Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith Remanded In Custody For Violating Bail Terms By Accessing Coinbase Wallet

Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith Remanded In Custody For Violating Bail Terms By Accessing Coinbase Wallet

Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has been remanded in custody. He’s said to have reportedly violated the terms of his bail, per reports from Inner City Press. Griffith was granted bail in December 2019.

Griffith May Be In Jail Until His Trial In September

The remand order was given after a federal judge found out that he had violated the terms of his bail by seeking access to his Ethereum assets held by exchange Coinbase in May 2021.

Griffith, a former researcher with the Ethereum Foundation, will likely spend the next two months in jail as he is scheduled to be tried on September 21. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The developer is being charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Griffith is said to have allegedly assisted North Korea in laundering money through cryptocurrency in order to avoid US sanctions. The developer was arrested in November 2019.

Although he was denied bail initially, he was finally granted a bond order for $1 million in December 2019. Griffith’s father reportedly offered his house worth $835,000 as security for bond. His sister also secured the bond with her property.

The developer was granted bail on the condition that he would not access his accounts and would remain under house arrest with his parents in Alabama.

However, he is said to have violated these bail terms when he tried to access his cryptocurrency account by contacting Coinbase to request the removal of account security functions.

Although Griffith’s lawyers claimed the attempt to access the account on Coinbase was made by proxy. The lawyers argue that his family only contacted Coinbase to ascertain if the assets in Griffith’s account could cover his legal fees. The lawyers said,

“Given the impending trial date, Mr. Griffith may need to sell certain assets to fund his legal defense…In connection with their strategy to assess and access necessary resources to fund his defense, and after consulting counsel, his mother made an online request to access a US-based and regulated cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase…”

US District Judge P. Kevin Castel said Griffith’s attempt to access the assets suggested a flight risk since the assets Griffith held had surged in value into the $1 million range.

Virgil Griffith’s Failed Attempt To Dismiss Case

Griffith had previously filed a motion to dismiss the conspiracy charges in October 2020. He claimed that his April 2019 conference presentation consisted of public information that was widely available. Therefore he did not provide a service to North Korean officials. This argument was not accepted as the US government labeled the statement as absurd.

Griffith’s case also gained support from the Crypto community, who championed his release. Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin had defended and declared his solidarity with Virgil Griffith last year. He said that Griffith didn’t do any wrong as he only tutored in his presentation.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Only Axie Infinity and Polygon Projects See Increasing Revenue in the Past Month

In the cryptocurrency space, Ethereum is the leader in terms of earning revenue which remains the case even during the ongoing low activity times.

With just under $160 million in revenue, the second-largest network is bringing in some big numbers, followed by Uniswap at $104 million and PancakeSwap’s $45.21 million in the past 30 days.

The Bitcoin network has only earned $43 million in revenue and Binance Smart Chain $39 million.

While Ethereum is a clear winner, this revenue on the blockchain decreased by 14.50% in the last 7-days and 84.34% in the last 30 days.

This downtrend is pretty much the story of all the crypto market as volume has died down after the prices cashed 50% to 75% during the recent sell-off. While institutions are on the sideline, retail has taken a break as the market goes sideways.

Still, a handful of projects are still able to record growth during these times. Axie Infinity is one of them whose token AXS also surged 300% in the past week.

The project continues to grow, seeing $14.27 million in volume, an increase of 41% in 7-days and 285.85% in 30 days, as per TokenTerminal.

It is also leading the non-fungible token (NFT) space, with more than 15,000 traders bringing in $13.71 million in volume. Axie Infinity’s sales, volume, and traders, every metric is recording a surge, as per Dapp Radar.

Ethereum side-chain protocol Polygon is another one with over 18% and 305.95% increase in the past week and month. While generating $359.33k in revenue, which is growing since May and gaining momentum in June, Polygon also has just over $8 billion in TVL.

Meanwhile, in the past week, Synthetix also recorded a 24% increase in its revenue, with Nexus Mutual being the other one.

