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Blockchain and CryptoCurrency

High Times Will Not Accept Bitcoin in Its Initial Public Offering
August 15, 2018 12:20 am

Мarijuana culture media group High Times will not accept Bitcoin in its IPO, counter to its initial announcement.

Marijuana culture media group High Times Holding Corp. has decided not to accept Bitcoin (BTC) in its initial public offering (IPO), according to an August 13 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The decision runs counter to the company’s Aug. 3 announcement, where it stated it will accept cryptocurrencies in order to attract investors.

In the beginning of August, High Times published a press release saying it would accept BTC and Ethereum (ETH) as a method of payment for subscription to the company’s shares. In the run-up to the IPO, High Times filed a Regulation A+ offering that enables smaller businesses to raise up to $50 million of funding from the general public within a 12-month period.

While High Times initially claimed that accepting cryptocurrencies in its IPO would make it the “first traditional stock offering ever to accept investments” in digital currencies, the SEC file states that the announcement was a mistake:

“This press release was distributed in error as the Company will not be accepting Bitcoin as payment for shares. As provided in the Company’s subscription agreement related to the offering, the Company will only be accepting check, credit card, ACH or wire transfer as payment for subscription to shares.”

The SEC document does not give reference to the other digital currency, ETH, which was also mentioned as a method of payment in the original press release.

Cryptocurrencies have been seen by many in the cannabis industry as a solution to banking bans and some of the industry’s legal woes by becoming an alternative to cash payments while the drug still remains illegal at the federal level. Banks’ unwillingness to deal with cannabis-related payments means that customers cannot use credit or debit cards to make purchases. A lack of banking makes marijuana dispensaries targets for robbers and thieves due to the large amount of cash on hand.

In order to create a better environment for the industry’s vendors, the digital currency Dash partnered with blockchain startup Alt Thirty Six in 2017 to integrate Dash as a payment option in the cannabis industry’s point of sale system. Dash claimed that providing a cashless option could save merchants up to 15 percent.

Chinese State-Owned Aerospace Firm Turns to Blockchain to Manage Billions of Invoices
August 14, 2018 11:48 pm

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd. is turning to blockchain to innovate its system for managing billions of electronic invoices nationwide.

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd. is turning to blockchain technology to innovate its unwieldy electronic invoice system, according to an announcement republished on a government site August 13.

The article, from official state newspaper People’s Daily, was posted yesterday by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence and outlines how blockchain will help innovate the supervision of invoices for tax purposes nationwide.

As the article notes, statistics indicate 1.31 billion Chinese electronic invoices were in circulation in 2017. By 2022, the number is forecast to hit 54.55 billion, according to a projected average annual growth rate of over 100%.

China Aerospace’s existing electronic invoice services are end-to-end, covering issuance, delivery, filing, inspection and reimbursement for the country’s taxpayers and authorities. It has already issued some 2.5 billion invoices to date, the article notes.

While electronic invoicing has reportedly entered a stage of “comprehensive promotion and adoption,” the article suggests that the existing system faces intractable hurdles, including over-reporting, false-reporting, and traceability issues in the process of invoice circulation.

China Aerospace has now created a blockchain system for electronic invoices to allow for authenticated and “credible” invoice issuance, traceable circulation and efficient and cost-effective oversight by tax authorities, according to the report.

A company representative told People’s Daily that blockchain will resolve the industry’s “pain points” and make efficient and secure tax data sharing a reality.

As Cointelegraph has reported, China’s southeastern city of Shenzhen has also recently been implementing a pilot blockchain ecosystem for invoices that was developed by Tencent — the developer of the 1 billion-user social media platform WeChat — alongside Shenzhen’s municipal taxation bureau.

US Regulator Fines and Halts Activities of Fraudulent Tomahawkcoin Issuer
August 14, 2018 11:22 pm

The creator of Tomahawkcoin has agreed to a permanent officer-and-director ban and a $30,000 fine from the U.S. SEC after the ICO was found to be fraudulent.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced in an order Wednesday, August 14, that it has barred and fined the creator of Tomahawkcoin over a fraudulent Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Tomahawkcoin, which David T. Laurance ran as a token through his corresponding company Tomahawk Exploration LLC, failed to raise funds via an ICO in 2017.

Having issued tokens via a “Bounty Program in exchange for promotional services,” Laurance, who has a previous record for securities fraud, again “violated the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.”

“Investors should be alert to the risk of old-school frauds, like oil and gas schemes, masquerading as innovative blockchain-based ICOs,” Robert A. Cohen, chief of the regulator’s Cyber Unit commented on the case.

Tomahawk presented investors with specious plans to drill for oil in California, erroneously claiming it had the right to do so.

“The SEC’s order finds that the defendants’ promotional materials used inflated projections of oil production that were contradicted by the company’s own internal analysis and misleadingly suggested that Tomahawk possessed leases for drilling sites when it did not,” the order continues.

“...The order also finds that Tomahawk claimed that token owners would be able to convert the Tomahawkcoins into equity and potentially profit from the anticipated oil production and secondary trading of the tokens.”

Laurance consented to a permanent officer-and-director bar and a penny stock bar from the SEC, along with a $30,000 fine.

The episode comes as U.S. regulators continue a wide-ranging sweep of ICO offerings to ensure their compliance with regulatory statutes. In May, the SEC launched a mock ICO to increase awareness of the most common warning signs of ICO scams.

Last month, a study prepared by ICO advisory firm Statis Group found that more than 80 percent of ICOs in 2017 were scams. According to the research, “over 70 percent of ICO funding (by $ volume) to-date went to higher quality projects, although over 80 percent of projects (by # share) were identified as scams.”

US: Square’s Cash App Expands Bitcoin Trading to All 50 States
August 14, 2018 10:45 pm

Mobile payment company Square’s Cash App has rolled out Bitcoin trading for all U.S. users.

Mobile payment company Square's Cash App has recently rolled out Bitcoin (BTC) trading in all 50 states, the firm confirmed in a Tweet August 13.

According to the company’s announcement, Cash App users are now able to conduct Bitcoin buy and sell transactions in all the U.S. states.

Square first launched Bitcoin trading on its app for a fraction of users back in November 2017.

On Jan. 31, 2018, Bitcoin trading on Square’s Cash App was launched for almost all of its users, excluding those in New York, Georgia, Hawaii, and Wyoming.

Co-founded nine years ago by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, the financial services company has reportedly suffered some losses as a result of introducing Bitcoin trading, which the company, however, considers “insignificant.”

Square acquired a BitLicense to operate in New York in June, and two months later announced it had generated more than $70 million in revenue from crypto in Q2, compared to $34 million in Q1.

Earlier this year, Dorsey claimed that the Internet will “ultimately” adopt a “single currency,” which he believes will be Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is currently trading around $6,070 at press time, down almost 4 percent on the day, amidst a wider market collapse.

South Korean Ministry Drops Cryptocurrency Exchanges From Venture Enterprise Classification
August 14, 2018 8:50 pm

Cryptocurrency exchanges will not fall under venture enterprise legislation, making them similar to bars and nightclubs, the South Korean government says.

The government of South Korea announced it had excluded cryptocurrency exchanges from legislation governing venture businesses in a press release issued Monday, August 13.

The brief document from the country’s Ministry of Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Startups (MSS) explained that contrary to previous decisions, it would now place exchanges alongside bars and nightclubs as businesses that it would “not encourage as a venture enterprise.”

A rough translation of part of the press release explains:

“The Small and Medium Venture Business Department [of the MSS] has no intention to regulate cryptocurrency trading and disclosures (ICOs), but as problems such as speculation emerge, cryptocurrency exchanges are not a target for the government to encourage as a venture enterprise.”

The MSS added, “[w]e will also foster blockchain technology and related companies at the government level.”

South Korea continues its intense reshaping of the regulatory landscape around cryptocurrency, having begun the year with a turbulent period which ignited public unrest.

Now, the country’s crypto exchanges face strict banking and taxation obligations, while authorities continue to monitor the industry in a manner similar to the oversight in Japan.

At the same time, blockchain technology has become a long-term focus for investment, the government this week revealing the area would form one of eight it had singled out for major budget spending in 2019 of 5 trillion won (about $4.4 billion).

Goldman Sachs Leads $32 Million Funding Round for Enterprise Blockchain Startup Axoni
August 14, 2018 8:15 pm

Enterprise-focused blockchain startup Axoni has raised $32 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs, joined by JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and others.

Enterprise-focused blockchain startup Axoni has raised $32 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs and other high-profile banks and venture capital investors, Forbes reports August 14.

The $32 million Series B funding round was led by Goldman Sachs and Nyca Partners, with numerous other investors including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Andreessen Horowitz. The fresh investment brings Axoni’s total financing to $55 million to date.

Axoni’s co-founder, Greg Schvey, told Forbes that the round represented not just an injection of capital but a “deep strategic” alliance, given that many of the investors are themselves innovating the traditional financial sector by turning to distributed ledger technologies (DLT), such as blockchain.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citigroup have already successfully tested Axoni’s blockchain platform Axcore for trading equity derivatives, Forbes reports.  

New York-based Axoni, founded in 2016, reportedly plans to use the capital to help its existing enterprise clients to “integrate their own users” into three of its distributed ledger platforms, now close to completion.

The largest project Axoni currently has underway is with DTCC –– the highest financial value processor in the world, processing $1.6 quadrillion in securities transactions per year. Last year, DTCC had announced it would work with Axoni, IBM and blockchain consortium R3 to re-platform its Trade Information Warehouse for derivatives processing using the Axcore blockchain.

Other notable recent venture capital infusions into the crypto and blockchain space include $28 mln from Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital for securities blockchain platform Harbor, and Rockefeller’s VC Arm Venrock’s partnership with crypto investment group Coinfund.

Security, Loyalty Programs and the End of Overbooking: How Blockchain Could Help Airlines
August 14, 2018 5:30 pm

Major competitors are already recognizing how the characteristics of the aviation industry align with blockchain.

Airlines and airports are functioning on outdated methods of information collection and distribution, using many isolated operating systems where data exchange can be timely and unsecure — despite a reported 170 percent increase in the past 20 years of U.S. outbound trips abroad.

Major competitors have recognized how the characteristics of the aviation industry align with blockchain, which has the potential to streamline data sharing among information silos in airports — and with ancillary travel enterprises more broadly — to create a seamless and secure travel experience.

Lufthansa Industry Solutions, a subsidiary of the largest airline in Europe, launched the initiative Blockchain for Aviation (BC4A) in an effort to compile potential applications of the technology and create industry standards for its use. Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Eurowings, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines have partnered with the Swiss-based non-profit Winding Tree, which is using blockchain to power a decentralized travel distribution network to make travel more cost effective and profitable for customers and providers.

The world’s airlines carry over three billion passengers annually and contribute $664.4 billion to the global GDP. Airlines must be flexible — yet systematic — to compete in the aviation industry, where the efficiency of their chain of operations determines their bottom line.

