Despite Rumors, Piers Morgan’s ‘Announcement’ Isn’t Bitcoin-Related

The well-known British journalist clarified in a tweet prior to the announcement of his new book that the announcement was not related to Bitcoin.

British journalist and TV personality, Piers Morgan, made his “big announcement” on Twitter on July 16 —  but despite social media rumors about a potential Bitcoin endorsement it wasn’t crypto-related 

Instead Morgan said he’ll be launching a book related to a “liberal war” and COVID-19 called Wake Up. He’d earlier addressed the rumours he’d start providing Bitcoin advice (BTC) in the following tweet:

The Bitcoin joke refers to rumors that began in a thread about Morgan’s tweet stating that he will make a “big announcement.”

Joking about Twitter’s hack attack

Most of the replies joked about a “Bitcoin giveaway” by Morgan after the massive hack of Twitter launched on July 15 that saw some of the most high profile accounts in the world post about a BTC scam.

This isn’t the first time Morgan has been tied to a crypto-related story. Since 2017, scammers have been impersonating Morgan in an advertising campaign featuring fake statements about his “latest money making method.”

On June 16, the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a new system to detect and remove online fraud ads amid the rise of crypto scam ads.

Twitter Hack Autopsy: Coinbase, Binance, BitGo May Know Hackers ID

The Twitter hackers left inconspicuous Bitcoin trails leading to and from major exchanges that should be able to uncover their identities.

The hackers who conducted the massive Twitter hijacking on July 15 do not appear to be sophisticated Bitcoin (BTC) users, as they left trails leading to and from major exchanges that presumably hold the keys to their identities.

Address bc1qxy summary

Address bc1qxy summary. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

The Bitcoin address that hackers used to solicit illicit donations is bc1qxy2kgdygjrsqtzq2n0yrf2493p83kkfjhx0wlh. A couple of hours into the hack, the perpetrators started moving Bitcoin into other addresses. The Bitcoin trail they are leaving behind suggests that they are not terribly sophisticated when it comes to blockchain technology. They are reusing the same addresses, they are not covering their tracks from and to exchanges sufficiently enough. They have barely used any mixing services.

According to the on-chain evidence we collected, several major exchanges should have their identities. 

Coinbase & BitMex

We will focus on an address one hop away from the original — 1Ai52Uw6usjhpcDrwSmkUvjuqLpcznUuyF. This address received 14.76 BTC, most of it on July 15; however, the address was first activated on May 3. Approximately half of the BTC came from bc1qxy, the rest from various other sources.

Coinbase & BitMex trail

Coinbase & BitMex trail. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

Some of the incoming Bitcoin originated from Coinbase and BitMex exchanges. Two addresses identified as belonging to Coinbase by Cryptal Blockchain, 37p3PS1hKqzYhiVswbqN6nxbwyUoTZvf1E and 32V6a7K46pSb1XQNGdrmdE2wjgndVfJPet, are two hops away from 1Ai52, the same address that received direct transactions from the original hacker address. 

What appears to be a 10 BTC Coinbase withdrawal occurred in the morning of July 15. A couple of hours later, 0.4 BTC originating from the presumed Coinbase withdrawal ended up in 1Ai52U. Since it is not a direct route, there is a possibility of the coins changing hands in the interval. However, this seems unlikely, considering there are no major entities in between.

What appears to be a BitMex withdrawal from 3BMEXqT4yGBFiVBeJFHF4Ak5PyhqTnidKP is three hops away from 1Ai52. On April 27, 14.18 BTC was moved from that address, by May 3, it ended up in 1Ai52U.

BitGo, Luno, Binance

The hackers also used the address 1NWJd7BfJLJrEcfGiGfFqbhyaiusWwaZS1 to move the funds from the original address. The former has also received a small amount of BTC from 14kWuX37tgLdYZDSudHuch35NtuGgJqqnz, which, in turn, received BTC from several addresses that appear to belong to BitGo. — The same transaction 89a4ba84043d043d212216718dae4ac3b74e6d08fd4575edab532c1c188dd961 sent small amounts of BTC to several other exchanges, including Bittrex, Luno and Binance (BNB).

BitGo, Bittrex, Binance & Luno trail

BitGo, Bittrex, Binance & Luno trail. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

Binance

On July 16, 0.0011 BTC ended up in 16ftSEQ4ctQFDtVZiUBusQUjRrGhM3JY identified as one of Binance’s deposit addresses. It is three hops away from the original hacker address with no major entities in between.

Binance trail

Binance trail. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

Final observations

The hackers appear to be using a proxy as transactions originate from different parts of the world. The Bitcoin addresses generated by hackers come in different formats, some are of the newest Bech32 format, others in the older P2PKH and P2SH formats. If our analysis is correct, then several major crypto entities should be able to identify the hackers.

More Than $1.4 Billion of Laundered Money Has Moved Onto Crypto Exchanges This Year

Blockchain security company traced more than $1.4 billion of laundered money to top ten crypto exchanges.

The latest report by Peckshield, a blockchain security company, shows that more than $1.4 billion of laundered money has moved onto crypto exchanges in 2020. 

Peckshield says it has been collecting data both online and offline for more than one year. After verifying and analyzing the data, they were able to identify over 100 million transaction addresses. They could also label more than 50 million mainstream crypto wallet addresses at crypto exchanges.  

By leveraging a digital asset tracking platform called CoinHolmes, Peckshield found that some 147,000 Bitcoin (worth more than $1.4 billion US dollars) has moved onto exchanges this year.

According to the report, these assets were associated with hacker attacks, the dark web economy, gambling, and so on. Most of the stolen funds landed in major crypto exchanges. According to Peckshield’s report:

“We ranked the exchanges with the largest amount of stolen money, and found that the top ten exchanges were: Huobi, Binance, Okex, ZB Gate.io , Bitmex, Luno, HaoBTC, Bithum, and Coinbase.”

Peckshield Report 

Source: Peckshield Report 

Peckshield emphasized that some of the monitored addresses have also moved their funds to crypto mixers, which make it difficult to continue tracing them.

“As of June 30, 2020, we have monitored the high-risk address, of which $1.62 billion flowed into the blacklist address and $15.9 billion into the mixed currency service provider In particular, it should be emphasized that most of the funds through the mixed currency service have been successfully laundered.”

As Cointelegraph reported previously, wallets associated with PlusToken have been followed by suspected massive open market sales on cryptocurrency exchanges. In turn, this led to spikes in BTC, ETH and altcoin prices.

Crypto Exchange Open Interest Rises as Bitcoin Volatility Drops to New Low

Open Interest for crypto futures are rising at Bybit despite Bitcoin’s record-low volatility.

Recent data from Skew shows that open interest for Bitcoin (BTC) has been rising on the Bybit crypto trading platform, reaching a new high at $434 million on July 14 for the Tether (USDT) and USD pairs combined.

BTC Futures - Bybit Open Interest. Source: Skew.com

BTC Futures - Bybit Open Interest. Source: Skew.com

Open interest for other cryptocurrencies like EOS, Ether (ETH) and XRP have also been rising at Bybit. Open interest is the value locked in a derivatives contract like a futures or option contract and it allows investors to gauge money flows into and out of these contracts.

Interestingly, Bybit seems to be going against the grain when it comes to aggregate open interest as the measurement for Bitcoin futures has been fairly still in the last month, much like the price of Bitcoin itself.

According to Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit, the increase in open interest could possibly be connected to growth in the number of users. Zhou told Cointelegraph:

“When there is market volatility, volume spikes. However, when more users enter the market, open interest would naturally increase. Recently, we have seen more users registering and I do believe that this is a clear indicator that a bullish market is upon us.”

BTC Futures - Aggregate Open Interest. Source: Skew.com

BTC Futures - Aggregate Open Interest. Source: Skew.com

Bitcoin price continues to “hibernate”

The Bitcoin price has seen little action over the last month as spot markets and derivatives trading volume dropped to yearly lows in the month of June. In the meantime, several tokens in the DeFi space like Chainlink (LINK), Compound (COMP) and Aave (LEND) continue to outperform Bitcoin.

In fact, Skew data shows Bitcoin’s realized volatility has just reached a 3-year low, and its correlation with the stock market continues to be on the rise. The 1-year realized correlation for Bitcoin and the S&P 500 continues to rise day after day, currently sitting at 38.8%, according to Skew.

BTC - S&P 500 1-year realized correlation. Source: Skew.com

BTC - S&P 500 1-year realized correlation. Source: Skew.com

A lack of volatility in the Bitcoin price may seem like a sign of stagnation for the foreseeable future, or perhaps even a hint that a bearish trend is developing, but it’s too early to tell right now.

The current scenario mimics that of late 2018 when Bitcoin crashed to $3,100. However, other bullish signs may change the course of Bitcoin, especially as institutions become increasingly involved with cryptocurrency products.

Disgraced Lobbyist Abramoff Will Pay $55K as Part of Guilty Plea in SEC Case

In the civil case against him, Abramoff owes $55,000, but the judgment in the criminal case remains to be seen.

