Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency Exchange Bitex Launches in the UAE

Bitex has officially launched as the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) newest digital asset exchange. The Dubai-based trading platform will initially support bitcoin core, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin. Bitex also announced the launch of a cryptocurrency wallet that offers an additional cash deposit service, according to media reports.

Changes in Regulation Spur Development

Monark Modi, chief executive officer of Bitex UAE, said the exchange will provide multiple payment options including bank transfer and credit or debit cards. The cash deposit service allows users to schedule a cash pickup, with funds immediately deposited in their accounts and available for trading within 24 hours, he explained.

“Recent changes in UAE regulation have made today the perfect time to seize the opportunity to introduce a new, secure, professional trading platform,” Modi is quoted as saying by the Bahrain news portal Trade Arabia on Nov. 22. He said the UAE government has demonstrated progressive leadership with its Blockchain Strategy 2021, which has “laid the groundwork for digital assets becoming more accessible” in the Gulf state.

Modi stated:

"UAE residents have been calling out for more options to securely buy and sell digital currencies … while residents have been able to use international trading platforms for some time, having access to a local exchange is far more convenient. Trading via a UAE-based company allows customers to easily deposit local currency rather than first having to exchange it for a more widely-accepted currency."

 

Crypto and Blockchain Hotspot

In June, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, regulator of Abu Dhabi Global Market, released a framework for regulating crypto assets and their attendant activities. The framework addresses the potential risks associated with cryptocurrency transactions, including alleged financial crime, money laundering, consumer protection and technology governance. The guidelines have been viewed as testament to the UAE’s progressive attitude towards blockchain and virtual currency use and adoption.

According to Trade Arabia, Bitex UAE has said it uses a multi-signature HD wallet to store cryptocurrency. A three-key system increases security, the company claimed, requiring two of the three keys in order to access funds. “The first key is securely stored by Bitex UAE, the second is stored with Bitex UAE’s wallet partner and the third is a recovery key,” it said separately on its Linkedin page. The UAE is developing into a hotspot for blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption. Its Blockchain Strategy “aims to position Dubai as a leader in this global technology.” The country has also announced plans to operate its own cryptocurrency by the year 2020.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

BTC-e Successor Wex Loses .nz Domain

Wex, the digital asset trading platform that inherited the now-defunct BTC-e exchange, has lost its wex.nz domain. According to New Zealand’s Domain Name Commission (DNC), the internet address was registered with fake contact details. Wex users have complained that they are unable to withdraw their funds from the platform.  

Domain Registry Takes Down Wex Sites

Other than wex.nz, the DNC has suspended a number of domain names — wexbet.nz, wexcash.nz, wexcoin.nz, wxcash.nz and wxcoin.nz — that lead to the same cryptocurrency website. The suspensions came after the regulator conducted inquiries into the accuracy of the registration details that were provided for each of the domains, following numerous complaints.

In an announcement published this past Monday, Nov. 19, the commission noted that the individual who registered the domain names failed to verify their contact information. The organization said that valid contact details are a prerequisite for all holders of .nz domain names. It further explained:

"The Domain Name Commission has suspended the domain names for fake registration details in accordance with enforcing data validation measures under the .nz Principles and Responsibilities policy. The Commission wants .nz to be a safe, trusted and secure domain name space which is supported by its data validation process."

 

New Zealand’s domain registry has urged any individuals or entities that have been affected by the cancellation of the Wex domains to contact law enforcement agencies if they suspect fraudulent or criminal activity. They can also file reports with Netsafe, an independent body focused on providing a safe online environment for internet users in the country.

1 BTC for $8,500

Despite the setback, the cryptocurrency exchange has come back online again and is now hosted on a new domain, Russian news outlet Bitsmedia has reported. “Please use our mirror wex.link,” the trading platform posted on its official Twitter page. That’s one of only several updates it has tweeted in recent months, including a couple of warnings about fake sites with similar addresses, such as wex.ac and wex.mn, as well as a message about the listing of monero (XMR) from August and some updates about maintenance-related interruptions in July.

“Wow! At least you tweeted something after three months,” wrote one person in response to Wex’s tweet about its new web address. Indeed, its administrators have been pretty quiet since the summer, when many users started complaining that they were unable to withdraw funds from the platform. Only a few coins, such as XMR and ZEC, are now available for withdrawals, but their liquidity is low.

A number of complaints have been filed against the exchange with the Russian police since August. Users who have lost money have created a website, wex-scam.com, as well as a couple of Telegram channels, to support each other and share the latest available information. According to a post from Oct. 21, 35 individuals have already filed requests with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs to initiate a criminal investigation against Wex.

Customers had previously raised the alarm about the cryptocurrency trading platform’s high exchange rates. At the time of writing, the buy price for 1 BTC on its website was $8,498, which suggests that the exchange was probably not operating. On the other hand, the recent announcement about its new domain, shortly after the suspension of wex.nz, indicates that its administrators are still active.

The BTC-e Saga

Wex is the successor to BTC-e, Russia’s oldest cryptocurrency exchange. It was established in 2011 and remained a leading trading platform for the Russian-speaking crypto community until last summer. BTC-e then went offline following the arrest of its suspected co-owner, Alexander Vinnik, in Greece in July 2017.

Vinnik has been accused of a number of crimes by U.S. prosecutors. They allege that he laundered $4 billion through the exchange, including bitcoins that were stolen in the Mt Gox hack. Authorities in the U.S., the Russian Federation and France have requested his extradition.

BTC-e has always denied any connection with Vinnik. The platform was relaunched under the Wex name in mid-September 2017. The new company, which is registered in Singapore, has also denied having any links with the owners of the operator of BTC-e, Canton Business Corp., an entity that is based in the Seychelles.

However, Wex has agreed to compensate BTC-e clients who have suffered losses. Dmitriy Vasiliev, Wex’s owner and director, has reportedly negotiated the purchase of BTC-e, its infrastructure and remaining assets. The new platform has kept the old interface and even the original accounts of BTC-e users.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Bitcoin Mining News: Norway Revokes Subsidies, Bitmain Opens Washington Fac...

In mining news, Norway will revoke electricity subsidies currently available to cryptocurrency miners at the start of next year. Also, Bitmain has opened a 12 megawatt data center in East Wenatchee, Washington, and Bitfury has announced new additions to its advisory board and board of directors.

Norway to Revoke Electricity Subsidies to Miners

Norway’s government has moved to cease electricity subsidies that are currently available to cryptocurrency miners in its new state budget agreement. As a result, from January 2019 onward, the country’s miners will have to pay normal power rates. Norwegian parliamentary representative Lars Haltbrekken cited stigma pertaining to the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining leading to criticism of the subsidy. He stated that Norway “can not continue to provide tax incentives for the most dirty form of cryptographic output as bitcoin.”

Roger Schjerva, chief economist at Ict Norway, highlighted his concern regarding the lack of industry consultation over the removal of the concessions. Schjerva asserted that the new budget has “changed framework conditions without discussion, consultation or dialogue with the industry,” adding “Norway scores high on rankings of political stability and predictable framework conditions, but now the government is gambling with [its] credibility.”

