Crypto donations fund ATVs and gas masks for Ukrainian military

Ukraine’s ministry of digital transformation has utilized cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens, even CryptoPunks, in an effort to fund its military and humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian officials have used funds from the crypto donation platform launched by the government to purchase supplies for the country’s military amid its ongoing war with Russia.

In a Friday tweet, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, announced that the country had purchased five all-terrain vehicles, which “will come in handy for a challenging environment” — possibly referring to conditions near the front lines with Russia or where roads have been damaged or destroyed. Funds for three of the ATVs originated from Aid for Ukraine, a platform the government launched in March that accepts crypto donations “to support people in their fight for freedom.”

At the time of publication, Aid for Ukraine has reportedly raised more than $60 million in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Polkadot’s DOT, Solana’s SOL and USD Coin (USDC). Fedorov reported on Wednesday that the government had already used some of the funds to supply 5,000 gas masks to state border guards and the army. Aid for Ukraine has also purchased more than 5,000 “optical and thermal imaging devices” for the nation’s military since the war began; tablets aimed at helping Ukrainians escaping the country find accommodations and aid; bulletproof vests; medical supplies; vehicles; and clothing

Related: The Ukraine invasion shows why we need crypto regulation

Since the beginning of the Russian military invasion in February, the Ukrainian government has turned to the crypto space many times as a solution for receiving funds from concerned parties. Fedorov announced in April that the government would accept contributions toward the war effort in the form of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which will in turn be sold to “contribute to the Ukrainian victory,” and it recently launched a charity NFT collection with pieces from Ukraine’s video game developers and digital artists.

US Air Force files trademark application for ‘SpaceVerse’ initiative

SpaceVerse was defined as “a secure digital metaverse that converges terrestrial and space physical and digital realities” as well as provides a simulated environment for training.

The United States Air Force has filed a trademark application hinting at the military branch potentially expanding into the metaverse.

According to a Thursday application submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of the Air Force trademarked the word “SpaceVerse,” defined as “a secure digital metaverse that converges terrestrial and space physical and digital realities and provides synthetic and simulated extended-reality (XR) training, testing and operations environments.” It’s unclear if the initiative is connected to the U.S. Space Force, which according to its website is “organized under” the Air Force, but operates as a “separate and distinct branch of the armed services.”

The trademark application connected to activities in the metaverse followed several from a variety of firms including credit card companies Mastercard and American Express, footwear and apparel manufacturer Nike and the New York Stock Exchange. The various applications included trademarks on the use of logos and branding in a virtual environment as well as authenticating certain files with nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

Some major brand names have launched virtual stores or other environments for users following Facebook’s announcement in October 2021 that the social media giant would be rebranding to Meta. In February, U.S. bank JPMorgan entered the metaverse by launching a virtual lounge in the blockchain-based online world Decentraland. Samsung also launched a virtual store modeled after a real-world shop in New York City.

Related: Meta files 8 digital asset and Web 3 trademark applications

Of the six branches of the U.S. military — Marines, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and Space Force — the latter half have previously announced major initiatives aimed at incorporating blockchain technology or otherwise adopting digital assets. In June 2021, Space Force said it would be releasing NFT versions of patches and coins designed for the launch of one of its vehicles. The U.S. Navy also inked a $1.5-million deal with Consensus Networks to develop a blockchain-enabled logistics system named HealthNet.

With inflation going through the roof, Sudan’s central bank cautions citizens against using crypto

Sudanese financial regulator considers cryptocurrencies to be the source of “high risks” as the demand grows.

The Central Bank of Sudan (CBOS) cautioned the country’s citizens against dealing with “all types of cryptocurrencies” due to “the high risks” that they pose. This announcement came as a reaction to the increasing interest in digital assets among the country’s population, which has been facing three-digit inflation rates since the 2021 military coup. 

On March 27, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) published a short announcement from the CBOS declaring that due to high risks, which include “financial crimes, electronic piracy and the risk of losing their value,” citizens are not advised to use cryptocurrencies of any sort.

The CBOS also cited legal risks, as cryptocurrencies are not classified as money “or even private money and property” under Sudanese law. The Central Bank admitted that it has been noticing an uptick in crypto promotions on social media recently.

As Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation, noted in a tweet, a formal ban on crypto might already be in the works. According to the analysis of law firm Freeman Law, Sudan’s current electronic payments legislation, enacted in 2007, does not cover cryptocurrencies.

The rising interest in crypto, which unnerves Sudanese authorities, can be explained by the ongoing economic crisis. According to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Sudan’s inflation rate averaged 359.09% in 2021, up from 163.26% in 2020. In February 2022, it slowed down to 258.40%. 

Myanmar’s military government considers launching digital currency: Report

Major General Zaw Min Tun said rolling out a digital currency would “help improve financial activities in Myanmar.”

The armed forces of Myanmar, which have been in control of the government since forcibly detaining many elected leaders in 2021, is reportedly planning to release a digital currency to help the local economy.

According to a Thursday report from Bloomberg, Major General Zaw Min Tun said rolling out a digital currency would “help improve financial activities in Myanmar,” but military officials were undecided on whether to work with local companies or release the token on their own. Tun, the chief of the military government’s “True News Information Team,” acts as a spokesperson for the Myanmar army.

The digital currency is aimed at supporting payments within Myanmar as well as improving the economy. According to a Jan. 25 report, the World Bank estimated that the country’s economy will grow by only 1% through September 2022 due to the effects of the pandemic and the overthrow of the civilian government. Reportedly, the growth of the economy was “around 30 percent smaller than it might have been in the absence of COVID-19 and the February 2021 coup.”

