However, at the moment we can see that it is just beginning to develop. Even though nicknames appeared gradually (at alphabetical intervals), which should have stirred up public interest, due to insufficient marketing (an ordinary user could only find out about this from an automatic Telegram message after the update, which many people do not pay attention to), many ordinary users and companies are not aware of this feature. Therefore, we see that now many valuable usernames are being sold at a very cheap price. For example @honda (3.150 TON) @clubhouse (3.302 TON) @kaspersky (3.360 TON) and so on. This suggests that for now, many large companies are in no hurry to buy usernames with the names of their brands, and later when the website becomes more popular, they will have to buy them at an inflated price, since at the moment most usernames are bought by resellers who rely on future sell out more expensive. For example, TON Wallet Ef-exuKIGuFDFVB0ldQzCJxVV6U-YT4B3nrg1VE8Mj1yOEp0 has already bought more than 50 expensive usernames, including the three most expensive ones. (Picture 2)
Telegram partially solves this problem with the help of a verification system that gives a special checkbox to official channels and groups, however, in one of the latest updates, it became possible for premium users to put custom stickers in the status next to the name, among which there is also a Telegram verification checkbox. (Picture 3)
To conclude, Telegram users now can securely sell and buy usernames. However, at the moment we see that it is more like a beta version because many nuances need to be finalized.
Since 2006, North Korea is struggling with sanctions. It was imposed shortly after NK’s first nuclear test. With every nuclear test and explosion, United Nations Security Council has been strengthening sanctions, banning new export and import products. The newest sanctions, banning North Korea from exporting their most profitable products, is estimated to take $1 billion from their annual trade of $3 billion. In order to compensate the loss, North Korea engages in various cyber crimes, violating international law. North Korea operations are thought to have generated over $2 billion, balancing their economical damage.
Cyber crimes are low cost, easily performed and hard to trace. Reward for good execution is also very attractive to North Korea. Behind those attacks stands the Reconnaissance General Bureau – top North Korean military intelligence agency. The Bureau targets mainly financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income. Targeting cryptocurrencies in their attacks make it a lot harder to trace than a regular banking sector. 2019 United Nations report stated that money from North Korea cyber crimes are raised for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs. Anne Neuberger, US deputy national security adviser for cyber security, confirmed that information and provided additional numbers about North Korea funding „North Korea uses cyber to gain, we estimate, up to a third of their funds for their missile program”. North Korea is now treated as one of the world’s four principal nation state-based cyber threats, alongside China, Russia, and Iran. Thing also worth mentioning is that, because of the UN sanction North Korea is unable to export coal, they found a pretty good use for it. It uses the excessive coal to power its own crypto-mining plants to accumulate even more digital currencies, says Harvard University’s researchers.
It is a North Korean state-sponsored cybercrime group, attributed to the Reconnaissance general Bureau. The group has been active since at least 2009 and is responsible for numerous cyberattacks around the world. Multinational cybersecurity provider, Kaspersky Lab reported in 2017 that Lazarus have a sub-group called Bluenoroff which performs financial cyberattacks. Kaspersky found a direct connection between Bluenoroff and North Korea. According to a 2020 report by the U.S. Army Bluenoroff has about 1700 members. The group target is mainly financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges. The revenue most likely go towards development of missile and nuclear tech.
Lazarus Group has been responsible for many cyberattacks against at least 17 countries. Examples:
The Sony Pictures studio hack in 2014. Sony Pictures released a comedy The Interview about a fictional assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un. Attack resulted in leaking unreleased movies and thousands of private documents. Lazarus Group was also responsible for this attack.
Theft of $951 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh in 2016 via a hack of SWIFT banking system. Analysts cite that this heist is a great example of how time consuming it is to target traditional banking. Lazarus Group broke into the bank’s computer lurked inside a system for a year before executing the attack.
In 2017 the Lazarus Group unleashed WannaCry ransomware, which infected at lease 200k computers in 150 countries. It infected computers at hospitals, oil companies, banks and many other organizations around the world.