Bitmain Opens 12 MW Facility in Washington

Bitmain has opened a $20 million 12 megawatt data center near Wenatchee airport in Douglas County, Washington. The East Wenatchee facility is expected to employ 20 people. Jeff Stearns, Bitmain’s director of operations for North America, stated that the company is “focused on the long-term” in spite of the cryptocurrency downtrend, adding: “I would say in this bear market situation, and I would call it that at this point in time, that really represents opportunity for a company such as ourselves.” Evan Wendlandt, the Washington State Department of Commerce business development manager, described the opening of the facility as “a big win” for the region.

Former SEC Commissioner Joins Bitfury Advisory Board

Bitfury Group has announced the addition of former United States SEC member Annette Nazareth to the company’s advisory board. Nazareth’s role with the company will see her provide guidance regarding regulatory advancements, in addition to company growth and insight on the financial markets. Bitfury also announced the addition of Antoine Dresch, the co-founder of Korelya Capital, to its board of directors.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Rosenstein Targets ICOs, FEC May Permit Political Donations Through Crypto ...

In recent regulatory news, the U.S. deputy attorney general has called for international cooperation on cryptocurrency regulation. Separately, the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) has prepared a draft advisory that could allow political donations in the form of mining power, while the Alabama Securities Commission has estimated that the state has brought forward 20 percent of all active cease-and-desist orders against crypto companies in the U.S.

US Department of Justice Takes Aim at Crypto

While speaking at Interpol’s 87th General Assembly, Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. deputy attorney general, called for international cooperation on cryptocurrency regulation. Rosenstein implored regulators to “work together to make clear that the rule of law can reach the entire blockchain.” He also issued a call to prevent cryptocurrencies from being “abused by criminals, terrorist financiers or sanctions evaders.”

In addition, Rosenstein took specific aim at initial coin offerings. He stated that “fraudsters use the lure of coin offerings and the promise of new currencies to bilk unsuspecting investors, promote scams and engage in market manipulation.”

US FEC Paves Way for Campaign Donations via Mining

The U.S. Federal Election Commission has prepared a draft advisory that describes political campaign donations through cryptocurrency mining as “permissible.” The document is a response to a proposal submitted by Osianetwork LLC on Nov. 13 that questioned whether individuals would be permitted to support political committees by devoting computing power to the mining of virtual currencies.

The commission adds that such donations would “not fall within the volunteer internet activities exception, and would result in contributions from both the individuals and the Osianetwork to the participating political committees.” The FEC is scheduled to vote on the matter on Dec. 19, 2018.

US Litigator Notes Role of States in Regulating Crypto

Greg Bordenkircher, the chief litigator of the Alabama Securities Commission, has estimated that the state of Alabama accounts for “about 20 percent of all the active cease-and-desists” in the U.S. He stated that the commission has issued nine orders to shut down the operations of companies that have advertised fraudulent cryptocurrency products. He added that it is currently looking at another 20 to 22 companies that it may shut down.

Bordenkircher also emphasized the need for state regulators to take an active role in regulating the cryptocurrency sector. He said that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission do “a great job, but the states have really got the boots on the ground. There’s more of us than there are of them.”

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Nigeria’s Opposition Leader Promises Cryptocurrency Policy If Elected Presi...

Nigeria’s main opposition leader and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said the country will adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrency if he is voted into power. In his policy document, Abubakar revealed plans to create a legal policy that, among other things, will see blockchain and cryptocurrencies taught from primary school through university.

‘Comprehensive Policy’

More than 50 candidates are jostling to defeat Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent president, in general elections slated for February. Abubakar is the main contender as the representative of the People’s Democratic Party. The business tycoon — who owns companies cutting across the agriculture, logistics, media, and food and beverage industries — previously served as vice president under the former government of Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.

In his campaign policy document, released Nov. 19, Abubakar promised to “produce a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies” if he is elected as president of Africa’s biggest economy in the 2019 election. He revealed plans to build a knowledge-based economy powered by information and communication technologies, including blockchain and digital assets. Abubakar stressed that his government will improve literacy in these technologies by altering the school curriculum, so students can learn about them from primary school.

Abubakar stated:

"My mission is to ensure that Nigeria’s economy is responsive to the challenges of the 21st century knowledge economy by keeping with the amazingly dynamic technological pace."

 

Hostile Government

The current Nigerian government has not particularly embraced cryptocurrencies. Godwin Emifiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has likened cryptocurrencies “to a gamble.” The authorities hold this stance in spite of the fact that Nigerians continue to flood into the digital currency space in search of cheaper and faster ways to send money abroad, or receive it. They have also been using cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and exchange-related losses of the naira, the local fiat unit. According to Citigroup, Nigerians account for the world’s third-largest holdings of bitcoin as a percentage of gross domestic product, after Russia and New Zealand.

However, the Nigerian government has launched an investigation into the pros and cons of adopting bitcoin as a means of payment. Financial technology startups in the West African country have called on the CBN to provide legal guidelines for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. A lack of regulation is driving investment out of Africa’s biggest economy to nations like Rwanda and regions such as Europe while fomenting uncertainty, they say.

In his “Get Nigeria Working Again” policy document, Abubakar said: “Nations that will prosper are those that embrace (a) comprehensive, agile approach that infuses the influence of rapid technological advancement into every area of governance and policy to address the issues of inadequate technological infrastructure, funding and poor database.”

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Miner Goes Bankrupt, Manufacturers Stuck With Inventory, Rigs ‘Sold By Kilo...

In our latest roundup of mining-related news, we look at a few examples of the knock-on effect that the current cryptocurrency bear market is having on the global mining industry and its main hardware suppliers.

 

American Mining Operation Goes Bankrupt

Giga Watt, a bitcoin miner based in the U.S. state of Washington, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The company told the Eastern District of Washington bankruptcy court that it is “insolvent and unable to pay its debts when due,” according to local media reports. The company claimed to have less than $50,000 in assets left and somewhere between $10 million to $50 million in outstanding liabilities.

As mlmonlineads.com previously reported, Giga Watt is the product of Dave Carlson, who has past experience with failed mining ventures. In 2014, his Megabigpower mining project fell apart after his supposed partners failed to purchase the equipment they had promised to buy. Giga Watt was also sued for securities fraud by investors who claimed to have contributed around $20 million to its ICO in the summer of 2017.

Taiwanese Manufacturers Stuck With Inventory

Weak demand from GPU miners is one of the leading contributing factors to the slump in sales for manufacturers of motherboards and graphic cards such as Asus and Gigabyte, according to reports from Taiwan. The companies also expect the situation to continue to negatively affect their bottom lines through the first half of 2019.

“Gigabyte’s annual motherboard shipments for 2018 are estimated to fall under 12 million units from 12.6 million posted in 2017, and its graphics card shipments for 2018 are forecast to drop to the 2016 level of 3.65 million units, down one million units from 2017,” industry sources told Digitimes.