Per a July 15 judgment in the case of the SEC v. Abramoff, Jack Abramoff will pay $55,000 in disgorgement and interest for his involvement in promotion for AML Bitcoin. Abramoff will also be permanently barred from participating in any future securities offerings.

The San Francisco court behind the ruling is seeing concurrent criminal charges, to which Abramoff has also pleaded guilty, but for which the judgment remains uncertain.

The history of the case

The SEC filed charges against Abramoff as well as Rowland Marcus Andrade at the end of June, claiming that AML Bitcoin presented false technological capabilities during its 2018 initial coin offering (ICO) and that Andrade had misappropriated investor funds from the project.

Writing to Cointelegraph, Andrade blamed most of AML Bitcoin’s current legal trouble on Abramoff’s false claims:

“Jack did to us exactly what he did to others in the past. He convinced us into giving him and his associates more than $1 million dollars. Abramoff allegedly took kickbacks from all of his associates we paid money to. Jack would tell us who needed to be hired and what all they could do for us. On multiple occasions Abramoff and his associates promised us the world as long as we kept paying. We should have been billionaires right now if at least 5% of what Abramoff and his associates stated were true.”

Cointelegraph has reached out to Abramoff repeatedly in recent weeks but he has been unavailable for comment.

Abramoff’s history before crypto

In 2006, Abramoff began a six-year sentence that he finished in four for a major corruption and bribery scandal.

In the criminal case against him currently, Abramoff faces two separate sentences of up to five years for conspiracy and violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Dubious Asset Manager Claims to Short Chainlink With 99% Target

A suspicious asset manager is claiming to have entered into a short position targeting a 99% crash in the price of Chainlink.

A report authored by Zeus Capital has asserted that the firm is building into a Chainlink (LINK) short position with a target of 99% gains, describing the top-10 cryptocurrency by market cap as “crypto’s Wirecard.”

However, the firm behind the report, Zeus-Capital.com, appears to have registered its website just seven months ago, while its Twitter account has been suspended for violations of the platform's terms of use.

With the report offering no citations and featuring zero working links, many analysts believe that it was authored maliciously.

Suspicious report predicts Chainlink price decimation

The purported asset management and research firm claims to be based in New York, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong, however, Cointelegraph was unable to contact the firm — with the phone number for its London office appearing to be switched off, and the Hong Kong office diverting calls straight to voicemail.

One Redditor dubiously claims to have spoken to the firm, writing:

“I actually called the phone numbers cause I was not sure about this Zeus Capital. Anyway, had a talk of over 30 mins with them: They are short They are legit Their concerns are well meant. Looks like LINK soon will be going down. I would not buy LINK above $2.”

The firm also has the same name as the UK-based wealth manager ‘ZeusCapital.co.uk,’ and should not be confused with the United Kingdom-based company.

LINK surges into new all-time highs

The report, titled ‘The Coinlink Fraud Exposed,’ predicts that LINK will plummet from $7.95 to $0.07 over an unidentified timeline.

Zeus describes Chainlink’s development team as “very small” and “inexperienced,” asserting that on-chain activity is declining while competing protocols proliferate. Further, it accuses Chainlink’s executives of insider trading, market manipulation, and distributing false and misleading information.

LINK broke into new all-time highs above $5 earlier this month gaining more than 50% in one week.

Cointelegraph contacted Chainlink, Zeus-Capital, and Zeus Capital for comment, however, had not received a response as of press time.

Coinbase Lists Algorand (ALGO) in Latest Expansion

In its latest push for asset additions, Coinbase has added Algorand to the mix.

U.S.-based and regulatory-friendly crypto exchange Coinbase has added Algorand (ALGO) as its latest new cryptocurrency after the outfit added the coin to its trading-based platform in the latter part of 2019. 

ALGO is now available for trading on Coinbase's main site, Coinbase.com, as well as on the entity's Apple and Android mobile apps, a July 16 statement from Coinbase said. 

Coinbase's move toward additional assets

Coinbase listed ALGO on its trading platform, Coinbase Pro, in August of 2019. 

"One of the most common requests we hear from customers is to be able to buy and sell more cryptocurrencies on Coinbase," the company said in the statement.  

DeFi Tokens Outperformed Bitcoin in Q2 but Will the Rally Continue?

DeFi tokens strongly outperformed Bitcoin price in Q2 but can the triple-digit rallies continue?

Compound, the Decentralized Finance protocol, reached the $1 billion dollar mark in funds borrowed from its protocol on June 13, with its top three markets being the DAI and USDC stablecoins followed by Ether (ETH).

Currently, MakerDAO’s DAI takes the lead with 79.88% of value borrowed from its protocol. Stablecoins seem to be popular in Compound due to its COMP reward mechanism which gives users COMP tokens according to the dollar value borrowed.

Compound allows users to deposit certain cryptocurrencies to earn interest and to borrow different tokens or stablecoins (useful for short-selling for example), while providing users with COMP token rewards for engaging in both activities.

Over the past few weeks this system has made Compound protocol extremely popular and it currently has $1.6 billion in assets locked to their liquidity pools. At the moment, a number of DeFi protocols are also showing considerable increases in the amount of borrowed and locked funds. For example, Aave currently holds over $250 million in its liquidity pools, according to data from Aavewatch.

DeFi tokens are topping price charts

DeFi has been making huge progress in terms of visibility, especially following the disproportional buzz created by the Coinbase-backed Compound project. At least 10 DeFi-related tokens have seen more than 100% gains and this in part due to the COMP reward mechanism and yield farming which allows users to act both as lenders and borrowers in order to earn COMP tokens for this dual role.

In its first week of trading, COMP rose by 233% and has since been listed on Coinbase and Kraken. Aave’s LEND token has rallied more than 1000% in the last 3 months, from around $0.02 to $0.24.

Not only are the price of DeFi-related tokens rising along with the value locked and borrowed from these protocols, the tokens that are available in these protocols have also been generally performing well.

Coupled with the high interest rates and yield farming possibilities, it’s safe to say that DeFi has been a gift that keeps on giving for early adopters of the platforms and of their respective tokens.

Examples of this include Chainlink (LINK) which is the biggest cryptocurrency on the Aave protocol following the LEND token itself.

The impact of the defi protocols on other tokens was most visible through Basic Attention Token (BAT) which became the most used ERC-20 token in all of DeFi, surpassing even ETH and DAI, for two weeks, before the COMP reward mechanism was updated.

Why are DeFi tokens surging?

While it is easy to understand that DeFi is growing, the price surge in the associated tokens like LEND and COMP is somewhat unrelated. Although tokens like NEXO give users a share in the revenue, LEND and COMP do not.

These tokens, however, give their holders voting rights over the protocol. In other words, they are governance tokens and do not pay any dividends.

While there is no immediate monetary benefit, having a stake in the future of these platforms may hold some unmeasurable value depending on how they scale over time. Moreover, hype and right-out speculation around the DeFi space has surely helped some of these governance-associated tokens.

As the DeFi sector continues to break record numbers in activity and the amount of funds locked and lent increases, it seems possible that DeF tokens will continue to outperform Bitcoin, especially as the digital asset’s volume and volatility continues to dwindle.

Abra CEO Agrees With Bitcoin’s Role as Digital Gold

Abra CEO and founder Bill Barhydt said he sees Bitcoin as a store of value, increasingly distancing itself from mainstream market price correlation.

After changing roles several times since its 2009 launch, the current line on Bitcoin (BTC) calls it a store of value comparable to gold — a status with which Abra CEO Bill Barhydt agrees. 

"Today Bitcoin is best used as a store of value that will become more and more uncorrelated to traditional investing markets over time," Barhydt told Cointelegraph. 

Bitcoin's role transformation since inception

Following Bitcoin's on-chain beginnings in 2009, the asset traversed a staggering price growth journey, going from less than $1 all the way up to nearly $20,000 at its 2017 peak. Along with this price journey has come various views and use cases for the asset, according to Bitcoin stock-to-flow model creator PlanB during an interview with podcaster Peter McCormack. 

When Bitcoin reached $1, the narrative focused on the coin's use as a transactionary currency. As its price continued to see tremendous growth over the last decade, the asset found its way into the spotlight as a possible option for wealth storage. The asset has also seen its fair share of comparison to gold, often labeled as "digital gold."

"The moniker of Bitcoin as 'digital gold' is the best analogy for this that I’ve seen so far," Barhydt said following up on his Bitcoin store of value comment. 

Bitcoin's correlation with mainstream markets

Bitcoin, in theory, does not hold any direct ties to mainstream financial markets as it lies away from governmental control in a borderless fashion. The asset, however, has shown seemingly correlated action with traditional markets at points, while traveling its own price path at other times. 

"Bitcoin represents a fantastic insurance policy against traditional markets while governments run amok irresponsibly running their economies into the ground," Barhydt said. 

