Zap Lightning Network Wallet Founder Launches Strike, The ‘Best Shot’ of Achieving Mass Adoption

The Lightning Network wallet Zap founder Jack Mallers has announced a new application called Strike that will allow you to make Lightning payments with your debit card or bank account. This means, there will be no wallet, no channels, nodes, swaps or liquidity management anymore.

Built on Olympus, it is “designed to usher in an era of Bitcoin that we believe has the best shot of achieving our mainstream hopes and desires.”

Mallers explains in his Medium post that volatility is the prime issue they had because while it is an opportunity in the market, in a consumer-merchant setting it is a non-starter, making it “extremely” difficult for them to accept bitcoin.

Another big issue is taxes. In the US, bitcoin is taxed as property and spending it a taxable event which even extends to the Lightning Network.

“As a merchant, this was arguably a bigger issue. (…) The tax headache was not worth it, and nearly all merchants opted out of accepting bitcoin.”

Creating a wallet, custody and owning Bitcoin was another as people didn’t want to. With Strike, Mallers says,

“We aren’t just changing how Bitcoin looks, but also how it feels. We’re changing a consumer’s relationship with Bitcoin and Lightning, how it is used, and how it is viewed. We’re opening up new ambitions, new ideas, new possibilities, and a new, mainstream audience.”

This product can be used to buy Bitcoin and sell it and by simply scanning the QR code and clicking pay, used for remittance payments and for internet tipping as well.

But it isn’t a custodial wallet so if you are hacked and your BTC stolen, then no one can do anything about it and you have completely lost them.

The second layer on the Bitcoin network, Lightning Network offers real-time cheap settlements, where Strike aims to make the barrier of entry low but high flexibility and ease of use.

Strike is expected to be live on App Stores in the coming months meanwhile to join the beat list of the project, you can go to strike.zaphq.io.

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Author: AnTy

Hackers Insert Monero (XMR) Mining Script in Late Basketball Great Kobe Bryant’s Wallpaper

A hidden cryptocurrency mining malware was found in a wallpaper of late basketball player Kobe Bryant, reported the security intelligence unit of technology giant Microsoft on Jan. 31st.

Microsoft Security Intelligence tweeted that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the tragedy of Bryant’s tragic death “as expected” by running a malicious HTML file in the late basketball player’s wallpaper containing a coin mining script.

In the follow up tweet, it confirmed Microsoft Defender ATP detected the malicious HTML file as Trojan:HTML/Brocoiner.N!lib and its SmartScreen has now blocked the website hosting the coin miner.

The script mentions CoinHive, an in-browser crypto mining service for privacy coin Monero (XMR). Earlier last year, CoinHive shut down all its operations after the downturn of 2018 and over the upgrades made by the Monero network. After it went down, cryptojacking attacks also dropped considerably.

This, however, wasn’t the first time that cybercriminals used the photos of celebrities to spread cryptocurrency mining malware. Last month, a crypto-mining botnet infected computers with an image of Taylor Swift to diffuse the malware. Before that back in 2018, Scarlett Johansson’s picture was also targeted by these cybercriminals.

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Author: AnTy

Trezor Hardware Fixes the ‘Critical Flaw’ Found by Kraken Security Labs

  • Kraken Security Labs had been able to extract seeds from both Trezor One and Trezor Model T
  • Kraken discloses the vulnerability to Trezor in Oct. 2019 and as the hardware wallet team had found the fix, Kraken made the flaw public

In shocking news, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken’s Security Labs announced that they were able to find a “critical flaw” in Trezor hardware wallets.

Kraken Security Labs announced on Friday that they have devised a way to extract seeds from both crypto hardware wallets of Trezor One and Trezor Model T.

The attack relies on voltage glitching to extract an encrypted seed that required several hundred dollars of equipment but could be mass-produced at $75. This encrypted seed which is protected by a 1-9 digit PIN, was then cracked which is “trivia to brute force.”

The team reveals that the attack took advantage of inherent flaws within the microcontroller used in Trezor wallets, meaning it is difficult for the Trezor team to do anything about this vulnerability at least without a hardware redesign.

Fix released by the Trezor team

A couple of weeks back, Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell advised that people shouldn’t store their coins on any cryptocurrency exchange even on Kraken, rather they should use Ledger or Trezor.

And now the Kraken Security Labs has found a vulnerability that means even hardware wallets aren’t safe either.

But there is a solution. Do not allow anyone physical access to your Trezor wallet or you could permanently lose your crypto.

Well, Trezor has found the fix and released it because as Kraken states, they “disclosed the full details of this attack to the Trezor team on October 30, 2019.” It continued,

“We are going public with this vulnerability disclosure now so that the crypto community can protect themselves before a fix is released by the Trezor team.”

