As Digital Currencies Gain Popularity, FPA and RIA Digital Assets Council Announce Education-Focused Partnership 22915

According to the RIA Digital Assets Council, 80% of financial advisers receive questions from clients about bitcoin, but only 8% can adequately explain digital assets. As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, now is the time for financial planners to build competency in this asset class. To support financial planners, the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and RIA Digital Assets Council (RIADAC), a digital assets educational source for financial planners, announced a strategic partnership to provide education on the application of blockchain and digital assets.

“I’m pleased FPA has this opportunity to work with RIADAC to build our members’ competency in digital assets, which will allow them to augment their knowledge and better serve clients,” says Patrick D. Mahoney, FPA chief executive officer. “As the leading membership association for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, we need to be on the cutting edge of supporting our members as they look to sharpen their knowledge and build their competencies. This partnership with RIADAC is consistent with that objective.”

FPA and RIADAC will provide educational programming and a wide range of content to help FPA members understand the complexities of cryptocurriencies and provide expert advice on how this transformational asset class can impact their clients’ financial plans. As an FPA partner, RIADAC’s educational content and thought leadership will be available to FPA members through a variety of channels:

  • RIA Digital Assets Council Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets: FPA members will receive a 50% discount when enrolling in RIADAC’s certificate program that provides financial planners practical literacy on blockchain and digital assets and introduces available options for a firm’s investment management strategy. The inaugural class debuts on Apr. 30, 2021.
  • FPA Blockchain & Digital Assets Community: FPA members will engage with dynamic guests and thought leaders from RIADAC in virtual, interactive discussions and exchange ideas with peers in the FPA Connect Blockchain & Digital Assets community.
  • Journal of Financial Planning: RIADAC will regularly contribute thought leadership content to help financial planners understand blockchain and digital assets in FPA’s flagship publication, the Journal of Financial Planning.
  • FPA Annual ConferenceRic Edelman, founder of RIADAC, will present an informative session on blockchain and digital assets at the FPA Annual Conference in Columbus, OhioSept. 22-24, 2021.

“Gaining vital knowledge about this new asset class will help financial planners attract more clients and serve them better,” said RIADAC Founder Ric Edelman. “We’re honored to be partnering with FPA to help financial planners who are committed to serving their clients’ best interests.”

Ric Edelman is known and recognized throughout financial services and his work to bring blockchain and digital assets education and awareness to the financial advisory community is commendable. I am pleased FPA members will have this opportunity to learn from Ric and his team at RIADAC,” says 2021 FPA President Skip Schweiss, CFP®, AIF®.

Over the coming months, FPA and RIADAC will explore additional educational initiatives and thought leadership programs that can benefit FPA members, their clients and the broader financial planning community.

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NexChange Group and Marita Group Co-Host Africa Blockchain Week Virtual Summit to Showcase Continent’s Technological Leapfrog 22309

NexChange Group, a blockchain ecosystem and venture builder and MARITA Group, an African conglomerate will combine forces to co-host this Virtual Summit. The event will feature key industry players and decision-makers contributing to regulation, application, investment and education across many African countries.

Juwan Lee, Chairman of NexChange Group: “Africa is the next big move for blockchain. We see not just opportunities in the payment space and financial inclusion, but we see significant institutional involvement.”

The new reality has proven technology to be a bridge to a better future. Strong ties between African countries, like the cooperation South-South, encouraged by HRH Mohammed VI go beyond just politics. New economic bridges ensure that Africa is able to bypass certain steps on a technological stair, positioning itself ahead of the global curve. Described by the World Bank and called leapfrogging, it relies strongly on enhanced technologies including blockchain.

Rahhal Boulgoute, Chairman of Marita Group: “Blockchain will revolutionize Africa and provide opportunities for financial inclusion. It is important that we expose blockchain technology in Africa.”

The impact is seen on Africa’s financial map. Over the last years, digital banking and mobile payments have proven to be a real-life case study for millions of users, making people’s financial lives better, ensuring inclusion, and changing the game for the unbanked. Banks, enterprises, and entrepreneurs are changing the continent’s destiny, shaping the investment landscape.

This event backs the efforts of the African regulators to adopt the required regulations to embrace blockchain and become a main global player in the technologies shaping the future. The ambition of the Co-hosts is to make Africa Blockchain Week the key platform for dialogue and networking between all stakeholders in blockchain to transform it into a reality in Africa.