He added:

"It’s also the best ever showcase for global decentralization ever created. For the first time, we have a decentralized minting, storage and transaction processing system with no central off switch."

Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano has also expressed his view of Bitcoin as a non-correlated asset on a number of occasions. 

Learn How to Develop a Unique Trading Style With Peter Brandt & Joe Saz

Traders Peter Brandt and Joe Saz go live with Cointelegraph to explain how to develop an individualized trading style.

No two traders trade the same. But what does it take to develop a unique trading style? How large is the leap from amateur trader to skilled, strategical professional?

45-year trading veteran Peter Brandt and YouTube trader Joe Saz join this week’s Crypto Markets Live to retrace their trading journeys and explain how to find an individualized trading method.

They will also discuss current crypto market price action and yesterday’s Bitcoin scam, which took over some of highest profile celebrity accounts on Twitter.

During the show, don’t forget to write any questions you might have in the chat. We’ll pick the most interesting ones and ask them to our guests!

Hosted every Thursday by Cointelegraph, the Crypto Markets Live show brings together the best traders and market experts to discuss technical analysis, price movements, trading tips, and more.

Stay up to date on when the next show will be by subscribing to Cointelegraph’s Youtube channel!

A Path of Challenges: Will CBDCs Prevail Over Private Blockchains?

CBDCs will be the leading digital currencies of the future, and only the competition between various models will determine the winner.

Real innovations and breakthroughs don’t happen in the blink of an eye. Bitcoin (BTC) took many years to get to mainstream users since its inception in 2009. The bull market run in 2017 drastically improved crypto market volumes, but institutions still regarded it as another “dot com” bubble.

Later, when distributed ledger technology, or DLT, was more widely accepted, a new type of digital asset aimed at bringing stability to the crypto market gained full recognition. Stablecoins had been (and still are) issued by private firms, but many failed to operate successfully for various reasons in 2020.

Now, governments are exploring ways to not lose their grip on global finance via technology, developing stablecoins and central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs. What will prevail over time, private initiatives or state?

Trusting the blockchain

The latest research from Big Four audit firm Deloitte indicates that nearly 40% of the firms surveyed have already implemented blockchain in their business ventures. However, the commercially viable immutability of DLT has both pros and cons. An evident benefit with this technology is that no one can retroactively forge crucial data or alter vital information. Blockchain is a perfect demonstration of the trust quantification model gone live.

As to the tech’s downsides, even parties who can’t afford any chance of error still make mistakes from time to time: judges, prosecutors as well as various governmental bodies at large. Moreover, all the official services or banking structures experience certain issues and database errors, which they often try to cover up. The blockchain has no preferences, as no user is able to change data or record there, and making a mistake would bring more negative consequences than ever before. 

Benefits of stablecoins

Stablecoins’ benefits create significant room for these assets in financial systems. Clients would get faster transactions with lower costs and improved security of their payment systems. Credit risk would also be stabilized. Moreover, simplified cross-border transfers would further drive global financial market development, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of shadow operations. Cash will become obsolete as soon as digital assets are transformed into mainstream and primary methods of payments. The COVID-19 pandemic only incentivized the transition to a cashless society and further discussions about stablecoins and CBDC models, but people’s trust for the technology can’t be built in a day.

At the same time, a disruption of traditional banking may result in the loss of competitiveness among digital payment systems, with increased Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer measures implemented into financial activities likely hampering the way companies do business. Finally, the involvement of the state in technological implementation disrupts the initial vital aspect of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies — decentralization.

A stablecoin on a public blockchain frees the system from mandatory AML checks for each transaction. Excessive regulation and globalization have made the supervision function of the payment intermediary totally commercially unprofitable. The risks and potential fines that banks must pay in the event of a money-laundering scandal strongly outweigh the benefits of processing some payments. Since the regulation field has become much more complicated over the past 20 years, banks’ response to this trend is simply denying economic agents the constitutional right to move their honestly earned money and acquire goods or services globally. It is cheaper for a bank to refuse a transaction than to spend resources understanding the details. Therefore, one of the functionalities of stablecoins is their AML-free layer.

From private to official level

Since the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, among other watchdogs, went on high alert lately, things promise to get hot in the legal field. After the decay of Telegram’s TON and many ongoing problems for Facebook’s Libra ecosystem, it became evident that private companies will face countless challenges in the future. Is there a way for Libra and global stablecoins to survive in 2020 and beyond?

The chances are high, but only if they won’t mix different monetary policies of the U.S. dollar and euro zones. Why? The primary target for the Federal Reserve is unemployment, while for the European Central Bank, it is price stability. Going back in history to 2008, the Fed lowered interest rates, while the ECB, in turn, raised them.

Meanwhile, the topic of central bank digital currencies has been of major interest as stablecoins gained more popularity in the crypto world. Even before the notorious winter of 2019 occurred, more and more market participants and institutional clients became excited about the stablecoin’s model benefits. World governments and large companies surely noticed the trend and started to experiment in this area, but there had never been any common direction to follow.

What is the main challenge of creating a CBDC? Misconceptions about it have only increased, despite numerous discussions, conferences and articles written on the topic.

Nothing is arcane about the idea, but the global perception is a bit misguided, since a clear point of view must be taken to understand the CBDC model differences. From a technical, architectural point of view, there are two models: a wholesale CBDC in which central bank reserves can only be accessed and used by a small number of certain financial institutions, or a retail CBDC model in which non-banking institutions can get direct access to digital central bank funds. Many economists and central banks do not support any idea of a universally accessible digital central bank currency. The critical stumbling stone here is that CBDC implementation will result in financial instability and even worse consequences for commercial banks.

There are numerous reasons behind the slow pace of crypto acceptance in the world. The whole story is quite the same as with video streaming back in the 90s: Emerging technologies are developing faster than the actual market or the target audience is ready. Infrastructure is of critical importance. In Europe, for example, countries such as Greece and Italy need to install the needed tech infrastructure fast so that users can pay for goods or services if crypto goes mainstream.

To gain needed access to the markets and financial services of the crypto industry, the problem of institutional and technological capacity first needs to be solved, but this is unlikely to happen in the near future due to a lack of required infrastructure. It is still unclear when blockchain will scale adequately and whether CBDCs should run on a permissionless one.

Unraveling the set of global questions

What is the leading digital currency of the future? Is it digital dollar or digital euro? Or digital yuan, perhaps, as China is currently spearheading this direction. Moreover, the latest news suggests that the Italian Banking Association is also willing to pilot a digital euro. Japan has also joined the club of countries willing to research and experiment with a CBDC.

Why are we seeing so much talk and no walk so far? Apart from China, where the digital yuan has made its way from concept to development quite fast, many other government initiatives are often discussed, but no real project by central banks has made its way towards launch. Stablecoins are true die-hard assets of crypto, as out of hundreds of privately run projects, only a few have survived and continued operations in 2020 — Tether (USDT), TrueUSD (TUSD), Paxos (PAX) and EURS.

After all, all bets are on for the euro, ultimately. Macro-wise, it’s the only freely convertible currency with almost 500 million of natural populations and a positive current account.

Judging by today’s perspective, CBDCs will likely follow a wholesale variant route, which will cut off its accessibility for the retail segment. But there is still a piece of pie for private companies: The imminent launch of wholesale CBDCs and their further existence will not likely hamper the popularity of leading stablecoins.

However, a survey made by the Bank for International Settlements clearly indicates that we can expect central banks to issue a retail CBDC within the next few years. Introducing such a retail CBDC poses risks for the data privacy of clients and for financial stability. If retail CBDCs ever become a reality, the commercial banks will suffer heavy losses, since people will run to withdraw their deposits and move it to the central bank accounts. What’s the point of holding savings with commercial institutions that have their own credit risk and are fractionally reserved?

Will such a solution prevail over private projects like Tether at some point? If implemented successfully, it will be inaccessible to the general public, but rather become a wholesale asset invisible to John Citizen. Can CBDCs kill Bitcoin and other cryptos if launched successfully? Of course not, since the money supply policy will be completely different. Bitcoin supply is like digital gold, capped at 21 million, while CBDCs or stablecoins will closely correlate to the M2 money supply.

The competition between various models will ultimately determine the winner. But the legalization of stablecoins for private companies is crucial now, as allowing them to have a legal account in a state bank or government bonds will widen the market and ultimately benefit the development of the next stage of the digital economy.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Gregory Klumov is a stablecoin expert whose insights and opinions appear regularly in numerous international publications. He is the founder and CEO of Stasis, a technology provider that issues the most widely used euro-backed stablecoins with a high transparency standard in the digital-asset industry.

Major Lobbyists in DC See a Shift in Regulatory Tone Towards Crypto Since Pandemic

Despite continuing education gaps, the heads of several crypto-focused trade associations confirmed that lawmakers are paying more attention than ever to the industry.

Speaking with Circle’s Jeremy Allaire on July 16, several key figures in lobbying on behalf of crypto and blockchain in Washington, D.C. spoke to a major rise in education and interest in the sphere on the part of regulators.

