Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project To Rival Facebook’s Libra (#GotBitcoin?)
Top cryptocurrency exchange Binance is launching an open blockchain project “Venus” focused on developing localized stablecoins worldwide. Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project To Rival Facebook’s Libra (#GotBitcoin?)
In an announcement published today, Aug. 19, the exchange argues it is well-positioned to launch such a currency ecosystem in light of its existing public chain technology, Binance Chain, wide user base and already established global compliance measures.
Leveraging Existing Know-How
The exchange says it is seeking partnerships with governments, corporations, technology firms, and other cryptocurrency and blockchain projects in order to develop a new currency ecosystem that will empower both developed and developing countries
The exchange’s vision for the project, per the announcement, is to “build a new open alliance and sustainable community” that enlists partners who wield influence on a global scale.
Binance Chain, as the announcement notes, has already been running several native asset-pegged stablecoins, including a Bitcoin (BTC)-pegged stablecoin (BTCB) and the Binance BGBP Stable Coin (BGBP) pegged to the British Pound.
Binance says it will leverage its existing infrastructure and experience with various regulatory regimes to consolidate a compliance risk control system and build a multi-dimensional cooperation network for the Venus project.
Vying With Libra
Binance’s ambitious new venture appears to compete directly with plans from social media titan Facebook to launch a fiat-pegged stablecoin, Libra, that would power a global crypto payments network embedded into the company’s three wholly-owned apps: WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.
With its choice of name, “Venus,” Binance is also stepping into the astrological waters of both Facebook’s Libra project and the Winklevoss Twins’ Gemini exchange and Gemini dollar.
Binance Unveils Its First Crypto Lending Service Launching This Month
Major crypto exchange Binance will launch its first crypto lending product on Aug. 28, 2019.
According to an official announcement on Aug. 26, holders of Binance coin (BNB), Ethereum Classic (ETC) and Tether (USDT) will be able to lend their assets and earn interest through Binance’s new service called Binance Lending.
The services will be available for subscription from Aug. 28 till Aug. 29, Binance noted in the announcement. Lending products will have an initial 14-day period. BNB will have the highest annualized interest rate of 15% while the rates for USDT and ETC amount to 10% and 7%, respectively.
The first interest calculation period will be from Aug. 29 till Sept. 10. Binance added that interest payout time will take place immediately after the loan term matures. The annualized interest rates for upcoming phases will be adjusted based on market reception during this initial phase, the company stated.
Binance Gives An Example:
“If User A subscribes to 10 lots of BNB Lending (total lend of 100 BNB), the interest earned at maturity date will be 0.057534 BNB x 10 = 0.57534 BNB.”
Also today, Binance updated its Lending FAQ by adding a new section “Binance Lending Service Agreement,” claiming that the Binance Lending assets will be used in cryptocurrency leveraged borrowing business on Binance.com.
BitMEX ‘Congratulates’ Binance on Plagiarizing Its Futures Platform Doc
The team at Seychelles-registered crypto exchange BitMEX have accused fellow exchange Binance of plagiarizing BitMEX documents as part of its recent futures testnet launch.
On Sept. 4, the platform published a sarcastic tweet, stating:
“Congrats on the Testnet Futures launches @binance. Glad to see you enjoyed reading our documentation as much as we enjoyed writing it!”
The tweet included screenshots of Binance’s overview of the Auto Deleveraging system for its new futures contracts, in which the text is virtually word-for-word identical to that of BitMEX:
“Just change it a little so it doesn’t look so obvious”
BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes himself half-jestingly commented on the incident with a meme, insinuating that if you’re in the plagiarism game, you have to at least do it with some finesse:
Arthur Hayes tweets in reference to plagiarism accusations against Binance crypto exchange. Source: @CryptoHayes
The affair quickly drew the involvement of Binance’s own CEO, Changpeng Zhao, who swiftly confessed:
“Shame on us. 😂 Sorry about that. Missed this in the DD process before the acquisition (didn’t read the BitMex docs ourselves). Will fix/remove ASAP.”
CZ’s policy of “owning it” drew virtually unanimous approval on crypto Twitter — with some going so far as to imply that such copy-paste practices are part and parcel of the pressures to rapidly build out new products and services in the fast-growing industry:
One community member’s response to Binance’s plagiarism. Source: @Coinmarketscam
Hayes himself took a conciliatory tone, tweeting to CZ:
The Exchange Business
As reported earlier this week, Binance has just launched two new futures trading platforms in testing mode, having rolled out the platform’s first crypto lending product earlier this month. The full futures platform is expected to launch in September, according to CZ.