When it comes to lending protocols, the original decentralized protocol MakerDAO leads the DeFi sector in terms of revenue. Based on cumulative protocol revenue in the past 365 days, it overall ranks as the second biggest protocol after BSC-based PancakeSwap at $57.1 million. Meanwhile, its competitors Compound and Aave had $24.4 million and $7.6 million, respectively.

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However, Aave is leading in terms of monthly users with its market share in June at 57.5%, while Compound has 23.9% and Maker 18.6%. Aave has really grown in popularity as a year back, while Aave had 10.4%, COMP’s market share was 42.7%, and Maker 46.9%.

While Compound still leads when it comes to the total outstanding amount, Aave has been gaining strength at over $3 million and under $1 million, respectively, while the total borrow amount on Maker is more than a million dollars.

Overall in the DeFi sector, the same as the entire crypto market, the number of users has fallen to September levels, with only a few thousand new accounts being opened daily, which was as much as 40k in mid-May. Nic Carter, the founding partner at Castle Island Venture, said in an interview,

“DeFi is going to be challenged because it relies on this injection of new liquidity, and ultimately a lot of DeFi yields are a function of new buyers supporting token prices,”

“I don’t think DeFi is going away, it just might be a less attractive place to park capital in the next few months.”

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Author: AnTy

Ethereum Is A ‘Huge Success Story’ But is ‘Undervalued’ in Terms of Institutional Buying

Ethereum Is A ‘Huge Success Story’ But is ‘Undervalued’ in Terms of Institutional Buying

Bitcoin is not the only asset that is rejoicing in greens. As a matter of fact, compared to Bitcoin’s 285% year-to-date rally, Ether recorded 455% gains in 2020.

It has actually been after 18 months that ETH finally breached the $700 mark.

As Jesse Powell, co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken noted, Ethereum has performed “amazingly well” this year, having seen tremendous returns. Powell in his recent interview with Bloomberg said,

“I think the future is extremely bright for Ethereum as well as for Bitcoin. And I think it’s another asset that people should be looking at if they’re looking for something else to get into an encrypted space.”

The second-largest digital asset is actually still down 49% from its all-time high of $1,420, on Coinbase.

Currently trading around $725, ETH’s uptrend only started at the beginning of last week while Bitcoin consolidated some following yet another new ATH.

Institutional Interest

Interestingly for ETH, in just over a month CME will be launching Ether futures contracts which are expected to bring a herd of institutional buyers.

“ETH is undervalued in terms of institutional buying. Institutional investors would eventually consider ETH for their portfolio next to Bitcoin,” says Ki-Young Ju of data provider CryptoQuant.

He further noted that there is a big gap between Grayscale Investments’ Bitcoin and Ethereum stash which he expects to contract soon.

ETHE — Ethereum product of Grayscale, the largest asset manager which caters to accredited and institutional investors and high net worth individuals — holds 2.94 million ETH.

This represents 2.54% of Ether’s circulating supply. ETHE is currently trading at a premium of 115.97%, which is much higher than GBTC’s 18.86% but much lower than the 2963.83% premium institutional investors are paying for buying LTCN, as per Bybt.

However, Grayscale hasn’t added any new ETH to its holdings since Dec. 9, which is unlike their BTC holdings which were last added on Dec. 25.

A huge success story

While mentioning Ethereum, Powell also noted decentralized finance (DeFi), a sector that has more than $14 billion locked in it and 7.1 million of ETH.

“The DeFi story is growing and becoming a bigger piece of the ecosystem. These days you’re seeing middlemen completely removed from financial contracts through DeFi which is largely happening on Ethereum. So that’s a huge success story that’s in the process of a major protocol upgrade.”

Jesse Powell Co-Founder & CEO Kraken

It was on Dec. 1st that Phase 0 of ETH 2.0 was launched, the first step towards making the network faster and cheaper that includes the transition from proof of work (PoW) to (proof of stake (PoS). Since then just over 2.31 million ETH has been locked in its deposit contract.

