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Sep 1, 2020

Bermuda Dives Deeper Into Crypto With Stimulus Coin Test Program

Bermuda is taking another step toward embracing cryptocurrencies. The North Atlantic chain of islands is testing a digital stimulus token, which can be used to buy food and other essentials. The pilot program was started in July with 20 people and one local shop, and it is being gradually expanded. The stimulus token is a so-called stablecoin, which aims to keep its value from fluctuating much and is backed by bank deposits. The coin, created by the Stablehouse coin clearing firm, was designed to be used by businesses the government wants to help. Bermuda is already accepting tax payments and fees in another stablecoin, USD Coin. The island has also met with Libra, the Facebook-led crypto project that’s yet to launch, according to Premier E. David Burt. The government wants to use an array of stablecoins that are completely backed by fiat and comply with its regulations. It’s also looking at using so-called decentralized finance applications to provide easier access to loans for its residents. “We believe we are the ideal test bed,” said Burt, who was an information-technology consultant and mobile-app developer before diving into politics. Bermuda, a self-governing British overseas territory with a population of more than 71,000, is seeking ways to provide financial services to residents, some of whom don’t have bank accounts, but carry smartphones. “Bermuda is trying to position itself as a leader in the digital economy,” Burt said in a phone interview.

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Jul 26, 2020

As Bitcoin Flounders, The Price Of These Smaller Cryptocurrencies Has Suddenly Soared

Bitcoin has been trading sideways since its supply squeeze in early May—though many other smaller cryptocurrencies have surged during that time. The bitcoin price has remained firmly under $10,000 per bitcoin despite a raft of positive developments for bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency space. However, the likes of chainlink, cardano, tezos, stellar and ethereum have all soared—with some more than doubling in value in a matter of months. MORE FROM FORBES Visa, Mastercard And PayPal Are Changing Their Tune On Bitcoin And Crypto By Billy Bambrough bitcoin, bitcoin price, ethereum, chainlink, tezos, cardano, stellar, image The bitcoin price rally has stalled over recent months even as some smaller cryptocurrencies have ... [+] 2018 S3STUDIO Recommended For You As The Bitcoin Price Soars, Bitcoin’s ‘Real’ Crypto Market Dominance Is Revealed A Massive Bitcoin Flash Crash Just Created $1 Billion Of Crypto Chaos Bitcoin FOMO Is Back Bitcoin has been treading water since early May, despite repeatedly trying to break above the psychological $10,000 per bitcoin level. Meanwhile, ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by value after bitcoin, has added almost 50% to its price during that time, pushed on due to a surge of interest in decentralized finance, sometimes known as DeFi—the idea that blockchain entrepreneurs can use bitcoin and crypto technology to recreate traditional financial instruments such as loans and insurance. "Ethereum has been the main rails for some of the largest initial coin offerings and most recently been rails to the largest stablecoins that have unleashed the DeFi wave," Philippe Bekhazi, the chief executive of Bermuda-based stablecoin platform Stablehouse, said via email. Ethereum has been further boosted by the soaring price of chainlink, a token that powers a decentralized network designed to connect smart contracts to external data sources and is built on top of ethereum's blockchain. The value of chainlink's link token has more than doubled since early May, adding to its already massive gains over the last year. “Ethereum is one of those game-changing projects," Adam Traidman, chief executive of cryptocurrency wallet BRD and maker of Blockset, an enterprise-grade blockchain data integration platform, said via email. "I can tell you firsthand that ethereum is the most requested chain, right up there with bitcoin, that companies ask Blockset to support, likely due to its capabilities of building private chains." MORE FROM FORBES Blow To Bitcoin As Binance CEO Makes 'Safe Haven' Stock Market Crash Warning By Billy Bambrough bitcoin, bitcoin price, ethereum, chainlink, tezos, stellar, chart The bitcoin price has declined over the last year, failing to rally after its closely watched supply ... [+] COINBASE Elsewhere, cardano's ADA token has leaped by over 200% since early May as excitement swirls around an upgrade to the cardano blockchain that's designed to improve the platform's decentralization and scalability, and investors piled into DeFi projects. "With cardano, we believe we can create a revolutionary solution which will be able to offer access to finance and investment to swathes of the population who have previously been shut out of the system," the chief executive of cardano developer IOHK, Charles Hoskinson, said in a statement ahead of the update's rollout this week. Another minor cryptocurrency, tezos, styled as a "self-amending cryptographic ledger" that uses the so-called proof-of-stake consensus model as opposed to bitcoin's proof-of-work, has emerged this year as a favourite blockchain and cryptocurrency for tokenized real-estate and security tokens. Tezos, also benefiting from the DeFi rally, has added 22% to its price since May but has more than doubled its price over the last year. Stellar, a formerly top-ten cryptocurrency that has been pushed down the rankings recently, has also rallied over the last few months, adding almost 50% to its price since early May. "Will stellar be the next altcoin to pump," asked closely-watched trader Peter Brandt via Twitter last week, pointing to a technical data chart.