Do hardware wallets remain the best option?

The user must enable the BIP39 Passphrase with the Trezor Client because it is not stored on the device, this can prevent the attack.

Passphrase feature is an “exceptionally” secure layer of active protection against physical attacks, said Trezor in its response to the attack.

It is not stored anywhere on the device and is used only temporarily whenever you enter it. The passphrase is case sensitive and it belongs with recovery seed.

However, Crypto Twitter was aghast to hear the news but Trezor tried to calm everyone and clarified,

“Trezor is an open-source hardware wallet: we indeed don’t use a secure element to let anyone verify our code, but that is also why the Passphrase feature exists – to fully mitigate the physical attacks, which are a case for 6-9% of people according to our research.”

While assuage any concerns of having such vulnerability itself, Trezor competitor Ledger stated, “Not to worry: we’re not affected by this as we use a Secure Element.”

Ledger also emphasized that despite this, “Hardware wallets remain the best option for keeping your crypto safe.”

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Author: AnTy

CME Bitcoin Futures Expiring Today While BTC Price Takes A Drop to $9,250

  • Bitcoin futures trading at $9,550 while current spot prices hovering around $9,250
  • Meanwhile, two CME gaps present at $8,540 and $8,935
  • CME has traded more than $100 billion in total notional value since its launch
  • Today is the day of Bitcoin Futures expiration.

CME Group launched the cash-settled Bitcoin futures during the peak of Bitcoin price in December 2017, where one CME contract involves five BTC.

Currently, the price of Bitcoin futures is trading at $9,550, up from the current spot price of around $9,250.

Now, it’s to be seen how these futures expiry will affect the price of the flagship cryptocurrency which today went as high as $9,529 on Bitstamp.

“HUGE move coming up (…) I’m generally bullish on this one but won’t let my guard down, said analyst BitBit.

Currently, there are two gaps present at $8,540 that occurred during the bullish break-out last weekend and then at $8,935 earlier this week during the closing hours on CME.

As we reported, the latest study found that over 95% of the CME gaps are filled with “odds are always in favor of a close, but drawdowns if you only play the gap close can be painful and costly.”

Volume on the rise

Meanwhile, volume continues to rise on spot exchanges, with more than a billion worth of BTC exchanging hands on top ten exchanges with real volume. CME has also been seeing heightened activity.

Since its launch, CME has actually traded more than $100 billion in total notional value, according to Tim McCourt, CME Group Managing Director.

“Our Bitcoin futures have evolved over the last two years and are now one of the most liquid, listed bitcoin derivatives available globally,” McCourt told a media outlet.

While CME continues to see growth, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) launched a similar cash-settled Bitcoin trading product a week after CME discontinued its product in March 2019 after going through the lengthy bear market of 2018 where BTC lost 84% of its value.

Earlier this month, CME also launched Bitcoin options on the back of strong demand.

Meanwhile, crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX is hitting new highs in open interest with “March and June futs respectively trading at a 2.7% and 4.2% premium.”

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Author: AnTy

RippleNet Is Driving XRP Usage, Bringing In New Entrants With Its ‘Network of Network’ Effects

  • Real-world utility and adoption are still catching up – Breanne Madigan, Head of Global Institutional Markets at Ripple
  • The tipping point to critical-mass adoption of XRP & digital assets constantly moving closer

Trading in virtual currency has started making a shift from being speculative assets last year as giants like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, and JP Morgan enters the space, said Breanne Madigan, Head of Global Institutional Markets at Ripple.

And the more the participants enter, especially traditional institutional players, in liquidity provisions the more aggressive the market, she said.

New institutional entrants like futures and derivatives according to her has been playing a big role in bringing investors into space and further stabilizing markets. She said,

“Continued growth in derivatives will open up access to more efficient capital and drive higher trading volumes throughout 2020 and beyond.”

Perpetual swaps are another most liquid and massively traded instruments. Just this month, Binance added XRP to its Futures trading platform.

Real-world utility and adoption catching up

Another sector with growth potential is the borrowing and lending market which she says is fueled by low-interest rates for fiat currencies, a boost in the amount of digital asset market participants, and increase of long-term digital asset holders looking to make yield.

However, digital asset value remains relatively low during this period. Madigan says the markets appear to be still undergoing a period where real-world utility and adoption are catching up. Madigan said,

“As institutional-grade infrastructure continues to be built, and real-world problems are increasingly solved using digital assets like XRP, the tipping point to critical-mass adoption is constantly moving closer.”

Digital assets’ market more stable than ever

She further explained that it’s RippleNet that is pumping the use of XRP. RippleNet is making it possible for financial institutions to connect and further their extended networks creating a ‘network of network’ effects. She said,

“As these network effects continue to increase, it will drive even more liquid markets and robust financial products around crypto, bringing new entrants into the ecosystem.”

