Privacy-Focused Messaging App, Signal Launches Crypto Payments Through MobileCoin

  • Signal, the private messaging app, launches a mobile payment system.

Following an impressive year in the messaging industry, Signal, the popular private messaging app, is launching mobile payments system, mobilecoin (MOB). According to a statement by Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike, who has been an adviser to the project for the past three years, the new payment system aims to provide a simple and private platform to send payments. The platform is built on Stellar blockchain leveraging the blockchain’s scalability and instant payments network.

The platform will launch a beta project first before rolling out the full product, a blog post confirmed on Tuesday. At launch, the beta phase of Signal’s payment service will only be available to U.K. customers enabling them “to send and receive privacy-focused payments as easily as sending or receiving a message.”

Users will send funds, receive funds, keep track of their balances, and review their transaction history directly from the Signal app. MobileCoin aims to improve privacy in financial transactions; hence the app will not have access “to your balance, full transaction history, or funds.” The app also allows users to transfer funds when they switch to another app or service.

The coin will be available to eligible users only on FTX exchange.

However, some analysts look at this as a step back for Signal, who have made their name in enhancing privacy via encrypted messages. “Signal as an encrypted messaging product is really valuable,” Matthew Green, a member of the Zcash Foundation board, said.

“Speaking solely as a person who is really into encrypted messaging, it terrifies me that they’re going to take this really clean story of an encrypted messenger and mix it up with the nightmare of laws and regulations and vulnerability that is cryptocurrency.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Fortress Investment Offering an Early But Discounted Payout to Mt. Gox Creditors

Fortress Investment Offering an Early But Discounted Payout to Mt. Gox Creditors

Instead of waiting another year and a half, the SoftBank Group-owned company offers a liquidity option for creditors now.

Fortress Investment Group LLC is offering the creditor of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox an earlier payout. Since 2017, Fortress has been owned by SoftBank Group.

However, this will be a discounted payout to what the creditors would get under a trustee-backed proposal set for a vote in October. According to Bloomberg, this is the highest value that a private equity and hedge fund firm has ever offered creditors.

The Civil Rehabilitation plan from Mt. Gox’s trustee set for an October vote would refund credits about 90% of their claim value while Fortress is offering about 80%. Fortress is using a calculator constructed by Mt. Gox creditor Kim Nilsson to determine the payout value of a claim.

However, the rehabilitation plan payments are not likely to occur until mid-2022, unlike Fortress, which offers liquidity now.

While there is no certainty that creditors will approve the plan, Fortress figures investors don’t want to wait and may choose to cash out now; as such, they have been now sending out thousands of letters to Mt. Gox creators.

“Rather than waiting another 1 to 1.5 years, we are offering a liquidity option for creditors who want to receive cash or BTC now,” said Michael Hourigan, managing director at Fortress.

Creditors would get the amount owed in either cash, Bitcoin (BTC), or Bitcoin Cash (BCH) based on their deposits, under the Fortress proposal.

For years, Fortress has been buying up Mt. Gox claims, offering as little as $600 per BTC and as much as $1,300 per BTC. Bitcoin price, meanwhile, has risen to a record nearly $62k.

Japan-based Mt. Gox that was launched in 2010, was once the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, handling more than 70% of all BTC transactions worldwide in 2013. That is until it lost thousands of customers’ bitcoin in a hack.

Some of the holdings were found, and the trustee is working to reimburse creditors for years now as the process gets delayed by lawsuits.

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Author: AnTy

Chinese New Year, the Year of Ox (Bull), is Finally Here as Crypto Market Aims for the .5 Trillion Mark

Chinese New Year, the Year of Ox (Bull), is Finally Here as Crypto Market Aims for the $1.5 Trillion Mark

The bullish tailwinds for the Bitcoin market hold strong with negative rates, bond purchases, fiscal stimulus, a weaker dollar, mainstream adoption in this year of bull.

Chinese New Year is finally here. The festival celebrated around the world on Friday marks the beginning of the Lunar New year. The Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival.

Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, and this is the year of Ox. As an analyst, Mati Greenspan says, “The qualities of this particular four-legged animal are not so different from those of bitcoin itself,” very slow and steady paced but moves only forward and with a sense of purpose.

The crypto market has already been enjoying an uptrend ever since last year, with the overall market cap ready to hit $1.5 trillion, as per CoinMarketCap.

While Bitcoin seems primed for $50k, the fully diluted market cap of the leading cryptocurrency has already surged past the $1 trillion mark. The reported market cap still has a way to go, as the highest level was hit on Friday at $898 billion.

