New WEF study reveals issues facing blockchain and crypto standards

New WEF study reveals issues facing blockchain and crypto standards

WEF study says the ongoing efforts from blockchain organizations are not enough to set global blockchain standards.

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A study conducted by the World Economic Forum and Global Blockchain Business Council reveals the reasons why the blockchain industry still lacks well-defined standards on the global level.

Dubbed the Global Standards Mapping Initiative, the study notes that the gaps, divergence and overlap in the standard-setting landscape of the blockchain industry are the biggest challenges the industry needs to surmount.

Most organizations involved in setting standards for the industry have shown immense interest in some specific areas while completely neglecting the others. This creates an overlap in some sections of the blockchain industry while leaving a gap in the standardization of the other parts. 

The interest and volume of activity around setting standards have also varied with the hype around the technology. Many organizations that set out to establish standards during the peak of the blockchain hype have either shut operations or are yet to produce any reasonable outputs.

According to the report, the five most common spheres that experience an overlap of interest include security, Internet of Things, identity, DLT requirements and DLT terminology.

Even though there’s huge interest in setting the standards for DLT terminology, the study points out that the blockchain terminology across the globe remains uncertain. Consistent definitions and terminologies for the blockchain industry are key to growing the industry, the report notes.

The study suggests that the blockchain industry still lacks the standards that may formally define the suitability of blockchain technology for specific processes. Setting global standards for the same may help more players assess the potential of the technology for their business and know the benefits and possible risks associated with it.

There are also no formal standards that define the procedure to test blockchain platforms. Most of the innovation in the industry has so far happened through industry players and technical evolution, rather than through formalization and standardization, the report states.

As a way forward, the report suggests that regulators should educate themselves on the technology before setting national or global standards. The report mentions that “the effectiveness of standards will ultimately come down to how well the technology is understood.”

Organizations and regulatory bodies running siloed operations to set blockchain standards have also resulted in much of the confusion. The study emphasizes that it is crucial to break through these siloed organizations and geographical barriers will “facilitate more functional frameworks.”


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WEF study says the ongoing efforts from blockchain organizations are not enough to set global blockchain standards.

LIVE COVERAGE: Join Us as We Discuss the Ongoing Twitter Hack

LIVE COVERAGE: Join Us as We Discuss the Ongoing Twitter Hack

Cointelegraph is going live to discuss the ongoing Twitter attack.

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A large-scale Twitter attack has taken over the accounts of some of the most powerful verified accounts in the world including: Joe Biden, Elon Musk, George Wallace, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Wiz Khalifa, Warren Buffett, Mike Bloomberg, Barack Obama, and Jeff Bezos. Business accounts from Uber, Twitter Support, Coindesk and many others were likewise affected. 

The accounts are running a Bitcoin ‘giveaway’ scam and have so far conned Twitter users out of 12.8 BTC, or roughly $118,000.

Join us as Cointelegraph hosts Jackson and Giovanni discuss the hack with industry experts as events unfold.

Watch live:


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Cointelegraph is going live to discuss the ongoing Twitter attack.

Ransomware Attack Kidnaps Austrian City

Ransomware Attack Kidnaps Austrian City

An ongoing ransomware attack targets the public services infrastructure of Weiz.

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Malware team, NetWalker, launched a ransomware attack against the Austrian village of Weiz. This attack affected the public service system and leaked some of the stolen data from building applications and inspections.

According to the cybersecurity firm, Panda Security, hackers managed to penetrate the village’s public network through phishing emails related to the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 as bait to deploy the ransomware

The subject of the emails — „information about the coronavirus,“ — was used to bait employees of Weiz’s public infrastructure into clicking on malicious links, thus triggering the ransomware.

Panda Security claims that the attack belongs to a relatively new version of a ransomware family, which spreads using VBScripts. If the infection is successful, it spreads throughout the entire Windows network to which the infected machine is connected.

The report details that the ransomware terminates processes and services under Windows, encrypts files on all available disks, and eliminates backups.

Location of various big companies in Austria

Weiz is a small village that is considered the economic center of the Oststeiermark region, located a few kilometers from the city of Graz.

It is also the place where several big companies, like automaker Magna and construction companies Strobl Construction and Lieb-Bau-Weiz, have established their production plants. This may indicate that the attack was not random, but instead directed to a specific objective.

Netwalker Group recently authored several attacks targeting the healthcare sector across the globe.

Cointelegraph Spanish reported an attack on March 25 which wasperpetrated against hospitals in Spain. This attack also used phishing emails to deploy ransomware to targeted systems.


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An ongoing ransomware attack targets the public services infrastructure of Weiz.

Two Weeks and Counting: Experts Warn Bitcoin Halving May Be a Nonevent

Two Weeks and Counting: Experts Warn Bitcoin Halving May Be a Nonevent

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an air of uncertainty around Bitcoin’s value, despite the currency’s upcoming halving event

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Over the course of the past month, the crypto world has understandably been abuzz with talks of the upcoming Bitcoin (BTC) halving event that is scheduled to take place in a little over two weeks. For starters, it is undoubtedly one of the most — if not the most — anticipated crypto events of 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many analysts are still not sure if the event will have a substantial impact on the monetary future of Bitcoin.

It is interesting to note that while a number of other traditional assets have seen their values drop quite drastically since the beginning of March, Bitcoin has been mostly able to stave off the huge amount of bearish pressure that has come its way and maintain its value around the $7,000 mark. In fact, on April 23, the premier cryptocurrency witnessed a pre-halving pump that saw the asset’s value move past the $7,500 threshold.

What’s ahead? 

While all of the aforementioned signs have been positive for Bitcoin as an investment vehicle, it seems as though the element of uncertainty is very high in comparison to previous halvings.

To gain a better understanding of the situation, Cointelegraph reached out to Scott Freeman, the co-founder of JST Capital, a financial services firm specializing in the digital asset market. He stated that having spoken to a number of individuals operating within the space including miners and institutional investors, the one consistent message that he has heard is that the halving will be somewhat of a nonevent as far as Bitcoin price action goes:

“The halving has been on everyone’s radar screen for a long time and as such, the effect on markets should already be factored into the price of BTC. The halving may affect the profitability of some miners, but we expect at this point that every miner has already made adjustments to their business models.”

In a somewhat similar vein, Meltem Demirors, the chief strategy officer of the digital asset management firm CoinShares, jokingly told Cointelegraph that just like the rest of the economy, the Bitcoin rally around the halving has been canceled until further notice because of the ongoing coronavirus situation. However, she did add that her firm has observed a number of key shifts that have driven increased demand for digital assets. Demirors opined:

“We see demand in the form of increased utility for Bitcoin beyond financial speculation and a growing amount of institutional interest, while new markets for derivatives are increasingly driving prices.”

Market uncertainty divides experts over Bitcoin’s future

Traditionally, a Bitcoin halving event is usually followed by a lot of market hype or fanfare that invariably helps push the price of the currency in an upward direction. However, this time around things are quite different.

To better assess the flagship crypto’s future, Cointelegraph reached out to Jose Llisterri, the co-founder of Interdax, a crypto exchange platform. He pointed out that 16 months following each of the previous having events, the value of the Bitcoin–United States dollar pair has tended to approach its all-time high. He added: “If this trend plays out again, a new all-time high may be reached sometime around or after September 2021.”

Not only that, Llisterri also highlighted that following this upcoming event, only the most efficient miners will be able to continue, as the halving will double their operational costs almost overnight. Furthermore, once inefficient miners shut down, a favorable difficulty adjustment for the remaining miners may be witnessed, thus potentially allowing profit margins to improve as well. He added:

“What’s different this time is that there is now a solid derivatives market, so the impact of miners accumulating might not be as strong as it was during the bull runs in 2013 and 2017. Derivatives such as futures and perpetual swaps give investors and miners the opportunity to hedge their holdings or bet on the future price path of bitcoin, enabling fair price discovery.”