While the bear market is definitely bad for miners, hardware manufacturers and their shareholders, it could potentially benefit PC gamers. As vendors are reportedly stuck with an excess inventory of cards in the face of falling demand from miners, they might eventually have to dump them on the gaming market at lower prices.

Old Mining Rigs Are Sold for Scrap in China

Given the fierce competition in the mining sector, as well as the emergence of stronger new machines and the wear and tear of continual usage, it is no wonder that mining rigs lose their value over time. However, with cryptocurrency prices now falling, reports of rigs being sold on the cheap are spreading like wildfire.

Financial media outlets in China, for example, reported on Tuesday that some small and medium-sized operations in the country’s Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia regions have been reluctant to resell their mining machines, as average prices for secondhand rigs have fallen from about 20,000 yuan ($2,880) a year ago to just 1,000 CNY ($145) at present. This tense situation has also given rise to viral photos of rigs being dumped or sold as scrap metal in China, which many commentators have unsurprisingly dismissed as mere FUD. According to one local report, the phrase “miners sold by kilo” was the top trending term on Chinese search engine Baidu at one point recently.

 

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Grant Thornton Attests USDC Is Backed by Fiat, Huobi Sets Up Communist Part...

In exchange news, we look at a major accounting firm’s attestation that all USDC tokens issued by Circle are fully backed by fiat dollars. We also focus on a Huobi Group subsidiary that has set up a Chinese Communist Party branch, as well as Bakkt, which has listed the reasons behind its move into bitcoin.

Accounting Firm Supports Circle’s USDC Claim

Coinbase has published a post on its blog announcing that accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP has issued an attestation report vouching for Circle’s assertion that its USDC tokens are fully backed by fiat reserves. The firm said that Circle “correctly stated” that the 127,408,827 USDC tokens it had issued by Oct. 31 were backed by $127,412,240,89 held in its custody accounts. It also said that the examination “was conducted in accordance with attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.” The attestation does not constitute an audit.

Huobi Creates Communist Party Committee

A subsidiary of Huobi Group has established a Communist Party committee in China, making it the first known distributed ledger technology company to set up a party branch. The charter of the Chinese Communist Party states that any enterprise in China that employs at least three party members shall establish a party branch tasked with promoting the official party line.

The subsidiary, Beijing Lianhuo Information Service, reportedly set up its party branch late last week. The company was established in April of this year and has registered capital of 20 million yuan ($2.9 million). The founder and chief executive of Huobi, Li Lin, holds a 99 percent stake in Beijing Lianhuo.

Bakkt States Motivations Behind Move Into Bitcoin

Bakkt, the forthcoming cryptocurrency platform owned by Intercontinental Exchange, recently took to Twitter to address the motivations behind its decision to launch a BTC product. It stated that BTC accounts for over half of the total capitalization of the cryptocurrency market. Further, it said that BTC is legally recognized as a commodity, with corresponding derivatives markets under regulation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The tweet also stated that customer demand for bitcoin will facilitate the creation of “a liquid product on which to build a futures contract.”

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Market Slump Puts Crypto Derivatives in the Spotlight

As volatility returns to cryptocurrency markets, with serious losses over the past week or so, digital asset exchanges and other fintech platforms have again turned their attention to crypto derivatives. Instruments such as bitcoin futures contracts can help traders hedge against risks and even profit from falling prices. 

Huobi Launches Crypto Derivatives Market

Singapore-based digital asset exchange Huobi has announced the beta launch of its cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform. Huobi Derivative Market (Huobi DM) allows users to profit from rising and falling cryptocurrency prices by opening long or short positions. According to a post on Huobi’s website, the new platform will initially start with BTC contracts denominated in U.S. dollars, with the corresponding cryptocurrency as margin. The profit and loss settlement will be conducted in the digital currency.

Huobi further explains that each contract represents a certain amount of cryptocurrency. “The face value of a BTC contract is $100 and the minimum price change in order book is aggregated to $0.01,” the announcement details. The face value of other contract varieties will be $10, and the minimum price change in the order book will be aggregated to $0.001. Huobi DM offers weekly and biweekly contracts settled on Fridays, as well as quarterly contracts settled on the last Friday of March, June, September and December. Users have to select the leverage — the available options are 1x, 5x, 10x and 20x. All contracts should use the same leverage and cannot be changed when there are still open positions or pending orders.

Okex Reminds Traders About Its Futures Contracts

In a post published this week under the title “Introduction to Futures Contract,” crypto exchange Okex discussed crypto derivatives. The Hong Kong-headquartered trading platform offers users futures contracts for a number of cryptocurrencies — BCH, BTC, BTG, LTC, ETH, ETC, XRP and EOS. The contracts are settled by BTC and their value is calculated in U.S. dollars equivalent. Each contract represents $100 of BTC or $10 of other cryptocurrencies. The minimum price intervals are 0.01 point for BTC/BTG and 0.001 point for LTC and other digital assets. The contracts expire on a weekly, biweekly and quarterly basis and the delivery time is Friday on the week of expiry. The settlement date is the same as the delivery date and settlements are conducted in digital coins. The leverage options available are 10x or 20x.

Okex launched BCH, ETH and ETC futures about a year ago. In a move that surprised traders, the platform changed the terms on $135 million of BCH derivatives in the wake of the recent Bitcoin Cash fork, as reported by Bloomberg. On Nov. 14, as prices went down a day before the network split, Okex delivered all BCH contracts according to the last traded price at 9:05 a.m. (CET). The exchange attributed its decision to high volatility in the BCH spot and futures markets. It also said it had not issued an earlier announcement on fears it could trigger market manipulation.

Plans for More Crypto Derivatives

A number of announcements have been made over the past year about new offerings of crypto derivatives. In January, Japanese investment group Fisco Corp. launched a cryptocurrency fund and revealed plans to offer derivatives products based on digital assets. In August, another Japanese company, SBI Crypto Investment, acquired a 12-percent stake in U.S.-based trading platform Clear Markets. It also shared its intention to create a platform that will allow institutional investors to trade cryptocurrency derivatives.

Another company, on the other hand, recently delayed its plan to open a new bitcoin futures trading platform. Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, announced this week that it will postpone the launch of its Bakkt platform. Trading was initially expected to begin in December of this year. According to a recent announcement, however, Bakkt is now scheduled to go live on Jan. 24, 2019, as mlmonlineads.com reported on Wednesday.

Regulatory Challenges

Cryptocurrency-based derivatives products have also attracted the attention of financial authorities around the world. In the U.S., bitcoin futures have been approved and are currently regulated by the country’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And France’s financial markets regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers, issued a statement in February of this year indicating its intention to crack down on crypto derivatives, stating that the provision of such instruments would require authorization.