In 2019, blockchain adoption became widespread with increased awareness of benefits such as cross-border payments. Even Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, said at the 2020 World Economic Forum,

“There are benefits to cross-border payment systems in lowering costs for consumers and businesses. We absolutely support companies working on this.”

Together, the expanded utility of virtual currency in cross border payments and opening of derivatives trading contributes to a greater liquid and stable market for digital assets than ever before with no sign of slowing down, Madigan said.

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Author: AnTy

Overstock’s Security Token Platform To Launch Retail Broker-Dealer tZERO Markets By Mid-Year

tZERO is a security token platform operated by Overstock, the online retailer. On January 30, 2020, the platform released a summary of its business performance in the form of a review letter. The letter provided a summary of everything from 2019, including providing a detailed layout of what they intend to achieve in the course of this year.

Saum Noursalehi, the tZERO CEO, is behind the penning of this review letter which focused on various aspects of the business including an anticipated introduction of the broker-dealer program, which is also being referred to as the tZERO markets. The review states that this release is expected to occur “in the first half of this year.”

Funding from External Sources

At the same time, the company also made known their plans to approach external sources for additional funding. This is something they expect to accomplish later this year or in the beginning of next year.

tZERO was founded in January 2019. In May of the same year, they received a total of five million dollars from GSR Capital. However, tZERO still managed to miss their initial fundraising goal by a whopping 98.7 percent. In the review letter, Noursalehi wrote that:

“As Overstock management mentioned recently, it is committed to funding tZERO. As our business continues to develop in the first half of the year and we continue to hit milestones and prove out the business model further, it may become appropriate to approach external sources of capital in late 2020 or 2021.”

The Chief Executive Officer was, however, quick to point out that the only time that the platform will take this measure is when they’re sure that the funding obtained from external sources will help to enhance the company, as well as the value of its stakeholders.

tZERO was in hopes that it would manage to list at least 5 security tokens on the tZERO ATS exchange by the end of last year. But this process was delayed by various regulatory and legal concerns.

Noursalehi pointed out that the exchange currently has one broker-dealer and 2 listed tokens.

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Author: Daniel W

Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 Launches With New Features; Decentralized Governance And Data Privacy

  • Hyperledger Foundation announced the launch of Hyperledger 2.0 on Thursday.
  • The second version of the open-source blockchain will include new features on governance, scalability improvements, and data privacy on a need to know basis.

In an official launch published by Hyperledger Foundation, users can now access the Hyperledger 2.0, the second version of their enterprise based decentralized ledger, focusing on production.

The open-source blockchain will introduce new data privacy controls on a need to know basis, a new chaincode management cycle that provides decentralized governance for smart contracts. Furthermore, the second version will provide a more scalable platform for efficiency. Rob Palatnick, Governing Board Chair at Hyperledger said,

“The release of Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 is an important step forward in the on-going evolution of DLT, and was developed based on feedback from real-world use, including improved chaincode management capabilities and performance enhancements.”

The Hyperledger Fabric model has been adopted by a number of large companies across the globe since launching in 2015. As of 2019, 30 of the Forbes Blockchain 50 companies, were using the open-source platform or experimenting on it including Amazon Web Services, IBM, Oracle, Tencent, Alibaba, and Google.

“Hyperledger Fabric is an enterprise-grade, distributed ledger platform that offers modularity and versatility for a broad set of industry use cases.”

Traditional financial companies have also adopted the open-source platform with Germany’s Deutsche Boerse testing on Corda and Hyperledger Fabric protocols in November last year.

Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 launches with new features

According to the official announcement, Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 launched with five major improvements from its legacy version. The new protocol will add a number of features including new chaincode lifecycle management and application patterns, data privacy on a need-to-know basis, consensus type of Raft and an external chaincode launcher.

The new governance chaincode lifestyle management will let multiple parties reach a consensus on the chaincode before accessing the chaincode, a new decentralized governance structure. Furthermore, the new data privacy protocols are set to improve how data is channeled in the system increasing privacy.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitfinex Rolls Out Margin Trading On Tethers New Gold-Backed Token XAU₮

The crypto exchange Bitfinex has just added a margin trading for Tether Gold (XAU₮), a January 30th press release from the company’s website says.

Starting today, Bitfinex will support margin trading for XAU₮. The trading pairs will be for Bitcoin (BTC) and the US dollar (USD). According to the press release, initial equity will be at 20% for the margin trading, and will offer as much as 5x leverage.

