Steem is ‘Overly Centralized’ Says CZ While Announcing Support for the Controversial Hard Fork

The leading spot exchange Binance has received a request to upgrade the STEEM network to version 0.23.

This controversial hard fork earlier this week aimed to freeze 23.6 million STEEM tokens worth $5 million of 65 accounts and reduce the un-staking time to 4 weeks from 13 weeks.

In an attempt to prevent the takeover of these funds, they were sent to crypto exchange Bittrex but as we reported the exchange has decided to not turn over these funds to their owners as they would be following the “consensus of the blockchain.”

Now, Binance has also agreed to support the upgrade and allow the users the “freedom to use their STEEM tokens as they see fit.”

“We don’t want to support this upgrade. But there is a flip side. If we don’t support it (technically), no users can withdraw any STEEM coins. The wallet stopped syncing at a certain height, and there are no other forks,” said Binance co-founder and CEO Chagpeng Zhao.

Over the next two months, the exchange will further reduce support for STEEM by cutting down its trading pairs to just one from the current 3 pairs.

CZ also advised one of the victims who reportedly lost $1 million due to this fork to “create a fork of STEEM just before the hard fork, and we will likely support that.”

As CZ himself wondered, “Thought you would have sold those for HIVE long ago,” the Twitter user They Call Me Dan shared it was because he “fought in the voting war and kept my steem powered up until Hive was born.”

He powered down his Steem but as it takes 13 weeks to fully unstake Steem, which has now been reduced to just 4 weeks, they remained stuck on the Steem network.

Earlier this month, when Tron founder and CEO Justin Sun had a hostile takeover of the Steem, which he acquired late last year was with the help of Binance, Huobi, and Poloniex, a crypto exchange also acquired by Sun last year.

Later on, Binance and Huobi retracted their influence, which they gained through the tokens staked on the exchange.

Although this time there is no “power-up and voting” involved, this one is tricky, because this upgrade turns the asset balances on a few addresses into zero of which Binance is against, explained CZ.

“The fact that this can happen on a blockchain means it is overly centralized,” he said. And in that case, “fork away from it.”

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Author: AnTy

EOS-Based DeFi, Equilibrium, Adds Binance, Eosfinex to EOSDT Stablecoin Governance Council

  • Binance and Eosfinex, Bitfinex’s decentralized exchange, are some of the big names in crypto to join Equilibrium’s EOSDT stable coin governance committee.

According to official reports, the two companies joined the council alongside independent block producers, EOS Nation and EOS Cannon, to provide oversight over approval of contracts and amendments made on smart contracts on the EOSDT stablecoin blockchain.

Equilibrium is an EOS based open finance platform that offers similar capabilities to Maker platform with EOSDT similar to the DAI stablecoin. With the new governance team in place, Alex Melikhov, CEO of Equilibrium, said this will allow the network to fully utilize the features on EOS in his statement,

“One of the main advantages of EOS lies in updatable smart contract code. In other words you can migrate to new versions of your application seamlessly without hard stop of the whole system.”

Binance involvement in the governance of the Equilibrium chain will see the exchange oversee every smart contract on the platform, granting access to upgrades or rejecting them. However, the governance council regulations require at least two parties to give their consent before the smart contract is implemented.

“You can also consider it as establishing a four-eyed principle for Equilibrium’s EOSDT.”

The decision to add the new members was voted by the existing council members not only Equilibrium, Alex said. This is to ensure the best and most reliable participants in governance are chosen for the slots. Such decisions are uncommon on Ethereum DeFi platforms whereby the founders hold the admin keys of the protocol giving them absolute power over the system.

Equilibriums governance council, while not fully trustless, offers the blockchain “decentralization by creating a proof-of-authority framework which consists of trusted counterparts that are independent according to their background.” Alex further said,

“Instead of a single owner who can potentially do whatever they want there is a group of reputable and known ecosystem participants who bid their reputation on the integrity/relevance of these updates.”

