Criminal Assets Bureau Confiscates Over 6,000 Bitcoin But Unable to Sell Them

The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) has confiscated 12 online accounts, wallets containing 6,000 bitcoin of a drug dealer who had €55 million (over $59.6 million) of his fortune in the digital currency but lost the keys to access his wallet after hiding them with his fishing rod, which has now gone missing, reported the Irish Times.

This also means, these €53.6 million worth of bitcoin are also out of the Cab’s reach, which has been apparently the biggest case in the Cab’s 25-year history. Bitcoin advocate Andreas Antonopoulos said,

“Funny how people who create money by fiat think they can also seize it by fiat, even when it’s not fiat. “But we said we seized it. In writing and on official paper and everything! What do you mean it’s not seized?” Crypto: I respect your authority but I doubt your ability.”

However, trader Crypto Gainz says, even still,

“you know the amount of bitcoin and presumably the owner of the address(es) Now try it with monero. You wouldn’t even know the amount seized. It wouldn’t warrant a headline.”

Punishment of stupidity

The drug dealer Clifton Collins, 49, from Dublin, originally bought most of his bitcoin in late 2011 and early 2012 using cash that he made from growing crops of cannabis. In the last decade, Bitcoin’s value soared 9 million percent and is currently trading at $9,630.

In early 2017, during the last bull run, he had these over 6,000 BTC in one account but because it might be too easy for hackers to access, Collins spread it across 12 accounts, 500 Bitcoin worth €4.5 million in each wallet.

Collins printed out the code on a piece of paper and hid it inside the aluminum cap of his case containing his fishing rod which he kept at his rented home in Cornamona, Co Galway. But a burglary during the time he was arrested and jailed for possession of cannabis lost him his fishing rod and the codes to access his wallet. However, Collins has reportedly come to terms with the loss of the money and took it as a punishment for his own stupidity.

For now, Cab has been able to access only a small stash of Bitcoin valued at €1.5 million that he had in other accounts and seized them along with €100,000 in cash.

Garda officers are hopeful that advances in technology would allow them one day to access the bitcoin that they haven’t’ been able to so they could be sold.

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Author: AnTy

New Jersey Introduces Bill For Crypto Firms To Obtain Licenses From State Authorities

A New Jersey lawmaker introduces a bill to regulate the cryptocurrency and digital assets industry. The bill states each virtual asset company must obtain and maintain their operation license with the authorities in the state.

In a public report released on Feb. 20, New Jersey’s Assemblywoman, Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), introduced a bill titled “Digital Assets and Blockchain Act” to the House. The bill is set to be tabled on the New Jersey Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee to be discussed. If the bill passes into law, then cryptocurrency companies in the state will be required to obtain operating licenses from financial authorities.

The bill is set to protect consumers from the risks and dangers digital assets pose to their investment, according to the official announcement. Lopez said,

“We must take steps to protect consumers looking to invest in cryptocurrency, while also allowing the sector to continue to develop and expand in New Jersey.”

Crypto firms in New Jersey to obtain licenses

If the DAB Act passes through to law, the blockchain and cryptocurrency companies will need to register with authorities and obtain an operation license from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. Companies with licenses from other recognized states will also be allowed operation in NJ. The announcement further reads,

“In the application process, a cryptocurrency business would be required to disclose its legal name and any fictitious or trade name the applicant uses to conduct business.”

Notwithstanding, crypto companies in the state will need provide a slew of information to the financial authorities including but not pertained to,

“any license revocation, suspension, rejection or other disciplinary action taken against the applicant in another state; a list of criminal convictions, deferred prosecution agreements, and pending criminal proceedings against the applicant; and anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing policies.”