According to Chainalysis the Lazarus group have stolen more than $1.75 billion worth of cryptocurrency. They attacked exchange KuCoin and stole $275 million worth of cryptocurrency, which is a third-largest crypto theft of all time.
In 2018 Recorded Future report linked the Lazarus Group to attacks on Bitcoin and Monero. To perform this attack the group used phishing to steal users credentials from various crypto exchanges and then take the currency from the account.
There are more and more decentralized exchanges on the market, and launch of new cryptocurrencies such as monero, are obviously make it a lot harder for law enforcement to track. Moreover, some analysts predict that more goods and services will be purchasable using crypto. It would allow North Korea to avoid sanctions on importing some products. Rohan Massey, partner at US law firm Ropes and Gray says „you could already use crypto to buy missile parts on the dark web years ago – so imagine what you could buy a few years from now.” This quote shows that even with ongoing sanctions on North Korea, it can bypass them easily with crypto which now they even mine themselves.
Decentralized Finance (Defi). Defi can be defined as all known financial services done in a decentralized manner with blockchain technology. It gets rid of intermediaries in financial services and makes them more secure, faster, cheaper and more accessible to the general public.
Users use DeFi through decentralized applications, they are similar to traditional web apps but the backend is running on blockchain technology.
In comparison to traditional banking, using DeFi dApps do not require fulfilling time-consuming forms and paperwork. All transactions are made instantly and on user demand. The most important factor in DeFi is the lack of intermediaries which impacts transaction time, simplicity, composability and control over funds.
Long story short – thanks to DeFi every person with access to the internet can use financial services which are a vital part of economic development
Decentralised Finance, or DeFi for short. We can describe DeFi as all known financial services, implemented in a decentralised manner, via blockchain technology. This makes financial services in the digital world safer, without intermediaries, faster and publicly accessible, and is also intended to be significantly cheaper than traditional finance.
In 2021 the whole sector grew by 900% and the total value of money and assets located in all DeFi protocols has reached over 170 billion US dollars.
Users use DeFi via dApps, decentralised applications These are similar to traditional apps, but are based on blockchain technology. What benefits does this bring?
Unlike traditional banking, when using dApps within DeFi, we do not have to fill out time-consuming applications to use financial services and transactions are made almost instantly. The most important feature of DeFi is the absence of centralised intermediaries, which translates into the speed of transactions, no bureaucracy and full control over funds. With DeFi, any person with access to the internet can use financial services.
DeFi currently offers three main applications: loans against assets, decentralised exchanges and applications offering trading in derivatives, namely futures and options. However, work is underway to develop other financial services within DeFi, such as unsecured loans, bond issuance platforms and insurance. The future of the world of decentralised finance, therefore, seems to be heading in the right direction.
Going back, let’s take a look at how DeFi currently works, and we’ll start by exploring what decentralised exchanges are.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEXes) are applications that allow an exchange of one asset for another without intermediaries in form of market-making institutions, trading houses, investment banks and other market makers.
Decentralised exchanges, or so-called DEXs. These are applications that allow you to swap one asset for another, without the need to register or share personal data, and without intermediaries in the form of market makers or brokerages, i.e. market makers.
Nowadays, in order to buy shares in any company, we have to use a brokerage house or bank, as well as a stock exchange. These are centralised intermediaries that charge fees for their services and require the sharing of personal data in a complex registration process. In addition, and worth noting, often the firms offering this type of service effectively become the owners of their client’s funds. On more than one occasion, there have been situations in which these funds have been frozen or confiscated from their rightful owners, for various reasons that are not always justified. In addition, the hours of operation of the companies mediating such financial transactions, are limited.
DEXs, or decentralised exchanges, are actually applications and programmes that take orders to sell an asset on the one hand and buy orders on the other. These programmes, based on smart contracts, manage liquidity within their markets and automatically connect both sides of a buy or sell transaction, of different types of assets.
DEXs allow trading 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trading on DEXes also takes place without intermediaries, but this does not mean that there are no commissions for transactions on this type of exchange at all, but more on that later.
