Crucial Vote Pushes Marshall Islands Closer to a National Cryptocurrency

The president of the Marshall Islands survived a no-confidence vote after senators derided her plan to launch a national cryptocurrency. The nation is moving forward with the endeavor despite criticism from the IMF.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine looks to have a clear mandate to keep pushing forward with her proposed state-backed cryptocurrency after navigating through a no-confidence vote.

Reporting by the Nikkei Asian Review says the island’s head of state survived since parliament was in a 16-16 deadlock over the decision. Her opponents were one vote short of toppling her from the presidency. The decision to vote came after a collective of eight senators accused Heine, who has been president since 2016, of damaging the nation’s reputation with the idea of a national cryptocurrency.

An Innovative Vision For a National Cryptocurrency

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Heine’s goal is to introduce a virtual currency dubbed the ‘Sovereign’ to the Marshall Islands, while giving an equivalent status to the United States Dollar.

March, officials said they teamed up with an Israeli company called Neema to issue 24 million Sovereigns. At the time, half of the coins were set to go to the government and six million would be available for global investors. Officials in the Marshall Islands were reportedly interested in a state cryptocurrency after Neema said the endeavor could net at least $30 million.

Funds raised due to global investment in the Sovereign would go towards projects related to anti-global warming and be distributed to people affected by U.S. nuclear testing on the island, according to Deutsche Welle.

Bitcoinist reported that same month how the Sovereign would have a framework that would see user identities be known on the blockchain so funds could be easily verified.

Officials hoped people in the nation would use the Sovereign for a variety of tasks, including for the payment of taxes and the purchase of groceries.

Crypto Assets May One Day Reduce Demand for Central Bank Money

Remaining Resolute Amid Global Pressure   

Heine has welcomed the digital currency as a “historic moment for our people” and has referred to it as “…another step of manifesting our national liberty.”

Leaders in the Marshall Islands have expressed complaints and concerns about a lack of currency controls. This is especially so since the bulk of their revenue comes through aid from the United States, as well as tuna fish licensing paid in U.S. Dollars.

Heine’s futuristic financial vision attracted the attention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which released a report in September that warned the country against launching the cryptocurrency.

The IMF said the issuance of a digital currency “[…] would increase macroeconomic and financial integrity risks, and elevate the risk of losing the last U.S. dollar correspondent banking relationship.”

Marshall Islands Finance Minister Brenson Wase said after the no-confidence vote the government would push forward with the virtual currency and will wait to meet requirements from the IMF, Europe, and the United States.

What do you think about Marshall Islands’ plan for the ‘Sovereign’ cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Twitter (@iamjosephyoung), Wikimedia Commons.

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Principle Fired for Mining Cryptocurrency at a School in China

A Middle School principle in China was fired after staffers uncovered a cryptocurrency mining scheme utilizing school computers.

Local media in China have begun to write about a foiled cryptocurrency mining scheme organized by the principal of Puman Middle School. The man utilized school computers for the task.

According to reporting from the BBC, Lei Hua was fired after other staff members discovered that he installed eight mining machines in the school between summer 2017 and summer 2018.

The South China Morning Post wrote reported that Lei was originally mining Ethereum inside of his home in June 2017. He soon decided to move his operation to the Hunan Province school in order to save money on electricity.

What’s Coooking?

Local Chinese media said that teachers began to feel suspicions when they noticed the school’s internet was slowing down. On top of that, reports of loud noises that continued without stopping were also brought to light.

After an employee inquired about large increases in energy consumption, Lei reportedly attributed the jump to “[…] too much use of school air conditioners and grills.”

Teachers who had enough of the nuisance searched the premises, discovering the mining operation.

The school’s vice-principal, Wang Zhipeng, allegedly bought another machine and installed it in the school. According to the South China Morning Post, the electricity bill for the mining scheme totaled roughly $2,120.

Lei was removed from his position of the school late last month, losing his position as a Communist Party branch secretary. Wang was not fired but received a warning for his actions.

The mined cryptocurrency was reportedly taken by the local Commission for Discipline Inspection. What may happen with the money remains unclear.

Schools Become a Lucrative Spot for Mining Ops

The allure of free electricity means that mining within schools is an enticing endeavor for students and professionals alike.

In April, MarketWatch wrote about a Western Kentucky University freshman who made $30 a week by leaving his Bitmain Antminer rig continously plugged in.

A survey released by Vectra around the same time indicated that 60% of mining traffic originated from computers with college or university-lined IP addresses.

Some schools, like Stanford, have taken explicit steps to ban cryptocurrency mining on university grounds. Stanford released a blog post in late January banning mining activities on the grounds that “Stanford resources must not be used for personal financial gain.”

Stanford University

A recent article told the story of two teenagers who started to hack into school computers in 7th grade in order to bypass internet filters to watch YouTube.

The duo’s two-year scheme saw them gaining access to grades, passwords, phone numbers, and gave them the ability to use district servers to mine virtual currency.

