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October 20, 2018

Bitcoin Congestion Reaches 95%; Fees Remain Relatively Low

Bitcoin blocks experienced up to 95 percent congestion this month, but it didn’t impact its transaction fees, which remain at around $0.1
Cryptocurrency analyst Willy Woo published a graph to demonstrate a stark comparison between BTC transaction fees in two separate congestion episodes. The first case was from 2017, the year that witnessed Bitcoin congestion topping up to 85 percent and its fees peaking to as high as $25 per transaction. The other is from the present when the average Bitcoin transaction fee is close to $0.10 per transaction regardless of the all-time high congestion rate.
Source: Willy Woo Twitter Profile
Unlike a centralized payment settlement network, the Bitcoin network confirms the transactions when its network of nodes – called miners – reaches a consensus to mine a block. Each block can cater to more than 500-transactions on average, with its small 1 MB size limit. As the BTC volume goes up, the speed of a BTC transaction goes down, allowing the network to raise fees to confirm transactions faster by providing more hashpower. It is the very reason why – in 2017 – the transaction fees jumped to its all-time high upon an increase in congestion rate.
Segwit and Lightning Network
Bitcoin Core proposed to improve the digital currency’s network scalability issues by implementing a soft fork called Segregated Witness (Segwit). The group of developers would separate signature data, which was the part of the original Bitcoin blocks and covered 65 percent of its size-space, and move it to a separate structure in the end, away from the Merkle Tree record of who is receiving or sending bitcoin tokens. The network reached consensus for a soft fork, and SegWit became a reality on August 23, 2017.
Segwit also upgraded the Bitcoin network for solving its malleability issues, which further paved for the launch of the Lightning Network. The solution would aim to be the microtransaction network of Bitcoin, removing small transaction requests from the main blockchain and processing them on off-chain. It would put the record on the main blockchain at the beginning and end of their execution.
The combinative solution of Segwit and Lightning network to Bitcoin reflects in the chart published on Willy Woo twitter account, hinting that the digital currency’s core protocol is improving gradually.
Bitcoin Cash
Despite improvements, the original Bitcoin continues to feel the competition from its forked version Bitcoin Cash. Though the latter has lesser investor sentiment, which keeps it slightly behind Bitcoin, the fact that it is processing over 9 million transactions in a day makes it a serious player in the crypto market. The Bitcoin Cash network does not opt for SegWit but instead has increased the block size from 1 MB to 8 MB to process more transactions in lesser time.

Well, I predict once blocks are consistently full again (doesn't take much) fees will zoom up again. Improvements on that have been minimal.
— Jacob Eliosoff (@JaEsf) October 20, 2018

Miners still feel that Bitcoin Cash has a long way to go, mainly because its value is far lesser than that of BTC. It means that miners would make more profits by mining BTC over Bitcoin Cash against similar investments. Unless the adoption level and value of Bitcoin Cash grows, BTC would likely lead the game of mining.
The post Bitcoin Congestion Reaches 95%; Fees Remain Relatively Low appeared first on NewsBTC.


Mike Novogratz Clarifies Anti-Tether Comments, Wants FUD Stopped

The dismissal market performance of so-called stablecoin Tether should not be the reason to spread FUD against it, clarified Mike Novogratz in his tweet.
The billionaire Bitcoin bull, who recently criticized USDT for misbalancing its dollar-peg, later said that he believes Tether has every dollar for every USDT. However, he retained his criticism over Tether not being transparent to the community, in the absence of which it is losing grounds in the cryptocurrency market.
“Id like to put context to these quotes as the last thing I want to do is spread FUD. I said I thought tether has a dollar for every tether and that we actively traded it. The fact that almost $700mm has been redeemed in an orderly fashion is important.”
This Week in Tether
Once the leading stablecoin, Tether got reduced to one of the most criticized coins in crypto industry. On Monday, the USDT lost its peg to the dollar, soon after the news of the insolvency of BitFinex – Tether’s partner exchange – went public (the Exchange refuted the reports later).
Reports claiming that Tether LLC did not have adequate fiat dollars to back its USDT token supply also fueled negative trading sentiment in the market, pushing the value to as low as 85 cents against the dollar. In the meantime, other stablecoins that are supposedly regulated and backed by real fiat capital, took a competitive advantage, with each of them recording higher trading volume against the USDT.
Source: CoinGecko | USDT/USD CHART 7D
Since forming lower lows towards $0.85, Tether has now recovered most of its losses but now is trading circa 0.5 cents below its one dollar peg.
Transparency Could Stop FUD
While the market was swapping USDT for other stablecoins, Tether didn’t publish a single statement that could hold the fort. Novogratz recognized that it is not the question of insolvency but the Tether’s inability to communicate that is invoking a negative sentiment in the USDT market. He said Tether must work hard to regain its users’ trust.
The last and the only relevant communication that came from Tether was on October 18. Tether retweeted Cameron Winklevoss, whose Gemini exchange also issues stablecoins, explaining why companies like themselves couldn’t perform an audit.

Traditional systems take time to adapt to the pioneering work taking place in this space. https://t.co/ykapXrhEqJ
— Tether (@Tether_to) October 17, 2018

Gemini, however, has its assets stored in a US-regulated bank named State Street. The exchange has also received approval from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYFDS) to issue stablecoins. On the auditing front, Gemini has hired an independent accounting firm BPM LLP to conduct monthly inspections of its balance sheets. Other stablecoins are also taking the auditing process by third-party experts seriously.

Why don't You just get an real official audit and state a Guarantee that all USDT is backed up with USD at ALL TIMES (not just a date from June 2018)?Quit the drama, people are loosing trust and customers are leaving the CC space…. This can't be very profitable for You guys.
— BAT (@BjTjensvoll) October 17, 2018

In the case of Tether, the company has not been able to rope in any credible financial auditor yet to have its balance sheets inspected, fairly and openly. So, even despite the best of intentions, traders are not willing to ignore the USDT red flags and are, instead, choosing other stablecoin alternatives.
Only Tether can stop the FUD, so it may seem.
The post Mike Novogratz Clarifies Anti-Tether Comments, Wants FUD Stopped appeared first on NewsBTC.