While the overall stance on regulation in crypto and blockchain world is heavily looked down upon by crypto actors, cofounder of the Blockchain Association of New Jersey, Guillermo Artiles, believes protection of investors in the field is important for the field to grow. He said,

“Those with businesses connected to these novel technologies are eager to ensure there are protections against questionable activities for the sake of the industry’s legitimacy. As a new industry, image is important.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

BitMEX In A ‘Very Strong Position’ As Customers Continue To Trust It With Their Funds

  • BitMEX has 34k BTC in the insurance fund and $2bln+ in customers’ assets with $1.5bln in open interest
  • Binance catching up quickly on liquidity – a key long term success factor for a derivatives exchange
  • Exchange remains in a very strong position but competition is real, its number of daily users has been decreasing

Total Open Interest (OI) across contracts on BitMEX currently is north of $1.5 billion. This is the number of open positions on BTC/USD trading pairs on the cryptocurrency derivatives exchange. Usually, whenever OI reaches $1 billion, increased volatility in BTC price is expected.

“Open interest is a proxy for leverage and it’s a useful metric … bitcoin traders often talk of $1B as a sell signal,” pointed out economist and trader Alex Kruger.

Crypto research firm Delphi Digital also tried to quantify the significance of the trend in its report from last year.

On looking into returns and frequency of price decline during all hours not spent above 1B from June to Sep. 2019, it found, “The frequency of declines shows how it’s basically a coin flip when looking at your average time period.”

Despite a challenging H2 19, BitMEX funds grew

Meanwhile, the exchange has $320mln in the insurance fund & $2bln+ in customers’ assets.

Popular Seychelles-based BitMEX continues to be trusted by its customers to keep their funds safe, with the balance in their cold wallet continuing to increase.

Crypto data platform Skew reports, “With 34k BTC in the insurance fund, the exchange most likely runs the most capitalised crypto-native clearing house in the industry.”

“Customers continue to trust BitMEX with their funds!” said Skew despite the exchange having a “more challenging” second half of last year.

BitMEX kicked off H2 of 2019 on a bad note when the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) launched a probe into the exchange in July. The CFTC considers cryptos like bitcoin commodities and has jurisdiction over their derivatives, as such requiring BitMEX to register with the agency to cater to traders in the US.

Arthur Hayes, CEO of the exchange that offers margin trading with up to 100x leverage told Bloomberg at that time,

“We continue to monitor all legal and regulatory developments around the world and will comply with all applicable laws and regulations; we reject any allegations of criminality, manipulation or unfair treatment of our customers, who are at the center of everything we do.”

But this wasn’t all, a few months later in November, the exchange accidentally leaked sensitive data of its users because the company failed to apply a blind copy to its mass email servers.

Other catching up with its liquidity

While BitMEX continues to face such issues, competition in the perpetual swap product it created started heating up as well.

In terms of liquidity — a key long term success factor for a derivatives exchange — although of XBTUSD contract remains the best in the industry, Binance has been catching up quickly since the start of the year.

[Also Read: Will XRP Be Dumped? BitMEX to Launch XRPUSD Perpetual Contracts with 50X leverage]

The world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange is also offering perpetual contracts and its liquidity is now getting closer to BitMEX.

To reward the liquidity providers, Binance announced this week that they will introduce negative fees for select trading pairs for those market makers whose 30-day volumes exceed 1,000 BTC.

BitMEX remains in a very strong position but competition is real

BitMEX’s volume, Skew found is in multi-billion on a daily basis but the increased competition means it “has to share the pie with other venues.” This means BitMEX “remains in a very strong position but competition is here for real!”

The effects can already be seen in its number of daily users which has been slightly decreasing.

“Until July last year, a day with <20k users was a slow day, >20k looks since August to be more of a strong day.”

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Author: AnTy

UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Revises Crypto-Based Business Registration Fee

Following a series of consultative forums with the virtual assets community, UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed that its revising crypto businesses registration fee upwards. The regulator has henceforth rolled on two distinct registration fees for crypto-based businesses according to their sizes AMBCrypto reports.

The regulator announced that enterprises with a net income of £250,000 from crypto assets activities will be levied a fee of £2,ooo. In addition, the regulator said that firms with more than £2,000 net income from crypto activities will have to pay £10,000 registration fee.

The revised registration fees requirements comes after a discussion of the proposals by the regulator that were released last year in October. Initially, the regulator had proposed a flat fee of £5,000 for all crypto-based businesses. The new fee structure was arrived at following protests from start-ups and smaller businesses.