In regard to the matter, Ivailo Jordanov of 7percent Ventures, a United Kingdom-based venture capital firm, believes that due to the ongoing fiscal stimulus, more and more people have started looking for assets that are scarce in nature. In his view, the Bitcoin halving will add to this element of scarcity and potentially make crypto more attractive to the masses.

Similarly, Trent Barnes of ZeroCap, an Australia-based digital assets and foreign exchange solutions firm, believes that due to the number of variables that are currently in play, it is difficult to give an accurate forecast as to how Bitcoin will perform in this current economic climate, adding:

“We expect intense short-term volatility following the halving, both topside and downside. Longer-term, we see price appreciation in line with the stock-to-flow model. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see it fly under the radar of the general public, meanwhile, the savvy investors will continue to accumulate in the background.”

Lastly, Fredrik Johansson, the founder of Libonomy — a blockchain ecosystem regulated by artificial intelligence — believes that previously the halving events were generally accompanied by great hype in the media, leading to people being exposed to Bitcoin. However, most investors and crypto enthusiasts are now well versed in Bitcoin, and thus a mindless financial boom may not be in the works this time around.

Pundits feel that Google Trends data is meaningless

According to data available on Google Trends, searches pertaining to the term “cryptocurrency” have dipped by nearly 50% since June 2019. However, experts such as Neel Popat, the CEO and co-founder of the cryptocurrency investment platform Donut, are of the opinion that such data is quite limited in its overall scope, as there are several other indicators that can be used to gauge consumer interest in crypto:

“Within the ecosystem, there are new growth areas such as ‘DeFi,’ generating a lot of interest. In terms of masses, they tend to get more excited when there are events and price rises, so if one was to take place post-halving, that’s the perfect storm for widespread interest.”

Similarly, Emre Tekisalp, the head of business development at O(1) Labs — the developer behind the Coda protocol — told Cointelegraph that contrary to what data on Google Trends may suggest, curiosity in cryptocurrency as a means of payment and fuel to power the modern-day digital economy has grown substantially among the general public, as well as among governments and various institutions around the world:

“The roll-out of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will ultimately make the general public more aware of decentralized alternatives such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.”

Lastly, Nick Hill, the vice president of business development at the asset management firm Invictus Capital, believes that because of all of the substantial stimulus packages that governments all over the world have been rolling out, conversations regarding how money is created in the first place have been reignited. This, in his view, will invariably lead people to once again talk about crypto, as well as how this unique asset class can serve as a bulwark against unfettered money creation by central banks.

Investor confidence in Bitcoin may rise

With traditional commodities such as oil and stocks plunging hard in recent months, with the value of the former reaching its all-time low on April 20, it is worth looking at whether or not the coming few months will see an increase in market confidence in relation to Bitcoin as well as the crypto industry in general.

Expounding his views on the matter, Tanner Philp, the head of corporate development at Kik — a social media messaging platform — told Cointelegraph that it has been extremely impressive to see market confidence remain high in regard to Bitcoin despite all of the insane bearish pressure that the global finance sector has witnessed over the past couple of months:

“I think the capital flight in Bitcoin and crypto, in general, is less correlated to the halvening and more so a need for people to establish cash positions in the midst of a pandemic. My view is that for the most part crypto is still held as a speculative asset, but that for it to emerge as a multi-trillion dollar asset, it needs to move beyond that to be used as a currency. I think the industry is making strides there.“

In regard to whether or not investors have become more educated about Bitcoin, as well as crypto technology in general, it is quite clear that since the initial coin offering bubble of 2017, people have become more mature in the way they evaluate various altcoins and other associated crypto offerings.

But while awareness is higher than ever before, digital currencies are, realistically speaking, still quite far from universal adoption. However, many experts believe that during times of crisis — such as the current one — new businesses and technologies can emerge, and therefore right now could be a great time for crypto to show its advantages and gain widespread adoption.

On the subject, Andy Ji, the co-founder of Ontology — a public blockchain and distributed collaboration platform — believes that even though Bitcoin’s dizzying price highs of late 2017 and the subsequent drop have given people the impression that the asset is subject to uncontrollable volatility, Bitcoin has recently reverted to a more regular pattern of growth that has been relatively undisturbed by external market fluctuations:

„There has been a heightened awareness among citizens over the past twelve months around the potential of Bitcoin, its core attributes, and the Bitcoin-powered avenues users can pursue. Now, each month, there are new swathes of savvy digital payments users emerging, aided, in part, by the heightened application of crypto and blockchain technology more broadly among enterprises with household names.”


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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an air of uncertainty around Bitcoin’s value, despite the currency’s upcoming halving event

Amid Market Downturn, Number of People Owning 1 BTC Hits New Record

Amid Market Downturn, Number of People Owning 1 BTC Hits New Record

Amid the ongoing market bloodpath, the number of people hodling one Bitcoin or more hits another historic record

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Amid the ongoing crypto market decline, the number of crypto wallets containing one Bitcoin (BTC) or more continues to rise.

According to major blockchain analytics firm, Glassnode, the number of Bitcoin addresses holding one or more bitcoins has been steadily growing and reached a new all-time high (ATH) On March 11. On that day, the amount of hodlers owning one Bitcoin or more reached an ATH of 795,630, crossing a previous ATH of 795,300 observed on March 10, Glassnode tweeted.

Since March 2019, the number of Bitcoin wallets holding one or more bitcoins added more than 60,000 addresses, according to public data by Glassnode. By steadily nearing the 800,000 threshold, the amount more than doubled in the past five years.

Bitcoin addresses with balance over 1 Bitcoin. Source: Glassnode

Various tiers show different dynamics though

On March 10, Glassnode also reported that the number of non-zero Bitcoin addresses also reached an ATH of more than 29 million. In line with the steady growth of Bitcoin addresses containing one or more bitcoins, the number of users who own over 10 bitcoins is also continuing to grow, according to data by Glassnode. These numbers purportedly show the increasing interest in Bitcoin by retail investors, as previously outlined by some industry experts.

On the other hand, the amount of investors holding 100 or more bitcoins have been gradually decreasing over the past year, according to Glassnode data. At the same time, the amount of whales who own over 1,000 in Bitcoin has been stable and even growing over the past year, the records show.

People getting excited to finally own 1 BTC on the day it loses over 20% of its price

As Bitcoin lost more than 20% of its price earlier today, dropping to 10-month lows of $5,720, owning one Bitcoin became somewhat easier. As such, some online users are excited to have finally accumulated a whole Bitcoin, despite the falling markets on March 12.

However, amid the intensifying coronavirus fears, worsened by news of President Trump’s travel ban and crashing oil prices, other users don’t exactly expect anything good from Bitcoin. “Yeah just wait till all calms down you may buy 5 soon instead of 1,” one Reddit user argued, indicating a bearish sentiment with regards to the market.

Thursday, March 12 can apparently be referred to as the second “Black Monday” event this week, leaving the crypto community with more concerns over the upcoming Friday 13. The market turmoil broke just 59 days before the long-discussed Bitcoin halving, which is prospected to become the biggest trigger for Bitcoin’s moonpath to $100,000.


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Amid the ongoing market bloodpath, the number of people hodling one Bitcoin or more hits another historic record

BIS: No Central Bank Digital Currencies Focus on Cross-Border Payment

BIS: No Central Bank Digital Currencies Focus on Cross-Border Payment

None of the 17 ongoing central bank digital currency projects is focused on cross-border payments, the Bank for International Settlements says

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Cross-border payments do not appear to be a priority as countries all over the world to engage with their own digital currency projects, a new report says.

