AMD Bolsters Crypto Mining in Latest GPU Software Update

Graphics card (GPU) maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has updated one of its drivers to better handle the processes tied to cryptocurrency mining.

The release notes for its Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.3.4, published Monday, explained that one aspect of the driver improvement addresses efficiency problems experienced when using GPUs to mine cryptocurrencies.

As the statement explained:

«Some blockchain workloads may experience lower performance than expected when compared to previous Radeon Software releases.»

As previously reported, AMD has developed drivers in the past that improved GPU performance when mining cryptocurrencies. The Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute software was first released last August.

That software was released on an «as is» basis, according to the release notes, «and will not be supported with further updates, upgrades or bug fixes» — suggesting that, for the time being, AMD isn't eyeing regular fixes for cryptocurrency-related problems.

The drivers were unique in that they were «not intended for graphics or gaming workloads,» according to the company's release notes.

Stepping back, the move is just the latest from GPU manufacturers whose products have been swept up by cryptocurrency miners.

AMD, in particular, noted in its most recent 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that a decline in the cryptocurrency market could hurt its business if miners buy fewer GPUs, as previously reported.

However, an analyst with Jeffries does not see this as a likely possibility, as Mark Lipacis wrote last year that he expects demand to continue.

Reddit Drops Bitcoin Payment Option For 'Gold' Membership

Social media website Reddit is no longer accepting bitcoin as payment for its Reddit Gold membership program.

On Friday, users began commenting in the /r/BTC subreddit that the only available payment methods for the service are credit cards and PayPal, whereas previously people were able to pay for gold using bitcoin.

A Saturday post in the same forum attributed to Reddit administrator «emoney04» explained that the change was due in part to Coinbase's decision to discontinue their Merchant Tool product in favor of Coinbase Commerce, which will enable «merchants to accept multiple cryptocurrencies directly into a user-controlled wallet.»

The administrator went on to explain:

«The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove bitcoin as a payment option.»

They also indicated that Reddit has yet to decide if it will reintroduce crypto payments after Coinbase implements its new Commerce service.

«We're going to take a look at demand and watch the progression of Coinbase Commerce before making a decision on whether to reenable,» the administrator said.

Reddit first started accepting bitcoin in its now-defunct merchandise store, RedditMarket, in 2015.

Massachusetts Halts 5 ICOs for Selling Unregistered Securities

Massachusetts has ordered the stoppage of five initial coin offerings (ICOs), stating in new orders that the companies behind them were selling unregistered securities.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin ordered 18moons, Across Platforms, Mattervest, Pink Ribbon and Sparkco to cease their ICO campaigns Tuesday, following investigations into each of the companies.

Government officials found that they were all in violation of the state's «General Laws,» which define securities as stocks, bonds or investment contracts that guarantee a financial return, as defined within the orders. The halts were part of a broader inquiry into token sales being conducted by the state government.

All of the companies are further required to offer to return funds to their investors within 30 days. The companies would have an additional 45 days to actually return the funds, starting from when the investor accepts the refund.

The startups will have to provide a list of every refunded investor after paying back the companies, according to the orders.

While the orders noted that the campaigns «shall permanently cease and desist from selling unregistered or non-exempt securities» within the state, all of the startups are able to register their tokens as securities — or apply to sell «exempt from registration securities» — in the future.

Notably, the orders will suspend the investigations into the companies until they have complied with the orders.

However, if any of the companies "[fail] to comply with any of the terms set forth in the Division's Order, the Enforcement Section may take appropriate action."

The developments represent the latest step taken by Massachusetts on the ICO front. Earlier this year, the state filed suit against an ICO organizer and his company, alleging that the token sale represented an unregistered securities offering.

Bank of England to Test DLT Use in New Settlement System

The Bank of England said Tuesday that it is undertaking a new proof-of-concept to explore the ways its planned real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system could connect with distributed ledger networks.

The U.K. central bank first announced its intentions to develop a DLT-compatible service in 2017, having previously said that it wouldn't move to base the system on the tech outright — a decision it referenced in this week's announcement.

«Although the Bank has concluded that distributed ledger technology (DLT) is not yet sufficiently mature to provide the core for the next generation of RTGS,» a statement said, «it places a high priority on ensuring that the new service is capable of interfacing with DLT as and when it is developed in the wider sterling markets.»

Specifically, the project's participants will examine whether «innovative settlement systems,» such as those based on DLT, are able to interact with its proposed 'renewed' cloud-based RTGS service. Project participants include payments technology providers Baton Systems and Token, R3 and Clearmatics.

It will also aim to pinpoint ways in which the service's «functionality could be expanded» through the use of new technologies.

The UK central bank said that it hopes the firms' involvement will «give broader insight into the range of functionality the Bank might need to offer to support this sector.»

The Bank of England plans to issue a report on the results of the proof-of-concept later this year.

US Futures Self-Regulator Reminds Members to Report Crypto Activities

A U.S. futures industry self-regulatory organization (SRO) said Tuesday that members working with cryptocurrencies or related derivatives products need to register that activity.

The U.S. National Futures Association (NFA) issued the reminder to commodity pool operators (CPOs), commodity trading advisors (CTAs) and introducing brokers (IBs) after sending twin notices on the subject late last year. Those notices came as several companies in the U.S. moved to launch bitcoin futures trading in December.

Numbered I-17-28 and I-17-29, the notices were addressed on Dec. 14 last year to CPOs, CTAs and IBs, who either trade, advise or solicit orders in cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency derivatives.

As a result of the notices, CPOs, CTAs and IBs are required to immediately report these cryptocurrency activities to the NFA through an annual questionnaire it files to the self-regulator.

«NFA reminds CPOs, CTAs and IBs that this is an ongoing obligation,» the SRO said.

Designated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the NFA is the primary SRO of the U.S. derivatives industry, tasked with ensuring that investors are protected and that members adhere to the relevant regulatory mandates.

According to the notices, starting from 2018, cryptocurrency related traders, advisors and brokers registered with the NFA are also required to file details of their activities such as the number of managed pools every calendar quarter.