CVS Health, Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, and Humana Trial Blockchain Technology for Healthcare

Blockchain technology for HealthcareBlockchain technology for Healthcare

The US Healthcare system may finally be taking steps in the right direction. Aetna recently announced that it has joined a newly formed blockchain alliance, along with Ascension. Five other healthcare giants in the US are already piloting blockchain technology.

Blockchain Technology for Healthcare

Humana, Multiplan, UnitedHealth Group’s Optum, Quest Diagnostics, and UnitedHealthcare are all a part of the group. The alliance is trying to figure out how blockchain technology can improve data quality and lower costs.

Blockchain tech entered into the mainstream media back in 2017. It’s surprising that these healthcare systems haven’t been exploring blockchain sooner. Many of the major banks across the world were quick to see how the emerging tech could improve their current systems.

Blockchain technology could transform medicine in the US. These health insurers are currently looking at the administrative costs spent on keeping information in the system up-to-date. Many of these healthcare plans list providers that are in-network with their systems and provide office hours and locations. However, doctors often move practices and become out of network with insurers quite frequently.

>> Beijing Bans STOs: The New Update to the ICO

Blockchain technology for healthcare could revolutionize the way providers and healthcare organization share information. This is just one way the technology could be useful in the field.

“We believe this alliance has the market presence and velocity to actually change how we exchange data to provide healthcare,” Gerry Lewis, Ascension’s chief information officer, said. “Providers, payers and consumers—you need to have all three engaged to look at this.”

Currently, Aetna insures around 22 million Americans, and Ascension is the largest not-for-profit health system in the US. Blockchain technology could be extremely useful for many different facets of the US healthcare field, but this is a good first step. Down the road, Lewis hopes the alliance will look into how blockchain can be used in clinical settings with patient health information.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© sezerozger

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Voting on the Blockchain: South Korea Tests New Technology

Voting on the BlockchainVoting on the Blockchain

South Korea has just become the first East Asian country to legalize medical marijuana. But it may be the second to put voting on the blockchain. Japan is already trialing the technology to allow citizens to cast votes on “social contribution projects.”

South Korea has been an advocate of blockchain technology though it has a strict stance towards cryptocurrency. It makes sense that it would follow in Japan’s footsteps.

Voting on the Blockchain in South Korea

Democratic voting on the blockchain is one of the most controversial applications of blockchain technology. Switzerland has trialed blockchain voting already, and it was a success. Rumors suggested that Sierra Leone had used the technology in its 2018 election, but those rumors turned out to be false. West Virginia State also developed a blockchain app for voting.

Now South Korea’s National Election Commission (NEC) and its Ministry of Science and ICT have confirmed they’re developing a blockchain-based voting system. The revelation has been reported first by ZDNet.

Previous Attempts

This isn’t South Korea’s first time to try an online voting system. In 2013, it developed K-voting, an online voting system that was a disaster due to hacking and fraud concerns.

>> Bitcoin Rally: Cryptocurrency Makes a Comeback After Major Slump

However, hope is high for the blockchain trial because this system will use the blockchain to validate voters and protect votes. The South Korean government believes this will increase transparency and security and improve trust in a digital voting system.

Next Month

The trial will begin in December and will be used first on national interest surveys to gather responses. Should the trial be successful, the NEC will make the call on using it for official democratic voting.

It will be interesting to see how this goes and if South Korea will be voting on the blockchain for general elections and the likes.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© peshkova

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Sberbank CEO: Expects Industrial Blockchain Adoption in Under Two Years

Blockchain adoptionBlockchain adoption

The head of Russia’s Sberbank has set tongues wagging after he emerged bullish about the future of blockchain adoption. CEO Herman Gref is forecasting industrial scale adoption in as little as one or two years.

Blockchain Adoption

Gref believes the technology is on the cusp of entering the industrial development stage of its evolution. Speaking to journalists this week, he said:

“The hype around the technology [blockchain] is now over, and the technology is entering the stage of industrial development. It needs a year or two to be implemented at the industrial scale.”