In September, the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) renewed restrictions it had imposed on matters related to crypto derivatives, such as contracts-for-difference (CFDs). Esma’s ban on the marketing, distribution and sale of CFDs to retail customers, which was enforced in August, was extended for another three-month period, starting from Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced in a report published in October that it is considering a ban on the sale of derivatives based on digital assets, including CFDs. This possibility was confirmed this week by Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition. He was quoted as saying that crypto-based CFDs pose a threat to retail investors in the country.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

Colorado Regulator Issued Orders Against 18 ICOs, With More on the Way

The U.S. authorities appear to have greatly increased their focus on initial coin offerings (ICOs). In addition to the big federal bodies that are going after them on a national level, projects are also being targeted by regulators in states such as Colorado, where another another four were put on notice on Tuesday.

 

Number of Orders Is a ‘Red Flag’

The Colorado Securities Commissioner has now taken action against 18 ICOs, up from just about a dozen earlier this month. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies announced there are at least two more orders pending, which will soon bring the total to 20. The orders are said to be the result of investigations by an “ICO Task Force” created in May. They demand that each venture immediately stop offering unregistered securities in the state.

“The sheer number of orders entered against ICOs should be a red flag to all investors that there is a real risk that the ICO you are considering is a fraud,” said Commissioner Gerald Rome. “Our investigations show that there are fraudsters who will simply create a fake ICO to steal investors’ money, or spoof a legitimate ICO to trick investors into wrongfully paying them.”

Fake Bios, Fake Phone, Fake Address

The first of the four ICOs the state regulator targeted this week is Global Pay Net, which is marketing “GLPN Coins” for a financial platform based on blockchain technology. The regulators have found that at least two of the professionals listed on its website deny being involved with the project. And Global Pay Net’s claim that it has filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could not be verified because its listed phone number is disconnected. The regulators have also claimed that the business is not registered in the state of Washington, where the company is supposedly located.

The second company that has been targeted is Credits, LLC, which has pursued an ICO with “Cred (CX)” tokens and allegedly promotes “crypto with a mobile mining app that supports green energy.” The third project is Crowd Share Mining (CSM), which allegedly promises that investors will earn 50 percent of the profit generated by mining operations that use renewable energy sources. Finally, Cyber Smart Coin (CBST) allegedly claims to use robots to trade on Bitmex and other crypto exchanges. It promises investors dividends of 20 percent to 35 percent per month. The regulators noted that while the company’s website states that investors may not participate in the ICO if they are residents of a jurisdiction in which it would be considered unlawful, the site is still accessible for Colorado residents.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

The Daily: Binance Adds KYC, Bitcoin Businesses Block Gab

Thursday tends to be the busiest day of the week in the cryptosphere for some reason, and today, Nov. 22, is the perfect case in point. In this edition of The Daily we cover Binance’s long-anticipated move to KYC for customers and censorship-prone Gab’s struggle to obtain censorship-resistant money.

Binance Becomes Last Major Exchange to Add KYC

Binance, the world’s largest exchange by trading volume, has confirmed that it is adding Know Your Customer (KYC) verification. Since launching in 2017, the platform has enabled traders to withdraw up to 2 BTC per day with only email confirmation. Binance recently partnered with blockchain forensic specialists Chainalysis, however, making it clear that a transition to full KYC was likely to follow.

This week, Binance CFO Wei Zhou spoke of the need to introduce compliance as part of the platform’s global expansion efforts. Refinitiv, a division of Thomson Reuters, has now been handed the task of administering KYC on behalf of the cryptocurrency exchange. With even so-called decentralized exchanges now moving to a full compliance model, the era of anonymous cryptocurrency trading may be coming to an end.

Gab Gets the Runaround from Bitcoin Payment Processors

Free speech network Gab.com has been pushed from pillar to post by web hosts and payment providers over the last few months. Ever since Paypal and Stripe severed ties with the platform, it has been evident that Gab would need to accept cryptocurrency payments instead. As the company is starting to discover, however, uncensorable money can still be censored when it’s administered by centralized companies.

Coinbase, which has a record of blacklisting entities stretching back to 2012, has predictably refused to do business with Gab. Bitpay has also now followed suit. Several prominent bitcoin figures have pointed out that if Gab wants to avoid payment censorship, it needs to host its own server to accept BTC. The free speech platform has now received an offer of support from Btcpay Server.

Credit Network Bloom Posts Record Growth

Not all things contract in a bear market: Decentralized credit network Bloom has posted figures showing record growth over the past two months. The project claims to have grown 74x faster in September and October than in the two months prior, creating over 16,000 IDs last month, a new record. 

Bloom’s blockchain-based identity and cross-border credit scoring system is designed to restore data ownership to individuals, allowing them to control their financial information. Bloom has seen record growth off the back of a number of high-profile data breaches and scandals, including the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica case. Bloom co-founder Ryan Faber has said the project is now on course to hit 75,000 Bloom IDs by the end of the year.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

5 Opsec Errors That Caused Cryptocurrency Users to Lose Everything

Maintaining good operational security is imperative for all web users, but it’s particularly important in the cryptocurrency space. Prying eyes are everywhere on the internet, from law enforcement to hackers and from blockchain forensics firms to data resellers. Examining the opsec errors that got several notorious bitcoiners robbed or busted yields valuable lessons we should all heed.

Opsec Is a Scale Not a Switch

There’s no such thing as optimum opsec or perfect privacy. Just because the internet’s heavily backdoored and broken doesn’t mean you should concede defeat. It’s possible to enhance your online security without adding complexity. The most memorable opsec lessons come from studying those who let their guard down or got sloppy and were duly punished. You don’t have to be a darknet market boss or a bitcoin whale to benefit from keeping your crypto, data and browsing habits locked down. The following figures all paid the price for opsec errors that could have been easily avoided.

Keeping Logs

Silk Road operator Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), later to be identified as Ross Ulbricht, made a string of mistakes that ultimately led to his dox and arrest. Ulbricht remains a visionary and a hero to many bitcoiners, but even his greatest advocates will concede that he was the architect of his own downfall. The key takeaway from DPR’s takedown is this: Don’t retain unencrypted documents that would be damaging to you if they fell into the wrong hands.

In addition to keeping passport scans of Silk Road employees and chat logs, DPR kept a diary in which he confessed to ordering assassinations and all manner of other nefarious deeds. When feds seized Ulbricht’s laptop while he was logged in to Silk Road, they got the lot. Don’t store incriminating information on your phone or laptop, particularly not private keys or 2FA backup codes. If your device is stolen, seized or injected with malware, you’re screwed.

Writing Analysis

Former darknet market vendor Gal “Oxymonster” Vallerius is serving a 20-year jail term in America for drug offences. While the manner in which he was detained — at a Texan airport after flying in to attend a beard contest — caught the headlines, the way he was unmasked is where the focus should be. One of the primary tells that connected the Oxymonster pseudonym with Gal Vallerius was writing analysis. Language, punctuation, cadence and other stylistic tells such as capitalization are highly individualistic. Even something as simple as typing a trademark phrase to submit vendor feedback on the deep web — “Banging!” — can be enough for a dox.

If your pseudonymous persona is doing something that could deleteriously affect your real-life identity, be very careful what you write and how you write it. Even law-abiding citizens like Tether critic “Bitfinexed” have allegedly been doxed through writing analysis.