Wendy McElroy: Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society – The Technology is the Revolution

The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising ExpectationsSection 5: Saving the World Through AnarchismChapter 11, Part 3Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society. The Technology is the Revolution.by Wendy McElroy
Not only is democracy mystical nonsense, it is also immoral. If one man has no right to impose his wishes on another, then ten million men have no right to impose their wishes on the one, since the initiation of force is wrong (and the assent of even the most overwhelming majority can never make it morally permissible). Opinions—even majority opinions—neither create truth nor alter facts. A lynch mob is democracy in action.
–Morris Tannehill, The Market for Liberty
The simplicity of anarchism is stunning: live and let live. Do not use force against those who also pursue their own lives.
Most people are anarchists in how they conduct daily life with family, associates, and strangers. Whether or not law enforcement is present, most people behave peacefully, and being violent never occurs to them. It is not a police presence that makes people wake their children for breakfast or greet their neighbors on the sidewalk. Legislation does not persuade them not to murder strangers. Civil society does. It manifests the natural harmony of interests between human beings as they interact and separate to pursue their own self-interests.
Violence is the greatest obstacle to the functioning of civil society, especially violence in the form of a state. Just as society consists of individuals cooperating to achieve their own goals, the state consists of individuals who use force for the same purpose; they want wealth and status without earning it. That’s the key difference between the two forms of social organization. With cooperation, both sides benefit from an exchange, or else it does not occur. With violence, one side benefits at the expense of the other; it is might versus the right of people to enjoy their own bodies and property.
In order to continue the flow of unearned benefits, a state must continue to use force or the threat thereof. A successful state does two things: it institutionalizes violence; and it mimics civil society by monopolizing valuable services that would otherwise exist commercially and competitively, such as the adjudication of disputes. The monopoly itself is an act of violence against competitors and so-called customers. The two maneuvers allow the state to embed and to legitimize its power. Individual consent is gradually replaced by state coercion, and the principles of civil society are slowly eroded.
Individuals are vulnerable to the institutionalized and well-organized violence of the state. This is a paradox. The state exists only because individuals produce wealth that it confiscates and regulates. How does the impotent state retain its control over the power of individuals? Why don’t people say “no”?
Part of the answer is the centralization of state violence that intimidates people into the mockery of ongoing cooperation that is called obedience. State violence is centralized into institutions that coordinate the control of society; that is, they control individual exchanges and whatever benefits result. By contrast, individuals are decentralized; most people go about their own business and sleep in their own beds at night. They band together in larger homogeneous groups only when there is an advantage to doing so, such as producing goods or enjoying community. Banding together—centralizing–against state violence means that the violence has become egregious enough for people to disrupt their own lives and risk injury in order to oppose it.
Modern technology is more than a game changer in this dynamic; it is a game reversal. Cryptocurrency epitomizes this. The state centralizes control of wealth through institutions, such as central banking, and a monopoly on the services they provide. Crypto decentralizes the locus of power down to the level of individuals; it gives them back control over their own exchanges. Remember: civil society is the cumulative exchanges of the individuals within it; the state is the cumulative use of force to control those exchanges. Technology returns individuals to the conditions of civil society without a need to relinquish its benefits or to fear violence from the state.
Decentralizing The Revolution
Civil society is empowered and state violence is rendered impotent by three revolutionary steps, each of which occurs due to a radical decentralization of power.
Encryption returns privacy to the individual. Strong cryptography is the antithesis of the massive data collection that states rush to establish. Centralized data allows the state to regulate every activity within a society; gradually, society and the state merge into one unit called the total state. But individuals who control their own data can control their own lives.
The impact of this decentralization is much more than economic. It does more than deprive the state of taxes and other forms of revenue. The technology is a political revolution in and of itself. Consider one example. Modern technology—from encryption to the blockchain to 3-D printers—obsoletes the geographical borders that define a state; namely, a state is the organization that claims a monopoly or jurisdiction of force over a given territory. Its jurisdiction is defended through harsh border policies and tariffs, as well as through military force, if necessary or opportune. But what happens when individuals can leap continents at will to conduct the daily business of exchanging information and wealth? What happens when they do so without permission and privately, simply by pressing a button? Borders become meaningless. How long before states follow suit?
The founding crypto anarchist, Timothy May, considered the boundary-breaking feature important enough to be the opening paragraph of his pivotal 1994 work “Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities.” May wrote, “The combination of strong, unbreakable public key cryptography and virtual network communities in cyberspace will produce interesting and profound changes in the nature of economic and social systems. Crypto anarchy is the cyberspatial realization of anarcho-capitalism, transcending national boundaries and freeing individuals to make the economic arrangements they wish to make consensually.”
Technology sidesteps trusted third parties. The state exerts control through monopoly institutions with which individuals must comply if they want to participate in what remains of civil society. The central banking system is an example. In partnership, the state and the banks create money and monetary policies that are enforced by draconian laws; some nations punish counterfeiting with death. The money monopoly offers the state more than economic benefits, such as taxation and inflation. The data collected by banks is a mainstay of social control in two ways. The information and detailed records of every financial transaction are shared with the state, which uses it for social control. Those who eschew the banking system, along with those who are denied access by the system itself, are shut out of important aspects of civil society and from “services” offered by the state; they become secondary citizens. This, too, is social control.
Again, peer-to-peer technology is a game changer here. It sidesteps the trusted third party problem by providing banking services without an intermediary. Individuals become self-bankers, who exchange wealth through their own wallets and an autonomous network. If sophisticated monetary exchanges are desired, then a self-banker can hold an amount in a decentralized and reputable exchange for as long as the transaction requires. Privacy is maintained, and control of specified wealth is temporarily relinquished in exchange for a benefit. This is as close as crypto comes to needing a trusted third party. And, ideally, the decentralized exchange is worthy of trust, in the same manner as a private lawyer who facilitates a contract.
Bypassing unwanted intermediaries was the intent behind the blockchain. Satoshi Nakamoto announced this feature in the first lines of his 2008 White Paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Satoshi wrote, “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required…”
Freedom no longer requires consensus or groundswell support. This is a comparatively unacknowledged aspect of crypto’s revolutionary impact: the decentralization of revolution down to the individual level. In traditional revolutions, masses of people take to the street after being convinced of the need to rebel. A crypto revolution does not require the centralization of political awareness or resistance within crowds of people who become powerful enough to confront the state. Decentralized individuals can free themselves, one by one, even if they remain a small minority. The more individuals who choose digital exchanges and decentralizing technology, the greater the impact on society will be.
But crypto will never appeal to everyone. Nor should it. The diversity of human beings is too vital and productive to be reined in. The beauty of a radically decentralized revolution is that it succeeds on an individual level; it has no need for consensus rebellion in the streets or collective action at the ballot boxes. Just as crypto anarchy sidesteps trusted third parties, it also bypasses the traditional means by which individuals can achieve freedom.
Everyone can be a self-banker. Everyone can be a self-revolution.
A Mystery Is Solved
The vision of crypto anarchism makes sense of what must be a mystery to many observers: Why did the creators of crypto, the blockchain, and associated technology release their inventions for free? Why was highly-valuable technology thrown to the wind and dispersed like seeds? It was not because crypto anarchists didn’t realize the technology’s potential. Quite the opposite. They saw it clearly.
Crypto anarchists believe that enabling others to control their own lives is an unalloyed “good.” Each person’s peaceful freedom benefits that of everyone else. It creates the community and world in which the crypto anarchists wish to live. The crypto revolutionaries released the technology in the same manner and for the same reason that people teach others how to read. Literacy enriches both individuals and society as a whole. It is not possible for a cynic to explain why the the incredibly valuable phenom of crypto was given away for free. It is a trivial task for idealists.
The State’s Main Chance
Violence. Violence is how the state maintains itself; it is also the main hope to defeat the threat of crypto freedom. To do so, the state needs to convince people that crypto is the violent factor. Then, the state must convince people that it is what stands between them and “anarchy,” in every bad sense of that word.
There is a grain of truth to the statist claim. All societies contain violence because it is an aspect of human nature. With crypto, the violence is overwhelmingly expressed through fraud and theft. “How can the damage of violence be reined in and rectified?” is always last question asked of peaceful anarchism. And, then, discussion is closed down. It is now time to consider how law enforcement and a court system could be provided by the free market.
[To be continued next week.]
Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters

Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.
The post Wendy McElroy: Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society – The Technology is the Revolution appeared first on Bitcoin News.


$50 Million Bitcoin Mining Farm Opens in Armenia

A new cryptocurrency mining facility opened in Armenia on Oct. 18. The $50 million farm will extract bitcoin and ethereum using 3,000 machines, according to local media reports. Around 120,000 more miners are to be added in the months to come.
Also read: Marks Jewelers Now Accepts Bitcoin Cash For Payments
Multi Group and Omnia Establish Landmark Armenian Mining Facility
The mining project, spearheaded by Armenian real estate investment company Multi Group Concern and Malta-registered Omnia Tech International Company, was officially launched in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Thursday. The country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, businessmen and entrepreneurs from China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates attended the ceremony, Arka News Agency reported.
Gagik Tsarukyan, an Armenian businessman and politician who is also founder and head of Multi Group, said the company spent $50 million creating the facility, including the installation of industrial level cooling systems. The farm’s first floor is designed for an information technology business center that runs around the clock, he explained.
According to an earlier statement by Multi Group chief executive Sedrak Arustamyan, the farm will be operated by Omnia Tech, a mining entity that offers lifetime contracts and daily payouts. Omnia Tech has said to be in partnership with Genesis Mining, a leading cryptocurrency hashpower supplier.
“We will also help Omnia Tech with the establishment of the Financial Technology Park and the data exchange center in Armenia,” Arustamyan said in April. Robert Velghe, Omnia Tech founder, indicated at the time that the two companies were planning to invest more than $2 billion in mining projects in Armenia. “We intend to create here a blockchain-based center for the development of new information projects, which will turn Armenia into a high-tech platform,” he said.
Global Cryptocurrency Mining Operations Rise
Armenia is aiming to create its own Silicon Valley by establishing a free economic zone that will host a state-of-the-art technology center, officials have said. The new mining facility, the country’s first, comes at a time when a number of countries are implementing and expanding blockchain technologies. Georgia, Armenia’s neighbor, set up its first bitcoin mining farm two years ago.
In August, Russian company Kriptoyunivers announced it had transformed a former fertilizer laboratory into a cryptocurrency mining operation. The center, which supports the mining of bitcoin and litecoin, was built over 4,000 square meters of land in the town of Kirshi near St. Petersburg, with an investment of 500 million rubles ($7.4 million). Although Moscow has cracked the whip on illegal attempts at cryptocurrency mining, Russia is still the third largest cryptocurrency producer in the world after China and the United States.
What do you think about the new mining facility in Armenia? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com
The post $50 Million Bitcoin Mining Farm Opens in Armenia appeared first on Bitcoin News.


Altcoins Price Analysis: Coins Ready to Rally as ADA, Stellar, Litecoin Reject Bears

While Litecoin might be a “relic” according to Tushar Jain, their developers are ready to slash transaction costs by a factor of 10 once Litecoin core 0.17 goes live. The release date is tentative but what we know for sure is that EOS trade volume are roughly five percent that of Ethereum. Besides, it’s prone to congestion all thanks to the introduction of Block Producers who often collude locking out “outsiders”.
Let’s have a look at these charts:
EOS Price Analysis
According to reports, there is a CPU problem in EOSIO and sources show that it’s not unusual for network users to stake 95 percent of their total EOS between CPU and bandwidth. The reason has been found to be due to general Block Producer operation configurations where the network congests once 20ms of CPU block time is hit.

