North Korean Hackers Move Onto Attacking Individuals After Exchanges Boost Security

The CEO of cybersecurity firm Cuvepia declared that his company detected over 30 attacks on crypto-bearing individuals probably carried out by North Korean hackers, English-language media site South China Morning Post reports Nov. 29.

Kwon Seok-Chul, the CEO of the aforementioned South Korean cybersecurity company, said that the new targets of the suspected North Korean cyberattacks “are just simple wallet users investing in cryptocurrency.” He then added that many cases probably haven’t been detected, and that there may have been well over 100 attacks.

As the article states, the “targeting of individuals holding virtual currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) marks a departure from its previous methods.” As Cointelegraph reported this October, North Korea allegedly backed two cryptocurrency scams this year: hacks funded by the country reportedly comprise of 65% of all cryptocurrency stolen to date.

Simon Choi, founder of cyber warfare research company IssueMakersLab, attributes the shift towards attacking individuals to cybersecurity enhancements by exchanges and financial institutions:

“Direct attacks on exchanges have become harder, so hackers are thinking about alternatively going after individual users with weak security.”

Choi also said that most targets have been wealthy South Koreans since “they believe that if they target CEOs of wealthy firms and heads of organisations” then “they can take advantage of billions of won in virtual currencies.”

According to Luke McNamara, an analyst at cybersecurity company FireEye, “it’s possible from previous intrusions they’ve been able to collect information” about “people using these [cryptocurrency] exchanges.”

McNamara explained that “when they understand and know the targets” then “they are able to craft lures specific to those organisations or entities.” He added that this makes them “effective at what they are doing.”

As Cointelegraph reported, Kaspersky Labs claims that North Korean hacker collective Lazarus Group used the “first” macOS malware to hack a crypto exchange. Experts have also argued that North Korea increasingly uses cryptocurrencies to avoid U.S. sanctions.

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Crypto Markets See Persistent Red, Bitcoin Briefly Dips Below $4K

Friday, Nov. 30 — After a short-lived spike earlier this week, the crypto markets are today back in the red, with virtually all of the top 20 cryptocurrencies seeing losses within a 4 and 10 percent range, as data from Coin360 shows.

Market visualization by Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) has had a volatile week, jaggedly trading between its low of around $3,600 (Nov. 25) and high of $4,400 (Nov. 29). As of press time, the top coin is at $4,037, down 6.3 percent on its 24-hour chart, according to CoinMarketCap. Today’s negative momentum briefly brought the asset below the $4,000 mark, before it stemmed losses somewhat in later trading hours.

On the week, Bitcoin is around 6 percent in the red; monthly losses are at a stark 36.3 percent.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Second-largest ranked crypto asset, Ripple (XRP), is down 5.5 percent on the day, trading at $0.35 to press time. While its market share has dropped down to $14.45 billion, it continues to hold its margin ahead of Ethereum (ETH), now ranked 3rd largest crypto, with a market cap of just below $11.7 billion.

On the week, Ripple is 12 percent in the red, with monthly losses above 19 percent.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum (ETH) is down a round 5 percent on the day to trade at $112.9. The asset veered close to double digits during a market tumble Nov. 25, and has since recovered, briefly hitting $125 Nov. 28 — yet without sustaining significant gains. The altcoin’s decline on the week has brought it to around 7.6 percent in the red; monthly losses are pushing 43 percent.

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Most of the remaining top ten coins on CoinMarketCap are seeing losses of between 4 and 10 percent, with the notable exception of newly-forked Bitcoin SV (BSV) (from the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) split), which has decoupled from the wider market to seal a 2.6 percent gain on the day, trading at $96.35.

Meanwhile, EOS (EOS) is down 5.4 percent at $2.86 and Litecoin (LTC) is down 6.3 percent at $32.06: Cardano (ADA) is the hardest hit among the top ten, sinking 9.2 percent to trade at $0.038.

The remaining coins in the top twenty by market cap are all red, with the exception of privacy-focused alt, Zcash (ZEC), ranked 19th, which is up 1.74 percent at $82.05. Zcash’s spike is likely due to major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announcing its launch of support for the asset on its Coinbase Pro platform yesterday, Nov. 29.

15th largest coin NEM (XEM) is down almost 8 percent at $0.07, and Tron (TRX) is pushing a 10 percent loss at $0.014. 13th largest crypto, IOTA (MIOTA), is down 5.7 percent at $0.28, and Dash (DASH) is down 6.74 percent at $90.60.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $130.4 billion as of press time, up  almost $16 billion from an intraweek low of $114.6 billion Nov. 25.

Total market cap 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

With the deep red markets continuing to command attention, Chinese cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain has today released several price indices for cryptocurrencies, aiming to track the largest 17 assets by market cap for both institutional and retail investors.

BlockShow Asia 2018 has been a barometer of both the crypto sector’s dynamic development and of recent market sentiment, with BlockShow CEO Addy Creeze quipping that “bear market” and “crypto winter” were among the most-heard words at the event.

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The Key to Staying Profitable When Mining Revealed by Software Startup

A company has released the beta version of its cryptocurrency mining platform – the first iteration of “simple to setup, highly automated” software that is aimed to appeal to newbies and seasoned professionals alike.

Cudo Miner says its offering is a GUI miner, which in other words is a graphic frontend for its interface. Its accessible technology means “inexperienced miners can install and sit back while the software automates everything else,” while experts have the chance to adjust advanced settings in line with their preferences.

The program is able to mine multiple coins and switch between them based on which one is the most profitable at any given moment. Casual miners can leave Cudo Miner working in the background while they use their PC, ensuring that it does not interfere with their computer’s performance. Crypto enthusiasts with dedicated mining rigs can maximize earnings by tweaking algorithms on the “advanced settings” page, where they can also see the results of all their benchmarks. Automatic overclocking and other features designed to boost profitability are being released by the end of the year, aiming to bridge the gap between traditional command line and GUI miners.

These features are reinforced by a dashboard where miners can examine data related to their mining performance, look at historic earnings, view hardware information and power levels, as well as keep a close eye on the health of their devices.

Cudo Miner users also have a choice in how they get paid – they can receive compensation through Ethereum or Bitcoin, and additional coins will be included to the list in the future.

Mining: no longer a minefield

The company says that its simplified approach to mining has struck a chord with crypto enthusiasts. Since launching a month ago, Cudo says that its software has attracted thousands of users in more than 130 countries. Available on Windows, Mac and Linux, the program updates automatically and makes the necessary changes as forks arise.

Overall, the crypto mining world has been suffering a crisis of confidence over the past few months – but with Bitcoin miners alone already generating $4.7 billion in revenue for the first nine months of 2018, there is still a lot to play for.

Cudo Miner ardently believes that “GPU mining is definitely alive and kicking,” but its team argue that the strategies being adopted by some professional miners are diminishing their chances of making a decent profit. Altcoins are often the most profitable only for a few minutes or hours, so one needs to mine during this period to maximize gain. They say the emphasis needs to move away from focusing on a single coin or algorithm in favor of chopping and changing between an array of cryptocurrencies as well as choosing optimal settings – elevating their chances of making it worthwhile.

The company’s founders were motivated to find an accessible mining solution when they discovered “the huge amounts of computing power on laptops, PCs and servers” – with hardware often idle 60 percent of the time. As a result, they sought to develop a solution that kills two birds with one stone: stopping resources from being wasted while maximizing profitability from mining by removing barriers to entry.

Crypto with a conscience

Of course, utilizing underused resources doesn’t detract from the fact that there are concerns about the energy consumption that goes into cryptocurrency mining, with a recent report suggesting that it takes more energy to produce $1 of Bitcoin than it does to uncover a dollar worth of gold or silver.

Cudo says it is the first crypto mining company to commit to being carbon neutral – as well as making an active effort to get its users to follow suit.

The company offsets its energy consumption by investing in carbon credits that aim to help good causes – delivering funding to solar and wind power projects in India which deliver renewable energy to the national grid. Miners will soon be able to select options that make their own hardware carbon neutral, too.

Over time, Cudo believes distributed computing has the potential to help a number of good causes, including cancer research, protein folding and seismic imaging.

Within Cudo Miner, users can choose to mine anonymously in order to test the software without logging in. The revenue received goes to charity. It has also established a charitable arm called Cudo Donate, where miners can convert their spare computing power into cash for good causes. This project has the goal of raising $1 billion in funding and computing resources for charities in the coming years.

Cudo was founded by CEO Matt Hawkins and by Duncan Cook, and both men have been motivated by a desire to do something philanthropic. Cook has experience in building technology for good causes, and one of his projects was a disaster warning app for the American Red Cross, which has helped to save countless lives during natural disasters.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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The Imitation Game: Startup’s Big Idea in Building AI That’s as Good as Human

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years, but there is still one milestone which is yet to be achieved: passing the Turing test.

The premise is simple: an interrogator asks questions to a machine and to a human while sitting in a separate location, and receive the answers written down. If they can’t tell the difference between man and machine after a period of time, the AI has passed.

For the past 12 years, a $100,000 prize has been offered to the developers of the first program to pull this off. Alas, there have been no winners so far.

Now, a startup is taking on the challenge of building an AI which can succeed where no machine has done before – and is using blockchain to incentivize the public to help them in its quest.

A helping human hand

According to CEN, current AI offerings can be fragile – “making childish errors when they come across new information from outside their training set.” This is normally the key reason AIs struggle in the Turing test, as they often provide answers that lack any relevance to the question that was asked.

The startup’s approach is to switch questions that an AI cannot answer to a human in real time – a seamless blend of machine and manpower. This new information is then added to the AI’s knowledgebase, helping it to learn what to do in the future.

Tokenization is used to log the answers given by “minders,” the humans intervening, and they are rewarded for their efforts in ERC-721 tokens – a non-fungible token that has become popular in recent years because of how they are unique and non-divisible. Minders also have the chance to earn royalties if their knowledge is used again in the future.

CEN is now running a campaign to recruit these minders, and has also launched a test version of its chatbot where members of the public can put it to the test and make improvements by replying with “+” when they like an answer or “-“ if they don’t.

Ownership of knowledge

The startup firmly believes that AI will have a fundamental role in the 21st century, but argues that many machines are being built incorrectly – and subsequently lack human understanding. It is also passionate about ensuring that people are rewarded for their knowledge, in an age where large corporations often solely reap the benefits.

Its platform also paves the way for individuals and businesses who are seeking expert information to pay for further insight from a human using tokens.

CEN says its founding team “have made various groundbreaking accomplishments in the field of technology,” which include inventing the touch screen and delivering the world’s first mobile VoIP call. They are now upbeat about achieving similar success in the AI industry and say it is ripe for disruption.

The company has developed a number of pre-production systems which aim to reveal the full potential of a hybrid artificial and human intelligence system. Over time, CEN hopes to scale these platforms further – and ensure that humans who want to make a contribution can do so through an interface that’s suitable for non-programmers.

A “freemium” model will enable registered users to access crowdsourced information free of charge, and additional products or services will be available for purchase on demand. It is hoped that artificial intelligence will help to reduce costs per hour when compared with the fees charged by humans alone.

The network is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2019, and CEN is currently holding a crowdfunding campaign. CEN will also be attending BlockShow’s Asia Blockchain Week in Singapore, giving participants a chance to learn more about what it has to offer.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Bitcoin Is World’s Best Performing Asset Class Over Past 10 Years, Says Pompliano

Crypto industry investor Anthony Pompliano says Bitcoin (BTC) will likely fall to 85 percent below its all-time-highs – around $3,000. Pompliano gave his forecast during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box Nov. 26.

