Coinbase Commerce Crosses $200,000,000 In Crypto Payments Since Launch

Covid-19 hasn’t kept consumers from using bitcoin (BTC) as a means of payments for goods and services according to a merchant transaction report from Coinbase Commerce.

A Coinbase Commerce report shows that on 3-26-2020, clients made bitcoin transactions that helped the company surpass a goal of $200 million in transactions since it launched the payments portal. The results come from an enormous network of eight thousand retailers that accept cryptocurrencies together with other methods of payment.

BTC Preferred Over Other Cryptocurrencies

The news is great for those who encourage the adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency altogether. The COVID-19 crisis doesn’t seem to have affected the way people use digital money. However, the situation is not the same for merchant crypto payments, as John Zettler, Coinbase Commerce product’s lead, said there hasn’t been too much activity in this area in March.

He added that money comes very often in BTC but didn’t mention the exact usage breakdown of crypto-by-crypto. People seem to prefer BTC more than other digital currencies. Here are his exact words about how customers at Commerce feel about this digital currency:

“Merchant customers often tell us it’s the crypto they’re most familiar with and the one they trust the most.”

USDC Is Also Growing

Coinbase is also witnessing an increase in stablecoin based payments, especially in its own USD coin that’s dollar-pegged, USDC. Zettler mentioned USDC is leading the growth pack and is expected to have a material growth through Q2 and Q3 of 2020. Support for USDC was added by Commerce back in May 2019.

Zettler further said that Coinbase is working to improve Commerce’s features so that merchants’ demands are being met. The service was launched for refunds and with the intention to normalize the crypto e-commerce space. At the moment, crypto is only an insignificant e-commerce method, with a $3.5 trillion sales marketplace in 2019.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Galaxy Digital’s Novogratz Remains Bullish as Ever on BTC: “This is the Time for Bitcoin”

The price of Bitcoin has surged 74% from the low the digital currency put on March 12. However, we are still down 36% from 2020 high of about $10,500. But according to billionaire investor Mike Novogratz instead of panicking, this should be taken as a buy the dip opportunity.

In a recent interview with CNBC, the Galaxy Digital Holdings’ CEO said, “If there was ever a time — debasement of fiat currencies, monetization of trillions of dollars of debt, this is the time for Bitcoin.”

The bitcoin bull predicted on Tuesday that the world’s leading cryptocurrency would rally this year as it was designed after the 2008 financial crisis to be an alternative when central banks “run amok.”

In recent weeks, we saw central banks around the world announcing trillions of dollars in stimulus to pump in the financial markets and promising every step necessary to combat the impact of coronavirus on their economies.

“It needs to rally this year,” said Novogratz. “If at the end of the year Bitcoin’s not a lot higher, I’m going to scratch my head and say, ‘Look, what the heck is going on?’”

Bitcoin Looking Promising

Currently, BTC/USD is trading under $6,700 after surging to $6,990 after the $2 trillion stimulus coronavirus bill was passed. The move yet again followed the stock market. Yesterday, the Dow Industrial Average had its historic rise only today to swing between gains and losses.

Meanwhile, one technical indicator, GTI VERA Convergence Divergence is flashing a buy signal. Moreover, according to Christel Quek, co-founder of Bolt Global,

“It could be very likely that traditional investors are seeking to regain liquidity through profit hunting from crypto assets as equities are negative worldwide.”

However, in the short-term, in the next 1 to 2 months, economist and trader Alex Kruger sees everything from equities, their volatility, bitcoin if it remains risk-on, and crude oil to be lower.

It’s worth noting, in less than two months, Bitcoin will experience its third reward halving that would cut down miners block rewards while the cost of mining bitcoin will surge between $12000 to $15,000.

In the next six months, the economist sees equities and gold higher while his 12 months’ view is everything from equities, its volatility, gold to bitcoin going higher. But the main risk he said is if the equities’ bottom is in because of the rising coronavirus cases and the period of lockdown in the US.

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Author: AnTy

1.4M XRP Stolen via Fake ‘Ledger Live’ Chrome Extension; Still Available on Google

Approximately 1.4 million XRP has been stolen from the users in the month of March alone through the use of a fake Google Chrome extension.

Through a thread of tweets released on March 24, a research group known as xrplorer forensics, revealed that hackers are stealing user backup passphrases through fraudulent Ledger Live extensions. Xplorer forensics stated:

“They are advertised in Google searches and use Google Docs for collecting data. Accounts are being emptied and we have seen more than 200K XRP being stolen the past month alone.”