Going forward, Bitcoin is “quickly approaching the two-year MA multiplier upper resistance, currently at $56k,” as per trader Josh Olszewicz. “Ideally, we tap somewhere near $56k, slow down a bit, reconsolidate at the midline, then make the move past the resistance (ala 2017),” he said.

Bullish Tailwinds

Bitcoin hit a new ATH at $49,000 this week as the institutional adoption of the market continues to grow with more and more people and companies embracing cryptocurrencies.

With the names like Tesla, BNY Mellon getting in, it is expected to lay down the groundwork for even more mainstream adoption of cryptos.

The weakness in the dollar also helps the markets, currently around two-week lows after the release of weaker-than-expected weekly US jobless claims data, which is denting investors’ expectations about the pace of the economic recovery. Westpac strategists wrote,

“The U.S. economy will outperform most thanks to fiscal stimulus and faster vaccine deployment, but ongoing reflationary fiscal and monetary policy will leave DXY on a sustained medium-term bear trend.”

This week, as we reported, the Bank of Japan has been signaling its readiness to take interest rates deeper into the negative territory. European Central Bank is also planning to keep the fiscal spending going in 2022.

Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, also said on Wednesday that continued aggressive policy support is needed to fix the issues like the dour state of the US employment. Powell said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York,

“Despite the surprising speed of recovery early on, we are still very far from a strong labor market whose benefits are broadly shared.”

The Fed has signaled that it expects to hold rates near zero at least through 2023, and Powell repeated that the central bank’s $120 billion monthly paces of bond purchases commitment would also continue until “substantial further progress” is recorded on employment and inflation.

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Author: AnTy

47% of Nocoiner Brits Plan to Invest in Bitcoin This Year: Survey

47% of Nocoiner Brits Plan to Invest in Bitcoin This Year: Survey

While those invested, 74% plan to further increase. Also, 30% of coiners expect the BTC price to exceed $100,000 this year.

Brits remain bullish on Bitcoin, with 61% of respondents of the new survey saying they expect the value of BTC to rise above $60,000 this year.

The survey was conducted by uk.Investing.com with approximately 800 respondents, 58% of who invest in Bitcoin while 42% do not. 17% of the respondents believe $42,000 hit on Jan. 8 was the top of this bull cycle.

However, those who have invested in Bitcoin are particularly optimistic as the survey revealed 30% of them believe BTC price will exceed $100,000 per coin this year.

“After a record-breaking year in 2020 that saw it jump more than 300%, Bitcoin looks to stay strong in 2021 as more retail – and big-name institutional buyers – enter the market,” said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at uk.Investing.com. “For those already in, the strategy in place remains to HODL.”

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According to Cohen, besides the first-time investors, the ultra-cheap money that is being pumped into the global financial system by the central banks all over the world has found its way into Bitcoin as well.

When it comes to other cryptocurrencies, 83% of investors expect the value of Ethereum (ETH) to rise this year, followed by Litecoin (LTC) by 35%, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) by 28%, and XRP by 25%.

Among the surveyed Bitcoin investors, 74% are planning to increase their HODLings this year, with the majority of them having only entered within the last three months.

As for those who do not currently invest in the cryptocurrency, 47% of them plan to do so this year — 26% plan to make a £1-£1,000 investment while 21% planning a £1,000 – £10,000 investment, reveals the survey.

For the majority of Brits, 53%, the new regulatory restrictions is the biggest threat to Bitcoin in 2021, followed by a pullback leading to a large off, at 26%.

However, 46% of the respondents trust Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies “to some extent” while 18% do so “fully.”

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Author: AnTy

Hackers Have Been Stealing Crypto From Wallets for Over a Year with a New Malware

Hackers Have Been Stealing Crypto From Wallets for Over a Year with a New Malware Dubbed ‘ElectroRAT’

A new malware, dubbed ElectroRAT has been discovered by cybersecurity researchers at Intezer Labs; the remote access Trojan (RAT) targets crypto wallet users and has been operational for the past year according to the report published on Jan 5.

With crypto prices on a bullish trend, the market continues to be exposed to malicious attackers looking to drain funds from users’ wallets. This latest malware is said to have been embedded in three crypto apps built on Electron hence the pseudo ‘ElectroRAT’.