The partner at crypto investment firm Morgan Creek Digital Assets argued that while “Bitcoin was overvalued in Dec. 2017” – with selling pressure this year subsequently driving its price downwards – there are several important factors related to the asset’s long-term value that are important to remember:

“First, [Bitcoin] is the most secure transaction settlement layer in the world, so it’s got to be worth something […] it’s the best performing asset class over the past ten years – it’s outperformed S&P, DOW, NASDAQ, etc. during the longest bull run. It experienced two 85 percent drops during that time, but [it’s] still up over 400 percent in the last two years.”

Third, he added, all of Bitcoin’s price action in past years has been driven by retail investors – ahead of any meaningful involvement from major institutional players such as those now poised to enter the crypto space next year. Big players include Fidelity and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) operator Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

Pompliano argued that the recent “wash-out” on the crypto markets is a barometer of retail investor patterns; throughout its retail-driven history in 2017, the cryptocurrency traded as a “highly volatile speculative asset.” By contrast, he continued, more recent institutional involvement is primarily conducted via less transparent over-the-counter (OTC) trades, where trends are not immediately apparent and harder to gain insight into.

Pompliano was lastly asked about dwindling profit margins for cryptocurrency miners as the asset’s value tumbles. He conceded that outside of regions with abundant low cost power, such as China – where he claimed miners can mint Bitcoin for as little as $2,000-2,500 – we are seeing a similar “wash out” of miners in areas where electricity costs push expenses closer to $6,000 or $6,500. These latter, he said, “are underwater now.”

As previously reported, Morgan Creek Digital assets is backed by the institutional investment house Morgan Creek Capital, which has $1.5 billion in assets under management. The firm launched a Digital Asset Index Fund in late August, which gives accredited investors indirect exposure to Bitcoin, Ethereum and eight other large market cap assets, although not pre-mined cryptos such as Ripple (XRP) and Stellar (XLM).

Speaking yesterday, Vinny Lingham, CEO of identity management startup Civic, predicted Bitcoin will trade range-bound between $3,000 and $5,000 for at least three to six months; if the coin fails to then break higher, it could lose the $3,000 support as well.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $3,730 by press time, down just over 6 percent over the past 24 hours.

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Bitmain Faces $5 Mln Lawsuit for Allegedly Unauthorized Mining at Clients' Expense

Crypto mining giant Bitmain is facing a class action lawsuit of $5 million that alleges it mined cryptocurrency for its own benefit on its customers’ devices. The filings were published under docket listings for the North District Court of California, Nov. 19.

The lead plaintiff, Los Angeles County resident Gor Gevorkyan, has leveled his lawsuit against Bitmain’s U.S.- and China-based entities, alleging that the company is benefiting — without authorization — from the lengthy “initialization” period that its ASIC [Application-Specific Integrated Circuit] devices need for set up:

“Until the complicated and time-consuming initialization procedures are completed, Bitmain’s ASIC [Application-Specific Integrated Circuit] devices are preconfigured to use its customers’ electricity to generate crypto currency for the benefit of Bitmain rather than its customers.”

In Gevorkyan’s case, the filing states he purchased Bitmain devices, including its S9 Antminer machine, in January 2018. The product was reportedly “difficult to configure” and during the “substantial amount of time” that lapsed before he could fully initialize his devices, they operated at cost-intensive “full power mode,” at his expense.

The filing states that “the ASIC devices were mining crypto currency from the moment Plaintiff started the device and it would transfer any electronic crypto currency mined to Defendant.” This allegedly continued until the devices were associated with Gevorkyan’s personal account.

The lawsuit thus accuses the company of engaging in “an unfair business practice,” and of having “unjustly enriched” the firm by converting the use of its customers’ ASIC devices and electricity, thereby causing “ascertainable and out-of-pocket losses.”

Gevorkyan is seeking damages in excess of $5 million on behalf of all miners “similarly situated” as Bitmain clients.

The lawsuit comes at an eventful time for the mining titan; its China-produced mining rigs are likely to be affected by recently imposed U.S. sanctions on Chinese goods; something that would be particularly burdensome, as according to the company’s pre-Initial Public Offering (IPO) prospectus, foreign sales accounted for 51.8 percent of its total revenue in 2017.

On the eve of its IPO — which aims to raise anything from $3 billion to $18 billion — Bitmain has become mired in a series of difficulties.

As the fallout from the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork continues, the hardware manufacturer could face serious losses after having invested a significant amount of its funds in the asset. Moreover, the company’s pre-IPO triggered controversy as alleged participants, such as SoftBank, Termasek and the Chinese IT-giant behind WeChat, Tencent, officially denied their participation.

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Crypto Markets See Mild Volatility on The Day, Fail to Hold Sharp Rebound Trend

Saturday, Nov. 23: crypto markets have seen some volatility on the day, but failed to hold a sharp rebound attempt. The top 20 cryptocurrencies by market cap are seeing their prices stabilize after another sell-off yesterday, according to CoinMarketCap.

As of press time, the major 20 crypto markets are seeing a mix of red and green, with most gains fluctuating around 1-2 percent.

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin Gold (BTG), ranked 20th by market cap, has seen the biggest growth on the day, spiking almost 10 percent over the past 24 hours. At press time, the altcoin is trading at around $20.70.

In early September this year, Bitcoin Gold was delisted from major crypto exchange Bittrex, following a $18 million hack of the BTG network in May. The “double-spending” hacking vulnerability of Bitcoin Gold reportedly allowed hijackers to take control over 51 percent of the BTG hashrate.

Bitcoin (BTC) is slightly down around 1 percent over the day, and trading around at $4,225 at press time. Earlier in the day, the major cryptocurrency spiked to as high as $4,413, but failed to hold the rebound trend and dropped to its 24-hour low at press time.

Bitcoin is down almost 24 percent over the past 7 days.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP), still holding its place as the second top cryptocurrency by market cap after replacing Ethereum (ETH), is also slightly down around 1 percent on the day to press time.

Ethereum is seeing even less movement on the day, down just 0.23 percent and trading at $120.69 at press time.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $136.3 billion at press time, down from its high this week of $187 billion. Daily trade volume is just under $12 billion, while Bitcoin’s dominance on the market constitutes around 53.9 percent.

Total market capitalization 7-day chart

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ran Neuner, the host of CNBC’s CryptoTrader show, has commented on the shaky state of the market on Twitter today, arguing that trying to speculate in crypto is not the genuine purpose of the industry:

“Bear markets shake out weak hands, those only here for money, those trying to make a buck trading & those trying to profit w/out building or adding value. Look around, you can see who will be around when it’s done & who won’t. If you want to survive this, build something, add value.”

Recently, Stephen Innes, head of trading at Singapore-based capital market service OANDA Asia Pacific, predicted that gold prices will “jump considerably higher and there’s an inverse relationship we’re starting to see with gold and coins,” while Bitcoin could fall to as low as $2,500 by January 2019.

Crypto analyst Joseph Young subsequently reacted to Innes’ claim on Twitter, pointing out that gold has seen a decline of 33 percent since 2011, “from $1,800 to $1,200,” while “Bitcoin is up 13,900%, from $30 to $4,200” in the same time frame.

Today, Anthony Pompliano, founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital Assets, tweeted that traditional assets are in fact “taking a beating,” in line with the recent collapse of crypto markets. The expert pointed out that oil is down 30 percent over 7 weeks, while Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (“FAANG”) are down 20-40 percent from their all-time highs, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW) had its “worst Thanksgiving week since 2011.”

In an interview with CNBC Nov. 23, Michael Moro, the CEO of cryptocurrency trading companies Genesis Trading and Genesis Capital Trading, said that the Bitcoin price could bottom at $3,000, stating, “You really won’t find [the floor] until you kind of hit the 3K-flat level.”

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The Making of the First US ICO Fraud Case

In common law systems, it is precedent that informs judicial approaches to new and previously unaddressed matters. The precedent that will likely shape the body of U.S. case law on fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs) is currently being forged in a federal court in the New York borough of Brooklyn, where a 39-year old entrepreneur, Maksim Zaslavskiy, has pleaded guilty to committing securities fraud.

The development that will most likely result in a landmark decision – the jury will gather in April 2019 to decide on a sentence – is yet another twist of a now 14 month-long effort, involving both the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Previously, the process has already yielded a fateful ruling by a federal judge who in September established that securities law is applicable to ICO-related cases.

The case that is poised to become so consequential for the whole ICO space deals with two ventures that neither issued a token nor developed any blockchain-powered infrastructure: REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin both only existed on paper. Yet it also makes perfect sense that the authorities first went after the most brazen instances of ICO fraud, the ones that hurt rookie retail investors the worst and inflicted the most reputational damage on the industry.

When the SEC first filed a complaint against Zaslavskiy in a federal court in September 2017, it was estimated that REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin ICOs resulted in around 1,000 investors losing some $300,000. Having fallen for Zaslavskiy’s aggressive marketing campaign, these people were led to believe that they either invested in a digital asset that was backed by real estate located in developed countries (REcoin), or purchased a tokenized membership in an elite club for wealthy business people, with physical diamonds in the company’s custody underlying the value of tokens.

In fact, though, they were buying “worthless certificates,” as U.S. district attorney, Richard Donague, put it, on Nov. 15, 2018, Zaslavskiy admitted in his guilty plea: “We had not yet purchased any real estate.” He now faces up to 5 years in prison, pending the decision of a jury panel. The regulator is also filing a civil lawsuit against Zaslavskiy.

The making of a fraudster

The Ukrainian city of Odessa, overlooking a scenic coastline of the Black Sea, is known for its vibrant spirit and unique culture. Throughout both the Imperial and Soviet periods of its history, the city has been home to a large Jewish community. As the final years of the USSR saw the liberalization of immigration policies, many Odessan Jews chose to leave for either Israel or the West. Born in Odessa, Maksim Zaslavskiy was 12 when his family relocated to the U.S. While Maksim was destined to make ICO history, his brother, Dmitry, chose a banking career and later became an executive director for Morgan Stanley.

Zaslavskiy’s social media pages, as well as websites of many organizations he ran at various points of time, were either deleted or became unavailable in the wake of the high-profile investigation into his activities. The main source of information about his pre-trial life is now the four-hour interview to the SEC representative that he gave in September 2017, of which the Fast Company magazine managed to obtain a transcript.

In 2003, Zaslavskiy received his degree in finance from Baruch College, followed by a LLM from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law three years later. He worked as an IT consultant for several banks before starting his own international business, whose nature is difficult to infer from the interview. Zaslavskiy also claimed to have been involved in real estate business since the age of 18, yet Fast Company’s investigation failed to verify his employment with the firms he claimed to have worked for.

According to the interview, the 2008 crisis became a major blow for Zaslavskiy’s business, further entrenching him in his resentment of the U.S. financial system. He turned to charity work, founding a philanthropic organization called Live Love Laugh. However, it is impossible to say whether the ambitious statements on its website (which is now down) were ever backed by any real actions, since the entity appears to never have been properly registered.

Zaslavskiy has also written at least three books (under the name Avi Meir Zaslavsky) that can be still found on Amazon. These are how-to guidebooks on the ins and outs of real estate business. Another one, which appeared around the time his two ICOs were in full swing in August 2017, sets out to explain the reader that “what you perceive and use as money is designed in such a way that the wealth created by the economy truly benefits only large banks and multinational corporations.”

