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  • News - 23 January 2019, 8:47 am

    Entrepreneur John McAfee used news of unknown charges against him to reiterate his belief in cryptocurrency taking tax power away from governments. United States entrepreneur and serial cryptocurrency advocate John McAfee has fled the country to conduct his 2020 presidential campaign, he said in a video statement Jan. 22.  McAfee claims he has been indicted by U.S. tax authorities and plans to run his campaign from a boat in international waters.The controversial crypto community figure, who plans to run for president of the U.S. next year, said he had learned that a grand jury had been convened against him by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).While he said he did not know the exact nature of the allegations against him, McAfee added he had not paid taxes for the past eight years.“I’ve made no secret of it; I’ve not filed returns,” he said in the first of several video blogs uploaded to Twitter on Tuesday, adding:“The IRS has convened a grand jury in the state of Tennessee to charge myself, my wife […] and four of my campaign workers with unspecified IRS crimes of a felonious nature.”McAfee was speaking from a boat in an unknown location, reportedly in international waters, from where he said he would conduct the presidential campaign through the use of proxies on U.S. territory.The tech mogul has made a name for himself as an outspoken advocate of cryptocurrency in recent years. Perhaps most infamously, he publicly wagered “I will eat my d**k on national television” if the price of Bitcoin (BTC) did not hit $1 million by 2020.That particular bet has extended beyond social media, with even a dedicated tracking website appearing to keep audiences aware of how likely it is McAfee would need to follow through on his word.Other activities have been less successful. Last year, McAfee endorsed reportedly “unhackable” Bitcoin wallet Bitfi, similarly betting the online community no one could compromise it.When someone evidently did, a social media battle ensued before Bitfi ultimately withdrew its security claims.Read More

  • News - 23 January 2019, 1:00 am

    A Singapore-based firm with a controlling stake in major crypto exchange Bithumb could reportedly take the exchange public in the U.S. via a so-called reverse merger. Singapore-based holding firm Blockchain Exchange Alliance, which has a controlling stake in major crypto exchange Bithumb, is looking to list in the United States by acquiring a publicly traded company in the country, CNBC reports on Jan. 22.According to CNBC, a publicly-traded holding company called Blockchain Industries announced that it had a binding letter of intent with Blockchain Exchange Alliance. Acquiring a publicly-traded company, or a so-called reverse merger, can be a faster way to take a company public than a traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO).Should the reverse merger prove successful, this would reportedly be the first instance of a cryptocurrency exchange going public.An unnamed source told CNBC that Blockchain Exchange Alliance had considered filing for a public offering in Singapore, but did not want to wait up to two years to complete an IPO. The sources added that the combined company will eventually “up-list” from over-the-counter (OTC) markets to the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.Mike Novogratz, an ex-hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group and well-known crypto bull, also used a reverse merger to list his crypto investment bank on the Canadian stock market in 2018.Novogratz bought a crypto start-up called Coin Capital, then merged through a reverse takeover with Canadian shell company Bradmer Pharmaceuticals. The company was subsequently renamed and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange as Galaxy Digital Holdings.Bithumb was recently the target of some controversy when it denied allegations that it faked trade volume. Cryptocurrency exchange ratings and analytics service CER has accused Bithumb of faking up to 94 percent of its trade volume since the late summer of 2018.In response to the accusations, Bithumb reportedly said, “Bithumb is doing nothing to inflate trade volume. Bithumb is not selling mining-based coin. Bithumb is trying to get more customers by providing various promotions just like any other company in the world as a normal business.”Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 11:49 pm

    Hong Kong-based computer hardware manufacturer Sapphire is releasing a GPU for mining a newly-released privacy-oriented coin. Hong Kong-based computer hardware manufacturer Sapphire has announced a new graphics card for mining the recently-launched GRIN Coin, according to an official press release published on Jan. 22.The SAPPHIRE RX 570 16GB HDMI Blockchain Graphics Card is one of the first of a “new family” that will support mining of the new GRIN Coin.GRIN, which was released earlier this month, is a privacy-oriented token that is touted as a fully decentralized and democratized digital asset. The token is based on mimblewimble technology, which in theory grants users in the network with solid anonymity, by encrypting the value of a transaction using “blinding factors.”The new graphics processing unit (GPU) from Sapphire will purportedly be able to solve the Cuckoo Cycle algorithm which forms the basis of Grin’s proof-of-work (PoW). According to Sapphire, the RX 570 is “one of the few solutions that can efficiently mine Cuckatoo 31+, as a result there will be fewer users on the network leading to higher rewards for early miners.”Sapphire’s Global Vice-President of Marketing Adrian Thompson said, “Future products will include new 16GB Graphics additions’ to SAPPHIRE’s line of INCA and MGI Series of dedicated blockchain systems.”According to the press release, the GPU is not currently available for sale, but will eventually be released on the company’s website.Earlier this week, research published by the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) stated that Bitcoin’s (BTC) problems are only solvable by departing from a PoW system. According to the BIS when Bitcoin’s block rewards fall to zero in the future — as only a limited number of new bitcoins will be created — only transaction fees can sustain mining expenses.BIS’s argument implies that the Bitcoin network would become so slow that it would be unusable. The report states:“Simple calculations suggest that once block rewards are zero, it could take months before a Bitcoin payment is final, unless new technologies are deployed to speed up payment finality.”Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 10:12 pm

    A research institute established by the Indian central bank has issued a roadmap on blockchain adoption. India’s Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) has published a blueprint on blockchain implementation in the banking sector, Indian daily newspaper the Financial Express reported on Tuesday, Jan. 22.  IDRBT was established by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 1996 in order to conduct research and experiments in the banking sector. The organization is reportedly working with the Indian government, banks and industry players to build an interoperable blockchain platform.Since there is no relevant regulation for the blockchain sphere in India, the blueprint purportedly presents a roadmap on the technology’s adoption in several areas and offers to establish protocols that would allow financial institutions to interact via decentralized platforms.Former RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi  said that the banking and financial sector is vulnerable to more cybersecurity risks due to the “increased use of rapidly evolving, sophisticated, and complex technologies… increased use of mobile technologies by customers, including the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the heightened cross-border information security threats.”Per the Business Standard, the road map also describes a built-in mechanism for regulatory supervision of the blockchain ecosystem. According to IRDBT, this will contribute to mass adoption of the technology.The Indian government has demonstrated a mixed and sometimes hostile approach to crypto-related technologies in 2018. While RBI formally stopped all banks from dealing with cryptocurrencies in April and a government panel reportedly considered a complete ban, the RBI considered plans to launch a rupee-pegged digital currency.In January the RBI reportedly gave up its crypto-rupee plans, as the result of study on stablecoins conducted by an interdepartmental group proved unsatisfactory.Later that month, Indian police in the state of Jammu and Kashmir issued a warning on the possible risks related to investing in cryptocurrencies, reminding the public that they are not regulated by the government. Additionally, Indian Digibank allegedly closed several accounts involved with crypto activity, while Kotak Mahindra Bank, India’s second largest private sector bank by market cap, reportedly imposed crypto restrictions.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 22 January 2019, 10:05 pm

