This week in tech: YouTube wages war against crypto industry

It’s been quite the year for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Global giants in retail, logistics, banking and more have launched blockchain projects this year. It’s thus an unbefitting end to the year for crypto vloggers who are engaged in a tussle with YouTube over their content.

This week saw the video-sharing giant, which is wholly owned by Google, pull down crypto and blockchain content from its platform. The reason – it was harmful or dangerous content. The cryptoverse was outraged by YouTube’s actions, with the calls for a decentralized platform such as Streamanity picking steam.

Just days later, YouTube recognized its blunder and scrapped off an apology to the community. It also stated that it had reinstated the videos it had taken down. However, this was proven to be untrue by many crypto YouTubers who revealed that most of the videos they lost hadn’t been recovered. By press time, many content creators were still complaining.

Just days later, Google’s Play Store suspended MetaMask, an Ethereum wallet and decentralized application. The app store claimed that MetaMask supported the mining of cryptos which goes against its policy. The wallet appealed the decision, but it’s yet to be reinstated. With this, the calls for decentralized platforms grew even louder.

Despite the Google and YouTube debacle, blockchain made more inroads, with the CBDC quest continuing for a few countries. In South Korea, the central bank announced that it would form a taskforce that will focus on CBDC research. The Bank of Korea also revealed that it would consult global regulators including the Bank of International Settlements regarding the digital currency venture as it seeks to find the best way forward.

The Bahamas is moving even further, introducing a digital version of its national currency in one of its districts. The pilot began this week in the Exuma district and in the first half of 2020, it will expand to the Abaco group of islands.

The CBDC is known as the Sand Dollar and “targets improved outcomes for financial inclusion and access, making the domestic payments system more efficient and non-discriminatory in access to financial services.”

The CBDC pioneer that is China also gave an update on its eagerly awaited digital currency. The deputy director of the People’s Bank of China made it clear that the CBDC will just be a digital version of the yuan and not anything similar to Bitcoin. It will not be backed by a basket of currencies as some stablecoins, nor will it be up for speculation and price swings, he clarified.

In more adoption news, the National Payment Corporation of India announced its permissioned blockchain platform this week. Known as Varja, the platform will make payments in the populous country faster, cheaper and more efficient, the agency believes. The NCPI is a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India that brings together retail payment stakeholders in India.

China’s Tencent also furthered its foray into blockchain, announcing this week that it would launch a crypto research group to advance its blockchain efforts. The company notified its employees that it was seeking a qualified person to head this department.

On the legal front, alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has been at the center of an international spat between Russia and Greece over his extradition. The Greek Justice Minister had decided to extradite him to France but Russia voiced its displeasure very strongly. The minister’s decision was overturned by a top court this week, giving Vinnik hope that he might be extradited to his home country, which is what he has been asking for all along.

For Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith, it wasn’t a good week. Griffith was arrested weeks ago after attending a blockchain conference in North Korea against the U.S. regulations. He applied for bail, but this week, incriminating texts were revealed that could see him get into deeper trouble. Reports claim that Griffith, in text messages to his family members, renounced his status as an American citizen. His legal team also had inconsistent reports, including on the properties he owned or rented which didn’t augur well with New York Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses. He is currently appealing the court’s decision to deny him bail.

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