NexChange Group is a venture builder and media platform specializing in Blockchain, FinTech, HealthTech, AI, and Smart Cities.

Marita Group Holding is a global company focused on:

  • turnkey solutions in real estate development, theme parks, smart cities
  • Renewable energy and waste recovery, hydrogen production, electric mobility
  • sustainable agriculture and sustainable development
  • local mining development of natural resources
  • health, medical products, equipment and supplies

River Financial raises $12M Series A to continue explosive growth of its Bitcoin financial services for traditional investors 21058

San Francisco-based Bitcoin financial services provider River Financial closed a $12 million Series A equity financing round to continue growing its financial service offerings for traditional investors. The investment round was led by Goldcrest Capital with participation from Craft Ventures, Polychain Capital, M13, Castle Island, Slow Ventures, and The Kraft Group.

River Financial previously announced a $5.7 million seed round in June 2020. In the nine months since the company’s seed round announcement, River’s client base has grown by almost 600%, and order volumes have increased by 3,500%. River’s recent iOS app has accelerated the company’s growth, already accounting for over 30% of all River’s order volume within five weeks of launch. River Financial continues to experience exponential growth in new customers and order volume month-over-month as global interest in Bitcoin continues to grow rapidly. Social unrest, inflation fears, and recent elections are driving droves of traditional investors to Bitcoin and River.

River is investing heavily in team growth and product development. According to Co-Founder and CEO Alex Leishman, “Bitcoin is on a trajectory to becoming a global reserve asset, and we are building the financial services that our clients will need for that future.” River’s focus on premium client services and traditional financial tooling, including tax lot tracking and account statements, is attracting increasing numbers of high-end clients who find incumbent solutions intimidating and confusing.

The majority of volume on River is driven by clients over the age of 50, but Co-Founder and COO Andrew Benson believes there is still a large underserved segment of the population, “River’s mission is to bring Bitcoin to investors around the world. Even as global interest in Bitcoin grows rapidly, most Americans over the age of 45 who want Bitcoin still don’t own any. River is helping to fix that by creating familiar, high-end financial solutions for investors who are new to Bitcoin.”

Max Dilendorf Serves as a Bitcoin Expert Witness in USCIS EB-5 Green Card Adjudication Proceedings 19850

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has frequently denied EB-5 applications that list Bitcoin exchange-traded-funds as a legitimate “source of funds”. Yet, in an unprecedented approach that included forensic reporting analysis, attorney Max Dilendorf provided an expert legal opinion and due diligence report proving that a green card applicants’ source of funds met the standards to be qualified under this program.

Because USCIS only requires a “preponderance of evidence” showing the legal acquisition of investment funds in EB-5 petitions and offers little guidance for applicants whose funds originated in cryptocurrency, Dilendorf’s confirming evidence was a significant achievement.

The Dilendorf Law Firm, NYC’s top law firm for the digital age, represented several clients in EB-5 matters with the USCIS concerning the clients’ EB-5 investments funded with cryptocurrencies. By submitting blockchain and cryptocurrency expert reports in these cases, the firm has provided evidence to support the legitimate “source of funds”.

The firm’s clients were software engineers and early cryptocurrency adopters who, in the opinion of the crypto compliance law firm, are legally qualified for obtaining EB-5 investor green-cards, as there was little doubt on the legality of the source of the clients’ cryptocurrency funds.

Dilendorf’s legal opinions and blockchain forensic reports, as submitted to the USCIS, included an expert assessment of the following:

  • legality of the specific digital assets and regulatory framework for the involved financial institutions dealing with cryptocurrencies;
  • origin and flow of cryptocurrencies funding the EB-5 investments;
  • mechanism and sufficiency of digital wallets, private cryptographic keys, crypto trading platforms and accounts establishing ownership of the clients’ cryptocurrency funds;
  • KYC/AML compliance measures taken at each point of the funds’ journey by clients and third parties, including crypto exchanges and OTC traders.

Max Dilendorf, Esq. is also a top forensic Bitcoin and crypto expert witness. His expertise has also made him one of the top cryptocurrency consultants for Fortune 500 companies.  Mr. Dilendorf’s recent speaking engagements have included the Thailand SEC, IBM, Berkshire Hathaway, and New York University, to name a few.