The new fee structure from the regulator still raised some protests from the smaller businesses operating in the UK. However, the regulator has remained firm about the updated fee structure explaining that the agency is fully funded by the levies and fees it collects from the businesses it regulates. As per the press statement, the operation costs have increased in the last couple of years owing to the increased amount of work that the agency has to undertake while regulating the crypto-based businesses, hence the need to update the fees and levies upwards.

The regulator told off the protestors saying that anyone getting into business is aware that there are costs to be taken care of and it is normal for businesses to even anticipate losses in their nascent years.

Last month, the regulatory body announced that it is set to take up an enhanced mandate in regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country. The regulator also revealed that it will assume fresh supervisory mandate when it comes to virtual assets.

As per the press release, businesses already involved in crypto assets activities have until January next year to register with the regulator. Such businesses have to hand over completed registration applications before the end of June this year.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Proof of Keys Day Sees More Funds Flowing in Exchanges Than Going Out

Have you started moving your crypto assets off exchanges has been the question on the of Proof of Keys day held on Jan 3rd.

But the data suggests the opposite held true and just like last year’s inaugural Proof of Keys day, we didn’t see massive amounts of BTC withdrawn.

As per the data provided by researcher TokeAnalyst, Binance, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bittrex, OKEx, and Huobi all recorded more inflows than outflows.

BitMEX and Kraken were the only ones who see more outflows. However, Kraken registered the net outflow of a whopping $18 million. The largest net inflow meanwhile has been of $15 million which was recorded on Bitfinex.

Overall, taking these prominent eight cryptocurrency exchanges into account, the total net inflow has been $36 million while $23 million was the net outflows.

About the net inflows seen by Binance for both Bitcoin and Ethereum, its CEO Changpeng Zhao said,

“It has become a day for people to withdraw from exchanges they trust less well to ones they trust more. Let’s do it more often.”

However, Proof for Keys day marks, “Not your keys, not your Bitcoin (crypto)” that requires the holders to take their crypto assets off the exchanges and withdraw their funds from these platforms and other third parties as well.

Enthusiast Trace Mayer started the day by sharing, “Happy birthday Bitcoin! And happy #ProofOfKeys day!”

“All you HODLers of Last Resort, I encourage you to declare and enforce your monetary sovereignty,” said Mayer.

Mayer also shared the data regarding the amount lost in the exchanges hack last year to remind and urge people to claim ownership of their property.

In 2019, the market lost $130 million in Quadriga and $16 million in Cryptopia in January, $23 million by Bithumb and $7 million by DragonEx in March and then in May, Binance lost $40 million in BTC along with the latest one of $50 million by Upbit in November.

This 2019 list includes more exchanges, some doesn’t even have the estimated amount that has been lost.

However, as we saw, instead of moving the funds out of the exchanges, overall, investors put more money into them.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Poised for a Run at $8k Says Trader but Extreme Low Volume Not a Positive Trend

  • Bitcoin, an uncorrelated asset moved along with gold as demand for safe-haven assets rose due to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East
  • Bitcoin might Moon if there is a war with Iran as it is the “best place” for flight capital – Clem Chambers of ADVFN.com
  • Trading volume meanwhile is below $200 million and dropping further on weekends

Four days into 2020 and Bitcoin saw a surge of 8% where it went from $6,850 to above $7,400.

As we reported, Bitcoin spiked in value just like gold which was because of the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East after the US airstrike killed Iranian general Qaseem Soleimani that pushed the demand for safe-haven assets.

Iran has been one of the “hotbeds” for Bitcoin adoption, propelled by the crippling US sanctions and its unstable economy.

Mati Greenspan, founder of investment firm Quantum Economics in his Friday newsletter points out how

“Until today bitcoin has largely been seen as an uncorrelated asset that does not usually react directly to what’s happening in other markets.”

Iran an unlikely driver

However, he notes that the Iranian market in itself is likely “too small and slow” to have caused this 8% upwards move in BTC price single-handedly.

What’s more likely is “one or several players have been waiting on the side for a good buying opportunity below $7,000 per coin and it seems one has presented itself.”