While the verdict remains unknown on why Binance joined the governance council, the possibility of BNB being added as a backing asset to the EOSDT stablecoin has improved. According to one spokesperson from the largest crypto exchange, top management is looking forward to BNB getting added as collateral on the Equilibrium DeFi platform.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Stolen in 2016 $72 Million Bitfinex Hack Moving

Some of the stolen BTC during the $72 million hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex in 2016 has been just moved.

Whale Alert that tracks large movements of top cryptocurrencies reported that 28.3 BTC worth more than $255k has been moved to an unknown wallet.

Four years back, Bitfinex lost 120,000 BTC worth $72 million, when the price of bitcoin was about $600. Today, with each BTC at $9,160, this stash is now worth more than $1 billion.

This isn’t the first time that these hackers are moving their funds. Back in June, last year about 185 BTC were transferred to unknown addresses, at that time BTC price was up over 60% YTD at around $10,000. Then in August, 30 BTC were also moved.

Now, just as happens with large transfers, the crypto community fears the worst.

One twitter user said, “If btc does not crash to sub 4k in 1 month, I’ll delete my twitter.”

Large amounts of Bitcoin on the move surely affects the price as happened on May 10. The BTC price fell about 16% that day after a large deposit took place on Gemini; but that deposit was “abnormally” large at 2,500 BTC unlike just over 28 BTC.

Such kind of big deposits result in heightened activity on the exchange where they were made but also triggers market sell on other exchanges as well. This causes a significant increase in trade volume across all exchanges, resulting in a drop in Bitcoin’s price.

However, at times, relatively small and few orders can also have a significant impact on liquidity across many major exchanges.

Just this week, there was speculation led sell-off that resulted in a brief decline of about 7% in BTC price.

It was after Whale Alert reported that 50 Bitcoin had been moved from a wallet dormant since February 2009. Whale Alert suggested it might have been bitcoin’s pseudo-anonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto who moved the coins, triggering the panic among the market, but as we reported it was very unlikely.

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Author: AnTy

BTC Usage in Africa Intensifying, Nigeria’s Naira is 2nd to USD on P2P Exchanges

Bitcoin adoption in Africa continues to ramp up.

On peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange platform, Paxful and LocalBitcoins, Nigeria’s Naira accounted for $9 million of trading volume each week.

This growing usage has Nigeria’s Naira second most used currency after the US Dollar.

Africa has been breaking P2P exchange volume records for some time now, with Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Central Africa seeing new weekly highs.

“Africa had ANOTHER record week on global P2P markets. In all, over 13M in USD equivalent was traded across 18 African currencies and this was the first week on record where African volume exceeded Latin American volume on these P2P exchanges,” noted Matt Aholborg, creator of UsefulTulips.

A few months back, Bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter said: “Africa will define the future of Bitcoin.”

Expanding Into Africa

Given the rising volumes, Bitcoin is in fact, getting special attention in Africa. Crypto platform Luno, where Nigeria’s Naira is also making new highs is also in talks about expanding in Kenya and Ghana.

“It’s a market we have a keen interest in, and Ghana and Kenya are high on our list,” Luno General Manager Marius Reitz told Bloomberg. Recently, they moved beyond South Africa and Nigeria to start operating in Uganda and Zambia.

The South African company now employs 400 people across seven offices in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Luno raised $3 million in funding in 2015, led by Africa’s biggest company, Cape Town-based technology investor Naspers.

Founded seven years ago, the exchange has now four million users and is adding about a million customers amidst the Covid-19 led shutdown.

Investors in South Africa are also using Bitcoin as a hedge against the 23% depreciation in their currency Rand this year against the dollar.

A Lucrative Market

Recently, Luno launched a documentary called “Banking on Africa: The Bitcoin Revolution,” which will air on Amazon Prime starting Friday.

Notably, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana are noted to be the top 10 countries that are searching for the term “cryptocurrency” on Google.

Arcane Research also launched a report on the State of Crypto in Africa in collaboration with Luno which talks about 13% of South African internet users owning crypto which provides it with third place throughout the world.

At fifth spot is Nigeria, whose 11% of internet users own crypto while the worldwide average for the same is 7%.