Under the Hood

Per the report, the apps in which the malware was hidden include Jamm, eTrade/Kintum, and DaoPoker. All these are crypto-oriented applications with the first two being trading apps, while DaoPoker was fronted as a gambling platform. Notably, the three applications were deployed for Linux, Mac, and Windows versions.

Intezer Labs researchers highlighted that the malware took longer to be detected since the apps were built from scratch, concealing the actual intention, which was to breach users’ crypto-wallets. The report describes ElectroRAT as extremely intrusive given its embedded functionalities. ElectroRAT has,

“Various capabilities such as keylogging, taking screenshots, uploading files from disk, downloading files, and executing commands on the victim’s console.”

This malware was written on the Golang programming language which made it even more difficult for malicious malware to be detected. Golang has become a favorite amongst malware authors given the complexity of analyzing projects written in this language; they tend to be more sophisticated than malware written in C#, C++, and C.

Level of Exposure

Intezer Labs estimated that thousands of users may have already been affected by the malware, although they might not be aware. According to additional evidence from the report, some of the victims are Metamask wallet users. This comes as no surprise given that the three apps sourced for marketing support and were able to advertise on popular crypto portals such as SteemCoinPan and Bitcointalk.

Cyber sec stakeholders who have commented on this development include Casa crypto custody CTO, Jameson Lopp, who said that such novel malware is to be expected in a bull market. He went on to caution crypto users against using wallets that store private keys on one’s desktop/laptop; instead, the ‘private keys should be stored on dedicated hardware devices’.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

With So Much Liquidity on the Sidelines, Bitcoin could Hit $100k This Year: Mike Novogratz

With So Much Liquidity on the Sidelines, Bitcoin could Hit $100k This Year: Mike Novogratz

Both Bitcoin and gold will go higher, said billionaire Mike Novogratz, the chief executive officer at Galaxy Investment.

Amidst the ongoing inflation expectations and other uncertainties in this market, “both gold and Bitcoin are going a lot higher, but gold could easily go up 30% this year,” said Novogratz in his interview with Bloomberg.

With things moving too fast in the market, Bitcoin has seen an uptrend of 113% since Dec. 11 to hit a new ATH at $37,700, it is difficult to pick a top. But these manias also means that Bitcoin could easily be “20% of gold,” Novogratz said adding,

“There is so much liquidity on the sidelines that a lot of people were hoping for a pullback on this. And you saw it lasted for about two hours and put right up. It’s why Bitcoin continues to go up every day.”

This is because “the Fed has made a commitment to keep rates at zero and to continue to buy quantitative easing for three years. And so it’s creating a bubble,” he said.

According to him, everything that keeps Chairman Powell keeping the money supply running as fast as it is is good for the markets which involve Democrats taking more seats in the Senate that comes with one of the big expectations of inflation.

As for Bitcoin hitting $100,000, Novogratz feels we can get there this year, “if we continue to see this kind of momentum.”

The Supply Crunch

With Bitcoin, the unique thing about it is that in most assets and commodities if the price goes up there’s a supply response. In the case of oil, if its price goes up we start drilling for oil all over the world, even in gold which has a limited supply if the price goes up, we spend more money on mining, explained Novogratz.

However, in the case of Bitcoin, there never will be more than 21 million BTC, no matter how high the price goes. He said,

“So we have this giant supply-demand imbalance where now institutions say dammit I can’t believe I don’t own Bitcoin yet. Insurance companies are buying it. Asset managers are buying it. High net worth people are buying it. And there’s not a lot of supply.”

But Novogratz believes “gold is going higher.”

The yellow metal is currently trading around $1,920 after reversing the downtrend on Nov. 30 that started once the bullion hit ATH at $2,050 in August last year.

And this is because “we are certainly in an acceleration of the worry about the basing of fiat currencies,” — it’s central banks printing money with 75% of all the dollars in circulation printed in the last 10 years, he said adding,

“That’s an incredible statistic. It broadly means that you know four times as many dollars as we did 10 years ago. That’s driving asset prices. And so this has hit this acceleration point.”

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Author: AnTy

$146,000 per Bitcoin Is An ‘Unsustainable’ Price Target for This Year: JPMorgan Chase Strategists

$146,000 per Bitcoin Is An ‘Unsustainable’ Price Target for This Year: JPMorgan Chase Strategists

However, these targets of $50,000-$100,000 are achievable in the long term, it said.

According to JPMorgan Chase, as a competition to gold as an asset class, Bitcoin has the potential to reach as high as $146,000.

