Reports coming out of China claim that Bitmain has finished a Series B funding round, which would put the value of the company at $12bn. While the actual money raised by the biggest cryptocurrency mining company, which produces its own line of ASIC miners, was between $300 – $400m, it still represents a significant milestone for the Chinese firm. The latest funding round was led by Sequoia Capital, one of the most well known and respected tech venture capital funds after it had backed companies such as Apple, Google, and PayPal. Sequoia had also invested in the company last year, putting $50m into Bitmain. CEO Jihan Wu, who was the first person to translate Satori Nakamoto’s white paper into Chinese, last month said that the bitcoin miner was considering an IPO in the future. It is unclear whether this latest funding round puts that plan to rest.
It is not all good news for Chinese miners, however. A flood in Sichuan province, in the south-west of the country, destroyed the equipment of a major miner, as seen in images shared by Eric Meltzer, a partner at INBlockchain. The total hash rate dropped 30% following the disaster. Sichuan is an attractive place for miners to set up, as it has a cold climate, which keeps the cost of cooling devices low, as well as cheap electricity. China, as a whole, is also an important centre in the bitcoin world, as it provides nearly 70% of the total hashing power.
Away from China, IBM has signed a massive deal with the Australian government to use blockchain to improve data security. The agreement is worth AU$1bn, or $740m, and will make Australia one of ‘the top three digital governments in the world’, according to Harriet Green, IBM’s Asia Pacific head. Other initiatives in Australia are propelling it to the top of this list, including a new stipend in its budget for blockchain research, reportedly at the insistence of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Huobi, the fourth-largest exchange in the world, also just started trading on its Australian platform, allowing consumers to buy bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, among others, for Australian dollars.
Other governments are continuing to embrace the possibilities offered by blockchain. In one of the more ambitious projects, the Swiss canton of Zug, also known as Crypto Valley because of the high number of blockchain companies starting up in the area, held some non-binding votes using the tech. As reported earlier, the vote took place between the 25th of June and the 1st of July. While the electorate was small, a turnout of 72 voters from a pool of 240 which are using the electronic ID (eID) system used by Zug, it still marks an important milestone on the acceptance and use of blockchain. Dieter Muller, head of communications for the canton, said that the trial ‘was a success’, though there are still examinations, of privacy, secrecy and verifiability, which will have to take place over the next few months. The vote was non-binding and asked whether or not the canton should extend the use of the eID system to allow people to borrow books from public libraries using it if people should be able to complete their tax returns, and if parking fees should be payable on the system.
After suffering a battering recently, bitcoin (BTC) staged somewhat of a comeback this week. Starting off at $6,156 it dropped last Friday to a low of $5,835. It only improved from there though and had some big spikes to drive the price of the coin up to $6,756, before closing at $6,616.
Ether (ETH) began the week at $439 and dropped as well on Friday to $409. The rallies came from this low point, sending the coin up to $483. before cooling off to finish the week at $467.
Ripple (XRP) started out at $0.47, and its weekly low was $0.43, again experienced on Friday. Sharp increases brought it up to $0.51, and it ended the week only slightly down on this at $0.50.
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