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Jul 28, 2020

DIVI Crypto Podcast Episode 62: Interview With Philippe Bekhazi of Stablehouse

In today's episode, Nick interviews Philippe Bekhazi, the CEO of Stablehouse. They both talk about what Stablehouse is, what it does, its impact in the crypto world, and much more. The DIVI Crypto Podcast · Stablehouse Interview With Philippe Bekhazi What Is Stablehouse And Why Is It Important? Stablehouse is a new venture that's focused on Stablecoins. Philippe started with Bitcoin, but he saw it as a very special asset but believed it was not adequate for most people to buy whatever they needed. The reason behind the creation of Stablehouse was to help people process and make payments, remittances, and many more. Stablecoins are use cases that you can put on a blockchain, and it's a quick and cheap way to move payments and money around. Overall, Stablehouse was created to connect all the ecosystems (Blockchains, Stablecoins, currencies), making the overall digital experience better. Tips For Countries Who Want To Create Their Own Version Of Stablecoins It depends if you want the sponsor to be the government, in which case it becomes a central bank-like situation. On the other hand, you can also decide if you want it to be a private enterprise that tokenizes legally. In terms of technology, it comes down to a few parameters that you want when digitizing money. Of course, you'd want it on a secure Blockchain plus additional measures to ensure overall security and safety. What Is The Latest Project Of Stablehouse And How Can People Get Involved? In the next few months, Philippe and his team will release an application that acts as a wallet that allows you to transact in multiple currencies, including Bitcoin and Etherium. Also, you can use different networks like Lightning, Liquid, and other Blockchains. The application allows you to take advantage of the ecosystem and the Blockchain systems in the industry.

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Sep 1, 2020

Government of Bermuda Pilots Stimulus Token in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