    This is the fifth instalment of reporter Colin Harper's "Living on Bitcoin" experience in San Francisco. Find out what happened to him earlier on Day 1 , on Day 2 , on Day 3 , onDay 4 and on Day 5.On day six I woke with a renewed sense of energy. My last two days in San Francisco were booked up with plenty to do, and yesterday’s purchase had reinvigorated the experiment’s sense of purpose.That morning I wrote, paid Kashmir back for the breakfast (she got into her Coinbase account) and set out for two days of Bay Area shenanigans that would include meeting a local crypto artist, getting tipsy with bitcoin and sleeping (and sailing) in the East Bay on a boat that threatened to capsize.Around 1:00 p.m. I caught an Uber into the Financial District to meet up with Dustin, a multi-talented developer who had responded to a Reddit thread I made leading up to my week here. He invited me sailing, but the weather was sketchy — it had been raining for the better part of my time in San Francisco and there were winds and storms in the forecast — so we decided to meet at Digital Garage, a coworking space on Market Street that accommodates many cryptocurrency projects.I was loitering in the lobby when he passed me, and we registered who the other was immediately. Big, tall, bearded with long, blonde hair, a tremendous smile and goofy disposition, he crossed from the other end of the lobby to greet me.He’s got the hair, the beard, the “No worries, dude” vibe. We’re going to get along great.We did.As we entered the working space, I was pleased to see a cryptograffiti original on prominent display, which added an air of authenticity to both his presence in the space and to the San Francisco crypto community for supporting a local, industry-specific artist.Posting up at a table in the working space, we hit it off and began jumping from one crypto topic to the next. Turns out, he’s a lone-wolf dev who’s building a hardware wallet with bluetooth-enabled mobile controls — not unlike Ledger’s own Nano X, I suggested. He hadn’t heard of it before.“Well, they might have the bluetooth, but I doubt it’s trustless and multi-sig,” he tells me, going on to say that he knows of no other trustless hardware wallet. Interest piqued, I surveyed his app and the hardware wallet prototype, which he’s also building himself.“You’re just a one-man band, aren’t ya?” I remarked, impressed, after learning that he was building everything himself.He’s a bit of a crypto OG, it seems. He’s been in the space since 2011 and hangs around the Bitcoin Core internet relay chat (IRC), where he says he’s been humbled on a few occasions. I asked for his veteran perspective to help explain why I couldn’t find any more stores in the area that accept bitcoin. He suggests that it’s intertwined in the same trend that has made Silicon Valley so banal…Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 22 January 2019, 9:57 pm

    Several of South Korea’s top crypto exchanges have found themselves in hot water, with executives at a couple of exchanges facing criminal charges and jail time.According to a news report on the Korean website Blockinpress, the CEO of Komid, a Korean crypto exchange, has received a three-year prison sentence for committing fraud against investors by artificially inflating the exchange’s actual trading volume. Another company executive also received a sentence of two years for his role in these crimes.The report claims that Komid fabricated over 5 million accounts to falsify trade orders and drum up fake volume. The scam allowed the executives to net roughly $44M (50 billion won) in fees from trades that were executed against the fake orders. This figure doesn’t take into account the business the exchange might have generated from extra, legitimate customers they might have attracted by posting these fraudulent figures.The judge stated that CEO Hyunsuk Choi “has repeatedly committed fraud for many unspecified number of victims for a long period of time,” and expressed concern about possible ramifications on public confidence in the industry.Komid is not the only Korean company to have been involved in scandal recently, as UPbit also saw its executives arrested on similar charges of artificial inflation.As reported in the Korea Times, these arrests involved not only the direct operators of the exchange itself, but also its parent company, Dunamu.According to the Korea Times, “two top-level officers and one employee of UPbit, including Dunamu’s board director chairman surnamed Song” were indicted on these charges, as these falsified exchange numbers allowed UPbit to rake in more than 120 billion won ($106.8 million).The prosecutors have evidently discovered two severe instances of this volume falsification, dating from October to December of 2017, and then again on December 18, 2018. Allegedly, the executives of UPbit used a bot program to falsify some 254 trillion won ($225 billion) worth of trades.Officials at UPbit, for their part, have completely denied these allegations. In their public statement, they claimed that they “have provided liquidity to [their] corporate account and have not benefited or traded in this process,” adding that during the period of October to December 2017, “the company provided liquidity to the company’s corporate account in order to stabilize the trading market at the beginning of the service opening.”The Korea Times indicated that none of the accused parties at UPbit has been taken into police custody yet.Prosecutors in South Korea are well-accustomed to dealing with all manner of scams and fraudulent activities in their nation’s crypto space. Not only is their closest neighbor, North Korea, a direct sponsor of some of the most ambitious crypto-hacking groups, but it has also been scant weeks since the last time a South Korean exchange made headlines for defrauding its millions of customers. This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 9:28 pm

    Haven Protocol community members have raised the alarm over the intermittent silences and lack of code transparency from a core developer of anonymity-oriented altcoin Haven. Following concerns that startup Haven Protocol was a “crypto exit scam,” an alleged member of its team reassured the community that the project was intact in a Twitter thread Jan. 21.Haven Protocol community members had raised the alarm over the intermittent silences and lack of code transparency from a core developer of anonymity-oriented altcoin Haven (XHV).According to one of the tweets in the thread from team member “Donjor” Jan. 21, the controversy was sparked by an intervention from a Haven marketing contributor in a thread on public chat channel Discord. The contributor, who goes by the moniker of “news.cutter” (@CutterNews on Twitter), posted his concerns to the channel Jan. 21, stating:“I’ll be honest here. Consider this project dead unless some devs take it over. @havendev is apparently the only person with access to the code repository [and] was asked weeks ago to open it up so other[s] could help out and review the code. Ever since then we haven’t heard from him. [H]e was [also] asked to make the dev fee transparent. Nothing […] on that topic either.”According to its whitepaper, Haven Protocol is a fork of privacy-oriented coin Monero (XMR), and aims to create an “ecosystem of multiple fully decentralized and private price-stable coins.” The project describes itself as a multi-currency “offshore” account and airms to achieve price stability without collateralizing the coins with assets or fiat currencies, but rather with an “algorithmic dual coin blockchain.”In response to news.cutter’s remarks on Discord, Donjor affirmed his own belief that @havendev — evidently Haven Protocol’s core developer — had indeed been resistant to opening up offshore code repositories and to making the governance fee transparent, characterizing his behavior as having “all around been quite awol.”Donjor went so far as to propose forking the repository and onboarding new talent to wrest control of the community’s project out of the hands of one apparently opaque and non-cooperative developer. “I’m not just going to let XHV die,” he added in the post.Both team members’ concerns prompted wider crypto industry figures, including crypto Twitter personality @WhalePanda, to call out what they perceived as a likely “exit scam.”In the ensuing hours, the project’s core dev eventually stepped forward to address concerns, claiming he had handed over running Haven’s Discord and social network presence to news.cutter and donjor “4-6 months ago.” The lead dev posted that:”Haven development has been ongoing […] in light of the insane amount of FUD and although I want to keep the offshore code under wraps I will prepare and hand it all to the team so that they can hire new devs to work on it. I will continue to help the team wherever I can.”With a market capitalization of $2.7 million, XHV has seen 14 percent growth on the day to trade at ~$0.39 to press time.Stablecoins — which are most frequently nominally collateralized 1:1 with…Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 9:09 pm

    A recent poll of institutional investors by the Global Blockchain Business Council shows that senior executives are largely unfamiliar with blockchain technology. In a survey of institutional investors by the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), 63 percent of respondents believe that senior business executives have a poor understanding of blockchain technology. Cointelegraph acquired a copy of the study on Jan. 22.In December and January the market research company PollRight interviewed 71 institutional investors, including private equity, hedge funds and pension funds on behalf of GBBC — a trading association for the blockchain ecosystem.While most respondents believe that senior business executives do not understand blockchain, 30 percent consider their knowledge of the emerging technology as “average.” The remaining 7 percent described senior executive understanding of blockchain as “good.”Moreover, 76 percent of respondents claimed they do not feel that senior business executives at large firms are committed to blockchain, but expect global expenditures on blockchain technology to increase by 108 percent in 2019.33 percent of respondents believe that in two years, the application of blockchain in financial services and banking will dramatically increase. The participants of the survey also named digital identity and healthcare as fields which will be significantly impacted by blockchain technology.As Cointelegraph previously reported, some high-profile crypto bulls expect institutional demand for cryptocurrencies to drive the industry forward in 2019. In October Mike Novogratz, an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that institutional demand will bring Bitcoin (BTC) to new highs in Q1 or Q2 2019.However, last month Bloomberg reported that major Wall Street institutions were delaying plans to enter the crypto space, as the values of major cryptocurrencies continue to fall into the new year. Insiders told Bloomberg that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup gave up their crypto plans until a time when demand is higher.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 7:38 pm