The reason behind this growth is the huge remittance market of Sub-Saharan Africa, which relies on slow and centralized systems that charge a fee as high as 9 to 11%. Moreover, political instability and inflation concerns are also driving them to transact $4.5 million worth of crypto every day.

But the continent lacks infrastructure including internet connectivity, smartphone penetration, and crypto mining operations which are hindering the reach of crypto among Africans.

Besides Luno, Binance and BuyCoins are also entering the lucrative African market.

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Author: AnTy

Coinbase Custody Adds Cosmos (ATOM) Staking; Joining Tezos (XTZ) and Algorand (ALGO)

Coinbase Custody, a custodian independent entity launched by Coinbase Crypto exchange primarily focused on offering custody and staking service has added Cosmos (Atom) staking services for its clients.

Coinbase Custody was among the first to offer safe, offline staking services, for Proof-of-Stake (PoS) based tokens, allowing its clients to earn staking rewards and participate in on-chain governance process without risking their funds. The announcement was made through an official blog on May 21st.

Cosmos is also a proof-of-stake based blockchain known to offer interoperability between different blockchains. Clients can stake their Cosmos tokens to a validator and in return share the block rewards. Prior to Cosmos staking, Coinbase Custody was already offering staking services for Tezos and Algorand. [Also available on Binance.us and Anchorage]

With the addition of Cosmos, clients would now be able to login to their Coinbase Custody account and stake as much of the Cosmos asset they want. The client would also have the option to chose the delegator either in the form of Coinbase Custody or choose a third-party validator.

How Coinbase Custody Staking is Different From the Rest of The Market?

Coinbase custody makes use of secure offline cold wallets instead of the usual hot wallets, which are used by a majority of the firms offering staking service. Hot wallets are prone to hacking attacks that place the client’s assets at risk of being stolen. Whereas Coinbase Custody offers all its staking services via offline secure wallets.

Coinbase Custody believes its vast experience in offering Tezos staking service makes it one of the most experienced and secure staking service provider. Coinbase’s support of Tezos also makes it the biggest validator of Tezos and, coupled with its clean record on security and losses of funds, makes it a reputable solution.

Bryce Ferguson, Product Manager, Coinbase Custody also promised that in case if there is any lapse on their side and slashing takes place, they would cover all the risk and the client would not have to worry about any kind of loss of their asset. Ferguson said:

“Although slashing is unlikely, we want our clients to feel comfortable that in choosing our Cosmos staking service they are choosing an option that aims to mitigate risk.”

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Author: Silvia A

Derivatives Exchange BitMEX Hit with a Civil RICO Lawsuit From Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement

Crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX is facing yet another lawsuit.

Puerto Rican company BMA LLC formerly known as Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement is accusing the exchange of “deliberately designed, from the ground up” to facilitate “a myriad of illegal activities.”

This isn’t the first time that BMA is suing a crypto company, as just two weeks ago they filed a lawsuit against Ripple and its CEO Brad Garlingouse for an alleged violation of US securities law in XRP token sale.

Before that, in November, they targeted BitMEX competitor FTX alleging them of price manipulation only to dismiss the case voluntarily a month later.

Now, BMA and Pavel Pogodin who control this little-known firm filed a suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California alleging BitMEX’s parent company HDR Global Trading reaped billions in illegal profits via wire fraud, unlicensed money transmission, money laundering, and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO.

The plaintiff accused the company of illegally processing $3 billion each day, “which is the record volume for such unlawful activity in the entire history of the monetary regulation in the United States.”

This has been in violation of US federal law on the grounds that BitMEX failed to acquire a money transmitter license, alleges BMA.

Also, about 15% of the $138 billion trading volume recorded by BitMEX in 2019 belongs to the traders located in the US.

BMA also alleges the derivatives exchange manipulated the crypto markets by boosting the Bitcoin price artificially.

The lawsuit further notes the extremely high trading leverage, 100x offered by BitMEX and claims the exchange uses the server freezes and “system overload” to accept and reject trading orders during volatile markets to cause price fluctuations and trigger maximum liquidations.