Bitcoin’s current market cap is around $597 billion and in order to reach yellow metal’s market cap levels, the digital asset’s price would have to surge about 370% in value from its current price of $32,000 BTC 8.43% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 33,992.43
$2,865.56 8.43%
Volume 67.55 b Change $2,865.56 Open $33,992.43 Circulating 18.59 m Market Cap 631.98 b
3 h FTX Now Allows to Short or Long Grayscale’s GBTC & ETHE and Bitwise 10 Crypto Index (BITW) 4 h BTC’s Break Above 2017’s ATH of $20,000 Converts One into a Bitcoiner 6 h Grayscale Officially Removes XRP from the Fund; Addresses with Large Amounts of XRP Drops Sharply
.

The largest digital asset rallied more than 315% in 2020 and is expected to see even a bigger uptrend this year as institutions join in full force, but not according to the investment banking giant.

Interestingly, at its current market cap, Bitcoin is 9th largest asset, higher than Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway at 11th spot while JPMorgan is in the 15th place.

BTC needs to rise by 4.6 times in order to match the total private sector investment in the precious metal via exchange-traded funds (ETF), bars, and coins; but it all depends on institutional investment that will take some time, strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note on Monday.

“A crowding out of gold as an ‘alternative’ currency implies big upside for Bitcoin over the long term.”

However…

“… a convergence in volatilities between Bitcoin and gold is unlikely to happen quickly and is in our mind a multiyear process. This implies that the above-$146,000 theoretical Bitcoin price target should be considered as a long-term target, and thus an unsustainable price target for this year.”

As we reported, just yesterday, Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital launched the Bitcoin Fund. The company in its thesis noted that Bitcoin, which is better at being gold than gold itself, can climb to $535,000 to achieve the same market cap as bullion.

The company also predicted a “tidal wave of institutional capital,” including hedge funds (One River Asset Management), public company treasurers (MicroStrategy), insurance companies (MassMutual), pension funds, RIAs, banks and brokerage firms, and a Bitcoin ETF.

For now, speculative long positions and an increase in wallets holding small amounts of BTC showing potential are seen as the headwinds by JPMorgan.

“While we cannot exclude the possibility that the current speculative mania will propagate further pushing the Bitcoin price up toward the consensus region of between $50,000-$100,000, we believe that such price levels would prove unsustainable.”

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Author: AnTy

UNI Enjoying A Breakout Year; Uniswap Protocol Shares 2021 Roadmap

2020 was an exciting year for the entire cryptocurrency market as we set the stage for a bullish 2021.

The decentralized finance (DeFi) market also had a wild year as the total value locked (TVL) in the sector grew 20 fold to surpass $14 billion.

In the DeFi space, DEX Uniswap Protocol made waves by becoming the first project to exceed $3 billion in TVL. For now, it has fallen to $1.7 billion.

UNI token is also enjoying an uptrend, trading at $5 following a 43% rally over the past week. Currently, UNI is the 22nd largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $1.34 billion.

Following the “breakout year,” Uniswap is now working on V3 to improve automated market-making (AMM). In its 2021 roadmap, the team shared that they will be exploring scaling solutions for faster and cheaper transactions, with an emphasis on governance.

“V3’s design is driven by a desire to drastically improve the AMM experience for both swappers and LPs, increasing capital efficiency and flexibility while introducing superior execution,” noted the team.

The team also shared a review of 2020, a year in which the Uniswap V2 was launched bringing in support for arbitrary ERC20/ERC20 pairs and flash swaps that has generated $4.8 bln in volume since then, producing $14.4 mln in LP fees.

In the entire last year, the decentralized exchange recorded $58 bln in volume, up 15,000% from 2019’s $390 mln. Uniswap even passed Coinbase on weekly volume albeit briefly.

Over 68,000 unique addresses are currently providing $2bn in liquidity across 27,000 unique trading pairs on the platform.

Just last month, the Uniswap team launched Sybil that uses third-party authentication platforms to make delegating of governance UNI tokens easy.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Skeptics Busy Talking About Bananas, 2018 Bear Market & Missing Price Discovery

Despite the price of Bitcoin jumping more than 220% this year, billionaire Mark Cuban still isn’t interested in the leading cryptocurrency.

“My thoughts haven’t changed,” Cuban told Forbes a week before Bitcoin surged past an all-time high of $20,000 to hit a record $23,800 on Wednesday, in a story that was published Thursday.

Bitcoin is “a store of value…that is more religion than solution to any problem,” said Cuban adding that the cryptocurrency won’t be replacing government-backed currency.