This summer, BitMEX‘s Hayes has been fielding allegations from staunch crypto critic Nouriel Roubini, who criticized the exchange’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations and even suggested it was violating United States securities laws.
BitMEX is also currently under investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over suspicions it has facilitated trading on its platform by U.S. residents.
Early Tester Finds Both Binance Futures Platforms ‘Currently Unusable’
Bitcoin futures offerings from cryptocurrency exchange Binance have come in for criticism as a pre-release tester identifies major flaws.
Rocky Start For Binance PR Move
In a series of tweets on Sept. 6, the account known as doublejump said both the options currently under consideration by Binance lacked basic features, which are essential for ease of use.
As Cointelegraph reported, Binance has released two separate versions of its futures trading platform for testing by users, and plans to reward those who test and correctly vote for the winner.
Platform A came from Binance’s own development team, while Platform B stemmed from exchange JEX, which Binance recently bought.
According to doublejump, however, neither is currently fit for purpose.
“Platform A is unusable because of its contract size granularity, but does have a nice interface and decent specifications otherwise. Platform B is not documented well and has an unwieldy leverage system,” the account summarized.
Competition On The Horizon
Further doubts focused on Binance’s choice of reference for Bitcoin (BTC) exchange rates. Doublejump noted the sources include HitBTC, while others involve Huobi, Bittrex and Binance itself.
While it remains unknown when the futures platform will launch, competition is set to increase this month with the launch of Bakkt’s physically-traded futures.
This week, meanwhile, Binance found itself in hot water after it emerged its futures documentation was copied from an existing offering by derivatives giant BitMEX.
Cryptocurrency Exchange Binance Has Been Awarded An Internationally Recognized Security
Accreditation, ISO/IEC 27001, following two external audits of its information security systems.
The exchange shared news of its accreditation in an official tweet on Sept. 23.
Two External Audits To Secure The Accreditation
The ISO/IEC 27001 standard that underpins Binance’s new accreditation is the international standard that provides the specification for information security management systems (ISMS).
The technology-neutral standard is designed to assist organizations in managing their information security processes in line with international best practices.
To be evaluated for the accreditation, the platform underwent external audits by Norway-based, international accredited registrar DNV GL and by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.
In its tweet, Binance claimed to be “among the first global crypto-asset platforms to receive ISO27001 accreditation, & the first certified by the DNV & UKAS.”
In sharing Binance’s original tweet, exchange CEO Changpeng Zhao said that the accreditation went towards “setting higher #SAFU standards for our industry” — a reference to the Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU) established by Binance in 2018. It provides a form of emergency insurance protection for users and their funds in extreme situations.
Bolstering Confidence After Security Incidents
Binance’s new ISO 27001 accreditation comes following a year of thorny security issues for the platform.
In August, the platform fell victim to a hacking scandal that saw the miscreant allegedly gain possession of a huge portion of the firm’s Know Your Customer data (10,000+ personal photos).
In May, the exchange lost 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC) in a major hack of its hot wallets, worth over $40 million at the time.
Binance Now Accepting Fiat Through Alipay, WeChat
Binance is now accepting fiat through Alipay and WeChat, opening up the exchange to peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto transactions from China. The move follows a September announcement concerning the exchange’s intention to add over-the-counter (OTC) trade options for an additional fiat on-ramp.
Although an expected development, the move was first disclosed on Twitter and later confirmed by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao on Wednesday. For now, bitcoin-for-fiat trades are only available.
One of the largest social media apps globally, WeChat currently has over 1.1 billion active users according to Statisa. Payment application Alipay has over 900 million users as well, per the China Daily.
Since the 2017 banning of cryptocurrency exchanges by the People’s Bank of China (PoBC), P2P trading has predominated in China. Earlier this year, CoinDesk reported that P2P exchange Hodl Hodl had reconfigured its security preferences to sidestep China’s Great Firewall.