After a while, xrplorer forensics revised the figure from 200k XRP to 1.4 million.

As per the researchers, the majority of the stolen XRP seems to be still intact in accounts, however, a proportion of it has already been cashed out through crypto exchange platform HitBTC.

The researchers have cautioned the public from downloading tools to use within their hardware wallets from different developers apart from the vendor directly. They particularly single out Ledger users and caution them from downloading tools apart from the manufacturer only.

By publication time, two ‘LedgerLive’ extensions are available on Google store for use with Chrome browser. The two extensions comprise of a couple of user reviews that are in tandem with xrplorer forensics warnings.

Through their Twitter account, xrplorer forensics has alleged that about 300 million XRP which is at the moment in different XRP accounts has been earmarked as fraudulent. The researchers claim that most of it has originated from the PlusToken exit scam. In their estimation, about 13 million XRP has originated from different scams and theft schemes.

The researchers have also called out crypto exchange platform bithunter.io, questioning why it didn’t observe the AML alerts for various big and reportedly suspicious transactions. As per the researchers, about a third of the entire XRP received by bithunter comes from suspicious accounts that are in their advisory list.

The researchers also caution other exchanges to be vigilant as scammers are currently consolidating their loot, urging them to be extra careful with the incoming payments.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Bitcoin Miners Are Shutting Off their Rigs as Hash Rate Drops 28% from ATH

  • Trading volume hit new highs on sell-off
  • Bitcoin hash rate down 28% from ATH on March 1st at 136.2 Th/s to below 100 Th/s
  • Bitcoin mining difficulty preparing for a negative 6.5% to 9.1% change
  • Mining profitability falls to its all-time low of 0.077

The price of Bitcoin is keeping stable at around $5,000, currently trading at $5,325 with 24 hours gains of 5.79%. In the past 24 hours, $1.75 billion worth of bitcoin exchanged hands.

The trading volume of the digital currency reached near record highs amidst the deep sell-off last week. On March 12th, bitcoin trading volume soared to a two year high with more than 416,000 BTC changing hands.

The high beat the second-highest day occurred on November 20, 2019, when bitcoin just like the past week, experienced a sudden, deep sell-off.

Source: @TradeBlock

Hash Rate Drops

The bitcoin price went down to as low as $3,850, last recorded in March 2019. The hash rate of the network at that time didn’t falter but finally, the effects could be seen on the hash rate — the computation power to mine BTC. Bitcoin mining pool F2Pool said,

The hash rate of the network is currently down over 28% from the all-time high on March 1st at 136.2 Th/s to back below 100 Th/s, as per data analytics firm Blockchain.com.

Bitcoin miners, particularly in China have started to feel the brunt of the BTC price crash. According to data from F2Pool, a majority of the mining pools have recorded a drop in hash rate. F2Pool tweeted on March 12,

Crypto exchange Huobi’s mining pool experienced a drop of 26% over the past week with 1THash close behind with a loss of 20%. Meanwhile, the bigger pools like Pooling, F2Pool, and Btc.com saw a decline of only 18%, 12%, and 10%.

The bitcoin mining difficulty that has been surging in line with the hash rate and has yet to see a decline is preparing for a negative 6.5% to 9.1% change in the difficulty in the next 8 days. F2Pool said,

Bitcoin mining profitability at a record low

Bitcoin mining profitability has already taken a hit. Less than two months away from reward halving, mining profitability has fallen to its all-time low of 0.077.

With revenues gone flat and a 100% increase in costs, miners will feel the pinch right now which would result in an increase in block times and fees as “transactions compete for space in the chain,” said James Bennett, CEO of crypto data analysis firm ByteTree.

At this point, even the most efficient mining equipment like Bitmain’s AntMiner S17 Pro and WhatsMiner M20S of MicroBT are generating daily profits at a gross margin below 50%.

Now, come halving which will reduce miner revenue by half, if the price of bitcoin doesn’t bounce back higher, miners will capitulate. Christopher Bendiksen, Head of Research at Coin Shares said,

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Author: AnTy

Bill Gates Steps Down from Microsoft’s Board; Commits $1.4M to Blockchain Project CREST

  • Microsoft Co-founder, Bill Gates, is stepping down from the company’s board according to a press release on March 13.
  • The veteran IT mogul will focus on his philanthropic initiatives which include tackling climate change, global health, and education.
  • Bill Gates will still, however, advise Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella and other directors within the company in matters technology.