Pastel Network Announces the Listing of PSL on the Bitcoin.com Exchange 19048

Pastel Network, the first truly decentralized and scalable blockchain project designed specifically for rare digital art, has officially announced its pending listing on Bitcoin.com, scheduled for March 5, 2021. Pastel Network is a blockchain for rare digital art (also known as “NFTs”) that is built on the secure, battle-tested codebases of the Bitcoin, Dash, and ZCash cryptocurrency projects. Pastel introduces several important innovations to the world of blockchain art, such as the decentralized storage of art image files natively in the network, as well as a decentralized validation process for registering new artworks that prevents near-duplicate images from being added to the system. Pastel’s novel near-duplicate detection algorithm is based on robust image fingerprints that are generated using state-of-the-art deep learning image models and introduces a new form of digital scarcity which makes pixel patterns themselves “rare.”

Pastel takes a different technological approach than competing digital art blockchain projects, which are primarily built on top of the Ethereum platform. Because Pastel is an integrated platform specifically designed for the application of rare digital art, it has its own native Bitcoin-like currency (called the PSL coin). Having a native currency token makes the Pastel Network’s fees for registering, storing, and trading rare artwork very low, which makes it affordable to artists and collectors all over the world. Furthermore, the system includes a native mechanism based on changes in the mining difficulty of Pastel’s proof-of-work algorithm for maintaining these fees at affordable levels long into the future — even if PSL appreciates significantly in value. This is in stark contrast to Ethereum-based art projects, where the cost to create new artworks is currently hundreds of dollars, creating unnecessary financial risks for artists and making these other platforms out of reach for all but the wealthiest artists and the most expensive digital artworks. Even if an artist can afford to pay these egregious fees, the cost of simply transferring the artworks to users is prohibitively high. Pastel offers digital artists a secure and robust environment for registering their rare digital artworks with very low transactional costs, making digital art accessible to artists from anywhere in the world, and allowing a different business model for artists where they can sell larger numbers of their limited-edition digital art “prints” at a price point of under $5, while still making a healthy profit margin.

At the same time, Pastel allows art collectors and fans to purchase rare digital artworks directly from their favorite artists — with most of the value going to the artist instead of being wasted on unproductive network fees and overhead. This allows fans to participate in the long-term success of their favorite artists, creating a reciprocal relationship that transforms an artist’s fans into partners that have a financial stake in promoting the artist’s work. Furthermore, buyers of rare artworks on Pastel are able to trade their owned artworks with other Pastel users in a decentralized exchange that is native to the platform, all while paying modest trading commissions and transaction fees that are closer to the ~2% charged by payment processors such as Paypal and Stripe than the 15% or more charged by art dealers and auction houses, and other NFT platforms. Pastel Network’s low trading fees will lead to a much more dynamic and liquid marketplace for rare digital artwork that has the potential to radically transform the way art is created and collected. Best of all, the trading fees are sent by buyers and sellers to an unspendable PSL address, thus, “burning” them and removing them permanently from circulation. Over time, this natural deflation will offset the new PSL created through the mining process, making PSL scarcer and more valuable.

As Pastel Network’s founder Jeff Emanuel explains, “Today marks an exciting milestone for our project, which has been under continuous development since 2018 with the singular mission of serving the world’s artistic community. We have created an open platform that frees artists from the restrictions of the traditional art market, with its outrageous commissions and dealer fees, as well as its elitist ‘gatekeeping’ mentality that excludes the vast majority of talented artists around the world from earning a living as an artist. With the listing of Pastel on the Bitcoin.com exchange, as well as the public launch of our wallet software for artists and collectors in the next months, Pastel is now poised to disrupt the NFT space with a radically better network design that solves the high transactional fees and scalability issues that plague existing Ethereum-based NFT marketplaces and platforms.”

Pastel Network originated as a fork of the Animecoin blockchain project originally introduced in 2014. Animecoin was based on a modified version of the Bitcoin code and was fairly distributed with zero “pre-mine” to thousands of users around the world. After the fork, the Pastel team raised over $3 million from Innovating Capital and other blockchain investors to fund the development of the Pastel software and to further the goals of the project through community engagement and exchange listings, culminating in Pastel’s pending listing on Bitcoin.com.

