Santa Cruz Adopts Blockchain for Govt Services

The County of Santa Cruz in northern California has become the latest local government to adopt blockchain technology for governmental services. At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on April 25, 2023, members unanimously voted to move forward with implementing digital wallets for government services and official documentation purposes.

The white-label digital wallet will be powered by HUMBL and will launch a three-stage pilot program starting in July 2023. During the pilot period, beta testers, such as mobile users seeking access to government services like bicycle registration and RV parking registration, will be able to use the digital wallet. Other potential pilots include registration of park facilities, tracking volunteer hours, over-the-counter building permit distribution, and pet licensing.

Zach Friend, a Santa Cruz County Supervisor involved in the situation, stated that the value of digitizing paper documents, records, and services is an essential step for the convenience of Santa Cruz County residents and improving equity and access for the community.

Upon successful completion of the pilot, the county plans to provide a formal report and rollout plan by no later than September 2023.

The digital wallet project began to take shape in April 2022, following a collaboration between the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors and HUMBL on the digital wallet technology infrastructure needed to begin a pilot program.

While local officials are pushing forward with the plans for a digital wallet, an open discussion forum on the county’s website revealed concerns from local residents. One commenter, Becky Seinbruner, asked to suspend further action and progress on the digital wallet developments. Seinbruner raised concerns over inappropriate use and sales of personal data by the infrastructure provider HUMBL.

During the pilot period, local officials will assess if users trust the underlying technology and understand what is happening “under the hood.” The county plans to provide a formal report and rollout plan for the digital wallet by no later than September 2023.

The adoption of blockchain technology by Santa Cruz County is part of a wider trend of governments turning to blockchain for better management of public records and services. By using blockchain technology, governments can create a tamper-proof and transparent record of transactions, leading to improved trust and efficiency in government services.

Blockchain also has the potential to reduce costs associated with traditional paper-based systems and the time-consuming manual processes that go along with them. Furthermore, it can provide secure access to information and services, thus improving equity and access for all members of the community.

Despite the benefits, concerns around privacy and data security remain. As seen in the case of Becky Seinbruner’s comment, some residents are worried about the potential misuse of personal data. To address these concerns, it is essential that governments work with trusted partners who have a strong track record of data security and privacy protection.

In conclusion, the adoption of blockchain technology by Santa Cruz County for governmental services is a promising development in the evolution of public services. By improving the efficiency and accessibility of services, governments can provide better value to citizens and drive growth in the local economy. As with any emerging technology, it is crucial to be mindful of privacy and security concerns, but with careful planning and execution, blockchain can become a valuable tool in modernizing government services.


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EU Passes Vote for Digital Wallet

A majority of members of the European Parliament voted in support of establishing a mandate for interinstitutional discussions to bring about a digital wallet that is applicable throughout the whole EU. The new European Digital Identification (eID) framework plans to develop what will be known as the European Digital Identity Wallet. This wallet will be a digital one that EU people and enterprises may use (EDIW). The digital wallet gives individuals and businesses in the EU the ability to store their identity information, such as names and addresses, as well as digitized documents, such as data from bank accounts, birth certificates, diplomas, and other documents that can be used across international borders.

The eID modifications that were proposed by the ITRE committee contain the norm of zero-knowledge proofs. This provides EU individuals with complete control over their identification data. This would make it possible for individuals to identify and verify themselves online without having to rely on commercial providers, which is the practice that is now being followed and which has given rise to problems over trust, security, and privacy.

The electronic identification legislation proposal is scheduled to be presented in June 2021. Its purpose is to provide EU residents an approach to accessing internet services that is both safe and simple to use. The development of a digital wallet would make it possible to store personal data in a way that is both safe and secure, and it would also give an alternative to using commercial providers. The modifications that were approved in February by the ITRE committee will serve as the foundation for the stance that the European Parliament takes throughout the negotiating process.

The transition toward a unified digital wallet throughout the EU has the potential to improve the efficiency of online services and make it simpler for individuals and companies to use services that are offered in other member states. The implementation of zero-knowledge proofs would result in an increased degree of security and privacy for people, who would retain complete control over the information pertaining to their identities. The formation of a European Digital Identity is one step closer to becoming a reality as a result of the negotiations that are due to begin immediately on the final form of the law.


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Facebook Taps Coinbase to Offer Custody Services for Novi Digital Wallet Rollout

On Tuesday, October 19, Facebook Inc announced that it has launched its new digital wallet for crypto assets called Novi and has hired Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange to be its custody partner. - 2021-10-20T101548.322.jpg

According to the statement, Facebook is currently rolling out Novi digital wallet based on a small pilot program in The U.S. and Guatemala to allow users to trade the Paxos Dollar (USDP) stablecoin. The company said that the full rollout will enable people to send and receive money abroad instantly, securely, and with no fees.  

Coinbase is assisting Novi through Coinbase Custody, which keeps funds secure with its software that manages cryptocurrency transactions.

In other words, Novi users can buy Paxos dollar (USDP) stablecoin through Novi, and Novi will deposit the funds with Coinbase.

According to its market capitalisation, Paxos dollar (USDP) is a stablecoin whose value is pegged to the U.S. dollar and currently ranks position 100.

As per the announcement, Facebook stated that it selected USDP to conduct their test for their systems with the stablecoin, which has been operating successfully for more than three years. The social media giant also mentioned that it chose USDP because stablecoin has important consumer protection and regulatory attributes.