Coronavirus to digitization

Perianne Boring, the founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, pointed out that the pandemic had forced Congress to look at new technology for money in a sweeping way.

“We have seen a huge change in the tone towards blockchain technology in congress just since the pandemic,” said Boring. “We have seen almost a 180 in that conversation. The pandemic has forced congress to go digital.”

Executive Director of the Blockchain Association Kristin Smith also noted promising changes, especially since Libra’s announcement last year met with what Allaire described as an “allergic reaction.” Smith said: “There is now consensus among policymakers that it is a good idea to upgrade our money, and that is progress.”

Speaking to a shift in what crypto has meant over the years, John Collins of FS Vector noted that topics that were hypothetical six or seven years ago have come to life. “This is an open program, anything can be built, but nobody was talking about defi, nobody was talking about Cryptokitties,” said Collins.

What this means going forward

Smith, in particular, was not optimistic about new legislation. “Congress is at an almost total standstill due to the election on anything not directly related to the pandemic,” she said. However, she pointed to new Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks and his recent initiatives as an example of how progress continues.

There is still room for a lot more education, according to Boring. “There is a massive technology gap and an even bigger gap when it comes to digital assets and blockchain technology.”

Indeed, as Smith spoke to the need to make crypto something average people were using more regularly, Boring advocated extending that to legislators. “Everyone remembers when they got their first Bitcoin,” she said “So let’s do that for Congress.”

South Korean Giant Hanwha Invests $3M in Crypto Disclosure Startup

Xangle, a crypto disclosure platform by CrossAngle, closes a $3.3 million round from South Korea’s conglomerate Hanwha Group.

Major South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group is cementing its involvement in the cryptocurrency industry with a new investment.

Hanwha Investment & Securities, a securities brokerage subsidiary of Hanwha Group, has participated in a 4 billion won ($3.3 million) funding round in crypto firm CrossAngle.

Xangle is specialized in collecting corporate disclosures for crypto

Announcing the news on July 16, CrossAngle said that the Series A2 investment is expected to enable the company to develop an infrastructure for institutionalizing crypto data services. Incorporated in Singapore, CrossAngle is building Xangle, a public crypto disclosure service focused on providing transparent data for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

In order to provide its disclosure service, Xangle collects, verifies and integrates corporate disclosures from global projects and companies that have issued crypto assets. The platform provides the public access to both off-chain corporate disclosures and on-chain metrics and analytics.

More than 800 cryptocurrencies are featured on Xangle

According to the announcement, Xangle's global partner network has more than 60 exchanges so far, featuring countries like South Korea, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Russia, the United States, as well as European jurisdictions. The firm claims to provide the public access disclosure data for over 800 crypto assets to date.

Xangle’s disclosure information for Bitcoin. Source: Xangle

Xangle’s disclosure information for Bitcoin. Source: Xangle

James Junwoo Kim, CSO and co-founder of CrossAngle, said that the new funding will help Xangle make “significant contributions to the advancement of the industry and expand the boundaries for the industry as a whole."

Hanwha Investment & Securities is a subsidiary of Hanwha Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates alongside companies like Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and SK Group.

The investment comes amid Hanwha Investment & Securities pushing its digital expertise. Earlier this year, the company participated in a $31 million in a Series A funding round in Stellar-based blockchain startup Lightnet.

Bank of Thailand Progresses With Digital Baht Tests Before Public Launch

The Bank of Thailand is looking to test the digital baht with Hong Kong’s central bank after piloting the CBDC with large businesses.

Thailand’s central bank has reportedly entered a new phase in the development of its central bank digital currency, or CBDC.

The Bank of Thailand, or BOT, has reportedly deployed its CBDC, and has been using the digital currency for financial transactions with some large businesses, local English-language newspaper The Nation reports July 16.

Thailand to roll out CBDC testing with the Hong Kong’s central bank in September

The bank has entered the third phase in development of the digital baht and plans to expand to more businesses, BOT assistant governor, Vachira Arromdee, reportedly announced on Wednesday.

According to the report, the BOT is planning to roll out the digital currency for transactions with Hong Kong's central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, in September 2020.

Thailand’s central bank is also thinking to expand the use of the digital baht to the general public to reduce the cost of financial transactions, Vachira said. However, the BOT first needs to carry out a comprehensive study to prevent the potential negative impacts on commercial banks, the executive noted.

Bank of Thailand wants to follow solid CBDC expertise in China

Vachira reportedly cited the CBDC experience of China, claiming that the public rollout of the digital yuan has not affected the financial system in the country so far.

As reported, the BOT officially launched a pilot project to test its CBDC payment system in June 2020. Announcing the news, the bank said that before rolling out the system to all businesses, the digital currency needed to be tested out with large-scale enterprises.

Cointelegraph reached out to the BOT to know more information about the current status of the CBDC development. This article will be updated pending any new information.

China has been actively progressing with its CBDC project so far. On July 15, the People’s Bank of China was reported to be planning potential tests of the digital yuan on Meituan Dianping’s food delivery platform with 435 million users. Earlier in July, local e-commerce giant Meituan and video sharing website Bilibilibili reportedly joined China’s digital yuan project.

Two Teens Arrested After Paying Bitcoin to See Livestream Murder on Dark Web

The deep-web website allowed users to pay extra to decide what torture the children would be subject to next.

Two Italian 17-year-olds were arrested for paying Bitcoin (BTC) to see children being sexually abused, tortured and murdered in live streaming.

Local media Il Messaggero reported on July 15 that the deep web website viewed by the two also allowed users to pay extra to decide what torture the children would be subjected to next. Italian law enforcement explained:

“Users that were able to reach those kinds of obscure environments are allowed to take part in acts of sexual violence and torture on minors, performed live by adults.”

Livestreamed torture on-demand

The services offered by the website have different costs. Viewing a pre-recorded video costs much less than watching live, but in both cases the viewing concludes with the death of the child. The article also provides another example, according to which “viewers can for instance request them to amputate a children’s arm or to pour hot oil over the victim.” Law enforcement said:

“The live requests really cost a lot of money and ensure particularly high profits to the foreign organizations that carry out those inhuman acts.”

The two were searched as part of an ongoing investigation that has so far involved 25 people — 19 minors and six over 18 — residing in 13 Italian provinces. The operation is nicknamed “Delirio” — delirium in Italian — by local law enforcement. It started in October and resulted in tens of searches.

The two arrested are a man and a woman who exchanged details pertaining to what they referred to as a “red room.” The man often shared with the women grim details of the livestreams.

Media found include pedopornographic videos self-made by minors, videos of children as young as three-year-olds being molested by adults, and videos depicting violence often accompanied by Nazi symbology.

It is unclear whether the website offering the services was shut down, but presumably only some of its viewers were caught. Local law enforcement has not answered Cointelegraph’s inquiry.

Pedopornography’s relationship with crypto

Cryptocurrencies’ pseudonymity and the lack of governmental control over them make them suitable for criminals. Among such criminals, we can find political dissidents, whistleblowers and journalists, but also pedophiles, drug dealers and black-hat hackers.

There have been many worldwide reports on the use of Bitcoin and other crypto assets specifically in child porn dealings. For instance, at the end of June Spanish law enforcement took down a dark-web child porn ring that used cryptocurrency transactions to pay for content.

Cardano’s ADA Price Continues Upward Push as Goguen Upgrade Approaches

ADA’s price has rallied on the base of Shelley and “smarter contracts,” but mainstream adoption is still a faraway goal.

Bitcoin’s (BTC) volatility hitting its lowest since late 2018 has forced investors to turn to altcoins that could act as more lucrative investments in their portfolios. Cardano (ADA) has been one of the largest benefactors of this move. Its price has rallied around 400% in 2020; its market capitalization has almost quadrupled to surpass Bitcoin SV (BSV); and it has become the fifth-largest cryptocurrency in circulation by market capitalization.

The recent price rally has demonstrated the faith the community and industry have in Cardano’s roadmap, its vision and its founder, Charles Hoskinson. The project, however, is still in its nascent stages. There is still a lot for Cardano to prove in terms of executing its plans and gaining recognition among prominent entities like Ethereum.

However, Ryan Fung, the CEO of Ankr — a firm that provides cloud solutions for blockchain applications — feels more confident in Cardano’s proven abilities, the community and its network. Talking also of his holdings in Cardano, he stated:

“The price rally has been tremendous, as it broke two resistance levels. We have been watching Cardano from more than a year with their development since the testnet till the mainnet. The network has emerged a lot, and the price rally has proved the strong market sentiment of the project and the trust community has got on the project.”

Shelley upgrade and staking

The price rally in 2020 went rampant after the announcement of the Shelley upgrade on May 25 and even further when Cordano began releasing the code for Shelley on July 7. This upgrade is said to be unique because Cardano claims it will make the network from 50 to 100 times more decentralized than other prominent blockchains. It has also enabled staking to reach 1,000 stake pools.