The students were expelled after being caught and sent to the county sheriff’s office. Some think their talent and interest in computers and cybersecurity should be redirected instead of punished.

What do you think about Lei Hua’s school mining scheme? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, HK01, Shutterstock.

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Cryptopia Restores Bank Support: NZ Dollar Token to Relaunch in 2019

New Zealand

The New Zealand dollar token (NZDT) is set to be re-released early next year after it was suspended by the New-Zealand based Cryptopia exchange in late 2017.

Local media in New Zealand recently reported the New Zealand dollar token (NZDT) will be re-released in early 2019.

The NZDT is the first virtual currency token to be tethered to the New Zealand dollar. It was originally launched in May 2017 after investors expressed a desire to have a safe way to use New Zealand banking entities to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Issued by Cryptopia, an exchange based in Christchurch, the NZDT was suspended later in the year after the exchange’s bank, ASB, became worried about regulation and customer identification.

In January 2018, the New Zealand Herald reported that ASB decided to close Cryptopia’s account in a surprise move, leaving the exchange little time to state their case and pass on supporting documentation.


A Fear of the Unknown Worked out Well

Adam Lyness of Cryptopia told Newsroom that the NZDT was pieced together during a blockchain conference in 2017 with the mantra of ‘ask forgiveness, not permission.’

He said transactions totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each day in just a few months.

The rapid rise in popularity for the token drew the concern of Cryptopia’s bank, who was inclined to shut down the operation in order to avoid negative headlines.

Lyness noted the exchange is getting set to re-launch the NZDT in Q1 2019 after securing the services of a smaller bank. He also remarked how interactions with government officials and regulators have not been hostile since many of them are curious about the re-launch.

Continued Interest in a New Zealand Cryptocurrency

Crypto tax expert Campbell Pentney explained how having an NZ dollar entry point into cryptocurrency related projects could inspire residents of the country to invest their funds into different endeavors.

Just a few months ago, professors at the University of Auckland argued that New Zealand’s Reserve Bank needs to create and trial a cryptocurrency to legitimize the industry alongside the New Zealand dollar.

The report’s authors said their country was falling behind others in fostering a thriving digital currency industry.

Other recommendations included providing consumers with better information so they could have a clearer grasp on cryptocurrencies, and for regulators to collaborate with companies on building a ‘regulatory sandbox’ for virtual currencies.

What do are your thoughts on the re-release of the NZDT? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Pexels, Shutterstock.

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Pro-Bitcoin Congressman Jared Polis is Colorado’s New Governor

Colorado jared polis

U.S. Representative Jared Polis, known for his favorable attitudes towards cryptocurrency and blockchain, will become Colorado’s next governor after defeating Walker Stapleton.

U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), who has made headlines for his pro-cryptocurrency and blockchain stances, has defeated Colorado state Treasurer Walker Stapleton to become the new governor.

Governor-elect Polis has become well-known across the cryptocurrency world for his interest and support of the industry.

Part of his campaign platform focused on the benefits of blockchain for companies in Colorado. He has also worked in the halls of Congress on industry-friendly endeavors.

Touting the Benefits of Blockchain

Bitcoinist has previously reported on the blockchain aspect of Polis’ gubernatorial platform. In the summer, Polis published a few action steps on his campaign website that detailed ideas of blockchain integration into state affairs.

Polis looks to collaborate with Colorado officials and use blockchain technology to improve municipal and county elections. He also aims to build a “statewide safe harbor designed to exempt cryptocurrencies from state money transmissions laws.”

According to Polis, this idea and its associated legislation would protect “open blockchain tokens.” This could help Colorado entice innovative companies to move to the state and engage freely “without the licensing requirements of the multitude of securities and currency laws.”

Other policy ideas included the exploration of blockchain-based energy solutions, along with the possible use of public ledgers to foster transparency for government records.

Polis emphasized how his overall goal was to “establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government.”

A Crusader in Congress

Before focusing his time on running for governor, Polis was a staunch and vocal advocate for cryptocurrency and blockchain during his time as a U.S. Representative.

Back in 2014, the then-Congressman called for a ban on the U.S. Dollar in a satirical response to a letter from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who called for a Bitcoin ban.

Polis was also a co-founder of the Congressional Blockchain Congress, which is described as being dedicated to “[…] the advancement of sound public policy toward blockchain-based technologies and digital currencies.” The entity was officially announced in February 2017.

Late last year, Polis, alongside Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act of 2017.

The idea of the legislation was to allow consumers to “make small purchases with cryptocurrency up to $600 without burdensome reporting requirements, according to a news release from Polis’ office.

The Act was offered as an amendment to the House tax reform bill in mid-November but was not adopted.

Is Jared Polis’ congressional victory a win for Bitcoin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Jared Polis (Facebook), Twitter

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Lawsuit Filed Against Rapper T.I. for Participation in Alleged Cryptocurrency Scam

According to reports, a group of 25 investors have filed a lawsuit against T.I. and a businessman for their involvement in a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme.