Plaintiff also took shots at BitMEX co-founder and CEO Arthur Hayes, calling him “cryptocurrency’s P.T. Barnum” who is a “promoter for the ‘degenerate gamblers’ he solicits, and encourages speculative trading by (…) making bold predictions designed to elicit responses and move the market in a way that is profitable for BitMEX.”

HDR Global is aware of the complaint and will be defending itself against the “spurious claim.” An HDR spokesperson said,

“BMA has recently emerged as a serial filer of claims against companies operating in the cryptocurrency space, and is widely recognised for operating just like a patent troll.”

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Author: AnTy

Momo Wang Drops New CryptoKitty on Winklevoss-backed Nifty Gateway; Sells Out in 3 Minutes

  • The launch of a new Cryptokitty token has flooded the Winklevoss-backed NFT exchange Nifty Gateway, the high-brow digital art marketplace.

CryptoKitties just launched 100 tokens representing ‘Catterina’, a new collectible drawn by the project’s brand ambassador and Chinese artist Momo Wang. Wang is popularly known for illustrating a sticker of a white rabbit ‘Tuzki’ shared by tens of millions of users on WeChat and Facebook everyday. Her new illustration dubbed Catterina has gone live on Nifty gateway marketplace with one hundred images up for sale at $100 a piece.

Sold out in three minutes

Two and a half years ago, CryptoKitties briefly crushed the Ethereum network under the weight of its popularity. This time around and within an hour of Momo Wang announcing the limited run, Nifty gateway posted on its official twitter account that they’d had over 100 user sign ups already and urged people not to miss out. Within three minutes of launching, all of the 100 tokens depicting Momo Wang’s Catterina had already been sold out.

It turned out that the craze following the previous announcement had resulted in a massive number of users accessing the platform all at once. This in turn led to the service growing slower and slower. The Nifty exchange announced their systems had experienced an unanticipated volume which resulted in payment issues arising. They added that all who had paid without receiving a kitty would be immediately refunded. Moments after the sale, Nifty posted that one of Catterina’s non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) had sold for a whopping $450 on a secondary market.

NFT’s bullish rise to the top

As if knocking out the Ethereum exchange was not astonishing enough, NFT‘s ecosystem has continued to evolve significantly. The recent announcement of Dapper Labs partnering with the NBA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in a bid to launch tokenized representations of MMA fighters just proves of how NFT is making progress associating with prominent public figures. Nifty first produced tokenized collectibles depicting MMA competitor Cris Cyborg and after a few hours they had sold out.

NFT also sets to revolutionize the blockchain gaming industry by ensuring that games are embedded with tokenized items that can be privately owned, purchased and traded.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ripple’s ODL Helps Bitrue Exchange Expand Is User-base Due to Use In Cross Border Payments

Bitrue, a crypto exchange based in Singapore, is gradually gaining market share from the XRP community. The exchange’s approach to have XRP as its base cryptocurrency seems to pay off given the value proposition in financial services by this token. Curis Wang, the CEO of Bitrue, also said that their design is indeed unique which sets them apart from peer competitors.

“our connection to XRP’s highly-engaged community differentiates us from the thousands of other exchanges out there.”

A post by Ripple on May 13 has since highlighted this success and its potential in scaling up for future solutions. Wang specifically noted that XRP presents an opportunity to grow Bitrue’s crypto exchange platform as the industry moves towards scalable and practical initiatives,

“XRP’s role in solving problems with cross-border payments is a perfect use case that will drive growth, which is why Bitrue decided to make it the central asset of our exchange.”

Though currently a good strategy, Wang initially faced a hard time in convincing the Bitrue team to settle on XRP. This is because it defies the norm, whereby BTC is the base asset in most crypto exchanges which made it harder to persuade clients as well. He has, however, been able to change the narrative based on the idea of on-demand liquidity in cross-border payments.

In addition, Bitrue’s interaction with Ripple’s community has helped them gain new insights and support. The exchange now enjoys a wide XRP user base with over 77 pairs as of the end of 2019. Notably, its services were also expanded recently to feature crypto loans on assets like BTC and Tether by staking XRP as collateral.