In contrast with Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm, Cordano runs on a proof-of-stake algorithm called Ouroboros. PoS is a method that secures a decentralized blockchain network by allowing people who hold that blockchain’s tokens to validate transactions and blocks. This process allows stakers to earn tokens, also known as block rewards, proportional to the amount staked. Fung further commented that the implementation will open up competition for consumer adoption, adding: “It’s a very bold and challenging move to implement. ETH has been trying to do this since more than 2-3 years now. But Cardano being able to achieve the consensus protocol on Proof of Stake algorithm is commendable.”

Cardano’s incentivized testnet was first launched back in December 2019 to enable staking rewards for engagement during the testing period of the Shelley upgrade. Currently, there are more than $13 billion ADA staked on ITN.

Smarter contracts, the Goguen Era

The term “smart contracts” was introduced about 26 years ago by cryptography expert Nick Szabo and has been one of the most integral developments in the crypto industry. Smart contracts are transaction protocols maintained by computers that are intended to automatically execute, control or document transactions according to the terms of the contract.

For Cardano, the implementation of the Goguen era will take smart contracts a step further to “smarter contracts.” While smart contracts eliminate the need for manual intervention for interactions on a particular blockchain, the Goguen mechanism will not prioritize ADA transactions and contracts over other tokens issued on Cardano, like Ethereum does for Ether (ETH) over ERC-20 tokens.

Related: Here Comes ‘Shelley’: ADA Price Excels With Cardano Upgrade Inbound

Bakyt Azimkanov, the communications and marketing director at Cardano, told Cointelegraph how the Goguen era will create use cases through decentralized application: “The Goguen era will open the way for the development of enterprise-level and mission-critical decentralized smart contract applications, which is the first crucial step to building and deploying real-world solutions on Cardano.” Sumit Gupta, a co-founder and the CEO of CoinDCX, shared his opinion with Cointelegraph:

“Rather than being a single-asset ledger, Cardano will become a multi-asset ledger that allows users to define, forge and transfer their custom tokens on the network. The Goguen update will help developers build decentralized apps on Cardano’s blockchain network with greater flexibility.”

This mechanism intends to provide developers with more security on the network, as all the tokens will inherit all the security and smart contract behaviors that Cardano’s native cryptocurrency, ADA, would have. Azimkanov stated on the matter:

“In the deployment of decentralized applications built on top of blockchain protocols, smart contracts become particularly useful. By virtue of their trustless nature, users can interface with Web 3.0 applications without entrusting their sensitive information to the app developer, and the developer or smart contract creator receives guaranteed and automatic settlement at the point of contract maturity.”

Community interest rising

Cardano has been looking to solve issues previously encountered on other platforms like Ethereum and Ripple. This aspect enables the platform to bring more investors without diluting its base of believers who don’t hold the coin to speculate or hedge against another bet in their portfolio.

Looking at the one-year ownership structure composition, it’s clear that Cardano has seen continued support, with the proportion of hodlers consistently being over 50%. However, the proportion of traders has also been significantly rising in 2020, proving that ADA has started to see more volatility in anticipation of the official launch of Shelley.

Ownership by time held

Even Ryan Selkis, the founder and CEO of Messari, has recently stated that Cardano has “plenty of room for growth” and that the recent price surge highlights the excitement around staking ahead of the Shelley upgrade. An announcement that ADA holders would be able to stake their assets in Coinbase custody by Q4 2020 has fueled speculation even further that ADA may be listed on Coinbase by the end of this year.

Related: Overview of Crypto Staking Networks

New Suit Alleges Utahn Ponzi Operators Took the Money and Ran

New suit looks to recover nearly three quarters of a million dollars from alleged ponzi scheme that claimed major altcoin gains amid crypto winter.

Per a July 15 complaint from two former investors who have been unsuccessful in getting their money back, Utah-based Crypto Traders Management advertised an investment strategy that constituted an unregistered security, while actually locking up user funds.

Plaintiffs are asking for the return of nearly $750,000 as well punitive damages of upwards of another half-million dollars.

Consistent updates from CTM kept investors coming back

The complaint claims that plaintiff David Powell sent a series of investments to Crypto Traders Management starting near the end of 2018. Despite the subsequent collapse of the altcoin market on which CTM’s professed trading strategy rested, the firm sent Powell monthly spreadsheets and updates on investments that were sunny enough to keep him making more deposits and even recommend the investment to fellow plaintiff Merav Knafo.

However, per their allegations:

“The Crypto Fund was simply a scam to induce investors to hand over ever increasing amounts of money by fraudulently stating that investments were growing rapidly and could be withdrawn on request when in fact the money was either being squandered or stolen and could not be withdrawn.”

Locked withdrawals and AWOL staff

Despite the consistently optimistic updates and newsletters from CTM, the complaint alleges that when Powell began looking to withdraw funds from the fund, the team of Shawn Cutting and Courtney Lata were nowhere to be found. He ultimately got $50,000 back out of over half a million invested. Knafo has yet to see any of her over $100,000 returned.

It is, unfortunately, an all-too-common story in crypto. Many of the biggest ponzi schemes in crypto happened either before or during the 2017 bubble, while CTM’s strategy was to continuously promise investment success that was simply not there during crypto winter.

However, scams continue to crop up worldwide regularly.

Bitcoin Price Must Now ‘Reclaim $9,400 Quick’ to Stop Bears — Trader

Cointelegraph Markets analyst filbfilb warns that weeks of compression will soon be over — but the close must be higher to turn bullish.

Bitcoin (BTC) must reclaim $9,400 as soon as possible in order to change its bearish course, says Cointelegraph Markets analyst filbfilb.

In an update on social media on July 16, the popular trader warned that the situation facing Bitcoin was fast becoming make or break.

Filbfilb: BTC nearing end of the compression phase

“BTC Bulls need to reclaim $9400 quick sharp,” he wrote in comments on a long-term price chart. 

Attention focused on BTC/USD being stuck in a compression cycle which has lasted for multiple weeks. Compression refers to a pattern of higher lows and lower highs, with a trading corridor narrowing before a breakout.

For Bitcoin, the danger lies in a potential climax occurring in bearish territory as denoted by the Bollinger Bands volatility indicator.

Bollinger Bands consist of an upper and lower band surrounding a middle band and have historically captured both bullish and bearish moves by Bitcoin.

BTC/USD chart showing compression cycles. Source: filbfilb/ Twitter

BTC/USD chart showing compression cycles. Source: filbfilb/ Twitter

“Coming to the end of consolidation/compression now.. doing so below the middle of the bbands is not typically a good sign,” filbfilb continued.

Should $9,400 reappear, he added, the outlook would be open to reinterpretation:

“Reclaim that level and happy to reconsider bearish bias.”

Eyes on $8,700 and below

As Cointelegraph reported, looking ahead, bearish scenarios now focus on levels below $9,000 — $8,700 and $8,200, the latter representing Bitcoin’s 20-week moving average.

“Bitcoin continues the slow bleed down towards 9k,” filbfilb told Telegram trading channel members earlier Thursday.

“Was pretty bad losing the $9,250 level; the weekly support and bottom of the range at $8,700 is looking increasingly likely to be tested.”

$9,000 support held up in early trading, with press time levels at around $9,080. BTC/USD remains vulnerable to stock market moves, with a fresh rout more than capable of sending the pair towards bearish targets.

New Trojan Attack Targets Mac Users to Steal Cryptocurrency

Researchers discovered a new trojan targeted at crypto traders using trading applications on macOS.

A new trojan attack using malware called GMERA is targeting cryptocurrency traders who use trading applications on Apple’s macOS.

The internet security company ESET found that the malware comes integrated into legitimate-looking cryptocurrency trading applications and tries to steal users’ crypto funds from their wallets.

Researchers at another cybersecurity firm Trend Micro first discovered GMERA malware in September 2019, when it was posing as the Mac-specific stock investment application Stockfolio. 

Copying the actual applications

ESET found the malware operators have integrated GMERA to the original macOS cryptocurrency trading application Kattana. They have also copied the website of the company and are promoting four new copycat applications — Cointrazer, Cupatrade, Licatrade and Trezarus — that come packed with the malware.

The fake websites have a download button which is linked to a ZIP archive containing the trojanized version of the app. According to ESET, these applications have full support for trading functionalities. 

“For a person who doesn’t know Kattana, the websites do look legitimate,” wrote the researchers.

The researchers also said that the perpetrators have been directly contacting their targets and “socially engineering them” to download the infected application. 

The malware in a nutshell

To analyze the malware, ESET researchers tested samples from Licatrade, which they said has minor differences compared to the malware on other applications but still functions the same way. 

The trojan installs a shell script on the victim’s computer that gives the operators access to the users’ system through the application. The shell script then allows the attackers to create command-and-control servers, also called C&C or C2, over HTTP between theirs and the victim’s system. These C2 servers help them consistently communicate with the compromised machine. 