Apparently, the book was meant to lend credibility to Zaslavskiy’s claim for intellectual leadership in the crypto space, as its press release presents him as “one of the world’s leading currency decentralization proponents.” The publicity campaign around the book provides a glimpse into Zaslavskiy’s approach to marketing himself and his ventures: bold, extravagant, overblown. Unsurprisingly, this style carried over to the way his two ICOs were presented to potential investors.

Real estate tokens and Initial Membership Offerings

For someone disenchanted with both the traditional financial system and traditional means of making money, the ICO rush of 2017 presented innumerable opportunities. The beauty of the ICO model was that it opened up the world of venture capital, previously reserved exclusively for professional investors, to anyone with a few spare dollars and some interest in the uncharted space of blockchain applications. The flipside of it is that some of the newcomers were unable to tell legitimate projects from outright scams replete with red flags.

Megalomaniac language and exaggerated promises are usually telltale signs of something not being right with the venture that’s taking off. Zaslavskiy’s projects had both. REcoin, announced in June 2017, presented its founder as a “Real Estate guru” and proclaimed that the 101REcoin Trust held properties “in developed and stable economies like the USA, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, and Switzerland” without providing any evidence in support. Also, an “international team of attorneys and programmers” was allegedly there to “work tirelessly” on increasing token holders’ fortunes. As the court proceedings later revealed, no such team ever existed.

In August, after facing the first signs of SEC interest to REcoin, the “Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Author Max Zaslavsky” began his marketing campaign for an allegedly diamond-backed digital asset, the Diamond Reserve Club token. The release (beginning with “If the Holy Scriptures have taught us anything at all…”) touted a brand new Initial Membership Offering model, which was supposed to tokenize investors’ participation in a large ecosystem of interconnected businesses. It also suggested that the tokens could be inherited by the investors’ grandchildren.

One would think that the theatrical language and gargantuan assurances of the two ICOs’ public-facing documents would only make any reasonable person scoff. Yet from July through September Zaslavskiy and his accomplices managed to amass around $300,000 before the SEC took the matter to court.

The fallout

On Sep. 29, 2017, the SEC brought a civil complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Zaslavskiy and his two companies for violating U.S. securities laws. Recoin and DRC responded on their websites with a joint statement that argued that it was due to “lack of legal clarity as to when an ICO or a digital asset is a security,” suggesting that their operations were not within the SEC’s purview.

However, the Feds seemed to disagree. On Nov. 1, Zaslavskiy was apprehended by FBI agents and criminally charged with a conspiracy to commit securities fraud. In early December, he pleaded not guilty and secured a $250,000 bail backed by his family’s Brooklyn house. In February, Zaslavskiy’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds of inappropriate application of securities law to cryptocurrencies. Yet both the DoJ and SEC insisted that REcoin and DRC tokens passed the Howey test – a legal standard that determines whether a contract is a security.

In September, U.S. district judge Raymond Dearie concluded that for the purposes of the case, the tokens could, indeed, be treated as securities, potentially setting a precedent that could shape the future of ICO regulation. The judge was also unequivocal in characterizing the nature of Zaslavskiy’s enterprises:

“Stripped of the 21st century jargon, including the Defendant’s own characterization of the offered investment opportunities, the challenged indictment charges a straightforward scam, replete with the common characteristics of many financial frauds.”

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Mt. Gox Trustee Announces Efforts to Extend Deadline for Civil Rehabilitation Claims

Nobuaki Kobayashi, trustee of the now-defunct Bitcoin (BTC) exchange Mt.Gox, is making efforts to extend the deadline for filing civil rehabilitation claims, according to an official announcement Nov. 22.

While the official deadline for the filings was given as October 22, for both individual and corporate users, today’s announcement indicates that:

“[I]f filings are delayed for reasons not attributable to creditors, proofs of rehabilitation claims filed after the deadline […] may be acceptable. Whether [these] will be accepted is determined by the court […] the Rehabilitation Trustee will make efforts to request the court to accept proofs of rehabilitation claims received by December 26, 2018 (Japan time).”

The announcement further outlines detailed online and offline methods for submitting a claim ahead of the potentially extended deadline of December 26.

As reported, roughly 24,000 creditors are thought to have been affected by Mt. Gox’s 2011 hack and subsequent collapse in early 2014, which resulted in the loss of 850,00 BTC valued at roughly $460 million at the time.

Tokyo attorney Nobuaki Kobayashi, who has been appointed to act as civil rehabilitation trustee to manage Mt. Gox’s bankruptcy estate funds, has recently issued a statement that indicated he had liquidated almost 26 billion yen (about $230 million) in Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) over four months as of early March 2018.

Kobayashi earned the ambivalent moniker of Tokyo’s Bitcoin Whale amid allegations his crypto sell-offs had a conspicuously adverse effect on markets; he subsequently pledged to cease the liquidations when civil rehabilitation proceedings began in June of this year.

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Japan: Zaif Exchange Handover Complete as Previous Owner Vows to Dissolve Company

Tech Bureau, the company that formerly operated hacked Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif, has completed its handover to buyer Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange (FCCE), Cointelegraph Japan reported Nov. 22.

FCCE, which agreed to take over proceedings in October, will now assume responsibility for compensating users who lost money in the hack, which occurred Sept. 20 and involved funds worth around $60 million at the time.

According to a press release from FCCE, compensation proceedings should begin before the end of this month.

No timeframe has yet been set for deposits and withdrawals at Zaif to resume.

Confirming the move, Tech Bureau said it planned to dissolve its entity and retire from the cryptocurrency industry.

“We will abolish the registration of our virtual currency exchange and plan to dissolve,” the company wrote in a statement.

The hack occurred as both authorities and the Japan’s new self-regulatory crypto group are beefing up application requirements for the country’s new cryptocurrency exchange licensing scheme.

In January, fellow exchange Coincheck lost $534 million in one of the biggest exchange hacks in history, subsequently seeing a buyout and turnaround by online broker Monex.

Last week, Coincheck finally began resuming deposits and withdrawals of NEM (XEM), one of the coins affected by the hack.

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Siemens Joins Blockchain-Driven Energy Platform to Increase Interoperability in Industry

Two energy divisions of German tech giant Siemens have joined a blockchain-driven energy platform to promote the use of decentralized technologies in the sector, according to a press release published Wednesday, Nov. 21.

According to Siemens, its Energy Management and Power Generation Services departments are partnering with open-source, scalable blockchain platform Energy Web Foundation (EWF), founded in 2017 to elaborate regulatory, operational, and market solutions for the energy sector.

Siemens officials believe that blockchain technology will help increase interoperability in the area, linking consumers with energy producers and network operators, the press release writes. Moreover, the technology could help increase the efficiency of energy systems and enable new forms of project financing.

The statement also notes that Siemens is already using blockchain accompanied by microgrid control solutions to optimize control over energy consumption. For instance, in 2016, the German firm collaborated with U.S. startup LO3 Energy to develop microgrids

that enable local trading between energy consumers and producers on a blockchain platform. The solution was trialed in one of New York’s boroughs, Brooklyn, enabled to feed the excess electricity back into the local grid and receive payments from its purchasers.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the company’s financing arm, Siemens Financial Services (SFS), took part in a blockchain pilot in August for bank guarantees using R3 Corda technology, launched by U.K. multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered (SC).

Blockchain is actively tested by major energy industry players in different countries. For instance, major Singaporean utility company SP Group, which provides electricity and gas transmission in the country, launched a blockchain marketplace to trade solar energy. Also in Asia, South Korea’s largest power provider KEPCO will use blockchain and other innovative energy solutions to develop an eco-friendly microgrid.

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‘The Big Issue’ Newspaper Launches Blockchain Platform to Promote Impact Investing

The Big Issue, a street newspaper sold by the homeless in the U.K. and other countries, is launching a blockchain-driven platform to promote impact investing, The Financial Times reports Monday, Nov. 18.

Three investment companies — UK Standard Life Aberdeen, U.S. Columbia Threadneedle, and AllianceBernstein — will join The Big Issue as founders of the platform dubbed The Big Exchange. According to the FT, it will offer 30 to 40 social and environmental impact funds, and is set to start working within six months.

The potential investors will be charged a minor fee to use The Big Exchange. Once registered to the platform, they will be able to choose between several sets of proposals awarded a gold, silver, or bronze score based on their correlation with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.

The minimum investment is expected to be $640, but Nigel Kershaw, chairman of The Big Exchange, is planning to reduce it down to £2.50 ($3.20) — the same price as The Big Issue.

As per the FT, the platform has already raised about $1.3 million from three of its founders and London-based fintech company FNZ. In the following five years, The Big Exchange expects to attract as much as $3.8 million.

Blockchain is widely used for social needs, especially in the field of charity. As Cointelegraph previously explained, crypto-related technologies, and in particular blockchain, could help increase transparency for donations and international transactions, reducing the fees on money transfers at the same time.

For instance, major crypto exchange Binance has recently managed to raise $1.41 million in various types of ERC20 tokens for those who suffered from devastating floods in Japan in mid-July.

Moreover, blockchain solutions have been used to promote social activity. The manufacturer of household cleaning supplies SC Johnson and environmental organization Plastic Bank partnered in October to open several plastic recycling centers in Indonesia, offering locals tokens for waste collection.

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Top Crypto Exchange Huobi Pays Its Dues to Beijing by Setting up Communist Party Committee

The company behind major cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has created a Communist Party branch as part of its obligations to the Chinese state, the company’s U.S.-based subsidiary Huobi Info confirmed Nov. 16.

Singapore-based Huobi, which was founded in China and has sought considerable international expansion this year, has appeared to opt for “closer ties” with the government. As local news outlet South China Morning Post notes, the company is creating the Party branch at an additional subsidiary, Beijing Lianhuo Information Service (BLIS).

The opening attracted an audience and speeches, including comments from Huobi founder and CEO Li Lin, who owns a 99 percent stake in BLIS, according to the publication.

Under Chinese law, any company with more than three Communist Party member employees must set up its own branch, the Post notes, adding that until recently, the practice was nonetheless mostly confined to state enterprises.

Huobi thus becomes evidently the first cryptocurrency industry business to embrace the tradition, following in the footsteps of Baidu, Alibaba and others.

“Today is a milestone for our company,” Li said at the opening, continuing:

“Under the cordial care of the Party Working Committee of Haidian Park, the party branch of the Beijing Lianhuo Information Service Co., Ltd. has been gloriously established.”

China remains a difficult jurisdiction in which to conduct cryptocurrency-focused business, a ban on trading and “propaganda” creating a cautious atmosphere among investors, while sparking a slow exodus of many outfits to neighboring Hong Kong and further afield.

Last month, an annual ranking of China’s richest citizens included Li among several cryptocurrency entrepreneurs.

Huobi is currently the world’s third largest crypto exchange by daily trade volumes, seeing about $754.8 million in trades over the past 24 hours to press time.

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Hodler’s Digest, Nov. 12–18: a Stablecoin Gets Sharia Certified, the IMF Considers Central Bank Digital Currencies

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

Swiss Crypto Firm X8 AG Receives Islamic Finance Certification for Sharia-Compliant Stablecoin

Swiss-based fintech firm X8 AG has received a certification from the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) for its Ethereum-based stablecoin. According to the X8 director and co-founder, the ETH-based crypto asset is backed by a basket of eight fiat currencies and gold, allowing Islamic advisors’ concerns over excessive volatility and speculation to be assuaged. The debate whether crypto can be Sharia-compliant has focused on their compatibility with the Islamic prohibition on sheer monetary speculation.

IMF’s Christine Lagarde: Central Bank Digital Currencies Could Have Legitimate “Role”

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, said this week that the international community should look into endorsing central bank issued digital currencies (CBDCs). Lagarde, despite being “not entirely convinced” of the concept of crypto more generally, stated the case for countries to issue government-backed tokens or similar assets in a speech. The comments came a day after the IMF published a dedicated report on CBDCs, examining what it views as the pros and cons of the financial tool.

