Brave Web BrowserBrave browser, which enables a person to block all advertisements and trackers that monitors website visits, has launched a Tor feature for better protection against tracking. The latest version (0.23) of the desktop browser, which pays BAT tokens to opt-in viewers of advertisements, provides the Tor menu.

However, the Tor menu can be seen inside private tabs only. So, a user has to start a private tab session in order to see the Tor feature, which facilitates connection with the Tor network.

Brave team has once cautioned that all the unique features provided by the browser are in beta and there are confirmed issues and leaks (details of users browsing through Tor network). Furthermore, Brave team has recommended the use of official Tor browser for optimum security. Further updates are expected in the weeks to come.

The Brave team is also planning to support exit node geolocation in the near-future. When Tor network is used, many websites understand the exit node locations as the native country of the user. This usually makes a user frustrated. The addition of Tor facility makes sense to Brave, which leads the campaign on ad-blocking and anti-tracking.

The use of Tor network results in slow connections. However, Brave is running Tor relays to expand bandwidth (resulting in higher browsing speed) of the entire Tor network (& not just Brave), according to an announcement made by Brave team. More bandwidth is planned to be added in the coming months. Tor network would be quite happy to support the development as historically it was a real pain for them to increase bandwidth because of the costs and other issues involved. So far, the number of monthly active users (MAU) has crossed 6 million.

The browser already has received a positive feedback from its users. In particular, the speed with which it loads websites has drawn appreciations from regular internet users. A majority of the internet users have opined that the browser is faster than Chrome and Firefox. Brave Browser offers three options to users: block ads completely, provide whitelist advertisements, or allow users to earn money for viewing advertisements without any kind of blocker. Obviously, the last option is attractive to users who are always looking for opportunities to earn money while performing their regular tasks.

The last option is now on the final stages of becoming a reality with the launch of the Brave Ads Trial Program. Even though, the program is only in the trial phase, still, it has shown how improved browsing experience can be to an ordinary internet user. Getting paid for watching ads is a refreshing change for sparing the computers resources. During the trial period, a user will be shown ‘relevant ads’ a few times a day. This itself is a big relief to internet users who are usually pounded with the same advertisements on all the websites they visit.

For every advertisement seen by a user, BAT tokens will be given as reward to the user. The money received from advertisers is shared by Brave with its users. As much as 70% of profits will be shared by Brave, although it won’t make any internet user rich in a short span of time or assist in paying all the utility bills.

Even though ICOs are generally seen suspiciously by regulators, there can’t be any denial about the ease with which it enables a project owner to raise seed funding. Metahash, the decentralized real-time application platform and asset exchange network, is yet another project which has taken this route to fund its project. An early investor not only gets the best deal, but also receives an opportunity to make the most of early forging, which is scheduled for August.

At the initial stages, the success of an ICO is largely dependent on the popularity of the project. However, the appreciation in value of the distributed token largely depends on the way the project moves forward and the timely achievement of milestones. #MetaHash, which claims to be a network built on blockchain 4, is using a unique, self-financing model to fund its project. Notably, the funding process is structured such that early investors in the project will reap rich rewards. The ICO process began yesterday.

#MetaHash, which has developed its own #TraceChain protocol, has ensured that all benefits of a blockchain are offered to users at the lowest transaction price. To prove its dedication towards the project, the #MetaHash team performed multiple load tests and public access to TestNet, leading to 500 million transactions. #MetaHash, which has the capability to send and receive 100,000 transactions per second, has a transaction confirmation time under 3 seconds.

The mainnet is now available for download from the website. Yesterday, the company has begun distributing the #MHC tokens through the ICO. 920 million tokens will be distributed in the round A. The forging system implemented by #MetaHash gives an advantage to the early investors as they get the first chance to become the nodes, which will boost the development of the #MetaHash ecosystem.

Instead of mining, which consumes huge electric power and requires large investment in hardware, #MetaHash has opted for forging, which is less demanding. Forging can be performed using a computer with a stable internet connection. The forging process, which ensures a self-funded ecosystem for #MetaHash, is scheduled to begin in August 2018. The early #MHC investors will reap their first rewards at this time. Half of forging rewards will go to #MHC token holders, while 40% is distributed among the owners of nodes. The remaining 10% will be distributed among active users. The #MHC token holders will also have the privilege of handing over their voting rights to their own nodes or to any other trusted node operator in return for a commission.

#MetaHash has resolved the main issue of scalability without compromising on decentralization. The company is also offering an attractive reward to investors. So, we expect the tokens to be sold off quickly.