The head of Sberbank furthered that the global markets are “not yet ready” for large-scale blockchain adoption due to the “immaturity of the technology.” However, in under two years, the technology will be ready.

Sberbank and Blockchain

Since 2017, Sberbank, along with other major Russian banks and institutions, has been actively trialing blockchain. In December of that year, Sberbank partnered with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service to store documents and transfer data on the blockchain.

Then, in June 2018, the bank partnered with Alfa Bank to test investment options with cryptocurrency for retail investors.

>> Coinbase CTO Believes Home Cryptocurrency Mining is the Future with Coinmine

Four months later, Sberbank became an advisor to Rosseti to help it trial blockchain solutions. At that time, the bank gave a time frame of three to five years for blockchain adoption.

But now, Gref is saying one-to-two years, indicating successful trials and a fast maturity.

Russia’s Finance and Blockchain

The Russian finance sector seems to be quickly moving towards the technology as another bank, the Russian branch of Raiffeisen Bank, announced its use of blockchain. The bank said it will first implement the technology to log digital mortgages and bank guarantees. However, it has plans to extend its use to other areas in the months to come.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© Piter2121

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Public vs Private Blockchains; Ernst & Young’s New Blockchain Prototype

private blockchainprivate blockchain

On October 30th, Ernst & Young (EY) announced a world-first for distributed ledgers. Called the Ernst & Young Ops Chain Public Edition, the company created a new blockchain prototype that combines the security of the public ledger model with the privacy of the private ledger model—thus a private blockchain.

It does this by using zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology on the public Ethereum blockchain. The result, it claims, is a network that will suit the needs of institutions, especially in the financial sector.

But why the need to combine the pro’s of both networks, what’s missing?

The Benefits and Problems of a Public Blockchain, Compared to Private

Anyone is able to join a public blockchain and read or write transactions. As a result, public blockchains are made up of hundreds of thousands of independent computers known as ‘nodes.’ This massive ecosystem means resilience and security—a huge positive of this blockchain model. Bitcoin and Ethereum are well-known examples of this type of blockchain.

However, every transaction on this type of ledger must be verified by each node. And with hundreds of thousands of nodes making up the network, this has become an issue.

It’s an issue because to reach consensus or verification, nodes perform a proof-of-work (PoW). A PoW is a complex cryptographic equation that is solved by the computer. Therefore, transaction times can be slow and costly and this becomes especially evident during times of high activity and volume.

This is given the term scalability, and it refers to a network’s ability to handle and process large numbers of transactions at any given time. Until scalability improves on public blockchains, many enterprises are reluctant to use them.

Another issue facing public blockchains is privacy. Each transaction provides details such as the amount, date, sender address and receiver address. This is visible to anyone on the network. Though many users love this type of transparency for safety reasons, institutions or anyone dealing in larger sums, lack business privacy.

>> Winklevoss Lawsuit Continues; Lawyer States Defendant Committed ‘No Misconduct’

The Benefits and Problems of a Private Blockchain, Compared to Public

A user must be invited to a private blockchain. As such, the network is considered closed or exclusive and can be referred to as permissioned blockchains. Naturally enough, this network model has fewer members than a public blockchain and so can be more vulnerable to hacking.

If a blockchain is fully private, then the network rules are usually controlled by one organization or by several pre-selected nodes. A consensus is reached not by every member on the network but by the selected group of nodes.

Because private blockchains are just that, private, they are well-suited to business and enterprise adoptions. Transactions are only visible to the limited numbers of invited participants.

Hyperledger is a good example of this type of blockchain. R3 is another, being a global banking and financial institution blockchain consortium based on their distributed ledger technology product, Corda.

However, as stated, what private blockchains gain in privacy, they lack in security. With far fewer nodes on the network, manipulation and/or hacking is far more plausible.