Economist and trader Alex Kruger also said that the narrative of Bitcoin being a safe haven and soaring because of Iran is “absolute nonsense.”

But Bitcoin might Moon if there is a war with Iran

Clem Chambers, CEO of private investors website ADVFN.com, however, says, Bitcoin will “moon” if the US has a war with Iran.

In the longer term, he says whenever there is trouble in the capital controlled countries like China and Iran, Bitcoin will be a “key asset.” This is because,

“while there are trillions in gold and oil to suck up demand, there is only a smattering of bitcoin to take the sort of buying surge a country like Iran could create were the situation to spin up into a large scale conflict.”

Bitcoin, according to him, is the “best place” for flight capital for those wanting to protect their assets.

In the short term, $8k is next

No matter the reason, Kruger sees Bitcoin heading higher.

Currently, the world’s leading cryptocurrency is trading at $7,298 with 24 hours gains of 0.72%, as per Coincodex. Meanwhile, trading volume is still low at below $200 million.

The 7-day average real trading volume has been continuously moving down. On January 1st, 2020, the volume was as low as $192 million. This level was last seen in April 2019.

During the weekends also the volume remains low. In fact, the middle of the week sees over 50% more volume than weekends, unlike earlier last year. Arcane Research notes,

“Although this could be related to the holiday period and less activity during weekends, this is not a positive trend for the leading cryptocurrency in the space.”

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Author: AnTy

Digital Asset Security Firm Fireblock Backed By Fidelity Gets EY’s SOC 2 Type II Accreditation

Fidelity Digital Assets (FDAS) thinks that in the future, custodians will work from behind the scenes to store cryptocurrencies for clients from different firms.

At the same time, its enterprise-based platform for crypto transactions, Fireblocks, has just passed an EY audit that confirms it complies with data security standards, which has led to talks with Wall Street clients.

FDAS Doesn’t Have Any Plan to White-Label Its Custody Services

FDAS is a Bitcoin (BTC) custodian and broker for institutional investors. It doesn’t have any plan to white-label its services, this being just a theory about the future it has launched. What it has announced is that this month it’s going to open a new European entity. At the moment, FDAS sources its liquidity mostly from over the counter (OTC) trading desks, but it has plans to have its own crypto exchange until this year is over.

Fireblocks Was Awarded a SOC 2 Type II Certification

After a 6-month audit on how Fidelity’s Fireblocks processes, protects and manages customer data, the company was given a Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type II Certification. Fireblocks’s service allows institutions to move digital assets securely. Its platform was launched in June and it supports 180 cryptocurrencies in addition to 22 exchanges. In an EY report, it’s mentioned that Fireblocks met or exceeded the SOC 2 Type II criteria and that it’s going to be evaluated every year in order to comply with all security standards.

Few Crypto Businesses Have the SOC 2 Type 2 Accreditation

According to Fireblocks’ co-founder and CEO, Michael Shaulov, only a few crypto businesses are SOC 2 Type II accredited. Now, the company is looking for clients from outside the crypto world, like financial institutions that want to try the asset class. It has been confirmed that is already in talks with Wall Street firms.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Backed By Major Financial Institutions, SolarisBank Launches Subsidiary For Crypto Custody

SolarisBank has recently announced that it is has created a new unit called Solaris Digital Assets in order to offer crypto-custody services to clients. The German fintech company has been backed by recognized investors such as BBVA or Visa.

SolarisBank Launches New Crypto Subsidiary

The company located in Berlin is now working so as to offer custody solutions to clients that were already able to have access to digital banking services offered by the firm. SolarisBank received over $63 million from investors in order to start working on solutions in relation to the crypto space.

The cryptocurrency market has been evolving during the last years and custody solutions have been highly demanded by firms and investors all over the world. At the same time, regulatory agencies have been focusing in order to create clear regulations for crypto custody services.

The subsidiary of SolarisBank, Solaris Digital Assets, is planning to be compliant with all the regulatory requirements imposed by the German authorities. The main goal is to be able to offer crypto-related custody solutions to clients. The firm is going to be applying for a crypto license to offer custody to clients as soon as in 2020.

