Weekly News 32 / 2018 : Cryptomarkets on Stormy Oceans

Bitcoin price has been on somewhat of a roller coaster in recent days. During weekend, bitcoin was enjoying a period of price ranges of over 7 400 dollars, after which it fell to test the 7 000 dollar support level. Though for a moment it seemed to last, after the weekend was over, bitcoin markets started slumping. At the time of writing the bitcoin price has fallen to about $6 500 dollars.

At least few reasons might hint at reasons for the market behaviour. Most of the cryptocurrencies have been falling, and in general more than bitcoin. This could be an indication that the hype around altcoins is somewhat fading. As bitcoin is the go-to currency for exchanging other cryptocurrencies, this loss of interest could affect bitcoin as well. Even though the cryptocurrency markets have been fluctuating, Bitcoin’s market dominance has been steadily growing.

Another reason, especially for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s downward move, is probably linked to USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s new document, which states that SEC is postponing its decision regarding bitcoin exchange-traded fund. ETF could help bring Bitcoin to the masses, so the decision to postpone has been seen as a negative sign by many.

Bitcoin price and cryptocurrency markets in general are at sailing at stormy oceans, but Bitcoin is still faring better than its lesser cousins.

SEC Delays Bitcoin ETF Decision

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has released an official document, in which it tells it has postponed its decision on whether to allow the listing and trading of bitcoin-exchange traded fund. According to the document, the decision will be postponed at least until 30th of September.

Exchange-traded fund is a trading instrument, which tracks a basket of assets – in this case bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies – represented by the fund’s shares. Because ETFs aren’t cryptocurrencies in themselves, their trading would open up the bitcoin and cryptocurrency investments even more. For an example legal entities which aren’t allowed in investing in bitcoins directly could invest in ETF, at least in some cases.

Exchange-traded funds are also believed to offer a new layer of protection and security on cryptocurrency trading, as they’d be traded in already established mainstream exchanges. This would also potentially benefit the mass adaptation of Bitcoin immensely.

All of this would of course first require the SEC’s blessing. Last month the agency postponed a decision on another Bitcoin ETF until September 21. New delays aren’t expected, but if they come, none can be surprised.

SEC’s decision to postpone decision can also been seen as affecting the current bitcoin price, as investors were hoping SEC would come to some conclusion sooner than later.

Crime Constitutes Only 10% of Bitcoin Transactions

Only 10 percent of Bitcoin transactions are related to criminal activities, special agent Lilita Infante of USA’s Drug Enforcement Agency has revealed to Bloomberg in a recent interview. After studying several DEA cases and analyzing Bitcoin’s blockchain, Infante came to a conclusion, that only a small minority of bitcoin transactions in modern times are illegit.

Five years ago criminal activity could be behind of as much as 90% of transactions, but since then the cryptocurrency has gained lots of mainstream attraction and thus it is no longer mainly used by criminals. This data gives credence to Bitcoin’s potential to grow into a legit, global financial system.

Even though the ratio of criminal transactions has dropped, it’s dollar value has increased. The legal use of Bitcoin is growing, but as usual, the growing adaptation, price and acceptance also make it attractive for criminals.

“The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation”, Infante commented her findings to Bloomberg.

According to Infante the immutable and open nature of Bitcoin’s blockchain makes it less than ideal for criminal activity. Though these qualities make Bitcoin a revolutionary economic instrument, for criminals it means that their actions leave a permanent mark on the blockchain.

“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them,” Infante said.

As per usual, euros and dollars especially in the form of hard cash are still the favoured tool of criminal transactions because of their complete anonymity.

Crime doesn’t pay, at least not with Bitcoin, as the officials can easily track illegal transactions on the blockchain. (PICTURE: Tony Webster)

Huge Cryptoscam Botnet Found

Researchers have discovered a huge botnet on Twitter. The botnet mimics legitimate accounts such as those of trusted Bitcoin-related personalities and sites and spreads a cryptocurrency giveaway scam. The research team Duo Security has released a paper which describes the basic workings of the botnet at Black Hat cybersecurity event.