Recycling Pseudonyms

Not everyone on this list is a major criminal, but deep web kingpins are ripe for analysis. Not only is their fall from grace monumental, but court records provide precise details of how they were caught. Alphabay boss Alexandre Cazes made plenty of mistakes, the crux of which can be distilled into two words: don’t recycle. Recycled usernames, email addresses and, most critically, passwords are an opsec accident waiting to happen.

Cazes used his old Hotmail address as the source address for Alphabay’s welcome emails and adopted a pseudonym on the site he’d previously used elsewhere on the web. Like Ross Ulbricht, Cazes didn’t encrypt his laptop, enabling law enforcement to access all his records and seize millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. And all because he was too lazy to think up a new pseudonym or create a new email address. The fact that the Canadian citizen went on to commit suicide in a Thai jail cell after his arrest makes his case even more tragic.

SIM Jacking

Messari founder Ryan Selkis, aka “Twobitidiot,” is a law-abiding citizen who holds the dubious achievement of having been SIM-swapped twice. Also known as SIM jacking, the scam involves an attacker porting the victim’s phone number over to a new handset through social engineering. Selkis’ second jacking occurred only this month, despite the tech-savvy entrepreneur having taken robust measures to thwart a repeat attack.

“I a) flagged my account as high-risk, b) added a pin, and c) demanded account changes only take place in store with a photo ID,” he explained, but all to no avail. Mercifully, the attackers were unable to access his cryptocurrency on this occasion. His advice for others includes removing SMS verification for email, and using 2FA only through an app such as Google Authenticator. Selkis encouraged his readers to follow the guides that others have written on preventing the likelihood of SIM jacking. Unfortunately, even with numerous precautions in place, cellphone network staffers remain an Achilles’ heel.

Oversharing

Opsec is generally thought of in technical terms: using strong passwords, connecting via a VPN and other good practices. But one of the biggest ways in which cryptocurrency users make themselves a target is by running their mouth and revealing the size of their digital wealth. Most people aren’t as careless as Pavel Nyashin, a Russian Youtuber who was robbed of $425K of crypto by masked assailants after boasting about his wealth in a series of videos.

Balancing your desire to tell the world about bitcoin without revealing the size of your bitcoin holdings can be tricky. But as case after case has shown, even gossiping to friends about the size of your stack or how it’s secured can make you a target. Keep that business to yourself: Don’t show off your portfolio or your hardware wallet, no matter how flashy the device might look. Whether you’ve got a lot to hide or a little, opsec isn’t optional: It’s essential. Be diligent, be vigilant and be safe.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

US State Takes Action Against Crypto Operation Imitating a Bank

The U.S. state of North Dakota has issued a cease and desist order against a cryptocurrency operation imitating a fully licensed bank in Liechtenstein. This operation goes by the same name as the token announced by the bank. Its website mirrors the bank’s website and its crypto announcement was identical to the bank’s, including a plan to issue a Swiss franc-backed stablecoin.

Spoofing Bank’s Announcement

North Dakota Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler issued a cease and desist order on Monday against Union Bank Payment Coin, aka Ubpc, as well as its officers, directors, agents, and employees. The order states that they are promoting “unregistered and potentially fraudulent securities” in the form of an initial coin offering (ICO) to North Dakota residents. Union Bank AG, a fully licensed bank in Liechtenstein, announced on Aug. 17 that “it will be the world’s first fully licensed and regulated bank to issue its own security tokens in alignment with Liechtenstein’s regulatory authority Fma.” The bank also unveiled a plan to issue Union Bank Payment Coin which, it claims, will be “a stablecoin that is fully backed by a fiat currency – e.g. the Swiss franc.”

North Dakota’s securities regulator elaborated:

"The Union Bank Payment Coin solicitation appears to be an attempt to fraudulently acquire funds through the exploitation of an announcement made by Union Bank AG, a fully licensed and regulated bank based in Liechtenstein."

 

The regulator further described, “Several elements of the Union Bank Payment Coin website are directly copied from the Union Bank AG website including the stylized elements, verbiage, leadership information and images.” According to the securities department, Union Bank Payment Coin stated that it is seeking to become the “world’s first security token backed by a fully licensed bank.” In addition to claiming that the coin is a “security token offering,” the company represents that it is issuing a “stable coin that is fully backed by a fiat currency – the Swiss franc,” the regulator detailed.

The domain for Union Bank Payment Coin was registered on Aug. 29, 12 days after Union Bank AG made its token announcement. The registrant is Bohdan Kozachok, a web designer from Vasylkiv, Ukraine. No physical address, location or country of the organization is provided on its website, the regulator emphasized. Furthermore, the IP address for Union Bank AG is located in Liechtenstein, whereas the one for Union Bank Payment Coin is located in Russia.

The commissioner’s order also noted that Union Bank Payment Coin’s website has “instructions on how to invest by purchasing the tokens, which mandates that investors buy the tokens” with BTC or ETH prior to filling out an online registration form.

Ongoing Crackdown

This latest ICO-related order is the result of ongoing investigations conducted by the department’s ICO task force, set up to identify ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investments that pose a risk to residents of the state. The effort is part of Operation Cryptosweep, a coordinated multi-jurisdiction investigation and enforcement effort involving over 40 U.S. and Canadian securities regulators. It has been investigating more than 200 crypto-related cases.

The securities department also outlined some common red flags of fraudulent ICOs such as “plagiarized white papers containing spelling and translation errors.” They may also comprise “fictitious executive teams represented by stock internet photos, fake business addresses and phone numbers, [and] fake celebrity endorsements.” Promises such as “no risk and high returns” and “false claims about securities law compliance” are also prevalent. In September, the department issued cease and desist orders against three companies for promoting unregistered ICOs in the state, followed by three more in October.

  Fri, November 23, 2018 Read Full Article

US Bank That Serves 483 Cryptocurrency Companies Is Seeking an IPO

Silvergate Bank, headquartered in San Diego as a California state-chartered bank, started its cryptocurrency-related business in 2013. Now its parent company wants to go public, revealing that 483 companies from the crypto industry are using the services of the “bitcoin-friendly” bank.

$1.7B of Crypto Deposits

Silvergate Capital Corp., the parent of Silvergate Bank, recently filed a prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise a maximum of $50 million by selling shares to the public on the New York Stock Exchange. Back in February, the bank sold 9.5 million shares, raising $114 million in a private placement.

In addition to attracting hundreds of new clients, Silvergate Bank’s openness to the cryptocurrency industry has also enabled it to rapidly grow noninterest-bearing deposits, reaching $1.7 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The bank capitalizes on the funds it gets from crypto companies by deploying them into interest-earning deposits in other banks and investment securities, as well as into “certain lending opportunities that provide attractive risk-adjusted returns.”

Plenty of Room to Grow

The company reassures potential investors that the market niche it has carved out for itself still has plenty of room to grow. It estimates that “the addressable market for fiat currency deposits related to digital currencies alone is approximately $30 to $40 billion.” Additionally, Silvergate Bank reports it already had another 145 prospective cryptocurrency customers waiting in various stages of its customer onboarding process by the end of the third quarter of the year.

