Was there a coincidence between this weeks meeting in Davos and the fact that we witnessed the largest crypto robbery in history? Although, some still maintain the biggest fiat robbery happened during the bailouts after 2008. No one could lay that blame at the door of the crypto markets for that one, although a lot a blame seems to find its way to cryptos door at the moment. Or is it just me? Was that the point in history where trust was lost by the younger generations who began to trust maths and computer code over the old establishment? Depends on your point of view I suppose…. Anyway lets get straight to the news from around the world as there is genuinely a lot to cover!
Bitcoin Price (BTC) from 22 Jan to 26 Jan
On Monday Bitcoin was trading at $11,510.00 a coin and closed the week on 26 Jan at $11,079.30 a coin on Friday, having reached a high of $11,896.06 and a low of $9,880.00 between 22 and 26 Jan. At present, the total market value of all cryptocurrencies is $540.01B, with Bitcoin accounting for $180.8B or 33.5% of the market.
The Bitcoin blockchain is expected to witness yet another hardfork by an anonymous team which claims to retain the original principles of Satoshi Nakamoto. The cryptocurrency to be created will be called “Bitcoin Atom” (BCA). It will be interesting to see if this gains any traction from either traders or users.
World BTC News
Lets start again with Japan, Korea, China, India and AUS – Late on Friday news broke that Coincheck had suffered at the hands of hackers who reportedly stole hundreds of millions of dollars in digital assets from the Tokyo-based firm in one of the biggest heists ever. Units of NEM worth $530M were taken. This now exceeds the $480M in bitcoin stolen from the MtGox exchange in 2014. Coincheck suspended trading of all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin on Friday. Coincheck Inc. said the coins were sent “illicitly” outside the venue – well that’s one way of putting it. An official with Japan’s financial regulator has said that it will not allow the sale of cryptocurrency futures on the country’s exchanges any time soon, though it may revisit the matter later. Korbit, the third largest bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in the South Korean market behind Bithumb and Coinone, has announced that non-Korean nationals or foreigners will not be allowed to deposit Korean won at any domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.
The South Korean government has announced that six major banks will be ready to provide services to cryptocurrency exchanges this month. Under the new system, the government requires exchanges to share user data with banks. Eight exchanges, among them Upbit, Korbit, Coinplug, Coinone, have now received penalties of between 10M to 25M (won). Earlier, the KCC along with the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Information and the Korea Internet Development Agency checked the security systems of 10 national cryptocurrency exchanges. Amidst all that, a local media publication Yonhap News has recently reported that the government has arrived at a decision to collect 24.2% of local and corporate income tax from local exchanges this year as a “measure of tax enforcement”. And, with the rush of investors registering on crypto exchanges and given concerns over issues connected with money laundering and tax evasion, the South Korean government banned the opening of any virtual accounts on the exchanges last month and even asked the existing virtual currency traders to change their virtual accounts to the ones with real names. According to Yujin Investment & Securities, with this rule, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges ‘Bithumb’ will be paying around 60B (won), which will be combined of corporate and local income tax on an estimated earning of 317.6B (won) last year. Along with Bithumb, there are other cryptocurrency exchanges like UpBit, Coinone, and Korbit who have also reported tremendous earnings last year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that aims to foster global monetary cooperation and financial stability, has called for global coordination on cryptocurrencies, warning of the risks of surging cryptocurrency prices. According to a Bloomberg report, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said late last week there is a need for “greater international discussion and cooperation among regulators.”.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, has reportedly ordered financial institutions to stop providing banking or funding to any activity related to cryptocurrencies.. According to a document issued by the PBoC, banks must carry out internal investigations to ascertain if cryptocurrency trading activities are being conducted via their payment services.
India’s income tax department has reportedly issued tax notices to a number of cryptocurrency traders following a nationwide survey of cryptocurrency exchanges. Speaking to Reuters, tax officials in India have revealed that the country’s citizens participated in over $3.5B in transactions and investments into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum and ripple over a 17-month period leading up to 2018.