Alipay To Ban All Bitcoin-Related Transactions
Alipay, the digital payment arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has declared that it will be banning any transactions related to Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Combating Illicit Players
On Oct. 10, Alipay reiterated its anti-crypto stance in a Twitter thread, which warned that the company is closely monitoring over-the-counter transactions to identify irregular behavior and ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Alipay wrote:
“If any transactions are identified as being related to bitcoin or other virtual currencies, @Alipay immediately stops the relevant payment services.”
This move follows various reports that Alipay is being used for BTC transactions.
Binance Uses Alipay For Buying Crypto
On Oct. 9, major crypto exchange Binance confirmed on Twitter that it has begun accepting fiat currencies through online payment service Alipay and mobile messaging and payment app WeChat.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, clarified that the exchange is not working directly with WeChat or Alipay, and users are still able to use them for peer-to-peer transactions.
This announcement followed the implementation of Binance’s peer-to-peer trading for Bitcoin, Ether (ETH) and Tether (USDT) against the Chinese yuan (CNY) earlier, as reported by Cointelegraph.
China’s CBDC plans
Originally founded in China in 2017, Binance made its first strategic investment in Beijing-based crypto and blockchain publication Mars Finance in mid-September. At the time, the crypto community was anticipating the People’s Bank of China to launch its own central bank digital currency (CBDC).
However, in late September, the bank shattered these expectations — claiming that it has no specific launch date for its CBDC and denying that the country is ready to roll out the new financial asset.
Eyeing African Market, Binance Adds Nigerian Fiat-to-Crypto Gateway
Binance has added a fiat-to-crypto gateway for Nigeria’s Niara (NGN), the company said.
Facilitated by payments network Flutterwave, the addition starts a new phase of Binance adding sub-Saharan fiat pairs, the company said in a statement. In “the near future” the high-volume global exchange will also introduce gateways for South Africa’s Rand (ZAR) and Kenya’s Shilling (KES), Binance said.
At launch, Binance limited the Nigerian trading pairs to BUSD/NGN, BNB/NGN and BTC/NGN. Investors can deposit between 150 NGN (about $.40) and 430,000 NGN (about $1,200) for a 1.4% fee, Binance said in a blog post.
Binance said last month that it planned to add fiat-to-crypto OTC trading.
Binance Bitcoin Futures ‘Attack’ Sees FTX Exchange Face $150M Lawsuit
Cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX has received a $150 million lawsuit for market manipulation and selling unlicensed securities in the United States. Uploaded to social media by End of the Chain podcast host Samuel McCulloch on Nov. 3, sections of the lawsuit document show FTX accused of “attacking” fellow exchange Binance.
Lawsuit: FTX Had “Manipulative And Deceptive Scheme”
The plaintiff, a mysterious entity known as Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement LLC, is demanding $150 million in exemplary and punitive damages.
According to the plaintiff’s lawyers, FTX used accounts to manipulate Binance’s recently-launched Bitcoin futures in mid-September. The document reads:
“Defendants, and each of them, were caught red-handed when, at about 21:00 EDT on September 15, 2019, and acting in furtherance of the manipulative and deceptive scheme as alleged hereinabove, Defendants, and each of them, made two illicit unsuccessful attempts to manipulate prices of Bitcoin futures listed on Binance cryptocurrency futures exchange.”
The lawyers continue that Binance did not succumb to the attack due to its BTC prices being calculated using an index, securing it from small-scale attempts to move markets in such a way.
“The crux of the plaintiff’s argument is that FTX used its position to manipulate BTC prices using momentum ignition algos, with the goal of creating liquidation cascades,” McCulloch summarized.
Sister Company Ridicules “Nuisance” Lawsuit
FTX has yet to issue a public comment on the proceedings, which come as competitor BitMEX remains in the spotlight over a user data leak last week.
In a blog post on Sunday, Alameda Research, the quantitative trading firm which shares its CEO with FTX, revealed it was also the target of legal action.
“Although we have not been served, a complaint written by a patent lawyer against Alameda has been circulating on the Internet. The nuisance suit is riddled with laughable inaccuracies, including mistaking the entire business model of Alameda,” it stated.
Alameda further alleged it was the target of a smear campaign as its popularity grew:
“It is an unfortunate reality that it is easy to file bulls***lawsuits and annoying to fight them, and some assholes will use this as an excuse to extort anyone they see as high profile.”
Official: Binance Chain and BNB Will Be Traceable via CipherTrace
American blockchain security firm CipherTrace will provide Anti-Money Laundering (AML) controls for Binance Chain and its native asset Binance Coin (BNB).