This shift of EOSIO staking algorithm could explain why there is a lot of coin staking going on in EOS where it is not unusual for network users to stake 100 percent of their coin just to use a similar amount for free transactions. While ordinary network users don’t earn interest for their EOS stakes, Block Producers are actively colluding and earning transaction confirmation rewards despite the network’s low transaction volumes and high odds of network congestion.

Back to price action and the coin is likely to end the week on a high after printing 4.8 percent. Though prices are stable in the last day, our previous price forecast still hold going forward and still we expect bulls to reign over the weekend.
Our reasoning is simple. Notice that sellers did fail to reverse Oct 15 gains. At the same time, these losses were accompanied by light volumes. As such, we remain optimistic but before we suggest trades, buyers must first rally and close above $7. Thereafter, we shall recommend buys on dips with first targets at $9.
Litecoin Price Analysis
Network transactions fees are in place to protect the network from spam. Aside from that they create this hierarchy of demand for miners where those who pay higher would most likely get a slot in a block. These transaction fees fluctuate but Litecoin is taking the lead trying to suppress costs. In their next release–Litecoin Core 0.17, developers want to slash these fees by a factor of 10 to $0.005.

Price wise and Litecoin is a top performer in the last day. It’s up 1.3 percent according to statistics but bulls are yet to edge above Oct 15 highs. Like before, we retain a neutral but bearish stand aware that gains above $70 would usher in conservative traders eyeing $90 and $110.
In the mean time, risk-off, aggressive type of traders stand a chance of profiting if enough momentum build up and bulls close above $60. This is Oct 11 highs and a minor resistance level as far as our analysis is concerned. Rallies above $60 shall trigger aggressive bulls eyeing for $70 and $90, the upper limit of our resistance zone.
Stellar Lumens Price Analysis

On a weekly basis, Stellar Lumens is up 17 percent taming bears as a result. However, in the last day, price movements have been tight. In fact, what we have in the daily chart is a doji bar hinting at possible indecision. Regardless, our previous XLM trade plan is valid and until we see strong gains above 25 cents, neutral stand shall prevail. But, considering the accumulation of the last three days it’s likely that bulls may close higher today. That’s why we are expectant of Oct 15 follow through before the close of this week.
Tron Price Analysis

Despite lower lows in the last day, it’s clear that TRX is still bullish. It’s up 15 percent in the last day and encouragingly, prices are still trending inside Oct 15 bull bar.
That’s what we retain a bullish outlook expecting buyers to accumulate in lower time frames, build momentum and explode above Sep highs triggering bulls in line with our last Tron price analysis.
From our candlestick formation which informs our conclusion, it’s clear that as long as TRX prices are trading above 2 cents, bulls are in charge. Should sellers clear them today then this optimistic projection is null and void.
Cardano Price Analysis

Like Tron, ADA is stable in lower time frames and up eight percent in the last week. Overly, this is positive for buyers. From the chart, Cardano buyers might follow through and cross above the minor resistance trend line and 9.5 cents triggering buys in line with our previous Cardano trade plan. However, before that happens, it’s advisable for traders to take a wait-and-see approach instead of fronting bulls in an openly bearish market.
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and aren’t investment advice. Trading of any form involves risk and so do your due diligence before making a trading decision.
The post Altcoins Price Analysis: Coins Ready to Rally as ADA, Stellar, Litecoin Reject Bears appeared first on NewsBTC.


Monero Price Analysis: Price Stable, XMR is Bullish above $100

36 hours after hard forking and Monero buyers are yet to confirm Oct 15 gains. If anything, there seems to be resistance for upsides and this is negative for bulls. Anyhow, we suggest aggressive buyers to load at spot prices with stops at $190 while risk-averse traders should be on the side lines until there are gains above $150. Such gains will most likely trigger a torrent of buyers aiming at $300 and higher.
Latest Monero News
Talk of privacy coins won’t leave Monero out and for good reasons. While the coin is not short of opposition, Monero is one of the most liquid and capitalized coin around. It’s on the top 10 meaning it’s an on-demand. However, that’s not what we are after. A coin is only as good as the team that is working behind it. From GitHub and the release by Monero Labs, it is obvious that Monero is one of the most active coins around.

And there we are, transactions using Bulletproofs are now live on Monero mainnet https://t.co/Lag7K0j1r5
— Howard Chu (@hyc_symas) October 18, 2018

Yesterday’s hard fork went on to cement the general objective of the coin: that of reinvigorating its mission of providing privacy and safeguarding the interest of users. With Bullet proofs, Monero is now cheaper to use because what they did is reduce the size of transaction size from 13.5 KB to 2.5 KB which in proof of work system translates to reduction of network fees. Aside from that, the team went ahead and increased the number of rings from seven to 11 further enhancing the privacy of the network.
Another stand out about Monero is their mission of rejecting ASIC miners in their midst. To achieve this rather hard duty, the team regularly update the core, evolving before the designers behind Bitmain’s miners ran havoc by centralizing the network. By itself, this is problematic and an existential threat to the network.
Monero Price Analysis
Weekly Chart

Two things are visible from the weekly chart. First, the simple fact that XMR is oscillating within a tight range marked by $75 on the lower side and $150 on the upsides. Secondly, the last two months or so price action has failed to break and close above or below week ending Aug 5 and 12 high lows.
This means after 10 weeks of higher highs, bulls are yet to reverse two weeks of sell pressure meaning bears are technically in charge and we could possibly see XMR drift towards $75 or Aug lows.
However, given the length of consolidation in lower time frames, conservative set of traders should stay on the sidelines waiting for conclusive breaks above $150—for buyers to be in control, or below $75 as prices melt down towards $20.
Daily Chart

Back to the daily chart and the last few days price action could be positive for price. After all, Monero prices are down more than 80 percent following this year’s strong price correction, and Fibonacci retracement rules hints of upward pressure around these price tags.
Anyway, we retain a bullish outlook in lower time frames as long as prices are trending inside Oct 15 high low and above $100.
Like in our last Monero price analysis, bulls should load at spot prices with stops at Oct 15 lows at around $190. Any sharp losses revert us back to neutral but should there be momentum then our first targets would be at $150.
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and aren’t investment advice. Trading of any form involves risk and so do your due diligence before making a trading decision.
The post Monero Price Analysis: Price Stable, XMR is Bullish above $100 appeared first on NewsBTC.