Rapper T.I. and businessman Ryan Felton now face a lawsuit from a collective of 25 investors who said the duo peddled a digital currency that was a get-rich-quick scheme.

According to TMZ, the rapper and businessman came up with a virtual currency called FLiK Token in August 2017.

Investors said they were convinced to pour $1.3 million into the cryptocurrency, with a token price of six cents each.

Felton reportedly told investors the virtual currency would have a price of $14.99 within 15 months.

Multiple plaintiffs said the token price jumped from 6 to 21 cents, but crashed downward to less than a penny each by August 2018.

An Elaborate Scheme

The lawsuit suggested the two boosted the token price with investor cash.

When asked about why the value plummeted, Felton reportedly said the decrease came after T.I. gave tokens to family and friends, who then sold them in mass amounts.

Investors said Felton hyped up the offering by claiming big investors were behind the token, and allegedly hinted billionaire Mark Cuban was getting involved.

Felton is also accused of creating a new company that acquired FLiK, and then denied being associated with it.

Actor Kevin Hart promoted FLiK on social media, but he is not involved in the lawsuit, which is seeking at least $5 million from T.I. and Felton.

Cryptocurrency a Popular Topic For Rappers

Cryptocurrencies, for better or for worse, seem to have found a home inside of the rap community.

Back in February, rapper ‘Nipsey Hussle’ expressed great promise for cryptocurrency and blockchain. He said the “real boom” would take place once retail “accepts it as a form of payment.”

The rapper, who started investing in Bitcoin back in 2013, compared blockchain to the internet in terms of its revolutionary status in the technology field.

Soujla Boy expressed his love for cryptocurrencies on his new album “Young Drako,” and titled one of the tracks “Bitcoin.” In the song, he indicated he has Bitcoin and Litecoin, virtual currencies that are “my favorite ones.”

Soulja Boy

Another rapper, ‘The Game,’ has not had as much luck when it comes to the world of cryptocurrency.

Bitcoinist reported in September how his backed project, Paragon, had lost 96% of its market capitalization.

The idea of the project was to utilize blockchain to hash out legality issues related to cannabis in the United States.

What do you think about the lawsuit involving T.I.? Let us know in the comments!

Images courtesy of Twitter (@Tip), Bitcoinist archives 

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Student Turns $5K into $800K Trading Crypto, But Now Owes $400K in Taxes

Bitcoin taxes cryptocurrency

One college student turned his $5K investment into $880k but now says trading “ruined” his life as he’s facing $400k in cryptocurrency taxes. 

From Big Profits to a Tax Nightmare

An anonymous college student recently posted on Reddit to solicit advice about what to do while they face a massive tax bill in the wake of cryptocurrency trading.

According to the post, the student, who lives in California, put $5,000 into Coinbase last year after a friend said they were investing in Ethereum 00.

After “hitting 10x’altcoinsiple alt coins,” the college crypto-trader eventually turned the $5k investment “all the way up to an $880,000 portfolio in December 2017.”

Big downturns with digital currency prices, and gambling “in more than a few bad ICOs to start 2018,” has led to a current portfolio value of $125k.

However, the “clueless college kid” now worries if their life is over because they are facing an estimated 2017 tax liability of around 400k.

Didn’t Know About Cryptocurrency Taxes

In the post, the student admits they neglected to allocate money for taxes because “they really never do teach this stuff.”

The post came with an accompanying link to the 1099-K Coinbase reported in the spring.

According to the student, all of the activity was crypto-to-crypto trades, and they did not “ever cash out to fiat and transfer any USD into my bank accounts from these tradings.”

Writing under a throwaway account, the college student asked the Reddit community for advice because they have not paid any taxes or filed returns for 2017, and are working a $12/hr part time job at Barnes & Noble.

Comments on the post were a mixture of pragmatic and grim. One person recommended to get “a tax professional and stop wasting time trying to get free advice.”

South Korea Claims $28M Tax From Bithumb But Finds No 'Illegal Activity'

Another user, who said they have “done a number of cryptocurrency returns” said the situation would “not be a high point in your life, but you will get through it.”

They recommended to stay away from “questionable accounting methods” and to work with an accountant to file a tax return ASAP, with a suggestion to possibly work out an installment agreement, or an Offer in Compromise with relevant authorities.

Crypto Taxation Is A Tricky Subject

Navigating through taxes when it comes to buying and selling cryptocurrencies has been a contentious talking point.

In April, Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors estimated a massive crypto-selloff by the middle of the month would likely lead to a capital gains tax bill of $25 billion for those in the United States.

Around the same time, Bitcoinist reported on a Twitter poll asking respondents in the United States about cryptocurrency taxes. 19% of the 9,339 respondents said they “already filed and paid,” but 53% said “they’ll never catch me.”

Last week, former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul argued in a blog post that exempting transactions in precious metals and cryptocurrencies from taxes would be some of the first steps to “end our monetary madness.”