“No matter how much (bitcoin) fans want to pretend that it’s a hedge against doomsday scenarios, it is not,” Cuban said.

“Countries will take steps to protect their currencies and their ability to tax, so the more people believe this is anything more than a store of value, the more risk of government intervention they face.”

However, Cuban does agree that bitcoin is like gold in the way that it is a store of value. Although with its supply being limited, as the demand for the digital currency fluctuates, so will the price, which will be volatile, “as long as people accept (bitcoin) as a digital version of gold, it’s investable,” he said.

Despite this optimistic view, Cuban went back to his banana having “more utility” because it has potassium, a “valuable nutrient to every person on the planet,” while Bitcoin is what it is because “enough people have agreed upon” it as an investable asset.

Absolutely crazy right now

Another person that remains skeptical of Bitcoin is the Rosenberg Research chief economist, who calls it a “massive bubble.”

However, given his Bitcoin issues, it looks like it’s him who is in a bubble because he didn’t even take time to understand it before ranting about it.

“You speak to most people that are asking me to put money in bitcoin, they can’t even tell you who the person was that developed it or even how it’s actually mined,” said David Rosenberg. Alright, uninformed boomer!

“It’s just a classic, follow-the-herd, extremely crowded trade. It’s in a massive bubble.”

He had a particular nugget to share with that “there’s really nothing in the protocol to suggest that the supply of bitcoin can’t go up once we hit that limit.”

From the March low of $3,800, during the coronavirus pandemic-induced sell-off recorded in gold, stock, especially oil prices, and every other asset class, BTC has seen a whopping 525% uptrend.

Since October, Bitcoin has rallied 114%, and the chart of the digital asset is looking “absolutely crazy right now” to Rosenberg, who took it as his civic duty to remind everyone of the 2018 bear market after the last time bitcoin behaved with such a “speculative fervor.”

Meanwhile, BTC/USD is holding firm around $23,000, embarking on its price discovery journey.

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Author: AnTy

Massachusetts Regulators Sue Robinhood Over Exploitative Marketing Tactics

Robinhood has had quite a mixed year, with ups and downs relating to its core business and expansion plans.

While the company has been working to end the year on a high note, a potential lawsuit could derail such aspirations.

Terrible Marketing, Terrible Technical Service

The Massachusetts Securities Division’s enforcement arm is preparing a possible lawsuit against crypto-friendly app Robinhood, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the report, the regulators had discovered substantial proof showing that the company had deliberately targeted ill-experienced investors through its marketing campaigns.

The regulators added that the company’s deceptive advertising was far below the fiduciary standard, essentially exposing local investors to unnecessary risks.

The lawsuit is championed by William Galvin, the secretary to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Galvin’s office had reportedly filed the complaint against Robinhood, explaining that the company had been deliberately “gamifying the idea of investing.”

Speaking to CNBC, Galvin explained that Robinhood’s tactics – as well as its aggressive marketing – showed that the company was merely concerned about growth. This obsession had led to some reckless practices, with Robinhood choosing expansion over investors’ safety.

Along with aggressive marketing, Robinhood was also accused of failing to protect investors from outages and service glitches on its platform. The platform had had several notable service outages this year, with the most severe happening in March.

Amid the largest single-day jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s history, Robinhood users found themselves locked out of their accounts. Many were unable to access their portfolios and complete exchange orders, and they eventually lost significant sums.

Investors eventually sued the company, claiming that the outage had cost them a great deal of money. Even at that, the company’s technical problems have continued. In June, the company announced that its crypto, stock, and equities trading services had experienced operational issues. In October, Bloomberg also reported that Robinhood Markets, one of its subsidiaries, had suffered several hacks, leading to the exposure of about 2,000 customers’ contact details.

Moving Forward Regardless

A spokeswoman for Robinhood told CNBC that the company plans to fight the suit in court. While Robinhood has been in the news for many of the wrong reasons in 2020, the firm also made some significant progress.

The investment firm confirmed that it had raised $460 million in its Series G funding round in September. The capital haul, led by firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, valued the company at $11.7 billion.

The company also tapped investment bank Goldman Sachs to lead its Initial Public Offering (IPO). Citing insider sources, major online news media revealed that Robinhood is looking to list next year, with a planned valuation of about $20 billion.

While the company was reportedly looking to list in the first quarter of the year, it has yet to confirm any date. It is anyone’s guess how much this lawsuit could affect such plans.

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Author: Jimmy Aki