Wanxiang Blockchain Forms RISC-V International Blockchain SIG with Ecosystem Partners 18868

Wanxiang Blockchain and aitos.io announced they joined RISC-V International as strategic members and have formed RISC-V International’s new Blockchain SIG (special interest group) in collaboration with LeapFive, StarFive and SiFive. This group will help integrate blockchain technologies with RISC-V solutions, and promote the development of trusted blockchain databases.

Tu Wenhui, Senior Director of Blockchain + Technology Department at Wanxiang Blockchain, and Gary Xu, CTO of aitos.io, will take the positions of Acting Chair and Vice Chair of the Blockchain SIG, and will be in charge of the preparatory work for the official launch of the group.

RISC-V is a free and open ISA enabling a new era of processor innovation through open standard collaboration. The RISC-V ISA delivers a new level of free, extensible software and hardware freedom on architecture, paving the way for the next 50 years of computing design and innovation. RISC-V International is a global nonprofit association based in Switzerland. Founded in 2015, RISC-V International now has over 1,200 members around the world.

Vincent Y. Wang, Executive President of Wanxiang Blockchain, said that the RISC-V International Blockchain SIG initiated by Wanxiang Blockchain, aitos.io, LeapFive, SiFive, StarFive and other important partners will promote the integration of blockchain technologies with the RISC-V community. Wanxiang Blockchain has been committed to building a trusted database and collaborating with PlatONE, a next-generation blockchain consortium supporting privacy-preserving computing developed by Wanxiang Blockchain and Juzix. With its open and extensible architecture, the RISC-V ISA supports cryptographic algorithms and enables developers to create secure, trusted solutions. In the future, these companies will continue to build solutions to integrate different technologies so that more developers can take advantage of blockchain, which promises to help empower digital transformation across key industries and market segments like the Distributed Cognitive Industrial Internet, Digital Cities, Asset Digitization, etc.

“Our new Blockchain SIG will give the RISC-V community the opportunity to collaborate on blockchain technologies in order to enable the best performance and functionality in the RISC-V ISA and software ecosystem. Blockchain is already a big disruptor for the silicon industry, and we are committed to helping our members take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Mark Himelstein, CTO, RISC-V International.

“Joining RISC-V International is in line with our innovative strategy of integrating IoT applications with blockchain. By creating the Blockchain SIG and rolling out an in-depth cooperation with the RISC-V community, we will optimize our BoAT blockchain application framework to provide better support for RISC-V solutions, accelerate the application of IoT devices in blockchain-based services and build a trusted IoT database to make this data valuable and open,” said Leo Lin, CEO of aitos.io.

Aglaia Kong, CTO of LeapFive, mentioned that as blockchain is used to track value of data, it is getting more important to ensure the origin of data is from a trusted source. By placing root of trust, ensuring each SOC having a unique DNA, having dedicated compute optimized for blockchain of where data is originated become super important. With RISC-V open and extensible architecture, combining blockchain and LeapFive’ s SOC design capabilities, we are working together with Wanxiang Blockchain and aitos.io to build the “Chinese TEA ( Trusted Embedded Architecture)”, so one can ensure the data origin is known, data usage is tractable and trust worthy.

“In the current AIoT era with massive data being produced, processed and analyzed, data and computing security becomes one of the main driving forces of choosing the open and modern RISC-V ISA. It is an inevitable trend for RISC-V to enter blockchain, a promising industry.” StarFive CEO Thomas Xu emphasized with confidence, “The scope of blockchain applications is expanding. Many applications are unexpectedly innovating because of the adoption of blockchain. No matter it is cloud computing of big data, or end to end computing applied to IoT, there is no doubt that RISC-V’s diversity and outstanding functions will even flourish to the blockchain industry.”

“The adoption of RISC-V to develop blockchain technologies, and the use of RISC-V International working groups to encourage broad industry collaboration, demonstrates the power and flexibility of the freely available and open specification ISA,” said Dr. Chris Lattner, President of Engineering and Product, SiFive. “Blockchain is an area where optimized hardware and software designed together can provide tangible benefits for secure, fast processing for supply chain, logistics, or financial operations, improving efficiency and accuracy. This demonstrates the potential for members of RISC-V International working groups to develop and build industry-wide specifications that can be broadly implemented.”