    The technology solutions provider for the London Stock Exchange Group has announced that its matching engine will be used to power a new Hong Kong crypto exchange. LSEG Technology, the technology solutions provider for the London Stock Exchange Group, has announced that its matching engine will be used to power a new Hong Kong-based digital assets exchange. The news was announced in an LSEG Technology press release Jan. 22.The forthcoming digital assets exchange — dubbed AAX — comes from blockchain and crypto-focused fintech firm ATOM Group. The platform will reportedly become the first digital assets exchange to use LSEG Technology’s so-dubbed “Millennium Exchange,” which is a low latency and scalable matching engine already reportedly in use at traditional exchanges such as LSE, Borsa Italiana, the Oslo Stock Exchange, and others.AAX — which is slated for launch in the first quarter of this year — will reportedly use the LSEG matching engine to form the basis of its core trading platform. Speaking of the deal, ATOM Group CEO Peter Lin said the technology would help deliver “greater levels of fairness, transparency, and performance” for crypto traders.The licensing deal between a stalwart mainstream market solutions provider and an emergent disruptive platform apparently aims to mitigate concerns over security, market manipulation, and high-volume performance in the crypto industry.In the Hong Kong context, there have been recent indications from the local securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), that a legal framework to regulate crypto exchanges is under consideration, with the SFC chairman stating last October:“We need to see if and how these [digital assets trading] platforms can be regulated to a standard that is comparable to that of a licensed trading venue, while at the same time ensuring investors[‘] interest[s] are being protected.”In November, the SFC released details of its evolving proposed conduct regulation for crypto exchanges, alongside guidelines for funds dealing with cryptocurrency. As Hong Kong’s formal crypto regulatory environment continues to take shape, some local lawyers have warned that new regulations may prove cumbersome or even harmful for new entrants to the crypto industry.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 6:58 pm

    JP Morgan-backed digital services firm Smartrac has partnered with a blockchain startup run by a former Deloitte exec. JP Morgan-backed digital services firm Smartrac has partnered with SUKU Ecosystem, a blockchain startup owned by former Deloitte exec Eric Piscini, according to a tweet on Tuesday, Jan. 22.SUKU, which is parented by another Piscini-owned blockchain firm Citizen Reserve, will provide its platform to integrate with Smartrac’s supply chain. Smartrac is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) inlay manufacturer. Based on the public Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, Citizens Reserve’s platform is operating its own cryptocurrency, ZERV, which was developed on an ERC20 token.Piscini, CEO at both SUKU and Citizen, said that the new partnership aims to resolve major problems related to supply chain digitization. Per Piscini the new blockchain integration will improve tracking, security, and transparency across the supply chain. Dinesh Dhamija, CTO of Citizens Reserve, said:“The combination of Smartrac’s digital enablement capabilities along with Citizen’s Reserves’ SUKU platform will provide a unique identity for each physical product with a transparent and accessible supply chain solution.”Netherlands-based Smartrac specializes in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and is reportedly the world’s largest supplier of electronic passports inlays. In July 2018, global e-commerce giant Alibaba Group acquired shares in Smartrac, while JP Morgan reportedly remained the largest shareholder.Deloitte, a Big Four audit and consulting firm, recently included blockchain technology in its Tech Trends 2019 report, stressing its disruptive nature and outlining blockchain as “the unsung hero of our digital future.”Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 5:40 pm

    Bakkt, the cryptocurrency platform owned by the Intercontinental Exchange, announced that they are hiring. Bakkt, the cryptocurrency platform created by the operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), announced that they are hiring for a number of high-up positions in a tweet Jan. 22.The Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) much-awaited crypto platform published a list of eight evidently new vacancies at the company, all of which are based in Atlanta and New York City. Some of the positions also have Hong Kong, Tokyo, San Francisco, London, Tel Aviv and Singapore listed as available locations.The page specifies that the company is mostly trying to hire a number of developers, mostly at director and senior levels.In particular, Bakkt is looking to hire a director of blockchain engineering, a blockchain developer, a director of security engineering, a senior full stack engineer, a mobile developer and a software development engineer in test. Also, the company is looking for a director of finance and at least one institutional sales member.As Cointelegraph reported on the last day of December 2018, the ICE announced that it “expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019 for the trading, clearing and warehousing” of its Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contracts.On the same day, news broke that the platform had completed its first funding round, raising $182.5 million from 12 partners and investors.In November, ex-Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto investment firm Galaxy Digital, Mike Novogratz, cited Bakkt’s pending launch as a possible catalyst for the crypto market’s next major price action.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 5:28 pm

    QtumX protocol can reportedly handle more than 10,000 transaction per second. What about others? Open-source project Qtum representatives claim that their enterprise blockchain dubbed ‘QtumX’ can accommodate “more than 10,000” transactions per second (TPS), according to a press release recently shared with Cointelegraph.With yet another player being added to the scalability race, it makes sense to look back and see how the main blockchains and cryptocurrencies stand in regard to TPS — and whether their numbers are actually authentic.Transaction speed: How important is it?Scalability is one of cryptocurrencies’ main issues, especially when it comes to the older coins. In fact, one of the first public comments on Bitcoin’s (BTC) white paper opened with the following line: “We very, very much need such a system, but the way I understand your proposal, it does not seem to scale to the required size.”Ten years on, the problem still persists — the original blockchain can reportedly process only around seven TPS, which eventually led to dire consequences. At the end of 2017, Bitcoin users had to pay around $28 in fees so their transactions wouldn’t take days to complete. Those problems resulted in a hard fork and a new Bitcoin-based currency, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which moved on to increase the maximum block size up to eight megabytes from just one.Many other, newer cryptocurrencies have since attempted to create their own blockchains, which are allegedly faster and cheaper. Their primary goal was often to beat the ultimate crypto nemesis, the centralized global payment system Visa, which can process 24,000 TPS, according to the IBM study conducted back in 2010. Many blockchains have since surpassed that point during their scalability race, but only on paper.It is important to recognize that while TPS, confirmation time and scalability in general might be important for the long-awaited mass adoption to come, they are not the only criteria. Many cryptocurrencies claim to have high TPS performance these days, but the transaction speed is often dependable and is generally hard to measure — especially with real-time traffic instead of test networks, with their ideal conditions in terms of latency. As a result, many of the claimed TPS are different from their actual value.Besides, even with a high TPS, the demand might not be there. This has been clearly visualized on the Txstreet website, where every transaction is pictured as a person, and they fill up buses that represent the block space of BTC and BCH. BCH has more buses — as its block size is bigger — but few passengers to fill them. On contrary, while there are just two buses for BTC, they fill quickly, and a lot of people are left crowded on the pavement, waiting to hop on the next block. Even the above mentioned Visa, which has the capacity to run at 24,000 TPS, reportedly does only 2,000 TPS on average, and up to 4,000 during peak hours — in other words, it doesn’t need more at this point.QtumClaimed TPS capacity: 10,000Qtum developers recently ran the…Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 5:10 pm

    The South African Reserve Bank’s latest cryptocurrency report has led to a positive outlook for the sector in the country. A working group of South African financial regulatory organizations has released a consultation paper focused on cryptocurrencies, calling for public input to develop a cryptocurrency regulation policy for the country.This latest consultation paper is the most in-depth review of cryptocurrencies from South African financial institutions since an initial public statement on what it calls crypto assets was issued by South African authorities back in 2014.The group that was responsible for putting together this consultation paper is comprised of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), the National Treasury (NT), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).As Cointelegraph previously reported, South Africa has taken a conservatively optimistic approach toward cryptocurrencies. The sector has been relatively unregulated, allowing blockchain-based businesses like cryptocurrency exchanges to operate, but SARS imposed taxes on crypto gains and investors were cautioned about the associated risks of investments made.Over the next few years, the cryptocurrency industry grew exponentially, and the surge of interest led to the establishment of an Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG), which began developing a review for regulators and policymakers focused on fintech, taking into account the implications for the financial sector and economy of South Africa.The IFWG has described its approach to fintech as balanced, weighing up the benefits and risks of the sector.At the beginning of 2018, the IFWG began its review and the release of the consultancy paper is the culmination of a year’s work. Reviewing the current state of cryptocurrency-focused activities, two specific use cases have been analysed by the IFWG. This includes the buying and selling of crypto assets, and transactions made with crypto assets.Breaking it downThe consultation paper provides a complete breakdown of the perceived risks and benefits of crypto-related activities and goes on to present recommendations for policies toward crypto assets from a South African perspective.Most importantly, the IFWG has called upon the South African public to give feedback on the paper and engage on the way forward, while making it clear that there was no intent to ban the use of cryptocurrency in the country.RisksThe paper analyses the perceived risks that cryptocurrencies could have on the South African economy. Firstly, it is noted that the rise of cryptocurrencies could pose a threat to the central bank’s exclusive right to issue and control monetary supply in the country. Should the popularity of cryptocurrencies increase, this could then cause a decrease in the demand for fiat currency in South Africa.Secondly, the paper recognizes the potential risks posed to financial stability, should the market capitalization grow to over $1 trillion. This figure is said to be psychological barrier that would lead to regulatory scrutiny by financial institutions and lawmakers around the world.Thirdly, the paper suggests cryptocurrencies could pose a threat to the national payment system. Should cryptocurrencies gain massive adoption, there is fear that they will compete with the national…Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 5:04 pm