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Cryptocurrency Market Update: A New Brave Browser Boosts BAT

FOMO Moments
Another flat Saturday as markets are stagnant; Only BAT and DGTX heading higher.
The weekend has brought no joy to crypto markets which have remained immobile for the past few days. The slow downward slide seems to have halted just below $210 billion market capitalization where things remain for another day.
Bitcoin is at the exact same place it was on Friday, $6,480 and there is no sign of a breakout just yet. A similar story is being played out in the Ethereum camp during Asian trading this morning. ETH is immobile again today at around $204.
Alcoins are nearly all in the green but gains are so small they are hardly worth mentioning. The biggest movement in the top ten is Stellar which has inched up 2.2% to $0.244 this morning. The rest are static with small upwards movement of around one percent on the day.
The top twenty is a little more mixed with more red creeping in. Zcash is also up 2.2% trading at $120 right now but the rest have moved less than a percentage point in either direction. Interest in altcoins is at rock bottom this month.

Today’s big pump is BAT which has jumped 16% to $0.240 on the day. A new Brave browser release with BAT integrated for tipping websites was launched a couple of days ago which is driving momentum now. Additionally Brave Rewards, which allows publishers and content creators to earn BAT crypto payments based on the time that users spend on their websites, has entered beta testing and is looking towards its final roll-out. Trade volume has quadrupled from $6 to $24 million, over 60% of which is on Binance.

New Brave desktop browser available for download at https://t.co/4wVWi8TElt. This latest milestone on our way to 1.0 is Chromium-based, has 22% faster load time than our previous Muon-based version, & unveils Brave Rewards beta (previously Brave Payments). https://t.co/Zppx5mUZzN pic.twitter.com/RZ5tLm9QDr
— Brave Software (@brave) October 18, 2018

Basic Attention Token has made 33% since this time last Saturday and is also up over 50% on the month. Digitex Futures is also in pump mode, adding 15% to its price levels over the past 24 hours and Aeternity is looking strong with a 10% gain.
Getting the red end of the digital stick is Polymath, as yesterday’s pump predictably dumps today. POLY has dropped 11% of its previous gains in this tired pattern of ups and downs. Komodo is also shedding some today with a 7% decline.
Total crypto market capitalization has not moved since Friday morning and is still at $208 billion. The daily lows are getting shallower though so it could get back over $210 billion during Euro and US trading today. Since last weekend markets have climbed 3.5% but they are still very flat.
FOMO Moments is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 altcoins during the current trading session and analyses the best performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.
The post Cryptocurrency Market Update: A New Brave Browser Boosts BAT appeared first on NewsBTC.


Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 Listings

Over the last year bitcoin cash adoption has been thriving and in certain regions, BCH merchants are spreading like wildfire. Thanks to a slew of cryptocurrency payment processors and people pressing for adoption there are thousands of BCH accepting merchants these days. One application called Marco Coino helps bitcoiners find BCH brick-and-mortar retailers on a global map and the platform now hosts over 500 known merchants.
Also read: New Qart Wallet Gives Bitcoin Cash QR Codes a Personal Touch
Finding Brick-and-Mortar Bitcoin Cash Merchants With Marco Coino
Getting merchants to accept bitcoin cash (BCH) and spreading global adoption is a big deal to a lot of digital asset proponents. For a while now, many retailers have been turned on to BCH because of enthusiasts spreading adoption, low fees, fast settlement and there’s also been a variety of payment processors helping progress the cause. With all the BCH accepting merchants popping up, one application called Marco Coino provides people with the means to find nearby merchants that accept bitcoin cash. The platform has been around for a few months now and has been steadily gaining more listings nearly every day. At the time of publication, there are 504 BCH accepting merchants located on the Marco Coino global map.
Marco Coino can be viewed in both ‘map’ and ‘satellite’ settings.
The Marco Coino application is available for mobile phones using Android and iOS and the platform has a desktop version as well. The desktop version explains the project is focused on “helping Bitcoin Cash become the global, instant, practically free payment network for everyday use by everyone around the world.” The Marco Coino map of the world can be viewed in ‘map’ or ‘satellite’ mode, but in order for the platform to use the user’s specific location, the owner has to approve the permissions using the operating system’s location services.
Users can submit a merchant to be added to the Marco Coino listings.
Bitcoin Cash Adoption Shines in Slovenia, Columbia, North Queensland, and Japan
Right now there are strong concentrations of merchants in the US, Europe, South America, Africa, and many countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Looking closer at the global map, people can see there are even more concentrated areas in places like Japan, North Queensland, Columbia, the east and west coasts of the United States, and a ton of merchants in Slovenia. In addition to the merchant map, Marco Coino users can also submit a specific retailer to be listed on the platform so users can easily find the location. The platform also has linking abilities where links can be tied to locations and places in Marco Coino.
Some of the most concentrated areas of BCH merchants worldwide include Japan, North Queensland, Columbia, and Slovenia.
The Marco Coino bitcoin cash merchant directory is very helpful when searching for physical locations that accept BCH for goods and services. The application’s list of merchants is regularly updated and users can literally see new merchants popping up in great number. The creator of Marco Coino, Brendon Duncan, explained to news.Bitcoin.com that most of the recent growth has stemmed from Slovenia and Colombia.
What do you think about the Marco Coino bitcoin cash merchant directory? Let us know your thoughts about this subject in the comments section below.

Images via Shutterstock, Marco Coino, Jamie Redman, and Pixabay.