Wang is optimistic that Bitrue will continue to grow as on-demand liquidity surges within international payment networks,

“As more people turn to on-demand liquidity for faster, cheaper global payments, Bitrue will grow alongside the increasing use of XRP”

Here is the full video of the interview:

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Author: Edwin Munyui

ETH From UpBit’s 2019 Hack on the Move As Scammers Dump it on Different Exchanges

UpBit, a popular Korean exchange fell victim to one of the largest Ethereum hacks back in 2019 when hackers managed to steal $50 million worth of ETH from its hot wallet. There have been several attempts to reclaim the stolen amount but nothing worthwhile was achieved and a significant portion of the stolen amount is still being dumped in the market.

There have been emerging reports lately that the hackers behind the crime are now trying to exchange the stolen ETH for Fiat or other cryptocurrencies via different exchanges. Whale Alert, a popular Twitter account known for tracking significant crypto transactions has managed to trace the stolen UpBit ETH being dumped on an exchange called BYEX.

While the exact amount of the dumped ETH was not traced, Whale Alert found that the account associated with the dump managed to cash out in batches of $25,000. The suspected account made several transactions of $25k to various accounts within a week.

Whale Alert found that a majority of the stolen ETH was dumped on BYEX, however, a closer look at the blockchain data suggests there are at least three other accounts with 3,000 ETH each associated with the hacker’s account waiting to dump the remaining Etherum. While cryptocurrencies are known to offer the privacy of transactions, however, modern-day analytical tools manage to trace hacked funds despite scammers taking precautionary measures.

Similar to the ongoing ETH dump from the UpBit hack, last year Binance lost a significant portion of Bitcoin to a hacking attack, and with the help of analytical tools, researchers managed to identify and trace a majority of those lost Bitcoin.

At the time of UpBit hack, many exchanges including Binance pledged to work with UpBit and freeze any accounts that suggested suspicious activities associated with the hacked ETH coins.

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Author: Silvia A

Deribit Partners With ClearLoop To Prevent Auto Deleveraging (ADL) In Volatile Markets

  • Panama based cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, Deribit, announces the launch of an external custody solution in partnership with ClearLoop, a London based digital asset infrastructure provider.
  • The solution aims to reduce the auto deleveraging (ADL) on the platform while enhancing the collateral transfer between wallets.

According to the release statement, this is expected to open up a more secure gateway for institutional traders to carry out trades without transferring their assets from the cold wallets to online wallets every time they wish to trade.

The account which is a custody account aims at preventing asset managers from being forced to move their crypto to hot wallets from secure storage. Transfers not only cause issues with the security of crypto assets, as they can be stolen or sent to the wrong wallet, but any delay in the transfer can cost the traders money. This is dependent on the time required for confirmation.

ClearLoop’s solution will employ a secure and quick system through intermediate clearloops providing managers with a secured custody solution. In addition, it eliminates self-retention risks on the platform.

Source: Deribit Insights

For each position that a trader presents, ClearLoop first ensures that the exchange and the client both have enough assets to cover them before they open them. ClearLoop also ensures that the same has been settled between them as soon as the deal has been closed.

In relation to a number of market inefficiencies, ClearLoop claims that by faster transfer of customer guarantees, traders will be better protected from the risks of automatic debt reduction.

Co-Founder and CEO of Deribit, John Jansen said,

“Integration with ClearLoop is a natural next step for Deribit, as it could potentially solve some of the most critical issues faced by the derivatives market.”

Traders can get higher volumes per transaction by enabling shorter response times while at the same time avoid cryptocurrency value restrictions which can be stored in hot wallets. These are needed to minimize counterparty and security risks. ClearLoop argues that with its new solution, all deposits, and counter deposits that are secured in the cold wallet storage until allowing instantaneous trades across the blockchains.

[Also Read: Deribit Launches ETH Daily Options After Success With Bitcoin Contracts]

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Author: Lujan Odera