    High-volume Coinbase Pro and Prime users in Europe and Asia can fund their accounts via international SWIFT wire transfer, the exchange reports. High-volume Coinbase Pro and Prime users in Europe and Asia can now fund their accounts via international SWIFT wire transfer from non-United States bank accounts, a post on the official Coinbase blog announces Jan. 22.The post also notes that “select Coinbase Prime customers globally will also have access to our US and European over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks and Coinbase Custody.” Coinbase Custody — which focuses on serving  institutional customers and storing large amounts of cryptocurrencies — recently obtained approval to operate in the state of New York, after launching in July.According to the announcement, the OTC trading desk — which Coinbase launched in November — lets customers “execute large volume trades with minimal price slippage.”Institutional investors have increasingly been the target of cryptocurrency-related products entering the market this past year. In November, an Israeli company launched what was reportedly the country’s first dedicated crypto investment firm for institutional investors.Earlier this month, crypto exchange Seed CX — a Chicago-based licensed platform targeting institutional clients — launched a digital asset wallet solution with on-chain settlement.Today, news broke that top 5 cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has plans to launch its own stablecoin this year as part of its 2019 road map.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 4:25 pm

    ING bank has signed a five-year deal to have unlimited licences for R3’s commercial blockchain platform, Corda Enterprise. Dutch international bank ING has signed a deal with enterprise blockchain consortium R3 for access to R3’s commercial blockchain platform, according to a press release published Jan. 22.As a part of the five-year agreement, ING Bank is set to acquire an unlimited number of licenses for R3’s Corda Enterprise platform. The banking giant plants to implement Corda’s decentralized applications (CorDapps) across its global business infrastructure.Based on the R3’s commercial platform, CorDapps provide a number of financial services applicable in banking activity, including trade finance, identity, insurance and capital markets.In turn, by applying R3’s CorDapps, ING will purportedly contribute to the wider adoption of the consortium’s Corda Enterprise platform.R3’s CEO David E. Rutter noted that ING bank has been an active adopter of blockchain tech and a long-time partner for the firm, referring to the bank’s participation in the first live trade of the Corda-powered Voltron trade project in November 2018. Rutter also mentioned that ING had jointly completed the first live transaction in securities on R3’s Corda in March 2018.Last week, R3 announced the launch of its Corda Network that is set to be managed and monitored by a recently founded non-profit organization called Corda Network Foundation. The network will reportedly serve as a base layer for identity and consensus between participants, and enable transfers of data and digital assets to business networks, as well as between CorDapps.In late 2018, a group of multinational banks, including ING, completed a live commercial paper transaction based on R3’s Corda-powered tool, Euro Debt Solution.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 3:58 pm

    Analysts estimate that as much as ~$16 million worth of Ethereum and ERC20 tokens were stolen in the recent hack of New Zealand exchange Cryptopia. As much as $16 million worth of Ethereum (ETH) and ERC20 tokens were stolen in the recent hack of New Zealand exchange Cryptopia, according to an analysis from blockchain infrastructure firm Elementus, Jan. 20.Elementus’ findings and analysis were published under a week after Cryptopia first publicly announced its detection of the breach. As reported, the exchange had initially informed the public that the platform was undergoing unscheduled maintenance, before avowing that a hack incurring “significant”— but unspecified — losses had occurred.According to Elementus, data on the Ethereum public blockchain indicates that funds began to be siphoned from Cryptopia’s two core wallets — one holding ETH, the other tokens — on the morning of Jan. 13.That same afternoon, once both core wallets had been emptied, funds reportedly began to be transferred out of Cryptopia’s 76,000+ secondary wallets, a process that would continue until the early hours of Jan. 17. At the same time, Cryptopia had informed the public about the incident and alerted law enforcement by Jan. 15.Elementus indicates that just under $3.6 million in ETH was stolen, with ~$2.4 million in Dentacoin, and almost $2 million in Oyster Pearl, as well ~$3 million in unspecified other tokens.Value of crypto assets stolen from Cryptopia as of Jan. 19. Source: ElementusAccording to Elementus’ investigations, the hackers have thus far cashed out ~$880,000 of the stolen crypto via exchanges, which reportedly include major platforms such as Binance, Huobi and HitBTC. The remaining ~$15 million reportedly remains in two wallets identified as being under control of the perpetrators.Elementus deems the incident to be unusual in that it differs from two common profiles of exchange hacks: these being either the exploitation of vulnerabilities in a wallet’s smart contract code, or unauthorized access to private key credentials, which typically involves the breach of a single wallet.In Cryptopia’s case, the thieves’ gained access to as many as over 76,000 wallets, and moreover apparently displayed a lack of urgency in siphoning the funds over time. Elementus moreover suggests that Cryptopia’s inaction — for several days after the incident was detected — may imply the exchange had lost access to its own wallets.As previously reported, until now estimations of the lost funds ranged between $3-13 million. Up to 40 Cryptopia users are reported to have sought legal representation in the incident’s aftermath.On Jan. 17, Binance’s CEO reported that the exchange had frozen tokens sent to its wallet by the entity who allegedly hacked Cryptopia.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 1:27 pm

    A potential bespoke stablecoin launch would come as part of Huobi’s expansion plans for the year, presented at a members-only event in Singapore this week. Top 5 cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has plans to launch its own stablecoin this year as part of its 2019 road map, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 22.During a presentation in Singapore today, Huobi’s CFO said the company will also update its trading platform and continue its international expansion.“2018 brought us huge challenges but I’m personally optimistic about the crypto market. I do think we’ll see things get better this year,” CFO Chris Lee told the audience at the members-only event. Reportedly after his speech, Lee added:“This year will be huge for stablecoins and we will be a part of that. Likely Huobi Group will launch its own stablecoin in 2019 in the first half of the year.”Like many other major exchanges, Huobi has already adopted a hands-on approach to stablecoins, which are cryptocurrency tokens pegged to a stable value either by an underlying fiat currency, or algorithmically.In October alone, the platform revealed support for four USD-backed stablecoin assets, plus launched its own “stablecoin solution” that aggregates all four.Despite reports of staff layoffs at the start of December meanwhile, Huobi says it will continue pushing into new markets, such as the newly reopened Huobi Japan platform.Huobi Global is currently ranked the fifth largest cryptocurrency exchange by adjusted daily trade volumes, according to CoinMarketCap.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 1:07 pm

    Most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are seeing slight to moderate losses, with Bitcoin hovering over $3,570. Tuesday, Jan. 22 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are seeing slight to moderate losses on the day to press time. Bitcoin’s (BTC) price is still hovering over $3,550, according to Coin360 data.Market visualization from Coin360At press time, Bitcoin is down just a fraction of a percent on the day, trading at around $3,580. Looking at its weekly chart, the current price is about $100 lower than $3,682, the price at which Bitcoin started the week.Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCapRipple (XRP) is down just over 1 percent on the day, trading at around $0.317 at press time. On the weekly chart, the current price is lower than $0.331, the price at which XRP started the week — and down from $0.333, the midweek high reported on Jan. 19.Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCapSecond largest altcoin Ethereum (ETH) has seen its value decrease by about half a percent over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading at $117, having started the day around the same price. The coin dropped sharply today a few hours before press time to as low as $114.On the weekly chart, Ethereum’s current value is about 8.5 percent lower than $128, the price at which the coin started the week.Ethereum 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCapAmong the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the coin experiencing the most notable price action is Tron (TRX), which is up close to 3 percent on the day.The combined market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies — currently equivalent to about $119.5 billion — is lower than $122.8 billion, the value it reported one week ago. Total market cap also saw a sharp decline downwards today, dipping to $117 billion, before regaining value in the hours to press time.Total crypto market cap 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCapAs Cointelegraph recently reported, according to research published by by the Bank for International Settlement, Bitcoin’s problems are only solvable by departing from a proof-of-work system.Also, recently news broke that Huw van Steenis, senior adviser to the Bank of England’s governor, told reporters in Davos, Switzerland that cryptocurrencies fail fundamental tests of financial services.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 12:29 pm