Bermuda wants to use a digital token to stimulate its economy. The government of Bermuda announced Tuesday it has started a pilot program for a digital stimulus token in partnership with local private payments platform Stablehouse, which is expected to provide initial feedback on the viability of digital tokens in facilitating the purchase of essential products and services. In 2019, Bermuda began developing a blockchain-based digital ID system and announced the public could pay their taxes with USDC stablecoins. The development of the stimulus token kicked off later in the year as part of the government’s larger initiative to create a comprehensive crypto ecosystem on the island that supports the adoption of digital currencies. According to a statement, the plans for the token were accelerated as the COVID-19 pandemic created the need to quickly distribute financial aid to the population. National governments around the world are evaluating the potential benefits or drawbacks of a blockchain-based payments system, whether that looks like a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or a similar payment rail. China has proceeded the furthest with launching its own blockchain-based currency, going so far as to softly launch a wallet service over the past weekend (though it was quickly taken down). “Our ultimate goal is to get a wallet on every phone in Bermuda,” Denis Pitcher, chief fintech adviser to the Premier of Bermuda, told CoinDesk. The perfect model According to Pitcher, Bermuda’s government saw the challenges in trying to distribute unemployment checks to people when the island went into rapid lockdown, and highlighted the need to get funds to the unbanked population quickly. Bermuda’s high technology penetration (with around 99% of the population being active internet users, and 87% of the total population using mobile internet in 2019) combined with its small population (of just over 71,000 people) makes it an ideal small-scale testing ground for digital payments, Pitcher said. Read more: Banking the Unbanked: How the Crypto Community Can Make a Big Impact In Pitcher’s view, Bermuda also has the infrastructure to back it up. After World War II, British and U.S. militaries had bases on the island, and they built key infrastructure from airports and hospitals to power infrastructure, Pitcher said. “So you really have the perfect environment to say, how do you get real-world interactions with grocery stores, utility companies, governments and the average citizen for mainstream adoption and improve user experiences so that you can then repeat it in a city with millions or a country with hundreds of millions,” Pitcher said. The pilot token is based on Blockstream’s Liquid blockchain protocol while the Greenwallet app will enable payments via a point-of-sale terminal provided by Stablehouse. The token is being tested in three locations with a select group of consumers and merchants, and there are plans to expand testing, Pitcher said. No to CBDCs When the pandemic drove interest in exploring the digitization of the U.S. dollar as a faster method of delivering stimulus funds to the public, Bermuda was inspired to be among the first in the world to offer financial aid to its citizens in the form of tokens. However, since then the discussion around the tokenization of the U.S. dollar has become synonymous with the creation of a CBDC, but Bermuda is not interested, according to Pitcher. Read more: CFTC Seeks Industry Advice on Blockchain Applications “We’re not particularly interested in creating a unifying technical solution that’s going to solve all problems at digitizing money for a country, because it’s hard to see how that really can exist,” Pitcher said. Instead, the Bermudan government is engaging private licensed entities such as Stablehouse to issue tokens on its behalf. “The private sector is the best place to create solutions for these problems, because they’re moving fastest with the technology,” Pitcher said. Banks are out (for now) According to Pitcher, local banks will not play a critical role in the stimulus pilot, mainly because they are beholden to correspondent banking relationships that dictate what they can do. “We do have some challenges with local banking at the moment in terms of a willingness to bank the digital asset industry,” Pitcher said. In his view, banks struggle to stay on top of tech innovation partly because of regulation requirements. But the sector is in transition, Pitcher said, with stablecoins like USDC backed by fiat deposits creating a new role for banks. Read more: Following OCC Letter Some US Banks Appear Open to Providing Crypto Services “We see banks playing a role in acting as kind of core depository institutions, but allowing them to open source the tech components,” Pitcher said. For now, the pilot is well underway, with the Premier David Burt participating in the test run, making mobile purchases with the stimulus token. “Bermuda is keen to establish itself as a leader in supporting innovative private-sector digital asset solutions and to work with locally licensed companies to drive digital asset adoption. A key part of that is not just creating regulatory frameworks but also actually working with and using the products created by companies that choose Bermuda as their home,” Premier Burt said, in a statement to the press.