It’s unclear whether introducing a digital currency — the report does not suggest any involvement with the Central Bank of Myanmar — would positively improve the economy or encourage residents to make purchases. The central bank has previously announced that anyone in Myanmar found to have traded digital assets could be imprisoned or fined, but this was before the military seized control.

“At this point, we are still learning about digital currencies and having discussions,” said Win Myint, director-general of the Central Bank of Myanmar’s currency-management department. “We need to consider both pros and cons.”

The country’s shadow government, led by the supporters of detained state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, announced in December that it would recognize Tether (USDT) as an official currency. The group continues to raise funds to topple the military government as reports of war crimes circulate.

Related: Tether lauds Myanmar shadow government for making USDT an official currency

If later issued by its central bank, Myanmar’s digital currency would be one of the few to roll out across the world. China is currently allowing foreign athletes visiting for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to send and receive its digital yuan. The Bahamas was the first nation to launch a central bank digital currency in October 2020.

US Navy to pilot blockchain-based project to improve medical supply lines

Consensus Networks uses the IoTeX blockchain to monitor the health of 700,000 U.S. Navy sailors and marines in real-time.

The United States military continues to explore blockchain technology to improve its processes. The U.S. Navy has signed a $1.5-million contract with Consensus Networks to develop a blockchain-enabled logistics system named HealthNet back in May. The project, built on Internet of Things-focused blockchain IoTeX, is halfway complete, counting the days for its pilot scheduled for early 2022.

According to the information shared with Cointelegraph, Consensus Networks aims to provide real-time monitoring and logistics for nearly 700,000 sailors and marines via the HealthNet platform. The developer picked the IoTex blockchain to meet the security and scalability requirements of the Navy.

Nathan Miller, CEO and founder of Consensus Networks, said that the project is 50% complete, and the U.S. Navy is pleased with the progress so far. He added that the Navy would “participate along with other partners who are interested in the blockchain-powered HealthNet.”

Pilot programs to improve the outdated and inefficient systems include medical logistics, the demand for pharmaceuticals, prediction of blood product demand, and supply of prostheses and medical equipment.

Miller predicted that the medical industry is poised to renew its systems with blockchain-based solutions, adding:

“It is hard to believe that today automobile manufacturers, such as Ford, have a better network for ensuring the health of their vehicles in the shop or on the road than the medical sector has to monitor and safeguard the health of people.”

HealthNet is not a Navy-exclusive project, Miller underscored. It would help medical operators utilize an integrated data environment and an interface to track medical suppliers from manufacturer to patient in order to reduce delivery time and waste.

Related: IoTeX ‘MachineFi’ rebrand backs 200%+ rally to a new all-time high

“For example, it will be great for elderly homes by helping them with better care without driving or being driven to a healthcare facility,” Miller explained. “The system will help track their health and predict their needs and get them sorted, so they do not have to visit clinics.”

The U.S. military has previously experimented with blockchain technology. The Air Force was one of the first branches to make a contract with a blockchain startup. The U.S. Navy then granted Simba Chain $10 million to develop a secure messaging platform. Simba has received another $1.5 million in 2021 to create a blockchain-based solution to enable demand sensing for critical military weaponry parts.

US defense contractor Simba Chain raises $25 million to boost NFT efforts

The $25 million funding round, led by Valley Capital Partners, will enable Simba Chain to dedicate resources to new trends in the blockchain space.

The United States-based blockchain startup Simba Chain, which provides technology for several U.S. defense organizations, raised fresh funds to scale the business and tap new opportunities like nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

The $25 million Series A funding round was led by Valley Capital Partners with the participation of Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Elevate Ventures and Stanford Law School Venture Fund, according to an official announcement.

Simba Chain will use the new funding to scale several departments within the company and to dedicate resources to emerging trends like NFTs. The company aims to be the tech provider for business enterprises, academic institutions and others who want to monetize digital and physical assets.

As a startup incubated at the University of Notre Dame, Simba Chain offers a cloud-based smart contract platform with enterprise-level security for organizations that want to deploy blockchain technology.

The company says that its technology is currently used by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines as well as Boeing. Simba has grown its revenue by 360% over the last 18 months and surpassed 6,000 users.

“Users across multiple spectrums have embraced and validated the SIMBA Chain model, which simplifies the development of smart contracts,” said Simba Chain CEO and co-founder Joel Neidig. “The market has also responded positively to our support of multiple blockchains, including Ethereum, Avalanche, RSK, Stellar, and many others, making SIMBA Chain-based applications simple, highly portable and sustainable.”

Related: US Air Force prioritizes blockchain security with new Constellation Network contract

Simba Chain first drew attention when the startup was picked by the U.S. Air Force in 2019 to provide a blockchain-based supply chain. Six months later, a California-based research group of the U.S. Navy paid Simba Chain $9.5 million to develop a secure messaging platform on the blockchain for the Department of Defense (DoD).

The company scored another contract from the U.S. DoD, this time to develop a proof-of-concept for a blockchain-based data management system. Last year, Simba Chain won the Advanced Manufacturing Olympics, organized by the DoD, with its use of blockchain to provide a secure network for a virtual wargame.

Earlier this year, Simba Chain received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Navy Research to revamp the supply chain of the United States military with a blockchain-based solution to enable demand sensing for critical military weaponry parts.