XAU₮ Tokens Provide Ownership to Physical Gold

XAU₮ was launched on January 23, by Tether Ltd., the parent company of USDT. Every XAU₮ token constitutes sole possession of 1 troy fine ounce of gold that’s kept in a vault in Switzerland. It’s available as an ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, Tron Blockchain tokens will be the TRC20 tokens. Bitfinex listed XAU₮ on January 24. It will very soon allow its users to borrow funds so they can advance their trading positions. This is expected to bring more profits, even if the risks are greater, says the Bitfinex press release:

“Margin trading enables traders to borrow funds to increase leverage, offering the potential for greater profits than in traditional trading. Still, the potential for greater rewards also comes with higher levels of risk, particularly given the volatility of digital assets.”

At the same time, Paolo Ardoino, Bitfinex’s CTO agrees, as he declared:

“The launch of margin trading on Tether Gold will allow more advanced trading strategies, enabling a more sophisticated means of hedging exposure and managing risk.”

Bitfinex Also Raised Its BTC/USD Trading Pair Offer

Bitfinex also stated they have raised their BTC/USD trading pairs offer to 5x from 3.3x. To this, Ardoino commented that:

“Raising our leverage from 3.3x to 5x is a noteworthy development and is also timely given growing interest in gold and other safe haven assets amid the recent turmoil that we’ve seen in equity markets.”

Those who want more information about XAU₮ are advised to visit gold.tether.to

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Author: Oana Ularu

Top Onecoin Ponzi Scheme Recruiters Launch A Clone Called Circle Of Finance (Invicta)

  • OneCoin token Ponzi scam affiliates are in the pipeline to form a new tokenized project, Circle of Finance (Invicta).
  • Two of the top ranking officials in the Onecoin scam, Veselina Valkova and Habib Zahid, are associated with the scam.

In late November, details emerged of the OneCoin Ponzi scheme spinoff, Circle of Finance (Invicta) which sounded a whole lot more like the its predecessor. According to BehindMLM, the company is incorporated under the name TradeInvicta, an Estonian based shell company set up by Heaven Invest and exists in name only, no transactions made through it.

According to general company information from the Estonian authorities, TradeInvicta is registered under Veselina Valkova and Habib Zahid, two of the many Onecoin scammers, who ran away with over $1 billion USD in users funds. Habib is believed to have been a top recruiter in Onecoin scam with Veselina playing a more key role as one of the inner circle members of the founder of Onecoin, Dr. Ruja Ignatova, who has since vanished.

At the launch of the Circle of Finance (Invicta), many of those who followed were convinced the project was a resurrection of the Onecoin scam. However, through their marketing and advertisements, the new entity is branding itself as a completely different platform despite offering the same corny promises Onecoin offered investors.

The new platform promises to offer users a network including forex, network marketing, e-commerce, payment processing and exchange & remittances. Only exchanges were missing from Onecoin’s initial plan.

This is a pretty basic MLM scam that is mainly targeting the Onecoin customers who were scammed earlier and the newbies in the field with an option to cash out on an exchange sound interesting. While the site is yet to be up and running, it is important for cryptocurrency investors to be on the lookout. We will follow up any details arising from the Ponzi as it arises.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Japan’s Second Biggest Bank Joins SBI Holdings By Investing In Ripple-Powered MoneyTap

Japan’s second-biggest banking institution has teamed up with SBI Holdings to develop a financial service platform that will be based on blockchain, Japanese based Nikkei reports.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) is set to deposit money in Japanese financial conglomerate in efforts to enhance the utilization of distributed ledger technology (DLT) within the trade finance field as well as personal bank remittances.

The partnership documents show that the Japanese financial giant agreed to invest in MoneyTap, the payments platform powered by blockchain technology. The partnership comes just weeks after Fukushima Bank, as well as various regional banks, integrated the app to their operations.

Ripple in collaboration with SBI Holdings developed MoneyTap. The app using DLT enables its users to send money with the help of their telephone numbers or using generated QR codes. While the app is powered by Ripple technology, it is yet to reveal whether users can use XRP, the network’s native token.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and SBI Holdings are members of a banking consortium which forms SBI Ripple Asia that was formed to advocate the use of Ripple’s technology within Asia. The consortium brings together 47 banks which boast of 80% control of the Japanese banking assets.

SMBC is also investing in Marco Polo’s R3 Corda that is also supported by the SBI Holding. This investment is set to enhance the adoption of Corda within Japan and beyond. Corda is a blockchain platform that allows companies and developers to develop applications on top of it. About 300 companies have used the platform for different purposes.

Ripple SBI Asia has witnessed rapid growth and development since it was formed. The firm together with Visa has invested in Currencycloud.

Ripple and SBI Holdings agreed to form a joint blockchain venture in January last year with an aim of revolutionizing the finance sector in Japan and the region.

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Author: Joseph Kibe