While global governments are competing to become the first country in the world to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), no CBDC project really focuses on cross-border payments, according to a new study released by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

No ongoing global CBDC projects explicitly focus on cross-border payments

The BIS’ new CBDC revelation is part of the bank’s quarterly review, the “International banking and financial market developments,” issued on March 1. In the report, the international financial institution analyzed existing CBDC initiatives alongside major global issues in the market such as the impact of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in China.

According to the BIS, there are at least 17 governments exploring the use of central bank digital currencies over the world to date, including countries like Iceland, Norway, Brazil and Israel. However, none of the 17 global CBDC projects analyzed by the BIS is focused on facilitating cross-border payments, despite a number of global authorities outlining CBDC’s potential for faster, cheaper and less risky cross-border payments.

The BIS report reads:

“Regarding the focus on cross-border interlinkages, no CBDC project has an explicit focus on payments beyond the central bank’s jurisdiction. It is noteworthy that several central banks are working on cross-border payment trials with a consumer focus in parallel to their CBDC efforts.”

Additionally, the BIS noted that some global jurisdictions such as Denmark and Switzerland believe that the costs of a retail CBDC would outweigh the benefits at the current stage of development. However, a larger number of countries continue to actively develop retail CBDCs, with at least third of all global banks claiming that they consider issuing a retail CBDC as a medium-term priority, the report notes.

European Central Bank president outlines CBDC potential for cross-border transfers

The fact that no global CBDC project is focused on cross-border payments would seem like further proof of officials’ unwillingness to experiment with a new type of national currency on a global level. 

However, Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank voiced her positive stance toward CBDC in terms of more effective cross-border payments in early January 2020. 

Similarly, the central banks in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and Singapore also believe that CBDCs can help improve counterparty credit risk for cross-border interbank payments, as reported by Cointelegraph in November 2019.

As such, Sweden started testing its digital currency project, the e-krona, on Feb. 20, 2020, as reported by Cointelegraph. The Bahamas, the island country that rolled out its CBDC project known as Project Sand Dollar in December 2019, plans to adopt its own digital currency across the whole country in the second half of 2020, according to the governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas.


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None of the 17 ongoing central bank digital currency projects is focused on cross-border payments, the Bank for International Settlements says

Telegram Will Release Bank Records to SEC in Ongoing Gram ICO Case

Telegram Will Release Bank Records to SEC in Ongoing Gram ICO Case

Telegram has agreed to provide the SEC with bank records on the condition that they can redact those records before they reach the court

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Telegram will release bank records that the United States Securities Exchange Commission believes will prove misconduct in the latter’s $1.7 billion offering of Gram tokens. 

International privacy laws and the new information

Per a Jan. 13 filing with the court of the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Telegram will have until Feb. 26 to provide the court with the bank records that the court denied the SEC in an earlier ruling that was based on privacy concerns. 

Today’s ruling will allow Telegram to redact the information provided to the court in accordance with foreign privacy regulations. According to a letter to the court from the attorneys for the defense, Telegram — a company founded in Russia by Pavel and Nikolai Durov and currently based in Berlin — will provide the SEC with these bank records in full by Jan. 15, only redacting them before submitting them to the public record. 

The fact that Telegram’s attorneys have agreed to provide the SEC with full bank records, while the public will have access to redacted versions means that all eyes will be on the SEC’s next move as a bellwether of what they do or do not find in the new documents. Philip Moustakis, an attorney with Seward and Kissel and formerly senior counsel at the SEC, told Cointelegraph that the SEC will be on alert for evidence of Telegram’s “Failing to exercise reasonable care to ensure that the purchasers were not acting as underwriters.”

The story of the bank records

As Cointelegraph reported, the SDNY denied the SEC’s original request for information earlier in January but did so “without prejudice,” leaving the subject open to further discussion.

On Jan. 10, the SEC produced invoices from alleged underwriters to Telegram’s sale of Gram tokens that the SEC believes demonstrate offering of Gram tokens outside of their approved timeline. 

SEC v. Telegram in brief

The saga of the U.S. regulator and the messenger service began in earnest on Oct. 11, when the SEC filed an emergency action demanding a cease-and-desist in Telegram’s offering. The SEC called the sale of Gram tokens an unregistered securities offering, while Telegram argued that it qualified under Regulation D exemptions to the requirement to register as such an offering. 

The SEC has been examining opportunities to adapt its Reg. D exemptions, which are dependent on making offerings to “accredited investors” alone, who by the logic of U.S. securities law does not require the same degree of regulatory protection as main-street investors. Despite this ongoing reconsideration, the commission has persisted in identifying Telegram’s offering as a security offering, meaning that the case will continue.


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Telegram has agreed to provide the SEC with bank records on the condition that they can redact those records before they reach the court

Scale of OneCoin Scam Unravels Amid Ongoing Court Hearings

Scale of OneCoin Scam Unravels Amid Ongoing Court Hearings

Konstantin Ignatov, the brother of OneCoin’s creator, claims that since going into hiding, his sister has been given refuge by a Russian businessman

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With each passing day, the financial nitty-gritty associated with the cryptocurrency-related OneCoin Ponzi scheme continues to become of increasing interest to members of the global crypto community. 

The U.S. government’s previous estimate of the scam that raked in a total of $4 billion seems to be well off the mark, as the figure could be more than three to four times the official estimate — this is according to Jamie Bartlett, the person responsible for the BBC’s podcast series The Missing Cryptoqueen

As part of the show, Bartlett and his team followed a trail of clues to track down Ruja Ignatova, who is widely credited as being the mastermind behind the entire OneCoin scam. Bartlett also uncovered a host of shocking documents during his research that revealed that OneCoin may have gathered more than $4 billion from just a single continent alone.

To put things into context, it appears as though over the course of the fourth quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2016, OneCoin was able to generate a total of 3.4 billion euros (approximately $3.8 billion). However, since the coins had no intrinsic value attached to them, they could not be used to facilitate any real-world deals or purchases. 

What are the figures?

Instead, the scheme relied solely on heavy marketing tactics and other nefarious ploys — such as Ignatov claiming that OneCoin Ltd. had successfully attracted more than three million members across the globe. However, at its core, the project was no different from any other multilevel marketing scheme, simply because, much like other MLM schemes, OneCoin too doled out handsome commissions to its members for on-boarding new recruits. 

Fast forward to 2019 and the aforementioned scam is currently being tried in front of a court of law. The prosecutors allege that Mark Scott, a U.S.-based attorney who had previously worked for reputed law firm Locke Lord LLP, helped Ignatov launder the bulk of the proceeds acquired through the OneCoin scam. 

Scott, who has pleaded not guilty, is being accused of employing a wide network of fake companies, offshore bank accounts and fraudulent investment schemes to siphon off more than $400 million in illegal proceeds. As compensation for his shady activities, prosecutor Julieta Lozano pointed out that Scott was paid handsomely in the form of a 57-foot yacht, three multimillion-dollar homes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and luxury cars, including three Porsches and a Ferrari. 

What is happening in court?

To better understand the ongoing situation and how its potential outcome will pan out, Cointelegraph reached out to Matthew Russell Lee, founder of Inner City Press, which is known for its investigative journalism related to the global finance industry. Lee has been following the situation closely and has attended all of the recent hearings concerning OneCoin and the U.S. vs. Scott trial. 