Smart contracts to improve customer experiences

Airports are microcosms of data storage. From the moment a traveler arrives at an airport to the time they depart, an enormous amount of secure data must be collected and shared among internal and external airport operations. The biggest obstacle for airlines lies in the decision making processes when travels plans change on a moments notice.

Each task within an airport may operate using different software, so the data reconciliation process is often timely and frustrating for both flight agents and travelers. Smart contracts can improve the customer experience and cost effectiveness of service by automating time consuming tasks.

Commonplace mishaps like flight delays and overbooked flights are costly to airlines when data is not shared quickly between decision makers. Currently, there is little cohesion among the mixed data and multitude of systems used at different checkpoints in airports.

The world’s leading airport communications and information technology specialist, SITA, has tackled the simple and prevalent issue of corresponding flight delay information in airports. SITA used the Ethereum protocol and smart contracts to create a blockchain platform that reconciles conflicting information about flight delays and communicates “a single source of truth for flight data.”

Smart contracts to improve customer experiences

SITA Lab designed a private permissioned blockchain — named Flightchain — to conduct trials and track over two million flight changes between British Airways, Geneva Airport, Heathrow and Miami Airport. Their findings suggest that smart contracts could be effective at mediating conflicting data and communicating industry standards, but they require governance and operational oversight. So as of now, cloud-based data sharing services are easier to arbitrate and manage.

A French insurance company, AXA, is utilizing smart contracts to automate compensation to passengers whose flights are delayed. When a customer subscribes to coverage on their flight-delay insurance platform, Fizzy,  a smart contract is created and connected to global air traffic databases. If a delay over two hours is registered on the ledger, compensation is automatically transferred to the customer, which eliminates the need to file a claim or dispute any discrepancies with the insurer.

Russia’s biggest domestic airline, S7, partnered with Alfa Bank to launch a blockchain platform to issue tickets. The private blockchain, built using the Ethereum protocol, uses smart contracts to exchange data between contracting parties and will reduce the settlement time between the airline and agents selling the tickets from 14 days to 23 seconds.

In a news release from S7, the airline stated that the technology “gives agents the ability to work directly with the airline without providing additional financial guarantees, reduces volumes of circulation of documents and guarantees the safety of operations.”

An Atlanta-based airline software company, Volantio, piloted a new program for United Airlines in lieu of an overbooking debacle that resulted in a passenger being forcibly removed from a flight. The “Flex-Schedule” platform uses AI to identify flexible passengers and target them with flight options to help airlines fix miscalculations in their booking processes.

The fully automated service compensates passengers and reassigns them to new flights, while maximizing profits for airlines by allowing them to sell open seats to “high-yielding,” last minute passengers. Volantio is also partnered with Emirates, Alaska Airlines, Ethiopia Airlines and Jetstar, among others — and its innovation may prove to be essential in eliminating last-minute negotiations at the gate, which inevitably delay flights and are costly to airlines.

Monetization of frequent flier loyalty points with digital currencies

Delta Air Lines is reportedly the first major global carrier to be replacing their passenger loyalty program, Skymiles, with digital currency. The airline will reward frequent fliers with Ethereum tokens dubbed “SkyMirage” tokens, which will cut out American Express as the middleman, enhance the security of the exchange and allow passengers to see their loyalty points accrue instantaneously.

Similarly, Singapore Airlines announced it will launch a blockchain-based passenger loyalty app that will allow customers to digitize their frequent flier awards and spend them at Singapore Airline-based merchant partners.

Transparency in luggage tracking

In partnership with Winding Tree, Air New Zealand is researching how blockchain may improve cargo and baggage tracking.

While still in the developmental phase, the application of blockchain could potentially allow passengers to track their own baggage in order to provide full transparency throughout the transfer process. Further, smart contracts could be deployed to automate insurance claims on lost baggage and instantaneously compensate customers.

Under-wing efficiency for the maintenance of aircrafts

Air France-KLM’s engineering and maintenance division is experimenting with potential uses for blockchain to record aircraft maintenance and service processes. Much of the data that is routinely collected on aircraft maintenance exists non-digitally, like service records, aircraft components and systems. A spokesperson for the airlines admitted a fully digital system would not be an easy transition but that blockchain could drastically improve “maintenance processes and workflows.”

Avoid airport queues with ‘gateless’ passport checks

The Safety and security of passengers and flight operations is above all else in the aviation industry, but creating a more effortless airport experience for travelers is another major goal of airlines. A United Kingdom-based tech firm, ObjectTech, signed an agreement with Dubai's Immigration and Visa Department to test its ‘gate-less’ border program that uses biometric verification and blockchain technology to skip the passport process altogether. The pilot program will use facial recognition technology to identify travellers arriving in Dubai and verify their identities against a digital passports. Using blockchain, the digital passport is created as a ‘self-sovereign identity,’ ensuring the owner has singular control of their own data.

Paperless identification for effortless travel

Similarly, SITA Lab is experimenting with its own digital identity card built on a blockchain platform called the SITA Digital Identity Traveler app. In partnership with ShoCard, SITA plans to improve how travellers are identified at various points within airports by creating a mobile token that stores biometric and personal information. SITA has also begun other projects to enable mobile phone self-service of visa verification and border control.

Paperlesss identification for effortless travel

Safety in small airports and accountability of private pilots

A blockchain startup named Aeron reported that 57 percent of aviation accidents are due to human error. Aeron created a mobile app designed to record and verify a pilot’s qualifications in an effort to reduce accidents due to poor record keeping. The app, which operates using blockchain, stores all necessary pilot data in digital form — data which largely exists in traditional, paper pilot logbooks. The company is further developing a global database for the storage of aircraft information, pilots and flight schools. Aeron’s developments are geared toward private flights and accounting for private pilots, and it launched an online marketplace for booking private charters.

The need for further development

The capacity of blockchain to quickly reconcile conflicting data and verify consistency of information among various stakeholders in airports is a promising innovation for the aviation industry. The immutable and transparent nature of distributed ledger technology can provide greater security of flight operations, but many data collection processes still remain undigitized and isolated from one another. Smart contracts could drastically improve customer experience and replace timely and costly services, but would require central governance by an accredited organization, along with a lot of maintenance and oversight.

Blockchain has an application in a multitude of airport information niches, but further development by industry leaders is needed to create viable and cost effective uses of the technology.

ICOs Can ‘Prove Their Legitimacy’ Under New Crowdfunding Rules, Says EU Lawmaker
August 14, 2018 4:42 pm

The European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is working on new crowdfunding regulations that could extend to some ICOs.

The European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is working on new crowdfunding regulations that could extend to some initial coin offerings (ICOs), according to a draft report published August 10.

Ashley Fox, a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP), proposes bringing some ICOs within the remit of a new draft regulatory framework for crowdfunding that has been in development as of March.

The report says that while the draft crowdfunding rules may not provide an outright solution for regulating the ICO space, they represent “a much-needed step” towards introducing appropriate regulatory measures aimed at investor protection.

Emphasizing that ICOs represent “an excellent funding stream for tech start-ups,” the report proposes that the new framework offers an “opportunity” for “ICOs that want to prove their legitimacy to comply with the requirements of this regulation”:

“In order to allow for a competitive Union framework, crowdfunding service providers should be permitted to raise capital through their platforms using certain cryptocurrencies [...] ICOs offer new and innovative ways of funding but can also generate substantial market, fraud and cyber security risks to investors. Therefore, [ICOs] should comply with specific additional requirements under this Regulation.”

Fox proposes that the new requirements would not extend to every type of ICO. Omissions include ICOs that are considered to be “private placements,” that use a counterparty, or that seek to raise in excess of 8 million euros, the “threshold up to which EU Member States can exempt offers of securities to the public from the obligation to publish a prospectus in accordance with Article 3 Regulation (EU) 2017/1129 of the European Parliament and of the Council.”

A recent report jointly published by “Big Four” consulting firm PwC and the Swiss Crypto Valley Association outlined the evolving ways in which the “booming” ICO space is currently being approached worldwide:

“The U.S. uses a centralized system in which all tokens offered by ICO are traded as securities. In Europe, on the other hand, a differentiated regulation prevails [that] classifies tokens into three sub-types: asset, payment and utility tokens [...] Finally, in Asia, regulation is very heterogeneous, ranging from strict prohibition to active promotion of ICO projects. "

Bitcoin Falls Through $6,000 Support as Xapo President Warns of Altcoin ‘Extinction Event’
August 14, 2018 3:40 pm

As Bitcoin fails to maintain full support at $6,000, altcoins could soon face much harder times, warns Xapo’s Ted Rogers.

Bitcoin (BTC) prices fell below $6,000 for the first time since the end of June Tuesday, August 14, as the cryptocurrency community remains resilient.

Data from Cointelegraph’s price tracker and Coin360 depict a gloomy environment for traders Tuesday, with all major assets in the red as Bitcoin falls almost 5 percent in 24 hours. Top ten coins are seeing as much as 17 percent losses on the day, with top fifteen coins are down as much 20 percent over the same period.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

At press time, BTC/USD traded just above the significant barrier around $6,100, capping weekly losses of 14 percent.

Bitcoin’s 7-day  price chart

Bitcoin’s 7-day  price chart. Source: Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

The pair has come full circle since mid-July, when a sudden bull market took over to bring prices to a peak around $8,450 across major exchanges.

Progress then reversed as August began, meaning investors have seen monthly gains to date of just 3 percent.

The figures nonetheless set Bitcoin apart from altcoins, and specifically Ethereum (ETH), losses of which extend to 16 percent on the day and almost 35 percent on the week.

Over the past 30 days, ETH/USD has slipped almost 40 percent.

Ethereum’s 30-day price chart

Ethereum’s 30-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

On social media, commentators were eyeing the knock-on effect Bitcoin prices volatility traditionally has on altcoin markets, producing higher moves both up and down in those assets.

As Bitcoin dominance –– or the percentage of total crypto market cap that is Bitcoin’s –– hits highs not seen since December 2017, Twitter analysts are similarly calling for a repeat of the altcoin bull market which began in the latter half of that month.

Higher Bitcoin market dominance, they claim, is apt to produce a U-turn in altcoins’ downtrend.

Others were altogether less sure. In comments Monday, Xapo president Ted Rogers considered current conditions conducive to producing an “extinction-level event” for cryptocurrencies en masse.

“90%+ of CoinMarketCap list will disappear eventually - might as well happen now,” he warned Monday.

Elsewhere, other major assets have shed 10 to 15 percent of their value, these including Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC),  EOS (EOS), and Cardano (ADA).

 
Blockchain Startup Signs MOU With Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten
August 14, 2018 6:05 am

Barbados-based fintech firm Bitt Inc. has signed an MOU with the central bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten to research a central bank digital currency.

Barbados-based fintech startup Bitt Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) to research the possibility of issuing a digital guilder, according to an August 12 press release.

The parties signed the MOU in order to develop a central bank digital currency to facilitate financial payments within the monetary union of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Per the announcement, the bank is looking to “reduce the level of cash usage within the monetary union” and facilitate “more secure, more Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliant” transactions between the islands. Rawdon Adams, CEO of Bitt Inc, commented on the collaboration:

"The MOU clears the way for collaboration and information sharing regarding a feasibility study, designed to determine the viability and functionality of using a central bank-issued digital guilder within the financial ecosystems of each member, and across both members of the monetary union."