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Sep 1, 2020

Bermuda Teams with Stablehouse to Launch Digital Stimulus Token Pilot

Bermuda is trying on for size a Bermudian dollar-backed stablecoin. In partnership with Stablehouse, a startup that touts itself as a “global digital currency clearinghouse” for the exchange of stablecoins, the Government of Bermuda announced today that it has launched a digital stimulus token pilot. Stablehouse, a Bermuda-based startup, which boasts as an advisor a former executive of Tether—the firm that issues the world’s most popular and controversial stablecoin—is providing the technical expertise along with the token, dubbed the Bermudian Dollar Token, or BMDT. Bermuda wants to explore how well merchants take to accepting digital tokens as a form of payment and whether residents of the 21-square-mile island will be open to using them to purchase food and other essential items.  Tether Spotlight  Crypto Capital The story of Crypto Capital’s dark past and its deep ties with the crypto industry Crypto Capital is slowly emerging as the central bank of the crypto industry. It facilitated banking services from one end of the industry—major crypto businesses and exchanges including Binan... Right now, the Government of Bermuda has rallied some three merchants and 20 individuals, who are issued a stipend of free BMDTs to test out the project, Denis Pitcher, chief fintech advisor to the Premier of Bermuda, told Decrypt. “We are starting very small and gradually expanding as we go,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to end up with a wallet on every phone because wallets are the browser of the future when it comes to money and the future of finance.” As for its role in the partnership, Stablehouse is providing point-of-sale terminals for the merchants and the use of its “Green Wallet,” which allows users to store coins offline. The firm is also handling the issuance and redemption of BMDT. (Each token is backed by an actual Bermudian dollar, the native currency of the island, which itself is pegged to the U.S. dollar.) Download The Decrypt App. Get our app for the top news and features at your fingertips. Be the first to try the Decrypt Token and much more. The token runs on Blockstream’s Liquid—a “sidechain” protocol designed to link together exchanges. (A version of Tether, coincidentally, also runs on Liquid.) Bermuda’s stimulus token project—which has been in development since late last year—is part of the island's wider goal to bring a digital currency to all its 60,000 inhabitants. In October, Bermuda said it would allow residents to pay taxes and fees in U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoins. “We want to drive greater adoption of digital currencies on the island. And one of the best means is to look at what people use today and that is Bermuda dollars,” said Pritcher. He says those plans have been accelerated due to the COVID-19 outbreak because digital dollars could allow a faster, more effective dissemination of financial aid to the population. When it came to stimulus funds, he said, the Bermuda government quickly realized the challenges of disseminating money to people who did not have bank accounts. Digital currency has the advantage of letting you validate that you have distributed the correct amount to the correct individual, he said. Bermuda allows tax payments in USDC, commissions blockchain-based national ID system If Bermuda Premier David Burt has his way, the country's residents will soon be paying taxes with cryptocurrency and using blockchains to exchange personal data. Bermuda today unveiled agreeme... Stablehouse, which launched last year, is led by Interim CEO Philippe Bekhazi, founder of cryptocurrency finance firm XBTO. Its advisory board includes Phil Potter, former Bitfinex and Tether chief strategy officer; David Namdar, a founding partner of Galaxy Digital; and Samson Mow, chief strategy officer at Blockstream. While Bermuda's Pitcher sees the digital stimulus token pilot as a way to carefully validate the technology behind the token, Bekhazi has a loftier goal. In a statement, he said: “Together, with the Government of Bermuda, we aim to set a benchmark for all governments around the world to pursue digital stimulus solutions.”

