San Francisco-based Ripple has announced the University Blockchain Research Initiative – a partnership with 17 top universities from around the globe focused on supporting and accelerating “academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital payments.”

To fund the new research initiative, Ripple has committed to investing $50 million to support various research projects. In the announcement, Team Ripple talks about the motivation behind their investment in the University Blockchain Research Initiative:

‘Interest in blockchain is soaring, with a groundswell of activity taking place on the campuses of the world’s top universities. From new business use cases — such as making cross-border payments faster, lower cost and more transparent — to uses of blockchain for good, students and faculty globally are emerging as major contributors to the creation of a more robust and valuable blockchain and payments ecosystem.’

The statement continues:

“As one of the most mature companies in the space, Ripple is uniquely suited to partner with the academic community and help lead development of this ecosystem.”

Despite Ripple funding the efforts, universities will be able to choose their own research topics. The 17 universities included in the initiative are as follows:

  • Australian National University College of the Law
  • CITP at Princeton
  • CSAIL at MIT
  • Delft University of Technology (Netherlands)
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil)
  • Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
  • IIT Bombay
  • International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H)
  • Korea University
  • McCombs School of Business, UT-Austin
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • UCL (University College London)
  • University of Luxembourg
  • University of Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Waterloo

Ripple hopes by combining a “broad cross-section of geographies and markets, as well as a rich blend of academic disciplines” the initiative will achieve greater breakthroughs in their research.

Ripple is no stranger to assisting educational efforts. In March on “Best School Day,” the firm donated $29 million in XRP to purchase school supplies and other materials.

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Hospital Launches Cryptocurrency Addiction Rehab Clinic
A Scottish hospital has launched a crypto rehab unit and by all accounts, the calls are flooding in. “Cryptocurrency users can get hooked by the volatile fluctuation of prices online which creates a ‘high’ when they buy or trade a winning currency,” said Castle Craig Hospital in a press release. “This can be exciting but also addictive and, like gambling addiction, can be financially disastrous.” MarketWatch features a 10 question survey for you to determine if you’re a pathological cryptocurrency addict.

Venezuela Bans Crypto Mining Rigs From Entering the Country
Despite the Venezuelan government embracing cryptocurrency with open arms, reports BlockExplorer’s Tony Spilotro, the country has taken a stand against cryptocurrency mining, going as far as to ban related computer equipment from entering the country.

Trading App Startup Taylor Says All Funds Have Been Stolen In Cyberattack
Taylor, a smart cryptocurrency trading assistant, was robbed of all of their funds, ZDNet reports.
The attack is said to have taken place on Tuesday of last week. In a Medium blog post, the Taylor team said “all of our funds have been stolen. Not only the balance in ETH (2,578.98 ETH) but also the TAY tokens from the Team and Bounty pools.”

Blockchain NW, Seattle’s First Crypto Conference, Begins Next Week
Seattle’s first blockchain conference begins Tuesday, June 5. The event will feature 50+ speakers who specialize in blockchain business and technology. Special to this event is a Blockchain career fair set up to match Pacific Northwest employers and employees. And if there was any doubt, tickets can be purchased with cryptocurrency.

Image courtesy of Carty Sewill,

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Former Obama Aide Targeted by Anti-Crypto Political Ad for Accepting Bitcoin Donations
Brian Forde, a California Democrat running for the US House of Representatives, is accepting accepting campaign donations in Bitcoin. Vice’s Motherboard reports that Forde, “was a senior advisor to the Obama administration who wrote the White House memo on cryptocurrency. Now his congressional campaign is under attack by his opponent for accepting Bitcoin donations.”

MIT Researchers Testing A Smart Contract-Powered Bitcoin Lightning Network
MIT is exploring the application of smart contracts on Bitcoin Lightening Network to see if it can handle millions of transactions, and with a greater degree of complexity.

PayPal: We’ll ‘Certainly Support’ Bitcoin If It Becomes ‘Better Currency’
PayPal’s CFO, John Rainey, told CNBC cthat volatility was the reason PayPal does not currently “see a lot of interest” from its merchants regarding cryptocurrency acceptance. However, he signaled PayPal was not giving up on Bitcoin. “Right now, we don’t see a lot of interest from our merchants,” Rainey went on to say. “But if it’s something that stabilizes in the future and is a better currency, then we’ll certainly support that.”

Introducing Monero’s Ethereum-Killer: Tari
A group of industry experts are building a brand new protocol built on top of the Monero network that will enable token creation.

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The Lithuanian-based payment gateway provider, CoinGate, which offers a plug and play payment gateway for merchants to receive over 50 different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, will soon implement sending and receiving payments over Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.

In a Reddit post making the announcement, the payments provider appropriately calls Lightning Network “the next major technological innovation in the Bitcoin space,” as it enables near instant transaction speeds and lower fees. CoinGate says that its adopting the new technology to further minimize the strain the firm’s transactions put on Bitcoin’s network, noting that they were also among the first payment processors to integrate SegWit – an alteration to Bitcoin’s transaction format that also speeds up transactions.

CoinGate warns that Lightning Network is still in its early stages and still buggy – both “Lightning Network itself, and in our implementation of it” – so only advanced users are recommended to try it out until an “intense testing phase” in their sandbox environment is completed and community feedback is used to troubleshoot and correct any issues that arise.

The firm plans to run pilot integrations in live environments through a number of select merchants that are eager to try out the new Lightning Network payment processing. CoinGate has also launched a Google Doc for merchants interested in signing up to test out Lightning Network-based payments.

Lightning Network is a unique off-blockchain scaling solution for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that effectively creates a second protocol layer operating on top of a blockchain, enabling cheap and ‘lightning’-fast transaction speeds.

To see the implementation in action, CoinGate is welcoming users to buy a cup of virtual coffee in their test shop. They’re also looking for feedback from both merchants and users experimenting with their Lightning Network implementation.

In addition to CoinGate providing cryptocurrency-based payment gateways to merchants, users can also purchase the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash, as well as selling Bitcoins for Euros.

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Circle is Rolling Out a Crypto Version of the U.S. Dollar
Goldman Sachs-backed start-up Circle is introducing a crypto version of the U.S. dollar. CNBC reports, “Circle is one of the most well-funded blockchain start-ups, with investors including Goldman Sachs Group and Baidu. The fintech company operates its peer-to-peer payment network using blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin.”

HTC Develops Blockchain Native Phone
HTC is working on the development of a phone called Exodus, designed to specialize in blockchain as well as decentralized applications. ZDNet reports, “Chen noted that Exodus will include the following: A built-in secure hardware enclave. Android. Support for protocols such as Bitcoin, Lightning Networks, Ethereum and Dfinity.”

Square Cash Growth Accelerating Faster Than Venmo Partially Due to Bitcoin
BlockExplorer’s Anthony Severino tells us “While it’s been widely reported that Square only earned $200,000 from bitcoin transactions in Q1 2018 since its January launch, Dolev believes that offering bitcoin may have helped spark the app’s accelerated growth, comparing Square Cash app downloads to Coinbase’s app.”

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