This transition has been gradual and began when Gates opted out of a day to day role at Microsoft back in 2008. At the time, he was looking to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and would later step down from being Microsoft’s board chairman in early 2014.

Nadella highlighted that Microsoft was grateful for the contribution by Gates since he founded the company in 1975;

“It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society’s most pressing challenges.”

Given the developments around the distributed ledger tech, Microsoft and its founder have since indulged in blockchain-based projects to provide solutions.

Microsoft’s and Bill Gates Support for Blockchain

Notably, Microsoft has been active in the blockchain development space especially through its cloud platform, Azure. Towards the end of 2019, the firm launched a blockchain-oriented ecosystem that allows interested developers to leverage building tools for distributed networks.

Bill Gates has also been directly involved in this industry; the Microsoft co-founder recently supported a blockchain initiative meant to scale activity in Africa and Asia. This project dubbed ‘Crest’ was funded to a tune of $1.4 million at the beginning of March and is set to use the proceeds for scaling financial services to the unbanked.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Are Whales Dumping Bitcoin In Large Amounts Driving The Price of BTC Down?

  • Bitcoin’s 90-day correlation with the S&P 500 jumps from 0.1 to over 0.5
  • Before the sell-off, large amounts of Bitcoin were transferred to exchanges
  • BitMEX’s massive liquidations wiped out liquidity

This week the market suffered a panic sell-off and went down to $3,850, seeing the third-largest percent drop of 37.53% after 2011’s 38.67% and 2013’s 48.57%.

Bitcoin has been seeing a drop in its prices since the past month in line with the stock market, so much so that the 90-day correlation between the BTC price and S&P 500 climbed to its highest level ever, particularly after the recent price drop,

In a matter of a day, the correlation went from 0.1 to over 0.5, which could be expected to take a drastic fall again.

Large amounts of BTC transferred to exchanges

The reason behind the sell-off is not just the stock market and bitcoin but also typical safe-haven assets like gold and treasuries has been because of the rapidly spreading Coronavirus (Covid-19) outside of its epicenter China.

However, for the bitcoin market, it has been a little more than that. As we saw on Feb. 13, the crypto asset was trading at $10,500 that fell down to $8,000 level on March 12 when the extreme sell-off took place.

There have actually been whales dumping BTC as large amounts of bitcoin were transferred to exchanges prior to this sell-off. To start with, the $2.9 billion pyramid scheme PlusToken that has been still holding 61,229 bitcoins transferred 13,000 of bitcoin from its wallets to exchanges via mixing services over the last weekend.

Historically, the transfers from PlusToken wallets have coincided with large widespread sell-offs in the market just like this time, according to Arcane Research. Following this wallet transfer, bitcoin plummeted from $9k to $7,500. 13k BTC that were sent to exchanges has been likely to be sold off in the market as the selling persisted over a longer time frame which could be part of the reason behind the price crash on Thursday.

Additionally, another 1000 BTC that belongs to an old mining wallet that dates back to 2010 were also sent to 55 different exchange wallets on Thursday. And soon after BTC price fell from $8k to $7,500 which could have initiated the third-worst trading day in the history of bitcoin.

BitMEX liquidations wiped out liquidity

Besides these huge amounts of Bitcoin, BitMEX liquidations also played a part in the Bitcoin price crash. On Thursday, the crypto derivatives exchange had its largest liquidation rate ever, liquidating $76 million during the massive and a violent sell-off.

These liquidations were further extended into the night when more than $300 million were liquidated only to come at a screeching halt as BitMEX went down for maintenance due to hardware issues.

It has been during this period, that the price of bitcoin bounced hard, jumping 35%, going to $5,200. As we reported, many speculate that it had nothing to do with hardware issues but was done to avoid a total collapse.

The liquidations were likely larger than the liquidity, leading to a massive feedback loop of liquidations which means it could have potentially led to clearing the order book all the way down to zero.

However, BitMEX denied such theories and provided evidence that the downtime was actually due to CPU pressure. The exchange also said that they have a healthy insurance fund for these kinds of events.

Currently, staying above $5,000, the market is in “extreme fear” but if it starts going down, the support is present at $4,000, a level that has historically seen a lot of trading activity.