Silvergate Bank’s most important group of customers — “some of the largest U.S. exchanges and global investors in the digital currency industry” — hold their investor funds and operating funds with the bank. Another group of cryptocurrency customers includes software developers, miners, custodians and general industry participants. These entities were said to account for 22.6 percent of the bank’s cryptocurrency customers as of Sept. 30, 2018. And the bank adds that “we believe this group presents future growth opportunities as the digital currency industry landscape continues to develop.”

  Thu, November 22, 2018 Read Full Article

Trial Begins: Bitcoin Exchange Accused of Wrongfully Reversing Trades

The trial over alleged wrongful reversals of seven bitcoin trades that occurred last year has reportedly begun in Singapore. Cryptocurrency exchange Quoine has been sued by a market maker. The plaintiff is seeking to recover 3,085 BTC from the exchange.

Plaintiff Seeks 3,085 BTC

The trial over a series of alleged wrongful bitcoin trade reversals, reportedly Singapore’s first legal dispute involving BTC, has begun. Market maker B2c2 sued cryptocurrency exchange Quoine on April 19 last year, seeking to recover about 3,085 BTC from the exchange. Singapore’s International Commercial Court is expected to decide whether seven BTC-ETH trades conducted by B2c2 were wrongfully reversed by Quoine, leading to proceeds being deducted from the plaintiff’s account without authorization, the Straits Times reported. According to B2c2’s lawyer, Quoine abused its role as the trading platform operator and acted in breach of trust as the custodian. The plaintiff’s opening statement alleges:

"It is B2c2’s contention that in the face of serious risk of itself having to bear the financial loss arising from the trades … Quoine chose the most advantageous course to mitigate such risk – by simply reversing the ‘irreversible’ trades and deducting the … proceeds from the account."

 

B2c2 continued to explain that Quoine’s action ensured the exchange would not have to seek payment from its customers and would be at no risk of non-payment. Quoine explained that it was “unable to access external market price data” for BTC and ETH at the time of the disputed trades because it suffered a glitch in its program. “Due to the glitch, the program stopped creating or placing new orders involving these currencies on the platform, causing issues with liquidity and therefore, problems with the orders made by B2c2,” the news outlet noted.

The Disputed Trades

The plaintiff placed seven orders to sell ETH for BTC at a rate of 10 BTC per ETH on April 19 last year, which were filled and credited on the same day. ETH was trading at about 0.04 BTC at the time. The market maker paid 309.2518 ETH and received 3092.517116 BTC, the Straits Times detailed. However, Quoine reversed the trades the following day and deducted 3084.78582325 BTC from the plaintiff’s account without authorization.

The publication elaborated:

"While B2c2 contends that nothing in their previous terms and conditions allows Quoine to reverse the fulfillment of an order or any resulting trade, Quoine cites a risk disclosure statement to say it can cancel any transaction that ‘took effect based on an aberrant value."

 

The market maker argued that under its custodian agreement with Quoine, its cryptocurrencies cannot be deducted or withdrawn without prior approval. The founder of B2c2, Maxime Boonen, took the stand on Wednesday. He was asked “whether a market maker like his firm has a role to promote a fair and orderly market, keeping prices stable on exchanges,” the news outlet conveyed. Boonen did not believe so, stating that “prices are taken as they are, and he does not decide what they ought to be.”

Quoine’s lawyer Paul Ong pointed out that other exchanges which B2c2 trades on “have clauses allowing them to cancel orders that were accepted if they were found to be ‘erroneous’ or constitute ‘market abuse.'” Without disputing the claim, Boonen maintained his company would not have agreed to these conditions with Quoine.

The defendant argued:

"There is no other way than to describe these orders as abnormally and absurdly priced orders, given that they were about 250 times higher than the average price at which (the two currencies) then traded on the platform."

 

The publication added that the “trial is expected to conclude next week, with Quoine chief technology officer Mario Antonio Gomez Lozada expected to take the stand.”

  Thu, November 22, 2018 Read Full Article

Hash Wars: BCH Community Evaluates Six Days of Battle

The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain split on Nov. 15 and the community are still discussing the subject at great length. Since the chain splintered into two separate networks, additional trading platforms like Coinbase and Bitstamp have re-established BCH markets by choosing to list the ABC chain with the exchange ticker “BCH.”

Six Days, Over 800 Blocks, and Bloody Markets

It’s been close to a week since the fork on Nov. 15 and the ongoing hash war has caused major debate and mixed emotions. According to Coin Dance statistics, there have been 852 blocks mined since the consensus rules changed and the ABC chain is six blocks ahead. Further, the owners of Coin Dance have deemed the ABC chain as the winner of the BCH name and now refer to the chain as Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Statistics also show that BCH has 44% more proof-of-work (PoW) than the BSV network. At the time of publication, both chains have roughly 4,000 PH/s or 4 exahash worth of hashrate apiece. However, this metric has fluctuated wildly and the averages are harder to gauge over a short period of time.

BCH market prices have also dropped a bunch this week, touching a low of $227 per coin on Nov. 20. Right now, BCH/USD charts show the average spot price is between $230- $255 and the digital asset has a market valuation of just above $4 billion. Exchanges like Bittrex and Poloniex have been coming back online, but global BCH trade volume is super low today with only $84 million worth of BCH swapped over the last 24 hours. The forked coin BSV is trading at about $50 at the time of publication at exchanges like Kraken, Bittrex, Poloniex, and Coinex. The circulating supply is currently unknown right now but statistics from Coinmarketcap estimate there has been roughly $57.6 million worth of SV trade volume this Wednesday.

Coinbase and Bitstamp List ABC Chain as Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Additionally, two large exchanges have announced re-establishing BCH markets and have decided to give the ABC chain the BCH ticker. On Tuesday the San Francisco cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase detailed that it has been closely monitoring the BCH network. The Coinbase blog states that it has observed consensus and “the BCH ABC chain will retain the designation of Bitcoin Cash (BCH).” The exchange said a number of factors came into play including accumulated PoW and hashrate. For now, the business has resumed Coinbase Pro trading and the iOS and Android apps should be ready by next week. The exchange has also emphasized that the company will continue to monitor the SV chain.

“We will continue to evaluate the safety of the BCH SV chain — Our current intention is to support withdrawal services for the BCH SV chain so that our customers may withdraw funds at a future date,” Coinbase explained.

The San Francisco trading platform added: 

"If network conditions significantly change or become unsafe at any point, Coinbase may revise these plans."

 

The same day, the popular exchange Bitstamp revealed its plans to re-enable BCH deposits and withdrawals. The exchange explained to customers on Twitter that the platform “will only support transfers from/to the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain.” The company warned not to send BSV tokens to Bitstamp as they will not be credited to accounts. At the moment, the exchange requires 25 confirmations for BCH deposits to be processed.