Wanxiang Blockchain made its debut at MWC Shanghai 2021 with CT Wing, UNISOC, LeapFive, Fibocom and aitos.io in Hall N4. On the Leader Stage, these companies discussed IoT and blockchain trends from the perspective of blockchain companies, chip and module manufacturers, operators and platform service providers.

Earlier in 2020, Wanxiang Blockchain kicked off its efforts to build comprehensive solutions based on the integration of blockchain and big data, cloud computing, 5G, IoT, AI, and other digital technologies and successfully hosted the Sixth Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai with the theme of Integrated Innovation.

In January 2021, Wanxiang Blockchain established the Biological Asset Financial Service Platform with Sancai Digital Technology and Foidn Technology based on the BoAT + PlatONE IoT Data Platform developed by Wanxiang Blockchain and aitos.io. This platform was the first in China to integrate blockchain modules into biological asset monitoring for IoT devices, assigning blockchain IDs to 1000 cows at the Ashili Farm in Changji, Xinjiang, a province located in northwest China.

The Biological Asset Financial Service Platform can collect key data about the whole process of beef rearing in real time, and encrypts the data and records it on blockchain to make the data tamper-proof and traceable. This allows key data about the beef rearing process to be turned into valuable digital assets that can be shared among participants across the whole industry to improve operational efficiency.

This blockchain+IoT based platform can improve the efficiency of government regulation on biological assets, beef slaughter, transactions and the settlement of insurance claims, and more importantly, make beef produced in this process traceable for safety purposes. Supported by Wanxiang Trust, this platform can also make it easier for farmers to get financial support and increase their production thanks to this trusted database powered by blockchain and the IoT.

With all these benefits, the Biological Asset Financial Service Platform will help accelerate the digital transformation of the traditional animal husbandry industry by building a trusted database and inspiring financial institutions to drive economic growth in new and innovative ways.

Majid Al Futtaim Taps IBM Food Trust to Deliver Food Traceability Across Carrefour Stores Using Blockchain Technology 20166

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia – owner and operator of the Carrefour franchise in these regions – and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Majid Al Futtaim has joined IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-enabled global ecosystem for the food industry run on IBM Cloud. Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels of insight and transparency to its customers about the provenance of their food via end-to-end visibility on products throughout its supply chain, promoting increased quality, credibility and safety for its shoppers.

The initiative will start with two initial product categories, Carrefour’s own fresh chicken brand and microgreens harvested from select in-store hydroponic farms, before expanding into more product lines. All participants in this initiative across the supply chain will benefit from a smarter, and more sustainable food ecosystem. The digitisation of transactions and data provides a more efficient way of working across the supply chain for growers, processors, shippers, retailers, regulators, and consumers.

By simply using their smartphone to scan a QR code on participating products such as Carrefour’s fresh chicken, customers will be able to get immediate access to actionable food supply chain data, from farm to store shelf. The history of the product, including production process, halal and hygiene certifications, date of birth, nutrition information and temperature data, will be readily available once uploaded onto the blockchain.

The growing demand for food traceability is evidenced by research conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), showing that 73 per cent of those responding to a survey said traceability of products is important to them. Of those who said it was very important, 71 per cent of respondents indicated they are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it.

“Trust in the food supply is becoming increasingly important worldwide, a trend accelerated by changing consumer demands and the subsequent health and wellbeing concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Retail. “It is therefore imperative for us to invest in ensuring quality throughout the value chain while simultaneously working to build robust customer trust and loyalty. In meeting the new market expectations, we are now offering enhanced food traceability for our valued Carrefour customers and improved operational efficiency for our business.”

Majid Al Futtaim is engaging with its supplier partners to enable broader participation in this initiative, giving Carrefour customers access to traceability details across diverse products throughout the UAE, before introducing it to other Carrefour markets operated by the company in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“Thanks to the availability of advanced cloud-based, blockchain technology and the commitment of Majid Al Futtaim to deliver the highest quality to its customers, we are proud to be using this supply chain solution to provide the very best in quality, safety and trust to our customers in the markets we operate in,” Nalla Karunanithy, Chief Digital Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Retail said.

IBM Food Trust uses decentralised ledgers to record transactions in a verifiable way. Through a collaborative blockchain network, critical information such as product origin, transportation, and ingredients, can be logged effectively and accessed quickly by permissioned participants across the value chain and ultimately customers.