New York Times Says Cyber Criminals Are Using Bitcoin to Get Around Sanctions

  • Bitcoin is not an anonymous asset and can be tracked.
  • A promotional video from Hamas encourages individuals to donate to their cause with Bitcoin.

The traditional finance market has been worried about a few of Bitcoin’s attributes, but proponents have largely focused on the blockchain’s lack of anonymity as a reason that criminals would be dissuaded. However, changes in the sanctions between the US and other countries have led cyber criminals straight to Bitcoin’s doorstep, applying the digital currency to their various funding efforts, according to reports from Decrypt and the New York Times.

The militant group in Palestine – Hamas – is considered to be a terrorist organization, and it has been largely kept out of the traditional financial system. However, as Bitcoin is not controlled by a single entity, the military wing has developed a way for their campaign to raise money through Bitcoin. In the latest version set up by the Qassam Brigades, every person is provided with a Bitcoin address where funds can be sent. In doing so, law enforcement can’t exactly track the funds. This website also includes a video that shows senders how to evade the authorities and prevent the transaction from causing an alert.

A screen shot from a Qassam video that explains how to acquire and send Bitcoin without tipping off the authorities.

A screen shot from a Qassam video that explains how to acquire and send Bitcoin without tipping off the authorities.

Bitcoin has been involved with drug purchases, money laundering, and more. However, the increase in the number of terrorist organizations using Bitcoin and other digital coins has attracted the attention of the authorities. While individual campaigns don’t appear to gain much funding, the authorities have pointed out that there is little funding necessary for terrorist attacks.

Former CIA analyst Yaya Fanusie, who now acts as a consultant on rogue actors who use cryptocurrency, explained that more of these circumstances will arise, and “it is something that people should pay attention to.” Even the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, mirrored these comments during an interview, even though the concept is new to these terrorists.

Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, said, “They seem to be reacting to all the economic sanctions by saying, ‘We are going to try using Bitcoin.’” Stalinsky’s organization, known as Memri, will soon be publishing a report with over 200 pages, explaining the signs that cryptocurrency is being used by terrorist organizations. The report will specifically reference groups in Syria that are already on the run.

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Author: Krystle M

Why is Bakkt Important For Mainstream Adoption of Bitcoin (BTC)?

  • Bakkt get green light from CFTC, to launch Bitcoin futures contracts next month
  • Bitcoin Futures, Custody, Payments, & Compliance by Bakkt
  • One-day physically delivered BTC futures contracts traded on registered exchange big for Bitcoin

After a year of repeated postponements, we are finally going to have physically-delivered Bitcoin futures.

September 23rd is the day when Bakkt is launching its physically-delivered Bitcoin futures contracts after receiving the green light from the CFTC.

“Transparency and trust to digital assets,” is what Bakkt vows to bring to the cryptocurrency industry which is still in its early stages.

The digital asset platform launched by Intercontinental Exchange, a US company that operates 12 regulated exchanges and marketplaces is expected to be the beacon for the institutional investors.

Bakkt: Bitcoin Futures, Custody, Payments, & Compliance

In the decade long history of Bitcoin, one of the most concerning issues with the crypto industry is the wild swings in prices of crypto assets.

This kept the institutional investors at bay though they have started to make their way in crypto space. But with ICE backed Bakkt making its way into the market while adopting practices employed in the global futures market, more interest from institutions is expected.

Bakkt is partnering with ICE’s leading futures exchange and clearing infrastructure to bring its physically delivered futures contracts to market participants in more than 30 countries. These participants will undergo AML/KYC rules consistent with CFTC-regulated markets.

In addition, “Bakkt will routinely participate in financial and security audits, as well as regulatory compliance reviews.”

As for the custody, it provides secure storage backed by insurance for digital assets held in frozen wallets. Moreover, they are working with leading merchants who recognize the potential of crypto-assets as these new global currencies evolve beyond speculative assets and or a store of value.

A way for large, risk-averse institutions to buy & custody bitcoin

Crypto market is largely designed to serve retail customers rather than institutional participants and Bakkt is bridging the gap — concerns related to lack of regulation, liquidity, market quality, fees, and operational risks — to access this market.

“It offers a way for large, risk-averse institutions to buy and custody bitcoin through an end-to-end regulated system approved by the CFTC and NYDFS, and backed by the sterling reputation of ICE,” said Jake Chervinksy, General Counsel of Compound Finance.