When asked about Scott and his claim that he duly informed the FBI about his efforts to determine whether OneCoin might be a pyramid scheme before he got involved with the project, Lee replied:

“Mark Scott’s defense is that he didn’t know that OneCoin, for example, had no blockchain. But his claims of not knowing that something was wrong are undercut by evidence he would only speak with Ruja Ignatova on a ‘crypto-phone’ and in some cases, only in person. Scott traveled to Sophia and, according to cooperating witness Konstantin Ignatov (Ruja’s brother and, until her abrupt disappearance, personal assistant), met with Ruja with nearly all other OneCoin staff told to go home for the day not witness or overhead anything.”

On the subject of Ruja Ignatov’s current whereabouts and how she has been able to evade various law enforcement agencies for so long, Lee told Cointelegraph an intriguing detail: Konstantin Ignatov testified on Nov. 6 that after his sister fled, security personnel who accompanied her told him that she had met with people who spoke Russian. Konstantin Ignatov also added that his sister informed him that she had the support and protection of a „rich and powerful“ Russian individual.

Despite all this information now being out in the public domain, the OneCoin project continues to remain fully operational. Even the project’s parent company, OneLife, continues to reiterate the mantra that „OneCoin verifiably fulfills all criteria of the definition of a crypto-currency.“ 

To make sense of this, Cointelegraph reached out to a Singapore-based crypto executive who claims to have inside knowledge on the matter but wishes to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns. According to the executive:

“OneCoin has at various times, attempted to involve legitimate community players in creating a functioning blockchain for optics.”

The executive also claimed that a lot of the market hype that OneCoin generated upon its release had crossed over to the Singapore scene and that Marcelo Carsil of Macenas, as well as an early Bitcoin developer, had been hired to work for OneCoin at one point.

Lastly, Lee believes that the company’s ongoing operations are just a smokescreen to make it seem as though the project is still going ahead, as laid out in the original roadmap. He further highlighted that the mother of Ruja and Konstantin Ignatov still works at the OneCoin office in Sophia, Bulgaria. However, Lee expressed his doubts about OneCoin, saying, “I cannot imagine, given the evidence, how much longer this can continue.”

What happens next?

Even though Scott is currently being tried in court in relation to a sizeable sum of $400 million, the larger question still remains: What happened to the rest of the money? It seems as though there has been little to no accountability as far as the entire score goes, but Lee believes that Ruja Ignatov — and perhaps her sponsors — took a lot of it. 

Additionally, he pointed out that as per a recent testimony, a man in the United Arab Emirates named Amer Abdulaziz, who is still free and makes routine public appearances, took around $100 million from the total stash. Lee concluded by saying:

“I am particularly interested in the alleged money launderer(s) who were named in testimony on November 6, and other professional enablers some of whom have gone on to work on other crypto-currency projects.”


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Konstantin Ignatov, the brother of OneCoin’s creator, claims that since going into hiding, his sister has been given refuge by a Russian businessman

Updates Ongoing: US House Hearing With Commissioners of the SEC

Updates Ongoing: US House Hearing With Commissioners of the SEC

CT reports live from the House Financial Services Committee hearing with the SEC

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Disclaimer: This report is being updated live from the Financial Services Committee floor. Check in for the latest on the hearing’s progress.

In advance: As Cointelegraph reported on Sept. 20, the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee is holding a hearing today, Sept. 24, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton and four other SEC commissioners.

At the time of the announcement, the published agenda included such critical topics for Cointelegraph’s readers as the SEC’s „Howey test“ for considering cryptocurrencies securities, regulation strategy for Facebook’s Libra, the 144A exemption that crypto offerers like Van Eck operate under, and more general „Environmental, social, and governance“ (ESG) matters.


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CT reports live from the House Financial Services Committee hearing with the SEC

Court Calls on Craig Wright’s Wife to Testify in Ongoing Kleiman Case

Court Calls on Craig Wright’s Wife to Testify in Ongoing Kleiman Case

The wife of Craig Wright, a self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto, has been called to testify in an ongoing court case

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Judge Bruce Reinhart, who is overseeing the ongoing Kleiman v. Wright case, has requested international assistance in order to call Ramona Watts, Craig Wright’s wife, to the stand.

Judge Reinhart sent his request to the Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in Strand, London, according to a court filing dated July 22.

As per the filing, Judge Reinhart sent the request because he believes that the witnesses being called — three in total — have directly relevant evidence pursuant to the case. 

Regarding Watts, Reinhart wrote that she is being called in order to produce documents, communications and testimony pertaining to a number of facts in question. Among these are Wright’s supposed creation of Bitcoin, communications made between David Kleiman and Wright, and information on the company W&K Info Defense Research.

The filing also highlights a number of areas that Wright testified on, which suggests that Watts would have knowledge of pertinent information. The filing notes that Wright has testified about Watts, saying that he discussed how he allegedly created Bitcoin prior to their marriage.

Notably, the filing states that parties called upon to produce evidence have the privilege to not testify if the information was confidentially shared within a marriage.

As per the filing, the estate of computer scientist David Kleiman has accused Craig Wright of stealing hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins belonging jointly to the estate and W&K. These assets were worth more than $5 billion when the estate first filed the lawsuit, and they are demanding to receive a minimum of 300,000 BTC along with their forked assets.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, a man from Belgium named Debo Jurgen Etienne Guido wrote to Judge Reinhart claiming to be the real Satoshi Nakomoto, stating:

“I hereby testify, by written letter — I am the genuine and only originator/creator of the genesis block of the Bitcoin blockchain. I used the handle Satoshi Nakamoto and mail Satoshin@GMX.com to write and publish the whitepaper bitcoin.”


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The wife of Craig Wright, a self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto, has been called to testify in an ongoing court case

Crypto Exchange Coinbene Announces Ongoing Maintenance While Customers Suspect Hack

Crypto Exchange Coinbene Announces Ongoing Maintenance While Customers Suspect Hack

Top-20 cryptocurrency exchange Coinbene announces deposits and withdrawals are paused for maintenance, while users suspect a cover for a possible hack

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Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbene, ranked 16th on CoinMarketCap by adjusted volume, has announced it is undergoing maintenance on Tuesday, March 26, as the crypto industry discusses rumors that the exchange has been hacked.

The official Twitter account of Coinbene Global, @CoinBene, has responded to a user nicknamed Crypto James, who claims that his deposits have been pending for an hour and insists the exchange has suffered a hack, as the maintenance had not been previously announced.

Coinbene’s reply to his tweet reads:

“In order to enhance the user experience, CoinBene upgraded the platform wallet on March 26, 2019. During maintenance, it will affect related operations such as deposit and withdraw, trading will not be affected.”

In another tweet, Coinbene adds that the completion time of the maintenance will be announced separately. The exchange states that all withdrawals and deposits will be completed automatically after the maintenance concludes.

However, some insiders suggest that the maintenance announcement is a cover for a large hack that might involve up to $40 million stolen. Nick Saponaro, CIO of blockchain startup Diviproject, wrote on Twitter that the massive outgoing transactions from the platform shown on major statistics website for Ethereum, Ehterscan, might serve as an evidence of an attack.

In a comment to Saponaro’s tweet, Twitter user Stephen Morrison noted that the funds appear to have been moved to an address commented on as “cold wallet.”

Nick Schteringard of Russian crypto media Forklog also mentioned “strange activity” on Coinbene in his Twitter. Schteringard cites users who claim that their wallets were hacked using two addresses. He also notes that a large portion of previously unknown MaximineCoin, or MXM, is involved in transactions. MXM has seen gains of more than 700% per this month, he writes.

Cointelegraph will update this story as more information is made available.


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Top-20 cryptocurrency exchange Coinbene announces deposits and withdrawals are paused for maintenance, while users suspect a cover for a possible hack

Binance API Seemingly Reveals Ongoing Margin Trading Implementation

Binance API Seemingly Reveals Ongoing Margin Trading Implementation

Changes made to the public Binance API reveal that the exchange is seemingly in the midst of margin trading implementation

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Changes made to the public Application Programming Interface (API) of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance seemingly reveal that the company is considering implementing margin trading.