Adams further explained that printing fiat money by a central bank and distributing it between the two member states is costly and challenging. Conversely, digital currency can be used on mobile wallets and makes it easier to make transactions and payments in the monetary union in a more secure way. Leila Matroos-Lasten, acting President of the CBCS said:

"The CBCS herewith recognizes the transformative potential of innovation and technology and is committed to exploring solutions regarding efficiency of cross-jurisdictional transactions and digital payments whilst ensuring compliance and security assurances obtained by these state of the art (fintech) solutions. This would be beneficial to everyone."

In 2017, Bitt Inc. appointed Rawdon Adams, the son of the prime minister of Barbados between 1976 and 1985, as its new CEO. The hiring was viewed as part of the firm’s strategy to add weight to its plans in the region. That year the company partnered with the central bank of Barbados for the advancement of pilot blockchain projects.

Bitt Inc. is a fintech portfolio company of Medici Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of Overstock.com, which was established to develop blockchain-powered solutions to “solve real-world problems.” Medici Ventures is the majority owner of tZERO company.

While the bank of the Dutch Caribbean regions demonstrates openness to issuing its own digital currency, the divisional director of the Dutch Central Bank, Petra Hielkem, said that due to the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the possibility for consumer risks, it cannot be considered money. She added that, while cryptocurrencies are not “real money,” the bank has no plans to ban them.

Recently, Iran announced its commitment to create its own state-issued cryptocurrency aiming to circumvent U.S. sanctions, despite the fact that earlier the central bank banned domestic banks and other financial establishments from dealing with crypto, citing money-laundering concerns.

‘Unhackable’ Crypto Wallet Reportedly Breached, Hackers Claim to Meet Bounty Conditions
August 14, 2018 5:10 am

A team of researchers has supposedly breached Bitfi, the “world’s first unhackable” wallet, claiming they have fulfilled all three conditions of the bounty program.

A group of researchers claims to have have hacked the Bitfi wallet, the Next Web reported August 12.

Bitfi's executive chairman, cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee, has called it “the world’s first unhackable device.” To prove his claim, McAfee challenged security experts to breach the device for a $100,000 bounty starting July 24.

Bitfi is a physical device, or hardware wallet, which supports “an unlimited amount of cryptocurrencies,” and revolves around a user-generated secret phrase instead of a conventional 24-word mnemonic seed that has to be written down. Additionally, Bitfi is purported to be “completely open-source,” meaning that the user stays in control of their funds “even if the manufacturer of the wallet no longer exists.”

Though several attempts to hack the wallet have been made since then, none of them met the bounty’s terms and the wallet has ostensibly not been fully breached until today. The researchers claimed they could successfully send signed transactions with the wallet, claiming they met the conditions of the bounty program by modifying the device, connecting to the wallet’s server, and transmitting sensitive data with it. Security researcher Andrew Tierney said:

“We have sent the seed and phrase from the device to another server, it just gets sent using netcat, nothing fancy. We believe all [conditions] have been met.”

The researchers reportedly obtained complete access to the device two weeks ago, after which they have been closely tracking it, including the data being sent out of the wallet. They claim to that the device is still connected to the Bitfi server. Tierney told the Next Web:

“We intercepted the communications between the wallet and [Bitfi]. This has allowed us to display silly messages on the screen. The interception really isn’t the big part of it, it’s just to demonstrate that it is connected to the dashboard and still works despite significant modification.”

Earlier this month, Bitfi CEO Daniel Keshin wrote to Cointelegraph regarding the alleged hack by fifteen-year-old Saleem Rashid. Khesin said:

“As of now, we have no evidence that our device can be hacked and if someone succeeds in doing so then we will immediately put out a fix to all devices to address the vulnerability that was discovered and it will be unhackable once again.”

Hong Kong University Receives $20 Mln Research Grant for Payment Systems, Blockchain
August 14, 2018 4:02 am

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School has received $20 million in funding for research on payment systems, including those using blockchain.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School has received a $20 million research grant to improve the security capabilities of electronic payment systems, China News reported August 12.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School has reportedly partnered with the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) to work on the research project.

Apart from the enhancement of the electronic payment security system, the parties will also explore blockchain technology applications, and discuss the possibility of Hong Kong’s transformation into a global financial technology hub.

The interdisciplinary research will reportedly be coordinated by professor Tan Jiayin, who is known for his work on the “Strengthening Hong Kong's Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Center” with a focus on blockchain, network security, and artificial intelligence (AI). He welcomed the participation of banks as the research will also explore digital currencies and financial product design and distribution services.

In 2017, in order to “significantly reduce the input of human resources and time that trade finance normally requires, and reduce chances of fraud,” the Hong Kong government announced plans to establish a blockchain-powered trade financing system. The system was expected to benefit the country in its participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to promote trade links between China and its global partners.

In June of this year, Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial, formerly known as AliPay, trialled its first blockchain remittances, sending a transaction between AliPayHK app in Hong Kong and Filipino payment app GCash in three seconds.

Last month, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and a Ping An Group fintech subsidiary announced the launch of their own blockchain trade finance solution with 21 banks. The solution aims to reduce the amount of time and bureaucracy involved in signing up new fledgling businesses for banking services by smoothing over transactions.

US Federal Court Denies Motion to Remand Against Ripple
August 14, 2018 2:48 am

A U.S. federal District Court has dismissed a motion to remand filed against Ripple in May.

The U.S. District Court, Northern District of California has ruled to deny a motion to remand against Ripple, its subsidiary XRP II, and Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, according to an official document issued August 10.

The original lawsuit was first initiated by XRP investor Ryan Coffey in a San Francisco court on May 3, 2018, claiming that he lost $551.89 while trading XRP tokens. The class action was filed by law firm Taylor-Copeland, alleging that Ripple sold XRP tokens in violation of both the U.S. the Securities Act and the California Corporations Code. The plaintiff also claimed that XRP is not genuinely decentralized.

According to court documents, the plaintiff failed to show whether the presence of a Securities Act issue was sufficient to bar the defendant from removing an action under the Class Action Fairness Act. In the ruling the court found that, “The parties candidly admit that their research failed to turn up any case directly addressing this question and the court’s own research fared no better.”

The plaintiff was seeking a “rescission of all XRP purchases, damages, and a constructive trust over the proceeds of defendants’ alleged sales of XRP.”

At the time the lawsuit was first filed, David Silver, a partner at Silver Miller Law Firm, commented to Cointelegraph that “lawsuits like this are simply private litigants testing the legitimacy of these companies,” claiming that it will bring more judicial clarity.

A Ripple spokeswoman said that at the moment the lawsuit was filed, the SEC had not yet decided whether XRP is a security. She claimed, “We continue to believe XRP should not be classified as a security.”

In early June, Ripple appointed former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mary Jo White as a representative in the class action filed by Coffey.

Recently, Ripple released the second quarter 2018 report for its digital asset, arguing that the XRP token price was in line with the overall trend in crypto markets, which “[underscores] XRP’s independence from Ripple."

World Bank’s Blockchain-Based Bonds — A Step Toward Adoption?
August 14, 2018 2:10 am

The World Bank’s blockchain-based bond — is it blazing a trail for the adoption of distributed ledger technology in the banking system?

In what is being called a world first, the World Bank has ordered the creation of a blockchain-based bond through Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (CBA).

It marks a very clear move by some of the world’s most influential financial institutions to start leveraging blockchain technology to improve their offerings.

CBA has already developed the blockchain-based system, using a private Ethereum blockchain. The Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument (bond-i) will be issued by the World Bank in Washington.

The project has been spearheaded by the World Bank, which is looking to use blockchain technology to improve the way it issues bonds around the world.

The institution issues around $60 billion in bonds every year for sustainable development — and the bank says the move aims to explore the use of blockchain technology across different operations.

The bond-i was solely designed and developed by the CBA Innovation Lab’s Blockchain Centre for Excellence. The department had previously tested a prototype bond on blockchain in 2017 in partnership with the Queensland Treasury.

While this may be the first bond issued through blockchain technology, it is not the first debt instrument. Spanish banking group BBVA signed a blockchain-based loan worth $117 million in July, hoping to take advantage of the transparency and traceability afforded by the contract. This came a few month after its first ‘global corporate loan transaction’ in April.

A notch in Ethereum’s cap?

What is particularly exciting about the move is the use of a private Ethereum blockchain that will allow the creation and management of bonds.

The development team used a law firm to act as the deal’s counsel for the issuance of bonds on the platform, in addition to the advice given for the legal architecture of the smart contracts that will govern the bond.

Furthermore, the platform has been individually reviewed by Microsoft, from its architecture, security and resilience, giving an added edge of credibility to the project as a whole.

CBA has stated that it is also open to exploring the use of other blockchain platforms, while stating that the Ethereum protocol provides the functionality needed to power the project.

Matthew Di Ferrante, an independent developer who has worked for the Ethereum Foundation, told Cointelegraph the move is an elementary first step for the banking world and its use of blockchain applications.

“I think it's a good first example. Financial instruments like bonds are easily ported to blockchains/smart contracts, but it's not the be-all and end-all even for mainstream financial institutions. The real usefulness will come when many different institutions and industries are all using *compatible* blockchains.”

While the move is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, Di Ferrante points to one of the main tenets of blockchain technology — decentralization. This is a factor that could be missing in the project, which removes transparency from the equation:

“It's good to see that at least in this case, it seems that the system CBA has set-up will be co-managed by the World Bank, giving it some decentralization, but I'd like to see more transparent, more distributed projects even for private blockchains.

Blockchain vs. cryptocurrency

The World Bank and CBA are actively leveraging blockchain technology, but it completely devoid of any talk of cryptocurrencies. It’s fair to say that mainstream financial institutions have gone as far as divorcing cryptocurrency from blockchain, with the former seen as an unnecessary byproduct of the technology.

The true measure of cryptocurrency adoption will be evident when their uses and accessibility are equal to digital vouchers. For the time being, many financial institutions maintain indifference toward cryptocurrencies, while extolling the virtues of blockchain.

A prime example is JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who made it clear that his company will use blockchain technology for a number of projects. They’ve gone as far as filing patents for peer-to-peer, blockchain systems to facilitate payments between banks.

Contrastingly, in February, JPMorgan told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that cryptocurrencies were ‘competition’ and a ‘risk’ to its business. This could constitute a prime example of the apathy toward cryptocurrencies still prevailing in the world of finance.

Why CBA, Why Australia?

It is not exactly clear why the World Bank chose the Commonwealth Bank to pioneer this project, but the Australian bank’s Blockchain Centre for Excellence seems to have been a factor.

As mentioned above, the CBA’s Innovation Lab was responsible for an earlier prototype of a blockchain-based bond, which could have had some influence on why CBA was chosen to run with the development.

In July, the bank completed a trade of almonds, sent and tracked by a blockchain platform, from Australia to Germany.