Most notably, these bitcoin futures are physically settled contracts, unlike 98% of futures in the finance industry.

Bakkt is offering an innovating one-day futures contracts, traders will thus take delivery meaning it will be similar to trading spot, as explained by economist and trader Alex Kruger.

The fact that these futures will be traded on a fully regulated exchange, is huge to attract institutions and:

“could thus be an extremely bullish development IF demand is there.”

Bitcoin price meanwhile reacted somewhat positively to the news as we went above $10,500. But BTC/USD is yet again in the red by 0.54% while trading at $10,345.

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Author: AnTy

Graychain Report Shows Crypto Lenders Earned Under 2% On $4.7 Billion Worth of Loans

Cryptocurrencies are bringing a revolution to the world but if you want to use them in order to profit from loans, we have bad news for you. According to a new report made by Graychain, a crypto credit assessment company, $4.7 billion USD has been lent in the crypto industry up until this point. However, the returns from that are only 1.8%.

Borrowers generally get at least 6 to 10% returns on investments per year, so a profit of only 2% is meaningless. Inflation is higher than that in most countries.

The CTO of Graychain, Neil Zumwalde, has said that most companies are actually lending money for very short periods when compared to more traditional loans. Also, it is easier to make it look like the loans are more profitable when you look at their originations only.

He said that the company gathered data from several companies such as Dharma, Compound, Unchained, and Maker in order to make the study. Some companies such as Genesis and Celsius, however, are less prone to offer information and can keep it private. Without this private information, the numbers can be slightly different from the reality.

According to the executive, the market is growing fast. As the industry is maturing, more opportunities are appearing and more loans are being made.

Part of the reason why the profit is so low is that cryptos are volatile and because some of them are very short. As prices change all the time and nobody wants to lose money, people often don’t hold the money long enough.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Massive Bitcoin Dump by Ponzi Scheme Behind BTC Price Crash

  • PlusToken Scammed $3 Billion from People
  • Massive Sell-off Started in early July

Currently trading around $10,000, Bitcoin lost 18% of its value this week, wreaking havoc in the cryptocurrency market.

Though a drop has been long expected because of the sharp rise of BTC price and the gaps created by CME Group’s Bitcoin futures contracts, a prominent reason could be large amounts of BTC dumped in the market.

On August 14, Dovey Wan, a founding partner at blockchain-based investment company Primitive Ventures brought CT’s attention to the massive sell-off by the Ponzi scheme, dubbed PlusToken.

PlusToken Scammed $3 Billion from People

Recently, Wan wrote how since September 2017, China has been “progressively restricting” cryptocurrencies in the country and prosecute crypto scams and

“seriously offending ICOs.”

PlusTokens was not only among the projects that were scamming their customers but also the largest one that scammed a whopping $3 billion — including ~70K in BTC + ~ 800K in ETH. Core team members of the project were arrested earlier this year in Vanuatu and are now facing decades in jail time.

Most recently, a report by Blockchain security firm CipherTrace brought PlusToken Scheme in the limelight.

Started in mid-2018, PlusToken offered “high yield investment return.” It has 4 layers of membership structure with each one giving a different percentage of rebate.

Massive Sell-off Started in early July

Wan said, in early 2019, PlusToken claimed its membership has over 10 million.

The addresses shared by her are however only the known ones while as per the police report $3 billion were the total scammed amount.

Many of these BTC addresses, she says, started with P2SH — commonly used for multi-sig. Wan says it is likely some people who hold the keys are not caught by the police.

But now the scammed cryptocurrency is crawling back.

This actually started around early July as shared by a security audit firm Peckshield. The firm revealed a total of approximately a thousand were moved to Bittrex and Huobi.

Chinese traders have also been reportedly climbing that an unknown address has been dumping 100 BTC on cryptocurrency exchanges, that Wan connected to PlusToken scheme.

This could be a reason why first in July BTC/USD dropped to $9,150 and now yet again to $9,470 level.

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Author: AnTy

New Zealand’s ABS Bank To Invest In Local TradeWindow Blockchain Platform

The ABS Bank, a banking institution from New Zealand that is owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has recently invested in a local company called TradeWindow. The company uses the blockchain technology and it is focused on creating solutions for supply chains.

TradeWindow’s CEO AJ Smith affirmed that this was one of the first times in which a bank has made a direct investment in this kind of company in the country. This, the CEO believes, will allow the company to get even more clients and offer better services.