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Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam

The pass rate for the exam developed by the Maltese government for financial services practitioners seeking to obtain cryptocurrency agent certification is reportedly only 39 percent. The exam is part of the requirements mandated by the country’s newly established Virtual Financial Assets Act.
Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space
Low Pass Rate
Under Malta’s Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) Act, practitioners who wish to act as agents in the field that includes cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) must successfully complete a short training course and pass an exam.
Noting that the first exam took place in September, the Times of Malta reported on Thursday:

Nearly two-thirds of those applying for cryptocurrency agent certification failed the official assessment process despite last-second changes intended to boost the pass rate.

The exam was set by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and administered by the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners.
The news outlet quoted sources revealing that about 250 lawyers, accountants, and auditors took the exam, which consisted of a series of multiple choice questions. “Once the exam papers were graded, it became clear the pass rate was extremely low,” the publication conveyed, adding that “Even after the changes the pass rate was just 39 percent.”
License Required
According to the MFSA’s consultation document for VFA service providers, “any person who is providing a VFA service … shall within twelve months apply for a license with the competent authority in terms of Article 14 to the Act,” the CBS Group described.
The MFSA wrote, “It has also become evident that certain industry players are not sufficiently prepared to register as VFA agents.” The regulator, therefore, proposes a number of additional rules for them to comply. They include increasing the initial and ongoing capital requirements as well as regulatory fees. In addition, the MFSA proposes “introducing a rigorous competence assessment” and “a mandatory requirement for Continuous Professional Education.”
The Times of Malta elaborated, “The VFA Act is one of three new laws forming part of the government’s ‘Blockchain Island’ strategy and which seek to regulate the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector,” adding that “It will enter into force in November.” Other than trading cryptocurrencies and issuing ICOs, the publication explained:

Companies looking to provide other virtual financial asset services, such as portfolio management or investment advice, also need an agent to apply for a licence.

What do you think of the low pass rate for the Maltese cryptocurrency agent certification exam? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and MFSA.

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First Bitcoin Fraud Action Filed by the CFTC, Accused Ordered to Pay Over $2.5 Million

A New York federal court has ordered Gelfman Blueprint, a Bitcoin-denominated hedge fund, and its CEO Nicholas Gelfman to pay over $2.5 million in civil monetary penalties and restitution in the first Bitcoin fraud action filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
CFTC First Bitcoin Fraud Action Results in $2.5 Million Penalty Over $600,000 Ponzi Scheme
CFTC’s first anti-fraud enforcement action involving Bitcoin found that Gelfman and its firm operated a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme from 2014 to January 2016, according to a press release.
The fraud was able to solicit over $600,000 from at least 80 customers. The customers’ funds were supposed to be placed in a pooled commodity fund using a high-frequency, algorithmic trading strategy called “Jigsaw,” which turned out to be fake.
All performance reports were false, according to the CFTC, and payouts to GBI customers consisted of other customers’ misappropriated funds. James McDonald, the CFTC’s director of enforcement, promised to continue to enforce the law in the cryptocurrency arena.
“This case marks yet another victory for the Commission in the virtual currency enforcement arena. As this string of cases shows, the CFTC is determined to identify bad actors in these virtual currency markets and hold them accountable. I’m grateful to the members of Enforcement’s Virtual Currency Task Force for their tireless work on these matters.”
Law enforcement found that the defendant’s real trading account records revealed only infrequent and unprofitable trading. Gelfman tried to conceal the Ponzi scheme by staging a fake computer “hack” that supposedly caused the loss of nearly all funds.
Gelfman and his firm are now ordered to pay, respectively, $492,064.53 and $554,734.48 in restitution to customers and $177,501 and $1,854,000 in civil monetary penalties, amounting to over $2.5 million. Moreover, the defendant is now banned from trading in the United States for life.
The agency cautioned that orders requiring repayment of funds to victims may not result in the recovery of any money lost because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC said it will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure the wrongdoers are held accountable.
In July 2018, the CFTC claimed a Bitcoin pool operator has fraudulently solicited almost $500,000 worth of Bitcoin from at least 127 individuals who expected to participate in a pooled investment vehicle for trading commodity interests.
The regulator requires Dillon Michael Dean and his U.K.-registered company, The Entrepreneurs Headquarters Limited (TEH), to pay almost $500,000 in restitution to customers plus a sum of $1,497,792.12 civil monetary penalty, bringing the total amount owed to a hefty $2 million.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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Novogratz Criticises Tether’s Lack of Transparency, Responds to Roubini

The famous Bitcoin proponent and billionaire investor Mike Novogratz has criticised the stable-coin U.S. Dollar Tether (USDT) for failing to provide a trustworthy service for users.
The Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd. founder also responded to Nouriel Roubini’s scathing attacks on cryptocurrency last week.
Novogratz Prefers Gemini Dollar to USDT
Novogratz stated in an interview that the stable-coin U.S. Dollar Tether has only itself to blame for users losing confidence in it.
The tool that is largely used by cryptocurrency traders looking to exit markets in anticipation of price declines recently lost its peg to the dollar value. It has traded for most of the week between 92c and 97c. However, on some exchanges, the supposedly stable coin reached as low as 85c.
U.S. Dollar Tether has spent much of its history shrouded in mystery. Although it has strong links to exchange platform Bitfinex, little is known about the company’s banking relationships. According to Bitfinex, Tether is backed with an equivalent amount of U.S. dollars in a bank somewhere in the world.
However, since the account provider is under question, there is great speculation in the cryptocurrency community that Tether is operating a fractional reserve system of sorts. Some believe that the tokens with no backing whatsoever are being used to prop up the price of Bitcoin and other digital assets.
Novogratz spoke to Bloomberg about the rapidly diminishing market capitalisation of Tether at a conference in Frankfurt on Wednesday. He stated that it was the fault of those behind Tether that traders had lost confidence:
“I think Tether didn’t do a great job in terms of creating transparency.”
The billionaire investor went on to state that he would prefer to see more people to switch to using the fully audited Gemini Dollar, launched by the Winklevoss-owned exchange platform of the same name. He cited the fact that Gemini make no secret of their banking relationships and that the funds backing their own stable-coin are stored with a suitable and trustworthy institution.
Also during the interview, Novogratz addressed the criticism levied at the digital asset space by economist Nouriel Roubini. Last week, Roubini called cryptocurrency “the mother of all scams” at the Senate Banking Committee hearing on cryptocurrency. He also took to Twitter to provide additional scathing remarks.
In response to Roubini, Novogratz highlighted how young the crypto industry is and that custodian solutions from big names such as ICE-backed Bakkt and Fidelity Investments would bring the legitimacy and security needed to see institutional money flood the market:
“You can agree with Roubini on several points, but he is judging cryptocurrencies as if it was a PhD student. Cryptocurrencies are third- or fourth-graders, so still in need to mature… It may take a few years but we should begin to see Bitcoin as an asset class like gold or equities.”
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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Report: Vast Majority of ICOs Trading Significantly Below Their Listing Price