Despite the new products available for both large and retail investors in the market, custody remains as one of the most important topics for the industry.

At the moment, there are some partners that are testing the custody product created by the company and that would eventually be combined with other traditional banking services. This would be very useful to bridge the current gap that there is between the traditional financial market and digital assets.

In the past, SolarisBank offered services to Bitwala, Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange and many other companies involved in the crypto market.

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Author: Carl T

Ukrainian Government Finalizes Money Laundering Laws Based on the FATF Recommendations

The Ukranian government has finalized a money laundering law for virtual assets and virtual asset service providers based on the recommendations put forward by FATF. Ukrainian legislative body Rada published the final version of the law on December 6th.

As per the published version, digital assets are categorized as a store of wealth, and also noted its potential as a tool for illicit activities including money laundering, and other kinds of fraud.

Ukraine who recently got Binance on board to help it formulate crypto legislation. The leading crypto exchange by trading volume signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine in November. The partnership would see Binance helping Ukraine in blockchain implementation as well as help them create a new market for virtual assets.

The Final Version of the Law

The final version of the law surrounding the virtual assets contains various guidelines for the authorities and the service providers. The published version contains the guide for the government on how to monitor and regulate crypto trading in the country. One such guideline suggests that crypto traders making trades worth $1,300 or above are required to submit their public key to the government for monitoring purposes.

The guideline suggests if the trader makes a trade higher than $1,300, then the identity of the sender and receiver will be verified by the government. Another guideline suggests that virtual asset service providers dealing in assets above $1,600 need to inform authorities about the customers they are dealing with.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Despite Reports Bithumb Exchange Insists That Its Shanghai Operations Have Not Been Shut Down

  • Bithumb’s “domestic assets” have reportedly been banned in Shanghai.
  • Bithumb has stated that their work is “continuing steadily without pause.”

Bithumb, the cryptocurrency exchange based in South Korea, was recently the subject of a media frenzy, due to reports that their Shanghai enterprise has been negatively impacted. The city government had issued an inspection notice, leading Chinese news outlet ifeng.com to report that the employees of this office were sent on a “long vacation” with no news of when they would be coming back.

The administrative offices for the district of Shanghai were ordered by the People’s Bank of China and the Shanghai Municipal Financial Regulatory Bureau in the city to investigate crypto-related activities. Their order stated that completion of the inspection was due by November 22nd. After the investigations, the firms were supposed to report to the PBoC and the regulatory bureau, followed by a subsequent shutdown. The Ifeng.com report stated that the “official website [for Bithumb] shows that domestic access has been banned”

“We have one of our blockchain technology research and development teams based in Shanghai, and the projects are continuing steadily without pause.”

“These reports are untrue.”

Javier Sim, the co-founder and managing director of Bithumb Global, also spoke with The Block, commenting,

“Bithumb Global attempts to bring all crypto communities together on one simple and decentralized platform. Unity is the key to the development and prosperity of the industry.”

Presently, the exchange is presently working to release Bithumb Chain. Bithumb Chain is Bithumb’s new native blockchain network, and it is planned for launch towards the beginning of next year. Sim stated,

“Bithumb Chain powers the products, services, and infrastructure within the Bithumb Family ecosystem which helps capture value from both upstream and downstream of the trading business.”

Other reports indicate that the sale that Bithumb arranged for a controlling stake in the company could be unraveling. Last October, the parent company of Bithumb, BTC Korea, stated that they were willing to sell a 50% stake, which was being sold for around $333 million. The stake was meant to be an exchange to BK Global Consortium, the investment firm founded in blockchain technology by BK Global. BK Global is a medical group in Singapore which specializes in plastic surgery.

There has apparently only been a down payment to BTC Korea Holdings, valued at $100 million, but the contracts haven’t been finalized. So far, the spokesperson for Bithumb had declined to make any other comments.

The cryptocurrency industry is mostly unregulated, but each country has specific policies regarding its local operation. After a recent inspection, Bithumb is reportedly not permitted to operate in Shanghai, even though a spokesperson states that the claims “are untrue.”

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Author: Krystle M