Will Crypto Save Iran from a Financial Crisis?

Iran use crypto to avoid sanctions

Iran is inching closer towards the financial crisis due to sanctions, but the country might still turn to cryptocurrencies for help.

Iran is in a bad place right now, as the US officials state that the country’s finances might be in a worse situation than they believed. The country’s damaged economy has been sparking protests for a while now, and Iran is moving closer and closer to a financial crisis.

After the sanctions put a stop to Tehran’s oil exports, some major losses were felt throughout Iran. Since then, the country tried to evade the sanctions, which softened the blow somewhat, although it did not do it much good in the long run. Right now, Iran’s government is using the last of its foreign-exchange reserves, indicating that any control that the government might have over importing supplies and equipment might soon be lost.

Soon enough, Iran is likely to find itself in a more dire situation than it was six years ago, when President Hassan Rouhani and his government were pressured into nuclear negotiations.

For now, it is difficult to predict what might happen to Iran’s economy in the future, as there are many unknown factors that could still change. Further, some intelligence that the US has received from its allies suggests that Iran might have some off-book income that could help it through difficult periods such as this.

Alternatively, the country could simply turn to smuggle its oil and bring in supplies, although US officials doubt that the effect of the sanctions can be offset by smuggling. As this is likely correct, another option for Iran is to turn to cryptocurrencies for help.

Iran might find a way out through crypto

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are known for a number of qualities, such as their borderless nature, achieved through decentralization. This form of digital money is not under anyone’s control, meaning that the US cannot do much to stop Iran from using Bitcoin and other coins and tokens.

Several days ago, Bloomberg reported that Iran plans to manufacture $11 billion worth of various products in the next two years, in order to replace imports and find a way to deal with US-led sanctions.

On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that US officials believe Iran to be in a state of panicked aggression. This statement refers to several reports of assault against energy supplies, which Iran denied. Still, the problem lies with money, as the currency reserves of Iran are estimated to be at $86 million- 20% below the level reported in 2013. With a situation like that, US officials believe that Iran will either have to return to the negotiating table or burn through even more of its reserves.

Despite this, a Bitcoinist report from earlier this year believes that Iranian companies could exploit the anonymity of cryptocurrency and bypass the American restrictions. In fact, threats of US sanctions was historically more than enough to control Iran, until anonymous payments in digital currencies became a possibility.

The US Treasury seems to be well aware of this, as it warned digital marketplaces against trading Bitcoin with Iran-based firms and individuals. Some trading sites even started blocking buyers that were confirmed to be from Iran, while some even went as far as to confiscate Iranian clients’ funds.

However, these are believed to be isolated incidents, as cryptocurrencies’ very nature makes them extremely difficult to control, or even monitor. There is simply no way to duplicate banking sanctions when it comes to crypto, which is why the Iranian government might come to rely on digital assets to bypass the current restrictions and find a way to survive US sanctions.

What do you think about Iran’s chances to bypass sanctions with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Hackers are Stealing Crypto Using Clipper Malware

hackers use clipper malware to steal crypto

Hackers can steal crypto payments by using a relatively new malware that replaces the receiving address between copying and pasting.


According to a report from February of this year, a security researcher called Lukas Stefanko discovered that hackers had brought the so-called Clipper Malware to Google Play via infected cryptocurrency apps. He describes it in a blog post he named ‘First Clipper Malware discovered on Google Play,’ where he explains how the malware can steal crypto users’ coins.

The malware has a very simple and very dangerous purpose, which is to take advantage of copying and pasting public addresses of cryptocurrency wallets. When a user copies an address, the malware replaces it with an address of a hacker.

When the user uses the paste function to enter the address, it is not the same one that they had originally copied. However, this is usually not something that most people would notice, as crypto wallet addresses tend to be extremely long and random-looking.

The issue also appeared on the BitcoinTalk forum, where the user warned others about copying and pasting addresses via CTRL+C and CTRL+V commands. The user stated that checking the initial few characters is not enough to confirm that the address that was pasted is the same one that was copied. Often enough, the first several characters might be genuine, and the user might not notice that the rest are not.

Stefanko himself called the malware very dangerous, stating that,

This dangerous form of malware first made its rounds in 2017 on the Windows platform and was spotted in shady Android app stores in the summer of 2018. In February 2019, we discovered a malicious clipper on Google Play, the official Android app store.

Hackers love Crypto

As far as malware goes, this one is not particularly old. However, its capabilities make it quite dangerous, and the fact that it is found even on some prominent software hosting sites only confirms that researchers are right to be concerned.

The malware discovered on Google Play Store impersonated MetaMask, and it would try to steal users’ Ethereum coins if they were to download the app. Ethereum coins are often targeted by hackers, whether from users’ private wallets or from crypto exchanges such as Upbit.

Of course, Bitcoin is still one of the most targeted coins, if not THE most targeted crypto. Even the largest crypto exchanges, such as Binance, often fail to fend off a hacking attack, which indicates how innovative attackers have become.

How to make sure you are not infected

As for how to deal with the clipping malware, security researchers have suggested paying extra attention to the address that users enter into the payment form. All kinds of errors can occur because crypto addresses were not meant for humans to read them and remember them, which is why checking each character is extremely important.

Any difference between the address that users wish to send the crypto to and the one in the form will result in lost funds as soon as the user presses the send button. Further, some have suggested that switching to Linux might be a better option, particularly Mint, for those who are new to Linux OS.

One reason for this is the fact that Microsoft OS features Cortana, which is an unremovable keyboard logger that stores user information in the Microsoft cloud. Other than that, users should try to regularly update their software, and only download apps posted by trusted sources.

Do you regularly check addresses to which you send funds? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock

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Crypto Merger and Acquisition Activity Totals $4 Billion Since 2013

Crypto merger and acquisition activity totals 4 billion usd

TokenData decided to analyze merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the crypto industry, and it discovered over 350 deals worth over $4 billion in the last seven years.

The cryptocurrency industry has been around for nearly 11 years now, but that doesn’t mean that it has fully developed as of yet. In fact, it will likely be years, even decades before that happens. For now, this industry is still in its infancy, but even so — important developments are already underway.

According to a recent report published by TokenData, there has been a significant rise in M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) surrounding cryptocurrency-based firms. However, in the last decade, there has not been any official report regarding this type of activity, excluding news reports and maybe some high-level summaries. This is why TokenData decided to do its own analysis and report some curious findings.

TokenData report

After long and thorough research, the company came to a series of conclusions, starting with the fact that there were around 350 acquisitions regarding crypto and blockchain firms between 2013 and late 2019. The majority of them happened in 2018, with 162 deals in total, while there were only 4 deals in 2013.

This year, the activity has once again dropped off, although it still includes between 90-100 deals, which makes it the second busiest year from 2013 until now.

TokenData also believes that the activity regarding M&A is as volatile as crypto prices, and it actually positively correlated with them. In total, the deal value of all activity between 2013 and late 2019 is estimated at around $4 billion, most of which ($2.8 billion) was recorded in 2018. The total for 2019 is significantly lower, sitting at $700 million.

Clearly, these seem like significantly high numbers, although, as TokenData points out, the value of the crypto markets exceeds $200 billion, which dwarfs the volume of M&A.

Exchanges did most of the acquiring

While the volume seems significantly lower in 2019, TokenData points out that the reason might be that the different deal types have emerged, especially when it comes to Facebook’s activity regarding its Libra project, or consolidation plays by Coinbase and other crypto exchanges.

In fact, TokenData notes that exchanges are among the most active acquirers. This is hardly surprising, as trading continues to be one of the most popular activities in the crypto industry. That way, exchanges receive huge amounts of funds, which allows them to engage in acquisitions. Coinbase itself had over 16 deals up to this point.

Of course, exchanges are not the only ones who have the means and the will to purchase crypto startups. A significant increase in similar activities was noticed among non-crypto companies, as well, especially by those that have high hopes for the future of the crypto sector. These firms did some acquiring of their own in order to increase their presence in the industry.

Facebook is the best example here, as the firm acquired two crypto startups — Servicefriend and Chainspace — both of which will contribute to Libra in some way.

Naturally, strategic M&A goes far beyond that, and exchanges have been known to acquire startups only to get access to certain products or jurisdictions. TokenData noted at least 15 deals in 2018 and 2019 that were made for the sole purpose of gaining regulatory licenses. The companies that acquired crypto startups do not try to hide this — they mentioned regulation as one of the most important aspects of their moves.

There were other reasons, as well, particularly when a company discovers a startup with exceptional talents or promising new technologies. These so-called ‘Tuck-Ins’ were particularly high in 2018 and 2019, with the activity in 2019 being only somewhat lower than last year.

