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Daily Byte: 10.25.2018




Sony ups the cold storage game, Binance publicizes charitable contributions, and more legal drama in Plattsburgh and India.

Here is some of what's happening for Thursday, October 25, 2018:

Sony Developing Contact-less Hardware Wallet

Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc, has announced the creation of a contact-less hardware wallet, per a press release published Tuesday. The wallet differentiates itself by not needing to be connected to a host device by USB, as is the standard for the cold storage industry.

Using the Japanese electronics hardware giant's "IC cards," the wallet would be able to connect to blockchain servers without connecting with a wallet servicer or exchange. The wallet would be able to send and receive cryptocurrency without an intermediary.

This differs from existing cold wallet options, where the hardware (the physical drive, encryption protocols) and the software (the desktop application/servicing website) are segregated. Akin to a blockchain phone, such a setup would not only be useful for crypto storage, but for securing data and communication, as well.

Sony has not publicly stated when the product will be rolled out.

Binance Donates $500,000 to Flood-Ravaged Japan

According to a blog post published yesterday, the Binance-fronted Blockchain Charity Foundation announced that, as of October 15, Binance has completed donations of approximated 56,700,000 yen ($504,632.49 USD) in ERC20 tokens to the victims of the West Japan floods.

From late June through July, excessive rain in 23 prefectures – including Hiroshima, Okayama, and Ehime – led to more than eight million residents being advised to evacuate. Over 200 people died in the flooding. 

On July 8, Binance announced it would be donating 1 million USD to the relief fund and asked for additional donations of Ether and ERC20 tokens. The exchange collected 169.85 Ether, bringing its reported donation total to $1.4 million. The Blockchain Charity Foundation says it has thus far donated just under half of that amount to organizations providing immediate support to affected communities: Peace Winds Japan, Momotarou Fund, and Open Japan. It has also worked with the Kure City Offices and Bic Camera, an electronics retailer.

Plattsburgh, NY, to Consider Ending Moratorium, Imposing Regulations on Crypto Operations

The small city of Plattsburgh, New York, has been in the news recently for imposing a moratorium on crypto operations within city limits. A new proposal by the city's Common Council would lift that ban, replacing it with a set of health, safety, and "nuisance-prevention" rules for crypto businesses.

Due to Plattsburgh's unique arrangement to buy electricity directly from the New York Power Authority's hydropower operations on the St. Lawrence River, the city has an electricity rate among the lowest in the northeastern United States. According to Electricity Local, Plattsburgh's $0.0417/kWh residential and $0.0261/kWh industrial rates are each less than half the national average. This has made Plattsburgh a hotspot for mining activities.

Plattsburgh's allocated electricity from the state, however, is limited and when the city exceeds its portion, it must buy electricity on the open market at market price. The cost difference must be borne by the ratepayers. Power overruns in December and January saw price spikes by some customers of up to $300 per month, reports The Press-Republican.

Since then, the state's Public Service Commission has adopted a special tariff that allows overruns to be passed directly to crypto miners.

Comments are currently being accepted for the new framework, with a public hearing scheduled for today.

Crypto ATM Seized by Indian Authorities

Per a report from The Times of India, a man was arrested Tuesday for operating what it is calling India's first bitcoin ATM. Harish BV, 37, the co-founder of the ATM-servicing company Unocoin, was arrested for operating the ATM without government approval. The Central Crime Branch seized the ATM machine, two laptops, a cellphone, three credit cards, a passport, five Unocoin company seals, and Rs 1.8 lakh ($2,458.44 USD).

In April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) restricted financial institutions from doing business with cryptocurrency-related businesses. This has created a tug-of-war between India's remaining crypto investors and the Indian government.

Though ostensibly unrelated to the RBI edict, the arrest will likely continue the fight over cryptocurrency in India, as the possession and purchasing of crypto by individuals is not illegal or banned. "We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018," said Unocoin co-founder Sathvik Viswanath to the Times. "The minister's statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say 'illegal tender'. There's a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there's no regulation for the industry."

Be fast, be clever, be wise. Most importantly, be here tomorrow for your Daily Byte.

Frederick Reese

Frederick Reese is a politics and cryptocurrency reporter based in New York. He is also a former teacher, an early adopter of bitcoin and Litecoin, and an enthusiast of all things geeky and nerdy.

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