The platform leveraged blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart contracts to provide a number of stakeholders with a plethora of information for the 17-ton shipment of nuts.

CBA said the platform was aimed at three areas of global trade, operations, documentation and finance. Users would have access to container information, task-tracking and documentation through the blockchain platform.

Nicholas Merten, founder of Youtube channel Datadash, told Cointelegraph that the CBA has put Australia on the map in terms of driving forward blockchain adoption:

“Australia has had an interesting approach to the subject matter. With banks being hesitant towards cryptocurrencies, and with Commonwealth Bank being so eager to explore blockchain, they've shown an obvious sentiment toward serving as the gatekeepers of this technology in real-world applications.”

On a more serious note, CBA has been in the spotlight amid allegations of breaching anti-money laundering laws and terror financing.

A sign of things to come?

This move by the World Bank would not have gone unnoticed by other financial industry leaders, and it certainly isn’t the first time we’ve heard of financial institutions looking to use blockchain technology to improve their offerings.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, some of the world’s leading banks have been closely monitoring the blockchain space, as was discussed at a Money 20/20 conference in June.

The Bank of England’s Fintech Head of Division Martin Etheridge made it clear that the bank wasn’t actively developing its own DLT, but conceded that they were aware of the potential benefits:

“We recognize that in a distributed system, there is the potential for resilience, and other benefits of distributed payment systems is one that we want to make sure we are aware of and that is fully integrated to the work we are currently doing to our own infrastructure.”

One of the most perplexing questions is why the World Bank opted to go with CBA for this blockchain-based bond, where a country like Switzerland is one of the most liberal when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption.

The country saw its banking system challenged by an initiative that hoped to outlaw fractional reserve banking in the country. Although the referendum was ultimately rejected in June, it provided plenty of food for thought.

Switzerland has been a proponent for the use of Bitcoin for some time. Swiss National Bank’s Thomas Moser highlighted the apathy toward cryptocurrencies in the country:

“Switzerland has been relatively enthusiast to crypto. We have a national railway system that transformed ticket machines into Bitcoin ATMs. At every train station in Switzerland, you can put cash into a ticket machine and load a BTC wallet. Cryptocurrencies have been very well tolerated in Switzerland so far.”

At the same conference, most of these banking heads were confident that cryptocurrencies would not challenge traditional fiat currencies. However, a strong theme emerged that if people were to lose faith in traditional currencies and banks, cryptocurrencies could provide an alternative.

As Merten suggested, the move by the World Bank and the CBA demonstrates the way in which blockchain technology can influence financial applications:

“With outdated legacy systems still clogging the financial sector, this development might be the wake-up call that banks need to realize just how big of a deal this technology really is. I think many institutions are still looking for the killer application that they can use for their systems. In the permissionless world, we've already found that application – money. But once a company can prove that blockchains can be used in private environments and bring major cost reduction, companies will rush to follow suit.”

With the World Bank making strides to leverage blockchain technology to overhaul current systems, is it just a matter of time before other big banks follow suit?

Cointelegraph has contacted both the World Bank and CBA for comment on the reasoning behind the partnership — and this article will be updated accordingly.

Saudi Regulators Warn Against Trading Cryptocurrencies, Citing ‘High Market Risks’
August 14, 2018 12:49 am

The Saudi government has warned the public that dealing with cryptocurrencies is prohibited in the country.

A governmental committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has warned the public that trading digital currencies is illegal in the country, according to an August 12 announcement by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). The warning was issued by the Standing Committee for Awareness on Dealing in Unauthorized Securities Activities in the Foreign Exchange Markets.

The standing committee was established by supreme decree headed by Capital Market Authority (CMA), and contains such ministries as the Ministry of Media, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, SAMA, and the Ministry of Interior.

According to the statement, digital currencies are not recognized by the government and no entities are licensed to deal with them. In the warning, the committee notes “high risks” and “negative consequences” associated with virtual currency trading, and urges the public not to fall for so called “get-rich schemes” as they imply “high regulatory, security, and market risks.” The statement does not mention the penalties for those found trading or dealing in cryptocurrencies.

Though Saudi Arabia does not recognize cryptocurrencies, the country has embraced the benefits of distributed ledger technology in various fields. Last month, the municipality of Riyadh entered into a partnership with IBM to jointly develop a strategy to streamline government services and transactions using blockchain technology. The move was made in order to improve the quality of municipal services for customers and integrate leading technologies into services as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program.

The Saudi Vision program was originally introduced in 2016 by the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and is devoted to the economic development and diversification of the country’s economy. In addition to prioritizing innovative technologies like blockchain, the program aims to develop such sectors as infrastructure, healthcare, tourism, education, as well as military spending and manufacturing.

In February, SAMA and Ripple announced an agreement to provide support for Ripple’s cross-border payments technology to banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two parties created a pilot program to support Saudi banks in using xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise software solution that enables banks to instantly settle international payments with end-to-end tracking.

Spanish Left-Wing Political Coalition Proposes Subcommittee to Study Blockchain, Crypto
August 14, 2018 12:29 am

A Spanish left-wing political coalition suggests establishing governmental body to explore blockchain tech and crypto regulation.

Spanish left-wing political coalition Unidos Podemos has called on the state to explore and implement the benefits of blockchain technology, local news agency Europa Press reported August 12.

Podemos, formed from left wing parties Podemos, United Left, Equo and others has suggested that the Spanish government establish a subcommittee responsible for studying the potential of blockchain technology as well cryptocurrency regulation. Alberto Montero, the deputy of the political alliance, has reportedly registered the request in the lower house, along with a project plan.

The blockchain-focused body would bring together public administrations, state authorities and public officials, as well as industry experts.

According to a Montero, the initiative aims to explore the "enormous potential" of blockchaint tech in terms of reducing costs of government operations and boosting the level of security for social and economic transactions.

In addition, the alliance has suggested addressing regulatory approaches for cryptocurrency use in Spain. According to the report, digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) are currently “located in a gray area of ​​regulation."

The coalition also proposes to base policy on the outcomes of the European Union (EU) Blockchain Observatory and Forum, launched by the European Commission in February 2018.

Unidos Podemos is not the only political organization that has recently suggested blockchain adoption in the country’s government. Earlier this summer, 133 deputies from the Spanish ruling party, Partido Popular (People’s Party), proposed a bill to use blockchain in the public administration of the country.

Recently, two major spanish public institutions, the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) and the Madrid School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSIT-UPM) partnered to apply blockchain for digital copyright management.

In terms of crypto regulation, the Spanish Congress has reportedly indicated unanimous support for a draft regulatory framework to regulate blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies on May 30, 2018. The draft initiative, proposed by People’s Party, suggests that the state cooperates with National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Bank of Spain to coordinate a common regulatory stance on crypto in the broader European context.

Communist Party of China Releases Primer on Blockchain Technology
August 13, 2018 11:50 pm

The Communist Party of China has released a book on blockchain basics, origins, and future application scenarios.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has recently released a primer on blockchain technology and its possible applications, according to an official press release on the CPC website August 13.

According to the statement, the book by China’s Communist Party provides a scientific description of key blockchain features, its origin, future application scenarios, as well as major challenges associated with the adoption of the new technology.

By introducing the book, the Chinese political party aims to assist government authorities in understanding the concept of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and consider the benefits and challenges of adopting blockchain on a national scale.

Ye Zhenzhen, general manager of the People's Daily — the largest newspaper group in China — wrote in the press release that the most important part of blockchain technology is its “operating mechanism.” Ye added, “Through the ingenious combination of technologies, the fair distribution of resources is completed.”

Ye called on entrants to the industry to “continue to look at blockchain technology with a development perspective,” in order to provide “sustainable and healthy development” of the blockchain industry and promote DLT “to benefit the people's better life."

Earlier today, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) listed a blockchain laboratory as one of the key labs for the year of 2018. The MIIT’s blockchain lab aims to improve data security and IT systems with the new DLT developments, and will operate under the oversight of the National Industrial Information Security Development Research Center.

On August 9, the Bank of China revealed plans to invest in the development of fintech, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The state-backed, commercial bank plans to invest more than 1 percent of its operating annual income, which amounts to 483.7 billion yuan ($70.2 billion) in 2017.

Coinbase Index Fund Reduces Annual Fee to ‘Attract Institutional Investors’
August 13, 2018 11:41 pm

Coinbase Index Fund announces it is reducing its annual management fee from 2 to 1 percent, as well as adding Ethereum Classic.

Cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service provider Coinbase has announced updates to its Index Fund in a blog post published today, August 13.

The U.S.-based platform stated that it will reduce its Index Fund’s annual management fee “for all new and existing investors” from 2 to 1 percent, explaining:

“We’re reducing our fee in order to attract investors who are familiar with lower-fee index funds in other asset classes. This will help introduce a new category of institutional investors into the cryptocurrency space.”

Today’s announcement also includes news that the Index Fund has been rebalanced to incorporate Ethereum Classic (ETC), following the altcoin’s official listing on Coinbase last week.

Coinbase had announced plans to include ETC on its platform as early as mid-June of this year. A month later, Coinbase made a statement that company was considering adding five additional crypto assets to its listings –– Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX).

Coinbase first launched its Index Fund in mid-June with four major cryptocurrencies. The fund is open to investments from U.S. resident accredited investors only – those who have a net worth of more than $1 mln or an annual salary of more than $200,000 – who invest between $250,000 and $20 mln.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, Cardano, Monero, IOTA: Price Analysis, August 13
August 13, 2018 11:04 pm

Amidst a massive plunge of the Turkish lira, cryptocurrencies are increasing in popularity among the country’s citizens - will it impact the prices?

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

Turkey is facing a crisis as its national currency is plunging. The 10-day volatility of the lira relative to the U.S. dollar has surpassed that of Bitcoin (BTC). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been urging the people of Turkey to exchange their dollars and gold for lira, The Guardian reports.

However, it appears that the savvy citizens of Turkey are exchanging their lira for Bitcoin, evidenced by an increase in the trade volume across cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, according to Forbes.

Though the absolute volumes are still low, the crisis has still shown the importance of cryptocurrencies, which due to their decentralized nature can’t be controlled by governments and central banks. A recent study by Yale economist Aleh Tsyvinski said that an optimal portfolio should park at least 6 percent of its funds in Bitcoin.

Although the overall sentiment in the crypto world is still bearish, the market participants continue to favor Bitcoin, which has increased its dominance above the 51 percent mark.

So, will Bitcoin give up ground or will it pull the altcoins up with it? What do the charts forecast? Let’s have a look.

BTC/USD

Bitcoin has been trying to move up for the past two days, but it is facing strong selling pressure close to the $6,500 mark. This points to a probable consolidation between $5,910.65 and $6,500 for the next few days. We will remain positive on the pair for as long as it sustains above the $5,910.65 mark.

BTC/USD

Bitcoin will gain strength once it sustains above the downtrend line of the descending triangle. Therefore, we retain the buy call made in our previous analysis.