One clear lack is noticeable when it comes to Decentralized M&A — there weren’t any in the last seven years. In fact, there were none of those, at all. Although many have been speculated regarding how those might look like, and for now — they remain the thing of the future.

What do you think about M&A in the crypto industry? Do you expect them to surge once more in 2020? Let us know in the comments below?

Image via Shutterstock,  Twitter @TokenData

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Ethereum Devs Decide to Increase Inflation, Delay Difficulty Bomb

ethereum classic could replace ETH 1.0

Ethereum developers have agreed to postpone the difficulty bomb, thus increasing inflation when most coins are trying to reduce it.

Ethereum Devs Delay Difficulty Bomb Again

The recent debate regarding Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is finally finished, with a rough consensus being reached. According to developers, the difficulty bomb will see yet another delay.

The details regarding what was said are a bit more difficult to acquire, as the public call between the developers experienced a number of technical issues. However, PegaSys’ Tim Beiko confirmed that the developers agreed to push the difficulty bomb by another 4 million blocks.

According to estimates, the issue of difficulty bomb will next emerge in about 700 days, meaning in about two years. In other words, the bomb will kick in once again in 2021/2022. On the other hand, the PoS Beacon Chain will go through significantly earlier, likely in spring 2020.

Meanwhile, the inflation will grow by 2,000 ETH per day by the time the fork occurs. At the moment, the number of ETH per day sits at around 11,600, meaning that it is expected to grow back to 13,600, which is about the same number that miners were seeing before the bomb kicked in.

PoS and PoW hybrid will come before PoS itself

One thing to note is that developers did all of the decision making among themselves, without the participation of Ethereum’s community. One of the decisions included the proposed name of the fork, Melting Glacier. However, the name was eventually changed to Mountain Glacier.

The new name still holds the same message of ‘melting the ice age,’ which is what the difficulty bomb is also known as. In other words, the increased difficulty of mining would take more energy, making it less profitable and harmful to the environment.

However, once the PoS algorithm kicks in, it will remove the need for miners, while Ethereum itself would become much more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, Ethereum’s founder, Vitalik Buterin, believes that PoS is still far away and that reaching it will likely take years.

Instead, the developers will introduce a hybrid of PoS and PoW, although the two types won’t be in direct contact with one another. The issue is undoubtedly very complex, and solving it is far from being a simple matter. Furthermore, the delay of difficulty bomb likely won’t have a good impact on the efforts to solve it, either.

What happens now?

For now, the developers agreed to hold an urgent hard fork soon after the new Istanbul update, and the fork will take place in only a few days, on December 7th, on block 9,069,000. This is allegedly going to be the last hard fork that Ethereum 1.0 will ever experience, as it will open the way to Serenity, and eventually, Ethereum 2.0.

However, before the transition to Ethereum 2.0, the network will see a number of changes. This will include the activation of Casper, the alleged switch to PoS, the update to Ethereum virtual machine, as well as the change of cross-contact logic and protocol economics. On top of all that, in June 2020, Ethereum’s network is expected to get yet another update called Berlin, which will be the next step towards Ethereum 2.0.

What do you think about the developers’ decision? Let us know your thoughts on the matter down in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @TimBeiko

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Vertcoin Suffers its Second 51% Attack in 12 Months

Vertcoin falls victim to another 51% attack

Vertcoin recently suffered its second 51% attack in 12 months, with the newest attack occurring almost exactly 1 year since the previous one.

Reports of a 51% attack on the project known as Vertcoin (VTC) has flooded the web in the last few hours. The attack reportedly took place on December 1st at 15.19 UTC, when around 603 blocks got removed from the project’s main blockchain. Simultaneously, the attackers replaced them with 553 of attacker blocks.

According to reports, there were around 5 recorded transactions that included double-spending, while the hacker managed to ‘earn’ around 13825 VTC coins from block rewards, which is around 0.44 BTC ($3,211).

However, one interesting detail regarding the attack is that it took place exactly a year after the previous attack, Bitcoinist reported in early December 2018.

Vertcoin Falls Victim Again

Reports of Vertcoin (VTC) suffering a 51% attack started emerging in early December 2018, when the project experienced 22 deep chain reorganizations. 15 of them reportedly included double-spending of VTC. In the aftermath of the event, it was estimated that attackers had stolen around $100,000, while the largest reorg went 300 blocks deep, according to last year’s Medium report by Mark Nesbitt.

Now, a Github user known as metalicjames, who is Vertacoin’s lead maintainer, James Lovejoy, reported that the attack happened once again. According to the report, the project abandoned the PoW algorithm after the last attack, and shifted to Lyra2REv3. While developers believed that the project was safer for it, one of the miners started noticing an unusual upswing in hashrate rental prices on November 30th, 2019.

Since Bittrex is Vertcoin’s most trafficked exchange by volume, the exchange was notified of the suspected incident and advised to close its wallet to the coin. Bittrex reacted by disabling withdrawals as soon as they received proof that the project was under a 51% attack.

The motive remains unclear

For the moment, developers suspected that attackers used the hashrate rental service, Nicehash. Lovejoy believes that the attacker spent between 0.5 and 1 BTC to perform the attack, indicating that their efforts were not exactly profitable.

This leads to the question — why conduct the attack at all? Vertcoin is currently 194th largest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of $12.5 million. Meanwhile, its trading volume in the last 24 hours sits at $363,000. The coin’s price is currently at $0.236971, after suffering a 6.84% drop in the last 24 hours.

With the date of the attack being exactly one year since the last one, and the fact that the attack was not at all profitable, it appears that the hacker(s) had a different goal in mind. Lovejoy speculated that the attack might be proof-of-concept sabotage.

Alternatively, the real target of the attack may have been Bittrex itself, although Lovejoy points out that the double-spend portion attack was aborted even before the exchange disabled their wallet. In other words, PoC sabotage seems like the most valid explanation as of now.

Do you think that two attacks on Vertcoin are connected? Let us know in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock,  Twitter @metalicjames

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Ethereum Researcher Arrested by FBI but ETH Price Unfazed

ethereum researcher arrested

Ethereum Foundation member Virgil Griffith was arrested on Thursday for traveling to North Korea to hold presentations regarding crypto and blockchain technologies and their use for evading sanctions. ETH price, however, has remained unaffected by the news. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office released an announcement about arresting Virgil Griffith. Griffith is a US citizen and an Ethereum researcher, who allegedly provided the North Korean government with what was described as ‘highly technical information,’ knowing that it could and would be used for helping the country evade sanctions and launder money.

The announcement adds that Griffith’s actions jeopardized the measures that were enacted by the US Congress, as well as the president himself, in order to put pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime. The Ethereum foundation member did so after receiving several warnings against going to North Korea, according to Assistant Attorney General, John Demers.

Details of the Transgression

According to the authorities, Griffith went to North Korea back in April 2019, and he was finally arrested for his violation of the US laws on Thursday, November 28th, at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge also added that,

We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk.  It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.

Despite being the US citizen, Virgil Griffith (36) is actually a resident of Singapore, according to the announcement. The main charge against him revolves around conspiring to violate the IEEPA, which is a crime punishable with 20 years of imprisonment. Of course, Griffith’s sentence will be determined by the judge after his trial.

ETH Price Unfazed

For the moment, ETH’s price does not appear to be negatively affected by the news. In fact, the coin’s price sits at $155.81 at the time of writing, after seeing 1.59% growth in the last 24 hours.

What do you think about Virgil Griffith’s actions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock, Twitter: @SDNYnews

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Bitmain Lawsuit Heats Up, Plaintiffs Fight Motion to Dismiss

Bitmain US court motion to dismiss denied

United Corp, a Florida-based cryptocurrency company that sued Bitmain in December 2018, contested the mining giant’s motion to dismiss the case in a US court this week. 

A cryptocurrency company United American Corp claims that China-based Bitmain should not be dismissed from the United States’ antitrust suit, as the mining gear maker requested.

The issue arose when Bitmain accused the United Corp of missing a deadline to serve the China-based firm. United Corp denied the accusations, claiming that both Bitmain and its CEO, Jihan Wu, were aware of the lawsuit against them. Instead, the firm continues to claim that it did everything in its power to properly serve the Chinese firm, and do its part before the deadline.

Bitmain vs. United Corp

Bitmain, on the other hand, claims the opposite in its November 12th motion. According to the mining giant, United Corp missed the deadline by as many as four business days. They claim that they do not have enough ties to the United States to face a jury there, much less to be aware of their obligations without being notified. United Corp once again claims otherwise, even stating that Bitmain’s current CEO, Jihan Wu, currently lives in San Jose, California.

Furthermore, United Corp. claims that it can show the ties between Bitmain and the US if the Florida magistrate judge doubted that such ties existed.