    Suspect in Bitcoin miner heist Sindri Þór Stefánsson managed to flee to Sweden before authorities arrested him in the Netherlands. An Icelandic man has received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence for stealing Bitcoin mining equipment, local English-language news outlet Iceland Monitor reported Jan. 17.Sindri Þór Stefánsson, who in April 2018 boarded a flight to Stockholm from Reykjavik reportedly with a stolen passport, was subsequently arrested in Amsterdam and returned home. Stefánsson claimed he legally fled custody to Sweden.In court, Stefánsson, along with six accomplices, received a lengthy jail term.The proceedings relate to thefts of Bitcoin mining equipment reportedly worth $2 million, and two other attempted heists that took place December 2017 and January 2018.The target was Nordic IT company Advania, to which all seven defendants will now pay compensation of 33 million Icelandic Krona (about $273,000).Stefánsson received the longest prison sentence of the group, which comes after he argued he was legally allowed to board the Sweden flight at the time he fled Sogni prison.After a custody warrant ran out, the judge had a 24-hour window to renew it, but in the interim Stefánsson said he was free to travel.“I was forced to sign a paper stating that I was free travel, but if I could, I would stay in a prison room until the extension of custody was approved,” he added in a statement that subsequently appeared in local news publication Fréttablaðið.Last September, industry insiders reported that Icelandic businesses planned to segue out of the Bitcoin mining industry into “pure blockchain businesses.”Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 12:12 pm

    Even for experienced crypto users, unexpected problems can arise that seem impossible to solve. Here, we look at the solutions you need to get things sorted. I sent a transaction with a tiny fee! What do I do?Relax. You have options.For fear of sounding like a broken record, you can wait. In some cases, you might get lucky and see your low-fee transaction go through when there is a lull in the network. Worse comes to worst, the transaction will be forgotten — meaning you can attempt it once again with a higher fee to ensure it doesn’t get stuck, as the funds will remain at the address where you tried to send it from in the first instance.Platforms such as Changelly are aiming to remedy this type of mistake by informing users if the crypto funds they are sending are too small to cover the transaction fees that will be incurred. The exchange tells users about the minimum amounts that can be sent, and this is factored into the transaction fees it charges. Along with this safeguard, the platform recommends double-checking for typos before completing a transaction — helping to prevent unpleasant scenarios that result in failed and non-refundable transactions.Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice. How can I recover my crypto if I end up in an orphaned block?Although valid and verified, orphan blocks are not accepted into a network after suffering a time lag — leaving them in isolation.Most common with Bitcoin, they are usually rejected when two miners have inadvertently produced a block near simultaneously. Only one block can win — and the victor is decided based on which block has a greater proof-of-work. In other scenarios, hackers can create orphan blocks when they attempt to reverse transactions.If you do find yourself in an orphaned block, the best thing to do is wait for your crypto to be recovered. Your transaction will go back into the queue, and the odds are that it will normally be included in a subsequent block. It’s a more frequent occurrence than you may think.What happens if I forget destination tags or memos?This will largely depend on the type of wallet you’re using, but some do accept transactions even though this data is absent.As a crash course, destination tags are used for transactions involving Ripple, while memos are a string of numbers and letters to ensure Stellar reaches the correct recipient.Using the wrong information — or forgetting it altogether — needn’t be catastrophic. Let’s return to those big exchanges to find some examples of how they deal with such situations. Binance can help as long as you’ve reached a specified level of verification and submit account details along with transaction IDs and the tags…Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 12:03 pm

    Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman says that cryptocurrency “deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy.” Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq Inc., says that cryptocurrency “deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy,” in a post on LinkedIn, published Jan. 20.Writing ahead of her appearance at the World Economic Forum at Davos this week — the opening day of which is today, Jan. 22 — Friedman stated that Nasdaq believes crypto will have a role in the future, characterizing “the invention itself [as] a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity.”Thus far, she argued, crypto has evolved through what she terms a “classic invention lifecycle” — from its early path forged by pioneers in cryptography and economics, to a period of hype, the proliferation of new market entrants, and now, most recently, “a dose of reality.” Crypto thus stands at a crossroads, she says, poised between one of two outcomes:“1) Either the innovation finds practical utility followed by years of steady and sustainable commercial progress and integration into the economic fabric (e.g., the Internet); or2) The invention fails to achieve broad adoption and its commercial applications as medium of exchange are limited (e.g., the Segway).”The CEO argued that for crypto to evolve into a practical, useable invention with stable value it requires “governance and regulatory clarity.” She also suggested that both of these are, at their core, “antithetical to the original intent [of] a decentralized, ungovernable global currency.”Remarking on the need for a transparent and fair crypto exchange market in particular, Friedman noted that Nasdaq has provided its in-house technology to help start-up exchanges forge best practices.As reported, Nasdaq has provided its SMARTS Market Surveillance Technology to major industry participants such as the Winklevoss twins’ Gemini exchange, which enables the platform to monitor suspicious trade behavior in a bid to prevent market manipulation.Earlier this month, DX Exchange, a platform that uses uses Nasdaq’s Financial Information Exchange (FIX), launched trading of cryptocurrencies and tokenized traditional stocks.In December, ErisX, an institutional marketplace for crypto spot and futures, raised $27.5 million from Nasdaq Ventures and Fidelity Investments.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 8:51 am

    Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten will control its crypto exchange and prepaid card service through a new setup called Rakuten Payment. Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten has announced a revision to its corporate restructure, setting up a new payments subsidiary that includes its cryptocurrency business, Cointelegraph Japan reported Jan. 21.Rakuten, known informally as ‘Japan’s Amazon,’ originally revealed in August last year it would seek to reorganize its various offshoots in order to improve accountability and decision-making processes.Now, the company says it will rebrand its loyalty subsidiary, Spotlight Inc., to a new entity, Rakuten Payment, which will also run its cryptocurrency exchange.Rakuten Payment, along with other details of the restructure, should go live by April 1, the company stated in an accompanying press release Jan. 18.Once launched, it will form an umbrella for two operations: cryptocurrency exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin, which Rakuten also acquired last August, and prepaid card service Rakuten Edy.Officials explained in the press release:“[W]e have been preparing the Group Reorganization through a company split, to clarify accountability, improve management efficiencies and optimize allocation of resources, and thereby further grow and expand the Rakuten Ecosystem and maximize corporate value.”Rakuten has been interested in the cryptosphere for several years, first opting to accept Bitcoin (BTC) on its platform in 2015.The hands-on approach to the industry mirrors that of other major Japanese internet entities such as SBI Group, which in addition to its own exchange also invests heavily in related startups.Read More

  • News - 22 January 2019, 1:07 am

    On-chain transactions of Ethereum hit an all-time high in December 2018, according to a report by crypto analytics firm Diar. The on-chain transaction value of Ethereum (ETH) hit an all time high in December 2018, crypto analytics firm Diar reports on Jan. 21.On-chain transaction levels of the third largest cryptocurrency reached 115 million in December 2018, an all-time high excluding the activity following a hard fork caused by the DAO hack in 2016. Dair stated, “In terms of transaction count on-chain the ‘super computer’ has found stability since October bobbing between 16–17 million monthly transactions.”On-Chain Ethereum transaction Volumes. Source: DiarConversely, the United States dollar value of the on-chain transactions is at a 22-month low. U.S. dollar value on-chain last year was $815 million, down from $1.1 billion in 2017. Diar further states:“A 97 percent drop in on chain transaction value from peak in January versus December 2018 was by and large the cause of an 80 percent drop in Ethereum’s price.”U.S. dollar value of on-chain transactions. Source: DiarDiar states that fees are unlikely to interfere with growth as Ethereum has some of the lowest fees for on-chain transactions.The Constantinople hard fork in the Ethereum Network was recently delayed after the discovery of a security vulnerability allowing a reentrancy attack.According to ChainSecurity, the smart contract audit firm that discovered the attack, the Constantinople upgrade introduces cheaper gas cost (transaction fees) for some operations on the Ethereum network.An unexpected side effect allegedly enables reentrancy attacks via the use of certain commands in ETH smart contracts. A reentrancy vulnerability allows potential attackers to steal crypto from a smart contract on the network by repeatedly requesting funds from it while feeding it false data about the malicious actor’s actual ETH balance.Following a fix by developers, Diar states that the Constantinople upgrade will decrease fees for certain types of transactions, which will allow for better storage use.Read More