In addition to transparency, the tamper proof distributed ledger technology can reduce operational costs of an enterprise and Microsoft is well aware of this. The tech giant has built a new blockchain to efficiently manage royalty payments for game developers. The system was built on top of the Quorum blockchain, deployed on Azure Cloud.

The blockchain based payment processing system will be tested by integrating with Xbox gaming console. Additionally, the system will also be integrated with Ubisoft, a large game publisher. Ubisoft generated revenues of $1.65 billion last year and is behind popular games such as Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, Prince of Persia, Far Cry, the Tom Clancy series, and Just Dance.

In addition to receiving payments for game developers, the blockchain could also be used to receive movie royalties and other verticals that generate revenue from intellectual property. Microsoft aims to bring thousands of royalty partners in the fold and process millions of transactions per day, making it one of the largest enterprise level blockchain ecosystems in the world.

Presently, Microsoft uses complex royalty management software, even though things appear to move in a smooth fashion to end users. The software also takes into account jurisdictions and tax codes.
With the above said blockchain system in place, Microsoft and its accounting partner Ernst & Young (EY) hopes to streamline the royalty payment process and trim the operating costs by half through elimination of manual reconciliations and partner’s formal assessment.

Grace Lao, General Manager of Finance Operations at Microsoft, said

“Smart contract technology is far more flexible and scalable than any prior solution for managing business agreements.”

Blockchain skeptics always question the ability of the technology to process large amount of transactions. With this initiative, Microsoft may very well bust the myth that distributed ledger technology is not scalable. In addition to automated processing of payments through smart contracts, the data recorded on the blockchain does not require any manual review, which usually slows down the process of royalty payments by 45 days or longer.

Paul Brody, EY Global Innovation Leader said

“The scale, complexity and volume of digital rights and royalties transactions makes this a perfect application for blockchains. A blockchain can handle the unique nature of each contract between digital rights owners and licensors can be handled in a scalable, efficient manner with an audit trail for the participants. By deploying this on Microsoft Azure, we believe this will be highly scalable across thousands of royalties and content partners.”

The system could prove as a boon to not only game developers but also software developers, audio and video artists, musicians, writers, digital media content creators and graphic designers, among others.

The Stars Group acquires Sky BetStars Group is proceeding with its plans to acquire its competitor Sky Betting and Gaming.

The Group recently opened up a public share offering so that they would be able to raise the funds to complete the acquisition. The public share offering has turned out to be a successful venture for the Group as they recently announced that they had brought in $622 million from the sale.

The Stars Group owns some of the most popular online gambling brands out there. This includes PokerStars and Full Tilt, both top online poker websites in the market. The Group sold 17 million shares to outside buyers, while other shareholders sold around 8 million shares.

The money raised was a total of $622 million and the company announced that this money, along with funds from other sources would be used to purchase Sky Betting and Gaming.

The shares were sold with three major banks running the books and underwriting representatives. They were JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank Securities and Morgan Stanley. Additional assistance came from a number of other banks including Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

A statement released by the company said

The Stars Group Incorporated intends to use the net proceeds from the offering together with the company’s previously announced equity offering, bank financing and cash on hand to fund the previously announced acquisition of Sky Betting and Gaming. If for any reason the acquisition does not close, the company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.

The deal for buying SkyBet was finalized back in April after the Stars Group agreed to pay $3.6 billion in cash and $1 billion via shares to acquire the British gambling company. This acquisition will give the Stars Group more reach in several regulated markets and bring in quite a few organizational and monetary benefits for the company.

Acquisition Expected To Be Completed In Third Quarter

The Group used different methods to raise the necessary funds. Earlier, Stars Group launched a public loan offering in an effort to raise $750 million. The loan is only be available to institutional buyers in the United States and will mature in 2026. The acquisition is supposed to go through in the third quarter of the year subject to regulatory approval. Stars Group also recently acquired Australian sports betting operator CrownBet to expand its presence down under.

eBay, Foxconn, PwC, DEKRA Testing and Certification, S.A.U., and Perkins Cole LLP are among the 74new organizations which have joined Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). While most of the companies are related to blockchain technology, the names listed belong to different business sectors. While eBay is an online e-Commerce platform, Foxconn is an electronic sub-contractor who manufactures products on behalf of Apple Inc., Nintendo, and Microsoft. Likewise, PwC and Perkin Cole are international auditing and law firm, respectively.

The entry of these firms into EEA clearly reflects their interest in applying blockchain technology to their business. For example, Foxconn could use blockchain network to manage their supply chain, resulting in improved operating efficiency at lower costs. Foxconn, which is often accused of providing harsh work conditions, could also use ensure transparency in operations through blockchain.