Australia’s biggest gold refiner, the Perth Mint, unveiled that it plans to develop its own gold-backed digital currency in an effort to attract consumers back to investing in gold.
The first ever physical purchase using a lightning network channel may have occurred a few days ago, according to a Reddit post.. The first ever physical transaction may have been completed on the Lighting Network, according to Reddit user /u/btc_throwaway1337, who purchased a VPN Router through a payment channel provided by TorGuard. The Lightning Network, designed to scale Bitcoin up for a global user base, functions by opening and recording a channel between two users on the Blockchain, with information about transactions only being recorded on the original Bitcoin Blockchain after the channel is closed. The Reddit user explained that he saw a tweet by TorGuard offering the service.
Europe and UK – bitFlyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange has announced expansion now into Europe. bitFlyer, the Tokyo-based operator has been granted a Payment Institution (PI) license to operate in the EU. It has become the first Bitcoin exchange to be regulated in Japan, the US and Europe, making it the most compliant virtual currency exchange in the world.
Cryptocurrency earnings could be exempt from UK tax if they are declared as gambling winnings. The massive loophole allows investors, who could have made millions when bitcoin hit its $19,000 plus (£14,000) high in Dec, to declare their returns as gambling winnings. Winnings from gambling are generally not considered investment returns and so avoid taxation, leaving HMRC with the potential of a large blackhole in its returns following a year of cryptocurrency boom.
France and Germany share a common goal to regulate Bitcoin and both countries will be making a joint proposal to that effect at the upcoming G20 summit in March this year. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and his German counterpart Peter Altmaier announced the move at a joint press conference in Paris. “We have the same concerns and we share the goal to regulate Bitcoin,” Le Maire said. This task force is being headed by the former deputy governor of the Banque de France, Jean-Pierre Landau, and its regulatory suggestions will form the basis of the joint French-German proposal.
A Portuguese Santander Branch has taken a step back and re-thought the idea of letting individuals handle BTC related transactions through the bank after being impacted by a significant backlash over the previous chosen action (they had blocked BTC transfers). especially hitting harder those that involve Bitstamp and Coinbase.Customers were not happy and decided to put together a petition that gathered more than 1,000 signatures. The bank branch quickly then changed its mind.
The biggest Nordic bank sent a memo to all its employees informing them that they will not be allowed to trade in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Nordea Bank AB will impose the ban from Feb. 28, after the board agreed to take a stand due to the “unregulated nature” of the market, spokeswoman Afroditi Kellberg said by phone. The bank had about 31,500 employees at the end of the third quarter. Nordea said the updated policy “includes transitional provisions for staff with existing holdings and allows for certain exceptions,” according to an email sent to Bloomberg. ICF Zurich, an evangelical church from the largest city in Switzerland, has begun accepting voluntary offerings from its parishioners using cryptocurrency. According to its website, the church accepts donations directly via bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ether (ETH), ripple (XRP) and stellar lumen (XLM) “Digital currencies and the blockchain technology will change our daily lives more and more in the next years,” the spokesperson of the church, Nicolas Legler.
Financial service giant UBS is particularly bearish towards Bitcoin. Speaking at the World Economic forum, chairman Axel Weber said the company had advised clients to steer clear of investing in Bitcoin. In an interview with CNBC, Weber said “Retail clients, who don’t fully understand these products, should be protected from going into these products, because if there is a retail client affected in the future, the question will be again who was the bank that sold them these products and then banks will be blamed again for what has happened.” Is this one (of many) reasons behind a reluctance to adopt crypto by retail institutions? Are they worried about investment advice claims arising in the future? Or a smoke screen?
A study of Ukrainian officials’ asset declarations reveals that 57 officials have declared over 21,000 bitcoins with the majority of cryptocurrency holders in the Odessa regional council and the country’s Parliament. A second study shows that in 2017 the largest amount of cryptocurrency declared by a Ukrainian official was in bitcoin cash. Dmytro Ivanovych Holubov, a People’s Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, declared 4,376 BTC in 2015. Anatoliy Ihorovych Urbansky declared 4,256 BTC in December 2016.