However, ETH miners continue to pump in hashing power insanely that pushed the network’s hash rate 100% up since the beginning of the year.

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Author: AnTy

A ‘Big’ Positive Step Towards the Bitcoin ETF Approval

In terms of the price of Bitcoin, criminal charges on the popular cryptocurrency derivatives exchange BitMEX may be bearish, but the same isn’t true for the overall market.

Just like it is bullish in the long term, this could help in getting the much-desired Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) an approval.

“Assume the CFTC & DOJ bring Bitmex down. The absence of Bitmex may then result in US exchanges and OTC desks becoming markets of “significant size,” sharply increasing the odds of the SEC approving an ETF,” said trader and economist Alex Kruger.

These past few weeks, several attempts at a Bitcoin ETF have been made to no avail as every single one of them has been rejected by the agency over the grounds of manipulation.

But the crypt community hasn’t let go of the hope for approval eventually. An ETF holds so much importance for the community because it is expected to bring a large number of inflows in the market, as such, pushing the prices higher. “A parallel demand curve shift.”

An ETF would be the “opportunity of a lifetime” that would allow retail to front-turn the institutions for once. Former macro hedge fund manager and a Bitcoin proponent, Raoul Pal expect “every” pension plans and family offices to allocate some of their money to it — billions of dollars pouring into it.

A Cue from CFTC

Seychelles incorporated exchange is known for its 100x leverage, and according to Bill Barhydt, co-founder, and CEO of Abra, it has been the key reason we don’t have a US Bitcoin ETF.

“Their market is easily manipulated by large traders. Not a valid reason for no ETF imo. Just a fact,” he said.

Although it may not be sufficient for an ETF approval, it is a big step towards that, for sure.

Adding to the expectation is the statement from Chairman Heath P. Tarbert, giving a hint of what’s to come, in which he said digital assets hold “great promise” not only for the derivatives markets but also the US economy.

“For the United States to be a global leader in this space, it is imperative that we root out illegal activity like that alleged in this case. New and innovative financial products can flourish only if there is market integrity. We can’t allow bad actors that break the law to gain an advantage over exchanges that are doing the right thing by complying with our rules,” Tarbert said.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Acting Like a ‘Stablecoin’ while Exuberance in Altcoins Looking ‘2016-2017’-ish

Bitcoin has surely made some moves, but 2020 so far is about altcoins, at least in terms of gains.

As Binance CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said, “bitcoin feels like a stable coin to me. It’s moving up so slowly. It only moved from $4100 in March to $11800 now. Every time it moved up, I get used to the new price in like 30 seconds, and starts to wish it will go higher…”

Meanwhile, altcoins have been flying. The growth seen by DeFi tokens has been even more dramatic, completely off the charts with the likes of YFI hitting new ATH at north of $15,000 with 46,800% returns in just a month while Aave (LEND) jumped 6,500% YTD.

“YFI is one of those few tokens driven almost entirely by smart money,” tweeted trader and economist Alex Kruger.

Bitcoin struggling to sustain above $12,000 and ranging is working in altcoins’ favor, especially the small-cap ones. The small caps index is up 50% this month and more than 260% YTD.

Mid-cap index meanwhile is up about 90% while large caps underperform with Ethereum facing an “uphill battle” to control its skyrocketing transaction fees. Meanwhile, “Bitcoin is being used as a source of collateral to seek alpha elsewhere,” wrote Denis Vinokourov of Bequant.

Digital assets are looking a little “2016-2017”-ish with $173 billion added to the crypto market this year. In the DeFi world, meanwhile, this growth has been much crazier with its market cap reaching $15 billion.

“Exuberance across alts is so high people have been paying 100-500% annualized to be long via derivatives,” noted Kruger.