A manager at ASB called Nigel Annett also commented on the situation, affirming that the blockchain company has potential and that it can transform how international trade happens. Annett said that TradeWindow will allow the bank to operate in a much more efficient way than it did before.

TradeWindows’s technology was created in order to enable companies to create a single trading window for transactions that can be accessed by everyone that is a part of it. This connects companies and decreases the risk of fraud exponentially.

Also, all major documentation that may be needed on the platform can be uploaded to this window and digitally exchanged. This can eliminate costs and save a lot of time, bring more efficiency to the clients of the company, especially if they constantly make international trades.

Recently, New Zealand is becoming more friendly to Bitcoin and the blockchain technology. Not only the country is set to change how crypto taxes work, but many companies are finally being able to finally get mainstream support.

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Author: Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team

Kakao’s Blockchain Affiliate GroundX Teases New Cryptocurrency Wallet Klip

Kakao Corp, an internet giant from South Korea, has recently teased its newest product, a crypto wallet called Klip. According to the announcement, the wallet will be created by GroundX, one of the subsidiaries of the company.

The idea is to use the wallet in order to store Klaytn tokens, which were created by Klaytn, one of Kakao’s partners. The mainnet of the company went live two months ago and this is part of a move to make it more popular.

According to the teaser that was released on Kakao’s site, some partners of the initiative are News1 Korea, Pebble, Airbloc and the Spin Protocol.

The CEO of GroundX, Han Jae-Sun, has affirmed that the company already has over 50 million users from all over the world. These users will all have access to the wallet, which will be integrated into Kakao’s messaging app. This is seen as something that will certainly boost the effectiveness of the launch.

A recent report made during the launch of the Klaytn mainnet, the market value of the tokens based on Kakao’s technology is around $64.8 billion USD. Kakao is currently planning to have a total of 34 decentralized apps until the end of the year, too, which will boost its current numbers and market value.

An ICO On The Way?

There are some indications that Kakao may be planning another Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The company had its ICO a few years ago and it was able to get $90 million USD at the time.

Recently, however, Kakao announced that it was planning to raise $300 million USD more to develop Ground X’s token. Since the company has headquarters in Japan, that may be possible. Korea has an anti-ICO policy, so it would certainly be more difficult to have the sale there.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Ethereum Classic (ETC) Dev Affirms That a Change of Name Would Get Other Cryptos “Rekt”

Would Ethereum Classic (ETC) be more popular if it removed Ethereum from its name? A developer seems to think so. Stevan Lohja, one of the devs from the ETC team, has recently affirmed on social media that other altcoins with a higher market value would be “rekt” if ETC decided to change its name.

The name Ethereum Classic was created after the hard fork in which some ETH users decided not to change the protocol after the DAO scandal back in 2016. The association with Ethereum, however, seems to be a problem for the token now.

Because of this, some people have started to affirm that the Ethereum name should be completely removed and that a rebrand is needed. Yaz Khoury, the director of the ETC Cooperate, agrees with that. He affirms that he has “always advocated” for the token to change its name because it needs a proper identity.

The best opportunity to discuss this further would be at the ETC Classic Summit, which is already set to happen in Vancouver, Canada, on October 3 to 4.

Names are important. It was proved that cryptos with three-letter symbols which are easier to remember will tend to fare better and that companies that associate their business with Bitcoin or blockchain tend to get more profits.

Because of this, a rebrand might be the way to go forward. At the moment. ETC is the 21st token by market cap, so the name change might not put into the Top 10 tokens as the developers seem to believe, but it may bring some important freshness to the brand.

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Author: Daniel W

XRP Underperforming Because of Low Institutional Adoption & Intense Competition: Report

  • Direct competition from big players putting Ripple in a “less-advantaged position”
  • XRP lacks institutional interest and that’s not good for the price
  • XRP is back below $0.30, in the green by 0.75% the third largest cryptocurrency is trading at $0.295.

While the majority of the top cryptocurrencies are up more than 100% YTD, XRP/USD is still in the red by 16.52%, down 92% from its all time high of $3.84.

Unfortunately, XRP price is moving in a completely different direction than the growth and progress Ripple is seeing.

Despite Ripple gaining a partnership with one of the world’s top money transfer companies, MoneyGram and Ripple CEO Brad Garlingouse talking about “multiple” investment and acquisitions in the works, the price continues to lose.

Could it be because the old world has started to catch up fast while tech giants like Facebook are eager to get into the field?

According to “Why Is XRP Underperforming?” report by cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, this is exactly the reason and more.