Aftermath of Bitcoin Cash Fork Cause Expensive “Hash War” Between Camps

This week’s Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork has led to a so-called “hash war,” resulting in mining at a hefty loss on both sides. BitMEX Research tweeted that “although the ABC SV split is entertaining, we estimate that SV miners are burning $280,000 per day mining the SV chain.” On the other side, BCH ABC miners are estimated to be making even larger losses than the SV camp. BitMEX Research estimated these numbers based on SV miners using Bitmain’s Antminer S9 machines, their ability to sell SV coins at the current spot market price ($100 at the time of the tweet), and energy consumption costs of 5 cents per/kWh.

Blockchain Protocol EOS’ Decentralization Questioned After Transactions Reversed

Blockchain protocol EOS had questions raised about its decentralization again this week as evidence emerged on Reddit that appeared to show a moderator reversing transactions which had already been confirmed. According to screenshots posted on the site, a dispute over a phished EOS account was referred to an EOS “arbitrator,” who then reversed the transactions without the owner’s permission, citing the EOS constitution for the actions.

US Man Fined $1.1 Million Over Fraudulent Bitcoin, Litecoin Schemes

U.S. citizen Joseph Kim of Phoenix, Arizona has been sentenced to 15 months in jail and fined $1.1 million for the misappropriation of Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC) from several people. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has found that Kim defrauded his employer of about $601,000 worth of BTC and LTC into his own accounts in 2017. After Kim was subsequently fired, he reportedly then defrauded private investors to return the funds to his employer, luring around $545,000 worth of crypto from five individuals before losing the funds in a high risk bet.

Most Memorable Quotations

“Any time there are hard forks things tend to trade weird and strange, so I think people are trying to take some risk off the table,”— Meltem Demirors, CSO of CoinShares   

“Few remember that Satoshi embedded the genesis block with a Times headline from January 2009 about U.K. banks’ bailout. In more ways than one, Bitcoin is the evil spawn of the financial crisis,”  — Benoit Coeure, executive board member of the European Central Bank (ECB)

Laws and Taxes

Judge Rules in Favor of Canadian Bank in Case With Crypto Exchange 5k

A judge has ruled in favor of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in the court case involving a $19.6 million disputed sum between the bank and Canada’s largest crypto exchange QuadrigaCX. On Oct. 8, the exchange reported it had difficulties accessing its funds since january, when CIBC froze five accounts belonging to the exchange’s payment processor, Costodian Inc., and its owner, Jose Reyes over its purported inability to identify the funds’ owners. This recent court decision hands the disputed sum into the custody of the Ontario Superior Court so the court can identify the owner of the money.

Ripple Lawyers Suggest Moving Ongoing Securities Lawsuit to Federal Court

Lawyers representing payment startup Ripple in its current securities lawsuit are attempting to move the case to a U.S. federal court, a move that one legal commentator described as “tactical brilliance.” The court records confirm the application to move the case, which would potentially allow the outcome to prove that its XRP token is not a security under U.S. law. In the filing, litigation partner Peter Morrison noted that the case meets the requirements needed for the move to take place.

Malaysian MP Asks Gov’t to Develop Crypto Regulations Before Approving Political Funding Coin

A Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) has asked the country’s government to develop comprehensive cryptocurrency regulations before going further with the Harapan Coin (HRP) crypto project. The project claims to be the world’s first political fundraising platform, with the aim of raising money for the opposition party in Malaysia and potentially becoming an official currency. The MP said this week that it was important to have appropriate crypto regulations before they are used to finance political campaigns and initiatives.

Ohio Congressman Plans Draft Bill to Let ICOs “Sidestep” Securities Laws

Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson made clear plans this week to introduce a bill that would allow Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to “sidestep” U.S. securities laws. The Republican congressman for the 8th district of the state of Ohio wants to propose a bill that would categorize ICOs as products, rather than securities, at both the federal and state level. The referred-to bill would reportedly “eliminate” the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) oversight of the industry.

Adoption

Major Swiss SIX Stock Exchange Lists World’s First Multi-Crypto ETP

Switzerland’s main stock exchange, the SIX Swiss Exchange, announced this weekend that it would list the world’s first multi-crypto-based exchange-traded product (ETP) next week. The ETP will be backed by Swiss startup Amun AG, will be listed under index HODL, and will track the five major cryptos: BTC, XRP, ETH, BCH, and LTC. The Amun AG index will be managed by the German index unit of investment management firm VanEck. Each crypto will have a certain market share within the upcoming ETP, with Bitcoin accounting for around half of the ETP’s assets.

Microsoft Introduces Cloud-Based Azure Blockchain Development Kit

U.S. software corporation Microsoft has announced the release of a serverless blockchain-powered Azure development kit, dubbed the “Azure Blockchain Development Kit.” The kit reportedly improves the capabilities of Microsoft Azure’s Blockchain Workbench, with features like off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging application programming interfaces (API) in a format that can be used to develop blockchain-based apps. The announcement also notes that the release will focus on core objectives like “connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks.”

Bank of America Receives Patent for Storing Clients’ Crypto in Enterprise Accounts

Major U.S. bank, Bank of America, has won a patent for a system that allow enterprises to store customers’ crypto deposits. The filing outlines several different interactions between clients’ crypto holdings and an enterprise account, with one setup allowing the enterprise account to conduct transactions on the customers’ behalf, debiting and crediting the account as appropriate. The document also touches on fiat-crypto conversions, outlining a system for determining optimal exchange rates for an “essentially simultaneous” conversion.

Chinese Insurance Giant Ping An, Sanya City Gov’t Build “Smart City” With Blockchain

One of the world’s largest insurance corporations, China’s Ping An Insurance Group, has signed an agreement with the Sanya municipal government to build a “Smart City” backed by blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and cloud computing. The cooperation on financial investment and “Smart City” construction will play a role in the major strategic urban development in China.

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

South Korean Messaging App Kakao, Stablecoin Tether Partner for Blockchain Payment System

Major South Korean Internet conglomerate and service provider Kakao Corp (which own messaging app KakaoTalk) and new stablecoin Tether have partnered to develop the latter’s blockchain-based payment system. The new agreement will apply the former’s blockchain platform tech Klatyn, of Kakao subsidiary Ground X, to a blockchain-based payment system. The cooperation plans to work on enhancing “core requirements for payment services, such as speed, stability and reliability.”

ETH-Payment Platform OmiseGo, Singapore Ride Hailing App Partner for Blockchain Tech

Ethereum-based payment platform OmiseGo and blockchain protocol Mass Vehicle Ledger (MVL) have announced that they will work together to research blockchain technology. The two companies will develop a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) to test whether the decentralized OMG Network could work for MVL’s data record-keeping system, recording data collected from TADA on the OmiseGo platform. OmiseGo and MVL will also collaborate on further technical and research cooperation on possible blockchain applications in TADA’s services.

Electronics Firm Bosch Partners With IOTA for New IoT Data Device

Engineering and electronics manufacturing giant Bosch has partnered with IOTA, with plans to integrate its new data collection Internet of Things (IoT) device with the decentralized IOTA Data Marketplace. The new connectivity device, Bosch XDK (Cross Domain Development Kit), is “a programmable sensor device and Internet of Things prototyping platform” that also works as a sensor node solution. The device will combine sensor, data storage, and network technologies to allow users of all programming level to collect real-time data and sell it on the IOTA marketplace.

Major Spanish Telecoms Operator and IBM Partner to Manage International Call With Blockchain

Spanish telecommunications firm Telefónica has partnered with IBM in order to apply blockchain tech to managing international mobile phone call traffic. Telefónica, the seventh largest telecom company in the world by market cap, is valued at $51 billion according to Forbes. The partnership is aimed at streamlining certain Telefónica business processes, including the reliability and transparency of information registered from various network when routing international calls. The telecoms company will use the IBM Blockchain Platform to track each international call and data such as origin, destination, and duration.

German Holding Company Bitcoin Group SE Acquires 100% of Investment Bank Tremmel

Bitcoin Group SE, a German holding company, has acquired a 100 percent stake in investment bank Tremmel Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH. Bitcoin SE operates what is reportedly the county’s only regulated crypto exchange, Bitcoin Deutschland AG (Bitcoin.de). With the acquisition, the crypto holding will now obtain the use of Tremmel’s banking license, allowing the company to “significantly expand” its crypto-related offerings and operate ATMs for cryptocurrencies in Germany.

Funding Rounds

Hong Kong Crypto Exchange KuCoin Raises $20 Million in Funding Round

Hong Kong-based international crypto exchange KuCoin closed a Series A funding round this week worth $20 million. The round was led by IDG Capital, Matrix Partners, and Neo Global Capital, and the exchange noted that the funds will go towards the release of KuCoin’s 2.0 platform as well as expansion into new markets.

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets have taken a hit this week, with total market cap around $185 billion, Bitcoin trading around $5,599, Ripple at $0.52, and Ethereum at $176 by press time.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are ZeusCrowdfunding, GoHelpFund, and Coupecoin. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Etheera, Vivid Coin, and Olive.

Top three altcoin losers of the week:

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

FUD of the Week

“Crypto Hangover”: Nvidia’s Q3 Results Show Lack of Demand for GPU Crypto Units

American GPU manufacturer Nvidia released its third quarter earnings this week, showing a lack of demand for Nvidia’s GPU’s among crypto miners. The crypto frenzy late last year brought the prices for Nvidia gaming cards up, but with the bear market, the prices have not decreased quickly enough to attract customers waiting for more affordable cards, according to the Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang. Huan told Reuters that the “crypto hangover lasted longer than we expected.”

Analysis: Bear Market, Declining Hashrates Makes Mining ETH Not Profitable

A report from U.S.-based global trading and tech firm Susquehanna has found that mining Ethereum (ETH) using a graphics processing unit (GPU) is no longer profitable. The analysis shows that profit per month for ETH miners using GPU rigs is now $0 as of Nov. 1, as opposed to the $150 per month in July 2017. Susquehanna notes reasons for the decline in profit include Ethereum’s falling price, but adds that in July 2017, miners profit was $147 even as ETH traded roughly around its current price.

Official Google G Suite Twitter Account Reportedly Compromised to Promote BTC Scam

The official Twitter account of Google’s G Suite appeared to tweet a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway scam this week to its more than 800,000 followers. The tweet in question asked its followers to participate in a fraudulent 10,000 BTC giveaway, also announcing that Google’s G Suite now accepted crypto as a means of payment. Tech news outlet The Next Web later reported that the account was compromised through a third party marketing app that was authorized to post content on G Suite’s behalf. The scam also targeted major U.S. department retailer Target.

WSJ Report: SEC Opened Probe Into Erik Voorhees, Crypto Loans Firm Salt Over Token Sale

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had opened a probe in February against crypto loans company Salt Lending Holdings, which was once associated with crypto industry stalwart Erik Voorhees. The probe involves whether Salt’s 2017 $50 million token sale constituted a noncompliant securities offering and Voorhees’ potential involvement, which could break laws as he has effectively been prohibited from raising money in private markets after a SEC settlement in 2014.

US SEC Imposes “First” Civil Penalties Against Two ICOs for “Unregistered” Securities

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has levied civil penalties on two Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) this week over their failure to register their token sales. CarrierEQ Inc. (Airfox) and Paragon Coin Inc. both reached settlements with the SEC, agreeing to “return funds to harmed investors, register the[ir] tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the Commission, and pay penalties” of $250,000 each. Both of the firms conducted token sales last year following the SEC’s warning that ICOs could be considered as securities offerings.