Conclusion

There are the two basic blockchain models in a nutshell. Can Ernst & Young’s new prototype truly solve the scalability issue of a large distributed ledger whilst also providing maximum security and privacy to its users? Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© kataklinger

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BNP Paribas, HSBC, and 10 Other Banks Launch Hong Kong Blockchain Trade Finance Platform

Blockchain Trade Finance PlatformBlockchain Trade Finance Platform

A new Hong Kong-based blockchain trade finance platform has just launched this week that was developed by twelve major global banks, Reuters reported this Wednesday. The platform was developed by Canadian-based HSBC, France-based BNP Paribas, Great Britain-based Standard Chartered, and nine other major banks.

Blockchain Trade Finance Platform

The new platform is called eTrade Connect, and on Wednesday, HSBC said it reduced the time it takes to approve trade loan applications. Usually, these loans would take a day and a half to process, but thanks to eTrade, it has been reduced to four hours.

Trade finance transactions were worth over $9 trillion in 2017. Despite the high volume, most of the industry is paper-based and slow. Trade finance transaction processes and procedures haven’t changed in decades, until now.

“Blockchain has transformed a cumbersome, complex process into a simpler but more secure and efficient way of conducting trade,” said Pricerite Chairman Bankee Kwan in a statement issued by HSBC.

The new blockchain trade finance platform is set to revolutionize how trade loan applications are processed around the world. The eTrade platform digitizes the trade documents and automates many trade finance processes. The first successful transactions exchanged and confirmed on the new platform were purchased by Pricerite, a furniture and household goods retailer.

>> Morgan Stanley Classes Bitcoin as an Asset

Blockchain Shift

This last July, We.trade collaborated with Hyperledger Fabric-powered European blockchain to complete its first live operation. In the mix of this live operation was Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Santander, and Rabobank.

In the near future, most cross-border transactions will be held on blockchain technology, but it just depends on how fast banks can adapt to the new switch. Many larger banks around the world have assigned a group of employees within their company to research and test blockchain. The new eTrade Connect Blockchain trade finance platform launch this week confirms it.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© pichetw

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Colorado ICOs: Regulators Stop Another 18 ICOs

Colorado ICOsColorado ICOs

The US federal authorities are strict against ICOs, or initial coin offerings. Projects are being shut down before they can even get started and this is now happening at State level.

Colorado ICOs Shut Down

Four more ICOs in Colorado were put on notice on Tuesday. This brings the total number of ICOs stopped by the state’s bodies to 18 this month.

That number is expected to reach 20 as the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies hinted that two more ICOs are pending. The state’s ‘ICO Task Force’ is investigating heavily into any proposed ICOs. It demands that each venture stop offering unregistered securities.

Commissioner Gerald Rome spoke on the issue saying investors should be wary:

“The sheer number of orders entered against ICOs should be a red flag to all investors that there is a real risk that the ICO you are considering is a fraud […] Our investigations show that there are fraudsters who will simply create a fake ICO to steal investors’ money or spoof a legitimate ICO to trick investors into wrongfully paying them.”

Targetted Companies

One of the targetted companies this week is Global Pay Net. It’s understandable why state regulators put this company on notice.

It was offering GLPN Coins for a financial platform based on blockchain technology, but its ICO was showing major red flags. One issue was that two team members listed on the company’s website denied being affiliated with the project. Further, the company’s listed phone number was disconnected, and verifications could not be made as a result. Another red flag raised was that the business is not registered in Washington state despite it supposedly being located there.

>> Tom Lee Sticks by His $15,000 Bitcoin (BTC) Price Prediction Despite Falling Market

Another targeted company is Credits LLC, which pursued an ICO with ‘Cred’ tokens and promotes “crypto with a mobile mining app that supports green energy.”

Other targeted projects include Crowd Share Mining and Cyber Smart Coins. Crowd Share promises investors 50% of the profit generated from mining operations that use renewable energy sources. Cyber Smart Coin (CBST) claims to use robots to trade on Bitmex and other crypto exchanges and promised investors of 20% to 35% monthly.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© ra2studio

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SEC Charges DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather with Crypto Touting Violations

SEC ChargesSEC Charges

Nobody gets away with fraud in the SEC’s eyes. The latest pair to be hit with SEC charges include pro-boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled.