A Reddit user brought the API changes to public attention on March 20 after they were updated last week, noting that the Binance public API response differs from what it should be according to the official documentation released by the company on GitHub. More precisely, the API now includes two additional boolean — which means that their value can be only true or false — variables.

The name of the first added variable is “isSpotTradingAllowed,” while the second is “isMarginTradingAllowed.” The self-explanatory variable names seemingly suggest that Binance is in the midst of implementing margin trading capability.

At press time, data returned by the API also shows that isSpotTradingAllowed is set to true (enabled) and isMarginTradingAllowed is set to false (disabled) on all of the 482 trading pairs.

Binance first promised in the feature rollout section of its white paper that margin trading would be implemented after spot trading and before futures on its exchange. As one Reddit user points out in a comment to the post, what’s new now is the actual change in the API.

Other crypto exchanges already offer margin trading.

In February, major Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx added four new margin trading pairs to its platform with up to 100x leverage. And in December of last year, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex launched margin trading for stablecoin Tether (USDT) against USD.


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Changes made to the public Binance API reveal that the exchange is seemingly in the midst of margin trading implementation

Ongoing Economic Crises in Venezuela and Beyond Show That the Idea of Bitcoin as a Store of Value Is Increasingly Catching On

Ongoing Economic Crises in Venezuela and Beyond Show That the Idea of Bitcoin as a Store of Value Is Increasingly Catching On

Economic crises throughout the globe are showing that people are increasingly putting their faith in Bitcoin and other cryptos

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Just when it seemed like the economic and political situation in Venezuela couldn’t get much worse, it has. Back in December, the Venezuelan bolívar witnessed its peak annual inflation rate for 2018, with this rate coming in at a dizzying 80,000 percent, according to the calculations of Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University. However, with the United States‘ imposition of sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company on Jan. 28, and with Juan Guaido self-declaration as interim president of the South American nation on Jan. 23, this already dire situation has only deteriorated further. Yearly inflation has now reached around 139,000 percent, and Venezuelans have found it even more difficult to buy basic necessities.

Cointelegraph has already shown in a 2018 article how Venezuela’s recent plight resulted in a surge in popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, while data from Coin Dance reveal that over 35,000 Bitcoin (worth around $127 million at today’s prices) was traded for bolívar on the LocalBitcoins crypto exchange over the entire course of last year. However, even if it’s only two months into 2019, the new year has brought new peaks of trading activity for Bitcoin and the Venezuelan bolívar, with the weekly LocalBitcoins totals for the first two weeks of February — 2,004 and 2,454 — exceeding anything seen in any month of 2018.

Weekly LocalBitcoins Volume

Source: Coin.dance

Venezuela’s increasingly fragile circumstances have therefore provided further confirmation of the strong link between imperilled economies and crypto adoption, yet this link also finds confirmation from other nations facing similar, if not quite as acute problems. Turkey, Iran, Nigeria and India have all faced economic or inflationary pressures over the past year, and a growing number of their citizens have adapted to such pressures by turning to crypto. And while their use of cryptocurrencies isn’t on the level of Venezuela’s, there has been a noticeable growth in recent months, indicating that the idea of using Bitcoin and other coins as alternative stores of value is gradually taking root in their societies.

Venezuela

Venezuela

In the first month of 2018, some 807 Bitcoin was traded for bolívar on the LocalBitcoins exchange. In the first month of 2019, this number hit 6,347, rising to 10,805 if you happen to add the first two weeks of February (according to the most current Coin Dance data).

Given that the total for all of 2018 was 35,000, it’s clear that Venezuela is on its way to hitting a new national record for Bitcoin trading, especially in light of how the U.S. has stepped up its economic war against the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro. The United States’ most recent sanctions prevent the state-owned oil company — Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) — from accessing $7 billion in assets it holds in America, while also stopping all sales of oil to the U.S., a market worth around $11 billion a year to PDVSA.

As a result, the Venezuelan bolívar is likely to lose even more of its dwindling value, given that the government will have to finance more of its growing debts by printing larger quantities of the national currency. And as happened in 2018, the deepening of this crisis is on course to strengthen the reliance of Venezuelans on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In fact, as the above figures for the LocalBitcoins exchange indicate, this effect already began taking shape in January, which saw more trading activity than any other month in Venezuelan history. Yet, the effect of Venezuelan strife on cryptocurrency isn’t restricted only to Bitcoin, since other coins are witnessing comparable — if not quite as pronounced — spikes in use.

Chief amongst these is Dash, which near the end of December celebrated the 2,500th merchant in Venezuela to accept it. Back in August, it could boast of only 1,000 merchants, indicating the impressive emergence it has witnessed since then. And seeing as how the count of the merchants listed on its DiscoverDash portal reveals that the current figure is 2,605, it’s apparent that it  is still rising and likely to continue rising for the foreseeable future.

This expansion is the product of Venezuela’s unresolved economic and financial issues. However, in contrast to the possible perception that the country is ruled by a prohibitive, iron-fisted government, it would seem that the Maduro administration – in its desperation – is tentatively taking steps to facilitate and profit from the rising prominence of cryptocurrencies like Dash and Bitcoin. This has become all the more likely in light of how American sanctions are, according to certain analysts, killing off the petro, which was launched in early 2018 but which quickly suffered from a U.S. ban.

For example, on Feb. 9, the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP) published new regulations, which introduce commissions and monthly limits on remittances sent in crypto to Venezuelan residents. This commission (payable to SUNACRIP) would be a minimum of 0.25 euro ($0.28) and a maximum of 15 percent of the value of the remittance, while the monthly limit would be set at $600.

This move by SUNACRIP follows in the wake of the government’s recent crypto bill, which came into force on Jan. 31 and which forces all crypto exchanges and miners to apply for licenses. As with the introduction on Jan. 9 of a law that requires people and firms operating in crypto to pay their taxes in crypto, there’s no denying that it indicates a move on the government’s part to harness cryptocurrencies for its own increasingly endangered ends. Nonetheless, it also serves as a message to the Venezuelan population that the government is effectively embracing its move to Bitcoin and other coins, despite the fact that the Maduro administration had cracked down on Bitcoin mining in the past, for example.

While commissions on crypto remittances might potentially have a depressive effect on the thriving Bitcoin and Dash markets in Venezuela, there are signs that Venezuelans will become increasingly able to source their own crypto without needing someone to send it to them from abroad. Toward the end of January, Venezuela’s first ever crypto ATM opened in Caracas, supporting withdrawals in Bitcoin, Dash and Litecoin. This may be the only such ATM in Venezuela at the moment, but its installation shows that, despite already enjoying impressive growth in 2018, cryptocurrency is likely to enjoy further expansion in the Bolivarian Republic in 2019.

Turkey

Turkey

Venezuela may be the starkest example of how financial crises can encourage cryptocurrency adoption, but it isn’t the only one. One of the biggest economies to suffer an inflationary crisis in late 2018 was Turkey, where the Turkish lira hit a record low of 7.24 against the U.S. dollar on Aug. 13, soon after the Trump administration introduced higher tariffs against Turkish steel and aluminium. And even though the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the remedial step of hiking interest rates to 24 percent on Sept. 13,  the lira’s inflation rate actually increased after August, when it was 17.9 percent. It rose to 24.5 percent in September, to 25.2 percent in October, and has since “settled” to just over 20 percent.