According to the findings, the GMERA malware steals information such as user names, cryptocurrency wallets, location and screen captures from the users’ system. 

ESET, however, said they had reported the issue to Apple and the certificate issued by the company to Licatrade was revoked the same day. They further added the other two certificates used for different applications were already revoked by the time they initiated their analyses.

Whale Alert Can No Longer Tweet Due to Twitter’s Anti-Hack Measures

Whale Alert’s crypto transactions are still available on its Telegram channel, but its Twitter profile has been hampered for the time being.

Whale Alert, a popular service dedicated to tracking major cryptocurrency transactions, is being negatively affected by Twitter’s anti-hack measures.

In a July 16 tweet, Whale Alert said that the crypto bot can no longer tweet any transactions either automatically or manually “due to anti-hack measures taken by Twitter.”

Whale Alert noted that posts are still available on their Telegram channel, and expressed hope that Twitter will resolve the issue soon.

Whale Alert told Cointelegraph that they expect it to be a few days before posting on the platform returns to normal:

“Last night's hack is the single biggest security breach for Twitter to date and the disabling of the API's is a drastic measure to prevent further damage. They are probably thoroughly checking and testing everything to make sure this doesn't happen again, so we expect this to last at least a few days with everything coming back online one system at a time.”

Largest channel to connect with the crypto community

Whale Alert says that Twitter is the primary channel for distributing data about crypto transfers. The service is not reliant on Twitter for revenue, Whale Alert noted.

Whale Alert’s Twitter account has much more exposure than its Telegram channel. As of press time, Whale Alert’s Twitter account has more than 280,000 followers, while the Telegram channel has 36,000 subscribers.

After joining Twitter in September 2018, Whale Alert has established itself as one of the biggest sources of info regarding crypto transactions. Posting large and suspicious cryptocurrency transactions live, Whale Alert is known for contributing to investigations involving hacks of major global crypto exchanges. Whale Alert’s Telegram channel has been around since April 2019.

“Largest hacking incident”

On July 15, Twitter suffered a massive hack that compromised high-profile Twitter accounts like those of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos to offer fake Bitcoin (BTC) giveaways. Major crypto accounts on Twitter have also been hacked, including accounts involving the world’s largest crypto exchanges like Binance, Coinbase, Gemini and Bitfinex.

Following the hack, which quickly became referred to as the largest such hacking incident, Twitter took significant measures to limit access to internal systems and tools. The hackers apparently collected large amounts of Bitcoin in the hack, as one of the wallets involved in the attack has collected over 12 BTC ($110,000) so far. Tron CEO Justin Sun subsequently promised to give a $1 million bounty to those who manage to track down the hackers.

Twitter Hackers Caught Using BitPay and Coinbase on Hack-Related Wallet

The Twitter hackers had used one of the addresses involved, which shows transactions to BitPay and Coinbase.

The Twitter hackers who compromised more than a dozen celebrity accounts on Wednesday appear to be consolidating their funds to an address that had earlier sent money to BitPay and Coinbase.

According to research from Whitestream, a blockchain analytics company, three transactions originating from the “1Ai5” address lead to wallets associated with Coinbase and BitPay, both of which provide merchant solutions. The legacy address was the first to be offered by the hackers, who later switched to a Bech32 address when targeting non-crypto accounts.

However, the original address is now the consolidation point of all the proceeds gotten through the attack. It received 14.75 Bitcoin (BTC), worth about $135,000.

Three transactions are believed to be leading to Coinbase and Bitpay. The first involves a transfer of about 1.2 BTC in May 2020, worth about $11,000 at the time. The latter two were sent two days before the hack and are for much smaller amounts.

Notably, the latter transactions are much more sophisticated as the change address is always of a different type than any of the other inputs. This makes it more difficult to trace, though it is possible that the hacker was simply in the process of switching to a Bech32 address.

According to Whitestream, the first transaction sent a small amount of funds to a BitPay-associated address, while the other two were sent to Coinbase. 

The hackers’ address appears to be clearly traceable for those companies, possibly exposing their identity. It is however likely that these transactions are related to merchant usage, which could make investigations more difficult.

It is also unclear why the hackers used an old address to perform the attack, as it appears to be giving unnecessary clues for the future investigation. Furthermore, given that the hackers owned at least $11,000 before the attack, such a massive account compromise could have been used to publish market-moving announcements. By entering heavily leveraged positions before the tweets, the hackers likely would have made much more money.

Twitter employees getting exploited

As Cointelegraph reported extensively on Wednesday, dozens of Twitter accounts from crypto exchanges and influencers, tech companies, politicians and celebrities progressively fell to the hackers. The accounts published a well-known crypto scam that promised to double the money of anyone who sent Bitcoin to a certain address.

Twitter said that the issue was due to a social engineering attack performed on high-rank employees with admin access. Through the admin panel, hackers took control of the accounts by changing their passwords and recovery emails.

This is similar to a BlockFi data breach in May, where criminals used a SIM swap attack to gain access to internal customer records.

Gold Bug Peter Schiff: ‘Is the Twitter Hack a Harbinger for Bitcoin?’

Pavel Luptak — co-founder of Czech cryptocurrency community hub Parallel Polis — says Schiff’s suggestion has no foundations in reality.

Gold bug and notorious cryptocurrency critic Peter Schiff wonders whether the recent hack of verified profiles on Twitter is “a harbinger of Bitcoin itself being hacked.”

In a July 16 tweet, Schiff mentioned yesterday’s mass hack of verified Twitter profiles which were used to promote a Bitcoin scam, further suggesting that it could be a prelude to a hack of the cryptocurrency itself. 

Twitter hack completely unrelated to Bitcoin security

Pavel Luptak — co-founder of Czech cryptocurrency community hub Parallel Polis and Hackers Congress Prague — told Cointelegraph that the Twitter hack and the possibility of Bitcoin’s network being compromised have no connection whatsoever:

“It's a hack of Twitter, not Bitcoin. Bitcoin was just a scammer's way to ask people for money. Of course, it may be a reputation issue for Bitcoin (I expect some crypto exchanges start to blacklist these stolen Bitcoins). But it is primarily a big reputation issue for Twitter that is not able to protect their user accounts.”

As Luptak pointed out, Bitcoin was just a medium of value transfer that the hackers duped their victims into using. In fact — as some community members pointed out in the Twitter thread — the scammer’s decision to use Bitcoin was probably motivated by authorities' inability to censor and reverse Bitcoin transactions.

Transaction irreversibility is a highly appreciated feature of Bitcoin that many believe to be the foundation of its value. It is also worth noting that while this Bitcoin characteristic is appreciated by scammers, they also used other systems in the past. 

Luptak said, “It is necessary to know that most scammers in history used fiat money. [...] This is not a problem of Bitcoin; any currency can be used for scams.”

Hacking Bitcoin is hard

Furthermore, Luptak explained that “Bitcoin has a decentralized protocol, thousands of nodes, everything is transparent and auditable.” All of those features make the network much harder to hack than Twitter.

While attacks on Bitcoin’s network — such as a 51% attack — are theoretically possible, it is widely believed that they would be incredibly difficult, so much so as to preclude any potential hacker from even trying. 

Bitcoin was launched in 2009 and so far no coin was stolen on the network through a hack. Luptak recommends:

“Be aware of social engineering scams, and of course, [keep in mind that] nobody gives you anything for free.”

Sri Lankan Container Terminal Joins TradeLens Blockchain Platform

South Asia Gateway Terminals becomes first Sri Lankan container terminal joined TradeLens platform.

The first private Sri Lankan container terminal, South Asia Gateway Terminals, or SAGT, recently joined IBM and Maersk’s blockchain trade platform TradeLens. 

It is the first terminal in the country to adopt blockchain technology to digitize its trade processes. 

In an announcement  on July 16, Maersk said the collaboration will help SAGT grow past sluggish manual paper-based documentation processes. 

Digitization for operational efficiency

SAGT is an important link in conducting global trade and it annually processes more than two million twenty-foot containers. The integration of the TradeLens platform into its operations is expected to help digitize documentation and streamline the data inflow from the global supply chain ecosystem. 

The terminal will be able to easily record information pertaining to shippers, shipping lines, ports and other intermediaries involved in the supply chain. By bringing more transparency into container flows, TradeLens plans to improve operational efficiency for the container terminal.

To that end, Bimal Kanal, Head of TradeLens, South Asia said, “Our ambition is to have all stakeholders including shippers, shipping lines, ports, banks, custom authorities and so on, involved in the global supply chain to be on a common platform that will benefit the entire industry.”

Many major terminal operators have joined TradeLens

In just two years since its launch, TradeLens has signed deals with many of the major container terminals and port operators around the globe.

As Cointelegraph reported, the largest multi-port operator of India, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited joined the TradeLens platform in May this year. In January, Oman’s largest port Port of Salalah had joined TradeLens. 