CipherTrace To Increase AML checks On Binance Chain
Binance Chain, a public blockchain of major crypto exchange Binance and the underlying blockchain for Binance DEX, is expected to improve its AML procedures through CipherTrace, Binance announced on Nov. 5.
Specifically, CipherTrace will be providing Binance Chain with institutional-grade AML controls to increase adoption of the Binance Chain blockchain.
Within the initiative, CipherTrace will enable global developers, investors and regulators to access the Binance Chain blockchain for discovering data such as high-risk addresses.
Moreover, CipherTrace will be helping those entities to set various controls to protect decentralized applications, exchanges or other crypto-based applications, Binance wrote in its blog post.
Customer Data Will Not Be Shared With Third Parties, Binance COO says
Samuel Lim, chief compliance officer at Binance, claimed that the initiative will not affect Binance users’ security and data protection. Speaking to Cointelegraph, the executive noted that customer information will not be shared with third parties as a result of the new AML practice, adding:
“Users can rest assured that Binance will uphold its usual high standards of user security and data protection.”
Lim also denied to specify to Cointelegraph whether this move would affect listing of privacy coins such as Monero (XMR) in the future, saying that Binance does not comment on specific tokens and maintains the highest integrity in its listing due diligence process.
In the announcement, Lim considered the move as a “major win for the community-driven Binance Chain,” noting that Binance users can soon expect more digital token support across its ecosystem.
Meanwhile, online critics have outlined the third party disclosure risks associated with AML practices by companies such as CipherTrace and Chainalysis. Twitter account theonevortex wrote:
“Looking forward to chain analysis companies like @ciphertrace and @chainalysis getting hacked. These people sell your data to 3 letter agencies and governments WITHOUT your permission.”
CipherTrace Recently Expanded Its Platform To Support 700 Tokens
CipherTrace’s support for BNB and Binance Chain follows the recent expansion of CipherTrace services to up to 700 cryptocurrencies including Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) on Oct. 15. Claiming that CipherTrace has expanded to support 87% of the transactional volume of the top 100 cryptos, the firm denied to specify which cryptos will not be supported on the platform at the time.
On Oct. 21, CipherTrace CEO David Jevans argued that crypto regulations by global regulators such as those by the Financial Action Task Force’s would trigger a shift of criminal activity from Bitcoin (BTC) to privacy coins.
Binance CEO: New Wallet Security Solution ‘Far Superior’ To Multi-Sig
The CEO of Binance claims that a newly open-sourced solution for wallet providers and custodians is “far superior” to multi-sig security and will reshape the industry. In a tweet published on Nov. 6, Changpeng Zhao linked to a new open-source release from Binance, declaring:
“I believe TSS (threshold signatures scheme) will reshape the landscape for wallets and custodian services. It is far superior to multi-sig.”
Unlike Multi-Sig, TSS Is Implemented Off-Chain
Binance has today released an open-source implementation of its Threshold Signature Scheme (TSS) library for Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA): in layman’s terms, a new cryptographic protocol for distributed key generation and signing that will reportedly help wallet providers and custodians to avoid single points of failure in private keys within distributed key management.
As The Exchange Explains:
“TSS allows users to define a flexible threshold policy. TSS technology allows us to replace all signing commands with distributed computations so that the private key is no longer a single point of failure.
For example, each of three users could receive a share of the private signing key, and in order to sign a transaction, at least two of the three users will need to join to construct the signature.”
TSS is implemented off-chain, unlike multi-signature protection, thereby using fewer resources and reducing potential attack surfaces.
Binance claims that threshold signatures will mean that a single compromised device won’t put a user’s assets at risk. For business operators, it can help to cement access control policies that purportedly prevent both insiders and outsiders from stealing corporate funds.
More information about TSS technology is available via the Binance Academy, with the open-source code accessible via GitHub.
Cybersecurity Firm Kudelski Appointed As 3Rd-Party Auditor
Binance invited cybersecurity solutions provider Kudelski Security to conduct a third-party audit of the cryptography and code in the Binance TSS library, which reportedly found that “none of the issues found in the frame of this audit could be exploited” to “completely break the security of the scheme, or recover secret data.”
Kudelski entered a strategic partnership with smart contracts auditing firm Hosho earlier this year to combine their skill sets in order to meet the increasingly complex security demands of the blockchain sector.
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