The wallet Cointext, which allows anyone to send bitcoin cash to another person by SMS text, released its decision concerning the fork on Nov. 21. Cointext services will follow the ruleset of the Bitcoin ABC software implementation, the company detailed in a blog post. “This approach appears to be the clear consensus market-wide,” the announcement noted.

Hash Battle Debate Grows Quieter and Unwriter Speaks

Overall, a large portion of the BCH community seems to want this mess to be over and believe the war has been costly to both sides. However, according to a recent statement, Nchain’s chief scientist Craig Wright has claimed SV miners are “still competing.” Although as each day passes, with exchanges listing ABC as Bitcoin Cash (BCH), it seems as though the war is coming to an end, or at the very least growing quieter.

In addition to the heated discussions and debates across forums and social media, the prolific BCH developer Unwriter has published a message concerning the recent hash war. “Let me tell you guys a secret — Many of you have it completely backward. You — the developer — are the emperors of Bitcoin,” explained Unwriter’s post on Twitter.

The developer’s Twitter message continued:  

"Think of Bitcoin as a nation. You are the capitalists who build the wealth of the nation of bitcoin. Without you—the ones who create capital out of labor to increase the wealth of the nation of bitcoin — there is no value in bitcoin because the wealth of bitcoin as a nation comes from the utility you generate by building, it doesn’t come from speculating."

 

Unwriter stated that people should stop thinking like a follower and start thinking like a leader. The programmer further detailed that the 21st Century Motor Company has all four nodes supported and will continue to keep them operational.

Lots of BCH enthusiasts are now discussing the best methods to split their coins safely while also waiting for services like Bitpay to re-open. The company seems to be moving towards re-establishing services soon and sources suggest they have chosen the ABC side of the chain. Additionally, on Wednesday, Nov. 21, the Bitcoin Cash Association (BCA) revealed the organization has decided to “support the side that follows the Bitcoin ABC protocol as Bitcoin Cash.”

  Thu, November 22, 2018 Read Full Article

Italian Securities Regulator Warns Against Three Unlicensed Cryptocurrency ...

Italy’s financial regulator, the National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange (CONSOB), has warned against three cryptocurrency companies engaged in schemes to promote cryptocurrency mining and investments. CONSOB said the companies were neither licensed nor authorized to provide the services they promised.

Cease and Desist Notice for Unlicensed Firms

On Nov. 20, the Italian regulator issued a cease and desist notice against foreign currency broker Richmond Investing, alleging it did not hold a valid license and was providing “unauthorised investment services and activities to the Italian public.” Richmond Investing promises investors high returns within a short period of time while claiming to provide integrated investment services for several assets, said CONSOB. The unlicensed Crypton Ltd was suspended from offering its digital currency, called “crypton,” to the public for 90 days. The company claims to “provide passive income in the form of Proof-of-Stake mining that is available to all holders of the crypton coin.”

CONSOB also stopped Alessandro Brizzi from promoting the crypton token on his Facebook page, while Eagle Bit Trade was blacklisted, specifically for encouraging investors to use its “so-called trading packages” to transact in cryptocurrencies. Eagle Bit Trade is a bitcoin trading platform that pays a bonus to “package holders” if they recruit a new member, with residual commissions earned as the pool or team members in this binary compensation setup grow. The platform claims to offer free registration to new users, “however, you must purchase a package before you can start earning money.”

Italy’s financial watchdog “started gathering information about these platforms after receiving complaints about them,” Finance Magnates reported. In June, Consob, an autonomous statutory body set up to help regulate Italy’s securities ‎‎and futures market, warned against four foreign currency brokers. It said the companies, Fah Investment Ltd, CFX Point Ltd, AJN Trade Ltd and Light Media Ltd, were not authorized to provide investment services in the country.

Europe Moves to Regulate Crypto

CONSOB follows in the footsteps of other European regulators that have announced a series of measures targeted both at taxing and regulating cryptocurrencies.  The U.K’s Financial Conduct Authority said in October that it will begin consultations on whether to ban the sale of derivatives based on digital coins like BTC as well as to restrict crypto-based contracts of difference to the public. Virtual currency futures and options will also be looked into, in discussions slated for the first quarter of 2019. In Spain, a proposed law will seek to tax cryptocurrencies while authorities closely monitor the activities of 15,000 crypto investors.

 

  Thu, November 22, 2018 Read Full Article

Spain Monitors 15,000 Cryptocurrency Investors to Curb Tax Evasion

Spain’s Ministry of the Treasury has identified 15,000 cryptocurrency investors it will monitor to prevent tax evasion and money laundering, according to local media reports. The ministry has vowed to ensure that the investors pay taxes on capital gains from digital currency transactions and that they declare any other benefits accrued from trading.

 ‘Opaque’ Ownership

According to Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, the country’s tax agency — the Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria (AEAT) — plans to monitor “the fiscal incidence of these new technologies, such as blockchain and, especially, cryptocurrencies,” to curb tax-related fraud and stamp out money laundering. Its real motivation, however, leans more toward curtailing illicit financial flows facilitated under the cover of cryptocurrency transactions. The tax regulator appears resigned to the fact that virtual currency taxes will not put much into state coffers. That’s “because the ownership of bitcoins is opaque for the tax authorities, and their negotiation is almost impossible to track,” El Pais stated.

By monitoring the 15,000 taxpayers, the ministry aims to “put a stop to complex, unregulated and nontransparent (cryptocurrency) activities,” the paper continued. The taxpayers were identified following an investigation earlier this year of more than 60 companies by the National Fraud Investigation Office (Onif). The organization, which is a unit of the national tax agency, requested information on individuals who hold cryptocurrency. The targets included 16 large banks and 40 companies that allow people to buy and sell crypto assets or make payments with them, such as digital currency exchanges, payment platforms and bitcoin ATM operators. The results of the investigation are now being used by the ministry to track tax payments on capital gains and prevent alleged money laundering.

El Pais reported:

"The use by organized crime of the deep internet for trafficking and trade in illicit goods, as well as the use of bitcoin-type cryptocurrencies as means of payment, is one of the most demanding challenges today. In order to face this threat, the use by the tax agency’s research units of the new information gathering and analysis technologies in all types of networks will be enhanced."

Anti-Fraud Law Approved

It is not clear whether the 15,000 investors the ministry identified are companies or individuals. But the regulation of cryptocurrencies in Spain is broadly reflective of wider sentiment throughout the European Union in that it remains somewhat opaque. Profits from cryptocurrency transactions are currently taxable under legislation covering matters related to individual income taxes, with rates of between 19 percent and 23 percent depending on profit.

In October, the Spanish government approved a draft anti-fraud law that, among other things, will require investors in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin cash to declare all of the assets they hold at home and abroad. The intention is to ringfence taxes and prevent tax evasion, particularly on an asset class that until now has appeared to be exempt from regulatory oversight.

  Thu, November 22, 2018 Read Full Article

Israeli Firm Launches Three Cryptocurrency Investment Funds

An Israeli investment firm has launched two cryptocurrency funds, with a third on the way. The company’s CEO explained the funds’ three investment strategies to mlmonlineads.com. These funds are Cayman Islands-registered, available to institutional and accredited investors.