  • News - 21 January 2019, 11:51 pm

    The port authority of one of Europe’s busiest ports has reportedly signed an agreement under which it will collaborate with IBM on a blockchain-based shipping platform. The Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA) has signed an agreement under which it will collaborate with IBM on its shipping platform Tradelens, Europa News reported on Jan. 21. Tradelens is a digital platform based on blockchain technology developed by both IBM and international shipping giant Maersk.Algeciras is one of the top 10 busiest ports in Europe, hosting over 70 million tons of cargo traffic annually. In 2017, the port had a container throughput of 4.3 million containers.According to an APBA note seen by Europa News, the platform will allow APBA to more securely and efficiently exchange information and documentation between partners within a supply chain. Per the note, the platform will generate value for shippers, freight forwarders, logistics operators and shipping companies.Europa Press states that by the end of 2018, the solution onboarded more than 100 organizations and 20 port operators. Tradelens has reportedly registered 230 million shipments and processed more than 20 million containers.Leading port operators have been increasingly implementing blockchain technology to streamline their operations. In October 2018, the  Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands partnered with major Dutch bank ABN AMRO and the IT subsidiary of Samsung to test blockchain for shipping.In June 2018, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports became the first entity in the country to deploy its own blockchain solution. The subsidiary, Maqta Gateway LLC, developed and launched Silsal — a blockchain-based technology that aims to improve efficiency in the shipping and logistics industry.The leading port operator in the United Kingdom, Associated British Ports, signed an agreement in September 2018 with digital logistics enabler Marine Transport International to develop blockchain for port logistics.Read More

  • News - 21 January 2019, 11:37 pm

    Statements from several industry insiders suggest that cryptocurrencies are undervalued, and a reversal should soon be on the cards. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.Marcus Hughes, the United Kingdom lead counsel for major United States crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase, expects huge developments for Bitcoin (BTC) in the next two years.Hughes is confident about the European Union coming up with a more defined regulatory framework for crypto in 2019. After the regulations are in place, Hughes anticipates large investment banks to finally enter the scene.U.K.-based investor and entrepreneur Alistair Milne is confident that Bitcoin will break out of its lifetime high and sustain above it. He has based his opinion on the anticipated increase of the level of adoption of the leading cryptocurrency. Milne is certain that Bitcoin will survive for another 100 years.Similar to how prices tend to overshoot to the upside during a bull market, they also usually overshoot to the downside. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, believes that a lot of development has taken place in the crypto space, implying that cryptocurrencies are currently undervalued.So should the traders start buying? Let’s find out.  BTC/USDBitcoin (BTC) has been trading below the moving averages since Jan. 10. Attempts by the bulls to push the price higher have been met with selling at the moving averages. This is a bearish sign.The cryptocurrency hasn’t been able to make a higher high and a higher low, a signal that we were watching out for. A set of higher highs and higher lows would indicate a probable change in trend.If the bears force the price below $3,236.09, it will be a new lower low that would confirm the continuation of the downtrend.The first sign of a probable change in trend will be when the BTC/USD pair breaks out of the downtrend line and sustains above it. The recovery will gain strength if the bulls scale above $4,255. Until then, every rise to the resistance levels will be sold into.We might suggest long positions closer to $3,236.09 if the price rebounds sharply from the support, because that would indicate a strong demand at lower levels. Another probable trade can be taken on a breakout above $4,255. Until then, we suggest traders remain in a wait and see mode.XRP/USDRipple (XRP) has been trading in a tight range since Jan. 11. This is unlikely to continue for long. We expect either a breakout or breakdown from this range within the next few days.The downtrending moving averages and the RSI in the negative area suggest that sellers are at an advantage. If the bears force a breakdown below the range, the XRP/USD pair can drop to $0.27795.On the other hand, if the bulls push the price above the moving averages and the downtrend line, the…Read More

  • News - 21 January 2019, 11:12 pm

    Digital securities platform Securitize has joined the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program, aiming to address debt issuance using blockchain technology. Compliance platform for digital securities Securitize has joined the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program, Forbes reports on Jan. 21.According to Forbes, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo said that the firm’s goal is to build a debt issuance platform using blockchain technology. Domingo said:“…we hope to modernize the $82 trillion dollar corporate debt market — which is currently riddled with inefficiencies and high fees — with blockchain technology.”The accelerator will purportedly last three months and will conclude with a presentation and demonstration of Securitize’s platform. The program includes a blockchain architecture workshop and consultations with IBM and external mentors. Domingo also stated that the firm plans to integrate Hyperledger in order to design products and issue debt on a blockchain.In November 2018, IBM and Columbia University announced two blockchain accelerator programs that aim to help startups in the crypto space. The programs form the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, a joint innovation center that was established by the tech giant and the ivy league school in the summer of 2018.Blockchain technology has been previously suggested as a means by which financial organizations could combat “bad debt.” In his 2016 book Blockchain Revolution, Alex Tapscott observed that loan fraud is one of the leading causes of “bad debt.”Tapscott suggested that in a future where all borrowers store their personal ID’s in a decentralized database, loan fraud will become a thing of past.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 21 January 2019, 10:39 pm

    This is the fifth instalment of reporter Colin Harper's "Living on Bitcoin" experience in San Francisco. Find out what happened to him earlier on Day 1 , on Day 2 , on Day 3 and on Day 4.I woke up in a millionaire’s bed today, something I never thought I’d say because I ain’t gonna make a million bucks, and I always doubted I could’ve finagled my way into the bed of someone who had.Jeremy’s room is your prototypical festival bro living space: Bob Marley poster in one corner, jam band festival posters for Camp Bisco and Gathering of the Vibes (among other music festivals) tacked above a 50-inch, Toshiba plasma screen, which was leaning against the wall and propped up on the box it came in. A tangled cluster of conference passes (many speaker or VIP) hung from a back wall above the felt loveseat.Below one of the room’s three windows, there’s a bookcase sectioned off into six cubbies, which include Hunter S. Thompson, Michael Lewis, Truman Capote, and some self-help and econ/business books. Almost poetically, a book called Ego is the Enemy appropriately placed in a cubbie diagonally opposite to the one housing Tucker Max’s Assholes Finish First.On the third floor, I made the coffee I bought at Whole Foods, warmed one of the croissants and did some work.Over Slack, my colleague Aaron van Wirdum suggested I try a map called Bitcoin Map on the Google Play store to see if it had any bitcoin-accepting places listed that I could be missing. I pulled it up, browsed some places I had previously tried but knew no longer did. Then, I glanced at Haight-Ashbury on the map one last time and noticed a smoke shop and one-time hookah lounge that accepted bitcoin.On the off chance, I called them up.“Do you guys still accept bitcoin?”“Yes, we do.”“Seriously?!”“Yes.”Exuberant, I let a triumphant expletive slip and thanked the woman, assuring her that I would be by later that day.It would be a smoke shop that becomes the first place where I can spend some bitcoin, I thought to myself.With that victory, my spirits were lifted and I began to make preparations for my day. Needing to get more credit for Uber, I tried out Gyft, a gift card purchasing platform that made Hill’s second run at this in 2014 so much easier. Vinny Lingham started it, and the platform accepts other forms of payment than just bitcoin.I couldn’t use it though. I tried to buy an Uber gift card, but my Samourai wallet wouldn’t accept the BitPay QR as valid (which, given Samourai’s general crypto maximalism, made sense and also seemed to sum up the difficulties of the experiment to that point). I opted for Bitrefill again.Then I started doing some research on Kraken and Coinbase’s locations in San Francisco. According to Google, they have the same office address, which I found odd.Putting the address into my Uber app, I decided to make my way to the heart of San Francisco’s Financial…Read More