A recent report from Ernst & Young found that nearly a third of all cryptocurrencies that have been financed through online fundraisers, like initial coin offerings (ICOs), have lost almost all their value, while the vast majority of them are currently trading below their listing price.
The report, which was first published today, gathered its data from 141 cryptocurrency projects that issued their tokens through ICOs in 2017. It found that the 2018 cryptocurrency crash has significantly affected both ICO tokens and previously established cryptocurrencies.
ICOs Falter Amidst Persisting Bear Market
The report notes that of the projects that were analyzed, 86% have fallen below their listing prices on the aggregated markets. This signals that despite many of 2017’s projects seeing significant gains towards the end of the year, they have not been impervious to the bear market.
In 2017, the cryptocurrency markets saw an unprecedented rise, led by Bitcoin, whose price rose from just over $700 in January of 2017, to highs of nearly $20,000 in December of the same year. This price rise generated a frenzy that swept through the entire markets, with investors throwing money at any crypto-related project that asked for it.
This frenzy was proceeded by a market crash and continuous bear market, where Bitcoin’s price fell from its December highs to its year-to-date lows of under $6,000. It is currently trading just off its low at $6,470.
Many of these cryptocurrency projects that were hyped by the markets and took significant amounts of investor’s money have since faltered, with the report claiming that 71% of 2017’s ICO projects still lacking a functional product.
Paul Brody, global innovation leader for blockchain technology at Ernst & Young spoke about the aforementioned statistics in a recent interview, saying that the state of the ICO market looks “worse than we thought.”
In addition to the majority of ICOs not showing any signs of having a promising future for investors, many of them have devalued their own tokens by accepting fiat currency for their services, which negates the value and need of the tokens they sold to investors.
Brody explained that the state of the ICO market is significantly worse than the state of the dot.com market that experienced a similar market cycle in the late 1990’s, in which somewhat useless startups experienced tremendous sales volume and stock price spikes before shutting down shop shortly afterwards.
One example mentioned by Brody was Pets.com, which sold pet supplies to customers online. The company’s stock prices skyrocketed amidst the dot.com buying frenzy, but crashed after the bubble went bust.
Brody notes that unlike ICOs, many dot.com startups actually had working businesses.
“At least from Pets.com you could get pets food. They had an actual working business, they had a product,” he said.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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CEO of Sberbank: Crypto and Blockchain Will Change the World but Not Yet

The CEO of the Russian state-owned financial service provider Sberbank has stated that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will fundamentally transform business and finance. That said, Herman Gref is looking at a time span of decades rather than months or years.
Herman Gref with Refreshing Take on Cryptocurrency
According to a report in local news, the CEO of Sberbank thinks that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have the power to radically transform society.
Gref was speaking about the financial innovations at fintech conference, the Finopolis Forum, yesterday. The event is being held by the Bank of Russia in Sochi. It ran from Wednesday to Friday of this week.
However, the changes Gref envisions are not to be expected soon. The banker went on to state that digital currencies would take at least 10 years to become widespread enough to challenge the current status quo. Gref holds that national governments will try to desperately cling on to existing financial services for as long as possible:
“… it’s not likely that any state is ready to part with the centralised money supply model.”
The state-owned bank executive is more optimistic about blockchain technology. He feels that the true implications of distributed ledgers will make themselves known in around three to five years:
“The technology is not ready now. When will it be ready? In my opinion, three to five years. If you ask me in five years, maybe I can say something more distinct about its place, but the potential is huge.”
Gref also stated that the hype-stifling bear market of 2018 has allowed for a “balanced consideration and evaluation of this technology.” The experiments that are ongoing in the space will lay the groundwork for the sweeping changes envisioned.
Finally, Gref addressed regulations. To him, any outright bans on cryptocurrencies risk stifling the innovative potential of the space. The technology needs to “quietly develop” and can do so better now that much of the speculation has died down.
Although perhaps not what everyone wants to hear in terms of time frame, Gref’s outlook on cryptocurrencies seems refreshingly grounded. It stands as contrast to the outbursts of other individuals connected with the traditional financial industry. Suspiciously absent were any comments relating to fraud, tulips, rat poison, or money laundering.
Gref’s commentary on the space is consistent with Sberbank’s own experimentation with blockchain. The state-owned financial service provider has been working on systems that use the technology to increase the efficiency of the services it provides.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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Global Money Laundering Watchdog to Establish Crypto-Focused Guidelines by June