Three Funds, Investment Strategies

Cryptocurrency investment firm Silver Castle has launched two cryptocurrency funds with another on the way. Bloomberg describes the company as “Israel’s first dedicated cryptocurrency investment firm for institutional and accredited investors.” Silver Castle CEO Eli Mizroch told mlmonlineads.com on Wednesday, “We have now launched our first two funds. They are both Cayman Islands-registered and are open to institutional and accredited investors.” He elaborated:

"The first fund is algo-based, momentum-driven, long [and] short on bitcoin and top five [crypto]currencies. The second is smart beta, fully-invested in the top 10 coins. We aim to launch our third fund, a VC fund, that will participate in token offerings, in Q1 2019."

 

The firm has its proprietary crypto-algo system and security protocol. Smart beta combines passive investing strategies with active ones. we reported on Sunday that the first fund “picks the five biggest coins by market capitalization,” adding that this algorithmic trading system “has been used in-house for over a year and the portfolio has achieved ‘high double-digit’ returns in dollar terms despite bitcoin’s plunge this year.” In contrast, the second fund “is fully invested, automated and offers a basket of the top 10 coins, weighted according to an algorithm.” The news outlet also noted that Silver Castle launched the first two funds this month “and expects to have $50 million under management by the end of the year.”

‘Landmark Launch’ for Israel

Silver Castle’s website states that the company manages crypto-based assets, advises companies on initial coin offerings and security token offerings, as well as invests in blockchain technology initiatives. Gadi Isaev, founding partner of the Israeli Blockchain Association, calls Silver Castle’s launch “a landmark event for the entire Israeli market,” citing that its team comprises both leaders and pioneers of the Israeli financial industry, Bloomberg conveyed. Mizroch told the news outlet, “We spent close to a year building robust infrastructure for managing other people’s money at the level of institutional grade.”

  Wed, November 21, 2018 Read Full Article

Survey Finds John McAfee Is the Most Influential Crypto Trading Figure

Often controversial but always entertaining, John McAfee is without a doubt one of the loudest voices in crypto on social media. And a recent study has found that the old master shill is in fact the most influential figure when it comes to trading coins.

John McAfee Is Crypto Twitter’s Top Dog

To understand who cryptocurrency traders trust, Clovr surveyed 500 self-proclaimed blockchain enthusiasts about the influencers they follow for insights, updates and predictions. People were asked to choose from a list of nearly 80 influencers and their preferences were combined with the total number of followers each industry figure has on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube to create a meta-ranking. John McAfee was found to be the most influential figure, followed by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin at number two and Litecoin creator Charlie Lee in the third spot. Much more surprisingly, if you disregard numbers of social media followers and focus exclusively on the trust factor, McAfee — who has promoted some shady projects in the past — still came out first.

In fact, the antivirus pioneer ranked at the top across different age groups and political persuasions, leading the researchers to conclude that “when it comes to influencing the decisions of blockchain investors, it’s John McAfee’s world — we just live in it.” However, the researchers did reveal a couple of weaknesses for McAfee. Women ranked him at just number five, and almost 85 percent of his followers came from just one platform, namely Twitter.

Democrats Love ETH, Republicans LTC?

McAfee swept first place among both Republicans and Democrats, suggesting that political leanings are not particularly consequential for crypto users. More puzzling is that Charlie Lee was number two among Republicans who are interested in cryptocurrency, but did not even place in the top five for Democrats. Similarly, Vitalik Buterin earned the second spot among Democrats, but didn’t make the top five list for Republicans at all. The researchers note that out of 500 respondents in total, 26 percent were female and 74 percent were male. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 73, with an average age of 32 years. About 42 percent of respondents reported as Republicans and 56 percent as Democrats, with all other political parties excluded from the results due to insufficient sample sizes.

 

  Wed, November 21, 2018 Read Full Article

Zero-Confirmation Forfeits: Adding Security to Unconfirmed BCH Transactions...

On Nov. 20, the Bitcoin Cash developer Awemany announced the first code proposal for a concept called Zero-Confirmation Forfeits (ZCF), a protocol that adds a layer of security to zero-confirmation transactions. The ZCF mechanism allows faster payments and is designed to reduce the risks involved with double-spend attacks.

Zero-Confirmation Forfeits

For a while now the Bitcoin Cash community has bolstered the idea of zero-confirmation transactions, but proponents have also discussed the security issues involved with them. Just recently Awemany proposed the idea of ZCFs so people can test the possibilities of shielding transactions against double-spend attacks.

Awemany is the anonymous BCH developer who found the bug in the Bitcoin Core (BTC) client just a few weeks ago. Zero-confirmation transactions are basically transactions that have been broadcast to the network and are sitting in the mempool (transaction queue), but can still be accepted by users or merchants. Traditionally, services have had to wait for a single confirmation (or more), which means a transaction must be forged into the public ledger before settlement. The ZCF scheme proposed by Awemany involves using the new opcodes that were added to the code on Nov. 15. By using these opcodes, users can add a “forfeit to the transaction in an automated way” by adding a layer of security to the zero-confirmation transaction.

The Code Is Ready for Testnet Experimentation and Miniscule Amounts of BCH

After discussing the idea at the Satoshi’s Vision conference on Nov. 20, Awemany released the preliminary code in order to execute ZCFs with the Electron Cash wallet. The developer stated that the mechanism can be used as a testing ground for developing the concept further and act as a possible reference implementation, so specifications can be added later. The proposal emphasized that the developer enjoys a “bottom-up approach of first writing code and then writing a specification that matches the code and all the pitfalls that were encountered writing it.” Right now the developer states there are four ZCF protocol schemes that work.

Awemany’s new protocol includes:

  • Transactions that can be generated with a forfeit output. The forfeit output is currently set to 1.0 from the send transaction amount.
  • Receiving transactions and extracting the forfeit amount, by checking for enough
  • Display of forfeits in the transaction dialogue, history list tab and addresses tab
  • Spending forward of the forfeits by assembling the right inputs to the P2SH forfeit contract       

BCH Proponents Excited About the Zero-Confirmation Solution

The developer has also explained that there are still bugs to iron out and the code needs a lot more polish. “Sometimes the value parser seems to miss the forfeits,” he explained. After sharing the code, he strongly emphasized that it “is by no means production ready.” However, programmers can experiment with the protocol using testnet or by using the main chain with a very small fraction of BCH.

The BCH community on Reddit has shown excitement toward the improvement of the concept and has congratulated the developer on the subreddit r/btc. Awemany seems pleased with the response and has since discussed the project further on the forum. He said there is still a lot to do in order for it to be more reliable for Electron Cash and other wallets. For example, the ZCF mechanism would be very “interesting for vending machines,” he explained. The BCH developer listed the work that still needs to go into the protocol and noted that any help would be “very much appreciated.”

  Wed, November 21, 2018 Read Full Article