EEA’s website clearly explains its objective as follows:

“The EEA is helping to evolve Ethereum into an enterprise-grade technology, providing research and development in a range of areas, including privacy, confidentiality, scalability, and security. […] Membership is open to all individuals and organizations around the globe interested in or developing Ethereum-based technology specifically for, or useful in, enterprise use cases.”

PwC Australia is already collaborating with the the Port of Brisbane and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for building a blockchain-based supply chain platform. Dekra is a one of the largest testing and certification companies in Germany. It could very well use a blockchain to store the test results and provide digital certification to its clients. The company operates in the field of IT Security, Energy & Environment, Occupational Health and Product Testing.

EEA, the largest open-source consortium, includes several fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and AMD as its members.

MasterCard, which continues to receive a series of patents for blockchain technology based financial solution, has received a patent for a system that enables anonymous transactions on a blockchain network. The application was filed in December 2016. MasterCard is not comfortable to use blockchain networks for everyday transactions because of the transparency it offers. MasterCard believes that it might lead to problems for both individual and business customers.

The system described by the patent titled “Method and system for anonymous directed blockchain transaction” aims to facilitate anonymous transactions through the use of third-party servers and without the use of cryptocurrencies. However, MasterCard has not specifically stated this in its patent. Furthermore, it can be understood that the law enforcement agencies can trace these anonymous transactions to users, if necessary.

The system makes use of MasterCard’s data base of pre-scanned profiles. Each of these profiles has a unique string of data. Following the receipt of transaction details from an individual or enterprise, the server creates two hash values. The first hash value is created based on the transaction details, while the second is created by combining the first hash with the data string of the transacting party. The hash value is then transmittd to a blockchain or any other distributed ledger to perform the transactions without revealing the user data.

The patent, awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states

“Thus, there is a need for a technical solution whereby an entity may participate in a transaction where transaction details may be posted publicly to ensure accountability and trust in the data, while still providing anonymity and inability of others to track individual transactions or volume information by transaction party identifying information of both parties of a transaction to satisfy the confidentiality needs of each entity involved in the transaction.”

The system could find a use in situations where an individual wants to purchase an item without revealing their personal details. Notably, there are already specialized, privacy focused cryptocurrencies readily available in the market. Monero and Zcash are the most popular cryptocurrencies supporting anonymous transactions. In fact, regulatory and secret service agencies in the US and Europe is struggling to track the users of these cryptocurrencies.

Stellar Network, the company behind Stellar Lumens (XLM), has acquired San Francisco-basedChain, a blockchain technology firm building solutions for the fintech industry. According to sparse details available, the $500 million deal was believed to have been finalized on June 24. According to reports, the payment was to be made in XLM.

Founded in 2014, Chain offers critical infrastructure to banks and other financial institutions interested in using blockchain technology in their product offerings. The company had previously raised $43 million to develop blockchain-based financial infrastructure solutions.

Stellar has yet to reveal how it is going to integrate Chain into its ecosystem. The acquisition has also raised doubts about Chain’s products such as the Sequence – a ledger-as-a-service platform that facilitates organizations to securely transfer balances in a token format and track them. Chain, which is specialized in building cryptographic ledgers, has not revealed whether its CEO Adam Ludwin will join Stellar or not.

One thing is for sure. The acquisition will deliver growth synergy as Stellar moves forward with its plan to develop blockchain technology solutions for financial institutions. Chain and Nasdaq is already partnering to use the former’s technology to build a DLT powered system. Citigroup has also joined hands with the duo.

The acquisition came to limelight a week after Stellar received the much coveted license from New York’s financial regulators to trade on the cryptocurrency exchange ItBit. Furthermore, Stellar is also working with IBM to facilitate payment transfer facility in the South Pacific region. Startup messaging app firm Kik is also using Stellar’s network for their platform.

Stellar, with a market capitalization of about $3.34 billion, stands at the eighth position in the cryptocurrency ranking list.

When the cryptocurrency market saw new heights on a daily basis in December, Bitcoin miner fees crossed $70 for a simple 225 byte transaction. Market was desperately looking for the implementation of two promising technologies at that time: Segwit and Lightning Network (LN). As Segwit started getting implemented, Bitcoin transaction fees started declining.