In December 2019, TradeLens also inked a deal with the major Asian shipment terminal Cái Mép International Terminal to digitize its trade processes.

Singapore’s National Payments System Can Guide Global Crypto Adoption

Blockchain payments project Ubin can lay the financial blueprint for countries looking to explore crypto tech in a fully regulated manner.

With cross-border interoperable blockchain systems gaining traction across the globe, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of government agencies are looking to explore the full potential of this technology to make international transactions hassle-free in addition to ensuring the process is streamlined and transparent for users.

In this regard, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS, announced on July 13 that its much-talked-about blockchain payments project, Project Ubin, was finally ready for mainstream commercial deployment.

The project’s roots can be traced all the way back to 2017, a time when the Singaporean government was seeking to develop a digitized Singapore dollar. Over the course of the next few years, the project continued to evolve, especially with MAS showcasing a keen interest in exploring the domain of distributed ledger technology in order to devise a holistic monetary system that could be used to clear and settle payments and securities using a digital Singapore dollar.

According to the government of Singapore’s official description, Ubin’s payments network will serve as the bedrock for “other blockchain networks to connect and integrate seamlessly.” It also bears mentioning that testing of the payments network has been underway since November 2019, with MAS working in conjunction with Singapore-based investment company Temasek and American investment bank JPMorgan Chase to conclude its final phase of the testing.

Increased adoption across the region

To gain a better understanding of how Project Ubin stands to impact Singapore’s local economic landscape, Ella Qiang, Southeast Asia manager of the Bitcoin Association, told Cointelegraph that Ubin sets forth the best practices and regulatory framework for handing blockchain-based digital assets, thus enabling local financial intuitions to follow and adopt crypto in the most seamless manner possible.

With the participation of 16 local blockchain startups for various use case developments and industry testing, Singaporean authorities have demonstrated their openness in collaborating with local blockchain startups as well as providing them with regulatory guidance to help an increasing number of entrepreneurs and enthusiasts in the Southeast Asia region. On the matter, Qiang further added:

“The Ubin network can be integrated with other blockchain platforms to promote end-to-end digitalization across many industries and use cases, which opens up opportunities for not only permissioned DLT solutions but also companies that build on public blockchain(s) to leverage both Ubin’s multi-currency payment network and the permissionless, interoperable, tamper-proof features of the public blockchain.”

If successful, can Ubin redefine the payments market?

From the outside looking in, Ubin’s vision seems to be a big step forward for the crypto industry as a whole, as it aims to create more investment opportunities within the sector. On the subject, Marie Tatibouet, chief marketing officer of Gate.io — a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange — commented: “So far, it has been challenging to achieve any commercialization of this kind but Project Ubin has managed to bridge the gap.”

Thus, it will be interesting to see how a regulated, tokenized state currency can potentially function as a means of daily expenditure as well as cross-border transfer. Not only that, but Ubin’s future success may also highlight the fact that inter-bank transactions, cross-border transfers and tokenized securities can be settled using blockchain technology, that too with full transaction privacy at a reduced cost. Tatibouet further opined:

“Ubin’s success can be a breakthrough not only in the Asian but international fintech sphere. There are already some reports showing the promising advantages of blockchain technology in numbers of new companies created in Asia, with Singapore on the top of the list with 50% growth, followed by Japan with 30% growth.”

Singapore to lead the global crypto landscape?

As a small city-state, Singapore has constantly reinvented itself by fostering an environment that is geared toward innovation. Project Ubin is a result of this overall push for innovation, particularly from the government’s side.

Expounding his views on the subject, Kenrick Drijkoningen, founding partner of LuneX Ventures — a Singapore-based crypto and blockchain fund — told Cointelegraph that as things stand, Singapore is uniquely positioned to become a leader within the global crypto economy. Because it is “a small agile jurisdiction,” it can move necessary legislation faster than countries such as the United States — the first results of which were recently witnessed in the form of the Payment Services Act 2019 that offers Singaporean crypto firms the opportunity to apply for legal operational licenses.

That being said, Drijkoningen did concede that despite Singapore possessing one of the world’s most vibrant crypto ecosystems, there are still a few issues that needed to be addressed:

“Funding specifically for crypto companies is still hard to come by as traditional VC’s and investors are unfamiliar with the opportunity. Another challenge remains talent, specific senior skills are often hard to find due to a small population. Nevertheless, globally known projects like Kyber, REN are Singapore based.”

David Waslen, founder and CEO of HedgeTrade — a crypto investing platform headquartered in Singapore — also believes that the country is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the cryptocurrency space because it has for years possessed one of the most stable economies in the world, with no foreign debt and strong government revenue.

Additionally, Waslen believes that local crypto projects that have long been operating in a bear market will likely continue to prosper under Singapore’s sensible and future-leaning crypto guidance:

“By bringing together blockchain projects and financial regulators to create the best possible building framework, companies will continue to be attracted to that atmosphere when often their own countries are too embroiled in political or economic turmoil to foster that kind of environment.”

What lays ahead for Singapore?

While the steps that have been taken thus far by MAS have been viewed quite favorably by members of the global crypto community, Drijkoninge believes that it would boost the local digital asset ecosystem even more if the financial body decided to issue a public tokenized version of the Singapore dollar to be used by local crypto companies.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that a few days before the Ubin announcement, Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, stated that Singapore is exploring its options to issue its very own central bank digital currency by working closely with China’s financial authorities.

When institutions such as MAS that are known to fast-track fintech development make it public knowledge that they are working on blockchain projects such as Project Ubin, it reassures the strength and potential that blockchain technology brings to the table. For example, in India, crypto trading volumes surged after the government lifted its long-standing ban on banks dealing with crypto-related firms earlier this year, thus proving that the masses seem ready for large-scale adoption but lack the regulated avenues to direct their investments.

US FDA Considers Blockchain for Food Security

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced it will study blockchain technology to aid in smarter food security.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a blueprint and pilot study for food safety, highlighting blockchain as a viable option for some of the identified challenges. 

The blueprint, released earlier this week, breaks down some of the challenges facing food distribution throughout the country and looks at how smart technologies could solve them:

“Our world is evolving at a breakneck pace. With this evolution comes new technologies, ranging from new digital tools to new sources of food ingredients. [...] These advances provide new tools and approaches for tackling food safety issues, but also present new issues to consider in determining how to regulate food safety.”

The technologies mentioned include artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, sensor technologies and blockchain, and are looked at in relation to four topics: tech-enabled traceability, prevention and outbreak response, retail modernization, and food safety culture.

Blockchain technology is mentioned specifically in relation to receiving “critical tracking events and key data elements from industry and regulatory partners.”

The FDA has been talking blockchain for years

The FDA has been talking about blockchain’s potential over the last two years. In June, the FDA’s Food and Drugs Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Food Policy and Response Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas noted the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the food supply chain sector, stating that blockchain is one of the technologies that make it easier to track and trace products through the supply chain. 

IBM have laid the groundwork

IBM brought blockchain to the agriculture and shipping industry with their FoodTrust program launched in conjunction with Walmart. Servicing many of the major retail giants in America, the blockchain records food product information and certification reducing pain points such as certification storage and product recalls.

Bitcoin Exchange Inflows Spike as Analyst Expects Pullback to $8.8K

Traders return coins to exchanges as Bitcoin moves lower, with CryptoQuant expecting a “small” retracement below $9,000.

Bitcoin (BTC) edging ever closer to $9,000 support may lead to a major sell-off by exchange users, one analyst warns.

According to data from on-chain analytics resource CryptoQuant, inflows of BTC to exchanges spiked on July 15.

Kraken posts unusual $38.5M daily BTC inflows

When traders return Bitcoin to exchanges from a private BTC wallet, it suggests they have a desire to trade or sell at short notice.

The opposite is also true — as Cointelegraph reported, exchange balances witnessed a long-term downtrend which in May hit its lowest since late 2018, when BTC/USD crashed to $3,100.

Now, says CryptoQuant, nervousness over weak price performance appears to be sending a signal to prepare for downward volatility.

Eyeing major trading platform Kraken, data shows that on Wednesday, 4,229 BTC ($38.5 million) entered — far more than the average of 500 BTC ($4.55 million) over the past few weeks.

While order book data is still forthcoming — Kraken may be presenting an anomaly which does not reflect broad trader sentiment — overall conditions are decidedly bearish.

“I expect a small pullback,” CEO Ki Young Ju told Cointelegraph in private comments.

Ki added that should a sell-off begin, he did not foresee it matching that from March, when a cascading short event halved BTC/USD within hours.

“In my opinion, it’ll be around $8,800,” he said.

Bitcoin exchange inflows 3-week chart

Bitcoin exchange inflows 3-week chart. Source: CryptoQuant

The number is less pessimistic than other recent targets. Earlier this week, Cointelegraph analyst filbfilb highlighted Bitcoin’s 20-week moving average at $8,200 as a realistic buy support zone.

For all exchanges, meanwhile, inflows remain far below their March-crash levels, indicating a tendency to hold, not sell, is still in place.