What would you do if you were the college student facing a looming tax bill? Let us know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock, Twitter

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HTC Exodus Phones Preparing to Ship in December (With More Questions Than Answers)

HTC Exodus Phones Preparing to Ship in December With More Questions Than Answers

Pre-orders of purchased HTC Exodus phones are set to ship in December. HTC is hyping the technology as a viable tool for the blockchain and cryptocurrency community, but many are still skeptical.

Taiwanese firm HTC Corporation made headlines back in May after announcing plans for the first native blockchain smartphone, dubbed the HTC Exodus.

In October, HTC made the phone available for pre-order with the expectation the first units would ship in December.

Payment was only possible in Bitcoin (BTC) 00 or Ethereum. The company said the phone would be available in 34 countries.

HTC has hyped up the phone by touting the “secure enclave” portion of the device.

The goal of the locked portion is to keep user’s cryptocurrency wallet keys safe, a solution the company hopes is a middle-ground between cold-storage and software wallets. The Exodus will also support underlying protocols like Lightning and Dfinity.

Despite HTC’s intention to craft a device to woo the cryptocurrency and blockchain community, many are still wary about trusting the smartphone.

Others think the phone’s inevitably small market, especially since pre-sales are only carried out with cryptocurrency, is setting it up to fail.

A Ploy To Capture a Niche Market?  

The Exodus has received a lot of attention for its cryptocurrency capabilities, but the phone boasts a number of other impressive specs, according to Wired.

The outlet wrote how the phone has a 6in Quad HD+ display, a Snapdragon 845 processor, dual cameras, and a IP68 waterproof rating. The phone runs  Android Oreo and has 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage.

A look at the website for the HTC Exodus shows a variety of quotes from well-known cryptocurrency figures who have praised the device. Phil Chen of HTC said more than 30 industry leaders advised the phone’s development team at “critical touch points,” according to Wired.

Some speculate the creation of the device is part of a strategy by HTC to push off competition from industry giants like Apple and Samsung.

Not Everyone Is Convinced

Some people, like Lawrence Lundy at Outlier Ventures, see the HTC Exodus as an interesting idea with innovations that represent a move forward.

However, Lundy believes people with big cryptocurrency holdings are still going to use cold-storage wallets, or will opt for a phone like the Finney smartphone from Sirin Labs.

The Problems with Data Storage

Others remain generally skeptical about trusting a phone manufacturer with keeping cryptocurrency safe, especially since everyday investors have a variety of software wallets to choose from.

Speaking to these points, Chen argued, according to Wired, the Exodus safe enclave is “almost on a par with cold storage.” He also said API would be released so people can build and enhance Exodus hardware.

Will you use the HTC Exodus smartphone? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinst archives, Shutterstock.

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Tether Announces Relationship With Deltec Bank in the Bahamas

Tether Announces Relationship With Deltec Bank in The Bahamas

On November 1st Tether said they have established a banking relationship with the Bahamas-based Deltec Bank & Trust Limited.

Tether Limited made a few notable announcements on Thursday, November 1st.

Early in the day on Twitter, the firm confirmed a new banking relationship with Deltec Bank & Trust Limited (Deltec), which has a headquarters in the Bahamas.

In a brief post, Tether wrote that Deltec carried out a “due diligence review of our company” before taking it on as a client. The post also came with an attachment to a letter penned by Deltec confirming the “portfolio cash value of your account with our bank was US$1,831,322,828,” at the close of business on October 31st.

As of press time, CoinMarketCap listed Tether’s circulating supply at 1,776,421,736 UST with a price of $0.98.

Letter Provided ‘Without Liability’

In the letter, Deltec was clear to note the letter with Tether’s portfolio cash value was “based on the information currently in our possession.”

The letter was just signed by “Deltec Bank & Trust Limited” with a quick scrawl, which attracted the attention of some commenters on Reddit.

A few people questioned why a person at the bank would not be willing to attach their name to the holdings report. Tether has been the focus of intense scrutiny and attention amid allegations it does not actually hold the dollar reserves it claims.

Tether asked law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan back earlier in the year to carry out a review of its holdings. The firm concluded Tether’s “unencumbered assets exceed the balance of fully-backed USD Tethers,” as of June 1st.

However, the law firm noted the review was not conducted with Generally Accepted Accounting Standards. Many question Tether’s holdings claims because they have so far been unwilling to undergo an audit.

Others point to a mid-October Tweet by Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of the Gemini dollar, who wrote how it is not possible to carry out an audit on a stablecoin since “there is no financial report framework.” Winklevoss argued a 3rd party would have to just attest to the accuracy of an assertion about a 1:1 peg.

A Rigorous Review by Deltec

In the blog post, Tether said Deltec looked over compliance processes, policies, and other procedures, and carried out background checks of company officers, shareholders, and ultimate beneficiaries.

Tether wrote the review process occurred across several months and included an assessment “of our ability to maintain the USD-peg at any moment.”

