The Daily: Bitcoin Enters Indian Politics, Blockchain Obsession Grows
On the backdrop of recent developments concerning the status and the future of cryptocurrencies in India, Bitcoin has been dragged into a political scandal between the country's two major parties. We've covered the story in today's Bitcoin in Brief. Also in the daily, check the details around some BCH-related projects and services, as well as the latest incarnations of the blockchain technology.
Also read: Bittrex Invades Europe and Blockchain Gets Raunchy
Bitcoin in a Blame Game
With all the emotion surrounding the fate and future of cryptocurrency in India, it was just a matter of time before Bitcoin entered big politics and big scandals in Delhi. This week, the Indian National Congress (INC), one of the two leading parties in the country, accused its major political opponent, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of being complicit in a 'bitcoin scam'. On Thursday, INC spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil demanded a judicial probe into an alleged money-laundering scheme using the cryptocurrency.
A Massive Bitcoin Scam of more than '5000 Cr has surfaced in Gujarat https://t.co/KR74Xc7skM via @Siyasat Network
' Shaktisinh Gohil (@shaktisinhgohil) July 6, 2018
During a press conference, the Congress representative claimed BJP leadership participated in a scam in the state of Gujarat involving the conversion of 'black money' through hawala and bitcoin transactions. According to Gohil, the 'massive multi-layer extortion and hawala scam' was carried out by some top BJP leaders to the tune of at least 5,000 crore rupees, almost $730 million, Crypto News reported. However, he also quoted local press mentioning figures of up to 88,000 crore rupees, close to 13 billion USD.
One of the main allegations is that BJP politicians have used bitcoin to convert illicit money and transfer them to businessmen in Gujarat during the demonetization, which was used as a cover. 'We demand an impartial Supreme Court-monitored judicial investigation in this maze of 'mega bitcoin scam' so that the truth comes out,' Shaktisinh Gohil insisted, quoted by Indian media. BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni has since rejected the allegations calling them laughable. 'The dirty tricks department of the Congress is at work to spread confusion and lies,' he said.
Blockchain Craze Goes On
While the Indian political class is exploiting bitcoin as a modern weapon in its never-ending wars, the government administration in Delhi has expressed willingness to explore the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency. The latest idea is to use blockchain in the management of fertilizer subsidies. The National Institution for Transforming India has recently signed a statement of intent to collaborate with Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals on a solution to achieve that. The two organizations hope to create a proof of concept for an application that would improve the efficiency of the fertilizer distribution chain and increase the transparency of the subsidy system.
That's not the only new blockchain-related development in the Agribusiness sector. It was reported this week that the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has completed a pilot program employing the technology at a cattle slaughterhouse. The FSA has experimented using blockchain technology as a regulatory tool in order to ensure compliance in the food sector.
'This is a really exciting development. We thought that blockchain technology might add real value to a part of the food industry such as a slaughterhouse, whose work requires a lot of inspection and collation of results,' said FSA information management head Sian Thomas, quoted by the specialized outlet Foodprocessing Technology. The news comes after reports of another crypto project in the food industry ' an Israeli startup is working on creating a global vegan-friendly decentralized platform fueled by its own token, Vegancoin.
Some representatives of the higher education system are also fascinated by blockchain. The state-funded Financial University, an institution under the Russian government, has announced plans to store diploma records on a distributed ledger, RTT News reported. Starting this September, employers will be able to verify the authenticity of any digital diplomas issued by the university on its official website, which provides a convenient and fast verification service. The idea for the project came from students of the International Finance Faculty.
BCH Universe Expands
Cointext, a blockchain startup that has developed a service allowing offline bitcoin cash (BCH) transactions, announced it had closed a round of $600,000 in BCH seed funding led by the Texas-based venture capital firm Yeoman's Capital. The platform allows users to transact cryptocurrency with any type of mobile phone over text messages, without the need for Internet. They can send BCH to phone numbers or BCH addresses communicating with the blockchain through an SMS gateway.
The beta release of the service was launched in March, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. The English language version is currently available in eight countries ' US, Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. No accounts, passwords, apps, or complicated cryptocurrency addresses are needed to use Cointext. Anyone can get a Cointext wallet by texting the word RECEIVE to the access number for their region, or when another user texts funds to their phone.
Another positive development involving Bitcoin Cash this week was the announcement that Japanese exchange and wallet provider Bitpoint had started accepting BCH through its Bitpointpay service. The application has been upgraded to add support for BCH payments as part of efforts to expand payment options. Its users can now initiate payments in three cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin core (BTC) and ethereum (ETH). Currently, the Bitpoint merchant app accepts payments only from Bitpay accounts but the team plans to allow transfers from any wallet in the future.
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