One example of a DEX is the Uniswap exchange, which is currently the largest exchange of its kind in the global market. Uniswap already reaches 10% of the daily volume of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This result is impressive, especially given the relatively short market presence of the Uniswap exchange, which has only been in operation for 4 years.
The advantage of DEX is its simplicity and user-friendly interface. Interaction with the application is limited to a single mouse click on a regular website’s buy or sell button. Trading on DEXs is 100% automated.
DEXes are revolutionary not only from the perspective of investors but also for individuals and entities looking to raise capital.
To raise capital on a traditional exchange by issuing shares or bonds, companies are forced to go through time-consuming and very expensive legal and financial processes. These barriers mean that only large companies choose to issue shares.
In the case of Uniswap or other DEXs going public, raising capital, from a technical perspective, is much simpler and less costly. All you have to do is create your own token using code and then list it on an exchange where investors can purchase it.
Another example of DeFi applications are lending protocols. Nowadays, they allow you to take instant loans against assets and lend surplus funds to other investors for a suitable percentage.
This solution is different from traditional banking because we skip the bank as an intermediary and borrow funds directly from another person who has free capital to invest and is willing to lend it to us in exchange for an appropriate interest rate. Currently, most lending protocols, offer loans only against the collateral made of digital assets, reflected on the blockchain. Ultimately, these protocols will allow us to take a loan without collateral, based on a credit rating, similar to that known from traditional banking. Such solutions are already being tested and it is only a matter of time before they will be rolled out to the general public.
All procedures within the loan applications, as with DEX, are automated. With just a click of the mouse, funds are sent to the address of the corresponding cryptocurrency wallet – the equivalent of a bank account on the blockchain.
DeFi in today’s economy
The main problems with implementing DeFi technology in today’s companies are hard UX, a lack of consumer knowledge about blockchain technology and a lack of proper regulation.
Many FinTech companies could use DeFi today as a backend platform for their services as blockchain allows faster, cheaper and more composable financial operations than the traditional banking sector.
However, on the other hand, regulations may complicate the introduction of new technology. There is a risk of not meeting compliance standards and being suited by the government.
Currently, DeFi is unregulated, it operates in a quasi-shadow environment where no founder knows what is illegal.
Many propose a full ban on blockchain financial services, like the government of the People’s Republic of China or Pakistan. Yes, there are scams (2 billion USD stolen in total in 2021), and there are some cases of money laundering, but I don’t see it as the best path to stimulate economic development. The potential benefits for the economy are too big to ban it. So what to do?
Too much intervention will slow down sector growth, and not enough will not allow it to flourish. Currently, most of the DeFi applications operate in an “in-house manner” this means that blockchain solutions serve mostly blockchain solutions. This is due to the fact that there is no legal bridge connecting the blockchain economy and the real economy. Many courts do not recognize buying agreements made on blockchain even if in technical and real terms it was the most trustworthy form of signing a deal.
Also, individuals’ control over their funds means no control of the banking authorities. There is a popular opinion that blockchain, cryptocurrencies and Defi empower money laundering and tax avoidance. I believe this is a misconception. Why?
Blockchain means full transparency – every transaction is public. If you sent money from account A to account B, everyone can check it. Furthermore, a new European Union directive called AML6 will enforce on every cryptocurrency exchange identifying and tracking wallets thus mitigating totally the possibility of easy money laundering
Outlook for the future
DeFi is one of the most promising technologies of the early 21st century, but its growth is dependent on multiple factors. Most importantly, regulations.
If DeFi finds itself in a well-suited legal environment, then the sector will flourish empowering finance accessible with only an internet device.
NFT is a pretty controversial topic. Some people say this technology was created to launder money or support terrorism.
How can a digital picture be worth 69 million USD (Beeple NFT)?
The value proposition for NFTs can vary, although the basic idea stays the same. With blockchain technology, we are able to price, monetize and own digital information.
Before blockchain, almost every piece of information (or a bit of information) was stored on a centralized server owned by a big company like Facebook or Google.