The company said they are currently registered with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and is reviewed by Deltec “on an ongoing basis.”

What do you think of Tether’s new banking relationship? Let us know in the comments!

Image courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock, Twitter (@Tether_to, @whalepool).

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Grayscale Has Raised Nearly $330 Million This Year According to Q3 Report

Grayscale Has Raised Nearly $330 Million This Year According to Q3 Report

Grayscale’s Q3 2018 Digital Investment Report says the firm has raised around $330 million so far in 2018. Grayscale had raised $25.4 million at this time in 2017. 

The latest Digital Asset Investment Report from cryptocurrency firm Grayscale Investments signifies they are still going strong, despite market downturns for virtual currencies in 2018.

The report says the company managed to bring in $81.1 million for Q3, bringing the year-to-date total to a record $329.5 million. At this time last year, Grayscale had raised $25.4 million, according to CNBC.

Across 2018, 59% of investments flowed in from institutional investors. The nine cryptocurrency products Grayscale has available are just for institutional investors.

The vast majority of the company’s other clients are family offices or individuals with a high net worth. Overall, Grayscale’s customer assets now total $1.5 billion dollars.

Bitcoin Is Still King

The Grayscale report said 73% of monetary inflows in Q3 came into the firm’s Bitcoin Investment Trust.

Bitcoinist reported in early October how shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust were down 80% since the end of 2017. At the time, some were also fed up with the fund’s high fees.

Grayscale noted how the Bitcoin Investment Trust and the XRP Investment Trust “[…]are bucking the trend on a possible reversal, generating the first positive quarterly returns for Grayscale products in 2018.”

In their July 2018 investment report, the firm said 63% of inflows were to the Bitcoin Investment Trust. At the time, the report commented how the “[…] pace of investment into Grayscale products has accelerated to level that we have not seen before.”

Institutional Understanding Has Increased

The Managing Director of Grayscale, Michael Sonnenshein, told CNBC how institutional investors have a better understanding of Bitcoin and the market. He said meetings have morphed from lectures on “Bitcoin 101,” to more nuanced discussions on topics like allocation sizes, transaction growth, and general “[…] thoughtful dialogue on the state of the industry.”

Sonnenshein characterized Bitcoin’s price slump as a way for the company to “broaden our relationships” since investors are understanding it is an opportunity to “[…] increase their exposure.”

At the tail end of its report, Grayscale listed a handful of reasons why they choose to compile and share investment activity data with the market on a quarterly basis.

The first reason was to give a “[…] unique perspective on digital asset investment activity that is distinct from what may be commonly understood.”

The second was a desire to help value and momentum investors “[…] identify dislocations between market prices and capital flows.”

What do you think about Grayscale’s YTD investment totals? Let us know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of LinkedIn, Shutterstock, Twitter (@GrayscaleInvest).

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Crypto Robo-Advisors Are Fueling the Rise of Long-Term Investors

Cryptocurrency robo-advisors like New Wave Capital continue to grow despite bear markets in 2018. Some think their popularity could rope in more outsiders to invest in digital currencies for the long-term.   

2018 has been a rough year for crypto prices. The ripple effects have been felt across exchanges and other major institutions within the industry.

However, cryptocurrency robo-advisors like New Wave Capital seem to be weathering the storm.

The investment firm recently noted how more customers have signed up to invest even amid a downturn.

The idea behind robo-advisors like New Wave Capital, which launched in July, is to appeal to regular people who are looking to invest in virtual currencies. The company assesses a person’s investment risk tolerance via an algorithm and then distributes the money people are willing to invest across various cryptocurrencies in a tailored fashion.

A Growing Crypto Robo-Advisory Industry

A few other companies, like Automata and Empirica have built platforms based on algorithms to enter into the robo-advising world.

Automata touts itself as “the first robo advisor specifically tailored to protect your capital” by tailoring an investment strategy after listening to a person’s needs.

Keplertek: How Robotics and AI on the Blockchain Will Change the Future Forever

On the other hand, Empirica advertises their platform as a “white label solution” for cryptocurrency portfolio managers and firms who want to help customers by gauging risk to cultivate an appropriate investment portfolio.

There are other entities, like Grayscale’s Digital Large Cap Fund, that let people become exposed to a swath of digital currencies.

However, the focus of the growing number of robo-advisory firms is not institutional investors. Rather, it’s regular people who may think investing in virtual currency is exceedingly risky or complicated.

Increasing Comfort by Automating Finances

The general idea of robo-advisors began to gain a more attention after the 2008 financial crisis when people lost faith in traditional financial advisors. Some were also fed up with growing fund management and advisory fee structures for human advisors.

Others think the robo-advisory trend will continue to pick up steam inside of the cryptocurrency world because more people are interested in automating their finances.

Charles Schwab

A survey carried out by Charles Schwab earlier in the fall revealed how 25% of more than 1,000 respondents were eager to automate their day-to-day finances.

More than half (56%) wanted controlling their finances to be “as simple as booking a hotel room.”