Bitcoin exchange inflows 1-year chart

Bitcoin exchange inflows 1-year chart. Source: CryptoQuant

BTC price falls close to $9,000

Bitcoin remains tied to moves on macro markets, which are themselves dictated by sentiment over coronavirus and geopolitical tensions between the United States and China.

The status quo has been hard to shift, and was responsible for the trading corridor in which BTC/USD has failed to exit since the third week of June.

BTC/USD 1-day chart

BTC/USD 1-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

At press time, the pair traded at $9,080, as selling pressure seemed to mount in line with CryptoQuant’s predictions.

The last time that Bitcoin briefly lost $9,000 was on June 28, in the meantime reaching highs of $9,480.

Is High-Frequency Trading the Reason Bitcoin Has Become Boring?

The increasing use of HFT may help explain Bitcoin’s record low volatility.

The Bitcoin (BTC) market has been quiet lately. A little too quiet.  

As of Tuesday Bitcoin’s volatility levels had dropped to levels unseen since 2017. In recent weeks, Bitcoin has fallen behind as investors piled into altcoins such as Chainlink (LINK) and Cardano (ADA) . 

One possible explanation for Bitcoin’s consolidation may be an increased presence of high-frequency trading (HFT) firms in crypto in recent months. Speaking to Cointelegraph, Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Bitfinex explained that he believes HFT is a major reason behind Bitcoin’s low volatility. 

“In crypto, we are back to the old days of HFT before it became the zero-sum game that it has become today. In crypto HFT firms can make a lot of money deploying relatively straightforward plays, such as cross-exchange arbitrage and exploiting the spread between one exchange and another.” 

HFT and cryptocurrency

HFT is a trading method that uses algorithms to transact a large number of orders in fractions of a second. It has existed in the cryptocurrency space for a long time. But just as billionaire Paul Tudor Jones revealed his Bitcoin holdings recently, other institutional investors are increasingly joining the market. This may explain the greater use of HFT. 

Bitfinex, which claims to be “huge for HFT in crypto”, recently revealed that between 80 percent and 90 percent of volume on Bitfinex was now generated by HFT firms. Bitfinex partnered with Market Synergy and has been offering “institutional standard cryptocurrency connectivity.” 

Bitfinex concludes the growing use of HFT represents increasing “maturity in the digital asset space”. But why would Bitcoin volatility go down with increased use of HFT? Ardoino explains the increased liquidity due to the surge of HFT tradings leads to low volatility:  

“As Bitcoin becomes an established asset class, we anticipate the high levels of volatility associated with cryptocurrency to recede,” he explained. “There is generally an inverse correlation between liquidity and volatility; i.e., higher liquidity tends to lead to lower price volatility.”

“The increasing presence of HFT firms in crypto seems to have added more liquidity to crypto exchanges. This provides sufficient orders for both sides of the order book and increases market efficiency, contributing to prolonged low volatility price consolidation in Bitcoin” 

Bitcoin is famous for moving aggressively for a short period of time. Last year, Tom Lee of Fundstrat reminded investors that the majority of Bitcoin (BTC) gains come in the ten best trading days of the year. However, the growing presence of HFT may be changing the “rule of 10 best days” as well.

ConsenSys Accused of Stealing IP From a Startup in Its Own Incubator

Canadian blockchain upstart BlockCrushr alleges that ConsenSys stole proprietary technology after it participated in ConsenSys’ Tachyon accelerator program.

Canada-based fintech firm BlockCrushr has filed a lawsuit in New York accusing blockchain tech company ConsenSys of stealing trade secrets.

BlockCrushr claims that ConsenSys launched an Ether (ETH)-based recurring payments platform called ‘Daisy Payments’ one day before the Canadian firm launched its own product. 

BlockCrushr was a participant in the Consensys Tachyon Accelerator program and accuses the elder firm of posing as an advocate and mentor before replicating the startup’s proprietary technology. “Defendants launched Daisy Payments by leveraging the trade secrets Burke and Redden disclosed during the Tachyon accelerator program,” the complaint asserts. 

BlockCrushr participates in accelerator

The complaint asserts that ConsenSys invested $100,000 in BlockCrushr to back the launch of its platform. After being invited to participate in ConsenSys’ Tachyon accelerator program, the complaint says that BlockCrushr’s founders Andrew Redden and Scott Burke “uprooted their lives” and relocated to California in September 2018 to participate in the incubator.

BlockCrushr claims that ConsenSys was provided with access to “every aspect of its marketing, financial, technical and regulatory strategy,” in addition to the code for its payments platform. 

“BlockCrushr also shared its main asset: the source code and proprietary technical solution to its recurring payments platform," the complaint states.

ConsenSys ceased communication

However, in early March 2019, ConsenSys allegedly “abruptly ceased their communications with BlockCrushr and its team.” BlockCrushr claims that ConesenSys failed to provide additional funding it had previously promised, resulting in the firm laying off several of its staff. Despite finding new investors, BlockCrushr sought renewed interest from ConsenSys, and revealed the product’s planned launch date during correspondence on July 23, 2019.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction, damages, legal expenses, and disgorgement of profits gleamed from the alleged theft of BlockCrushr’s technology.

Cointelegraph contacted ConsenSys for comment, however, had not received a response as of press time.

Twitter Hack: ‘Social Engineering Attack’ on Employee Admin Panels

Hackers were able to get away with posting fake Bitcoin giveaways on various Twitter accounts thanks to high level internal admin access.

Crypto scammers responsible for what could be the largest ever hack on Twitter were able to succeed because individual employees have high levels of access to information and control on the platform.

In a series of tweets from Twitter Support on July 15, the help center of the social media platform confirmed that hackers responsible for the massive breach of high-profile figures’ accounts had conducted a “coordinated social engineering attack” to gain “access to internal systems and tools.”

“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf,” Twitter Support said. “We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it.”

The account reported the platform had taken “significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools” as the breach is investigated.

Access to promote fake Bitcoin giveaways

The hackers were able to post tweets using the accounts of major figures including Barack Obama and Joe Biden to promote a fake Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway which has so far swindled over 300 users out of $118,000. 

The individual employee admin panels targeted in the hack have significant access to a variety of tools to control the affected accounts, including posting messages on their behalf and changing the verification phone number and email address.

Twitter user sniko_ posted screenshots which indicate the fraudsters may have changed the email address for verification for the Coinbase and Gemini accounts, as they were the same following the attack.

Coinbase and Gemini password reset screenshots

Coinbase and Gemini password reset screenshots

Vice’s Motherboard reported that Twitter was taking down screenshots of user posted shots of admin panels on the grounds that they violated the rules. Images showing access to several Twitter accounts revealed internal admin details including the number of strikes logged against each account, when the account was last accessed, which phone numbers were tied to it, and which email addresses were used for verification. 

Screenshot of Twitter internal employee panel access to Binance account

Screenshot of Twitter internal employee panel access to Binance account. Source: Motherboard

Reactions from Crypto Twitter

“Sounds bad that a Twitter developer can just login to my account and tweet anything, read my private stuff and all,” said Twitter user 1uc45MH. “If one of them freaks out they can tweet anything on anyone’s account.”

The stock market reacted similarly, despite it being closed for trading shortly after the hack was discovered. Twitter’s stock TWTR fell from $35.60 to $34.70, a drop of 2.5% in just 15 minutes. At the time of writing, the platform’s stock is priced at $34.52.

Framework Ventures and Three Arrows Capital Invest $3M in Aave

Aave has raised $3 million from Framework Ventures and Three Arrows Capital to grow its ecosystem through staking and governance.

Leading DeFi protocol Aave has raised $3 million from Framework Ventures and Three Arrows Capital. The investment firms purchased $3 million of Aave’s native token LEND at $0.10 per token, a stake which is now worth around $7 million.

Both firms will take an active role in growing the Aave ecosystem via staking and governance with a goal to increase the protocol’s user base. Aave CEO Stani Kulechov commented on the investment:

“Our focus has always been innovation and diligent risk management, which has got the attention of Framework Ventures and Three Arrows Capital. Their involvement will bring substantial expertise to scale the protocol for institutional usage and they will be helpful stakeholders within our community.”

Framework Ventures are known throughout the DeFi sector and have supported the growth of multiple DeFi startups including Synthetix, Chainlink and Kava.They are very hands-on investors in terms of helping to grow projects.

ParaFi has also made an investment of $4.5 million in accumulated LEND token purchases.

DeFi is growing fast

Over the last two weeks, the total value locked in aave has been growing exponentially, rising from $115 million to $218 million. Users can borrow or deposit a number of stablecoins and major cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Basic Attention Token (BAT), and Chainlink (LINK). 

Total value locked in Aave

Total value locked in Aave. Source: DeFi Pulse

Defi has seen a spike of interest following the launch of Compound which saw the total amount locked in Defi rise from $1.08 billion to $2.54 billion in the last 30 days.