When you write a blog post it’s not yours, when you publish a digital artwork its not yours. This problem is especially relevant in the digital art industry, before NFTs there was no way to check the authenticity of digital artwork.
Blockchain is a trustless, distributed public leader which in simple terms means that it is a fully independent, trustworthy and transparent server (anyone can validate any information).
NFT means Non-Fungible Token, it differs from cryptocurrency in the fact that it is unique. One NFT token =! the other one even if the information that it represents is the same.
So what are the advantages of NTFs?
Ownership – anyone can own a part of the internet
Authenticity – NFTs allow validating the authenticity of a digital information
Creation of Economic Opportunity – Ownership is transferable, which means that you can sell or exchange an NFT for anything else. Imagine you are a popular pop star and you write a song. You can make this song an NFT and easily sell for example in a charity auction.
And what are the disadvantages?
It isn’t easy to buy an NFT – it requires to setup a cryptocurrency wallet and have knowledge about blockchain technology
Creation of an NFT is expensive – it can cost up to hundreds of USD.
Price is extremely volatile
Most of the projects are scams.
Many of these arguments are a far cry from the objective truth. They more resemble a stereotype than an argument.
Yes, it isn’t easy to buy an NFT or to create it. But the adoption curve is extremely steep and it is getting easier every day. It wasn’t easy to use a spreadsheet in the 1990s too.
The same can be said with respect to the cost of NFT creation. The cost is connected to the very fundamentals of blockchain which at this point has limited transactional capacity, but it is improving. For example, in September there was a major update of the Ethereum blockchain (the most-used blockchain in the world), which improved the number of transactions per second from 15 to a 1000.
Volatility is the price for growth. The faster technology moves the more ups and downs on the road. This is especially relevant to expectations connected to the specific technology. This leads to bubbles and manias like the dot com bubble or NFT bubble in 2021.
To sum up, in my opinion, NFT technology has unprecedented potential to revolutionise all digital secotrs of the e-economy. Social media, gaming, the creator economy and many more. All the disadvantages are only connected to the status quo of the technology adoption cycle and their significance will decrease with time.
Recently company Opera has launched it’s new Web 3 project into beta. Crypto Browser Project is an internet browser with built-in Web 3 features. In the statement Jorgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile at Opera, says that: ,,Opera’s Crypto Browser Project promises a simpler, faster, more private Web3 experience for users. It simplifies a Web3 user experience that is often bewildering for mainstream users.“
One of the key features built inside a internet browser is crypto wallet that is compatible with some major crypotcurrency: BTC, ETH, but in february 2020 company plans to anounce compatibility with Solana and Polygon. Browser also include access to cryptocurrency and NFT exchanges as well as aupport for decentralized apps (Dapps)
With the news emerging daily about new Web 3 project it is interesting to see how Opera ,,Crypto Browser” project will develop. Estabilished company and strong team are some of the benefits of this project but with growing intrest circulating around Web 3 it can be dificult for Opera team to
With the news emerging daily about new Web 3 project it is interesting to see how Opera ,,Crypto Browser” project will develop. Estabilished company and strong team are some of the benefits of this project but with growing intrest circulating around Web 3 it can be dificult for Opera team to approprietly develop it
Blockchain technology has been with us for quite a while. We most often hear about it, when the topic of cryptocurrencies is being touched. Our feelings about it may differ, from supporting the technological change to being against the high energy consumption it requires to exist. Since blockchain drew the attention of the mainstream we have been bombarded with the news regarding how bad for the environment it is. However, is it totally bad, or is there a way that we can use the technology for the common good?
During the ongoing climate summit COP26, Blockchain for Climate Foundation launched the platform helping countries to achieve their climate goals. BITMO (this is the name of the platform) will allow signatures to the Paris Agreement to issue and exchange CO2 limits easily.
How exactly will it work?
The whole platform is built on the ethereum blockchain and allows to create “Blockchain Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes” which are ERC-1155 Non-Fungible Tokens. Each token is equivalent to one tonne of CO2. When the tokens are created they can be easily transferred to other countries. The whole idea of trading CO2 limits is widely known, when a certain country knows that it will not reach the limit it can sell its share to another country that is willing to exceed the limit. The platform itself will increase the transparency and pace of this procedure.