Bitmain Woes

Some of the company’s proof includes the fact that Bitmain and Wu were represented by the same counsel that represents related entities. Another thing that United Corp had pointed out is that the mining giant also filed for an IPO recently in the US. They also rented office space in San Jose. Finally, according to the company, Bitmain also invested hundreds of millions of US dollars in a Texas-based data center.

Even that is not all, as Bitmain supposedly has an entire history of business deals in the US, in general. In other words, Bitmain’s claim that it doesn’t have ties to the state of California is irrelevant, as United Corp only needs to prove ties to the US itself.

Bitmain and Wu are only two of the nine names that were listed as defendants in the antitrust suit, although all of them have moved for dismissal.

Bitmain itself is one of the largest companies in the crypto industry, and it is known for its development of mining gear. Less than two months ago, the company announced two new models in their Antminer 17 series, as reported by Bitcoinist. The firm claims that its goal is to use modern technological breakthroughs to improve power efficiency and increase hashrate output.

What do you think about the ongoing Bitmain’s case? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock, Case reference: United American Corp. v. Bitmain Inc. et al., case number 1:18-cv-25106, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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US Court Allows IRS to View Bitstamp Customer Information

Us court allows IRS snooping

US federal judge allowed the IRS to demand information about users’ assets from Bitstamp crypto exchange, although the agency was also ordered to reduce the number of requests.

The IRS’s involvement with the cryptocurrency industry continues to increase. This, in turn, has irked quite some crypto users. One resident of Washington even sent a request to the Washington County District Court, asking for a court order that would stop the IRS from receiving information about Bitstamp exchange’s users.

However, the court rejected the request, and it allowed the Internal Revenue Service to continue storing data, only ordering it to reduce the number of requests. The Washington resident in question, William Zietzke, presented two arguments to the court.

The first one was that the crypto user has a constitutional right to financial integrity, and the second, third parties (such as the IRS) should not be trusted with protecting the personal information of exchanges’ users.

IRS crypto tax

Zietzke and the IRS

According to new information, Zeitzke attempted to cancel the IRS disclosure requests for Bitstamp due to the agency’s efforts to check the crypto exchange’s transactions and other data. Supposedly, he reported a capital gain of $104,482 in 2016. However, he then realized that two of the reported crypto transactions — the ones that earned him the largest amounts — did not take place in 2016.

Instead, his real capital gain from 2016 was only $410. He then demanded the return of taxes that he paid, which caused the tax agency to request information from Bitstamp. Tsitske then argued that the IRS already had the data it needed and that they did not take the proper administrative steps required by the law.

While the judge agreed that the IRS’ request was ambitious, he also allowed it, stating that crypto transactions have tax consequences.

The IRS’s concerns with cryptocurrencies are nothing new, especially when it comes to potential tax evasion. Only days ago, Bitcoinist reported the agency’s concerns regarding Bitcoin ATMs and kiosks, stating that they need regulating like any exchange.

The agency even attempted to publish guidance regarding the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies, although its failure to include De Minimis Exception was heavily criticized. The agency explained its decision by saying that including it would only significantly burden the IRS.

What do you think about Tsitske’s case against the IRS? Do you agree with the court’s ruling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Twitter CEO Sees Big Future for Bitcoin in Africa

jack dorsey twitter CEO

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, recently published a tweet in which he announces his move to Africa, as he believes that the continent will ‘define the future.’

Africa has always been a fascinating continent to a lot of people, and according to one recent tweet, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey feels the same. However, while many people want to go there to experience different cultures, climate, and observe the wildlife — Dorsey believes that going there will allow him to see the future unfold.

Twitter CEO plans to return to Africa

According to his tweet, Dorsey appears to be sad for leaving the continent, but he also sees great potential for the future in Africa. He especially points out that the future of Bitcoin might have great potential in African countries. The continent’s crypto industry is growing rapidly, as even the unbanked and underbanked areas still have access to the internet, and therefore — cryptocurrency.

The tweet also indicates that he plans to return, and spend 3-6 months in Africa, likely in the mid-2020. He has yet to fully arrange his plans, as he admits to not knowing where he will be during this period. However, Dorsey definitely seems to be making plans for a quick return within a few months.

Dorsey’s new fascination with Africa comes after a brief tour, which he announced back in October. The tour included several countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia. During his stay, Dorsey met with various entrepreneurs from these countries, allegedly discussing plans for the improvement of living conditions in the southern continent.

Africa is the future

Dorsey is also known for traveling around the world and engaging with interesting local customs in countries he visits.

While he apparently continued to practice some of these customs even after leaving the countries where he learned them, his visit to Africa seems to have been defined by talks with tech representatives of the continent.

As reported, Dorsey sees a lot of potential in Africa, which is often ignored by major tech firms due to the lack of Western-like infrastructure. However, Twitter CEO is known for being a visionary, and if he believes that Africa has great potential for the future, others might follow his lead before long.

What do you think about Dorsey’s plan to return to Africa? Let us know in the comment section below.

Image via Shutterstock,  Twitter @jack

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Bitmain’s Jihan Wu Announces Two New Antminer 17 Miners

Bitmain Bitcoin

This week, Bitmain Co-Founder, Jihan Wu, announced the launch of two new Antminer 17 series miners at the World Digital Mining Summit.

The World Digital Mining Summit saw quite a bit of discussion earlier this year in October, but also a few very important announcements. One of them came from Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, who announced two new additions to the famous Antminer 17 series.

The two new models include S17+ and T17+, both of which will bring new improvements to hashrate and power efficiency.

Details About the New Miners

According to Wu, Antminer S17+ will bring a hash rate of 73 TH/s, while its power efficiency will be 40 J/TH + 10%. T17+, on the other hand, will have a somewhat lower hash rate of 64 TH/s, while its power efficiency will be greater, sitting at 50 J/TH + 10%.

Wu also commented by saying that the Antminers will be the leading models of mining innovation. Wu said,

They each represent the future of its rig design and power efficiency.

He also added that Bitmain’s goal is to remain committed to researching and developing the miners‘ capabilities, which will ultimately allow the company to keep improving the devices further.

Another important detail about the miners is that they will use a new dual-tube heat dissipation technology, which also works to reduce fan noise. According to a report, the models also have a high temperature and fain abnormal protection mechanism, which will bring greater stability and allow miners to operate them safely.

Finally, both of the two devices will come with the Exposed Die package solution, which will allow them to easily adapt to mining farms, regardless of their size.

Wu also announced that the miners would be available for ordering on October 11th, and according to new information, the orders will start arriving within a few days, between December 1st and 10th of this year.

Bitmain Hopes to Regain Top Spot

As reported by Bitcoinist earlier this month, Bitmain’s dominance in the Bitcoin mining industry has been showing significant signs of struggle over the last 3 months. With high price volatility, internal disputes with the company’s management structure, and an increase in competition from other mining pools, Bitmain subsequently lost its place as the leading Bitcoin block producer.

The new release of the S17 mining rigs, combined with the recently announced plans for a new Texas mining farm, however, could be the critical catalysts that Bitmain needs in order to regain its grip on the industry.

What do you think about Bitmain’s new S17 series rigs? Leave your comments below!

Image via Shutterstock

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Alibaba, OneConnect Leads China’s Blockchain Patent Race

alibaba files blockchain patent

Alibaba and OneConnect scored the highest in China’s recent Blockchain Patents list after they both filed IPO prospectuses at the same time.

The development of blockchain technology continues to rage on across the world, and countless corporations are struggling to take the lead. A little over a week ago, on November 18th, BlockData published a new report titled China Blockchain Patents Report 2019 and the Comprehensive Strength list of China’s Blockchain Patents 2019.

The report leaves little doubt as to which Chinese companies are among the strongest in the blockchain patenting, with Alibaba taking the top spot on the list. However, immediately behind the e-commerce giant, OneConnect takes the second place.

OneConnect may be the second overall, but it still topped the list when it comes to the ranking by the strength of blockchain-related patents. The overall ranking actually considers several factors, including:

  • The number of patent applications
  • How many patents were granted
  • The scope of patent protection
  • The application for the patent
  • Patent family location

The two companies have another thing in common, apart from being the top blockchain patent holders in China. They both decided to issue their IPO prospectuses on the same day, and in the US and Hong Kong alike. They did so just before the list was published, and the move attracted a lot of attention.

Two Largest Blockchain Patent Holders in China

Alibaba decided to submit its own preliminary prospectus about two weeks ago, on November 13th, and it appeared on SEHK (Stock Exchange of Hong Kong). The company revealed that it aims to issue as many as 500 new shares that will appear on the exchange’s mainboard.

alibaba files blockchain patent

In China itself, Alibaba held 6,175 authorized patents, with 13,336 additional patent applications. On the outside of the country, the firm had an additional 3,112 authorized patents, and 9,742 new applications, as of June 30, 2019.