The bots would crate copycat accounts or spoof legitimate cryptocurrency-accounts by copying information and profile pictures from legitimate accounts. They would then spread a scam advertising free cryptocurrencies. To spread the scam even further, the bots would be retweeting and liking each other’s tweets. The research team found at least 15 000 bot-accounts spreading the fake giveaway.

“Searching for connected bots resulted in a 3 tiered botnet structure consisting of the scam publishing bots, the hub accounts – if any – the bots were following, and the amplification bots that like each created tweet. The mapping shows that the amplification bots like tweets from both clusters, binding them together,” the outlining paper states.

Twitter has been trying to fight against cryptocurrency scams by curbing down cryptocurrency advertisement. The botnet proves that while perhaps hindering some scams, the hackers of Internet are going to constantly try out new things to bypass the social media’s security. Meanwhile advertisement bans also affect legitimate businesses.

Twitter bots impersonate legitimate accounts and try to scam people into their “free cryptocurrency giveaway”. The robot in the picture is not related to the case. (PICTURE: Ben Husman)

Good News for Mt.Gox’s Creditors

The group representing the creditors of the defunct bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox have announced update to the civil rehabilitation plan agreed upon with exchange. According to the group, the updated terms are in line with court position on the legal proceedings.

Good news for creditors of Mt.Gox is that the updated terms include a confirmation that creditors must be paid in bitcoin, instead of fiat currency. Because bitcoin’s market price has gone up immensely since 2014, this means that creditors could get far more compensation than they otherwise had.

Another update is that the new terms put creditors above shareholders of Mt.Gox. Because the defunct website isn’t able to repay all the bitcoin owned by creditors, the Mt.Gox’s assets will be distributed to creditors and not to shareholders.

“Creditors have been waiting for payment to be made for as long as four years since Mt. Gox was bankrupted. Payment to creditors should be made as soon as possible. We are of the opinion that most of the assets, including approximately 166 000 BTC and 168 000 of BCH and other derivatives currently held by Mt. Gox, should be paid to creditors at the time of the first payment,” the update reads.

Mt.Gox was the largest bitcoin exchange from 2011 to 2013. In 2014 it closed down after losing about 850 000 bitcoins. The CEO of Mt.Gox was arrested by the Japanese authorities and a civil case against Mt.Gox has been going on since then.

Mt.Gox’s creditors have been waiting for their lost bitcoins for years, as the case is moving slowly but steadily onwards. (PICTURE: Kiyoshi Ota)

Goldman Sachs is Considering Crypto Custodianship

Goldman Sachs Group Inc, the second largest investment bank in the world, is considering launching a custody service for cryptocurrencies, Bloomberg reports. This would mean that the bank would hold securities on behalf of their customer’s funds, which would reduce the risk of their customers losing their funds for attacks and such.

The banking group hasn’t yet decided on the timetable of their project, nor the particular details such as to which cryptocurrencies the custody service could be used. Yet according to Goldman Sachs, the client demand is ever increasing.

 

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“In response to client interest in various digital products we are exploring how best to serve them in this space. At this point we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering,” Goldman Sachs’ spokesman said.

Having an established financial institution such as Goldman Sachs offering custody services could be an immense step for Bitcoin adaptation. Goldman Sachs is credible and great enough to offer credible securities. The operation could also lead to other services in the field of cryptocurrency.

Having an institution such as Goldman Sachs offering security for investors could lead to new value pouring into cryptomarkets

Ripple Down to Lowest in 2018

XRP, the digital cryptocurrency of Ripple network, has fallen to lowest price yet for 2018. XRP is down almost 90% over an eight-month period beginning from January. Currently XRP is exchanging for about 0.35$.

Ripple was released in 2012 as a tool for businesses to faciliate the exchange of several different types of goods from money to gold. It is in many ways fundamentally different than other cryptocurrencies, and many don’t even consider it a real cryptocurrency.

For an example Ripple doesn’t use blockchain, but validating servers to ensure the safe management of transactions. Unlike in Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies, there is no actual cap for the maximum amount of XRP. Ripple could, if it so chooses, create forever more XRP.

For businesses and banks Ripple could offer some use cases, but at least for now it is far harder to use for a Joe-regular than actual blockchain-based cryptocurrencies.

Ripple is more centralized and less immutable than blockchain-based cryptocurrencies.

 

Writer Jiri Keronen

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