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Author: AnTy

Gold on Track for Biggest Weekly Drop in 7-Years, Acting As A Better Safe Haven than BTC

  • Bitcoin already jumped 42% from the $3,850 low
  • “Max pain probably resides somewhere between $6,000 to $7,000” – Arthur Hayes
  • “If gold’s being sold to raise cash in an emergency, then it is doing its job as a safe haven” – Brien Lundin

A day before the market went into a full-on panic mode because of Bitcoin price crashing nearly 45%, BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes published a regular note on March 12th on his exchange where he talks about how despite trading below $8,000 Bitcoin outperformed most global equity indices in 2020.

But not anymore. The world’s leading cryptocurrency is down almost 30% on yearly basis trading around $5,230 after going to $3,850 on Bitstamp and further lower at $3,600 on BitMEX.

However, Hayes believes that we won’t be revisiting $3,000, which we didn’t do exactly, but “max pain probably resides somewhere between $6,000 to $7,000 Bitcoin.” Hays also noted that during these times any crypto hedge fund will be getting distress calls and dumping coins into a falling market which will only push the price lower.

Yesterday, the Seychelles-based exchange liquidated a billion-dollar worth of positions only to go down before it could push BTC even lower. The exchange went online only to be down again.

Trading volume and volatility is going off the charts and the market is in “extreme fear” and “the fear and uncertainty facing humanity is enough to inspire a global margin call,” said Hayes.

Investors selling assets to raise cash

These past few days the US stock markets experienced a rout of a level that was last seen in the 2008 financial crisis that has them tumbling into bear territory. The distress among investors because of the black swan event coronavirus (Covid-19) combing with oil price war not only affected bitcoin but also the traditional safe haven assets gold and Treasuries.

While the Treasury yield has fallen to their all-time lows as investors pile into them, even gold couldn’t escape the effects of the investors’ need to jump into cash.

“As the stocks were sitting on their limit down, trading halted, and unable to fall further, investors wanted to free up capital before Lagarde’s speech,” said analyst Mati Greenspan.

“The evidence of this is that many other commodities also sold off at the exact same time. Here we can see gold, platinum, palladium, gasoline, and sugar all plummeting around the same time, some of them even worse than BTC.”

After falling 4.5% on Thursday, gold rose 1% on Monday but is still on track to post its biggest weekly drop in about seven years.

“If gold’s being sold to raise cash in an emergency, which is what appears to be happening now, then it is doing its job as a safe haven,” said Brien Lundin, editor of Gold Newsletter.

But for bitcoin, correction means the digital asset losing all the traits of being a safe haven. Bitcoin might be trading like a risk-on asset but it still possesses the properties of being a store of value asset.

Bitcoin to run back to $20,000 by year-end

Bitcoin has been following the stock markets for the past month and on March 12, the sell-off worsened as we lost $8,000 level. In these past two days, Bitcoin has lost more than 50% of its value, which is much higher than the traditional markets but this kind of volatility or drops for the crypto market isn’t unprecedented.

Meanwhile, the stock market jumped on the back of the Federal Reserve pumping $198 billion into short-term bank funding operations. Bitcoin jumped today as well, up 42% from the 2020 low we put in yesterday and is currently hovering around $5,250, however, this has been without the intervention of any central bank or government.

According to Hayes, as central banks press the print money switch into “beast mode,” by cutting rates to zero and announcing open-ended QE, bitcoin and gold will appreciate in value but it will take time.

“Bitcoin should enjoy a nice run back through $10,000 towards $20,000 by year end,” wrote Hayes.

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Author: AnTy

Ethereum Price Analysis: ETH Could Extend Its Downtrend Below $190

Ethereum price started an upside correction from the $189.35 low vs the US Dollar. ETH to USD is facing many hurdles above $204.50 and it is likely to resume its downtrend in the near term.

Key Takeaways: ETH/USD

  • Ethereum price is trading in a bearish zone below the $204.50 and $207.75 levels against the US Dollar.
  • ETH/USD broke a key contracting triangle with support near $199.60 on the 2-hours chart (data feed from Bitstamp).
  • Bitcoin price is down more than 3% and it is likely to dive below the $7,750 level

Ethereum Price Analysis

In the past few day, there were mostly downsides in Ethereum price below the $215.00 and $204.50 levels. ETH to USD even broke the $200.00 support area and traded to a new monthly low at $189.35.

Ethereum Price
Ethereum Price

Looking at the 2-hours chart, Ethereum price settled well below the $204.50 pivot level and the 50 simple moving average (2-hours, purple). Recently, there was an upside correction above the $200.00 level.

The price made an attempt to surpass the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the downward move from $252.65 to $189.35, but it failed. It seems like the $204.50 and $205.00 levels are important barriers for the bulls.