Does it mean that blockchain is good for the climate?
Not exactly, we will still see great amounts of energy consumed by blockchain algorithms. Nevertheless, the platform shows that the technology has the potential to be implemented in environmental actions. We cannot also forget that there are many projects developing new blockchains, ones that are more efficient and less energy demanding.
Crypto wallet is a device (or program) that lets you store and transfer all your digital assets.
In todays world of cryptocurrencies, safety of one assets becomes a number 1 priority for every investor. With the recent news circulating web about Binance holding all withdrawals from their exchange many people started to wonder what does it exactly mean to own a cryptocurrency and what happens if they will lose access to exchange. Investors starts looking for more risk-free storage for their coins and one of the easiest and most efficent storage programs/devices are crypto wallets
How does it work?
`Every wallet works by number being generated with length that is suitable for given crypto technology. This number is then converted to a private key using crytpographic aglorythm used on a given blockchain. Then using a private key as a ,,base” public key is being generated. The two keys has diffrent usage:private key is used to send and access user crypto and the public key is used for receiving assets from other users,companies etc. Wallet that can be a program online or a physical device, store both keys making transactions possible
Pros of crypto wallets
With wallet and a private key user is the only person with access to their digital crypto. There is no third-party that can monitor and manage assets on a account making user their own bank
Main negative asspect of crypto wallet is user responsibilty. In case of sharing a private key to someone or losing a seed phrases user can forfeit access to theirs crypto, there is no third party that can return users money.
Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US. They allow users to buy and sell crypto as well as send coins between wallets (it is both an exchange and a wallet). Their business model is having users pay small fees for making trades, but now they are introducing a brand new strategy.
The new service they offer is Coinbase One. It’s basically a paid subscription that enables users to trade without fees (however, they will still have to pay spread fees). Also, it includes features like priority support and account protection feature (up to $1 million). The service is available for a small portion of users for the time being. The company hasn’t told yet, how much Coinbase One subscription will cost.
Will it increase their revenue?
Well, it depends on whether the feedback from users will be positive as it’s in an early stage. For sure, it can provide a much more stable source of revenue compared to users paying fees for each trade. “We are focused on the long-term where we will continue to diversify our offerings” said Alesia Haas CFO of Coinbase. Moreover, it’s a response to their biggest rival which is Robinhood, and their subscription service called Robinhood Gold.
The cost of bitcoin at the auction on February 16 reached a record high of 50 thousand dollars. Half a year ago, the cryptocurrency was worth about 11 thousand dollars. Since that time, its value has increased by 350%.
The rapid growth of quotations began in the fall of 2020. Back in October, Bitcoin was worth about $ 11,000, and in December, its value exceeded $ 20,000. In January, quotes exceeded $ 40,000.
After that, bitcoin’s cost returned to the level of 33 thousand dollars, but in February, there was a recent jump in the rate. The auction was influenced by the news that the car manufacturer Tesla has invested $ 1.5 billion in bitcoin and will accept cryptocurrency as payment.
How Bitcoin grew in price during the coronavirus? Bitcoin began to rise noticeably in March 2020 after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In connection with the coronavirus’s spread, the governments of various countries have introduced restrictive measures, which led to a slowdown in business activity.
The US and EU have decided to stimulate their economies with additional spending. Many investors believe that massive stimulus measures will weaken the euro and dollar. There are also fears that an increase in money supply will lead to an acceleration in inflation. Against the backdrop of these concerns, investments in bitcoins have increased, the supply of which is limited.
Also, experts and investors expect the use of cryptocurrencies in the traditional financial system to increase. The decisions of individual companies indicate this. For example, earlier payment services Square and PayPal, which about 300 million people in total use, added the ability to buy cryptocurrencies to their applications.