The only other issue that prevented mass adoption of Bitcoin was scalability. So, crypto enthusiasts were hoping the arrival of Lightning Network to shatter arguments of skeptics. Lightning Network had a slow start in March, but has gained considerable momentum of late. The number of nodes has crossed 2560 and the number of channels supporting Lightning transactions has crossed 7600. Mobile operator Bitrefill, content publisher, TorGuardVPN, and Living Room of Satoshi, an Aussie payment network, has already implemented Lightning payment facility.

Earlier this week CoinGate announced that it will launch Lightning payment facility by July 1. GloBee, a payment processor accepting Bitcoin and Monero, has also implemented Lightning payments. As of today, more than 25 BTC is transacted on a daily basis using Lightning Network. However, the cryptocurrency market feels that the technology needs further upgrades to make it successful.

Statistics indicate that Lightning Network fails often when payments of over $200 are sent. According to a study conducted by Diar, the success rate of Lightning Network is merely 1% for transactions of more than $100. Even for denominations below $100, the success rate is not impressive and stands at around 70%. Obviously, the cryptocommunity is disappointed about it.

However, it is comforting that Lightning Network is still in its Beta phase and bugs are sorted out by the developers. One of the main complaints about Lightning Network is that it requires all the parties involved in a transaction – sender, receiver, and intermediary – to be online for a successful completion of the transaction. A channel cannot be opened when one of the parties is offline.
On Monday, version 0.6 of the C-lightning protocol was released. With this, all Lightning implementations (C-lightning, Lightning Network Daemon (Ind) and Éclair) are in beta phase.

Regarding the launch, Blockstream, developer of c-lightning has stated

“It migrates away from the protocol used while designing the specification and toward a new architecture that is modular and extensible, to better adapt to your needs and your infrastructure.”

C-lightning beta includes a full-fledged wallet as well as support for node connections over the TOR network.

NigeriaThe African market is one of the fastest growing online gaming markets in the world. Gaming analyst have long pegged Nigeria to be one of the African countries that experiences strong iGaming revenues but that hasn’t been the case. For years, the slow Internet speeds and fear of fraud have made Nigerians hesitant about betting online.

Local IT providers have developed safer and secure online payment processors which have given Nigerians the confidence to bet online and this has reflected in iGaming revenues. New digital payment systems are emerging in the country which promise fast and secure payment options and Nigerians are now confident of betting online.

In a statement, Seun Anibaba, CEO of Lagos State Lotteries Board, said

We have seen significant growth in the number of payment solutions that are available. All that is definitely changing the gaming space. The operators will go with whoever is faster, whoever can connect to their platform with less issues and glitches.

This has encouraged growth in the sports betting sector which witnessed a 30 percent growth in taxes in 2016 and a 40 percent growth in taxes in 2017. The growth in the betting sector corresponds with the increase in online payments. Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) show that 14 million internet payments took place in 2016 and that number more than doubled in 2017 to reach 29 million. Things are continuing to improve in the online payment sector as the first quarter of this year saw 10 million internet payments. TV


Sports Betting Growing Rapidly In Nigeria

Nigeria has witnessed a surge in sports betting revenue and the 2018 FIFA World Cup has provided yet another boost to sports betting operators in the country. This surge has to do with the improvement in internet connectivity, lower data charges and better payment processors.

Paystack and Flutterwave were named as two of the better options for online payments. Both were founded in 2016 and have been delivering solid service since then. Additionally, both of them have received big shots to the arm thanks to foreign investment. Paystack has received $1.3 million from foreign investors while Flutterwave managed to raise $10 million in 2017.

The iGaming boom in Nigeria has not gone unnoticed by foreign investors. There are quite a few foreign operators eager to launch operations in the country and capture a piece of this market. Some of these operators include companies like Goldbet, 1XBet and DOXXbet.

Two months before, we had detailed a $99 million Litecon (LTC) transaction completed for a fee of mere $2.50. If that was not enough to make a person understand the advantage of using a P2P, blockchain-based payment network, then the transaction that took place yesterday will certainly make any random person think about using blockchain and cryptocurrencies for sending or receiving payments next time. A Bitcoin (BTC) transaction worth $298 million was completed for a charge of $0.04.

Imagine what could have been the minimum charge payable to a bank, which routes such a large amount. Leave alone the fees, the delays and regulatory process will usually test the patience of a sender. For transmitting 48,500 Bitcoins, the sender paid a fee of just 3 Satoshis per bytes.

It can be noted that miner fees for confirming Bitcoin transactions are charged based on the bytes of data instead of the amount. In December 2017, when Bitcoin was hovering near its historical highs, the transaction costs were more than $70. As wallets started deploying Segwit technology, the transaction charges have declined rapidly.

A screen shot of the $298 million transaction is provided underneath