David Marcus, the head of Novi, talked about the development and said that they chose USDP because its services are fully backed by U.S. dollars and are held 100% in cash equivalents and cash. “This means that people can easily withdraw their money in their local currency when they choose,” he explained.

Facebook stated that it eventually plans to migrate Novi to a cryptocurrency it backs called Diem once it obtains regulatory approval. Facebook mentioned that the goal of Novi has always been enabling interoperability with other digital wallets. Marcus said:

“The goal of Novi has been and always will be to be interoperable. Imagine if you couldn’t send an email from a Gmail address to a Yahoo address,” 

Diem Facing Regulatory Concerns

Since its inception, the Facebook-affiliated Diem cryptocurrency has changed nearly everything about itself – timeline, partners, structure, and name. It even changed its headquarters from Switzerland to the U.S., one of the most important moves.

Due to its relationship with the data-hungry Facebook, Diem (formerly Libra) has encountered pressures from regulators across the globe. Some of the major concerns by regulators involved fears that Diem could threaten monetary stability and potentially enable money laundering. Facebook’s involvement also implied that regulators are concerned over how it could protect users’ privacy.

To move ahead, the project relocated its headquarters to the U.S. and chose Silvergate bank, a crypto-friendly bank based in California, to issue the stablecoin.

Despite losing some members such as PayPal, eBay, Vodafone and others, Diem picked up other experienced partners that could assist in smoothening its path to other countries.

 Meanwhile, a group of five Senate Democrats yesterday wrote an official letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to discontinue the Novi wallet pilot. Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, the policymakers argued that Facebook had not provided a satisfactory explanation of how Diem would prevent illicit financial flows and other criminal activity.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Crypto Fintech hi Hits One Million Users in 100 Days

Key Takeaways

  • Fintech company hi has hit one million members less than 100 days after its launch.
  • The company’s digital wallet allows users to send payments via social messengers such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
  • Integrating crypto with social media has become a growing trend in recent months.

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The not-for-profit fintech hi has reached the one million member milestone, less than 100 days since its launch. 

One Million Users Get hi

The blockchain-based fintech company has welcomed its one-millionth member to its platform, developing a substantial user base less than 100 days after launching its private beta. 

The company hit the milestone following the release of its crypto membership token, the hi Dollar (HI). Since then, progress has been quick, with the HI token being listed for trading on Uniswap on Aug. 8. The company has achieved rapid user growth without the help of the usual advertising routes, instead choosing to spotlight the unique aspects of its service.  

So far, the company has released its first product, a digital wallet powered by the HI token. The wallet integrates seamlessly with WhatsApp, Telegram, and the company’s web app (, allowing users to send payments over social messengers. The company plans to release support for additional messenger services in the future, including LINE and Facebook Messenger. 

Speaking on the one million member milestone, Sean Rach, Co-founder of hi, commented:

“We are now one of the fastest-growing blockchain communities in the world – and this is just the beginning. We are building out an ecosystem of banking and internet services to benefit our members and look forward to welcoming tens of millions of new members in the coming months.”

The key focus of hi is to maximize value for its members instead of corporate profits. As part of this initiative, the platform offers hi Dollar rewards to users for completing simple daily tasks and inviting friends to the platform, along with additional lifestyle and digital benefits determined with community input. 

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Hi’s rapid growth comes as social media integration has become a growing focus in the crypto space. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently stated that it’s “only a matter of time” before Twitter integrates Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, allowing users to send payments and tips without costly currency conversions. More broadly, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has also expressed interest in using blockchain technology to create decentralized social media platforms while speaking at the Ethereum Community Conference last month.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned BTC and ETH. 

This news was brought to you by Phemex, our preferred Derivatives Partner.


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‘Buy now pay later’ firm Zip plans to offer crypto trading in Australia and the US

Australian ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL) firm Zip is looking to enter the crypto market by offering trading services to users within the next 12 months.

Zip co-founder Peter Gray told Reuters on July 22 that expanding support for crypto trading services and providing a digital wallet was one of top requests from its clients. The co-founder kept his cards close to his chest however and didn’t outlay a specific roadmap or timetable to get there.

“We know our younger generation of customers seek additional products and services that are relevant to them,” Gray said.

The Afterpay competitor serves customers in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. under its American Quadpay unit. The firm recently announced that Quadpay will be rebranded to Zip to increase brand awareness as a multinational company.

If the BNPL firm goes ahead with its crypto plans, Zip has said that it will likely offer this service to Australian and U.S. customers.

According to Yahoo Finance, Zip has a market cap of $4.1 billion. The firm competes in a highly competitive industry amongst giants such as Afterpay, which pioneered the concept and has a significantly greater market cap of $31.4 billion.

Apple announced plans to enter the BNPL sector earlier this month with a service that will allow users of Apple Pay to pay for purchases in four interest free installments. Afterpay this week revealed its first product launch with Westpac bank to offer savings accounts with a flat 1% interest rate.

Related:  PayPal increases crypto purchase limits to $100K

Back in April, the Zip co-founder stated that the firm’s short term plans didn’t include offering traditional banking products. He also dropped the first hints about its broader plans noting they are “probably more related to crypto or the ability to buy and sell shares from the app rather than the ability to have a no-coupon savings account.”

According to data from TradingView, Zip stock (Z1P) has a rolling 10 day average volume of $13.98 million, and currently sits at a price of $7.14.