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Sep 12, 2020

Government launches pilot for stimulus token

Bermuda hopes to be among the first places in the world to roll out a digital stimulus token that is aimed at benefiting residents and vendors. The Bermuda Government is working in collaboration with the company Stablehouse on a pilot digital token programme that is being tested on the island. The idea started last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic created added impetus and accelerated it to a pilot scheme. In essence it is way for the Government to distribute payments to those who qualify for financial aid, by way of digital tokens. The tokens are sent to a digital wallet on a recipient's phone and can be used to pay for goods and services at participating vendors. The tokens are spent at a retailer or vendor by scanning a QR code on a small point-of-sale device. The vendor can later press a redeem button and the tokens are transferred to a Stablehouse government account, and then a cash wire transfer for the value of the tokens goes from the government to the vendor. The token has been developed by Stablehouse, a payment and foreign exchange platform for stablecoins. Stablecoins are a class of cryptocurrencies that attempt to offer price stability and are backed by a reserve asset. The stimulus token is backed one-for-one to the dollar. Stablehouse is based in Bermuda and holds a Digital Asset Business Licence from the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The pilot scheme aims to show how blockchain technology can increase access to digital payments, while solving some of the inherent challenges with stimulus programmes. It intends to demonstrate the use of digital tokens to enable the purchase of food and essential products and services through participating on-island merchants and retailers. The pilot programme has begun with a select group of consumers and merchants to provide initial feedback and validation on the use of a stimulus token for in-person payments. The project has been in development since last year as part of the Government's initiative to support the adoption of digital currencies on island. Those plans were put on fast-forward due to the Covid-19 outbreak as a possible solution to the need for fast and efficient distribution of financial aid. Philippe Bekhazi, chief executive officer of Stablehouse, told The Royal Gazette: “A stimulus token is providing people in need with emergency money. The problem is it has been difficult for people to receive their cheques, or bank transfers that are slow or with details are not up to date, or people not banked. “What we are proposing is bypassing all the middle men, bypassing the banks, and airdrop what is basically an IOU from the government to the people.” He explained: “You will go to a website and register your ID, and the Government will airdrop to you a certain amount of money. It will be immediate and you will have it on your phone wallet. “You can then go to all the participating merchants on the island, scan a QR code and pay for food, groceries, taxis — any product or service that is using this Stablehouse payment infrastructure.” If the testing is successful, additional phases are being proposed in collaboration with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation for a wider public roll out with select merchants in Bermuda's Economic Empowerment Zones. David Burt, the Premier, said: “Bermuda is keen to establish itself as a leader in supporting innovative private-sector digital asset solutions and to work with locally licensed companies to drive digital asset adoption. “A key part of that is not just creating regulatory frameworks but also actually working with and using the products created by companies that choose Bermuda as their home.” The Government believes other, similar tokens may also serve to alleviate some of the challenges and costs associated with local payment options. Mr Bekhazi said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the need for digital payments solutions to help businesses survive and overcome an uncertain and challenging market backdrop. The stimulus token is designed exactly to do that, by giving merchants more accessible and practical payments options in the evolving digital age. “For consumers, it alleviates the dependency on cash amid the ongoing health concerns, while providing an easy and convenient payment channel. Together, with the Government of Bermuda, we aim to set a benchmark for all governments around the world to pursue digital stimulus solutions.” While Mr Burt said: “I have personally participated in the pilot and am encouraged by the potential to provide a platform for stimulus programmes. “It also shows great promise as a means to help make digital payments more accessible to small businesses and entrepreneurs, which is particularly important in this challenging economic climate.” The token devices for merchants are being rolled out. Mr Bekhazi said benefits for vendors included that fact that the process is cheap and transparent. He said: “Basically we are breaking down all this friction and making it more like sending an e-mail. It's as simple as cash, but you don't have to worry about change.” Mr Bekhazi added: “Everyone is excited. Integration with POS is critical and that is something we are working on right now, so we can roll it out to as many merchants as possible. We believe, at the end of the day, all merchants will want to accept digital currency. “Bermuda is fairly small, It's a great place to try new technologies. We are regulated by the BMA, and are in a good position to be doing this in a bigger way. It's going to be the first of its kind.”

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October 19, 2020

Stablehouse raises more than $2 million in Seed Funding

Payment and FX exchange platform, Stablehouse, has announced Seed funding of $2.18 million, attracting investment from the likes of Dragonfly Capital and Liberty City Ventures Other notable participants in the Seed funding round include Lukka, a New York based financial services firm and Phil Potter, the inventor of Tether. Kevin Hu, Partner at Dragonfly Capital, said: “Our investment in Stablehouse aligns with our mission to support entrepreneurs tackling the most important problems in crypto. “Stablehouse helps stablecoin markets overcome their persistent issues of inconsistent liquidity and lack of stability.

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Sep 12, 2020

Stablehouse raises more than $2 million in Seed Funding

Stablehouse has secured $2.18 million in Seed investment from an array of investors including Dragonfly Capital and Liberty City Ventures