Weekly news 16/ 2019: Spring winds blow for Bitcoin

There’s a scent of crypto spring in the air. Bitcoin has continued playing in a tight range above 5000 dollars like a ball stuck in a bouncing castle for the past week, but there are signs higher levels may lie ahead. Several reports by analysts indicate the cryptocurrency may be in for a new bullback ride after being mauled by bears for the past winter.

As Bitcoin spreads its seeds around the world, so too does the underlying technology as several blockchain-related patents have been granted to significant companies. Meanwhile, a United States presidential candidate has voiced his concern for clearer crypto regulation while an incumbent one in Belarus plans to build a giant Bitcoin mining center powered by the state’s nuclear plant.

In other news we have the successful world tour of Bitcoin’s Lightning Torch experiment, which ended up in Venezuelan charity after passing through hundreds of torchbearers. And lastly, a curious case where the Swedish social democratic party had their Twitter account hacked and briefly became the “Bitcoin democrats”.

It’s springtime for Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Index higher than ever during bear market

Tom Lee, founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, has reported that his company’s market sentiment indicator dubbed the Bitcoin Misery Index (BMI) is higher than ever before during a bear market. The BMI hit a value of 89 after having consistently remained below 50 throughout 2018. According to Lee, values above 67 have not been seen in a bear market before.

While the Index was not launched until March 2018, it has collected data since 2011. On April 2nd, the Index hit its highest value since June 2016, indicating a possible long-term trend change.

“It means that a bull market is likely starting,” Lee concludes.

Despite his positive stance, Lee admitted he does not know, if Bitcoin will reach new highs this year. He also pointed out that high BMI values are often followed by steep corrective crashes despite indicating growth in the long term.

Another report published by digital assets fund Adamant Capital also claims that the cryptocurrency bear market is in its final stages and preparing steam for a new rally through an accumulation phase. However, neither of these reports rule out the possibility of seeing further drops downward before the takeoff.

The Bitcoin Misery Index reached its highest levels since 2016.

Blockchain patents granted to major companies

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted a blockchain-related patent to cybersecurity company Forcepoint. Owned by a US defense contractor and private equity firm, the Texas-based company is estimated to have a yearly revenue of approximately $600 million.

According to the patent, the system consists of complex user behavior monitoring and managing with the intention to identify good and malevolent user actions to enhance cybersecurity. The system also allows user behavior data to be stored directly on the blockchain, noting its immutability as a secure solution.

In the past week the USPT also granted a cybersecurity patent to digital payments giant PayPal, who intend to use the patent to protect their users from crypto ransomware. Global consulting firm Accenture in turn acquired two blockchain-related patents earlier in April, so it seems to also be springtime for this growing trend.

Blockchain patents seem to have also reached an accumulation phase.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Torch reached its destination

Bitcoin’s Lightning Torch, a sociotechnological experiment utilizing Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, has reached its destination. The torch ended up in the charity of Bitcoin Venezuela after traveling through almost the entire world.

The Lightning torch visited a total of 56 different countries in the hands of 276 participants and conquered every continent with the exception of Antarctica. The chain also executed over 7 bitcoins worth of transactions in the Lightning Network. You can watch a video of the first 200 torch transactions here.

Having started as a funny experiment, the chain ultimately reached worldwide proportions and showed the potential of both the Lightning Network and Bitcoin community. The torch was also not stopped by national bitcoin prohibitions and managed to travel through economically and politically unstable areas without censorship. In Venezuela the torch was blown out and its funds were used for food, medicine and other necessities to aid the locals.

The Lightning Torch had flaming success.

Presidential candidate demands better crypto regulation

Andrew Yang, presidential candidate for the 2020 United States elections, is demanding clearer crypto regulation. Seeking nomination from the Democratic Party, Yang’s campaign website has published a policy listing details for clarifying the status of digital assets.

According to Yang, the US government has failed to create clear guidelines for regulating digital assets and several states are struggling with conflicting jurisdictions. Operators of the field are also discouraged by a lack of information regarding the rules applying to them.

“We should let investors, companies and individuals know what the landscape and treatment will be moving forward to support innovation and development. The blockchain has vast potential,” Yang says. “Create clear guidelines in the digital asset world so that businesses and individuals can invest and innovate in the area without fear of a regulatory shift,” he continues.

Yang is so far the first presidential candidate to have taken a strong stance in favor of crypto regulation. However, as the elections approach we can expect cryptocurrencies to become a topic also among other candidates.

Andrew Yang wants regulation to catch up with technology.

Belarus plans nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining center

Aleksandr Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has met with his country’s IT community to discuss the growth of the national technology industry, reports the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency. The meeting initiated by the president promised government support for Belarusian fintech companies and outlined already achieved progress.

According to the news agency, the president is planning to establish a Bitcoin mining farm in the immediate proximity of the national nuclear plant. The plant is meant to become operational this year and Lukashenko has suggested large spaces dedicated for both Bitcoin mining and trading.

Belarus, along with the rest of the world, seems to have become aware of the potential of Bitcoin and crypto and want its own share of its benefits. Lukashenko, accused of authoritarian rule, seems to have approached the subject rather democratically as he asked a group of mainly young experts to suggest developmental ideas to improve both the crypto community and Belarus.

Belarus could be getting a nuclear-powered bitcoin mine soon.

Swedish social democrats briefly became “Bitcoin democrats”

The Swedish social democratic party became the victim of a bitcoin-themed prank and hack on Monday. The party’s Twitter account was hijacked, whereafter the pranksters changed the name of the social democrats to “Bitcoin democrats”. The Twitter account also published tweets claiming the Swedish crown has officially been replaced by bitcoin and it’s time to buy.

Trijo News, a Swedish Bitcoin news site, has published an interview where an anonymous member of the hacker group has shed light on their motives. According to Trijo, it was not a traditional hack but rather a social con where Twitter’s customer support was misled with false documents to hand over the account. Aside from pure curiosity, the spokesperson mentioned political reasons as a motive.

The anonymous source wanted to bring attention to the case also because he believes it is all too easy to hack a high-publicity profile in this way. Even though the con was detected by Twitter in half an hour, it serves as a warning sign for both social media service providers and political parties to keep better track of their information security in the future.

The Swedish social democrats briefly became Bitcoin democrats.

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