In response to the devaluation of the lira, the Turkish people have shown an increased willingness to trade Bitcoin, as indicated by data from LocalBitcoins and other exchanges serving the Eurasian country. For example, statistics provided by CryptoCompare show that the trading of Bitcoin saw a steady and overall increase in the second half of 2018, a period that also witnessed a number of noticeable spikes (particularly during the economically turbulent months of August, September and October). On May 17, daily Bitcoin volume was only 60, yet by August, this had mounted to a daily average (for that month) of approximately 255.5, with the peak for the month being 830.

The peak was reached on Aug. 10, just a day after Erdogan’s ill-fated “buy the Turkish lira” speech, which precipitated another cliff-edge drop for the struggling currency. It was almost as though the Turkish populace (correctly) perceived the president’s urges as a tacit admission that the lira was in serious trouble, so many of them went out a did something commendably rational: They dropped the lira and started buying Bitcoin (among other stores of value).

However, as was noted in last year’s article on currency crises, one of the biggest distinctions between Turkey and Venezuela is that the Turkish population has access to foreign currencies. As such, there was a pronounced jump in U.S. dollar prices at the height of the Turkish lira crisis, as Turkish traders and laypeople turned more to the world’s reserve currency as a store of value than to alternative stores, such as Bitcoin. This is why the recent increases in Bitcoin trading against the Turkish lira haven’t been on the scale of trading against the Venezuelan bolívar.

Nonetheless, compared to nations with comparable gross domestic product (GDP) levels, Turkey has witnessed above-average trading. Sweden, Switzerland and Mexico are 22nd, 20th and 15th for nominal GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), yet their daily trading peaks for 2019 were 32, 45 and 636, respectively. By contrast, Turkey — which the IMF pegs as the 19th-biggest economy in the world — saw a 2018 peak of 877 (on Nov. 20), underlining the extent to which an unstable national currency can drive people toward crypto.

India

India

While Turkey was „one of the biggest economies to suffer an inflationary crisis in late 2018,“ it was not, in fact, the biggest. This accolade belongs to India, which — much like Turkey — was adversely affected by American protectionism (although it also had its own sources of difficulty, such as inflation). By September, its currency, the rupee, had become the worst-performing in Asia, losing 12 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar since the start of the year, while it continued to see pointed falls as late as December.

And as one might expect, such declines were complemented by upticks in Bitcoin trading. In the second quarter of 2018 (after the end-of-2017 bull run had calmed down), the figures show a daily average of 18.4 BTC. By contrast, the third and fourth quarters — when the rupee crisis began setting in — saw daily averages of 28.5 and and 30.6 BTC (and data is missing for the last two weeks of December). Compared to Q2 2018, these two figures represent increases of 54.9 percent and 66.3 percent, while data for comparably sized economies show smaller increases across these two periods.

For instance, CryptoCompare data for the British pound shows a decrease of 14.9 percent between Q2 and Q3 2018, and an increase of only 15.2 percent between Q2 and Q4. In other words, while there was a general, worldwide increase in the volume of Bitcoin trades over Q3 and Q4, it was more tangible in some nations than others. And for the most part, the nations where it was more tangible were those that were experiencing periods of financial turbulence and uncertainty, like India, Turkey and (especially) Venezuela.

Iran

Iran

This is also apparent in Iran’s case, even if the effect is much subtler. On Nov. 4, the U.S. introduced sanctions against Iranian shipping, banking and oil. Or rather, it reintroduced sanctions that had been removed in 2015 by the Obama administration as part of a conciliatory deal on Iran’s nuclear program. These sanctions had in fact hit the Iranian economy and the Iranian rial as early as June, when the Trump administration announced that it was withdrawing the U.S. from the aforementioned deal, and that the sanctions would kick in again after a “wind-down” period.

By September, this announcement was the biggest factor behind the rial having lost around 70 percent of its value since May, with one U.S. dollar worth approximately 150,000 rials on the black market in September. In the midst of this collapse, there has been a noticeable increase in trading volumes for the BTC/rial pair, although once again the increases aren’t anywhere near the level witnessed in Venezuela, largely because the rial’s inflation rate sat at around 203 percent at the apex of the crisis (compared to over 112,000 percent for Venezuela), and because Iranians had access to dollars and other stores of value (e.g., gold).

For example, according to the data for the BTC/rial market on LocalBitcoins, the average daily volume in Q2 2018 was a modest 3.32 BTC. In Q3 2018, this rose slightly to 3.61 BTC, while in the fourth quarter of the year — when the sanctions were activated — it rose to 4.1 BTC. Coming in respectively at 8.7 percent and 23.8 percent (compared to Q2), these are only modest rises, but they’re still more than can be witnessed in other nations with comparable GDP. For instance, the IMF puts Norway at 28th for nominal GDP (and Iran at 30th), yet between Q2 and Q3 2018 trading of Norwegian krone for Bitcoin declined by 29.9 percent — while between Q2 and Q4 2018, it declined by 25.9 percent.

Nigeria

Nigeria

Once again, at a time when similarly sized economies are seeing stagnation or even a downturn in their Bitcoin market, a country in financial crisis is seeing an upturn. Another country that bears witness to this effect is Nigeria, which, despite not suffering from any particularly severe crisis in 2018 (and despite not being the object of American sanctions), has still had a rough economic ride recently, having only just exited a five-year recession at the beginning of 2018. Its currency — the naira — is also expected to experience an inflation rate of 13 percent in 2019, having stood at around 11 percent at the end of last year.

The north African nation is therefore ripe for interest in Bitcoin, something that is confirmed by the data. Between Q2 and Q3 2018, BTC/naira volumes increased by 17.7 percent, from 144.8 BTC per day to 170.4. And between, Q2 and Q4, these same volumes increased by an impressive 52 percent. This strong growth in the final quarter of the year was partly the result of the return of rising inflation, which had bottomed out at 11.14 percent in July, only to begin rising again toward the end of the year, putting a strain on the ability of Nigerians to purchase food using the naira.

To a large extent, Nigerians have for several years now had a particular attraction toward Bitcoin, given that the oil-dependent economy has had a tough financial ride. And with the Nigeria-based FSDH Merchant Bank predicting an inflation rate of 13 percent for 2019, it’s likely that this attraction will remain strong for the foreseeable future, particularly when the weakness of the naira is part of the explanation as to why more people live in extreme poverty in Nigeria than in any other country in the world.

Conclusions

However, while the above data all indicate that people move toward Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies during financial crises, it’s worth making a few important qualifications.

First of all, there’s little doubt there is evidence for movement, yet most of the push toward crypto is still distinctly modest, particularly when compared to the end-of-2017 bull market. For example, Turkey, Iran and India may have seen rises in BTC trading toward the end of 2018, yet these rises generally fall short of those seen at the end of the previous year. In Iran, the highest number of Bitcoin ever traded on a single day was 24, a quantity that was traded on Feb. 6, 2018. In India, Nov. 29, 2017 saw 592 BTC traded for rupees, while the biggest peak of Q4 2018 was 79 BTC (on Nov. 20). And in Turkey, Coin Dance reveals that the weekly trading average in Q4 2017 was 32 BTC, while in Q4 2018 it was 16 BTC (although CryptoCompare data show that the end-of-year peaks for 2017 and 2018 are roughly comparable).

The only country where there is a strong exception to this rule is Venezuela, and it’s here that the biggest lessons regarding crypto adoption in the face of economic crises can be learned. That is, even though “normal” high inflation can lead people toward the likes of Bitcoin, it’s apparent that, in order to push people en masse toward crypto, excessive hyperinflation is required, as well as a lack of alternative reserve currencies and an economic crisis of near-catastrophic proportions.