The global entity responsible for setting international money laundering guidelines is finally ready to lay the foundation for its first crypto-specific set of rules by June 2018.
FATF Readies Global Crypto Regulation on Money Laundering
Paris, France-based money laundering watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has seen increasing pressure from global governments to unify regulation of the cryptocurrency industry under its wing. This is rather than continue down the path of allowing countries to define their own approach and create fragmentation across the market.
Now, according to Reuters, FATF is preparing to establish the first set of guiding principles for the emerging asset class, to be ready for June of next year.
“By June, we will issue additional instructions on the standards and how we expect them to be enforced,” explained Marshall Billingslea, FATF president Marshall Billingslea.
Billingslea, who also serves as the assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the U.S. Department of Treasury, added that participating countries will be heavily scrutinized for how they implement the regulatory guidelines set forth by FATF.
He suggested that any countries not adhering to the rules could see their access to the global financial market restricted, and be added to a FATF blacklist.
FATF will require cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto wallet firms across the globe to become licensed and regulated in an attempt to thwart attempts to launder money using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be subject to the same governing policies FATF sets forth.
Is Crypto Money Laundering the Risky Situation Regulators Think?
While concerns across the globe surrounding criminal efforts to launder money through cryptocurrencies are mounting, there are conflicting reports on how severe an issue cryptocurrency money laundering really is.
Data security company CipherTrade released a report in July expecting cryptocurrency money laundering to explode in 2018, reaching $1.5 billion in total – an amount over three times that of 2017’s money laundering total of $266 million.
Meanwhile, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal claims only $88 million in cryptocurrency had been laundered across 46 cryptocurrency exchanges, with the bulk of money laundering happening on ShapeShift. Erik Vorhees, ShapeShift’s CEO, refuted the claims.
Another report from Japan’s – a country riddled with crypto-related crime, mostly in the form of exchange hacks – National Police Agency, says only 669 cases of cryptocurrency-related money laundering were reported between December and April. This is compared to a staggering 347,000 reports from traditional banks dealing in fiat currencies.
Funding terrorist organizations is another chief concern of the money laundering watchdog. However, Yaya Fanusie, director of analysis for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, told Congress last month that terrorist organization have repeatedly failed to raise funds via cryptocurrencies, negating any risk that these organizations were laundering a significant amount of digital assets.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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SEC Establishes FinHub to Engage Public on Cryptocurrencies

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced the launch of the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) to promote public engagement on fintech-related issues and initiatives, including blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
SEC Launches FinHub Portal in Connection with the Issuance of Its DAO Report
FinHub, which replaces several internal working groups at the SEC, includes other areas involving the financial markets sector, including automated investment advice, digital marketplace financing, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Acting as a portal for industry and the public, FinHub will publicize information regarding the agency’s initiatives and create a forum focusing on blockchain and digital assets, according to a press release.
To be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, senior advisor for digital assets and innovation and associate director in the SEC’s division of corporation finance, FinHub will also serve as liaison to other domestic and international regulators regarding cryptocurrencies and other issues, according to the entity chaired by Jay Clayton.
“The SEC is committed to working with investors and market participants on new approaches to capital formation, market structure, and financial services, with an eye toward enhancing, and in no way reducing, investor protection,” he added. “The FinHub provides a central point of focus for our efforts to monitor and engage on innovations in the securities markets that hold promise, but which also require a flexible, prompt regulatory response to execute our mission.”
The new SEC portal, FinHub, was established in connection with the issuance of DAO Report on July 25, 2017. The document defined ICO tokens as securities, which caused great concern for many players in the crypto space as they prepared to launch their own initial coin offerings. The SEC has also made it clear that the token sales during the ICOs don’t qualify as crowdfunding.
“SEC staff across the agency have been engaged for some time in efforts to understand emerging technologies, communicate the agency’s stance on new issues, and facilitate beneficial innovations in the securities industry. By launching FinHub, we hope to provide a clear path for entrepreneurs, developers, and their advisers to engage with SEC staff, seek input, and test ideas”, said Szczepanik.
The portal invites public input on matters such as fund innovation and crypto holdings, blockchain applications, and the listing of of VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust shares. The financial watchdog has been conservative regarding the entry of Bitcoin ETF applications.
By August, the SEC denied nine applications from ProShares, Direxion, and GraniteShares via three recently published documents.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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iCloud Hacker Demanded $175,000 Ransom to be Paid in Bitcoin

A hacker who filmed himself accessing Apple iCloud accounts has appeared in a U.K. court.
Kerem Albayrak had demanded around $175,000 in ransom be paid in Bitcoin and Apple iTunes vouchers for the non-disclosure of sensitive user data.
Apple Hacker Charged in Connection with Bitcoin Blackmail
An IT analyst from north London has been charged with one count of blackmail and two counts of unauthorised acts intending to hinder access to a computer. Albayrak appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ court where he was granted unconditional bail until his case is heard at Southwark Crown Court on November 14.
According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Albayrak had recorded himself hacking into iCloud accounts and posted the footage on YouTube. He then contacted Apple and demanded $170,000 to be paid in Bitcoin and iTunes vouchers. He warned the global tech giant that he would disclose the personal details taken from the 319 million users’ accounts he had gained access to if they did not meet his demands.
During court proceedings today, it was revealed that Albayrak initially requested around $75,000 before upping his demands to double that figure. He finally settled on $174,000 in Bitcoin and around $1,000 worth of iTunes vouchers.
The prosecution’s legal representative, Lorna Vincent, stated:
“Mr Karem Albayrak is accused of sending emails to Apple making financial demands for downloading database iCloud accounts and factory resetting those iCloud accounts… He entered into the accounts of the alleged victims and posted a video of his hack onto YouTube.”
Albayrak is far from the first to make such ransom demands on big companies. His efforts are reminiscent of last year’s WannaCry ransomware attack. Based on the same principle of blackmailing firms with threats of releasing sensitive data, the malware attack infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. The hacker behind it was able to evade authorities for over a year, but was arrested last month.
In a number of decidedly more analogue attacks, people replaced data as the cornerstone upon which to leverage Bitcoin blackmails. In July of this year, a businessman from Cape Town was kidnapped and a demand of 50 BTC was made for his safe return. Liyaqat Parker was returned to his family in September. It is unknown if the ransom was met.
Likewise, in Ukraine last December, a crypto-analyst from the EXMO exchange platform was also kidnapped. Once again, those responsible demanded Bitcoin for his safe return. In this example, the demands were met and Pavel Lerner was returned just days later.
Fortunately, authorities were able to track Albayrak down before any harm could be done with the data he reportedly managed to access. This is hardly surprising, given how amateurish the young hacker went about coordinating his attack.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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