Amidst this market euphoria, the gains hit a snag when bitcoin dropped this week, and in turn, altcoins fell even harder. But even that correction hasn’t been able to calm down the over-eager bulls as the market began trending up again today.

Moreover, some retracement is better for cryptos to move more steps ahead. As analyst Rekt Capital notes, a similar movement was seen in late November 2017, which gave us the face-melting rally of December 2017 and January 2018.

Moreover, the search interest for “buy crypto” that spiked this summer is growing rapidly, currently at the highest level since January 2018 as per Google Trends.

Search interest for “buy bitcoin” took a jump before the halving, but now even a larger spike is seen in the term “buy crypto” over the past month and for “buy altcoins,” interest has skyrocketed.

But in the near future, the big event that could affect bitcoin and, by extension, altcoins is coming on August 27-28. Already, the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting show officials are in favor of additional stimulus.

It will be a big risk-off if the Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s message at Jackson Hole is ultra dovish and if he talks about changes to the inflation target under the coming monetary policy framework review. Additionally, it won’t be good for the risky markets and, as such, would “crush” bitcoin, stocks, and metals all alike if no fiscal package is further agreed upon by then, said Kruger.

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Author: AnTy

Binance’s BNB Gets A Branded Twitter Emoji As the Exchange Celebrates Turning 3

The largest crypto exchange in the world in terms of trading volume, Binance, becomes the third crypto-based firm to get a branded emoji on Twitter. Binance joins Bitcoin (BTC) and Crypto.com (CRO), which also have branded emojis.

Anybody that tweets using the hashtag: #BNB or #Binance will get to see the signature Binance logo. Binance CEO revealed the new branded emoji by tweeting #BNB to his over 500k followers on Twitter. CZ, as he is usually referred to, was thrilled by the new emoji saying that he could just sit there and randomly start retweeting other people using the new emoji.

Branded Twitter hashtags are a lesser-known form of advertisement service offered by Twitter to renowned brands. However, Binance did not reveal the amount it paid for the emoji. Although billion-dollar brands such as Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, and IBM have, in the past, paid about $1 million to get branded emojis, the amount for crypto-based firms is believed to be much lesser. Larry Cermak, a researcher, working for TheBlock, recently revealed that a company that uses about $50,000 in Twitter ads qualifies to get a branded emoji.

The Twitter emoji comes just days before Binance prepares to celebrate its third anniversary, on July 14. The emoji speculated to be part of the anniversary celebrations. The firm has since started a new hashtag dubbed #BinanceTurns3 that also comes with an emoji.

As part of the celebrations, the firm is giving out Binance non-fungible tokens (NFT). To receive the tokens, one must follow the exchange on all of the social media platforms as well as share various content using the anniversary hashtag. The campaign is set to run until July 7. The Binance team believes that the emoji will help in creating a bigger and more visual buzz that will also lead to more mass adoption of the Binance Coin (BNB).

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Author: Joseph Kibe

China Leads the Way in CBDC Development; US Missed an Opportunity with Stimulus Checks

  • China is currently the leading country in terms of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CDBC) development despite being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic during Q1 2020.
  • The Eastern superpower has pioneered its own digital yuan in April through the Agricultural Bank of China with a pilot phase in four cities.

A recent publication on the Belfer Center for Science and International affairs, Harvard Kennedy School now says the move is a direct challenge to the United States to match up FinTech advancement from a monetary perspective.

According to the article, the U.S is still lacking behind given the ongoing progress in CBDC development within peer economies.

China Sets Pace for the U.S in CBDC Roll Out

The roll-out of China’s digital yuan is no doubt a global pacesetter and will probably be a focal point of reference in digital monetary policy.

It is quite noteworthy that the development of the digital Yuan was hastened when Facebook announced Libra in 2019. Speculations are that the Chinese government was not about to take any chance should Libra have gotten the legal go-ahead.

While all this is happening in China, the U.S is still sorting stimulus checks and playing partisan politics in preparation for the 2020 elections.