As a result, Ethereum price broke a key contracting triangle with support near $199.60 on the same chart. The price is now trading well below the $204.50 level. An initial support is near the $194.50 level, below which there is a risk of more losses towards the $189.35 level.

Any further losses may perhaps lead the price towards the $188.50 and $182.50 levels in the near term. Conversely, the price must gain traction above $204.50 to start a decent recovery.

The next hurdles are near the $207.80 level and the 50 simple moving average (2-hours, purple). The main resistance above the 50 simple moving average (2-hours, purple) is near the 50% 50 simple moving average (2-hours, purple) at $221.00.

Overall, Ethereum price is trading in a bearish zone below $204.50 and $207.80. Therefore, there is a risk of more losses below $192.00 and $189.35 unless there is a clear break above $207.80.

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Author: Aayush J

Rapper TI Cleared Of Securities Fraud, Kevin Hart Awaits Judgement For 2017 FLiK ICO

Renowned US rapper Clifford Harris Jr., more commonly known as T.I, has been let off the hook from securities fraud for allegedly promoting the FLiK ICO.

However, his co-accused, the businessman – Ryan Felton – together with popular comedian and actor Kevin Hart, were not so lucky.

Law360 also reports that a US Court sitting in Northern Georgia threw out state securities fraud as well as other claims filed against T.I.

Aggrieved FLiK ICO participants had filed a case against the rapper in November 2018, accusing him of hyping a scandalous pump and dump ICO exercise.

The aggrieved investors stated that they had lost about $2 million during the scheme, and T.I and others mentioned in the case were used to promote the scam. Panell Jr., a US District Judge handling the case, agreed with T.I’s legal counsel and cleared him of the allegations.

The judge stated that the aggrieved parties only alleged that T.I, through his twitter handle, urged his followers to have a look at the FLiK ICO website. The judge continued to state that the plaintiff failed to offer further details on the alleged value of the FLiK tokens and, as a result, the facts provided do not amount to the level of particularity needed for such a case.

The Judge also threw out the claims by the plaintiff that T.I being part of the FLiK ICO marketing activities were contrary to Georgia’s Uniform Securities Act.

The judge explained that all those who participated in the FLiK ICO exercise had no known ties with Georgia state. The judge also said that the prosecutors failed to show how T.I’s twitter activities influenced the investors’ decisions to invest in the scheme.

T.I is just one of the celebrities who have been fighting cases for their activities in drumming up token sales during the 2017 ICO-mania. Recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled about $800,000 for their activities in advocating the CentraTech ICO scam.

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Author: Cody L

LocalBitcoins Weekly BTC Trading Volume Drops to a 7-Year Low, Competition Picking Up

Bitcoin volumes from LocalBitcoins has hit a 7-year low; the peer-to-peer OTC exchange has been a dominant player in the field since 2013. Latest stats, however, shows that weekly traded BTC are now at 3,144 ($28 million) compared to a high of 13,000 Bitcoins last year.

Data from Coin Dance further revealed that the platform’s activity has been on a steady decline since the crypto market bull-run in 2017. During that period, LocalBitcoins volumes recorded 7,519 BTC in a week which translated to $129 million as per the prevailing market prices.

Despite a bear market during the first half of 2019, the average amount in dollar values traded on LocalBitcoin’s in the last year are higher than 2020’s stats;

localbitcoin-volume
Source: Coin.Dance

Why is the LocalBitcoin Volume on a Decline?

This plunge in activity has been attributed to the company’s change in KYC/AML approach. LocalBitcoins which operates on a Finnish license enhanced their due diligence process not sparing even the smallest of traders. In a country like China, most of the platform’s participants had already begun to slowly leave, over the past two years. However, the exit rate was then accelerated towards the end of January 2020 when the OTC Fiat-crypto provider suspended some accounts.

Source: Paxful Coin.Dance

Other players like Paxful have also emerged to serve this niche, therefore, destabilizing LocalBitcoins’ monopoly, like market position. Given this dynamic, LocalBitcoins is currently in a tough spot, as European regulators close in more on crypto operations.

LocalBitcoins Future

The future of this P2P exchange hasn’t yet faded away, although it will no longer be enjoying their large market share going forward. Developing economies in South America and Africa still find value in LocalBitcoins’ OTC given local currency volatility in countries like Venezuela and Argentina. In addition, the regulatory trends might also catch up with LocalBitcoin’s competitors, which would probably trigger a similar reaction from crypto users trying to avoid the oversight.

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Author: Edwin Munyui