“As a payment solution provider, Ripple is facing intense competition,” and “any negative impact on the company could easily transform into undesirable price actions in XRP.”

Direct Competition From Big Players Putting Ripple In A “Less-Advantaged Position”

What makes Ripple stand out from the crowd, the report says is that institutional money transfer is built into its core.

But this thing could also bring uncertainty for the company because a lot of big players want to tap into this “lucrative” market that is potentially “threatening” Ripple’s business, with US Federal Reserve being the latest one.

The Fed recently announced its plan to develop a faster payment system for banks to exchange money that will allow the transfer of bill payments, paycheck among other business transfers instantly and round-the-clock.

While Dilip Rao, Global Head of Infrastructure Innovation at Ripple’s tweet over Fed’s announcement “seems positive,” the report says the news has made some afraid that direct competition from big players could put Ripple in a “less-advantaged position.”

Ripple already has rivals like R3 and SWIFT and with other startups entering the market, the competition is getting even more “intense.”

Now, Facebook’s Libra and JP Morgan’s JPM Coins — built and designed for faster money transfer — could have a negative effect on Ripple’s market share that could spill over to XRP as well.

XRP Lacks Institutional Interest And That’s Not Good For The Price

Although Ripple has already more than 100 financial institutions working with it, the majority of them don’t use XRP as a medium.

“This means institutional adoption of XRP remains relatively low, and that won’t produce any help XRP in terms of having positive price actions.”

“Lacking institutional interest,” is one important challenge OKEx’s latest report says XRP must tackle.

With its “relatively centralized characteristics”, XRP is surely “not everyone’s cup of tea”, but it needs to be seen “if Ripple can further utilize the use of XRP in its payment and transaction solution services in the future and stir institutional interest.”

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Author: AnTy

Litecoin Hash Rate Drops over 21% Since Reward Halving

  • Litecoin hash rate drops 31.3% from its ATH
  • LTC price lost 24.5% of value since halving
  • Litecoin’s lack of Github Activity and developers

On August 5, Litecoin experienced its second reward halving that cut down its miners’ reward in half from 25 coins per block to 12.5 LTC per block.

Before the halving that occurs every 840,000 blocks and roughly every four years, the hash rate of Litecoin network climbed to it’s all-time high at 523.8 Th/s on July 14.

Just before the event, Charlie Lee, the founder of the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market cap reflected on the implications of the event during an interview, where he said, “It’s always kind of a shock to the system.”

“When the mining rewards get cut in half, some miners will not be profitable and they will shut off their machine,” explained Lee. “If a big percentage does that, then blocks will slow down for some time. For litecoin it’s three and a half days before the next change, so possibly like seven days of slower blocks, and then after that, the difficulty will readjust and everything will be fine,” he added.

Litecoin Hash Rate Drops 31.3% From Its ATH

That day after the successful halving, Litecoin network didn’t see much change as Lee tweeted,

However, now we have started to see the effects.

Litecoin had its first difficulty change since the halving at block 1681344, resulting in a drop of 4.4% in difficulty/hashrate, Lee said.

The average mining difficulty, from its peak of 16.5M on July 15 has fallen to 15.2M, as per Bitinfocharts.

The hash rate of the rate, meanwhile, has dropped 31.3% since its all-time high and 21.6% since the halving event.

On August 5th, Litecoin hash rate has been at 458.3 Th/s which has slid down to 359.8 Th/s, recorded on August 9.

LTC Price Lost 24.5% of Value Since Halving

Litecoin price meanwhile is currently down 2.98% at $83.70, up 174.5% YTD.

On the day of halving, LTC/USD crossed the $100 mark to reach $107 level. Since then, LTC price dropped to $80.70 — today’s lowest level— registering a loss of 24.5%.

However, it has been no surprise as Lee said,

“In terms of the price, the halvening should be priced in because everyone knows about it since the beginning.”

Moreover, the last halving LTC price moved through similar motions.

Litecoin’s Lack Of Github Activity

In another set of events, a crypto enthusiast pointed towards the digital asset’s Github activity, or its lack of, on Twitter.

As per Github, there are currently 13 commits shown in this year.

A report from March by Electric Capital revealed that a number of projects including Litecoin have been abandoned by developers.

Litecoin’s developer’ count actually fell from 40 monthly to 3 developers in the last year, the report read.

All of Today’s Litecoin (LTC) Price Analysis, Chart Forecasts and Industry News

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Author: AnTy