In Venezuela, with inflation currently exceeding 100,000 percent, and with millions of people struggling to feed themselves, these three conditions have certainly met. Given that foreign currency controls had been in place since 2003, and given that the Venezuelan bolívar is now all but worthless, people have had almost no choice but to turn to Bitcoin, Dash and other coins. By contrast, people in Turkey, Iran, Nigeria and even Zimbabwe (another nation that suffers from high inflation) have had access to other stores of value, while their usual currencies have still been usable as everyday currencies, despite suffering from volatility. As such, there hasn’t really been a “transition” to crypto comparable to that evident today in Venezuela.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that, even without large-scale adoption, there has been more trading of Bitcoin in these countries in the past few months than in previous quarters. And while this effect isn’t massively significant, it at least demonstrates that the idea of using crypto as a reserve currency and as a way of storing value is increasingly gaining, well, currency.


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Economic crises throughout the globe are showing that people are increasingly putting their faith in Bitcoin and other cryptos

US SEC Highlights Dedicated ICO Guide Amid Ongoing Regulatory Debate

US SEC Highlights Dedicated ICO Guide Amid Ongoing Regulatory Debate

The ICO and securities debate continues in the U.S. with SEC guide

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U.S. regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reiterated guidelines on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in a tweet Feb. 10, as efforts to formalize the sector continue.

A dedicated section of the regulator’s website now lists five aspects of ICOs the SEC considers essential, as well as a separate section for investors and market professionals.

The content appears to have existed since March last year, with the SEC opting to draw renewed attention to it on social media this weekend.

The material remains perhaps the most accessible publication into the ICO sector yet by the SEC, conspicuously coming in the form of a user guide instead of technical literature.

The five descriptive aspects listed appear to summarize the organization’s current perspective. These include confirmation a token issued in an ICO can be a security in need of registration with the SEC, regardless of how its issuer refers to it.

The guide also makes familiar reference to risks involved for investors and asks them to do their own research before parting with any capital.

“Companies and individuals are increasingly considering initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a way to raise capital or participate in investment opportunities,” a summary of the guide reads:

“While these digital assets and the technology behind them may present a new and efficient means for carrying out financial transactions, they also bring increased risk of fraud and manipulation because the markets for these assets are less regulated than traditional capital markets.”

Last week, SEC chairman Jay Clayton gave substantial testimony about ICOs as part of a hearing on cryptocurrency, similarly underscoring the need for investor protection.

An SEC commissioner, Heister Peirce, said Friday, Feb. 8, that the delay in establishing crypto regulation may allow more freedom for the industry to move on its own.

Nonetheless, the combined efforts come at a time when the ICO industry is now a fraction of its former size in terms of market capitalization. As Cointelegraph reported, some ICO tokens now trade well under their issuance price, while many have lost more than 90 percent of their value.

In December, Arthur Hayes, CEO of Hong Kong cryptocurrency trading platform BitMEX, told Cointelegraph he anticipated an ICO market resurgence by 2020.


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The ICO and securities debate continues in the U.S. with SEC guide

Bitcoin Trading Reaches All Time High in Venezuela Amidst Ongoing Economic Collapse

Bitcoin Trading Reaches All Time High in Venezuela Amidst Ongoing Economic Collapse

Bitcoin trading volumes in Venezuela have reached a new all time high, rising to almost $7 million per week on p2p platform LocalBitcoins

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Bitcoin (BTC) trading volumes in Venezuela have reached a new all-time high amidst massive hyperinflation and an ongoing presidential crisis, tech news outlet TrustNodes reports Feb. 6.

Bitcoin weekly trading volumes reached above 2,000 BTC (about $6.8 million) on peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange LocalBitcoins during the week ending Feb. 2.

Venezuela LocalBitcoins Weekly Trade Volumes in BTC

Venezuela LocalBitcoins Weekly Trade Volumes in BTC. Source: Coin.Dance

The recorded trade volumes on LocalBitcoins are just a fraction of overall estimated Bitcoin trading by Venezuelans. As TrustNodes reports, a large amount of trading is taking place on centralized exchanges located in neighboring countries, such as Colombia and Brazil.

In such cases, the total value of Bitcoin trading volumes by Venezuelans is difficult to estimate since trades are often made in local currencies of the neighboring countries.

Trading volumes on LocalBitcoins have also seen a spike in Colombia, with the two countries together accounting for 85 percent of trading volumes on the p2p exchange in Latin America, as Cointelegraph en Español reported Feb. 5. During the first five weeks of 2019, Venezuela has reportedly seen 8571 transactions, while Colombia saw 1709 transactions.

According to TrustNodes, the trading volume on LocalBitcoins in Venezuela has seen an over four-fold increase since summer 2018, while the inflation of the local fiat currency, the Venezuelan bolivar, has reached one million percent.

As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted earlier in 2018, the inflation rate in Venezuela could potentially reach ten million percent this year.

Despite having the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela’s economy has reportedly fallen by 47 percent since the end of 2013. The economic situation in the country was worsened by the sanctions by the United States adopted in 2017, which targeted the regime of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. Last month, the U.S. announced additional sanctions against the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

The tension in the country has been increased by an ongoing presidential crisis since last month, when the country’s majority opposition National Assembly declared Maduro’s May 2018 re-election invalid. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Juan Guaido is currently the self-proclaimed president of the country, and is supported by many local and international leaders.

On Jan. 31, Venezuela officially adopted a new bill on crypto regulation that introduces the concept of a sovereign crypto asset, which represents any currency issued in Venezuela and authorized by the government. The bill also lists required licenses for mining and crypto exchanges businesses, and introduces fines for unlicensed activities.


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Bitcoin trading volumes in Venezuela have reached a new all time high, rising to almost $7 million per week on p2p platform LocalBitcoins

Who Scales It Best? Inside Blockchains’ Ongoing Transactions-Per-Second Race

Who Scales It Best? Inside Blockchains’ Ongoing Transactions-Per-Second Race

QtumX can process more than 10,000 transactions per second, its developers claim. What about other blockchains? Find out in our analysis

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Open-source project Qtum representatives claim that their enterprise blockchain dubbed ‘QtumX’ can accommodate “more than 10,000” transactions per second (TPS), according to a press release recently shared with Cointelegraph.

With yet another player being added to the scalability race, it makes sense to look back and see how the main blockchains and cryptocurrencies stand in regard to TPS — and whether their numbers are actually authentic.

Transaction speed: How important is it?

Scalability is one of cryptocurrencies’ main issues, especially when it comes to the older coins. In fact, one of the first public comments on Bitcoin’s (BTC) white paper opened with the following line: “We very, very much need such a system, but the way I understand your proposal, it does not seem to scale to the required size.”

Ten years on, the problem still persists — the original blockchain can reportedly process only around seven TPS, which eventually led to dire consequences. At the end of 2017, Bitcoin users had to pay around $28 in fees so their transactions wouldn’t take days to complete. Those problems resulted in a hard fork and a new Bitcoin-based currency, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which moved on to increase the maximum block size up to eight megabytes from just one.

Many other, newer cryptocurrencies have since attempted to create their own blockchains, which are allegedly faster and cheaper. Their primary goal was often to beat the ultimate crypto nemesis, the centralized global payment system Visa, which can process 24,000 TPS, according to the IBM study conducted back in 2010. Many blockchains have since surpassed that point during their scalability race, but only on paper.

It is important to recognize that while TPS, confirmation time and scalability in general might be important for the long-awaited mass adoption to come, they are not the only criteria. Many cryptocurrencies claim to have high TPS performance these days, but the transaction speed is often dependable and is generally hard to measure — especially with real-time traffic instead of test networks, with their ideal conditions in terms of latency. As a result, many of the claimed TPS are different from their actual value.