As mentioned, OneConnect applied for the IPO on the same day, November 13th. The company approached the US SEC, with its prospectus claiming that the firm has applied for 542 foreign patents, as well as around 2,850 domestic ones.

However, one thing to note is that OneConnect ended up being the highest-ranking firm based on the strength of its blockchain patents. Its FIMAX blockchain solution even reached the super vehicle management office of China’s government. Further, it became a solution for supply chain, enterprise loans, trade finance, mortgages, intelligent environmental protection, and more.

What do you think about Alibaba and OneConnect filing blockchain patents? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Images via Shutterstock

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BitTorrent Creator Tees Off Against Ethereum

BitTorrent Creator Tees off against Ethereum

Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, recently spoke out against Ethereum in a 28-post tweetstorm outlining his concerns about the project’s viability. 

The crypto community is no stranger to drama, and a new one is seemingly unfolding right now. Recently, Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, shared a text under the title of ‘Hard Problems in Cryptocurrency: Five Years Later.’ In the text, he elaborates on different aspects, plans, and issues that are or might start affecting the crypto industry, and especially Ethereum.

However, while Buterin seems to be generally concerned about these issues — such as scalability, timestamping, Arbitrary Proof of Computation, Code Obfuscation, Hash-Based Cryptography, and more — not everyone agrees.

Cohen criticizes Vitalik Buterin

BitTorrent creator, Bram Cohen, stood up against Buterin’s claims on Twitter, basically dismissing most of them or pointing out that some solutions are not even worth considering right now for various reasons. He called Buterin’s claims wrong-headed, and began a 28-tweets-long thread in which he addressed Buterin’s claims, point by point.

For example, in the part of his text where he talks about Blockchain Scalability, Buterin mentions on-chain scaling with sharding as the only option worth considering. Cohen strongly disagrees, stating that payment channel networks are a much better way to go about it, and are becoming ‘a real thing.’

This appears to be one of the most concerning parts of Buterin’s text, as he sees it as a sure way to end up requiring miners to have all the shards. According to him, that would not be sharding, but redefining what a ‘full node’ is. Of course, Buterin did not claim this himself, but Cohen sees it as a very likely result if the technology behind crypto heads down this path.

Cohen addresses the rest of Buterin’s points in a similar manner, usually disagreeing with his viewpoints, or claiming that some solutions are still underdeveloped to be considered seriously at this time.

One example of the latter concerns Buterin’s views on ‘Arbitrary Proof of Computation.’ Cohen commented that there is ‘a lot of very exciting stuff going on.’ However, he noted that he would not dare to look into it seriously for at least a few more years. He does have high hopes for the concept, although he clearly believes it to be underdeveloped at this time.

There are also points that Buterin made that Cohen sees as unnecessary. Code Obfuscation is one such segment, where the Ethereum Co-Founder hopes for further progress while Cohen believes that ZK techniques already fulfill pretty much all use cases in practice.

Ethereum POS is a ‘Bad Idea’

He also hit close to home for Ethereum by commenting that PoS ‘continues to be a bad idea.’ He believes it to be a fundamentally weakened security model that will cause countless additional technical issues. He admits that there was some progress in the field, but he still doesn’t seem to have much faith in it.

He also commented on timestamping, claiming that it is fine as it is and that there is no need to bring additional changes.

Blockstream CEO, Adam Back, also decided to weigh in on Cohen’s tweetstorm against Vitalik, comparing the Ethereum Co-Founder to the disgraced Founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes.


Do you agree with Bram Cohen comments regarding Ethereum? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @bramcohen @VitalikButerin @Adam3us

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Crypto Markets Surging on Back of Rising US Tech Stocks?

crypto us stock tech market

A recent rally of technology companies’ shares led to an overall increase in US stock prices, which are hitting new records. Could this bullish activity be the cause of today’s crypto recovery? 

US and China willing to continue with the talks

The US/China trade war still rages on, but recent events have had some positive impacts on the prices of stocks around the world. The recent increase comes directly after China’s officials announced speeding up of penalties and punitive action for patent infringement and copyrights.

Meanwhile, the US declared that it is willing to continue negotiating, provided that China can assure the US that it will stay true to its commitments. Clearly, China’s response indicates that the country is willing to continue talks with the US, which is considered to be a good sign for assets such as stocks.

Stocks are known to be risky assets, and this was confirmed throughout the year, as the uncertainty regarding the two powers’ negotiations prolonged. Confirmation that the negotiations will continue in good faith has had a major impact on the shares of many companies, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose by 0.7% (190.85 points). Nasdaq Composite grew by 1.3% (112.60 points), while S&P 500 went up by 0.8% (23.35 points).

Moving forward, stock market participants do not expect any sudden moves, unless some unexpected news ends up having a major impact. Further, due to the holidays approaching, the bond and stock markets will be closed Thursday and shut early on Friday.

Stock and Crypto Markets Bounce

When it comes to the tech firms in the US, the country has had quite a few significant gainers, including Advanced Micro Devices, whose shares rose by 1.6%, as well as Nvidia, which saw a 4.9% surge.

bitcoin price surge reasons

While the US/China situation did have a significant impact on the stock prices, it is worth noting that the recent growth in deal-making also had a major influence on the positivity surrounding stock prices.

Probably the best-known example includes the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s purchase of Tiffany, whose shares surged by 6.2% following the announcement. Another example is the surge of Charles Schwab shares, which rose by 2.3% following the agreement to buy a rivaling firm, TD Ameritrade Holding. The rivaling company itself saw a share surge of 7.6%.

Other major gainers include eBay (2.1%), but also the GBP, which increased by 0.6% against USD, and the FTSE 100 index, which grew by 0.9%.

The improving stock market could be a contributing catalyst for the relief rally we’re witnessing take place across the crypto markets today. Right now, the leading cryptocurrency has recovered 5% of its losses from the week, and returned to the psychological support at $7,200. According to Coinmarketcap figures, the global market cap has added $16 Billion in the last 24 hours, arousing hope that the crypto market bottom is finally in.

What do you think about the new stock price rally? Do you expect that the share prices will continue growing throughout the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Whale Moves 47,000 BTC ($338 Million) as China Cracks Down on Crypto

bitcoin whale moves btc

China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrencies may have caused Bitcoin whales to move huge quantities of BTC. 

China’s recent praises of blockchain technology do not seem to extend to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as the country’s central bank launched another crackdown on crypto.

The People’s Bank of China warned that ‘illegal actions’ involving digital assets would not be tolerated, and noted that investors should not mistake crypto with blockchain. Only hours after the move, a Bitcoin whale made their move in a single, massive transaction.

Bitcoin Whale Moves Over $300 Million in BTC

As mentioned, a single, massive transaction was recorded only a few hours ago, involving 47,000 BTC, which is over $337.8 million considering current prices. The transaction recorded that funds were moved from one unknown wallet to another.

The news from China also resulted in a massive Bitcoin price drop, in the last few days. BTC is currently sitting at 00 after dropping by 4.33% in the last 24 hours.

The dump brought down altcoins, as well. The top 10 cryptos are currently seeing drops between 4% and 8.7%, excluding the stablecoin Tether (USDT), which climbed to the 4th spot on the list of largest cryptocurrencies.

China Steps Up Efforts to Launch its Own Coin

China’s move, which seems to have started this series of events, comes in light of recent discussions regarding the country’s potential to open up to crypto. It appears that the interest in digital currencies in China rose due to the country’s positive stance towards blockchain technology. Many started speculating whether China might lift the ban on cryptocurrency trading.

Now, the country once again confirmed its anti-crypto stance, although it still continues with plans to launch its own, national digital currency known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP). The central bank confirmed that China’s national coin is still under tests and detailed studies, but that it will see launch eventually.

What do you think about China’s recent move? Did you expect Bitcoin price to move in such a drastic way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter: @whale_alert

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Crypto Worth $6.7 Million Seized from Kiwi Programmer

crypto seized from piracy expert

During a movie piracy setup crackdown, Hamilton Police seized $6.7 million in cryptocurrency from a software programmer. 

According to recent reports, law enforcement officers in Hamilton, New Zealand successfully arrested a 31-year old programmer and movie pirate Jaron David McIvor. During the arrest, the police also managed to seize around $6,7 million worth of crypto — as well as $1.1 million in bank funds.

The arrest comes as a result of an investigation into online movie piracy. As per reportings, McIvor’s residence did not have much stored wealth, despite major amounts in his possession. All the more, he lived in a rental property that he shared with a relative who is also sought after by the US tax officials.

Piracy Hunt Order: PayPal Tipped IRS and the IRS tipped the Police

The police seized the funds under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, which allows authorities to freeze bank accounts of suspects provided there is a suspicion that the suspect made a profit from criminal activities. In McIvor’s case, he committed money laundering by earning millions from movie piracy. McIvor allegedly helped create an illegal streaming website, where he uploaded movies without permission. So far, McIvor has denied the money laundering charges.