Prediction of Tthe Week

Bloomberg Analysts Predict BTC Price Fall As Low As $1,500

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts have predicted this week that Bitcoin “has further to fall,” noting that the coin is “no longer boring.” Hedge fund founder Travis Kling told Bloomberg that he “didn’t sleep well” in response to the recent Bitcoin Cash hard fork, adding that it could affect the entire crypto market.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Why Did Crypto Market Experience a $27 Billion Wipeout? Experts Discuss Factors

After the market saw several cryptocurrencies hitting new year-to-date lows, Cointelegraph looks at some of the reasons behind the $27 billion “wipeout.”

Opposing Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV Factions’ Debates Grow Heated as the Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Draws Closer

This week saw a volatile market amidst the Nov. 15 Bitcoin Cash hard fork, which divided the community into two “warring” factions: Roger Ver’s Bitcoin ABC and Craig Wright’s Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).

Skirting the Great Wall, Part Three: The Paradox of Cryptocurrencies in China

In the third part of Cointelegraph’s series on Chinese cryptocurrency regulations (read part one – here, and part two – here), the article looks at the People Bank of China (PBoC)’s crypto regulatory interventions, as well as the role of China’s judiciary in cases involving crypto.

Article First Published here

TRON Launches Accelerator Program for DApp Developers

Decentralized Internet project TRON (TRX) is launching a $1 million accelerator program to support developers building DApps and products on the TRON protocol, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Nov. 16.

The initiative aims to facilitate consumer adoption of blockchain technology through TRON’s ecosystem following the recent acquisition of peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent, Project Atlas, and payment service Poppy app. TRON’s protocol currently processes more than one million transactions and 600,000 wallets.

The startup will purportedly accept submissions to its accelerator through December, while the winners will be announced at TRON’s first international summit in January.

In October, TRON and China’s largest Internet search provider Baidu announced they will cooperate on cloud computing resources. The partnership between the two firms remains focused on the purchase and use of Baidu’s basic cloud computing resources, rather than being a connection “at the blockchain business level.”

Also in October, TRON’s CEO Justin Sun claimed its update dubbed Odyssey 3.1 would see it beat Ethereum on speed and EOS on cost. The changes include the launch of the TRON Virtual Machine, which would allow developers to test smart contracts before they transfer to the TRON mainnet.

As of press time, TRX is the 11th top cryptocurrency, trading at around $0.018, up by 0.27 percent on the day, according to CoinMarketCap.

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Chinese Blockchain-Related Company Xunlei Reports $45.3 Million Q3 Revenue

Chinese desktop software and blockchain-related company Xunlei has published its Q3 report Wednesday, Nov. 14. According to the report, the firm’s revenue increased in 2018 after the introduction of blockchain services.

The report notes that the company’s Q3 revenue reached $45.3 million, representing an increase of 1.1% year-over-year. The firm attributed $19.8 million of that revenue to its cloud and Internet value-added services sectors, which is an increase of 8.3 percent over the same period last year.

Lei Chen, CEO of Xunlei group, stated that blockchain remains one of the key investment areas for the company, noting:

“We believe that blockchain is a technology that can change our lives, and we will strive to make it available in different areas in a simpler and more cost-effective way.”

The company specifically mentioned its blockchain platform ThunderСhain, which has been launched this year, and lists recent blockchain-related partnerships, including a deal with the largest media group in China, People’s Daily, which is also the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

Xunlei, known for its P2P software and BitTorrent client and especially popular in China, re-oriented towards blockchain technology development in October 2017.

Back then, following a sustained downturn over two years, the company announced its first blockchain-driven initiative: the Link Token, which could be used to pay for some of Xunlei’s services. Shortly after, Xunlei became the best performing stock on Nasdaq, seeing up to 75 percent increase in shares, according to Bloomberg.

Later, in November, Xunlei came under scrutiny from China’s financial regulator following a state ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). Consequently, its shares fell 40 percent. Despite the loss, Xunlei launched two new blockchain products in the spring, StellarCloud and ThunderChain Open Platform. Several months after the launch, the company’s CEO Lei Chen claimed that in Q2 Xunlei saw a $65.8 million in revenue, meaning a growth of over 70 percent on a year-over-year basis.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, in 2018 Xunlei also partnered with People’s Daily to construct a laboratory for “technology innovation” at the People Capital’s Blockchain Research Institute. Moreover, the two will develop a blockchain-driven platform to organize competitions, seminars, workshops, and promote and identify startups in the blockchain industry.

Several crypto-related companies have recently published their Q3 2018 reports: Japanese IT giant GMO Internet revealed a “historical performance” of its crypto-related sector, and Canadian Bitcoin (BTC) mining company Hut 8 declared a record revenue of $13.5 million, an increase by 126 percent compared to the previous quarter’s revenue of $5.9 million.

Moreover, Q3 2018 marks biggest quarter yet for Bitcoin revenue of Square — a U.S. financial services company that introduced Bitcoin support in its Square Cash payment app earlier this year.

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European Central Bank Exec Calls Bitcoin the ‘Evil Spawn of the Financial Crisis'

Executive Board member of the European Central Bank (ECB) Benoit Coeure considers Bitcoin (BTC) to be the “evil spawn of the [2008] financial crisis,” Bloomberg reports Nov. 15.

Coeure reportedly made his acid remarks at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel. The BIS’ general manager Augustín Carstens has likewise previously made a spate of crypto-skeptical remarks, notably characterizing Bitcoin as a “combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster.”

Explicitly recalling Carstens’ characterization, Coeure framed his criticisms of the ten year old innovation with a reference to the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in fall 2008 – the tipping point for economic turmoil, global recession, and, subsequently, the controversial “too big to fail” rationale for state intervention:

“Few remember that Satoshi [Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin] embedded the genesis block with a Times headline from January 2009 about U.K. banks’ bailout. In more ways than one, Bitcoin is the evil spawn of the financial crisis.”

After this historical overture, Coeure continued to address international monetary authorities’ present-day pursuit of cryptocurrency tokens and distributed ledger technology (DLT) initiatives. While acknowledging the widespread interest, he claimed that “there is broad agreement that a central bank digital currency, in whatever form, is unlikely to be issued within the next decade.”

The ECB official’s stance is at odds with remarks from International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde just yesterday. Speaking at the the Singapore Fintech Festival Nov. 14, Lagarde urged the international community to “consider” endorsing central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDC), arguing they “could satisfy public policy goals,” specifically “financial inclusion.”

Coeure’s argument is also directly contrary to that of Stanley Yong, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of IBM’s Blockchain for Financial Services, and a veteran of Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Yong stated this week that CBDCs are “the only way” to mitigate the “kinds of risks that came about during the Lehman crisis of 2008,” and could specifically prevent a settlement system freeze – a systemic failure that affected financial systems across multiple countries during the Lehman fallout.

Article First Published here

October ICO Market Overview: Trends, Capitalization, Localization, Success Rate

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 ICOmeter aims to provide the accurate and concise information about the development of the ICO market in the previous month, and its relation to the all-time statistics. The ICO market data is provided by ICObench, based upon the projects’ announcements recorded in ICObench database, which includes over 4700 ICOs since August 2015.

ICO market situation in October is the result of different trends: the inertial forces put in motion months ago, during a period of stronger confidence, seem to still be influencing the structure of the market, while the more recent negative tendency could influence the decision-making of investors.

At the same time, the final outcome seems more confident than that of September. In spite of a smaller number of ICOs ending with a positive result, as only 54 raised at least $1, versus 67 the previous month, the capital gathered has been $508.54 million versus $403.10 million, a positive gain of 26 percent.

The ICO market indicators are still far from the high levels of some months ago, for instance, June 2018 record with 253 successful ICOs and $1.5 billion raised. However October shows some signs of recovery after September’s minimum. The long-lasting permanence of the Ethereum price in negative territory is still affecting the mood of the market, but the attitude of investors toward the new issuing of tokens seems to diverge slightly from the trend of the cryptocurrency, which most ICOs are based on.

October’s ICOs: a stable composition

Alongside the results, it could be useful to consider the expectations, which shaped the market during October 2018. A total of 223 ICOs started during this month, versus 249 during September, and almost the same number of projects chose October for setting their end date: 158, compared with 154 ICOs ending in September, with a average of about 555 ICOs going live daily during the month, including the projects, which had started previously and were still ongoing throughout the month.

The data presented in the previous chart is, nevertheless, influenced by the time gap that exists from the moment when a token issuing event is scheduled to its actual beginning. This reflects, in fact, the expectation that exists when the ICO is set, and not when it is actually starting. Therefore, October’s data is a result of optimistic market expectations, while the recent more cautious attitude of investors could emerge, eventually, in the composition of ICOs over the next few months.

As a matter of fact, the number of new ICOs listed by ICObench during October (219) is below that of September (274), very far from the record achieved between February and April, and the minimum considering the last 12 months.

ICOs by size: more different and with better results

A distinctive feature of ICOs is the strong dissimilarity between projects, which makes it difficult to analyze them by considering aggregate and average values. As a matter of fact, measuring the envisaged hard caps (HC) of all the ICOs ending in October, it is possible to detect a slight contraction in their size. Thus, the hard cap average value was about $28 million (compared with almost $38 million for ICOs ending last September), while the largest ICO ending during the month aimed to raise $400 million (compared with $1 billion for September’s largest one).

On the basis of the data published in whitepapers, it is possible to say that the degree of divergence among the HC goals of the ICOs ending in October was lower than that for the same data for September. Considering the ICOs, which are possible to label as “large,” the span between their maximum goals has decreased since September, while the range was greater for the hard caps of the “medium-large” ICOs.

The actual results of the token issuing events ending during the month radically overturn the picture forecasted on the basis of the whitepapers published by ICOs: the average size of the capital gathered rose significantly from September (from $6 million to $9.4 million), with an increasing divergence among the ICOs, greater among the “large” and “medium-large” categories. Besides, the higher result reached by a single ICO during October ($136 million) was far above the best performer of September ($46.6 million).

During October, the highest 5 percent of the sample (considering capitalization) accounted for about 41.9 percent of all the funds gathered by ICOs ending during the month, which was concentrated in just three projects. In September, the top 5 percent (gathered by four ICOs) corresponded with about 29.3 percent of the total raised that month.

ICO by location: a strong leading group and some surprises

October’s data didn’t bring about a relevant change in the ranking of countries with the largest number of ICOs setting up their headquarters there. Singapore, USA, and the United Kingdom (the latter didn’t account for Gibraltar, acting as an overseas territory) are the countries which hosted the most ICOs launched during the last month. Therefore, no variations affected the relative positions of the top 10 countries for number of hosted ICOs since 2015, while, in this general placement, it is possible to notice some movement below the higher rankings, such as the rise of the Czech Republic, from 24th to 23rd position, or Belarus and Georgia, climbing three position each (the first from 46th to 43th, the latter from 49th to 46th).

Considering the ranking among countries by economic indicators, the data confirms the stability of a strong leading group: the countries hosting the ICOs which are collecting the most funds in October are the same that occupy the top positions in the rankings for total funds gathered up to September: Singapore, USA, and Switzerland, while the only change among the top 10 in the cumulative ranking since 2015 is the rise of Estonia, from 8th to 7th position (overcoming the British Virgin Islands).

