This week in tech: Jack Dorsey eyes decentralized social media platform

Since blockchain technology made its way to the finance industry, it has swiftly continued to establish itself in other industries. And if Jack Dorsey has his way, the social media industry is next. The Twitter CEO revealed this week that his company will fund the development of decentralized and open standards for social media platforms. Known as Bluesky, the team behind the move will be funded by Twitter fully, but the company will not influence it in any way.

The week also saw some of the world’s largest banks launch blockchain initiatives. The first was China Construction Bank which finally launched its blockchain-powered refactoring program. CCB aims to use blockchain to reduce risks while enabling easy data sharing.

Spanish giant Santander redeemed a $20 million bond on the Ethereum network this week as well. The bond had been issued on September 10. With its project, Santander aimed to prove that a debt security can be managed throughout its life cycle on a blockchain. In the Netherlands, the country’s largest bank was reported to be working on crypto custody. ING Bank sees great potential in blockchain and crypto, and custodial solutions is just one of its planned projects.

American giant JPMorgan forged on with its blockchain project, with a new report revealing that its blockchain-powered payment network will launch in Japan in early 2020. Over 80 banks in Japan have already expressed an interest in joining the network.

In more adoption news, global ticketing firm Ticketmaster is seeking to integrate smart contracts into its operations. Accounting for 475 million ticket sales a year, the company strives to put at least 400 million of these on the blockchain. In Russia, the country’s national energy grid operator is testing a blockchain solution for payments in the retail electricity sector.

The crypto industry has been eagerly waiting for well laid-out regulations for the industry, but none have been forthcoming. This week, a number of regulators launched moves targeting crypto taxation, led by the Danish tax agency. The Skattestyrelsen issued a round of letters to crypto users suspected of evading their crypto taxes. The letters requested them to submit full disclosures of their trading activities and amend prior tax returns.

It also emerged this week that South Korea wants to impose taxes on capital gains from crypto transactions. The government is already working on regulations which could be in place in time for the 2020 tax regulations. In Brazil, the tax agency took a more drastic approach, revealing it will start fining taxpayers who fail to declare their crypto holdings. The charges will range from $120 to $360 and could be imposed on individuals or enterprises.

Crypto companies haven’t fared all too well in recent weeks, and this week, it became clear just how bad things were. Circle laid off ten staff members, attributing it to streamlining. The announcement came days after the CEO Sean Neville quit, but Circle denied that the two events are related. Ethereum incubator Consensys followed a similar path, revealing it would shut down its offices in the Philippines and India. The closure will see 11 employees lose their jobs. Lightcurve, a division of Lisk crypto, laid off 40% of its employees as well, citing the need to cut costs.

On the regulatory front, a number of crypto scammers met their fate this week. In Uganda, the leader of a crypto scam that took off with $2.7 million was finally arrested. He told the police he was ready to pay back the investors but not much has been done since. In the U.S., two Romanian hackers responsible for infecting over 400,000 computers globally were sentenced to two decades in prison each.

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