not accept its interests being damaged,” the newspaper said, adding that Washington must “cast away its unilateral mentality.”

Online in China on Monday, reaction to Trump’s latest comments was skeptical.

“This is Trump’s strategy,” said one comment on Weibo, China’s popular (and officially monitored) microblogging platform. “I hit you when I want to, I save you when I want to.”

Trump is now promising a possible reprieve for Chinese cell phone maker ZTE, which is on the verge of being wiped out by U.S. legal action. (Reuters)

Another user said with Trump’s unpredictability, “I foresee a tough trip for Chinese negotiator Liu He.”

Ongoing trade tensions

Indeed, increased tensions over trade — and the specific case of ZTE, which highlights gaps in China’s technological know-how — have piqued nationalists, including President Xi.

Insiders have told western media organizations he is “irate” over ZTE’s predicament, especially since he has marked his leadership with an emphasis on a “rising China,” ready and able to take its rightful place as a world leader.

The first round of trade talks in Beijing only seemed to push the sides farther apart.

The U.S. delegation, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left a list of demands that was quickly leaked and circulated on Chinese internet.

Among other things, it insists China reduce the trade deficit by $100 billion US in the next year and another $100 billion US the year after. It calls for an end to all government subsidies to advanced manufacturing industries, including microchips and artificial intelligence technology. And it demands that Beijing accept U.S. restrictions on Chinese investments in sensitive industries without retaliation.

Chinese observers who understand official thinking say Beijing will push back against U.S. “ultimatums.”

“You cannot threaten the biggest market in the world with a trade war,” says Ding Yifan, senior researcher of the National Strategy Institute at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “You cannot win a trade war with the biggest market in the world. It’s ridiculous,” he says with a laugh.

‘We can bear this kind of loss’

Economic simulations suggest even the most drastic U.S. moves would result in a 0.8 per cent drop in China’s GDP, from 6.8 to six per cent, says Ding.

President Xi and President Trump attended a state dinner in Beijing in November 2017. (Thomas Peter/CBC)

“It’s not so much. We can bear this kind of loss,” he says.

Economist Maiojie Yu from Peking University’s National School of Development says if Washington does go ahead and impose sweeping trade measures, including tariffs, China’s immediate strategy should be two-fold: First, to retaliate by matching the measures, and second to turn to other suppliers, especially European, to make up for shortages in chipsets and other technology.

“If the U.S. will not sell chipsets, other European countries will do that,” Yu says. “They are almost an exact substitute.”

“In the short run, this may have some harm to China’s chip industries,” he says, “but in the long run, this gives pressure to these industries … they should work on their own innovation.”

Yu says it would take about a decade for Chinese companies to come up with domestic alternatives.

That is Plan B. For now, both sides say publicly — including in tweets — that a deal to avoid a trade war is still possible.

How an Ottawa teacher is helping students unlearn learning | CBC News

How an Ottawa teacher is helping students unlearn learning | CBC News

Cameron Lamoureux, 18, never felt smart in school despite being a strong writer and an avid reader. He felt stuck, he says, in an education system that disabled him from choosing his own path.

It wasn’t until a Grade 10 history class at John McCrae Secondary School that things changed.

The teacher told him something no one else ever had — that he needed to guide his own learning.

It was up to him to choose whether he would learn, what he would learn and what impact his learning would have on the world. 

“When we are given the opportunity to learn whatever we want and not having to be told what to learn, it’s huge,” Lamoureux says. “That really hit me hard. I just started learning as much as I could about anything that interested me.”

Inspired to start blog

That somewhat unorthodox instruction, encouraging students to pursue personal betterment rather than grades, inspired Lamoureux to start a blog with his thoughts on education and the books he’s read.

“I felt like I wasn’t able to completely develop in the current system,” he says. “I struggled a lot with the idea of getting grades…. I felt like it was worthless.”

Phones and laptops are an important part of Chambers’s Grade 12 social issues class at John McCrae Secondary School. (Miriam Katawazi/CBC)

The history teacher who changed things for Lamoureux was Rebecca Chambers, who has embarked on a crusade to help students — as she puts it — unlearn learning.