The police made a move after the United States’ IRS tipped them, stating that they received Suspicious Activity Reports on McIvor from PayPal. After carefully perusing the report, the IRS tracked McIvor to New Zealand. He is not the only suspect in the movie piracy case, although he appears to be the only one in New Zealand. Other individuals connected to the case were tracked down to Vietnam, Canada, and even the US.

The records obtained by the police state that McIvor earned around $2 million by streaming pirated movies. He received the money on PayPal and Stripe, and he then transferred it to his bank account.

He allegedly earned the rest through cryptocurrency trading. The funds will likely be sold by the High Court’s order to ensure that they do not lose value over time, should crypto prices drop.

What do you think about this case? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock

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Binance to Sue The Block for Damaging the Exchange’s Reputation

cz binance to sue the block

Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, stated on Twitter that the exchange would sue The Block for false news reporting pertaining to a Chinese ‘police raid’ on the exchange’s Shangai office.

The Block’s recent report claimed that Binance’s China office got raided by the police, which never happened according to the exchange’s CEO. Now CZ called out the crypto media outlet on Twitter, demanding an apology for the egregious mistake.

CZ Confirms Binance’s Lawsuit Plans

CZ’s response came as a comment on another tweet posted by Misha Lederman. Lederman stated that Frank Chaparro, The Block’s news director, plans to ‘address the usage of objectionable language’ in the story that had reported the raid. Lederman also commented on the story, calling it ‘very poor journalism’ that has damaged the reputation of Binance and the crypto industry itself.

To that, Binance’s CEO added that the fake news also affected BTC’s price and that The Block is now trying to save face by trying to change perspective. He then asked for the news outlet to ‘own up and apologize.’

When asked whether Binance plans to sue The Block, Zhao confirmed that this is indeed the plan.

Fake News Damaging the Crypto Industry

Fake news with false or exaggerated claims is nothing new on the internet, and it is a problem that has been around for a long time. Numerous media outlets are guilty of their use of strong or misleading language that has a goal of attracting clicks.

However, the use of such language also damages reputations, and this time, the damage is quite severe. Not just, Binance but the credibility of the entire digital asset space is at stake due to the false report.

Bitcoin has been taking a nosedive in the last few days due to this report, although China’s newest crackdown on cryptocurrency trading in Shanghai likely also contributed. Right now, Bitcoin’s price sits at 00, which is about $1,000 lower than what it was earlier this week.

The rest of the crypto market followed the drop as well, resulting in a major price loss for almost all coins. However, the fake news probably had the harshest impact on the price od Binance’s native crypto, BNB. The coin has seen the largest drop amongst the top 10 largest cryptos, with its price down by 8.46% in the last 24 hours.

What do you think about the new situation? Do you agree with Binance’s decision to sue The Block? Let us know in the comments below.

Image via Bitcoinist Media Library, Twitter: @cz_binance, @mishalederman

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Ethereum Block Rewards Reduced by 1000 ETH as Block Times Rise

ethereum eth block rewards

The Ethereum network is now producing less ETH per day. Block rewards have reduced from around 13,500 coins to 12,500. 

Ethereum is currently facing a situation where the block reward output per day is about 1,000 coins lesser than last week. This is a major drop compared to the situation three years ago when the average number of coins produced per day was at around 30,000. 

Block rewards in 2017 were pegged at 20,000, dropping once more to 14,000 earlier in 2019. Usually, the drop in block rewards is tightly connected to major upgrades in the Ethereum network. This time, however, there were no upgrades that would affect the production of new coins. ETH rewards are simply dropping, while the hash rate seems to be appreciating.

Recent data indicates that Ethereum block times have gone up as well, although only by around 1 second. The only explanation for the current situation is that the difficulty bomb has kicked in.

What is the Ethereum Difficulty Bomb?

As many might be aware, Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is a protocol level algorithm that increases the amount of power required to find and solve blocks. Difficulty bombs have been activated in the past, as well, with one of the most notable spikes occurring in 2017, during the months of March and April. The time needed to solve blocks surged from 14 to 30 seconds. This situation lasted until October 2017.


The bomb also went off almost a year ago, in December 2018, but block times only climbed only to 20 seconds. This time, the bomb remained active for around two months.

Now, one year later, the difficulty problem seems to have kicked in again, although it only brought the time needed to solve a block down to 13 seconds. The effect is slow at first, but soon enough, finding a block becomes extremely difficult. It will likely become more and more strenuous to solve blocks as time goes by, meaning rewards will probably decrease further in the near future.

ETH price might grow due to the incoming shortage. For now, the recommended course of action is to let the bomb do its job, while Ethereum inches closer to its transition to PoS. 

Some dApp users might see slight delays in transactions, but ultimately, this should not pose a major problem for the project.

What do you think about the latest drop in Ethereum block rewards? Do you expect the ETH’s price to grow? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter: @VitalikButerin

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LocalBitcoins Reports 135,000 New Customers Per Month

Localbitcoins gains 135,000 users per month

LocalBitcoins CEO recently revealed that the company is growing at a huge rate, stating that the platform still receives over 135,000 new users per month.

The advancements of the crypto industry are becoming more and more apparent as the years go by. Numerous new exchanges are emerging, the number of cryptocurrencies is larger than ever, and the industry has made significant technological breakthroughs.

The interest in crypto trading, particularly P2P trading, is also growing, according to LocalBitcoins’ CEO, Sebastian Sonntag, in a recent interview. During the talk, he admitted that the company is expanding and that its user base is gaining 4,000 to 5,000 users per day.

Sonntag answered a number of questions regarding LocalBitcoins itself, the altcoin market, regulations, challenges that the crypto world is facing now, and more.

The interview

When talking about LocalBitcoins, Sonntag stated that the company is going through a transitional period. The firm is growing rapidly, and he admitted that the firm is,

Working to catch up with a sharp increase in support queries, by hiring more staff and investing in training.

However, he also noted that the company’s plans for the future do not include providing wallets for the altcoins, even the ones among the top 10 largest coins. However, the platform does work on improving itself, especially due to its adoption in various regions.

LocalBitcoins Reports 135,000 New Customers Per Month

Sonntag stated that LocalBitcoins recently enabled ‘multiple simultaneous open trades,’ which would make trading more convenient and significantly faster. The changes were received very positively.

LocalBitcoins grows and improves

He particularly addressed the topic of crypto regulations. He noted that LocalBitcoins has always been taking steps to respond to legal requirements in all jurisdictions in which it operates. However, the platform does not serve US clients at the moment, although it is seeking legal advice on what it could do to change that.

Apart from the US and other similar regions, LocalBitcoins is one of the platforms with the widest reach in the industry. Even so, he believes that one of the platform’s main challenges is related to user education — not only regarding crypto but cybersecurity itself.

Sonntag also briefly touched upon Libra, stating that he is unsure of its impact on the crypto market and whether it will fuel adoption and expansion.

Do you think that Localbitcoins is more practical than crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comment section below!

Images via Shutterstock, LearnBonds

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Crypto Tax: De Minimis Exception Could Complicate Things for IRS

crypto tax IRS

A provision for de minimis exception in crypto taxes could lead coin holders to manipulate the system while burdening IRS further.

The US Internal Revenue Service recently published guidance regarding the tax treatment of digital currencies. The document was long-awaited due to the fact that it contains instructions on how to calculate taxes on crypto transactions. However, many have also noticed that it requires US citizens to report every sale, exchange, and transaction of cryptocurrencies in order to calculate gains and losses.

The document also doesn’t provide a de minimis exception — a certain threshold that would relieve crypto users from reporting smaller amounts and paying taxes on gains made from those small amounts. Many were disappointed to see the lack of de minimis exception, as numerous US citizens supported and requested it.

However, it appears that the IRS may have considered adding it, but eventually decided against doing so. The reason for this is a concern that crypto holders could have manipulated the system in order to bypass detection. This would only lead to the development of advanced tax evasion techniques.

The Lack of De Minimis Exception Explained

The reasons quoted by the IRS are simple to understand. If a de minimis provision were included, the agency itself would have to invest a lot more time and effort to comb through countless transactions in order to monitor the crypto market. In other words, the IRS would have to increase its own administrative burdens, while crypto holders would keep hoodwinking the system every time.

IRS crypto tax

The AICPA was one of the most vocal supporters of the de minimis exception, particularly in the last few years. It claimed that tracking the basis and fair market value of crypto at the time of each transaction is burdensome and time-consuming. While it is necessary for bigger transactions, the small ones are more often and not worth it.