Currently, the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) does not recognize bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Several bills have been submitted for the regulation of cryptocurrencies in Ukraine but none has passed. Really, does anyone else think there is a conflict here?
USA and Canada – The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Visa, Alfred Kelly, publicly confirmed that the company had been actively distancing itself from supporting cryptocurrencies. His words make it quite apparent that Visa simply does not hold bitcoin or any other digital currency in direct competition with government-backed fiat, such as the US dollar. A cargo of US soybeans shipped to China has become the first fully-fledged agricultural trade conducted using blockchain, participants have said. Louis Dreyfus Co, Shandong Bohi Industry Co, ING, Societe Generale and ABN Amro took part in the trade where the sales contract, letter of credit and certificates were digitalised on the Easy Trading Connect (ETC) platform.
Starbucks Chairman, Howard Shultz, announced that the company is planning to integrate blockchain technology and digital currencies into its long-term payment technology strategy in the wake of expanding its digital customer relationships.
Hydro Québec, the largest utility in Canada, is being forced to review its energy strategy amid the surging demand caused by mining of digital currencies. According to last week’s report in Reuters, Hydro Québec’s spokesperson said that it won’t have enough long-term capacity to meet the expected demand, given the fact that potential mining projects are now at 70, more than doubling in one week alone.
Companies looking to ride the cryptocurrency wave are drawing a stern warning from the top US securities regulator: So you better do more than change your name! The Securities and Exchange Commission will be watching firms taking on new names and business models to make sure they’re not just trying lure investors eager to jump on the blockchain bandwagon, chairman Jay Clayton said “The SEC is looking closely at the disclosures of public companies that shift their business models to capitalise on the perceived promise of distributed-ledger technology”. The SEC wants to ensure those disclosures comply with securities law. The city of South Burlington, Vermont, is trialing a land registration system which uses blockchain as part of a system for recording ownership. The City Clerk’s Office announced that it was partnering with blockchain startup Propy to store land record management data, according to a press release. Stock trading app, Robinhood, unveiled that it would enable its customers in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum through the app from February and would be able to track prices and receive alerts.
Telegram, an encrypted messaging app is launching an ICO that is expected to be one of the biggest ever. The company is seeking $850 million in a private sale of tokens to large investors this month and $1.15 billion in a subsequent public ICO in March.
The GDAX exchange will start offering BCH/EUR trading again. Bitcoin Cash was added to Keepkey Wallet exchanges in India and Hong Kong GDAX exchange, a subsidiary of San Francisco-headquartered Coinbase. It will open its BCH/EUR order book on 24 Jan. Rapper, “50 Cent”, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, amassed around 700 Bitcoin from the album sales, totaling about $400,000 at the time of an earlier album. Issues have arisen as he previously “forgot” he had received payment in BTC for his album sales and he also “forgot” to mention it in his Bankruptcy.
Block.one, the developer behind the leading blockchain software EOS.IO, and Galaxy Digital LP, a full service, digital assets merchant bank, announced the formation and capitalization of a joint venture that is focused on developing the EOS.IO ecosystem and making strategic investments in projects that utilize EOS.IO blockchain software. As part of the new relationship, Block.one and Galaxy Digital will deploy capital for future investments through the capitalization of a new $325 million EOS.IO Ecosystem Fund.
ETH Open $1045.83 Close $1047.88 High $1104.77 Low $902.00
The company has signed deals with IDT Corporation and MercuryFX, two international payment providers that handle hundreds of millions of transactions worldwide per year. Both companies will be using Ripple’s xRapid platform, which allows institutions to save on the cost of accessing and providing liquidity to their customers.
XRP Open $ Close $1.20 High $1.43 Low $1.10
Aliant Payment Systems, an international merchant service provider announced that it is now offering merchants the ability to accept Ether payments, with a Litecoin solution in its final testing phase. Last September, Aliant became one of the first payment processors to offer a Bitcoin solution to merchants in a partnership with BitPay. Indian mobile-based cryptocurrency exchange, Zebpay, announced that it has added Litecoin to its trading platform.