Besides, even with a high TPS, the demand might not be there. This has been clearly visualized on the Txstreet website, where every transaction is pictured as a person, and they fill up buses that represent the block space of BTC and BCH. BCH has more buses — as its block size is bigger — but few passengers to fill them. On contrary, while there are just two buses for BTC, they fill quickly, and a lot of people are left crowded on the pavement, waiting to hop on the next block. Even the above mentioned Visa, which has the capacity to run at 24,000 TPS, reportedly does only 2,000 TPS on average, and up to 4,000 during peak hours — in other words, it doesn’t need more at this point.

Transaction Speed of Various Blockchains

Qtum

Claimed TPS capacity: 10,000

Qtum developers recently ran the blockchain’s benchmark on Amazon EC2 virtual server and, according to its own estimations, QtumX “is able to handle more than 10,000 TPS.” They stress that, due to the high speed, transactions are supposedly confirmed as soon as they are sent to the network.

It is important to note that QtumX has not been audited by third parties, and it is therefore impossible to confirm the authenticity of Qtum’s press release at this point. Similar to QtumX is Aelf, another business-oriented blockchain solution, whose development team reported achieving as many as 15,000 TPS during the initial test run in August 2018.

Ripple

Claimed TPS capacity: 50,000 (estimated: 1,500)

According to Ripple, XRP, the digital asset used in the company’s cross-border payment system, “consistently handles 1,500 transactions per second.” Moreover, it allegedly takes just around four seconds for payments to settle, while XRP can scale up to 50,000 TPS “to handle the same throughput as Visa.”

However, unlike most other currencies mentioned in this article, Ripple doesn’t have a blockchain. For that purpose, the company has its own patented technology: the Ripple protocol consensus algorithm. Consequently, XRP has been disregarded as a cryptocurrency by part of the community.

Ethereum

Estimated TPS capacity: 15

Ethereum (ETH) scales poorly even despite a large amount of miners: Currently, its blockchain accommodates around 20 TPS. However, the situation is likely to change once ETH moves from the proof-of-work (PoW) to the proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm.

That will reportedly be implemented in the new protocol called Casper — Friendly Finality Gadget, which will also employ sharding on top of PoS. Cointelegraph has covered the protocol in greater detail in a separate article.

However, Ethereum developers have been failing to run upgrades on time. Most recently, they rescheduled the Constantinople hard fork to late February after finding a vulnerability hours prior to the original time of release. Therefore, it is unclear when exactly Casper will be introduced. However, it might arrive as soon as this year, according to its developers.

EOS

Claimed TPS capacity: 3,996 (estimated: 50)

In July 2018, EOS’s chief technology officer, Daniel Larimer, tweeted that its cryptocurrency was performing at 2,351 TPS. A few months later, blockchain testing company Whiteblock published results of “the first independent benchmark testing of the EOS software.” The report showed that with “real world conditions” of round-trip latency and 0.01 percent packet loss, EOS performance was actually below 50 TPS, “putting the system in close proximity to the performance that exists in Ethereum.”

Later, the EOS Alliance, a nonprofit organization formed by EOS community members and block producers with the role to “facilitate the dialogue within community,” published a response signed by its interim executive director, Thomas Cox. It criticized Whiteblock’s “provocative paper,” noting that the benchmarking firm “only recruited Ethereum folks for the project.”

Stellar

Claimed TPS capacity: 1,000

Stellar (XLM) is a payment technology built on the Ripple protocol. However, unlike its parent company, Stellar aims to work with developing markets instead of banking systems and other well-established financial institutes.

Stellar has been reported to have different TPS. Thus, according to an employee at Light Year, a network powered by Stellar, its blockchain can process up to 1,000 TPS. However, as per Barclays Africa’s chief executive for corporate and investment banking, Stephen van Coller, a test of the Stellar-powered prototype found that it could process 36 million transactions an hour using Google cloud servers, which is around 10,000 TPS.

Litecoin

Estimated TPS capacity: 56

Litecoin (LTC) is reported to handle 56 TPS on its blockchain. However, as Litecoin creator Charlie Lee notes, the Lightning Network protocol could drastically boost TPS numbers of both LTC and BTC by adding an extra layer.

Tron

Claimed TPS capacity: 2,000

In June 2018, Tron (TRX) launched its mainnet, migrating off the Ethereum network. In an accompanying blog post, the startup reported to have reached a speed of 2,000 TPS on its test network. In July, the protocol’s CEO, Justin Sun, boasted that Tron “is 80 times faster than Ethereum,” implying that it has reached 1,200 TPS on the mainnet. That information has not been confirmed by third-party benchmarks.

Cardano

Claimed TPS capacity: 250

Cardano is a platform for maintaining the operations of the cryptocurrency dubbed ADA. During a recent ”Ask Me Anything” session on YouTube, co-founder Charles Hoskinson mentioned that Cardano can allegedly process between 50 and 250 TPS. However, Hoskinson noted that, with the addition of sidechains in the future, Cardano will be able to handle upward of 5,000 TPS.

IOTA

Claimed TPS capacity: 1,500 (estimated: 12)

IOTA (MIOTA) is a cryptocurrency that uses the so-called “Tangle” instead of a conventional blockchain, which allegedly allows it to achieve “infinite scaling” — the network gets faster as more users join, the creators claim.

However, in a Medium post, community member Kay Kurokawa criticized IOTA’s model, essentially arguing that it is centralized and does not guarantee better scaling when compared to other cryptocurrencies. IOTA has reportedly reached 1,000 TPS during stress tests in the past. According to tanglemonitor.com, a resource that analyzes IOTA’s Tangle, current TPS is around 12.


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Chile: Crypto Exchange Loses Ongoing Legal Battle in Supreme Court Ruling

Chile: Crypto Exchange Loses Ongoing Legal Battle in Supreme Court Ruling

Chilean Supreme court cancels previous decision that had ruled in favor of local crypto exchange Orionx

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The Chilean Supreme Court has ruled against crypto exchange Orionx, allowing a state-owned bank to close its account, local news outlet Emol reported Dec. 4.

The third chamber of the high court has revoked the decision taken in July that had guaranteed protection to Orionx and forced local state-owned bank Banco del Estado to reopen its account. The new judgement cited by Emol states that the bank acted correctly and did not violate any rules of the Chilean constitution.

In the decision, the judge also claimed that cryptocurrencies “have no physical manifestation and no intrinsic value.” The document states that they are controlled neither by government nor by a corporation, citing the characteristics as reasons for letting banks refuse services to the exchange. The court decision explains that the nature of cryptocurrencies prevents banks from receiving detailed information on transactions, customers and companies that interact with the assets.

In addition to that, the supreme court raised the question of the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, claiming that crypto was involved in money laundering and terrorism financing. Given all these considerations, the bank’s closure of Orionx’s accounts was found legal.

It was not immediately clear if the court’s decision is applicable to other two crypto exchanges that have filed complaints this year regarding similar closures.  

The litigation started in mid-April 2018, when local crypto exchanges BUDA, Orionx, and CryptoMarket (CryptoMKT) applied to an appeals court to confront two banks, private Itau Corpbanca and state-owned Banco del Estado, that had shut down their platforms’ accounts. BUDA’s co-founder and CEO Guillermo Torrealba claimed at the time that the banks’ decision to close accounts was “killing the entire industry.”

In April and in July, the Antimonopoly Court and the Court of Appeals consecutively ordered Itau Corpbanca and Banco del Estado to reopen the accounts of Buda and Orionx.

In May, the president of the Central Bank of Chile Mario Marcel announced the institution was considering elaborating a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, in order to manage the risks associated with crypto trading. In October, Chilean MPs introduced a resolution on blockchain adoption that did not focus on cryptocurrencies.


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Chilean Supreme court cancels previous decision that had ruled in favor of local crypto exchange Orionx