The economic data confirms some of the movements already reported, considering the number of ICOs (for instance, the dynamism of Georgia and the Czech Republic). Moreover, they reveal a new entry, even in the lower part of the rankings: during the month of October, the first ICO hosted by Zimbabwe ended successfully, gathering little more than $8 million (the country is now ranked in 65th position).

Success expectations: far from actual results, but closer

The goals of the ICOs scheduled to end in October remain similar to the previous month: considering the sum of all the hard caps set for the ICOs ending in October, the amount was almost stable in terms of absolute value (a decline of 1 percent compared to September’s data).

Moreover, the ratio of the cumulative HC on the market capitalization of Ethereum at the beginning of the month was higher than September’s, rising from 11.85 percent to 14.18 percent of the Ethers available on the market. This ratio always reflects very optimistic assumptions, but October’s results are closer to the desiderata than the data referring to the previous month: indeed, the funds raised are about 2.36 percent of the average monthly market capitalization of Ether, while the value was about 1.74 percent in September.

If the envisaged higher threshold was stable, the planned soft caps (SC) grew, from a cumulative value of about $476.7 million for ICOs ending in September, to $524.9 million in October. As a result, the gap between HC and SC is reducing: the cumulative value of the hard caps planned for October was 6.4 times the sum of all the soft caps, whereas the ratio was 7.1 a month ago. The trend could indicate a more attentive evaluation of projects, representing a more prudent minimum level of capitalization.

Considering the final data about the funds raised, the funnel between expected and actual results remain, nevertheless, very tight, as only 10 percent of the envisaged cumulative hard cap was reached during October (the value was 11 percent in September). By the way, if it is true that the number of ICOs collecting at least $1 decreased compared to one month ago, among the “survivors,” the number of ICOs achieving their soft cap (31 versus 26) and their hard cap (two versus one in September) was nevertheless higher.

Analyzing data about October’s ICOs, it is possible to say that the outcome seems very far from the planned target, at least in terms of aggregate values. The market is still applying a harsh selection process, but the general picture seems to show some improvement and the rise of several significant variables, first of all – the total amount offered by the investors.

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Huobi’s US-Based Strategic Partner HBUS Hires Former Exec of VC Firm Draper Athena

HBUS, the strategic partner of top crypto exchange Huobi, has hired a former executive of venture capital (VC) firm Draper Athena, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Nov. 13.

The HBUS trading platform, which currently employs around 40 people in their headquarters in San Francisco, has officially announced the appointment of Jay Ryu, formerly of Draper Athena, as Vice President of Corporate Development.

As the press release states, Ryu previously worked with prominent figures in the VC industry, such as Draper Athena chairman Tim Draper, well-known for his pro-crypto stance.

According to the report, with seven years of experience as Venture Capital Director at Draper Athena, Ryu led technology investments across Silicon Valley, Asia, and the Middle East. Apart of Draper Athena, the VC expert is also a founder of investment consulting group Rage Partners, as well as a former managing partner and strategic advisor for the private equity group Checkmate Capital.

The new HBUS entrant commented in the release that the current condition of the crypto and blockchain industry is “drastically different than what we witnessed last year,” stressing that the community is “rapidly maturing,” which attracts more institutional players to the field.

Huobi, the third largest crypto exchange by trade volume, first announced their U.S. strategic partner in June this year. Following the announcement, HBUS’ trading platform went live on July 10, offering its customers trading in 22 cryptocurrencies, including  Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Reportedly positioning themselves as “aggressively” competitive with major crypto services such as Coinbase and Robinhood, HBUS has recently announced the release of its API for “experienced traders,” intending to expand crypto-related tools for institutional investors.

At press time, Huobi is ranked 3rd among crypto exchanges on CoinMarketCap by daily trade volumes, with about $388.2 million in trades. HBUS is ranked 142nd for daily trade volumes, seeing about $255K in trades over the past 24 hours.

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Ripple, Monero, NEM See Solid Growth Amid Calm, Mostly Green Markets

Monday, Nov. 12: crypto markets are seeing a wave of stability, with most major assets seeing low-level fluctuations both red and green, with just a few exceptions, as data from Coin360 shows.

Market visualization. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is up around 0.85 percent, trading around $6,354 at press time. After a period of protracted stability, the top coin saw a recent spate of downwards momentum and has been trading beneath $6,400 for the past several days. After an intra-week low of $6,307 yesterday, Nov. 11, Bitcoin has stemmed its losses and pushed back above the $6,350 mark.

On the week, the top cryptocurrency is just a little down from the start of its weekly chart, in the red by a slight 0.4 percent. On the month, Bitcoin is up around one percent.

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

The market’s leading altcoin Ethereum (ETH) has also seen a fractional gain, up around three quarters of a percent to trade at $210 at press time. Correlating with Bitcoin, the altcoin saw an intra-week peak at around $220 Nov. 7, declining in the following days to trade as low as $207 Nov. 11 before recovering ground today.

On the week, the asset is just under one percent in the green, but monthly growth is a healthy 8.5 percent.

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

Ripple (XRP) has outstripped all of the top ten coins on CoinMarketCap, sealing almost six percent growth to trade at around $0.53 at press time. While still below its weekly peak at over $0.55 Nov. 6, Ripple saw a strong surge during the hours before press time, having traded sideways at a lower price point around $0.51 in recent days.

On the week, Ripple’s growth is now a solid 5.2 percent, with monthly gains at 25.6 percent.

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

Most of the remaining top ten coins on CoinMarketCap are in the green, seeing growth capped below a two percent range, with the exception of anonymity-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), which has seen solid a 3.35 percent gain to trade at around $107.03.

After a period of heated controversies ahead of its forthcoming hard fork Nov. 15, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has tipped slightly into the red, down around 0.8 percent to trade at $527.74 at press time.

Mati Greenspan, an eToro senior analyst, has today pointed out on Twitter that despite “all this drama in BCH [Bitcoin Cash] and still Google searches aren’t even coming close to BTC [Bitcoin]. Tell me again, which is the real Bitcoin?”

Greenspan provided a screenshot of Google Trend analytics for the past 30 days, which show that Bitcoin — sometimes dubbed Bitcoin Core — continues to significantly outflank Bitcoin Cash in terms of Internet searches.

Comparison of Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Google searches over the past 30 days. Source: Google Trends

The top twenty coins by market cap are seeing more mixed red and green, with the 15th highest-ranked crypto NEM (XEM) a significant outlier, up 16.3 percent to trade at about $0.108 at press time. NEM saw a sudden, steep uptick during earlier trading hours to peak at $0.114, before correcting just slightly downwards ahead of press time.

NEM 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Altcoins DASH (DASH) and IOTA (MIOTA) have both seen above-average growth over a 24 hour period, up 3.3 and 4.5 percent at $165.07 and $0.50 respectively.

Tezos (XTZ) and privacy-focused altcoin ZCash (ZEC), ranked 18th and 19th largest by market cap, are each down just a little over 2 percent on the day, trading at about $1.29 and $127.44 respectively.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $212.9 billion as of press time, down from an intra-week high of around $220.7 billion Nov. 7.

7-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies: Souce: CoinMarketCap

Today, Japanese IT giant GMO Internet published its third quarter (3Q) report, revealing a “historical performance” of its crypto-related business segments despite “the harsh external environment.”

Meanwhile in China, a new blockchain alliance has been formed by the Guangzhou City Blockchain Industry Association, the Hong Kong Blockchain Industry Association, and the Macau University Innovation Center to collaborate on four new finance-oriented blockchain platforms.

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Hodler’s Digest, November 5-11: Star Trek’s Captain Kirk Defends ETH Decentralization, While Fake Elon Musks Overrun Twitter

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

Elon Musk Impersonators Flood Twitter With Fake Crypto Giveaways

Although impersonators on Twitter pretending to be famous celebrities offering crypto giveaways are many, this week saw an influx of these crypto pretenders posing as Tesla CEO Elon Musk. After compromising verified accounts with the blue check mark, scammers would change the name and picture to appear to be Musk, asking in comment threads for people to send them small amounts of crypto in exchange for more crypto sent back in a fake “giveaway.” According to news reports, one fake Musk account received around $170,000.

China’s Central Bank Scrutinizes Crypto Airdrops, Questions Their Legality

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, has begun to scrutinize crypto airdrops, which is refers to as “disguised” Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). This week’s report from the bank notes that the entity is strictly anti-ICO and crypto trading, noting the high risks of financial fraud and pyramid schemes. The report notes that “airdrops” are potentially evading the regulation concerning the public token sale model, adding that they capitalize on speculation in the market to drive their own profits.

Star Trek’s William Shatner Tweets Thumbs up in Support of Vitalik Buterin

William Shatner, the former Captain Kirk on popular American television show Star Trek, tweeted a thumbs up at Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin this week. The celebrity’s tweet led to backlash from crypto Twitter trolls that criticized the Ethereum network’s supposed centralization, leading Shatner to quote ERC standards in response. The 87-year-old Shatner then received kudos from other crypto Twitter participants for his seemingly in-depth knowledge of the network.

Apple Apparently Briefly Removes Crypto Podcast Reportedly Ranked #4 in Investing

The podcast “Off the Chain,” hosted by Morgan Creek Digital partner and crypto analyst Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano has apparently been removed from the U.S. iTunes store this week. According to a tweet from Pompliano, the podcast was ranked 4th in the “investing” category before it was “mysteriously” taken down. The episode, which contained an interview with “Bitcoin Maximalist” Murad Mahmudov about the current worldwide monetary system, is available by press time.

Joseph Lubin Thinks Blockchain Will Take “A Little Longer” to Develop Than the Internet

In an interview this week, Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin said that blockchain will “probably take a little longer” to develop than the Internet, because it is “much more complicated. Lubin, who is also the creator of ConsenSys, noted that blockchain is developing similar to the web, due to its exponential growth and the “hundred of projects” to date. Lubin also said that DLT will be able to “permeate society more than the Internet” and make way for Web3.0.

Most Memorable Quotations

“His viewpoints don’t take into account the fact that the code has to be audited by an auditing firm and approved by consortium or it doesn’t get accepted. He thinks it exists in a bubble.

That’s why we have ERC-20, ERC-721… ERC-1701”— William Shatner (Captain Kirk), defending the Ethereum network’s decentralization

“We are NOT tolerant. We will not capitulate. We will not surrender. We will not negotiate. We will not end,” — Craig Wright, speaking about his own Bitcoin Cash (BCH) faction before the upcoming hard fork

Laws and Taxes

Thai Revenue Department Plans to Use Blockchain to Track Tax Payments

Thailand’s Revenue Department is planning to track payments using blockchain and machine learning, utilizing the tech to verify the validity of taxes paid as well as increasing the speed of the tax refund process. The machine learning use will help to expose tax fraud and support more transparency, as a digital tax collection system based on modern technologies is a stated goal of Thailand’s government.

French Parliament Finance Committee Adopts Amendments to Crypto Tax Bill

The Finance Committee of the lower house of France’s parliament has adopted regulations this week that would ease taxes on cryptocurrency sales. The Finance Committee of the National Assembly has submitted a draft of the government finance bill for 2019, specifying that the tax on crypto sales will be equal to capital income tax. If the amendments to the budget are accepted in the hearings scheduled for next week, the rate will be reduced from 36.2 percent to 30 percent starting Jan. 1, 2019.

US Judge Ends Freeze on Charlie Shrem’s Assets Amidst Winklevoss Lawsuit

A U.S. judge has ruled this week to end the freeze on Charlie Shrem’s assets in a lawsuit brought against him by the Winklevoss twins. The twins alleged in their lawsuit that Shrem took part of their $250,000 investment in his now-defunct exchange BitInstant to buy 5,000 Bitcoins (BTC). Shrem’s lawyer has said that his client is innocent, and that the claims have “no basis in fact or law.” According to the Winklevoss’ lawyers, the freeze should continue as Shrem possess $12 million in crypto, real estate holdings, and other assets. However, at present time only $10 in assets have been identified.