The free world appears to have missed the point on this one, as debates continue both in the Senate and House of reps on the feasibility of digital currencies and the underlying blockchain tech. So far, none of these has come close to the development of a CBDC run by the FED.

However, some progress is being made in the private sector with crypto stakeholders opting for FinTech friendly states like Wyoming and California.

Crypto entities operating in these jurisdictions are also pushing for a concise regulatory framework that will enable them to make sufficient projections. With such hurdles, it is more difficult to catch up with China whose operations in crypto appear to be moving towards consolidation and proper oversight through the digital yuan.

CBDC Value Proposition in U.S Stimulus Checks

The $2 trillion stimuli, approved by the U.S Senate, has unearthed some shortcomings in the country’s payments ecosystem. Despite its prominent status, the U.S government has had quite a challenge in distributing the funds to target beneficiaries.

Some of these shortcomings have been attributed to the country’s unbanked population and lack of direct deposit arrangements with regulatory authorities like the IRS.

According to the Belfer Center publication, a digital dollar would have been instrumental for funds allocation during the COVID pandemic.

For starters, the government can track the stimulus check money trail to ascertain it is received as intended. In addition, the provision of a digital wallet would also be cheaper for both the government and U.S citizens in terms of account management.

Finally, a move towards a FED run CBDC, ensures that the U.S maintains its strategic footprint in the financial markets space.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Record Demand for Gold Amidst Supply Crunch & No Way to Move the Physical Bars

As analyst Luke Martin puts it in bitcoin terms, “gold is going through un-announced (refiner) halvening.”

The demand for safe haven asset gold is surging and the price of the precious metal has increased 5.6% yesterday but with mining operations slow, the bullion is expected to rally to new heights. This has been the largest one-day dollar gain for the metal since November 1984. The move came on the back of the Fed’s decision to unleash unlimited QE.

Meanwhile, a crunch in supply is currently being witnessed. Three of the world’s largest gold refineries that process a third of global annual supply reported on Monday that they have suspended the production in Switzerland for at least a week. This has been on the back of the mandatory closure imposed by the local authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Dublin-based GoldCore said it “experienced record demand in recent days and the global supply of gold and silver bullion coins and gold bars has quickly evaporated.”

Retailers are already reporting shortages and delays of 15 days on shipments while the demand has gone up to five times the normal daily amount.

Moreover, the supply routes are strangled because of the lockouts and grounded planes, not allowing gold to be moved around the globe. The yellow metal is shipped around the world on commercial flights, linking the trading hubs with refineries and vaults. But as coronavirus shuts down the refineries, it is becoming harder to trade gold.

This led gold futures to shoot to the highest premium with the spread between New York and London gold price skyrocketing, last seen in 1980, showing how desperate investors are to find a safe haven.

The bigger problem, however, remains the shipping of gold as one puts it, “There are enough kilobars around: the issue is how to get it where it’s wanted.”

And this is exactly what the bitcoin commentator has been repeatedly talking about. Gold proponents continue to argue that there won’t ever be the need to carry the bags of gold but today as the nations are into lockdown because of COVID-19, this is exactly what is happening.

Bitcoin as a digital gold narrative gaining traction

Interestingly, just like gold, bitcoin has been seeing a jump in price, today it momentarily went to $6,990 on Bitstamp. When it comes to the past 12 months performance, while gold is up only 25%, bitcoin is up by 69%.

Though since then, the price of BTC has gone down again to about $6,600, the world’s leading cryptocurrency is preparing for its supply crunch in less than 50 days which is expected to boost its price as well.

Gold has actually become the “most used” word in Bitcoin tweets, with 63% being positive. Also, mentions of Gold in Bitcoin headlines are nearing their all-time high. “The bitcoin as a digital gold narrative has begun to gain significant traction once again,” noted crypto data provider The Tie.

However, while the adoption of Bitcoin among institutions on the basis of volume on CME is around $300 billion daily in the past few days, gold which is in the focus has its COMEX futures trading $100 billion volume yesterday and $20 billion in options.