Even though the general sentiment was that people still wanted interaction with a person when it came to advisory services, half said robo-advisors would make the biggest impact across the financial landscape.

When asked about how the market downturns in 2018 have affected investing, New Wave Capital CEO Eric Campbell explained how customers who

[…]sign up during a downturn have more of a long-term approach to investing.

Chief Product Officer Albert Cheng noted that New Wave’s robo-advisory service had a focus on driving “long-term thinking:”

If people are holding their portfolios for a long time, I think it’s prudent to have exposure to multiple coins. True paradigm shifts take a long time.

Would you be comfortable with using a crypto robo-advisory service to invest? Let us know in the comments!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock.

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Study: 60% of Eligible Voters Believe Crypto Donations Should Be Legal In Federal Elections

A Clovr survey of 1,023 registered voters in the United States found that 60% of respondents thought it should be legal to donate crypto in federal elections.

Clovr, a “company focused on promoting the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology,” has carried out a few surveys to gauge people’s attitudes about cryptocurrency.

In early October, the company found that 75% of respondents surveyed via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform had an understanding of what cryptocurrency is.

60% of the 1,004 respondents affirmed they felt comfortable “explaining cryptocurrency” to a novice.

The most recent Clovr survey focused on electoral politics. Respondents were asked a variety of questions that had to do with cryptocurrency and its use inside the often-seedy world of political donations.

Clovr wrote how responses were weighted by political party affiliation to “achieve a representative sample of the American voting public.”

Voters Generally Have Strong Confidence in Cryptocurrency

Out of 1,023 eligible voters surveyed in the United States through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Platform, 60% said it “should be legal to donate cryptocurrency in federal elections under the same rules that apply to donations in U.S. dollars.”

Clovr says voters agreed that virtual currencies and traditional ones like the dollar “should be treated equally.”

Current U.S. federal law limits donations in virtual currencies to $100 as an in-kind contribution. The rules are much different for donations in fiat.

When asked if digital currency was “secure enough to be used for political purposes,” 54% believed it was, while 26% said security was an issue.

The polling numbers were a bit tighter when people were asked if cryptocurrency was “financially stable enough” to be utilized for political purposes.

In this case, 42% believed it was, while 35% said it was not. The remaining 23% was unsure. Clovr said:

62 percent of voters extremely familiar with cryptocurrency expressed confidence in using it for political purposes.

Otherwise, roughly 25% of eligible voters in the survey indicated they would be more apt to donate to a political campaign if they could use cryptocurrency.

Concerns About Misuse Remain Prominent

Despite the positive sentiments by survey respondents towards cryptocurrency’s role in the political world, optimism waned when it came to questions about misuse or illicit practices.

60% of those surveyed affirmed the use of cryptocurrency in the political system would “make foreign interference in elections more common.”

Bitcoin May Finally Have a Friend in Washington

About the same number, 62%, believed it was more likely virtual currency would be used illegally in the political world in comparison to the US Dollar.

Respondents turned decidedly more cynical when asked if political parties would illicitly capitalize on looser cryptocurrency donation regulations.

Clovr writes that there is a 90% “perceived likelihood” the Republican Party would illegally misuse cryptocurrency. The number was 83% for the Democrats, 63% for Libertarians, and 60% for the Green Party.

What are your thoughts on the recent survey from Clovr? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock, Clovr.

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Malwarebytes Forum User Discovers a Crypto Tracker App That Secretly Installed Backdoors in Macs

An astute Malwarebytes forums user recently noticed that a crypto price tracker application, called CoinTicker, covertly installed backdoors in Mac computers.

A recent blog post from Malwarebytes’ Thomas ReedDirector of Mac & Mobile, explains how a contributor on the Malwarebytes forum going by the name 1vladimir noticed an app called CoinTicker was secretly installing two different backdoors onto computers after download.

According to Reed, the webpage for application to the program heralds itself as “the best crypto-currency ticket for Mac,” since it lets users check out the prices of selected virtual currencies from the Mac menu bar.

The website displays information about prices for a number of supported cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC) 00, Ethereum, and Monero.

Despite the seemingly innocent intentions on the surface, Reed explains how the application is “actually no good in the background,” since it, “downloads and installs components of two different open-source backdoors” upon launch.

Mac users are certainly not a stranger to crypto-related malware. In early July, Bitcoinist reported on a situation in which MacOS users who were chatting about cryptocurrencies on Slack and Discord were being targeted by attacks in an effort to get them to share malicious scripts.

Utilized to Gain Access to Cryptocurrency Wallets?

Reed explains how the backdoor components are called Eggshell and EvilOSX. He posts several screenshots in the blog post to show how the malicious programs embed themselves into a computer.

Lawrence Abrams of Bleeping Computer says the downloaded backdoors are customized versions of EggShell and EvilOSX that were taken from a now-offline GitHub repository.

Going further, Abrams writes how the EggShell and EvilOSX backdoors automatically start once a user logs into the Mac computer.