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the BTC/USD pair sinks below $5,910. The next support on the downside is $5,450, and below that $5,000.

The 50-day SMA has been flat for the past few days, which increases the probability of a consolidation in the near term, whereas the falling 20-day EMA shows that the bulls will make another attempt to break the support zone.

The next couple of days are critical and will provide us with a better picture of the next move.

ETH/USD

The past few days have seen a sharp fall on Ethereum and the bears are in no mood to loosen their grip. The pullback attempt on August 12 was met with renewed selling and the bears have resumed the downtrend.

ETH/USD

The RSI continues to decline deep into the oversold territory without a trace of buying support. This increases the probability of a fall to the next support at $280.

There is no trade to be taken until the ETH/USD pair stops falling and reverses direction. The first sign of strength will be if the bulls can sustain above the 20-day EMA for three days.

XRP/USD

Ripple has continued its journey southwards to the major support of $0.24001. For the past two days, the bulls are trying to hold the $0.288 line, but the recovery has been weak. This points to a continuation of the decline.

XRP/USD

The only thing in favor of the bulls is that the RSI is deeply oversold, which suggests that the selling has been overdone and a pullback is due. Any corrective rally will face a stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA and above that at the 50-day SMA.

It is not a good trading strategy to try to catch a falling knife. We shall wait for the decline to end and a bottom to form on the XRP/USD pair before recommending any long positions on it.

BCH/USD

As expected, Bitcoin Cash fell close to the critical support of $537.8221 on August 11. We had anticipated a strong support at this level, but the pullback attempt was ultimately weak. Unless the bulls scale the $620 level quickly, a break below $537 is likely.

BCH/USD

The next support on the downside is at $400, below which the BCH/USD pair can fall to $300. As the RSI has been in the oversold zone for the past few days, we expect the buyers to step in at the current levels.

$620 and the 20-day EMA will act as a strong resistance on the upside. We shall wait for a new bullish pattern to form before we propose any long positions.

EOS/USD

EOS has been trying to hold the $4.8 line for the past two days, but the pullback lacks strength. This shows absence of buying interest at this level. This increases the probability of a fall to $3.8723.

EOS/USD

Both moving averages are falling and the RSI has been in the oversold zone for the past few days. This shows that the sellers have an upper hand. Any pullback attempt will meet with a stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA.

We anticipate a strong support in the zone of $3.8723 — $4.3396. We shall wait for the buyers to return before suggesting any trades on the EOS/USD pair.

XLM/USD

Stellar has bounced off the critical support at $0.184. This shows demand at lower levels. The pair is range bound inside a large area of $0.184 — $0.477.

XLM/USD

The XLM/USD pair has reached close to the 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance. Both moving averages are flattening, pointing to a consolidation in the near-term.

If the price sustains above the moving averages, a rally to the downtrend line is probable. We are bullish on the digital currency and shall recommend a trade as soon as we spot a reliable buy setup.  

Our bullish view will be negated If the bears sustain prices below $0.184.

LTC/USD

Litecoin plummeted to an intraday low of $55 on August 11, just below our target of $57. The next level to watch on the downside is the support zone of $48 — $52.

LTC/USD

The RSI has entered the oversold territory; hence, a relief rally can’t be ruled out. Any pullback will face a stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA and above it at the 50-day SMA. The LTC/USD pair has not broken out of the 50-day SMA since May 16 of this year, which shows that it has faced selling on every small pullback.

We shall wait for the decline to end and the chart to form a bottom before suggesting any trades on it.

ADA/USD

Cardano has been hanging on to the critical support with the skin of its teeth. A break of this can result in a plunge to the next support level of $0.078215.

ADA/USD

Both moving averages are sloping downward and the RSI is close to the oversold territory, which shows that the bears have an upper hand. Any pullback will face resistance at $0.13 and above it at the downtrend line.

We shall turn positive on the ADA/USD pair if it sustains above $0.15 for a couple of days. Until then, we suggest traders remain on the sidelines.

XMR/USD

Monero has broken into the top 10 cryptocurrencies after a long time, hence we have included it in our analysis.

XMR/USD

The XMR/USD pair declined to $87.023 on August 11, from where the bulls are trying to pull back.

On the upside, the 20-day EMA will act as a stiff resistance, above which the upward move can extend to the downtrend line, closer to $130.

On the downside, if the $87.023 level breaks, the fall can extend to the $78 — $82 support zone.

Currently, the virtual currency is in a downtrend. Hence, we are not proposing a trade on it.

IOTA/USD

IOTA is in a downtrend. Both moving averages are declining and the RSI is in the oversold zone, which shows that the bears are in command. It reached a low of $0.5011 on August 11, where some buying emerged.

IOTA/USD

Previous declines to the oversold zone on the RSI have culminated in a pullback. Hence, we expect the bulls to defend the psychological support threshold of $0.5.

The potential recovery from the lows will face a stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA and if that level is crossed, the next resistance is at $0.9150.

On the downside, if the IOTA/USD pair slides below $0.5, it can reach $0.45 and below that $0.38. We shall wait for the trend to change before suggesting any long positions.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. The charts for the analysis are provided by TradingView.

Ethereum Crashes to 9-Month Price Low Below $300, While Bitcoin Shows Resilience
August 13, 2018 10:37 pm

As the wider market slides, Ethereum has plummeted to multi-month lows below $300, although Bitcoin is holding its recent gains.

August 13: Crypto markets have today failed to sustain their short-lived recovery, with Ethereum (ETH) plummeting to a multi-month low below $300 and only a scant few altcoins spared from the widespread losses, as Coin360 data shows. Bitcoin (BTC) is seeing only minor losses on the day.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Ethereum (ETH) is currently trading at $288, down a stark 9.77 percent on the day. Having traded sideways most of the day to hold close to the $320 mark, the top altcoin saw a vertiginous plummet in the two three hours up to press time.

Ethereum’s losses on its daily chart are the most severe among the top ten cryptos on CoinMarketCap’s listings. On the week, the leading altcoin’s losses are over 28 percent, with monthly losses pushing 33 percent.

Ethereum is currently trading at an 9-month price low, hitting below the $300 price point last in early November.

Ethereum’s 1-year price chart

Ethereum’s 1-year price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Bloomberg analysts today explained the drop in Ethereum’s price being due to “pressure from ICOs cashing out,” pointing out that Ethereum is the “most popular” platform on which blockchain startups build and raise funds.

Bitcoin (BTC) on the other hand is down a negligible 1.6 percent on the day, trading at around $6,224 at press time, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin price index. During earlier trading hours today, the asset made a fresh attempt at breaking through the $6,500 resistance, but slid downwards, losing around $200 within 6 hours.

While at this granular resolution, Bitcoin’s fluctuations may appear significant, the coin is in fact almost exactly where it was a month ago. Weekly losses however remain at around 9 percent –– just last week on August 7, Bitcoin was trading above the $7,000 mark.

Bitcoin’s 1-month price chart

Bitcoin’s 1-month price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Almost all of the other top ten coins on CoinMarketCap’s listings are seeing significant losses between 4 and 8 percent, with the exception of Stellar (XLM), which is up a solid 2.25 percent to trade at $0.23 at press time. Stellar has now virtually closed its losses on its weekly XLM/USD chart.

Stellar’s 7-day price chart

Stellar’s 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top twenty coins by market cap, IOTA (MIOTA), ranked 12th, has seen as significant losses on the day as Ethereum, down 10.61 percent at press time. The altcoin’s tumble has –– like Ethereum’s –– accelerated in the past few hours up to press time.

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

TRON (TRX), ranked 11th, and Neo, ranked 15th, are both seeing losses between 9 and 11 percent.

Tezos (XTZ), ranked 18th, has seen something of a bloodbath, plummeting almost 19 percent on the day to trade at $1.23 –– again, losses were intensified in the past few hours before press time.

Bitcoin (BTC) dominance –– or the percentage of total crypto market cap that is Bitcoin’s  –– has broken to a new 2018 record level, soaring on the day to 52.7 percent. BTC dominance has been on the rise as of mid-May.

1-year chart of cryptocurrencies by dominance

1-year chart of cryptocurrencies by dominance. Source CoinMarketCap

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $205.5 billion at press time, still close to its lowest levels on the three-month chart, which it hit Saturday, August 10, around $207 billion.

3-month chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies

3-month chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap

With Bitcoin seeing markedly more resilience than other major crypto assets, mainstream media today made a further positive comparison with the mainstream financial sector: in the midst of the unravelling currency crisis in Turkey, Bloomberg today noted that “The 10-day swings in the lira relative to the U.S. dollar now exceed those for Bitcoin amid Turkey’s escalating currency crisis.”

Meanwhile, as an in-depth Cointelegraph analysis suggested today, the entire crypto market has been absorbing the impact of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) postponing its decision on the listing and trading of a high-profile Bitcoin ETF until late September. The ramifications have apparently dented Bitcoin and suppressed its recent value, but as the market picture suggests, they have also extended to the wider space.

Blockchain Among Targets of South Korea’s $4.4 Billion Domestic Investment Plans for 2019
August 13, 2018 8:07 pm

The South Korean government wants to pump almost $5 billion into sectors including blockchain next year.

South Korea announced it would “nurture” eight sectors of the domestic economy, including blockchain, by investing 5 trillion won (about $4.4 billion) next year, local media outlet Yonhap reports Monday, August 13.

According to the results of a meeting involving the country’s finance ministry, the government opted to increase the amount spent on areas such as blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) by 65 percent from 2018 estimates.

“The measures will help facilitate the platform economy, which in turn will help speed up innovative growth,” the publication quotes the ministry as saying.

Over the next five years, the figure could rise as high as 10 trillion won, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon added.

Adding to its mid-term plans, the finance ministry also revealed Monday it would similarly “nurture” 10,000 specialists in those same sectors through 2023, at a cost of 60 billion won (about $53 million).

Backing blockchain tech is nothing new to South Korea, Seoul taking an ever-increasing interest in ensuring its place at the helm of innovation worldwide.

As Cointelegraph reported last week, a dedicated youth training scheme sponsored by the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT will get underway again in September, focusing on blockchain, AI, and other areas as a means to alleviate youth unemployment and match promising candidates with the right positions.

Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver Eyes ICO as Token Issuance Protocol Comes to Bitcoin Cash
August 13, 2018 6:13 pm

Bitcoin Cash developers have released a tool for launching tokens, Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver confirmed.

Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver has hinted his publication may launch an ICO as he unveiled a new tool allowing developers to issue tokens on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain in a Bitcoin.com video August 11.

Together with one of Bitcoin.com’s lead developers Corbin Fraser, Ver hinted in the video at that the advent of the Wormhole Cash protocol, which allows for token creation on Bitcoin Cash, would afford new possibilities.

“For better or worse, ICOs and CryptoKitties are probably coming to Bitcoin Cash in the near future,” Fraser had said, to which Ver responded:

“They’re probably coming to Bitcoin.com, too. We’ve been thinking about having our own ICO for maybe the games part of the platform; maybe we’ll issue a token and pay dividends or use part of the money… to buy back the tokens on the open market.”

The Wormhole release comes as cryptocurrency mining operation Bitmain, which together with Bitcoin.com forms Bitcoin Cash’s major proponent base, hits the headlines over its plans to hold an initial public offering (IPO).

As multiple commentators report, the scheme could help alleviate some of the suspected cash flow difficulties at the giant, which divested itself of Bitcoin (BTC) in favor of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) tokens last year.

The move appeared to be disastrous for Bitmain, a pre-IPO filing suggesting the company had hemorrhaged funds as BCH collapsed in value through 2018.

“According to the Bitmain pre-IPO investor deck, they sold most of their [Bitcoin] for [Bitcoin Cash]. At $900/BCH, they've bled half a billion in the last 3 months,” Blockstream CSO Samson Mow deduced in Twitter comments August 11.

Microsoft's Two New Patents Fuse Blockchain Tech With Trusted Computing Techniques
August 13, 2018 5:23 pm

New patents from Microsoft reveal that the tech giant is looking to bolster its consortium blockchain solutions with the use of trusted execution environments (TEEs).

Two new patents from Microsoft reveal that the tech giant is looking to bolster its blockchain solutions with the use of trusted execution environments (TEEs), according to two filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) August 9.

Both applications outline how the use of TEEs could further improve security within a consortium blockchain network, which requires that specific nodes are endorsed to act as validator nodes (VNs) on the blockchain.

As Microsoft’s first patent filing indicates, TEEs can help to improve the security of such networks in the following way:

“In one example of the technology, a first node is endorsed. During endorsement of a first node, a pre-determined type of blockchain or other security protocol code to be authorized and a pre-determined membership list may be stored in a trusted execution environment (TEE) of the first node.”

According to the patent, not only a specified protocol or membership list, but potentially a series of further agreed-upon aspects could be stored within a TEE. The patent then outlines how using a system of TEE attestations would be able to securely verify all new participants of the system who are found to possess matching information to that which is stored within the first node’s TEE.

Microsoft’s second patent filing from August 9 outlines how a TEE may also facilitate the verification of blockchain transactions within a consortium network. The same TEE attestation system would generate a sufficiently trustless environment in which other VNS on the network would “not need to do re-computation for verification,” allowing a given pre-authorized entity to “directly” broadcast the “updated official state” of a given processed transaction:

“In some examples, the entire network accepts the transactions, including chaincode transactions, and blockchain states are directly updated. In some examples, there is no need for a copy of the transaction in order to confirm a block.”

Just last week, Cointelegraph reported on news that Microsoft’s Ethereum-based cloud computing platform Azure had replaced its existing proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism with a new proof-of-authority (PoA) algorithm. Microsoft has proposed that the new algorithm will improve the efficiency of building decentralized applications (DApps) for private or consortium blockchain networks.

China’s IT Ministry Makes Blockchain, Data Security Focus of One of Its Key Labs for 2018
August 13, 2018 3:54 pm

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has included a blockchain-dedicated lab on the list of its key labs for 2018.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has included a blockchain-dedicated laboratory on the list of its key labs for 2018, published August 13.

According to the ministry's post, the lab will be dedicated to harnessing blockchain for the data security industry and IT, and will be overseen by the National Industrial Information Security Development Research Center.

Earlier this month, MIIT proposed a number of measures to accelerate blockchain adoption, saying it would enhance interaction with various localities and departments, and would build a robust industrial ecosystem to allow for the gradual extension of blockchain across diverse fields.

In July, Cointelegraph reported on significant remarks from the MIIT’s deputy director, who called on the country to “unite” its forces to foster blockchain as a “core” technology on an “industrial scale.” The minister emphasized security when speaking of blockchain’s power to prevent “information tampering and forgery,” and said that its potential should be grasped “from a strategic perspective.”

While official Chinese government policy remains notoriously tough on decentralized cryptocurrencies, blockchain tech has been making inroads at the very highest levels of the political structure. This spring, Chinese president Xi Jinping openly praised blockchain as an example of a “new generation” of technologies delivering “breakthroughs.”

Turkish Lira’s Collapse Sees Media Highlight Bitcoin’s Relative Stability
August 13, 2018 2:44 pm

Not just the cryptocurrency industry but even mainstream media outlets have highlighted Bitcoin’s stability versus the Turkish lira.

Mainstream media seized on the unravelling currency crisis in Turkey Monday, August 13, with Bloomberg publicizing a demonstration of Bitcoin’s (BTC) comparatively low volatility.

Leading with the headline “Turkey Meltdown Propels Lira Volatility Above Bitcoin,” Bloomberg became the latest publication to reveal the full extent of the Turkish national currency’s devaluation this year.

“The 10-day swings in the lira relative to the U.S. dollar now exceed those for Bitcoin amid Turkey’s escalating currency crisis,” Bloomberg reports.

Turkey has seen an uptick in consumer interest in Bitcoin since the lira, which had already halved in value against the dollar since January, rapidly slid to all-time lows over a raft of geopolitical factors.

According to data from Google Trends, interest in Bitcoin increased markedly in August, while local exchanges have seen volumes explode by over 150 percent this week alone.

As lawmakers enact capital controls, cryptocurrency’s status in the country remains uncertain. Despite Turkey’s official stance appearing to suggest Bitcoin is not compatible with Islam, local exchanges continue to receive full banking support, Forbes notes this week.

Those exchanges have begun seeing increased volatility, with operators such as BtcTurk trading the coin at prices around $500 higher per Bitcoin than on foreign platforms.  

That trend could continue, commentators claim, if the economic situation does not stabilize.

Bull or Bear? How SEC Actions Correlate With Market Prices
August 13, 2018 10:53 am

The markets have crashed after the latest SEC decision.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Earlier this week, the cryptocurrency markets slumped: Bitcoin (BTC) lost its $6,500 support, and Ethereum (ETC) dropped well below the $400 mark (rates stand at $6,620 and $319 respectively by the press time). While it’s important to remember that on such a volatile and scarcely regulated market, news might affect the prices to a lesser degree, and the recent drop correlated with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to postpone its verdict on the listing and trading of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) until late September.

The SEC has gained the reputation of being a major news-maker in the cryptocurrency field: The watchdog’s decisions toward the market have been associated with a number of price drops and bull runs.

SEC deems DAO tokens to be illegal securities

When: July 2017

Alleged reaction: Slightly bearish

In July 2017, the SEC came through with a major decision, putting its mark of interest on the crypto market. The regulator reviewed the infamous decentralized autonomous organization (DOA) case and concluded that DAO tokens, issued via its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) back in 2016, were in fact securities and hence had to register with the SEC beforehand.

By making that move, the SEC effectively showed that many other ICOs, which were abundant during their unregulated, ‘free run’ throughout the 2016-2017 period, might be in trouble as well. In order to determine if an ICO constitutes a security or not, the SEC usually applies the Howey Test — essentially, if a token is marketed as a profit-oriented asset, most likely it will be deemed a security being offered by the agency. However, the watchdog has explained that such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, as the facts and circumstances of any investment transaction — including economic realities — will determine whether the transaction constitutes the offer of sale of a security.

Even though the SEC decided not press any charges that time, it gave a clear signal that the ICO frenzy could be over. Nevertheless, the market barely reacted: While the top five coins fell in price on the day of the announcement, the overall reaction wasn’t dramatic. Ethereum went down about 10 percent, but soon bounced back to its previous value. It might have been the result of market volatility rather than the SEC news, as such.

The SEC denies second Winklevoss ETF application

When: July 2018

Alleged reaction: Slightly bearish

The prospect of getting an authority-sanctioned, crypto-backed ETF has been widely discussed in the crypto community. Some believe it will provoke mass adoption, and the prices will ascend, while others remain skeptical — leaning toward crypto-anarchic sentiments. The SEC gets to decide if the industry is ready for an ETF, and the watchdog hasn’t been particularly optimistic thus far.

In either case, the market tends to react to most ETF-related news. A stark example is the recent SEC’s denial of the Winklevoss twins second application on July 26, which happened just prior to the latest ETF-induced panic in the market. The SEC wasn’t convinced by the Winklevoss’ plea that Bitcoin markets are “inherently resistant to manipulation,” which was among the primary reasons for the rejection.

As mentioned above, the Winklevoss brothers had tried registering a Bitcoin ETF before — their first attempt dates back to 2013. That time, it took the SEC four years to come up with a decision: Finally, on March 10 of last year, the agency denied the initial application based on concerns “that significant markets for Bitcoin are unregulated.”

Both times, the market reacted negatively. In March 2017, the price of Bitcoin fell from $1,300 to around $1,100 in a single day. In July 2018, BTC lost over $400 within the span of just three hours, although it managed to regain its value within the following 24 hours — SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce’s statement of official dissent, which was published soon after the hearing, could have helped in that rebound. In it, she opined that the agency’s move “sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets, a signal that may have effects far beyond the fate of Bitcoin ETPs [Exchange Traded Products],” recognizing the SEC’s influence in the market.

The SEC denies VanEck SolidX ETF request

When: August 2018

Alleged reaction: Strongly bearish

Similarly, this catastrophic week on the crypto market is largely associated with the SEC postponing its decision on the listing and trading of a Bitcoin ETF powered by investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX until Sept. 30.

The VanEck SolidX ETF application was submitted in June and was generally considered to be the most promising among crypto-backed ETFs: It didn’t feature bold assumptions akin to the one submitted by the Winklevoss twins that claimed BTC markets are “inherently resistant to manipulation.” Moreover, the VanEck SolidX fund is physically backed — meaning that it will actually hold BTC — and both firms have reassured that this will protect against the loss or theft of the cryptocurrency. According to their filing with the SEC, each share of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is set to cost a hefty $200,000. As SolidX CEO Daniel Gallancy explained to CNBC, the price is set at a higher rate to focus on institutional investors, and the fund hopes to get listed on the Cboe BZX Equities Exchange.

On Aug. 7, the SEC issued a document citing their right to extend the review period. It also stated that the agency had received more than 1,300 comments on the proposed rule change to list and trade the VanEck SolidX BTC shares. Per the document, within 45 days of the filing of a proposed rule change — the trust submitted their application on June 6 — or within 90 days, should the Commission deem necessary, the Commission will approve, disapprove or extend the period of consideration.

While the news seemed rather neutral, and essentially meant that the SEC simply needs more time to rule whether the crypto industry is suitable for an ETF at the moment, panic induced and the markets plummeted: After solid growth to break above the $7,000 mark earlier that day, BTC saw a loss of around $500 in six hours and has lost around 12 percent this week. Similarly, other coins crashed as well — e.g., Ripple (XRP) lost as much as 23 percent of its value since the news was announced.

On the other hand, bullish news on the market that came out recently, like the announcement of upcoming cryptocurrency project Bakkt by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which operates 23 large global exchanges — including New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — appeared to be largely ignored. In an interview with CNBC, Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead claimed that investors were “overreacting” to the SEC postponing the ETF hearing. He predicted that a Bitcoin ETF approval will take “quite a long time,” citing the nascent stage of crypto adoption. The hedge fund manager also stressed that the most recent asset that gained approval from the SEC for ETF certification was copper, a metal that “has been on earth for 10,000 years.”

SEC and CFTC held a joint meeting where they recognized cryptocurrencies’ importance

When: February 2018

Alleged reaction: Strongly bullish

On Feb. 6, the SEC — along with the Commodities and Future Trading Commission (CFTC) — held a highly anticipated joint hearing in which they elaborated on their stance toward cryptocurrencies, ICOs and blockchain technology. During the meeting, the regulators gave credit to the cryptocurrency industry for adding a new paradigm to the financial system, stressed the importance of fair regulatory frameworks and famously said that “if there was no Bitcoin, there would be no blockchain.”

Consequently, that promoted a bullish trend, and the community reaction following the hearing had a positive effect on the crypto market — which was staggering at the time, likely due to China reiteration of it’s zero-tolerance of crypto, rumors of a ban in India and some mainstream banks prohibiting cryptocurrency purchases with their credit cards. After the SEC/CFTC showed their positive stance in regard to some crypto industries features, Bitcoin and Ethereum saw 20 percent growth in value, and the rest of the cryptocurrency market rallied into the green.

SEC rules that BTC and ETH are “not securities”

When: June 2018

Alleged reaction: Slightly bullish

The SEC’s approach to cryptocurrencies is still not crystal clear. However, at this point it becomes evident that, while the agency considers most ICOs to be securities, the two leading cryptos — Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) — are not seen as such. That sentiment was recently voiced by Jay Clayton, the chair of the SEC, who declared that BTC is not a security because it acts as a replacement for sovereign currencies:

“Replace the dollar, the yen, the euro with Bitcoin. That type of currency is not a security.”

Soon after the news broke, Bitcoin’s price went from $7,525 up to $7,728 within 24 hours, showing a slight growth.

A couple of days after that, William Hinman, the director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, claimed that Ethereum (ETH) isn’t a security either, putting an end to a months-long dilemma that could have potentially ended up with Ethereum’s 2014 ICO being outlawed:

“Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether, based on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions[…] And, as with Bitcoin, applying the disclosure regime of the federal securities laws to current transactions in Ether would seem to add little value.”

That signal was positive for ETH, meaning that it wouldn’t face any charges. Consequently, the coin’s price rose as much as 11 percent, up to $520.68.

Cryptocurrencies and the SEC

The SEC reminds that exchanges should be registered with the agency

When: March 2018

Alleged reaction: Slightly bearish

In March 2018, the SEC issued a public warning aimed at crypto exchanges. The watchdog explicitly stated that platforms who trade “securities” — and the SEC deems many altcoins as such — “must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration.” The announcement read:

“The SEC staff has concerns that many online trading platforms appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not.  Many platforms refer to themselves as ‘exchanges,’ which can give the misimpression to investors that they are regulated or meet the regulatory standards of a national securities exchange.”

Hence, major crypto exchanges were urged to comply with the SEC’s regulations, entailing a strick Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering( ATL) approach, among other things — some major U.S.-based exchanges, like Coinbase, have since tried to register with the authority.

The news coincided with a noticeable downtrend in the market: For instance, BTC went down 8.6 percent from 24 hours earlier, losing its $10,000 support. However, the surge could have been initiated by other factors, such as rumours about an alleged Binance security breach that were spreading around the time.

Controversial Stablecoin Tether Issues New Batch of USDT Tokens Worth $50 Million
August 13, 2018 6:57 am

Controversial stablecoin Tether issues another $50 million in coins.

Tether (USDT) has issued new tokens worth $50 million on August 11, according to block explorer OmniExplorer.

In late March, Tether had released 300 mln USDT tokens priced at $1 per token.

Over the past 30 days, Tether’s market capitalization lost around $300 million, down from $2.7 billion in mid-July to the current $2.4 billion, according CoinMarketCap.

Tether

Tether market cap 1 month chart. Source: Coinmarketcap

Tether is now in second place after Bitcoin (BTC) in terms of highest daily trading volumes, seeing $4.2 billion in trades a day or 28.16 percent of all crypto trades, while Bitcoin’s average 24-hour trading volume is $5.7 billion, or 38.62 percent.

Yesterday, August 11, the price of Bitcoin surged by $300 over the course of just a couple of hours, following a drop to as low as $6,118. As of press time, Bitcoin is trading at $6,357, up just under one percent on the day.

btc

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Crypto exchange Bitfinex, which is the seventh ranked crypto exchange by 24 hour volume on CoinMarketCap, shares leadership with Tether. Both companies have come under fire for lack of transparency, as Tether’s USDT tokens claim to be backed one-to-one by USD, yet the company has yet to submit to a public audit.

On June 13, Tether again faced criticism following a study that blamed the company for Bitcoin price manipulation back in 2017. According to the research, Tether’s transaction patterns show it was “used to provide price support and manipulate cryptocurrency prices.”

Later in June, Cointelegraph reported that a law firm working with Tether unofficially confirmed legitimate dollar-backing.

Bears for Crypto, Bulls for ICOs: 2018 Market Positive Statistics
August 13, 2018 12:33 am

Despite a change in public sentiment toward ICOs and stronger regulatory pressure, ICOs show growth and health for the space in the first half of 2018.

Disclaimer: This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by ICObazaar.

With the first half of 2018 now past, it is poignant to look back at the last seven months of data on the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market — an important facet of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Some predicted that the explosion of ICOs last year — with many failures and even more scams — would lead to a collapse in this area, but the statistics tell a different story.

The ICO phenomenon has followed an interesting path since its real boom, starting around May 2017. There has been growth, there has been regulation — as well as changing of sentiment.

2018 has been significantly bigger for ICOs than 2017, with the most successful month coming in March. The data over the last seven months indicates that ICOs continue raising huge sums of money, despite many thinking of them as scams. Additionally, the number of projects launching month by month are pretty steady, even showing growth.

Moreover, the stats suggest that the ICOs in 2018 are aiming for big numbers, with the most popular goals being set between $1 million to $10 million, as well as a significant portion at over $50 million.

Understanding the ICO ecosystem’s progression

Statistics show a definite spike in ICOs from April 2017, when $218 million was raised in that month alone. The rest of 2017 — until November, that is — ebbed and flowed, as 584 ICOs were raising $2.52 billion.

The ICO ecosystem — along with the underlying blockchain technology and digital currency tokens — makes up an important facet of the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. ICOs are walking their own path in relation to regulation and public sentiment. But they are also affected by positives and negatives in the cryptocurrency markets.

Thus, when the SEC ruled that a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) was a security, and when China decided to ban ICOs on Sept. 4, 2017 — many other state regulators started to take note of the financial risks associated with this form of capital raising.

When in December the fever pitch was reached by the end of the year — with suggestions that the G20 discuss cryptocurrency regulation — alongside Bitcoin’s race to $20,000, ICO capital raised hit a new record.

TOTAL AMOUNT

Against the odds, 2018 has been bigger

But January quickly broke December’s $1 billion record, with 254 projects raising $1.83 billion. 2018, thus far, has been a significantly bigger year in terms of the amount of money raised by ICOs. Additionally, the data shows an increase in the number of ICOs that raised this capital in comparison to 2017.

In 2017, 1,069 ICO projects were launched for the entire year. However, in just the first half of 2018 there have been 2,131 projects raising a whopping $12.8 billion.

PROJECTS ON ICOBAZAAR

Hitting their goals

In the past two months — as a recent cut out to give context as to what ICO projects are aiming to raise — it is interesting to note the caps that projects have put up.

When an ICO puts up a cap, it is the maximum amount of capital that it aims to gather. Most of the up-and-coming cryptocurrency projects set their caps so high that they are unlikely to be reached.

However, that number gives insight into where the projects are aiming. Across June and July, the two biggest targets — in terms of the percentages of projects — were between $1 and $10 million, but there was another large grouping of ICOs whose target was to make it to $50+ million.

ICO CAPS

To give a little understanding of the funds raised by ICOs, there were five projects that managed to raise over $10 million in their ICO that ended in July. The top grossing one pulled in an impressive $30 million.

The focus of ICOs

With ICOs being a funding system for a business which is aiming to use the blockchain in some way or another, there are a number of categories where these ICO projects congregate on. Popular categories for ICO projects over 2018 include platforms and cryptocurrencies, but also business services, trading and investment companies.

TOP ICO CATEGORIES

But what has become notable as the year has gone on is that the two biggest categories are getting closer together. For example, in January, platforms accounted for a quarter of all ICO projects, whereas cryptocurrencies were only 15.6 percent. So, while there has been a small growth in cryptocurrency projects, there has been a bigger decline in platforms, as other categories also pick up their stake in the overall situation.

Money is key

While there are a host of different statistics and figures that can tell a story about the ICO ecosystem, the biggest and most important one is the amount of capital being raised, as well as the number of projects coming out monthly.

Looking at that information, the ICO space seems to be on the rise — which may be surprising to many, as regulations and scams should be making them far less attractive to investors. Yet, money coming in is up, and so are products for the first half of 2018.

However, the next few months will be critical to note, as July was the worst month in 2018 in terms of funds raised.

Cryptos See Widespread Green, But Total Market Cap Remains Close to 3-Month Low
August 12, 2018 6:34 pm

Green markets are making a fresh attempt at recovery following their recent losses, with Bitcoin holding 2018 record-high dominance of total crypto market cap.

August 12: Crypto markets are seeing solid gains today in a fresh attempt at recovery following recent losses.

Bitcoin (BTC) dominance –– or the percentage of total crypto market cap that is Bitcoin’s –– is continuing to see a 2018 record-high percentage, at close to 50.9 percent. After the leading coin decoupled from the wider market yesterday –– holding its gains while other cryptos floundered –– healthy growth has today been distributed across virtually all of the major cryptocurrencies, as Coin360 data shows.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at around $6,310 at press time, up a strong 3.45 percent on the day, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin price index. The top coin has seen a 24-hour high of $6,455, but has failed to break through $6,500 resistance, trading sideways within the $6,300-400 range for most of today. Having dipped briefly down to a low around $6,209, Bitcoin has recovered in the couple of hours before press time to hold just above the $6,300 price point. Weekly losses remain at about 10 percent, while on the month Bitcoin is up around 1.42  percent.

Bitcoin’s 24-hour price chart

Bitcoin’s 24-hour price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Ethereum (ETH) is currently trading around $322, up  a solid 5.31 percent on the day. After plummeting as low as $306 in evening trading hours yesterday, the altcoin saw a strong push upwards to test the $330 mark. These fleeting attempts to break to a higher price point failed to hold, and the altcoin has since retraced towards the $320 mark. Ethereum’s losses on its weekly chart are at a little over 20 percent, with monthly losses heftier still, at almost 25 percent.

Ethereum’s 24-hour price chart

Ethereum’s 24-hour price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

On CoinMarketCap’s listings, all of the top 25 crypto assets by market cap are seeing a healthy flush of green, with gains on the day pushing as high as around 5-6 percent.

Among the top ten coins by market cap, Stellar (XLM) and  Litecoin (LTC) are up the most, both seeing almost 6 percent growth on the day.

Although a Facebook spokesperson yesterday denied  rumors that the social media giant had been considering a potential partnership to build a Facebook variant of a Stellar blockchain, the asset is nonetheless riding positive momentum, which has been particularly strong on the XLM/USD chart.

Stellar’s 24-hour price chart

Stellar’s 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Another leading performer among the top ten coins is anonymity-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), in 10th place by market cap, up almost 4 percent and valued around $93.66 at press time.

Among the top twenty coins by market cap, IOTA (MIOTA), number 11th, is up 4.44 percent and is trading at $0.54 at press time. As seen across the crypto markets, the altcoin is still down on its weekly chart, but has seen a burst of upwards momentum as of evening trading hours August 11.

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Still within the context of the top twenty ranked coins, NEO and Tezos (XTZ) are seeing stronger-than-average growth, both up around 4 percent.

As noted, for the second day running, Bitcoin’s share of the total market cap is above 50 percent and is pushing 51 percent at press time. BTC dominance has been consistently on the rise as of mid-May, while the second-ranked crypto, Ethereum, has seen a downtrend on the month in terms of its total market cap share, down to around 15 percent today.

3-month chart of cryptocurrencies by dominance

3-month chart of cryptocurrencies by dominance. Source CoinMarketcap

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $214.7 billion at press time, close to its lowest levels on the three-month chart, only hitting lower points in the past two days, and up slightly from yesterday’s low around $207 billion. As compared with $410.6 billion in mid-May, the market is coming bearishly close to a 50 percent decline.

3-month chart of the total market capitalization

3-month chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap

Alongside retail and institutional HODLers, crypto miners are feeling the pinch of the protracted bear market. Analysts have this week forecast that graphic processing units (GPU) manufacturing giant Nvidia will see a decline in its revenue from sales of crypto mining hardware, which had accounted for over 9 percent of overall revenue in its 2018 Q1 report.

Meanwhile, the director of the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) this week revealed that the agency has seen a surge in filings of crypto-related Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), which now reportedly exceed 1,500 in number per month.

This rising figure was presented as a positive indicator, with the director emphasizing that compliance with regulatory obligations is increasingly important given that “harm can be done with devastatingly increasing speed, breadth, and obscurity in the digital world.”

Hodler’s Digest, August 5-12: You Can’t Actually Buy A Frappucino With Bitcoin, But You Can Ship More Things On Blockchain
August 12, 2018 4:22 pm

The US DEA actually encourages people to keep using cryptocurrencies, and the WSJ releases a report exposing a variety of “pump and dump” schemes.

Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you to track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

US Security And Exchange Commission Postpones Bitcoin ETF Until Fall

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed its decision on the listing and trading of a Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) until September 30. The SEC is in the process of considering a rule change that would allow the fund, which is powered by investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX, to be listed on the CBOE BZX Equities Exchange.

WSJ Reports Price Manipulation In Crypto Conducted By Organized “Trading Groups”

According to this week’s article by the Wall Street Journal, cryptocurrency price manipulation is mainly conducted by organized “trading groups” that create “pump and dump” schemes on services like Telegram. According to the article, these groups can either create millions of dollars for themselves or be stung by the losses once all of the group dump a certain asset at the same time.

US DEA Agent: Ratio Of Criminal Activity To Legitimate BTC Transactions Has Flipped

U.S. Drug Enforcement Enforcement Administration agent Lilita Infante, who is a member of the Cyber Investigative Task Force, said this week that the number of illegitimate Bitcoin transactions has dropped to just ten percent of transactions. Infante added that she wanted people to keep using the blockchain, as it made them more easily identifiable.

Starbucks Denies Bitcoin Payment Method Hype After Misleading Media Reports

U.S. coffee chain Starbucks will not be accepting Bitcoin as payment for Frappuccinos or other drinks after a week of misleading article titles implied the opposite. After last week’s announcement by the operator of the NYSE that they would be creating a new digital asset ecosystem with Starbucks as a partnered, a wave of news reports falsely represented that Starbucks would accept crypto for coffee, while really customers will rather be able to convert BTC into fiat which can then be used at Starbucks.

Jamie Dimon Breaks Crypto Silence, Calls Bitcoin A “Scam”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said this week that Bitcoin is a “scam” and that he has “no interest” in it, while speaking at the Aspen Institute’s 25th Annual Summer Celebration Gala. According to Bloomberg, Dimon further “suggested governments may move to shut down the currencies [cryptocurrency], because of an inability to control them.” Dimon had told reporters last October that he wasn’t going to talk about Bitcoin anymore after a series of negative crypto comments in the fall.

Most Memorable Quotations

“The potential for an [exchange-traded fund] is causing investors to decide that bitcoin is the best house in a tough market,” — Tom Lee, Fundstrat’s head of research

"The main thing to remember is that bitcoin is very early-stage venture, but has real-time price feed — and that's a unique thing. People get excited about the price and overreact,” — Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital

Laws And Taxes

Judge Advances Securities Class Action Case Against Tezos Creators

A U.S. District Judge has refused to dismiss a suit against the husband and wife duo behind blockchain project Tezos, who are currently accused of violating U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations through the sale of unregistered securities in the U.S. Although the Tezos creators maintain their fundraiser took place in Switzerland, outside of U.S. jurisdicion, the judge has disagreed.

Adoption

Commonwealth Bank of Australia To Issue Bond On Blockchain Per World Bank Mandate

The largest bank in Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), has been mandated by the World Bank to arrange a bond issue entirely on a blockchain. The Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument (bond-i) will be issued and distributed on a blockchain platform under the operation of the World Bank in Washington and CBA in Sydney. For now, the two organizations are using a private Ethereum blockchain, but the CBA noted it was open to alternatives.

Study Shows ICO Market Has More Than Doubled Since Last Year

A study conducted by independent rating agency ICORating has found that the Initial Coin Offering market has more than doubled in a year. According to the agency’s report, ICOs in 2018 have already raised over $11 billion in investments, a figure which it purports is ten times larger than the sum of investments from ICOs in Q1-2 2017.

Goldman Sachs Reportedly Plans to Offer Custody For Crypto Funds

Sources told Bloomberg this week that Goldman Sachs is planning to offer its clients custody for cryptocurrency funds, as the bank says that it remains “undecided” on its cryptocurrency plans. A spokesperson for the bank said that they are exploring “various digital products” in response to client interest.

Chair Of U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Reveals Crypto Ownings

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican representing Virginia, disclosed that he owns between $17,000 and $80,000 in cryptocurrency in what may be a first for a member of Congress to publicly report their crypto holdings. According to his release, the Congressman has principally invested in Bitcoin (BTC), with some holdings in major altcoins Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Another Swiss Bank To Accept Cryptocurrency Assets As Market Demand Increases

The Maerki Baumann private bank will become the second Swiss bank to accept cryptocurrency assets, citing the new market demands and the rise of cryptocurrencies’ popularity. The private Zurich bank has decided to accept crypto assets from payments received for services rendered, as well as those earned from crypto mining, but notes they are not ready to provide direct cryptocurrency investments.

Mergers, Acquisitions, And Partnerships

UK Financial Authority Launches International Initiative For Fintech Cooperation

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has announced the creation of a global initiative, made up of 11 financial authorities and related organizations, to work together in in order to help fintech firms interact more easily with regulators from different countries. The Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) aims to consult on topics such as the growth of technologies like distributed ledger tech and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the regulation of securities and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), among others.

Maersk, IBM Launch Global Blockchain-Based Shipping Solution

IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk have launched their global blockchain-enabled shipping solution, made up of 94 organizations. The global supply chainplatform, TradeLens, has already captured 154 million shipping events, and its dataset is reportedly growing at a rate of close to one million shipping events a day.

Winners And Losers

The crypto markets are still in the middle of their slump this week, with Bitcoin trading at around $6,583 and Ethereum at around $324 by press time. Total market cap is now at around $215 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are InflationCoin, Jesus Coin, and Galaxy eSolutions. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Artex Coin, VeThor Coin, and Network Token.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

FUD Of The Week

Wall Street Analyst Says Bitcoin Is “Game Over” If It Breaks Year-To-Date Support

Renaissance Macro Research’s head of technical research Jeff deGraaf concluded it may be “game over” for Bitcoin (BTC) in a new analysis if the cryptocurrency breaks its year-to-date support. In a note to clients, deGraaf, also claimed that Bitcoin’s price movements suggest the largest cryptocurrency is “permanently impaired.”

Bitcoin ATM Malware Found Available For Purchase Online

Tokyo-based security software manufacturer Trend Micro has found Bitcoin (BTC) ATM malware available for purchase from an “apparently established and respected” user on a darknet forum. For the price of $25,000, criminals could purchase Bitcoin ATM malware accompanied by a ready-to-use card with EMV and near-field communication (NFC) capabilities. The software exploits a BTC ATM vulnerability, allowing fraudsters to receive the BTC equivalent of up to 6,750 U.S. dollars, euros, or pounds.

Research Shows Twitter Crypto Scam Bots Number Around 15,000

An analysis of 88 million Twitter accounts has revealed more information on infamous phenomenon of cryptocurrency-related Twitter accounts advertising fake “giveaways,” finding a network of at least 15,000 scam bots. The researchers looked at the latest 200 tweets from each account, unearthing a mesh of 15,000 bots at work spreading fake competitions and impersonating some of the cryptocurrency industry’s best-known figures and businesses.

Chinese Bitcoin Trader Sues OKCoin Over Alleged Prevention Of BCH Release

A Chinese Bitcoin trader has sued the crypto exchange OKCoin for reportedly not permitting him to withdraw Bitcoin Cash after the Bitcoin forked. A local news agency reported that this is the first legal action in China that involved last year’s fork of Bitcoin. According to the lawsuit, the crypto investor has accused the exchange of blocking him from receiving 38.748 BCH that he was due after Bitcoin’s August 2017 hard fork.

UK Financial Regulator Warns Against Two Crypto “Clone Firms”

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned investors about two so-called “clone” companies this week, i.e. companies that carry out business activities under the pretense that they are a firm registered by the FCA. One clone, Fair Oaks Crypto, allegedly aims to hoodwink potential scam victims by claiming that they represent Fair Oaks Capital. The other named rogue firm, Good Crypto, was giving out “false details or mix[ing] these with some correct details of the registered firm,” which in this case was London-based Arup Corporate Finance.

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Bloomberg takes its readers through a complex tale of cryptocurrency fraud, alleged extortion, kidnapping, and more involving a series of business partners, policeman, and even a former politician.

Blockchain: A Manifestation of the Borg?

A humorous comparison of how blockchain technology and the fictional alien race featured on the original Star Trek, the Borg, are actually quite similar due to their hive mentalities, strive for perfection, and ability to disrupt. In the author’s words: “The Borg’s catch phrase, ‘Resistance is Futile’, might as well be applied to blockchain.”