However, Omri Marian, The University of California’s Irvine School of Law professor, argues that it makes no sense to add such a rule. That would only encourage the use of crypto, which is something that the government would not want to do.

Others have argued that adding de minimis exception would help crypto traders, while the contra-argument was that it would not, as digital asset traders would still have to track their profits in order to know whether or not they qualify for the tax exception rule. And, if the rule existed, it would likely only lead to its abuse, which is why the authorities have decided against it.

What do you think about the IRS’ ‘no de minimis’ decision? Were you hoping for a positive outcome? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Second Largest Australian Bank Broke AML Laws More Than 23 Million Times

australia westpac money laundering

Westpac, Australia’s second-largest bank, violated money laundering laws 23 million times and could be fined AUD21 million (US$15.7 million) per breach.

Westpac Banking Corp, the second-largest bank in Australia, currently faces multiple accusations. One of them is pertaining to the biggest breach of terrorism financing and money laundering laws in history. According to reports, the bank failed to detect over $7.5 billion in cross-border transactions, in addition to infringing money laundering laws 23 million times.

According to reports, each act of transgression might receive a $15.7 million (21 million AUD) fine.

Australian Banks Need to Improve Their Business Practices

The news comes as a surprise. Westpac has always been among the banks that are known for its reputable security and safety. However, Australia’s banks have started getting embroiled in one scandal after another in recent years, effectively losing reputation along the way.

Australia Westpac bank money laundering

This is not only the case. Only a year ago, Australia’s largest lender, known as Commonwealth Bank of Australia, got accused of 53,800 money laundering contraventions. The matter was settled for AUD 700 million, excluding the legal costs themselves. While this was Australia’s largest corporate civil penalty to date, it could have gone significantly higher than the quoted figure, reaching even AUD 1 trillion.

As for Westpac, the bank allegedly self-reported to Austrac (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), which then filed a statement of claim against it. Westpac CEO, Brian Hartzer, openly agreed with the statements, admitting that the bank should have done better,

Accusations Against Westpac Keep Piling Up

Austrac reported that infractions occurred between 2013 and 2019. They were possible due to Westpac’s adoption of an ad-hoc approach to money laundering and terrorist financing risk management and compliance. The bank even failed to manage known child-exploitation risks, allowing customers who served jail time for child exploitation to open accounts.

Westpac already saw a 3.3% drop in shares, and it recently reported its first annual profit drop in four years. Hartzer commented on the bank’s situation, insisting that the bank invested in improving the managing of financial crime risks. Some of the new precautions include improving automatic detection systems.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s central bank is investigating the claims as well, trying to determine whether they are relevant to the bank’s New Zealand subsidiary.

What do you think about the Westpac AML breach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Brooklyn ICO Scammer Jailed for 1.5 Years

brooklyn ICO scammer jailed

Maksim Zaslavskiy, who ran two fraudulent ICO projects, received a year and a half-long prison sentence this Monday which made his case one of the first ones to apply federal securities law on cryptocurrency.

While the US still lacks laws and regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, fraudulent ICOs are somewhat easier to deal with, especially due to the fact that many tokens are considered securities. One such case was closed only yesterday, November 18th, when a Brooklyn-based businessman, Maksim Zaslavskiy, was jailed for a year and a half.

Zaslavskiy held two fraudulent token sales back in November 2018, during which he sold securities, as he admitted to the authorities after being caught. He also admitted to falsely claiming that his tokens, ReCoin and Diamond Reserve Club, were backed by real estate and diamonds.

Fraudulent ICO considered a security scam

According to the US attorney for New York’s Eastern District, Richard P. Donoghue, Zaslavskiy committed a rather “old-fashioned fraud”. However, he was innovative enough to mask it and make it seem like advanced, cutting-edge technology.

What this means is that Zaslavskiy sold tokens that did not really exist, intentionally tricking investors into giving away their money for the supposed coins. The fraud and conspiracy charges were raised against him as far back as in late 2017, and he attempted to fight them until September 2018, when his bid to dismiss the case was rejected.

He claimed that he did not market his ICO tokens as securities, meaning that his case does not fall under the securities fraud laws. At the time, the court ruled that the jury will have to determine whether his coin offerings were in fact securities, or not.

However, before this could happen, Zaslavskiy decided to take a deal and plead guilty. As part of his plea deal, he agreed not to appeal a sentence that was lower than three years and five months. He was also ordered to return some of the money to the investors who participated in his token sales, although the court did not determine the exact amount as of yet.

What are your thoughts regarding this case? Leave your comment down below and let us know.

Images via Shutterstock

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Top 3 Places to Buy Bitcoin in Britain

Top 3 Places to Buy Bitcoin in Britain

The United Kingdom was recently announced has having the most crypto users in Europe, but buying and selling Bitcoin is by no means an easy feat for its citizens. To help out, here are 3 of the best places to buy Bitcoin in Britain.

Bitcoin is currently approaching its eleventh birthday, and while the very fact that it survived for this long is praiseworthy, it pales in comparison with what the coin has achieved in the past decade. Bitcoin is the reason why the crypto markets around the world exist in the first place.

However, when it comes to the UK, many still do not know where to buy BTC and how to get involved with cryptocurrency. New FCA guidelines on cryptocurrency businesses and ownership has perhaps also made this more difficult.

UK Tax Office Change Bitcoin and Crypto Tax laws

How to get Bitcoin in the UK?

Whether you live in the UK or any other part of the world, the methods of obtaining Bitcoin are pretty much the same. The best ones are through crypto exchanges, crypto custodian services, and crypto brokers.

Crypto exchanges are well-known to everyone who has had any contact with the crypto industry. They are the most popular way of exchanging coins, as well as for buying or selling crypto.

Bitcoin, as the most widespread cryptocurrency, is listed on pretty much every exchange in the world.

Crypto brokers may be a better option for those who plan to buy or sell large amounts of cryptocurrencies because placing a buy or sell order on the exchanges can often result in price slippage, multiple transactions and incomplete orders. It is sometimes unlikely that there will be another person that will buy or sell the same volume as your own order, which is why the process often includes several people.

Multiple transactions can, therefore, lead to greater chances of having issues with the process of exchanging coins for fiat money, or another coin. Brokers do it in a single transaction, ensure faster settlements, and ensure the process runs safely.

Meanwhile, custodians are the best service for buying, selling, and particularly storing coins in a safe spot until the user wants to retrieve them, and sell them off. They often target businesses and wealthy owners who can afford larger volumes of coins.

Where to actually buy Bitcoin in the UK?

With all of that out of the way, here are particular services that can be accessed by UK traders and investors that will allow the easy purchase of BTC and other coins.

1. Coinbase

One of the best choices for buying BTC in the UK is Coinbase — a US-based exchange that has also expanded to other countries, including several European countries. It has over 30 million users, and it has traded over £116 billion in cryptocurrencies during the last 7 years, which is how long it has been since its launch.

coinbase crypto IRA regal assets

It also allows credit and debit card deposits, SEPA transfers, as well as a few other payment methods that make it very popular among crypto users. The only issue with it is that settlements can sometimes take a long time — up to 5 days.

2. LocalBitcoins

Another good platform for obtaining BTC is LocalBitcoins, which connects buyers and sellers directly. It is a P2P platform that allows private purchase and sale of Bitcoin, although the fact that the service does little beyond connecting two individuals means that the buyer needs to trust the seller and vice versa.

Bitcoinist_South Africa Economic Turmoil LocalBitcoins

This makes it a good place for scammers to try and trick people, which is why being extra cautious pays off.

3. Binance.Jersey

Finally, there is Binance.Jersey — the first fiat-to-crypto exchange launched by Binance itself. Binance is one of the world’s largest and busiest crypto exchanges, but it doesn’t support fiat transactions, meaning that its users cannot simply deposit their fiat currencies and buy Bitcoin on the main platform.

binance futures trading on mobile android app

This is why Binance launched a number of subsidiaries in 2019, with Binance.Jersey being the first one. This particular subsidiary was specifically designed for European crypto users, and it represents one of the best ways for UK crypto enthusiasts to enter the market easily.

Are you interested in buying Bitcoin in the UK? If so, one of the services mentioned above will definitely see to your needs. All you need to do is register on one of them, and you can have access to BTC in no time.

Images via Shutterstock

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Stack Sats Now: Bitcoin Block Rewards Will Be Just 1 Satoshi By 2140

bitcoin mining

With Bitcoin halving 2020 approaching, many are looking towards the future trying to predict what mining might be like in 100 years from now. What we do know is that miners will receive just 1 satoshi per block reward for the last bitcoin mined, but how much could that be worth by then?

Every Satoshi Counts

Bitcoin mining started gaining in popularity again this year, after Bitcoin price triumphantly returned above the psychological $10K level. Since the end of the Crypto Winter, Bitcoin’s hashrate has continued to smash previous records as more and more computing power is committed to the network.