Reed notes how EggShell and EvilOEX are known as “broad-spectrum” backdoors that are able to be used for a number of different purposes.

He admits to not knowing for certain what the malware’s creator had in mind, but writes “it seems likely” it was being used to try and get access to a person’s digital currency wallet to steal funds.

Was the Application Even Remotely Legitimate?

According to the blog post, Reed first thought the scenario with CoinTicker was an example of a supply chain attack. This is where a “legitimate app’s website is hacked to distribute a malicious version.”

A Malwarebytes blog post from May 2017 details the story behind a supply chain attack on the Transmission torrent app, where it was hacked first to install the KeRanger ransomware, and then again to install the Keydnap backdoor.

However, Reed also muses the CoinTicker application might never have been legitimate from the start.

He points out how the website’s domain for the app,, was registered in mid-July and is not even the same name as the actual application.

Overall, Reed made a point about how the malware does not require anything other than “normal user permissions,” citing the scenario as a

Perfect demonstration that malware does not need such privileges to have high potential for danger.

What do you think about the situation with CoinTicker and the backdoor it has installed on Macs? Have you ever used the application? Let us know in the comments!

Images courtesy of CoinTicker, Shutterstock, Twitter (@thomasareed)

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Berlin Is Rapidly Becoming a Hotspot for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Berlin Is Rapidly Becoming a Hotspot for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Berlin has become a hub for all things cryptocurrency and blockchain over the past couple of years. Berliners look set to keep the trend going thanks to an enthusiasm for digital currencies like Bitcoin.

Germany’s biggest city has long been on the radar for those interested in digital currencies and blockchain.

In 2013, the Guardian reported on enthusiasts in the southern Berlin district of Kreuzberg who were happily using Bitcoin in local shops that accepted the cryptocurrency.

At the time, leaders speculated how the district’s rebellious and critical mindset seemed to fit in well with an alternative system like virtual currencies.

Five years later, Berlin and has become a leader across Europe and the wider world in the blockchain and cryptocurrency fields.

A range of developers, entrepreneurs, and those interested in cutting-edge technology have given vibrancy to local crypto meetups. A growing number of start-up companies and talent are now considering moves to the German capital, especially in light of Brexit.

A Focal Point for New Technology

At the start of 2018, a lead developer of Ethereum, Fabian Vogelsteller, mentioned how

Berlin is the crypto capital of Europe if not the world.

Recent reporting from Deutsche Welle (DW) commented on how the city’s low cost of living and number of co-working spaces have drawn people to start working in the area.

Jazmine Zhang of LongHash Germany, a blockchain accelerator, noted how the diverse range of talent coming into Berlin has engendered a “very open ecosystem” during blockchain and crypto meetups.

Zhang said people in the city have a desire to “work together and partner with each other” since they share excitement about the cutting-edge technology.

Berlin’s rising notoriety across the cryptocurrency and blockchain world is in no small part to the profiles of a few entities who are associated with the city.

The Berlin-based EOS operating system now has a market capitalization of nearly $4.9 billion dollars.

Has Berlin’s Bitcoin Brigade Been Blinded by Bullishness?

Berlin is also a base of IOTA, who has built an IoT transnational settlement and has a market capitalization of $1.3 billion, according to DW. Co-founder Dominik Schiener said in March he was able to make connections from Berlin with a variety of companies who have worked on IOTA’s development.

IOTA has been working on opening up a set of offices across the globe to, in Schiener’s terms, now change the perception IOTA is a German cryptocurrency.

Pushing Forward 

The growth of the industry inside of Berlin and across Germany has led to more of a willingness to collaborate with government authorities.

Currently, a blockchain trade association called Bundesblog is collaborating with government officials inside the European nation to help promote the technology.

A couple of Berlin artists, Paul Kolling and Paul Seidler, have been presenting work related to a project that envisions a “self-owning, self-governing forest on the blockchain.”

Right now, the plans are just an artistic idea, but the end goal is to create a forest that can autonomously sell trees and eventually turn into a self-owned economic unit.

Do you have any plans to visit Berlin for blockchain and crypto? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives

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Liberland President Plans To Use New ‘Merit’ Cryptocurrency Instead of Bitcoin

serbia liberland

The President of Liberland, a small self-proclaimed microstate on a patch of land between Croatia and Serbia, is looking to use a new cryptocurrency called ‘Merit’ to underpin his vision for a new country.  

‘A New Type of State’

Vit Jedlicka’s vision for a new crypto-based micro-nation has taken steady steps forward over the last few years.

The so-called Free Republic of Liberland (Liberland) is located on a parcel of land that is part of a border dispute between Croatia and Serbia. According to the official Liberland website, it is now the third smallest sovereign state in the world at 2.7 square miles wide.

Jedlicka said how he searched a Wikipedia list of “no-man’s lands” to find the spot. So far, Liberland has not been officially recognized by any country. Jedlicka says 205,000 people who have registered on the official website are eligible to become citizens.

