JPMorgan Chase is testing out a zero-knowledge privacy solution called AZTEC. Developed by a London startup of the same name, AZTEC offers encryption of blockchain data at a lower cost, and with a more efficient process, than previous versions.
“It’s being tested by the most important bank in blockchain today. JPMorgan Quorum, actually," AZTEC CEO Tom Pocock told CoinDesk.
South Africa’s Standard Bank has announced a new private-permission, cloud-based distributed ledger platform that aims to speed up foreign exchange (FX) payments, as well as make transactions more transparent. The platform will go live in the first half of this year. The bank is also working with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to offer the service in China. Richard de Roos, head of foreign exchange for Standard Bank, noted that it also provides an “independent and much safer cloud-hosted record of all documents and steps, instantly available in real time to all parties involved," according to FinTech Futures.
In other news, there were more than 7,000 cases of suspected crypto-related money laundering reported to police in Japan last year. According to The Japan Times, the country's National Police Agency is trying to ward off illegal transactions by training specialists in data analysis, as well as looking into artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can detect illegal trades.
Blockchain-based home equity loan startup Figure Technologies announced that it has raised $65 million in series B equity funding, bringing its total equity funding to more than $120 million. The round was led by RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global, with participation from investors Ribbit Capital, DCM, DCG, Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek and others.
"We are encouraged by what we've accomplished in our first year, and this investment validates Figure's market potential," said Mike Cagney, co-founder and CEO at Figure, in a press release. "We launched the fastest HELOC in the market, and we originate, finance and sell every one of our loans on the Provenance blockchain, an industry first. From the diversity of our founding team to our alignment with our members' financial success, we believe we're building a different — and better — kind of technology company."
Coinhive, an in-browser Monero cryptocurrency miner that has been plagued by malware, revealed it is shutting down all week.
"The drop-in hash rate (over 50 percent) after the last Monero hard fork hit us hard," the company said, according to ZDNet. "So did the 'crash' of the cryptocurrency market with the value of XMR depreciating over 85 percent within a year. This and the announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9 has led us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive."