So I was going to talk in detail about the House of Representatives hearing into Cryptocurrencies and the ICO markets on 14 March. But after over two hours you only really need to know Mr Brad Sherman has no idea about the subject of crypto and will probably serve the blockchain community best if he stops contributing to any discussion, at all, because if he doesn’t like your answer (when you tell him he doesn’t understand the business model) he wants to hear from someone else! However, he successfully united most on social media after the hearing no matter what crypto system you believe in. All had unfavourable comments about his “crypto bashing”.
On the opposite side, others such as Mr Tom Emmer, are genuinely worried about too much regulation (and is concerned that the USA could kill off blockchain by over regulation and sent the tech abroad) but he’s very excited by the whole blockchain space. He’s worried Coinbase (and their lawyer confirmed) have 20% of the workforce working on compliance. He confirms they (Coinbase) fear expanding (their current portfolio) due to lack of clarity about crypto. But as three have been confirmed as a virtual currencies by regulators they have adopted only those three with the fourth BCH, as a fork of BTC. I think that speaks volumes itself for all the rumours around all the supposed Coinbase additions. But in the main its guidance that the invited panel was seeking not regulation.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure I’ve never been a fan of Facebook (FB). I genuinely don’t see the point. (ooooooh sharp intake of breath). I don’t use it and I’m not on FB. Seems to me its alot like “this is what Im doing, look at this (me) book”. I’m always worried about those people taking food pictures while eating! I could go on.
But the main issue which has to come to the forefront over the last few days is the issue surrounding your data, its collection, your permissions and your understanding of how that data is subsequently used.
Now it appears that hundreds of millions of FB users are likely to have had their private information harvested by numerous companies that exploited the same terms (however its collected) as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a recent whistleblower. Sandy Parakilas, a platform operations manager at FB responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, previously told the Guardian newspaper. He warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach. “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said. Parakilas said FB had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms,
including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused. “..Once the data left Facebook servers there was not any control, and there was no insight into what was going on”. Later he said one Facebook executive advised him against looking too deeply at how the data was being used, warning him: “Do you really want to see what you’ll find?” Parakilas said. The point? “Facebook was in a stronger legal position if it didn’t know about
the abuse that was happening” outside its doors!. He added: “They felt that it was better not to know”. I’m thinking no doubt they received the best legal advice around deniability and liability!
So not only does the centralisation of your data make it much easier and cheaper to collect, its easier to hack as its all in the same place. Since data has been collected and stored centrally two issues have always lead to data breaches by Banks, credit data providers etc. One is it centralised location and security, and secondly is its human users failing to follow simple security protocols. I’ll throw some questions out into the open for you to think about. How do you store your data? Do you shred bank or credit card statements? Are your passwords birthdays or numbers relevant to you from public and social information you have given out freely? All I’m asking you to do is think about your data.
If you want to know how poor humans are at containing or withholding their private information or employer information, I will leave you with this deeply disturbing finding. Auditors who conducted a fake “phishing” attack on 5,000 randomly selected.. employees said ..that nearly one-third opened the email, a quarter, clicked on the link and almost one-fifth entered their user ID and password. The covert operation was done as part of an audit that uncovered weaknesses in ..(I’ve deleted the ID)..computer network, including that not all workers are required to participate in cybersecurity awareness training (but used computers). The Auditor made over 14 findings in the audit, including five that were “material” — the most serious. They range from inadequate management of firewalls (what?) to insufficient processes to connection of “..Unauthorized devices..” (again, sorry what?). Its clear a new solution to data storage is
required. You might now take the time to review your data, understand who stores it, who has access to it, who you are giving permissions to but that you are taking back control of your current data or protect it better. Could it be used against you, could it be used to directly target and/or confirm your views politically? Could you be influenced do you think by these subtle messages targeted specifically at you? Is that what you data is for? To be used against you or reinforce your view?
In a decentralised future your data, whether financial, personal, retail likes, dislikes and shopping interests and habits could provide you with loyalty tokens or rewards. Your health data could be sold or used to monitor your health or save your life. Apparently, self regulation has been unsuccessful and regulation is required. Or maybe the solution
was never the right one in the first place and the solution to data storage has only just arrived?
Bitcoin Price (BTC)
On Monday Bitcoin was trading at $9530.00 a coin. Bitcoin recorded a weekly loss of over 5% and closed the week at $8,258.66 a coin on Friday, amid increased scrutiny concerns after major internet companies have started to ban online advertisements for cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin started trading on a weaker footing in the previous week, after Google announced that it would ban online advertisements for all cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) from June 2018. Losses in the digital currency were extended further after French stock market regulator announced that it has blacklisted fifteen cryptocurrency and crypto-asset investment websites. However, the digital currency pared some of its losses on Friday. Over the weekend, trading in Bitcoin remained volatile and the virtual currency plunged below the psychologically important $8,000.00 mark, after news emerged that Twitter is planning to prohibit advertisements for ICOs, token sales, and cryptocurrency wallets on its platform within the next two weeks. Bitcoin Opening Price $9530.00 Close $8258.66 High $9101.30 Low $7648.06.
At present, the total market value of all cryptocurrencies is $314B, with Bitcoin accounting for $139B.
Japan Korea, China and AUS
Kumamoto-Energy, a local power producer in Japan, has announced that they will use solar energy for mining
farms as are trying to reduce costs. Japanese miners are trying to consume renewable energy make mining activities more sustainable in the long term.
The biggest crypto exchange has announced a $10M total bounty for anyone who provides information on any planned hacking attempts. They have further announced a $250,000 bounty for any information specifically on the 7 March attempted to hack almost $47M (was the target). Even though the hacking attempt against Binance on 7 March was not successful, it was clear it was a large-scale, organized effort. The exchange then provided details stating they were “offering a $250,000 USD equivalent bounty to anyone who supplies information that leads to the legal arrest of the hackers involved in the attempted hacking incident on Binance on March 7th, 2018”.
Authorities in Japan have suspended operations of two cryptocurrency trading exchanges. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) has ordered a one-month termination of operating license banning all kind of trading activities and business of two exchanges, FSHO and BitStation beginning from 8 March 2018.
The report by Korea Small Business Institute (KOSBI) said blockchain can open new horizons for how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) conduct business with their larger contractors, reports Yonhap news agency. The hope is blockchain will make delayed payment and unilateral changing of a deal a thing of the past.
Japanese exchange Coincheck is starting to reimburse victims who lost funds in a hack that saw around $530M stolen from the platform in January. In a blog post dated 12 March, Coincheck said it will refund users at the rate of 88.549 Japanese yen (or $0.83) per NEM token stolen – the same amount as stated in its initial compensation plan – to the accounts of customers who held the token at the close of 26 Jan. The update follows the company’s press conference .. at which its CEO and COO announced compensation will start this week, in response to several class action lawsuits.
The Chairman of the Thai Fintech Association (TFA) and Thailand’s Former Finance Minister, Korn Chatikavanij, has offered his support for recent proposals that Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should be tasked with developing and enforcing cryptocurrency regulations.
With some prominent backers, GOPAX, which stands for Global Online Professional Assets Exchange is now the 5th largest exchange in South Korea. GOPAX allows trading in Korean won and recent 24-hour trade volume is around 5,000 BTC which makes it the 5th biggest Korean exchange and 30th largest in the world. Japan will urge its G20 counterparts at a meeting next week to beef up efforts to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used for money laundering, a government official with direct knowledge of the matter said. But the prospects for the G20 finance leaders to agree on specific global rules and mention them in a joint communique are low, given differences in each country’s approach, the official said, a view echoed by another official involved in G20 talks. “Discussions will focus on anti-money laundering steps and consumer protection, rather than how cryptocurrency trading could affect the banking system”, an official tells CNBC before adding: “The general feeling among the G20 members is that applying too stringent regulations won’t be good”. Expectations for consensus appear low considering the varied approaches taken by different jurisdictions, but they should be able to agree, and this space would probably support an agreement, that holds exchanges to a higher standard because they are custodians of potentially billions.
This week the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, spoke about both public and privately issued cryptocurrencies. Zhou details that the central bank dislikes “speculative cryptocurrency products” and the bank does not officially recognize digital currencies like bitcoin. A Chinese government body is considering creating national standards to boost the growth of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the country. According to an announcement released, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already, as a first step, hosted a research seminar recently to discuss how such standards frameworks might be built.
A search warrant executed on 28 February 2018, has revealed that employees at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology
may have been mining cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, using computers in the workplace. According to a report by the news publication, ABC News, two individuals working at the Bureau of Meteorology were held for questioning by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) following claims that they were mining cryptocurrencies. Apparently, the Bureau of Meteorology has some very fast computers!
The Egyptian government has been called out in a new report that suggests they are not only spying on and censoring their citizens’ internet but also using them to mine cryptocurrency. (You couldn’t make that up!). Hisham Al Gurg, Sheikh Saad Al Maktoum and others signed a strategic partnership agreement for launching jCash in the UAE and MENA regions.
The ICO raised around $2.4M in Eth (more than 2,100 coins), but set alarm bells ringing when Russian firm Third Pin LLC, which had been contracted by Giza to develop the crypto storage devices, announced at the end of January that they were halting manufacture and cutting ties with Giza since they had not received any payment, speaking to CNBC, Ivan Larionov, Third Pin CEO, said.
USA and Canada
Logistics giant DHL, in collaboration with Accenture, has developed a serialization prototype using blockchain technology to track pharmaceuticals across the supply chain. “We’ve worked closely with DHL to understand and document the broad impact blockchain will have on supply chains of the future,” adds Andreas Baier, Accenture lead for the travel and transportation industry and DHL client team leader. “Using a common, indelible and secure ledger, the industry can achieve much higher safety standards – from the factory to the patient – at much lower cost. This is one of several opportunities blockchain affords to restructure business processes while reducing cost and complexity”.
The New York-based blockchain application startup ConsenSys, in partnership with TrueDigital, a subsidiary of global electronic exchange for interest rate swaps trueEX, announced plans to develop a target reference index for ethereum prices. The move is an initial part of a broader project to make more crypto-trading products available for institutional investors, such as banks, investment funds, brokerage firms or insurance companies. At the same time, the trueEX exchange said it was planning to start a derivatives marketplace for trading cryptocurrency assets. The opening product is expected to be a bitcoin contract, which will be trading on the firm’s swap platform.
Bitcoin mining operations have officially commenced today at Marathon Patent Group, Inc.’s new mining facility in Quebec, Canada.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have confirmed that they are planning on adding more tokens to their cryptocurrency
trading platform Gemini Exchange. Currently, Gemini’s trading platform supports only two digital assets: Bitcoin and ethereum. Cboe and Gemini are locked in a strategic partnership, which is why the futures exchange will look to add new coins. As such, the arrangement between the companies makes Cboe dependent on Gemini’s pricing data for bitcoin contracts. Gemini “may” begin by adding Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash to its portfolio.
CME CEO Terry Duffy said last month that the futures exchange would take a cautious stance toward expanding to other digital currencies. Speaking at the futures industry conference Wednesday, CME Chief Operating Officer Julie Holzrichter said that while the company took a measured approach with Bitcoin futures, “as an exchange, sometimes you have to take a risk”.
Nasdaq Inc. is interested in offering Bitcoin derivatives, but CEO Adena Friedman said Wednesday that her exchange needs to provide something that’s different. In a census of 100 U.S. retailers that are also Square clients, over half have said that they would accept bitcoin as payment. Dan Dolev, an analyst at Nomura Instinet, said, “This result is surprising, especially amid bitcoin’s elevated volatility”.
Berkeley wants to mediate city investments on the blockchain. This new system would cut the high costs and legislative difficulties of issuing municipal bonds and help to raise money for public projects. According to MIT Technology Review, the idea comes from Berkeley city council member Ben Bartlett, who wants to create an “initial community offering” that would allow investors to purchase municipal bonds secured by a blockchain-based, smart-contract system.
Morgan Stanley is increasing its interest for cryptocurrencies, the financial institution is searching
for candidates with knowledge about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Morgan Stanley is now offering a new
research line for clients that are interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Venezuela’s state-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, has been a resounding success, according to President Nicolas Maduro. The agency quoted Maduro, who issued the announcement with fellow members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The Petro, is reported to have raised $5B from its initial coin offering (ICO). President Nicolás Maduro made the disclosure during a meeting with members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, stating that the funds would “buy everything our country needs, it is part of the economic solution.”
trueEx is launching a derivatives platform for cryptocurrency, the company announced Monday. It also entered into a partnership with ConsenSys to build a benchmark rate for ether. TrueEx, the trading technology company, is preparing to dive into cryptocurrency with a new derivatives marketplace, but s pending regulatory review by the Commodity Futures Commission, the company said.
Microsoft now accepts payment in Bitcoin Cash for games, Xboxes, apps and all sort of things found on their online Microsoft Store. This appears to be limited to only USA, where you can fund the account with Bitcoin Cash payments which are pretty much instantly credited.
On January 30, social media giant, Facebook updated its ads policy, prohibiting adverts that promote cryptocurrency and ICOs. While many believed that Facebook’s decision is an unforced decision made to eradicate scam ICO schemes. But some reports have emerged, revealing that the FBI actually pressured Facebook to ban crypto-related adverts.
A senior investigator at the Manitoba Securities Commision and chairman of Canada’s Binary Options Task Force, Jason Roy, disclosed that: “What happened is that Canada’s Binary Options Task Force, as well as the FBI, explained to Facebook what the concerns were and that these types of ads are leading to people becoming victims. “We’re very pleased,” he said, adding that, “My hope is that Google will enact a similar policy, where they specifically name products like binary options, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies”. Google is also joining Facebook in banning advertising for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Google, the largest provider of digital advertising on the internet, announced on Tuesday that it plans to change its advertising policy for certain financial services, including cryptocurrencies, starting in June. The new restriction would apply to both space on Google’s platforms, like YouTube, and to third-party websites where Google sells advertising space. Together, Google and Facebook account for the majority of advertising on the internet in terms of revenue.
Playboy TV is launching a new payment option that will allow customers to access its exclusive adult content
using cryptocurrencies. According to an announcement today, the adult content network said it will roll out a
dedicated cryptocurrency wallet by the end of this year.
The monetary authority of eight island economies in the Eastern Caribbean has agreed to take part in a pilot program
that will involve issuing a digital currency. According to a press release dated 14 March, the Eastern Caribbean
Central Bank (ECCB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FinTech firm Bitt Inc. for a multifaceted blockchain
pilot that will involve the “issuance of a digital [Eastern Caribbean] currency which will operate alongside” physical Eastern Caribbean currency. The ECCB acts as the monetary authority for eight Caribbean economies – those of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Eastern Caribbean dollar, which the bank issues, is pegged to the US dollar and is backed by substantial foreign currency reserves.
Today, CEO at Coinbase UK Zeeshan Feroz informed users of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange that the company has now secured an e-money license from the United Kingdom’s financial regulators. Additionally, they are the first bitcoin exchange to support the UK’s Faster Payments Scheme, a 24/7 real-time payment system which would allow near-instant transfers from Coinbase to UK bank accounts. The e-money license requires all Coinbase e-money operations to meet strict rules enforced by the FCA and the Payment Services Directive. An example is the segregation of client funds, where all customer fiat balances will be separated from Coinbase company funds and kept in separate bank accounts.
Barclays has agreed to offer cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase access to UK’s Faster Payments Scheme.
French company Qarnot has revealed a new space heater that can mine ether while keeping your house warm. They’re selling a cryptocurrency heater that mines crypto while also warming your home. The Belgian financial authority has published a list of 19 cryptocurrency trading platforms that it had received complaints about from consumers .. and
has established indications of fraud,” the agency wrote. The agency emphasized that this list does not include all questionable crypto trading platforms – only ones which consumers have filed reports about.
It has been just announced that one of the major delivery services in Germany is giving the opportunity to
users to complete payments of the particular order with BTC or BCH. The movement is of great importance as it marks the first truly leading company in Germany to offer payments in cryptocoins. Germany’s biggest meal delivery provider, Liferando, which allows you to order food from 11,000 restaurants, has begun accepting Bitcoin Cash. Overall, some 31,000 restaurants in Europe and Vietnam have now begun accepting Bitcoin Cash through online orders from Takeaway.com.
Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra has suggested an international approach to cryptocurrency regulation..
In a letter issued to parliament, Hoekstra expressed concern about the significant percentage of Dutch citizens
who had invested in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Finnish cryptocurrency exchange and crypto wallet services provider Prasos Oy is one step from being “frozen”,
as most Finnish banks will no longer conduct business with them, Bloomberg reports. Founded in 2012, Prasos has seen a ten-fold spike of transaction volumes reaching $185M in 2017, which became a subject of concern among the banks.
Finnish banks do not have a codified set of regulations surrounding cryptocurrencies and the anonymous nature
of cryptocurrency transactions could potentially run foul of current Finnish anti-money laundering laws (AML). As a result, four banks; S-Bank, the OP Group, Saastopankki, and Nordea Bank AB closed Prasos Oy’s accounts in 2017.
Trading of bitcoin and other digital currencies should be regulated in a similar way to gold, which commonly
benefits from simpler compliance rules than stocks or bonds, according to Austria’s biggest crypto-broker Bitpanda.
According to the Vienna-based exchange, all transactions over €10,000 ($12,300) processed in the European Union
should be subject to anti-money laundering regulation.
Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch finance minister, has issued a letter to Holland’s parliament describing the current regulatory framework pertaining to cryptocurrencies as “insufficiently equipped.”
Crime and Viruses
The number of websites sneaking in malware to mine cryptocurrencies such as Monero has grown by over 700% in recent months. Cyren, an internet security company, has found that over 1.4% of all websites (of the website sample group) from across the web run cryptocurrency mining scripts. To give this number a bit more context, just six months ago, the percentage of websites running mining scripts was just 0.12 percent, a whopping 725% increase!. Contrary to popular belief, websites running these scripts have been found all across the web, not just in the cryptocurrency space. Scammers appear to have made off with more than $2M in cryptocurrency after carrying out an apparent fake initial coin offering (ICO), and the individuals linked to the incident may be connected to another recent theft, CNBC has learned. A bad actor or actors used a fake LinkedIn profile and copied pictures from another user’s Instagram to create a false persona — and successfully drew more than 1,000 investors into the ICO project, which was called Giza.
Bitcoin Price (BTC)
Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Chubu Electric Power Co. has entered into a proof-of-concept with local bitcoin
and Internet of Things (IoT) startup Nayuta, one that finds it exploring how bitcoin payments can be made via the
Lightning Network, an in-development protocol that promises to cut costs for bitcoin users. Boasting 15,000 employees
and more than 200 power generation facilities, Chubu is now using Lightning to prototype a new way of letting customers
pay to charge an electric vehicle. In a demo of its work, Chubu and Nayuta went so far as to show how a Lightning payment could be sent to an electric vehicle charger that, once paid, instantly turned on and began to energize
a real-life vehicle. Chubu Electric Power Co. senior manager Hidehiro Ichikawa told CoinDesk that the test
is part of the company’s “market research” into how bitcoin could power its IoT needs, though he noted it doesn’t yet
have any official plans to accept Lightning payments from customers. The Lightning Network (LN) has passed 1000 active nodes on its Bitcoin mainnet implementation, marking a major milestone for the scaling solution. The news comes as commentators speculate from technical progress by LN developers that the first mainnet version of the protocol may soon see an official release.
ETH O $720.43 C $601.00 H $740.00 L $553.06
Especially with breaking news that XRP has just been added to Abra’s first worldwide accessible wallet exchange, which touts twenty coins that can be purchased in 50 fiats, as well as by American Express credit card. Being listed on Abra’s worldwide wallet application is yet another recent feather in the cap for XRP, which on the same day was heralded for successful trials in cross-border money transmissions by the international banking conglomerate BBVA Compass—whose reach extends from California to Florida in more than a dozen US sites and hundreds of branches worldwide that serve more than 72 million customers. Having lost an early litigation hearing against software company R3 Holdco the price of ripple plunged by 1 percent. The crypto company had accused software company of misleading representation and R3 is accusing Ripple for breach of a partnership agreement where it was supposed to make a payment of 5B in XRP coins. Ripple O $0.81 C $0.679 H $0.827 L $0.628
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
BCH O $1139.74 C $973.65 H $1149.57 L $867.55
The privacy-focused cryptocurrency monero (XMR) has been dumping the last few days on the news developers have
postponed a highly anticipated hard fork by six weeks. As of writing, the world’s 11th largest cryptocurrency by
market capitalization is trading at $258 – down 10 percent in the last 24 hours, according to data source CoinMarketCap. Monero O $278.19 C $211.56 H $286.00 L $195.99
Open-source, distributed payments infrastructure Stellar (XLM) is aiming to surpass Ripple (XRP) as it teams up with
Keybase to improve cross-border transactions. Aimed at connecting people to low-cost financial services to fight poverty and develop individual potential, according to its website, Stellar has revealed that it is working with Keybase, a free security app for mobile phones and computers, to boost cross-border transactions.
Payments giant Payza has integrated Dash into its platform. Payza users will now have the ability to send and receive Dash to and from other Payza users, spend it at over 100,000 e-commerce retailers, and exchange Dash to 25 different fiat currencies or bitcoin. DASH O $527.86 C $425.00 H $550.00 L $388.68
Zcash O $307.31 C $235.90 H $312.01 L $230.13
LTC O $188.00 C $164.59 H $193.13 L $149.09
IOTA O $1.37 C $1.086 H $1.41 L $1.018