Thailand’s Securities Regulator Promises to Certify One ICO Portal in November

The general secretary of the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said this week that “at least one” ICO “portal” will be able to operate legally in the country in November. Rapee Sucharitakul said that they “might” starting approving ICO offerings in December, noting that five such “operators” are currently under consideration by the Finance Ministry. Thailand’s legislation requires that the Thai SEC vet crypto entities like ICOs, exchanges, and “digital asset operators” who wish to operate in Thailand.

Adoption

Wallet Provider Blockchain.Com to Airdrop $125 Mln in XLM After Adding Stellar Support

Crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com will now support altcoin Stellar (XLM), accompanied by an airdrop of $125 in XLM to its user base. The provider noted that the large airdrop is a “great way to drive decentralization and adoption for new networks,” noting that crypto airdrops allow consumers to “test, trade, and transact” newer crypto assets without need to mine or invest in them first. The choice to add support for Stellar was driven by the scalability of the token’s network, as well as its ability to create custom tokens that represent “real-world or virtual goods and services.”

Decentralized Network Bancor Partners With EOS for Cross-Blockchain Trading With ETH

Decentralized liquidity network Bancor said this week that it had partnered with EOS in order to allow for cross-blockchain swaps between Ethereum and EOS-based tokens. Bancor has now expanded to the EOS blockchain, using its DApp BancorX for the conversation. Bancor noted that the cross-blockchain DApp was built in collaboration with LiquidEOS, Bancor’s EOS “Block Producer.” According to the press release, this conversion DApp paves the way for “vastly more blockchain” to be included in cross-blockchain trading.

Trading Platform eToro Releases Crypto Wallet Supporting Bitcoin, Three Altcoins

Global crypto and fiat trading platform eToro has released its own cryptocurrency wallet this week with support for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. The platform noted that they plan to add a “whole host of additional functionality” including additional crypto and fiat tokens, crypto-to-crypto conversion, and fiat deposits. eToro currently supports 14 total cryptocurrencies on its platform and has more than 10 million registered users.

Major Crypto Wallet Coinbase Launches Support for Basic Attention Token

Crypto exchange and wallet Coinbase announced this week that it would add support for a rollout of full trading of the Basic Attention Token (BAT) for its Android and iOS apps. As per the announcement, Coinbase customers can now buy, sell, send, receive, and store BAT on the platform, except for initially those residents of New York. Last week, Coinbase had noted the addition of inbound transfers of BAT to Coinbase Pro, specifying that the token would undergo four listing stages until it reached full access.

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

Port of Valencia Integrates Maersk and IBM’s Blockchain Shipping Platform

The Port Authority of Valencia, Spain, has joined IBM and Maersk’s blockchain ecosystem, the TradeLens platform, which aims to apply blockchain tech to global supply chains. According to the announcement, the port has integrated into the platform as “Early Adopters,” meaning that the port will be a part of the platform’s early development. There are currently more than 20 participants in the TradeLens ecosystem, which has already reportedly processed 154 million “data-sending events.”

Deloitte Partners With Identity Management Startup for Digital ID System

“Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte has partnered with identity management firm Attest Inc. in order to create a blockchain-based digital identity system. The Chicago-based Attest offers a shared identity platform that allows its clients to conduct transactions, including its governmental customers, which can provide identity services to citizens. The partnership plans to develop a digital identity offering for government-compliant identifiers to be used for existing products, including a cryptographically secured identity storage wallet.

South Korea’s Bithumb Partners With E-Commerce Giant Qoo10 for Crypto Payments

South Korea’s leading virtual currency exchange Bithumb announced a partnership this week with Asian e-commerce fim Qoo10 to create a cryptocurrency payment service. Qoo10, which covers Asian markets including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia, will work with the Bithumb Cache system to purchase products through Qoo10. The two companies will use both the Qoo10 settlement service and the cache system, which is a password settlement service that allows Bithumb customers to convert their funds for use in payments with their password.

Nine Major Shipper Operators Launch Blockchain-Based Global Business Network

Nine major terminal operators and shipping companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop an open digital platform based on DLT. The MoU is aimed at forming a consortium of shipping operators to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), noting that the software solution will be provided by Hong Kong-based shipping and logistics firm CargotSmart. The new alliance includes such shipping giants as PSA International, a Singapore-based company and one of the world’s largest port operators, and Shanghai International Port Group, leading operator of ports in China.

Funding Rounds

Major Mining Provider Bitfury Raises $80 Million in Closed Funding Round

Bitcoin mining infrastructure provider Bitfury raised $80 million this week in a closed funding round led by European venture capital fund Korelya Capital. Other participants in the funding round included South Korean Internet giant Naver Group, Asian institutions Macquarie Capital and Dentsu Japan, and Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital. The funding round comes several weeks after rumors circled that Bitfury was considering an IPO.

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets are seeing mixed signals, with Bitcoin trading for around $6,404.13 and Ethereum at $211 by press time. Total market cap is around $212 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are Traco, Pedit, and the Internet of Things. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Simmitri, empowr coin, and OBXcoin.

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

FUD of the Week

Turkish Police Arrest 11 in Reported Hack of Crypto Wallet Accounts

The Cybercrime Department of the Turkish National Police arrested 11 suspects this week while investing the alleged hack of crypto accounts, with victims reporting more than $80,000 in losses. 14 individuals so far have reported crypto wallet hacks to local prosecution authorities, noting that their Bitcoin had been transferred to other wallets. Police have since seized two fake identity cards, as well as a number of devices allegedly used in the hacks such as 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, from the hackers. The investigation notes that it found the suspects by tracking new SIM cards registered to exchanges by the hackers.

Texas Regulator Issues Emergency Cease and Desist to Australian Cloud Mining Company

The Texas State Securities Board has issued an emergency cease and desist order this week to Australian cloud mining firm AWS Mining PTY LTD for selling unregistered securities. AWS Mining, along with many of its employees, are charged with violating the Texas Securities Acts by convincing Texas residents to purchase AWS’ unregistered cloud mining power contracts promising a “200 percent passive return on every investment.” The cease and desist notes that AWS did not follow through on its promised profits to investors, as well as failed to register as a securities broker-dealer.

Swiss Financial Regulator Recommends Banks to Set Crypto Risk Coverage at 800%

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said in a report this week that banks and other financial institutions could calculate risk coverage for cryptocurrencies at 800 percent of their current market value. The confidential letter, seen by a local Swiss news outlet, noted that the recommendation for a flat risk weight at 800 percent are to “to cover market and credit risks, regardless of whether the positions are held in the banking or trading book.” The news outlet reports that 800 percent is at the upper end of the range, meaning that FINMA sees crypto as a volatile asset.

US SEC Charges EtherDelta Founder With Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange

Zachary Coburn, the founder of crypto token trading platform EtherDelta, has been charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with operating an unregistered securities exchange. EtherDelta has operated as a secondary marketplace for trading ERC20 tokens, letting users buy and sell digital assets using an order book and smart contracts on the ETH blockchain and placing a total of more than 3.6 million orders (some involving those considered securities) over an 18-month operating period. Coburn neither denied nor admitted the findings, but agreed to pay $300,00 in unlawful profits, as well as $13,000 in prejudgement interest and a $75,000 penalty.

Chinese Mining Giant Bitmain Sues Unknown Hacker for $5.5 Million Crypto Theft

China-based BTC mining firm Bitmain has sued an anonymous hacker for the reported theft of crypto work about $5.5 million from Bitmain’s account on Binance this April. As stated in the U.S. court documents, the “John Doe” hacker used stored Bitcoin after taking over Bitmain’s Binance account to manipulate the price of altcoin Decentraland (MANA) and then abscond with the profits. Bitmain notes that the hacker was able to steal $5.5 million in digital assets, including about 617 BTC. The documents also note that the hacker carried out transactions between BTC and MANA from Bitmain’s wallet and their own, completing the theft by transferring BTC from their Bitmain account into a digital wallet on Bittrex.

Prediction of the Week

Tim Draper Maintains Bitcoin Prediction of $250,000 by 2020

Venture capital investor Tim Draper said this week that he still believes that Bitcoin will experience 40 times returns and reach $250,000 by 2022. Although his initial prediction was for the coin to hit this price point in April of this year, Draper said that the industry merely needs to make it so that “Bitcoin could be used to buy Starbucks coffee” and the world will “open up.” Draper also added that he didn’t trust “political currencies” that are “determined by some weird political party,” adding that he sees a future with blockchain and smart contracts taking on a more prevalent role in states.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Morgan Stanley Report Shows Strong Institutional Investment for Bitcoin

At the end of October, multinational investment bank and financial services firm Morgan Stanley released a report on how Bitcoin has been a new “institutional investment class” since 2018. The report, which shows a relatively bullish outlook for 2018, brings attention to the stablecoin phenomenon, noting that not all stablecoins active currently will survive.

The SEC Stops Accepting Public Comments on Bitcoin ETFs, Takes Time to Make Decision

Last week, the cryptoverse buzzed with misinformation that the U.S. SEC was finally going to make a decision about Bitcoin ETFs. However, last week’s deadline concerned a close to the acceptance of public comments, leaving the SEC to now make their decision on the nine BTC ETFs on their own. Cointelegraph delves into the possibilities for the SEC’s decision, as well as looks into the root of where this deadline confusion came from.

Blockchain Advocates Storm Governors’ Mansions and Retain House Seats in US Midterm Elections

The U.S. saw midterm elections that week that led to the Democratic Party taking back the House, leaving the Republicans still in control of the Senate. Amidst the party lines, the governorships in both California and Colorado were won by crypto- and blockchain-friendly candidates Gavin Newsom and Jared Polis respectively. Beyond his strong blockchain policy push in his state, Polis (also the first openly gay elected governor), co-founded and co-chaired the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. Electorally, the Caucus has done exceptionally well in the midterms: both of the co-chairs and 10 out of 12 regular members who stood for reelection retained their seats.

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FATF Guidelines Updated to Combat Money-Laundering and Terrorism Financing in Europe

Regulation has been a major talking point in the cryptocurrency sphere in 2018 – mainly due to the monumental crypto-craze in 2017.

This has come to the fore in Europe, after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) updated its policy on cryptocurrencies in October, which were initially established back in 2015.

To understand the implications of these refurbished guidelines, one needs to understand the role of the FATF and its involvement in the regulation of cryptocurrencies.

FATF and crypto

Established in 1989, by the G7, the FATF is responsible for creating legal, regulatory, and operational measures to prevent money laundering in Europe and around the world. Since its inception, the FATF has created a number of recommendations that are regarded as the international standard for fighting money laundering and the financing of criminal activities.

A massive surge of investors looking to gain exposure by trading cryptocurrencies on exchanges across the world, has led to governments and financial regulatory bodies having to provide clear legal frameworks and guidelines for those operating in the space.

Naturally, this has taken on different shapes and forms in different regions of the globe. We’ve seen hardline, no-to-crypto stances from countries like China, while a nation like Malta has adopted a pro-crypto attitude that could well make it a leading destination for crypto and blockchain-related businesses to thrive.

Within that vein, the FATF organisation released a “risk-based-approach” guideline for cryptocurrencies in 2015, which aimed to help countries develop regulatory processes to manage the potential risk of cryptocurrencies being used for money-laundering and terror-financing.