As many already know, BTC mining rewards go through a process called halving after every 210,000th block. Since each block lasts approximately 10 minutes, the halving process happens roughly once every four years.

The next halving process is scheduled to occur in about half a year, in April/May 2020. On the occasion, mining rewards will drop from the current 12.5 BC per block to 6.75 BTC per block. As the halving continues, experts have predicted that Bitcoin’s total supply of 21 million BTC will be mined by the year 2140. By that time, mining rewards will have dropped to just a single satoshi (0.00000001 BTC) per block.

Bitcoin mining through the ages

BTC mining started on January 3rd, 2009, when Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, mined the Genesis Block — Bitcoin’s very first block. Back then, the mining rewards were 50 BTC per block. A staggering $420,650 per block at today’s prices.

When designing the Bitcoin protocol, Satoshi Nakamoto programmed block rewards to decrease over time as demand for the asset rose. This programmable scarceness is what makes Bitcoin unique from fiat currencies and precious commodities.

bitcoin block reward chart

Once the year 2140 passes, miners will receive income from BTC transaction fees alone. By that time, the expectation is that Bitcoin will be able to process tens of thousands of transactions per block, which should generate enough income for miners to sustain operations. It’s also likely that in the next 120 years there will have been significant improvements in cleaner energy, not to mention more sophisticated mining machines, which should make mining much more financially viable than it is today.

How Much Could 1 Satoshi Be Worth in 2140?

The mining industry is filled with all kinds of speculations. Many have been wondering whether mining will remain as popular with reduced rewards in the future, and many have pondered how valuable BTC might become in the next 120 years.

Some market commentators believe that Bitcoin price could be worth as much as $4,205,714 per coin , and some believe a single satoshi could be as much as $1,000.

Another ponderation is whether or not China will remain the crypto mining powerhouse that it is today, or whether another country will take its place. At one point, China was close to banning the mining process, only to have the very idea removed from its list of industries and activities that should be banned, only a week or two ago. Now, we’re seeing Bitmain and a number of other mining firms set up shop in Texas to take advantage of its stable renewable energy opportunities.

However, with so much change to be expected over the next century, it’s impossible to really say how the crypto landscape will look.

What do you think about the future of BTC and mining? Do you expect BTC to still be here in 120 years? Let us know in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @CryptooIndia @SajeelAhmad88, chart by Bitcoin.it/wiki

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IRS has Growing Concerns About Crypto Kiosks and ATMs

IRS Investigates Crypto ATMs and Kiosks

The IRS has announced that it is investigating crypto kiosks and ATMs with concerns regarding tax evasions, as well as the possibility of money laundering, controlled substance purchase, and similar crimes.

Crypto ATMs and kiosks have become an increasingly popular method of purchasing cryptocurrencies, as well as withdrawing funds among the United States-based crypto users. However, according to a recent Bloomberg interview, the IRS has raised concerns over potential tax evasion issues that might arise from the increased use of the machines.

The IRS concerns

The problem lies in the fact that anyone can walk up to one of crypto ATMs or kiosks, deposit cash and receive BTC. Naturally, the IRS would like to know who these users are, what are their goals, where does their money come from, and so on. However, they are also interested in the owners of the kiosks, who are making money by offering their devices to the public.

They’re required to abide by the same know-your-customer, anti-money laundering regulations, and we believe some have varying levels of adherence to those regulations

The IRS is not the only agency with these concerns, according to the Investigation Chief, John Fort. Fort explained that he and his team are already collaborating with other law enforcement agencies and other allies. He also stated that the investigators are monitoring any potential unlawful activities that may come from the use of these devices.

IRS crypto and bitcoin tax

So far, there were no public cases filed, although Fort admits that there are a few ‘open cases in inventory.’ The cases in question may or may not have a direct connection to bank accounts, according to Fort.

Crypto kiosks need to be regulatory-compliant

The number of crypto kiosks is constantly growing in many major cities throughout the US, which is concerning, considering cryptocurrencies’ potential uses in criminal activities. However, Fort admits that the situation is not exactly simple and that one of the major concerns is that these efforts might push people toward foreign exchanges.

Fort further added that the biggest issue by far concerns taxes, and that this is likely a rising threat.

Do you think that there are reasons for concern regarding the use of crypto kiosks? Add your thoughts below!

Images via Shutterstock

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Tether Fights Back, Dismisses Weak Lawsuits

Tether responds to lawsuits

The company behind the dominant stablecoin , Tether, has just notified the US District Court in New York’s Southern District of its intent to file a motion to dismiss its outstanding lawsuits.

Tether (USDT) is the world’s largest stablecoin, but also one that has faced controversy, accusations of manipulation, centralization, and more. The company behind the project is no stranger to courts at this point.

However, according to recent reports, the firm has decided to take a major step against frivolous lawsuits, submitting a request to dismiss them in the Southern District of New York. According to what is known, the company claims that many of the causes of a recent lawsuit against Tether do not have the required legal basis, and as such, the case should not progress.

Why Tether wants a lawsuit dismissal

The company believes that there are several reasons why these cases should not be allowed to progress any further from the very early stages. One reason is the accusation that Tether is trying to manipulate Bitcoin. However, the accusation mostly draws from a draft of an unpublished academic paper.

The paper is the work of Amin Shams and John M. Griffin and is full of methodological flaws, they claim. However, even if those are ignored, the paper was still recently amended to provide support for the Plaintiff’s complaint.

Next, the complaint seems to ignore numerous other factors that have affected Bitcoin and its price back in 2017. Tether is also facing a claim that it somehow managed to manipulate the market that was larger than that of USDT by around seven hundred times, in a time period shorter than a single year.

The company believes that anyone familiar with cryptocurrency ecosystems should know how ridiculous the complaint is. With accusations like that, Tether does not believe that the cases are worth continuing.

In the response, Tether states,

The Plaintiffs continue to act in a way that undermines the many contributions of thousands of members of the digital token economy. Tether will vigorously contest Plaintiffs’ claims and relentlessly defend itself, its customers and stakeholders, and the cryptocurrency community.

What do you think about the accusations against Tether? Do you believe that the company should be able to dismiss them? Join the discussion in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Price at ‘Huge Risk’ of Crashing to $7,300

bitcoin price at huge risk of crash to $7,300

A recent prediction by veteran trader, Elixium, warns that Bitcoin is at a major risk of seeing yet another price crash. This time, towards the $7,300 level if bulls don’t push back soon.

Bitcoin’s performance in the first half of 2019 brought back a lot of investors with fresh optimism that crypto winter had passed. Bitcoin price finally peaked in July at around $13,600, which represented a $10,000 increase from the beginning of the year.

However, those who were hoping that the coin would continue surging throughout the second half of the year were left disappointed. After reaching its peak in July, Bitcoin price has mostly continued to make progressively lower highs. Each new drop took the coin’s price by around $1000, sometimes more, sometimes less, but the drops are undeniable when looking at the coin’s performance in the last 5 months.

Bitcoin price fate to be decided at $8k

The current shape of the Bitcoin market is not very comforting, especially since the coin currently sits below 200 EMA & SMA. There is a certain consistency with the coin’s price going lower since its peak, despite occasional brief surges. This suggests that over the longer-term trend, bearish traders remain firmly in control of the asset.

As the year approached its end, many were hoping that Q4 would bring traditional rallies akin to 2017’s meteoric rise. Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far.

Fellow renowned crypto trader and analyst, FilbFilb, stated in his recent newsletter that the $7.9k point of control now represents the next key level that will likely determine the short-term future of Bitcoin price.

A little way below the 50 DMA, at $7.9k, lies the recent point of control which is where most volume has been traded at a given price.  This is also around where the 100 weekly moving average lies and as such, is a critical level in my view which must hold or at least see some reaction if it is retested.

He continued,

Therefore all things considered and looking at the price alone, $8k is a key level to watch;- we may bounce higher which would be fine, but as it currently stands it appears to be acting as a magnet of some sort.  If history is anything to go off we should be able to wait for this level and gain some clear indication in volume and momentum divergences as well as sentiment that the time will have come to look to take on long positions

As things are right now, the forecasts expect Bitcoin price to slowly bleed until it reaches $8k, or potentially even $7,900. If bullish traders capitulate at these price points, then we could see Elixium’s prediction proven right. It should be noted however, that  experts still remain optimistic, despite dire predictions, stating that there is still enough time for the situation to take a turn for the better, and for BTC to avoid another steep decline.

What do you think about Bitcoin’s current situation? Do you expect a drop or a rally in the near future? Let us know in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock: Twitter @ElixiumCrypto

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IRS Refunds Tax-Paying Crypto Users

IRS Refunds Crypto Tax Users

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sent refunds to crypto users who had correctly reported their taxes with proof of trades and transactions.