Her method helps students unlearn traditional school structures and encourages them to be responsible for their own learning. Students use Twitter instead of paper, assess themselves through reflection, and choose both what they learn and how they learn it.

Fostering confidence, resourcefulness

The aim is to foster confidence and a set of essential life skills that allow them to be self-motivated, to take risks and to be self-regulated.

“[Students] have this idea of what school is, and for the most part it’s, ‘Be quiet, wait for instructions and then we go from there,'” says Chambers, who teaches world issues, history and anthropology, psychology and sociology.

“I’m going through the process of breaking them of that.”

A handful of schools across North America have implemented the alternative teaching methods like unlearning, but uptake has been slow, especially in mainstream public schools.

History teacher Rebecca Chambers says she wants students to take on issues they’re passionate about and then look at how they can help solve a problem. 1:19

‘A lot of collaborating’

At first glance, the students in Chambers’s world issues class appeared disengaged on a recent visit. Some curled up on couches, most stared at their phones and the classroom was only half full.

The reason for the low attendance, however, was that many of them had gone to a retirement home to start a care program for elderly residents.

Lamoureux sat on the couch reading Albert Camus.

“[Normally] a lot of people find my class loud. I like to describe it as controlled chaos,” Chambers says. “Students are all working on so many different things, so it’s really hard for them to be quiet, and there is a lot of collaborating, brainstorming and discussing.” 

Cameron Lamoureux, a Grade 12 student, says the classes he took with Chambers changed his life. (Miriam Katawazi/CBC)

‘Change your philosophy,’ student says

Two students recorded their first podcast about their experiences in the Ontario Hockey League and the mental health challenges associated with the sport.

Another group of students crafted compost bags to sell at a fundraiser.

Chambers says her class is structured but enables individual growth and engagement. 

“You definitely have to kind of change your philosophy and the way you think in order to be successful [in the class],” says Mandela Mahatma Singh-Sharp, a Grade 11 student. 

“[Your] success isn’t really based on your mark, it’s based on how much progress you make and how much change you can create.”

Unlearning in Ottawa

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is home to five alternative schools that use non-traditional teaching methods and smaller classrooms for a select number of students who are either at risk or have specific needs.

A handful of private schools in the city also employ alternative learning methods.

So for the vast majority of students, the classroom and the learning that happens there follow traditional methods.

Students in Chambers’s class made paper compost liners to sell at a school fundraiser. (Miriam Katawazi/CBC)

Students sit in rows, teachers lecture from the front of the class, and tests and exams are the primary means of evaluating progress. Nearly everyone is required to learn the same thing at the same age, and the freedom to choose what to learn is almost nonexistent.

“Traditional schooling needs to be absolutely rethought. Having kids sit still in class and take down notes from a board and listen to lectures … I think that’s a proved disaster,” says Angus McMurtry, an education professor at the University of Ottawa.

Teachers are increasingly adopting unlearning methods, he says, but there are many who find it difficult to unlearn old habits.​

A ‘troubling’ education system 

Chambers adopted the unlearning method because of her own difficult experiences in school, she says.

A lot of teachers become teachers because they loved school. I was the total opposite.– Rebecca Chambers

“A lot of teachers become teachers because they loved school. I was the total opposite.”

She vowed to change things for other kids.

One of the most troubling manifestations of traditional learning, Chambers says, is that it often fails to help students recognize their skills and abilities, and nor does it always encourage positive feedback. Chambers remembers being told by a high school teacher that she was writing at a Grade 8 level.

When she asked Lamoureux to start his blog, he initially told her he didn’t want to because he never thought of himself as smart. 

(Miriam Katawazi/CBC)

“[When] he ended up putting the blog together … [he] had people people from all over the world looking at it and influencers in Canada promoting it,” she said. “It broke my heart…. He’s a great writer. He’s brilliant.”

Lamoureux says Chambers’s class taught him how to learn for himself.

“That’s probably the biggest advantage that I will gain in this class — I’ve learned how I learn, and a lot of students don’t get that opportunity.”