As it stands, 35 countries are members of the FATF, many of which are situated as financial centers across the globe.

European countries make up a large percentage of the member states, including UK, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, Luxenbourg, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Belgium and Austria.

With this in mind, the FATF’s recommendations on the regulation of cryptocurrencies to address AML concerns are specifically important for the continent.

Calls for clarity in Europe

As of October 2018, FATF has implemented some changes to its original recommendations three years ago that apply to financial activities relating to cryptocurrencies. This has largely been in response to calls for clarity on which activities the FATF guidelines apply to.

In relation to cryptocurrencies, the FATF rules regarding a risk-based response to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) have been amended to address concerns around the use of cryptocurrency financial activities.

Exchanges, wallet providers, and providers of financial services for ICOs, are expected to be subject to AML/CFT regulations. This should be done by licensing, registering, or monitoring these entities to ensure their compliance with existing regulations.

This follows similar guidelines that have been implemented in South Korea, where anonymous trading has been banned and stricter guidelines for exchanges are being implemented, including the use of AML/CFT, as well as Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements.

At the end of October, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation urged members of the FATF to implement these changes. The Russian service wants to put rules in place to control crypto transactions of 600,000 rubles or more (about $9,120).

In a Russian context, there are no official regulations governing the use and trade of cryptocurrencies, although a draft bill is still in preparation.

This seemingly puts the FATF recommendations in perspective, as they seem to be the only real standard that different countries can fall back on to deal with cryptocurrencies in a broad perspective.

Just a day before the FATF released its newest recommendations, Switzerland-based Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) published its own updated AML standards for digital assets and distributed ledger technologies (DLT).

The document outlines compliance standards for virtual asset issuers, guidelines for classifications of initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well as directions for banks, securities dealers and other financial institutions looking to get involved with cryptocurrencies or blockchain-based projects.

In September, a Belgian report was issued that called for the regulation of cryptocurrencies and ICOs at a European level. These were led in order to manage potential risks as well as developing the use of blockchain technology.

The European Union has already made it clear that it will work on cryptocurrency classification and management over the next 12 months, according to European Commission Vice President, Valdis Dombrovskis. A pressing concern once again is the threat of money-laundering and fraud.

There are risks – U.K. Cryptoasset Taskforce

While the FATF has provided general guidelines for the international community to follow, the U.K. has done its own homework on the sector – in addition to being a member of the FATF.

In March 2018, a Cryptoasset Taskforce was established by the HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England. This has culminated in a final report, which was published at the end of October.

The report maintains that there are multiple benefits to be gained from blockchain technology, described as distributed ledger technology in the report. However, it maintains an air of negativity and skepticism towards cryptocurrencies:

“There is limited evidence of the current generation of cryptoassets delivering benefits, but this is a rapidly developing market and benefits may arise in the future. There are substantial potential risks associated with cryptoassets, and the most immediate priorities for the authorities are to mitigate the risks to consumers and market integrity, and prevent the use of cryptoassets for illicit activity.”

The report recommends that cryptocurrencies that meet the standards of existing regulations must be treated as such.

Meanwhile, newer cryptocurrencies that pose challenges to older financial regulations will require international coordination to ensure they are treated accordingly.

These recommendations have been met with some skepticism as well, with a report labelling proposed regulations as a “blunt instrument approach.” The companies involved in compiling the report suggested that a heavy-handed approach could actually stifle the development of cryptocurrencies and various fintech companies.

A waiting game

As it stands, the current guidelines from the FATF are non-binding, they mainly serve as advisory parameters for regulators and governments to follow and apply to cryptocurrency operations in their respective locations.

In conjunction with the October update to its recommendations, FATF president, Marshall Billingslea, announced the plans to release governing rules for the crypto industry by June 2019, according to Reuters.

A number of European countries have enforced their own rules and regulations for cryptocurrencies, wallet providers, and other associated businesses.

Nevertheless, those member states that haven’t enforced any regulation of cryptocurrency trade can expect to be given a directive from the FATF next year.

Cointelegraph has reached out to the FATF for comment – and has not received a formal reply at the time of publication.

Article First Published here

Crypto Markets See Ongoing Mild Losses, Bitcoin Trades Below $6,400

 

Friday, Nov. 9: crypto markets are continuing to see downward momentum, with virtually all of the major cryptocurrencies at least mildly in the red, as data from Coin360 shows.

Market visualization by Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is down just over 1 percent, trading around $6,340 at press time. After a period of protracted stability, the top coin has seen a short-lived burst of price action of late, growing Nov.7 to break above the $6,500 mark.

Bitcoin has since corrected downard to trade close to the start of its weekly chart, where it is seeing virtually no price percentage change to press time. On the month, Bitcoin is down a mild 3.6 percent.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

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

Bitcoin pioneer Jeff Garzik – reportedly the “third-biggest contributor” to Bitcoin’s code and one of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto’s key collaborators – gave an interview today in which he reflected that:

“[Bitcoin] hasn’t evolved in the direction of high-volume payments, which is something we thought about in the very early days: getting merchants to accept Bitcoins. But on the store-of-value side it’s unquestionably a success.”  

The market’s largest altcoin Ethereum (ETH) has also sustained a fractional loss, down just over percent to trade at $211. Correlating with Bitcoin, the altcoin saw an intra-week spike at around $220 Nov. 7, and has since jaggedly shed value down to its current price point.

Nonetheless, on the week, the asset remains a strong 6 percent in the green, with monthly losses at around 7.2 percent.

Ethereum 7-day price chart

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

Most of the remaining top ten coins on CoinMarketCap are in the red, although remaining within a 1-4 percent range.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has taken the heftiest hit among the top ten, down just under 4 percent to trade around $567, as controversies ahead of its forthcoming hard fork – scheduled for Nov. 15 – continue to divide the community.

Another top ten alt shaken by larger-than-average losses is Cardano (ADA), down 3.19 percent at $0.074.

Altcoins Ripple (XRP) and Stellar (XLM) are the only top ten coins in the green by press time, both up under 1 percent over the past 24 hours.

The top twenty coins by market cap are likewise almost unanimously red, with the exception of the 19th largest crypto, privacy-focused alt Zcash (ZEC), which is pushing 3.5 percent growth to trade at around $133.

For the remaining coins, losses are capped below 4 percent, with Vechain (VEC) and DASH (DASH) each on the higher end, down 3.9 and 3.47 percent respectively.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $212.5 billion as of press time, down from an intra-week high of around $220.7 billion Nov. 7, but above the $207-210 billion levels it held throughout much of the past month.  

7-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies

7-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap

In other major crypto news of the day, ConsenSys-backed blockchain startup Kaleido and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have launched a full-stack platform that helps enterprises implement blockchain solutions without starting from scratch. The platform, dubbed Kaleido Marketplace, reportedly “eliminates 80 percent of the custom code” needed to build a given blockchain project.

In Asia, Thailand’s securities regulator is set to clear “at least one” Initial Coin Offering (ICO) “portal” to operate legally this month, with officials saying that ICOs themselves “might” start being approved as soon as December.

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Crypto Markets See Visible Drop Off as Major Coins Are in The Red

Wednesday, Nov. 8: most cryptocurrencies have seen a drop-off today, with the most visible losses seen by Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ripple (XRP), as data from Coin360 shows. As of press time, the markers are seeing mixed signals, mostly staying in the red.

Market visualization from Coin360

While in the beginning of the week Bitcoin (BTC) was mostly in the green, up almost to 2 percent on the day Monday, Nov. 5, today the major coin is hovering around zero, mostly staying in the red and trading around $6,450 as of press time.

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

Ethereum (ETH) is also about 2 percent down on the day, being traded slightly over $213 as of press time. The coin is seeing some stability after it has regained its second spot, bypassing Ripple (XRP) by market capitalization.

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ethereum Price Index

Ripple (XRP), in its turn, is currently trading at $0.50, dropping as much as 5.6 percent over the day as of press time. As per its weekly charts, the currency has seen its peak on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when the coin temporarily overtook Ethereum as the second largest altcoin.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ripple Price Index

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $215 billion at the press-time, falling from $219 billion over the last 24 hours. According to daily trading volume, it has also dropped in comparison to yesterday, Nov. 7, hovering around $13.5 billion as of press time.

Weekly total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

18 of the 20 major cryptocurrencies are in the red, with Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP) and NEM (XEM) seeing the biggest drops in last 24 hours according to CoinMarketCap. BCH has lost a distinctive 4.8 percent after almost a week-long growth following its upcoming hard fork, which is backed by major crypto exchange Binance. As of press time, the coin was traded at around $589.

Dash (DASH) is the only crypto to see a slight growth among top 20 coins, up to 1 percent on the day and trading at around $167 as of press time.

Meanwhile, today, Nov. 8, two countries in Asia have called for clearer crypto regulation. The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Wissanu Krea-ngam, urged to lawmakers to amend the existing legal framework for crypto — set in May 2018 — to meet the development of the technology, warning about possible dangers for consumers. In the meantime, South Korea’s lawyers have lobbied the local government to speed up its work and expedite a legal framework for cryptocurrencies as well.

Yesterday, Nov. 7, crypto Twitter saw an extensive discussion in response to William Shatner’s positive tweet about Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin.

The Canadian actor, most known for his role of captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, posted a thumbs-up emoji tagging Buterin for his 2.5 million followers. Shatner was then drawn into a debate over the ETH network’s decentralization, showing familiarity with ERC standards in his rebuttal to “crypto troll[s].”

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Crypto Exchange Gate.io Removes StatCounter Service Following Report of Security Breach

Crypto exchange Gate.io has removed web analytics tool StatCounter from their website following a breach report by cybersecurity firm ESET, according to an official blog post published today, Nov. 7.

The company has reported that they immediately removed StatCounter’s traffic stats service after receiving a security notice by ESET about suspicious behavior. Gate.io claimed they subsequently scanned the website with 56 antivirus products, and “no one reported any suspicious behavior at that time.” However, the firm still changed its traffic tracker, also reporting that “users’ funds are safe.”

On Nov. 6, Slovakia-based cybersecurity firm ESET published a security report claiming that hackers had successfully breached major web analytics tool StatCounter, targeting Bitcoin (BTC) exchanges that use the traffic analytic service. According to ESET researcher Matthieu Faou, the attackers compromised the StatCounter platform — which is reportedly used by more than two million other websites — by modifying the JavaScript (JS) code on each page of the website.

The hackers managed to add a piece of malicious code containing “myaccount/withdraw/BTC,” which intends to replace the destination address of a Bitcoin transfers by crypto exchange users with an address belonging to the attackers.

Modified script at www.statcounter[.]com/counter/counter.js. Source: WeLiveSecurity

According to Faou, who is reportedly the first to detect the “supply-chain attack,” this Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) “myaccount/withdraw/BTC” has been solely valid on crypto exchange Gate.io, allegedly “the main target of this attack.”

Now-ranked the 38th top crypto trading platform by daily trade volume as of press time, the exchange is quite popular in China with a rank of 9,382 in terms of in-country traffic, while its global rank amounts to 33,365, according to SimilarWeb traffic data and analytics tool.

In the conclusion to his report, the ESET researcher stated that the recent security breach again demonstrates the fact that external “JavaScript code is under the control of a third party and can be modified at any time without notice.”

As reported by Cointelegraph earlier this year, JS has been one of the major tools of hackers implemented in cryptojacking. According to the analysis, JS-based browser add-ons and extensions are “extremely vulnerable to hacking attacks” and often used for hidden mining by deploying users computing resources. For example, in mid-October, researchers found a crypto-mining malware that hides itself behind a fake Adobe Flash update.

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