LTC Open $188.90 Close $175.50 High $195.06 Low $164.00
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
The value of bitcoin cash (BCH) fell hard on Monday, extending a month-long slump that has shaved 50% off the virtual currency’s value. At present values, bitcoin cash is capitalized at $27.6 billion, placing it fourth among active cryptocurrencies.
Over the last four weeks, bitcoin cash has lost more than 50% of its value, as the market pulled back sharply from all-time highs above $4,000. Coinbase has experienced significant challenges implementing bitcoin cash on its platform, although this is largely due to excessive demand for the digital asset.
BCH Open $1769.30 Close $1590.00 High $1807.85 Low $1480.00
Online seed generators for IOTA are websites that provide users with a quick solution to generate a new seed for their IOTA wallet. When creating a new IOTA wallet, users are tasked with creating an 81-character seed rather than generation being baked-in. The IOTA community has recently been hit with the news some individuals have been left with their wallets drained due to malicious websites providing users with a new wallet seed. Just two days ago, many users reported having their funds (an estimated $4 million) in their IOTA wallets stolen by an unknown source.
IOTA Open $2.76 Close $2.36 High $2.91 Low $2.12
Digital payments currency Dash has announced an integration with Florida-based cryptocurrency exchange Mercury Cash, providing users with an easy way of acquiring Dash with a linked debit/credit card. The partnership marks a major milestone for Dash, as Mercury Cash is rapidly growing in its mission to become a regulated bank for the digital generation. In addition to joining Ethereum as the major digital currencies available on Mercury Cash’s exchange, over 50% of Mercury Cash’s user base is located in South America, massively expanding Dash’s international access. The Mercury Cash integration provides safe financial alternative for residents in economically challenged countries in South America, such as Venezuela, where the demand for digital currencies is soaring. Mercury Cash holds a Money Transmission Licence (MTL) in Florida, which allows access to US digital currency users, as well as international users.
DASH Open $812.70 Close $784.72 High $845.00 Low $684.98
(New Dept) Crimes and Crypto Virus
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MalwareHunterTeam and Guido Not CISSP are the security researchers credited for first identifying and monitoring Evrial. The trojan virus will monitor your clipboard, seek specific strings, and corrupt pasted data to hijack blockchain payments and digital commodity trades. In short, by monitoring your Windows clipboard for individual strings, Evrial makes it easy for attackers to hijack cryptocurrency payments. This is done by replacing legitimate payment addresses and URLs with addresses under the attacker’s control.
One sign of discontent with BTC comes first from online criminals, many who are among bitcoin’s oldest and most dedicated users. However, they are ditching it in favor of different currencies that offer a better user experience and more privacy. Stories of crooks looking for bitcoin alternatives are not new, but there is an increasing amount of evidence the currency is falling out of favor in the underworld. This includes a new report by the forensic firm Chainalysis that says the proportion of bitcoin transactions related to “dark web” sites, where people often engage in criminal activities, has fallen from 30% to under 1%.
On 22 Jan, researchers from Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs team warned that SpriteCoin ransomware not only encrypts computers’ files, but also harvests Chrome and Firefox browser credentials, stores them using an embedded SQLite engine, and then transmits them to the malicious actors’ Tor website via POST requests. In a somewhat unusual twist, however, the hackers are demanding payment not in Bitcoin, but in Monero, a crypto gaining in popularity among cybercriminals because its wallet addresses remain anonymous. We have covered the ability to trace BTC payments previously by specialist trackers. Be warned though, even if victims pay the 0.3 Monero ransom (worth around $90 as of Jan. 23), the SpriteCoin malware doesn’t necessarily deliver a working the decryption key, and worse, it may download a secondary malware program, identified as W32/Generic!
YouTube viewers are upset that their computers are being used for cryptocurrency mining due to YouTube ads being hijacked with Coinhive. Now it’s shown up in YouTube ads as users of the video streaming platform are complaining of having their computers used to mine crypto for some third party.