SEC Charges Mayweather and Khaled

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged the pair with the improper promotion of initial coin offerings or ICOs for cryptocurrencies. Neither party revealed to investors that they were, in fact, paid large sums of money to promote certain ICOs.

According to CNBC, a settlement announced Thursday disclosed the charges. According to the settlement, Mayweather never spoke of a $100,000 promotional payment from crypto firm Centra Tech Inc. Khaled was a similar situation, with a $50,000 promotional fee for the same coin.

Twitter Promotion

With statements about Centra Tech to his Twitter followers such as it “starts in a few hours. Get yours before they sell out, I got mine,” and You can call me Floyd Crypto Mayweather from now on,” Mayweather is being charged for touting violations. Similarly, DJ Khaled called the ICO a “game changer” to his followers.

>> Litecoin (LTC), TRON (TRX), and ZCash (ZEC) Lead the Crypto Comeback

Mayweather’s undisclosed promotion stretches to other crypto ICOs too. According to the SEC, he was paid $200,000 to promote two others.

The issue was settled out of court; however, the pair will remain under investigation from the SEC. A direct result of the SEC charges will see Mayweather pay more than $600,000 in disgorgement and penalties. Khaled will pay over $150,000.

Both are also banned from promoting securities—Mayweather for three years, Khaled for two.

SEC Charges: ICO Scams

Cryptocurrencies have been tumbling in value in recent weeks according to coinmarketcap.com. Despite this, ICOs continue to pop up, and investors are putting billions of dollars behind them. Often regardless of the strength of the currency.

The SEC has continually struggled to regulate these new forms of currency. However, it remains vigilant against them. Recently in Colorado, regulators ceased 18 new ICOs in the month of November alone. The issue for the SEC is the number of scams that pretend to be ICOs and the lack of support for cryptocurrency as an actual asset.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© Grey82

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Sirin Labs Blockchain Phone ‘Finney’ Will Ship in December

Blockchain PhoneBlockchain Phone

Sirin Labs’ blockchain phone is expected to begin shipping in late December, it was announced today. The phone’s final design was unveiled at an event in Barcelona.

Sirin Labs’ Blockchain Phone

Dubbed ‘Finney,’ the blockchain phone promises to advance the user experience of decentralized apps, or dApps.

The blockchain phone was developed off the back of an initial coin offering in which Sirin Labs raised $157 million earlier this year. However, it’s wondered if the creation of Finney is an example of putting the cart before the horse, as there simply are not that many dApps available for its users.

It is not yet known if the user experience is an issue of the decentralized web.

The company’s chief marketing officer, Nimrod May, said the phone will ship sometime between December 5th and 15th.

Sirin has partnered with one of the top electronics manufacturers in the world, Foxconn, to produce the device.

Ordering the Finney Blockchain Phone

The phone is priced at a hefty $999 and can only be pre-ordered by Sirin token (SRN) holders. Once the phone is officially live, then other payment options will open up for buyers.

If buying the phone using SRN, then cost will depend on the price of SRN on the day of purchase, so buyers are being warned on this. The token has ranged anywhere between $0.06 and $0.18 in the last three months for example.

>> Bitcoin (BTC) up Nearly 20% in 48 Hours, How High will It Go?

Other Blockchain Phone Competitors

Finney has spurred on competition from bigger companies. HTC is currently developing a crypto-based phone and, new to the sector, Pundi X is also in the development stages of its pioneering blockchain device.

Nimrod May is confident that the blockchain phone will sell over 100,000 units in its first year.

As the phone is designed to carry around cryptocurrency, security is a big feature of the device. As such, it has its own cold storage wallet built in and is described by May as “a second device in the same housing as the phone.” It will have a separate processor and its own LCD screen, in which the user will input their seed phrase.

Will you be purchasing the Finney blockchain phone?