Between 2009 and 2016, Jedlicka was a regional leader of a small party in the Czech Republic. With a desire to “fix states that are too big and too regulatory,” he grew tired of politics in his home nation and set out to create one of his own.

According to Jedlicka, Liberland is a ‘role model of a new type of state.’ He plans to have no obligatory taxes, a decentralized government, and a range of freedoms, like the right to bear arms.

The given territory originally used Bitcoin for a reserve currency. In an interview, Jedlicka mentioned how he thought the digital currency “was a great thing” since it has a primary value as a tool of exchange. But now, he has his eyes on a more ambitious digital currency plan for Liberland, one that “will be more of a share in Liberland than a cryptocurrency.”

Voting Rights Based on Holdings

Eventually, Jedlicka wants to turn over running the country to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). A DAO is a structure where “decisions are made electronically by a written computer code or through the vote of its members.”

The DAO will control the dispersal of the new ‘Merit’ cryptocurrency to its citizens. The idea is to weigh the right to vote based on the number of Merits a person owns. Jedlicka explains that the system lets people “get the shares of the country they are living in” if they want to pay some (voluntary) taxes.

He believes people “that actually make the country possible and have contributed to its creation” should be the ones with the power to make decisions.

A pilot project of the system is set to launch in late November. There are also plans for Merit, which runs on Ethereum, to be used as collateral inside of the proposed nation’s justice system.

Otherwise, Jedlicka is getting ready to replace a Liberland boat on the Danube River with one called ‘Bitcoin Freedom’ that will serve as an “alternative space” for those affiliated to Liberland.

The territory’s President speculated cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has led to a paradigm shift that will impact how nation-states are run going forward. Jedlicka asserted how there is “no better time than now to start new countries like Liberland.”

What do you think about this project? Can it become a successful crypto-state? Let us know in the comments!

Images courtesy of Liberland (Official website), Liberland (Facebook), Shutterstock

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Plattsburgh NY Officials Fed Up With Mining Noise Adopt Regulations

Plattsburgh NY Officials Fed Up With Mining Noise Adopt Regulations

Leaders in the town of Plattsburgh, New York, have adopted a law requiring crypto mining operations to hold a special permit. In the meantime, a moratorium on new endeavors is still in effect.

Debate over cryptocurrency mining operations and their impact has been a popular talking point among citizens in Plattsburgh New York.

In March, city officials slapped down an 18-month ban on new mining endeavors. Bitcoinist reported during the month how the decision came after residents said their electricity bills were rising in price.

Around the same time, New York’s Public Service Commission gave authority to upstate municipal electricity authorities to raise rates for mining companies.

Recently, Plattsburgh’s Common Council adopted a new local law that now mandates new mining operations, or the expansion of an existing one, must receive a Special Use Permit. The law officially comes into effect once it is filed at the New York Secretary of State’s office.

Despite the decision, the 18-month ban not struck down, but Mayor Colin Read believes Councillors will consider lifting the restriction in about a month’s time, according to WAMC.

Mining Tensions in Upstate New York

Enthusiastic cryptocurrency miners have been flocking to upstate New York to take advantage of wide open space and relatively cheap electricity thanks to the St. Lawrence River.

Some in the region were intrigued by the opportunities mining operations could provide, but a few opinions began to sour after setups consumed large amounts of power.

A September Report by the New York Times said Mayor Read received a number of complaints about higher electricity prices after a sharp cold spell last winter. Read mentioned how the Municipal Lighting Department passed on the costs of purchasing extra (expensive) electricity to residents at the time because city consumption surpassed the allocation on certain days.

The CFO of Mold-Rite Plastics, Thomas Recny, said his electricity bills for January and February were $60,000 higher than the typical rate. The new local law adopted by the Common Council also places stipulations on the mining industry’s fire safety, heat, and nuisance abatement.

Noise Is A Common Concern

Plattsburg is no stranger to noise. In 1996, jam band Phish held their Clifford Ball festival in front of an audience of roughly 60,000 at the Plattsburg Air Force Base. Despite the city’s acquaintance with racket, WAMC notes that the focus of the Common Council in regards to mining dealt with the noise that mining operations produce.

The new local law said mining operations cannot exceed “90 decibels at a distance of 25 feet from the structure.”

Some on the Council questioned the source of the number, but Mayor Read pushed to pass the law at hand while thinking about a “new local law with regard to the noise of all industries.”

Bitcoinist recently covered the small Washington town of Ephrata, which is pushing back against cryptocurrency miners. One Ephrata city council attendee mentioned how the noise of a nearby mining operation was “like an ocean.”

The still-standing moratorium has elicited a response from one cryptocurrency operation in the city, Zafra LLC. CEO Ryan Brienza warned the company would move if the moratorium was not dealt with soon since it is hindering their expansion.

What are your thoughts on how Plattsburgh is handling the noise from cryptocurrency miners? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock, Pat Bradley/WAMC.

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