The matter of cryptocurrency-related taxes has been a major question within the US for a few years now. While the country continues to operate without any crypto regulations — or a hint that such regulations would arrive shortly — those willing to cooperate with the IRS might see some considerable benefits in the form of tax reductions, or even refunds.

Rewarding those willing to cooperate

This has already happened as the Internal Revenue Service provided tax refunds to some of the crypto users who complied with letters sent by the IRS. The letters requested proof of trades and transactions that would support the users’ tax reports, and those who had submitted them received refunds from the Service.

According to Chandan Lodha, the co-founder of CoinTracker, this serves as proof that the IRS does not aim to be punitive. The agency even notified one investor that he owed $3.900 in taxes, and after he had provided payment, the agency rewarded him with a full refund.

Lodha’s CoinTracker has already collaborated with hundreds of crypto owners in order to help them respond to the letters from the IRS. However, Lodha did not share how many refunds the agency had sent. What is known is that the IRS sent around 10,000 letters, requesting that crypto users fulfill their crypto-related tax obligations.

IRS knows when users make a transaction

The letters come as a result of a crackdown on reporting requirements and increased crypto transactions. Basically, the agency’s plan was to use the letters to help crypto users understand any errors they have made while reporting taxes. The letters also informed crypto users that the IRS had information about their additional crypto accounts, that the user may not have taken into account while reporting their trades and transactions.

Of course, the IRS does not always have accurate information regarding users’ transactions. Even if the user simply exchanges one cryptocurrency for another, and makes no profit during the process, the agency may only have information about the transaction, with no knowledge of what actually happened. But, those who complied with its requests to clarify the situation received a reward in the form of refunds, in cases where the agency made a mistake.

What do you think about the IRS’s willingness to work with crypto users? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Crypto.com Coin Soars 16%, New Exchange Announced

Crypto.com coin surges as new exchange announced

Crypto.com, a digital currency-based platform from Hong Kong, has recently announced the launch of its beta crypto exchange, with plans to make it one of the top 10 exchanges within 5 years.

Crypto.com to launch a new exchange

According to Crypto.com, the purpose of the exchange — apart from providing a platform where users can buy and sell coins — is to help drive the mass adoption of the emerging asset class. The firm’s CEO and co-founder, Kris Marszalek, stated that the exchange is a ‘natural extension’ of Crypto.com’s business, which will ensure that everything remains in its own ecosystem.

Crypto.com new beta exchange announcement

crypto.com announce new beta launch of exchange

The company also highlighted some of the most important features of the upcoming exchange, such as increased liquidity, institutional-grade security and custody, low trading fees, and user-friendly interface.

Crypto.com has managed to achieve a lot in the time since the company’s founding. It currently boasts over one million users, and it is one of the first crypto firms to obtain requirements necessary for the Cryptocurrency Security Standard. The platform also has an impressive security reputation and has never suffered a hacking incident, according to Marszalek. These factors promise a high success rate for the upcoming exchange.

Marszalek revealed that the exchange will support 9 cryptocurrencies immediately after launch, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, USDT, EOS, Stellar, and MCO.

CRO Token Will Fuel the New Platform

The new platform will utilize Crypto.com’s native cryptocurrency, Crypto.com Coin (CRO), to provide a number of benefits to users, such as a fee discount, better execution prices, and increased liquidity.

The token has reacted positively to the announcement of Crypto.com’s new beta exchange launch, surging by around 16.01%. Its price at the time of writing sits at $0.0450516, while its market cap has increased to $471.58 million.

The launch of Crypto.com’s exchange comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that Marszalek himself stated that he had doubts about launching an exchange. With the number of crypto exchanges in the world already being quite high, there is definitely no lack of such services in the space. However, he has changed his opinion recently, stating that he now sees the exchange as a necessity in order for Crypto.com to grow further.

Not only that, but he believes that the exchange will indeed thrive, thanks to the firm’s large user base and the fact that it already meets all regulatory requirements.

What do you think about Crypto.com’s new announcement? Let us know in the comments below!

Images via Shutterstock, Crypto.com

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Telegram Denies Almost Everything in Latest Court Response

telegram SEC court

Telegram finally responds to the US SEC’s complaint about its ICO, which the US regulator believes to be illegal by denying all allegations.

Telegram, a company behind one of the most popular messaging apps by the same name, became a topic of controversy somewhat recently. The matter revolves around its cryptocurrency project, Telegram Open Network (TON), which managed to raise $1.7 billion during an ICO for its new native GRAM token.

However, only a few weeks ago, the US SEC filed a complaint against the company and the TON project, with claims that the ICO was unregistered and therefore illegal in the United States. After several weeks, during which the cryptocurrency community speculated regarding the potential outcome of the conflict, Telegram finally released an official response to the US regulator.

How to Successfully Use Telegram to Build a Strong Crypto Community

Telegram’s response

Like most other ICOs targeted by the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), Telegram also decided that their official response will be the denial of all allegations. The company released a 35 page-long document in which it denies almost every allegation raised by the SEC.

The company was quick to establish the fact that there was a lack of regulatory clarity that would clearly prove that their actions violated the federal securities laws. Furthermore, Telegram states that the plaintiff (the SEC) “has engaged in improper ‘regulation by enforcement’ in the nascent area of the law.”

Telegram also states that the company voluntarily engaged with the SEC to gain regulatory insight almost two years ago, which was followed by regular communication. The company’s goal was to avoid problems such as this, and that the SEC not only failed to provide regulatory guidance, but also did not provide any warning that would prevent the company from moving forward with its plans to hold a token sale.

Telegram admits that it did not file any registration statement with the regulator, but it also noted that doing so is not required under the federal securities laws. Furthermore, the firm established that its GRAM tokens do not exist as of yet, but if and when they do, they will be commodities, and not securities.

As mentioned earlier, the company’s response continues to deny all allegations made by the regulator, going into great detail to describe its stance and why it believes that their moves did not violate current regulations. The regulator has yet to respond to the newly-issued document, meaning that the conflict is likely far from over.

What do you think about Telegram’s response? Do you believe that the company is innocent, or do you side with the regulator on the issue? Leave a comment down below and let us know.

Images via Shutterstock

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CFTC Chairman: America should Lead the Blockchain Space

CFTC Chairman, America Should Lead Blockchain Space

The CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) Chairman, Heath Tarbert, wishes that the US would take a more active role in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space, although he recognizes that the industry lacks clarity.

The CFTC’s Heath Tarbert attended a conference this Tuesday, sharing his views on the state of the crypto/blockchain industry in the United States. According to him, the US should take a more active role in the space, and even take the lead, if possible.

The US’s regulatory landscape is fractured and uncertain, and the chairman believes that the issue lies in the fact that federal and state agencies are ‘jockeying for oversight’ of the markets. He believes that the environment needs to become more welcoming towards emerging technologies and innovation.

Tarbert also revealed that the desire to create a stable regulatory landscape came due to the CFTC’s employees’ choice to make ‘forward-looking’ one of the agency’s core values. To achieve the new goals, he admitted that the CFTC is communicating with the US SEC, almost on a daily basis.

Furthermore, the agency has been working on various questions regarding the digital assets space on an international level, with the Financial Stability Board, but also as a member of the Stability Oversight Council.

The importance of digital assets and blockchain technology

The chairman has revealed the CFTC’s new viewpoint on the digital assets and blockchain space, stating that this technology could bring ‘a fundamental transformational change’ to the financial system of the world. However, the agency also firmly believes that America needs to be the leader in the space, which is currently not the case. In fact, the US is being left behind while other countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Malta, Switzerland, and others, are making inroads in the area.

Tarbert certainly believes that the US has the means to become the leader in this sector and that Congress could answer some of the most important questions regarding the rise of digital assets. The chairman admitted that there were a few proposed bills that would have provided some much-needed clarity, but there was not a lot of movement in the area up to this point.

He even mentioned the CFTC’s Reauthorization Act of 2019, stating that it is a great step, although a very modest one, clearly indicating that he is not quite satisfied with its results. Even so, he still believes that the inclusion of digital assets as part of the Act is a meaningful signal.

CFTC and the SEC agree, but use different methods

When it comes to the SEC, however, the regulator has been relying on the Howey test to determine whether an asset is a security or not. This criterion has allowed the SEC to prosecute fraudulent ICOs dating back to 2017, but deemed Bitcoin and Ethereum were commodities. Tarbert agrees with this, and he proclaimed the same himself, back in early October.

However, he states that the CFTC’s assessment is based on a different approach and that the agency believes that decentralized digital assets are less likely to be securities.

What do you think about the chairman’s statements? Do you agree that America could and should change its views on crypto and blockchain by providing greater regulatory clarity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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