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© perig76

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ADAM will Set a Code of Conduct for Crypto Participants

ADAMADAM

Ten financial and tech companies have come together to establish an Association for Digital Asset Markets or ‘ADAM.’ The groups aim is to create a “code of conduct” for the cryptocurrency sector.

ADAM is a Good Boy

The body is made up of well-known crypto names. These include Galaxy Digital, BTIG, Paxos—which recently launched the PAX stablecoin—and crypto liquidity solutions provider GSR.

Looking to get on the good side of regulators, and no doubt put more of a definite shape on the cryptocurrency market, the group will work with regulators to seek “comprehensive standards” for market participants.

These standards will apply to all areas of the industry from trading, custody, clearing, and settlement and will be the framework for “ethical conduct” and “professionalism.

If successful, these standards should deter market manipulation and improve transparency for both regulatory authorities, policymakers, and the public.

Code of Conduct

According to Duncan Niederauer, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and ADAM Advisory Board Member, rules are vital for the success of any market:

“Rules are fundamental to the development of any market. Over 200 years ago, market leaders came together to draft rules that led to the creation of the New York Stock Exchange. The advent of digital assets requires a similar effort; one that will clarify existing rules and give both investors and regulators the confidence necessary to sustain this market.”

>> NASDAQ to Launch Bitcoin Futures in 2019

Important questions remain about the specifics; who exactly will be setting the rules and who exactly will be enforcing them?

Made to complement existing laws and regulations, the code of conduct will include guidelines for “market integrity, risk management, KYC and AML, custody, record keeping, clearing and settlement, market manipulation, data protection, and research.

Ten companies make up ADAM. But hundreds of companies make up the entire crypto industry. Can an entire industry adopt these ‘standards’ successfully?

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© maximsamos

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Ohio Accepts Bitcoin for Tax Payments: A Much-Needed Silver Lining

Ohio accepts BitcoinOhio accepts Bitcoin

As Bitcoin heads down the slope, the State of Ohio has just made a move that actually champions the ailing coin. And it’s a vital time for such a move. Ohio has decided to accept Bitcoin for tax payments, becoming the first state to do so.

Not only is this move momentous in terms of institutional approval, but its timing is also impeccable—casting a silver lining to what has been a very dark cloud for Bitcoin.

Ohio Accepts Bitcoin in the Nick of Time

The initiative begins now. Ohio businesses can pay their taxes, which includes anything from tobacco to public utilities, on OhioCrypto.com. 23 different taxes can be paid for using the cryptocurrency. Some examples are Public Utilities Tax, Sales Tax, Seller’s Use Tax, and Severance Tax.

The aim of the new payment option is to simply make things easier for taxpayers. But will it also make Ohio a cryptocurrency magnate? Will this move spur on other crypto adoption schemes?

State treasurer Josh Mandel spearheaded the new system and is “confident that this cryptocurrency initiative will continue.”

Bitpay, the crypto payment provider, will process all Bitcoin payments on the website.

Businesses will be the first to avail of the new system. However, should it be successful, the State plans to expand it to individuals in the not too distant future. And it seems Ohio is optimistic, as the website reads:

“From mom and pop coffee shops to Fortune 100 companies, businesses now have the ability to pay their taxes with OhioCrypto.com.

>> Bitcoin Crash Causes Crypto Mining Closures and Bankruptcy

Ohio Accepts Bitcoin: Spurring Institutional Acceptance?

US government bodies have tip-toed around Bitcoin in various ways before. Florida also announced a similar initiative to accept cryptocurrencies for tax payments. However, no integration has yet to appear in the State, despite this announcement being made back in May.

Also in 2018, it was reported that a San Francisco federal judge ordered a criminal to make a bail payment in Bitcoin. However, this decision was later reneged on as the transaction process for such a payment was complicated.

Will Ohio’s move stick though? Bitcoin is up today—albeit slightly—since crashing dramatically last week. Investors are keen for signs of hope for the coin. Ohio may have just given them one.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© Thamkc

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