  • News - 21 January 2019, 10:28 pm

    Senior adviser to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said that cryptocurrencies are slow, lack value and fail basic financial tests. Huw van Steenis, senior adviser to Bank of England’s (BOE) Governor Mark Carney, told Bloomberg in an interview Monday, Jan. 21, that cryptocurrencies fail fundamental financial tests.Van Steenis joined BOE in 2018, having previously worked at Schroders and Morgan Stanley. He is currently heading a review of the future of finance, according to Bloomberg. When asked about crypto’s potential to become a threat to economic stability, van Steenis said:“I’m not so worried about cryptocurrencies. They fail the basic tests of financial services. They’re not a great unit of exchange, they don’t hold value, and they’re slower.”Van Steenis noted that registering new entrants into the banking system, especially technology firms, is one of the major challenges for BOE.He also stressed that traditional banks are slow when it comes to adopting new technologies. “What I love when meeting with fintechs is their obsession with customers. The challenge is will they get customers before the traditional banks can innovate,” he concluded.In March, the Treasury of the United Kingdom launched the Cryptoassets Taskforce, which is comprised of the Financial Conduct Authority and BOE, in order to develop a relevant legal framework for cryptocurrencies.U.K. Finance Minister Philip Hammond said in a statement that the new crypto task force will work on creating industry standards for facilitating fintech and bank collaborations, as well as supporting innovation throughout the fintech industry.In October, the taskforce released a report that proposed to define crypto assets in three groups: exchange tokens, security tokens and utility tokens. It also noted the risks related to crypto, such as a lack of customer protection and the possibility of market manipulation.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 21 January 2019, 6:52 pm

    Whenever I claim that bitcoin is the only decentralized cryptocurrency, I get one of two arguments:My X coin is also decentralized.Bitcoin isn’t decentralized because of Core and/or miners.I’ll leave 1 and the first half of 2 for another day, but the “mining centralization” argument is what I want to tackle in this article.The questions I’ll be answering are:Is Bitcoin mining centralized?In what way do miners “control” Bitcoin?What are the risks of a 51% attack?Are the altcoiners right?DecentralizationDecentralization is a key property of Bitcoin. If you remove decentralization, it’s not an interesting project. There have been lots of centralized issuers of money — that’s what causes inflation and why your savings lose purchasing power daily. The response by altcoiners is to argue that decentralization is a spectrum or, barring that, that Bitcoin is centralized.First, decentralization is not a spectrum. It either has a single point of failure or it doesn’t. Centralized things are called centralized because there’s a single point at which everything can fail. You either have a centralized point of failure or you don’t. There’s no real in-between like altcoiners would have you believe. Altcoins all have one or more of these properties which create a single point of failure:A creator that’s still involved;A development team that forces upgrades on all the users (hard forks); orA foundation/organization which directs what the coin will do.Some have more than others (ETH has all three vs. XMR which has just the second); in that sense, you can say something has more single points of failure than others. Nevertheless, the fact is that if at least one single point of failure exists, the token is centralized. A government could very well control the coin with whatever regulations it wants through that single point of failure. They could, for example, arrest the creator, tax the dev team or nationalize the foundation or organization. The method by which an authority can take over doesn’t really matter here: The fact that it can is what is of concern. Centralized coins have the potential to be taken over relatively easily.The question here is whether bitcoin mining is a single point of failure. Could a government or other authority control Bitcoin through controlling a single entity in mining? Much has been speculated about this and that is the subject of this article. What would it actually take to “take over”?What Miners Can DoThe miners’ job is to secure the network. They do so by finding proof of work. Having 51% of the network hash power gives a single miner the ability to attack the network. That, however, is not the same as controlling the network. The attack is limited in nature and affects only the account holders attacked (say, an exchange). This is in contrast to forcing upgrades on the network, which can reset entire balances, inflate the currency or change all sorts of incentives. The latter is real control of the entire network, a real choke point, as the network rules are dictated by a single group.…Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 18 January 2019, 9:57 pm

    Blockchain startup OB1, the developers of decentralized shopping platform OpenBazaar, have announced Haven, a privacy-focused app for socializing with friends and making purchases with cryptocurrencies.The project was announced by Brian Hoffman, founder and CEO of OB1, at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami. The developers claim that Haven will “enable users to shop, chat, and send cryptocurrencies privately from their mobile device.”The ability to chat with friends and family on social networks has been tainted with data breaches and reports of the networks tracking user activity and selling collected data to third parties.According to a company announcement, Haven will have a little bit of everything. It will "combine a multiple-cryptocurrency wallet, a social network and a truly peer-to-peer marketplace" for an inclusive economy and global participation with a focus on privacy.Users can set up an e-commerce store using just their smartphones. They can also purchase items through the marketplace using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. To speed up the shopping process, Haven features a multi-wallet where you can keep, receive and send the four cryptocurrencies supported on the platform: bitcoin, bitcoin cash, zcoin and litecoin.Haven comes with a social feed, complete with features that allow users to share, like, comment and repost, prominent on the app.To ensure a secure shopping experience, Haven leverages the OpenBazaar software and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized and distributed file storage system.OpenBazaar is an open source project for building decentralized e-commerce stores that doesn't require go-betweens to function. Think of it as an eBay without fees.“We believe users should be in control of their own data and are inspired by how cryptocurrencies allow them to trade with one another around the world. Users can connect this way now without needing access to traditional payment processors or using giant e-commerce platforms that collect all their personal data,” Hoffman explained in the company announcement.“Haven is OB1’s most advanced project representing our mission to bring a convenient but private social marketplace experience to users.” This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 18 January 2019, 9:50 pm

    Binance’s cryptocurrency exchange platform has expanded into the European market with its entry into the Island of Jersey, a self-governing dependency of Great Britain. Binance Jersey will allow trading of popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) against the euro (EUR) and the British pound (GBP).The exchange will launch with four trading pairs, including BTC/GBP, ETH/GBP, BTC/EUR and ETH/EUR.In a statement, Wei Zhou, Binance’s chief financial officer, called the island “an undisputed pioneer in blockchain development leveraged by this strong framework and talent pool.”He added: “Binance Jersey hopes to increase Jersey’s competitive advantage in banking from other jurisdictions competing for cryptocurrency-related business as the island’s cryptocurrency regulation allows.”Binance and Digital Jersey first partnered in June 2018, with both companies signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) such that Binance could “develop a compliance base and cryptocurrency exchange in Jersey.” The partnership was also meant to help Binance develop a better understanding of the regulatory and economic environment of Jersey Island, particularly with compliance with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) laws.At the time, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao explained why they chose Jersey as their latest destination. “We have chosen Jersey to be the next big step in our global expansion strategy for its clear and pro-crypto investment and regulatory environment. With its local economy based on a major currency (GBP), and its proximity to the UK and Western Europe, we are confident the cooperation with Jersey will not only benefit the local economy, but also form a strong operational foundation for our expansion into the rest of Europe.”Jersey is not part of the EU; however, it maintains a special relationship with the EU through the U.K. It is only regarded as being a part of the European Union for trade in goods; otherwise the Island is not a part of the EU. (Its formal relationship is set out in Protocol 3 of the U.K.'s 1972 Accession Treaty.) The island has made its intention known to Great Britain that, post-Brexit, it intends to preserve its relationship with the European Union, as well as with the United Kingdom.Jersey could serve as a contingency plan post-Brexit for Binance, following in the footsteps of Coinbase, which opened a Dublin office last year. Binance officials were unavailable to elaborate on these potential plans.Registration on Binance Jersey started immediately, as Zhao noted in a tweet:“ is overwhelmed with registrations. There is a backlog of KYC verifications already. More resources are allocated to reduce it. In the mean time, we appreciate your understanding and patience. The registration prize is FIFO based, no worries. Just crazy!” This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 18 January 2019, 9:10 pm