As gold pushed higher, Goldman Sachs told its clients that it’s time to buy the “currency of last resort” which fell 1% today.

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Author: AnTy

Binance Adjusts Its Fee Structure To Entice Market Makers To Increase Futures Liquidity

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world in terms of volume, Binance, has revised its fee program in efforts to reward market makers for increasing futures liquidity CoinDesk reports.

In an official press statement released on Monday, Binance revealed that market makers for the Futures program will be awarded a negative fee for various trading pairs. The statement describes a market maker as a user who increases liquidity through purchasing and selling limit orders where the limit prices being either higher or lower than the prevailing market price. In other words, a market maker is a user who removes liquidity from the market via filling a previously placed.

Crypto exchanges in most instances, come up with different techniques to increase liquidity within their platforms by providing makers reduced fees in comparison to the ones given to takers when they are filling an order.

Binance did not reveal the details of the negative fee program. However, for a user to be part of the program, they must have more than 1,000 BTC trading volume for the last 30 days on the Binance platform. The announcement also indicates that one must have ‘quality market maker strategies’. In addition, Binance says it will approve proposals that are backed with proof of such trading volumes in different exchange platforms.

The exchange also stated that a performance review will be enforced routinely and will be based on various aspects like market making time, order duration, bid/offer spread as well as the total order size.

The new strategy by Binance can be seen as a plan to deal with intense competition in the derivatives market. In the recent past, both Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt as well as Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) rolled out Bitcoin options having offered futures contracts.

Since its introduction in September 2019, Binance Futures has witnessed a rapid growth with January’s futures volume increasing by 85% after $56 billion was traded on the platform’s perpetual contract markets.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Ethereum’s Istanbul Hard-Fork Set To Improve Scalability, Security, And Reduce Fees In 7 Days

Ethereum had quite a mixed year in terms of progress as the price of the ETH token failed to boom after the prolonged crypto winter, and even though it touched a yearly high of $350, it lost all it’s gains in the following months. ETH was trading at $153.40 with more than a 60% decline from its yearly high.

While its price movement on the trade market wasn’t lustrous, it did see quite a success in terms of adoption and market value of its decentralized finance ecosystem. However, despite the impressive performance of its DeFi ecosystem, the altcoin has failed to hold its ground on the price charts.

Ethereum network is currently in the middle of a major transition of mining protocol from Proof-of-work (PoW) to Proof-of-stake (PoS) often dubbed as Ethereum 2.0 next year. As for now, the Istanbul upgrade is due for next week which would introduce some major changes into the network in respect of security, interoperability and network costs.

The Istanbul had fork would introduce 6 Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) on the network, out of which 4 are solely dedicated to bringing the gas cost on the platform lower. The other two EIPs are dedicated to Interoperability with Zcash and improvement of security measures on the network.

The Istanbul hard-fork would have no impact on any ETH held by users on exchanges or in their personal wallets. Once the Serenity update comes in the next year and the network migrates to PoS mining consensus, only then users might have to migrate their tokens to the new network.

The list of impending upgrades could help the market value of ETH

ETH token’s market value is at a yearly low and currently moving in the same price range as it did at the start of the year. The success of De-Fi hasn’t really reflected on its price and the Ethereum community are hoping that the move to Ethereum 2.0 would also help it improve its market value.

Ethereum 2.0 is believed to resolve one of the biggest issues of scalability crippling the current network. The crypto market is heavily governed by the Bitcoin price movement and most of the altcoin loom under its shadow. But, the Ethereum community believes that Bitcoin and Ethereum serve different purposes where BTC is increasingly used as a store of value while ETH is more of the decentralized ecosystem providing all kinds of decentralized financial services promising to be better than the traditional ones.

Ethereum community has high hopes from next year given the impending move to Ethereum 2.0 which many believe could really help the altcoin gain some lost ground on the price charts.

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Author: Hank Klinger