The previous maximum of quotations was recorded in December 2017, when the cost of bitcoin was approaching the $ 20 thousand mark. Then the quotes rose sharply in a few weeks, and then there was a collapse, and in a few months, bitcoin fell in price to 3.2 thousand dollars. However, the current growth is different from what happened in 2017. At that time, the cryptocurrency was bought mainly by private investors from Asia, and now institutional investors and large companies, mainly from the USA and Europe, participate in trading.
Some experts still consider bitcoin as a “bubble,” the value of which will collapse sooner or later. Even investors anticipating the growth of quotes warn that cryptocurrency trading remains exceptionally volatile, and sharp price fluctuations should be expected.
However, questions remain as to whether cryptocurrencies have any value. Some experts fear that investments in bitcoin and its analogs may be lost.
In today’s era of digitalization, data has surpassed oil in becoming the world’s most valuable resource. It is a strategic asset, commonly referred to as a “new currency”. A testimonial to this is the fact that the five highest valued listed companies in the world are all technology and digital market operators. Their impressive valuations are largely a result of extensive consumer data aggregation, which fuels machine learning and revenue generating processes. While the possibilities of what can be done with data are endless, it’s important to consider the significant privacy, political and legal concerns that have developed as a result of corporate data processing in recent years.
The most important issues surrounding data gathering are neither technological, nor commercial, but rather legal and social. They center around the fundamental right to privacy, safeguarded on an international level by Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While we also have national protections in place, it is clear that the existing privacy laws are no longer fit for their original intended purpose. Despite constantly increasing volumes of personal information handled by private companies, privacy standards are deteriorating. Consumers, often unaware of the actual value of their online contributions to data mining algorithms, are being deprived of any bargaining power. With limited options to meaningfully opt-out, they have little choice but to accept arcane and non-negotiable privacy policies. One study found that an average internet user would need over 30 working days per year just to read through them. Such information overload, in combination with several other factors, leads individuals to progressively lose control over their digital identities.
There are also profound concerns about accountability of tech giants. The possibility of surveillance, profiling and hacks are just some of the triggers that have contributed to the case of serious public anxiety that we feel today. In 2018, hackers were able to access the private information of over 150 million users of MyFitnessPal. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was an even more striking example of how access to large datasets may allow private companies to peddle misinformation, thereby undermining democratic processes.
Beyond strict data protection concerns, there is an important interplay with law and fair competition. A significant peculiarity of online services is that they are often provided at “zero price”. This is due to the network effects in dual-sided business models, where cross-financing is enabled by revenue made through advertising and by trading information with data brokers. As a result, the concentration of user data can entrench market power and contribute to higher barriers to entry. Data-driven mergers often occur in order to eliminate nascent competitors, yielding serious exclusionary effects in extremely highly concentrated digital markets. Consequently, there is little incentive for the incumbents to innovate and provide users with optimal privacy protection. Given these negative developments as well as the industry’s general tendency towards monopolization, a wholesome regulatory reform seems inevitable. The EU General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Protection Act are the best examples of increased awareness surrounding the issues of privacy and transparency of tech giants. They also give hope for greater scrutiny of digital market operators worldwide. Yet, there is no doubt that technological innovations can increase productivity, accelerate business processes and automate mundane tasks. Indeed, it was technological tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype that allowed us to continue working and studying, despite the global pandemic. Thus, it is important to
Overall, while there is a clear need for global action to mitigate some of the risks, we must be careful not to squelch innovation and opportunities of the digital age. Ultimately, it is all about the balance between embracing innovation and effectively safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms.
1. M. Vestager, ‘Competition in a big data world’, DLD 16, Munich, 17 January 2016.
2. A.M. McDonald, L.F. Cranor, ‘The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies’ (2008) 4 I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society.
3. G. Colangelo, M. Maggiolino, ‘Data Protection in Attention Markets: Protecting Privacy through Competition?’ (2017) 8 Journal of European Competition Law & Practice.
4. A.D. Chirita, ‘Data-Driven Mergers Under EU Competition Law’ in The Future of Commercial Law: Ways Forward for Harmonisation, J. Linarelli & O. Akseli (Hart Publishing, 2019), p. 51.