    This is the fourth instalment of reporter Colin Harper's "Living on Bitcoin" experience in San Francisco. Find out what happened to him earlier on Day 1 , on Day 2 and on Day 3.I woke up in a state of amazement: In my three days of living on bitcoin, I had managed to survive on a handful of services and the generosity of friends.Hungry for any place that would let me spend it, I was more determined than ever to call up every single store in the Bay Area that might accept bitcoin. A few, like Bamboo Asia and Ramen Underground, were closed yesterday, so I still had a small, if shrinking, beacon of light at the end of a tunnel of rejection.Most places weren’t open yet, so I had a call with my editor, who was keen to hear about how it had been both too simple and hopelessly difficult.“Well hey, there’s the angle,” she suggested.It was an angle, but it was also a dead end of sorts. I needed to find someplace to finally spend my bitcoin to make my day-to-day purchases different for a change (though going shop-to-shop in unsuccessful attempts to spend it and acting like a hungry lunatic on Haight street could also be considered “something different”).A bit of work, a bit of coffee, a bit of social media trumpeting and it’s 11:00 a.m. Excited by the prospect of hopefully going out for lunch for once this week, I called up Bamboo Asia first.“Hello, is this Bamboo Asia?”“Yes it is,” a woman responded over the phone.“Do y’all still accept bitcoin?”“What?”“Do you still take bitcoin?”“Bit … coin?” she stuttered, a bit confused.“I take that as a no, then?”“No.”“Okay, thank you,” I hung up.Strike one.Next up: Ramen Underground:“Yes, hello, do you take bitcoin?”“Bit what?”“Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency.”“Oh. No.”Strike 2.Then, I dialed Numa, a sushi joint that had slipped through yesterday’s round of solicitations:“Do you accept bitcoin?”“Do we have corn?”Uh, no.“No, no, do you take bitcoin — as a method for payment?”“I’m sorry. I don’t know what that is,” she said hesitantly.“It’s internet money. It —”“Oh, no, no, no — no, not that, sorry.” She quickly cut me off.Strike 3.Well, in reality, there were many more strikes than that. I even called Siegel’s Clothing Superstore and Tuxedo, just for hell of it.Over the phone, the question like an incessant recording (at this point, everytime I ask, I close my eyes and squinch my face up in embarrassed anticipation for the answer).“I — I don’t think so, but let me check — can you hold on a minute?”“Absolutely,” I answer, excited at the prospect of potentially something to go on.“For the current sale, I’m sorry, no, they don’t accept bitcoin. No Apple Pay. Just Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and, of course, U.S. cash.”Yep, I expected as much.There was one last hope, but I was beginning to doubt that even Stookey’s, a bar I’d been told takes bitcoin by someone other than Google, would take it. If all else fails, maybe…Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 18 January 2019, 7:15 pm

    Patreon has been making the case for censorship-resistant money increasingly apparent.The platform allows members to contribute to artists or creators that they support. These contributions are made via standard payment methods like credit cards.Over the past few months, there has been an increase in public outcry over multiple separate instances where Patreon has removed creators from its platform. BitPatron, a Bitcoin-friendly version of the website, has recently come to the surface as a possible alternative.A Series of BansOne of the first well-known bans dates back to August 2018 when James Allsup, a far-right political commentator, was banned from the funding platform.In December, a wave of media attention ensued when another alt-right activist and spokesperson, Milo Yiannopoulos, was shut down almost 24 hours after he had set up an account to fund his “magnificent 2019 comeback tour.” Patreon’s reasoning for removing Yiannopoulos’s account was due to his past association with the Proud Boys, a violent, far-right political group (whose founders were kicked off of Facebook and Twitter recently as well).Only a day after Yiannopoulos’s ban, British YouTuber Sargon of Akkad had his account removed for violating Patreon’s hate speech guidelines by making racist and hateful remarks toward minority groups.Another notable example occurred when Patreon had to close an account against their will when Mastercard required them to remove the account of Robert Spencer, a political activist and author of several “counter-Jihad” books.In response to Spencer’s removal and other account bans, Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and David Rubin, creator and host of The Rubin Report, announced they were leaving Patreon because of the way that the platform has handled these situations.Bitcoin and BitPatronBitcoin is a censorship-resistant currency. One of its many valuable attributes is that nobody can tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their bitcoin. As long as someone is able to receive bitcoin (which, by design, is very easy to do), no transaction from anywhere can be stopped.BitPatron is a direct response to Patreon’s proclivity to censor content on the platform. It will offer a similar crowdfunding platform as its predecessor, but will allow users to support creators with bitcoin.By using Bitcoin and Lightning as payment methods, BitPatron expects to offer lower fees than its competitor. BitPatron’s payment processing system is built on top of BTCPayServer, an open-source payment processor for Bitcoin and Lightning. According to the website, there is no minimum pledge amount, compared to Patreon’s $1 minimum. Total fees for the platform are 4 percent, much lower than Patreon’s 10 percent.The platform’s co-founder believes that, more than just offering users a lower fee competitor to Patreon, BitPatron’s focus on bitcoin is about free speech.“Patreon publicly admitted that Mastercard required them to remove accounts. This is where Bitcoin and BitPatron come in. Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, free-speech money, and BitPatron is taking a leading role at building a Bitcoin-based, censorship-resistant platform that gives the power back to the community where it belongs,” Vin, co-founder of BitPatron, told Bitcoin Magazine.But BitPatron is still…Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 18 January 2019, 4:03 pm

    Huobi is back in Japan, this time as a fully regulated exchange under Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA).Following its merger with BitTrade, Huobi Japan Holding Ltd. is now among the first batch of 17 to receive registration under the FSA and is able to relaunch Huobi Japan.Leon Li, Huobi Group founder and CEO, called the launch an “important milestone” in a statement, adding that the Japanese market remains important to the group and that working with its “regulators is a longstanding priority for Huobi Group.”Japan's financial regulator had directed all cryptocurrency exchanges not registered as a licensed exchange with the agency to cease operations in 2017.Huobi had left at the time, hoping to merge with SBI Virtual Currency, but that deal fell through.Following Coincheck's hack in January 2018, the FSA had ramped up requirements for exchanges, with 160 applicants waiting in line for approval as of October 2018. Unable to get approval, Huobi acquired a majority stake in Japanese-licensed operator BitTrade, as it prepared to stage a comeback into the market.At the moment, Huobi Japan will offer trading of bitcoin, ripple, ether, bitcoin cash, litecoin and monacoin, traded against the Japanese Yen. The exchange is also offering zero-fee transactions during the launch period.Livio Weng, CEO of Huobi Global, told Bitcoin Magazine that Huobi Japan would draw on the expertise of the group to operate an exchange that offers better liquidity, with a strong focus on the safety and security of customer's funds.“In addition to now offering our users a fully regulated and compliant place to trade digital assets, Huobi Japan also brings with it Huobi Group’s half-decade of experience in cryptocurrency and blockchain.”Currently ranked as the sixth largest crypto exchange platform in the world, Huobi Group was founded in China back in 2013. The company maintained its headquarters in Singapore after the Chinese government initiated a crackdown on domestic cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017.Huobi also operates exchanges in Canada, UAE, Australia and Brazil. This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.Read More

  • Bitcoin Magazine - 17 January 2019, 11:02 pm

    Following last Friday’s drop, bitcoin has found itself coiled, once again, at the bottom of the range it established back in December. With the current market unable to close a new high, the market finds itself in a precarious position:Figure 1: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Range Support TestThe blue support level shown above illustrates the boundary of the multi-week range bitcoin has been bound by. At the time of this article, the market is testing the support level but has yet to close and continue below. We did see a temporary close below the support level, but there was a very short-lived rally on low volume shortly after popping the fresh low.Figure 2: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Secondary Support LevelJust below our immediate support level exists a secondary support level (shown in red) established by a market pivot a few weeks ago. It’s not entirely surprising that the drop inspired some eager bulls. It is still too early to tell, but the temporary support level doesn’t appear to be inspiring much demand. The price spread is low, the volume is low, and the rally was immediately stifled on modest volume. As mentioned in our previous analysis, this is kind of a no-man's-land due to the market indecision within this range.Figure 3: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Upper and Lower Bound of Current RangeThe figure above shows the overhanging resistance (shown in blue and red) that rejected the bullish attempts to break out. We can clearly see that the daily candles at the top of the range closed lower and lower, ultimately being rejected with high volume and high price spread.Similarly, the market has seen lower and lower closes at the bottom of the range with lower reactionary volume and tighter spread. This sort of market behavior is indicative of high supply presence combined with relatively weak and waning demand.Currently, we need to see if the market breaks and closes below the current low. If we manage to close below the current level, we can expect to see a test of the next support level in the low $3,000s. However, if we manage to exhaust the bears at this level, we can fully expect to see a test of the upper boundary of the range once again.We are firmly bound in this price range, and a breakout of the range in either direction will likely yield a strong continuation in the direction of the breakout. As always, we must wait to see where the daily candle closes, but for the time being, the current market seems to be leaning toward a test of the lower support.Summary:For the last week, bitcoin has been pretty tightly coiled in a relatively narrow range.We closed a lower low on the daily candles but have yet to break through support.The currently price level is bordering on the no-man’s-land of the no-trade zone inside the range. If we manage to close below the current support level, we can expect to see a test of the low $3,000s. If not, we can…Read More