What’s in Your Wallet? If You’re Using Capital One, Then Nothing at All

Capital One is firing a broadside at crypto as they confirm that they will not allow customers to purchase cryptocurrency with their credit cards.


Banks and cryptocurrency are natural enemies as they occupy opposing positions on the financial spectrum. Banks represent centralized economic control, where the average person is bound by a bevy of rules and regulations. Virtual currency offers a decentralized, individualistic approach to a person’s economic decision-making. Which is why it is not surprising that Capital One is not allowing their customers to purchase cryptocurrency through bank-issued credit cards.

Taking Potshots at Crypto

News of Capital One giving a financial broadside to crypto first broke on Reddit. There a person discussed how they tried to buy virtual currency in order to pay a babysitter, but the transaction was denied.

After getting in touch with customer support at Capital One, he was informed that the bank had blocked many exchanges. The bank’s actions were later confirmed in an official tweet.

Breitbart News contacted the bank, which is the eighth-largest commercial bank in the United States, about cutting off access to crypto. The official response that they got from the financial institution states:

Capital One is currently declining credit card transactions to purchase cryptocurrency due to the limited mainstream acceptance and the elevated risks of fraud, loss, and volatility inherent in the cryptocurrency market.

Capital One continues to closely monitor developments in cryptocurrency markets and exchanges and will regularly evaluate the decision as cryptocurrency markets evolve.

Banks Against Cryptocurrency

The actions taken by Capital One are not surprising at all. Cryptocurrency represents a direct threat to the financial control exerted by banks and centralized authorities. While banks may wish to take advantage of blockchain technology, they would love nothing more to see digital currencies go away.

Numerous high-ranking officials of state banks (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, etc.) have denigrated Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Just last month, Australia froze the bank accounts of those who had made transactions upon certain crypto exchanges. Then, just yesterday, the Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp announced that they would no longer offer crypto-based wire transfers.

Banks essentially have three options when it comes to cryptocurrency: they can ignore it, embrace it, or fight it. By their actions, Capital One is showing that they’re joining the team that has decided to fight.

So what can a crypto-enthusiast do in such a circumstance? The best option is to close your accounts and move them to a bank that is far friendlier to cryptocurrency. However, you should contact the bigwigs at the bank and let them know exactly why you’re leaving in the first place. Voting with your wallet can be pretty effective.

Are you impacted by this decision by Capital One? If so, what do you plan to do? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@jgf100, Twitter/@AskCapitalOne, Flickr, and Wikipedia.

The post What’s in Your Wallet? If You’re Using Capital One, Then Nothing at All appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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The SEC Clarifies its Position on Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has moved to clarify its stance on both ICOs and the cryptocurrency market in general. Many in the cryptocurrency community view an SEC crackdown on activities within the sector as being something of an inevitability. However, judging by the Commission’s recent public statement, there may actually be little to fear.

Investor Protection

The SEC states its mission as being to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and to facilitate capital formation. The SEC oversees the key participants in the world of securities, which includes securities exchanges, brokers and dealers, in addition to investment advisors and mutual funds. The SEC is most concerned with the promotion and disclosure of important market-related information, alongside maintaining fair dealing, and providing fraud protection. And each year, the agency brings hundreds of civil enforcement actions against both individuals and corporations that violate securities laws.

The SEC has once again turned its attention to the world of cryptocurrencies and has released a statement aimed at what it calls “Main Street Investors” and “Market Professionals.” The general message was quite positive as Chairman Jay Clayton stated: “I believe that initial coin offerings – whether they represent offerings of securities or not – can be effective ways for entrepreneurs and others to raise funding, including for innovative projects.”

He went on to add that “Any such activity that involves an offering of securities must be accompanied by the important disclosures, processes and other investor protections that our securities laws require. A change in the structure of a securities offering does not change the fundamental point that when a security is being offered, our securities laws must be followed.”

As far as the Commission is concerned, while there are cryptocurrencies that do not act as securities, there are others that do and any tokens incorporating features that allow for potential profits based on the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others contain the hallmarks of a security under U.S. law.

The SEC calls on Market Professionals such as securities lawyers, accountants, and consultants to help maintain the required standards and also reminds any teams behind cryptocurrencies and ICOs that they must be able to demonstrate that their currency or product is not a security and also complies with applicable registration and other requirements under securities laws.

With regards to Main Street Investors, the SEC reiterates a number of warnings and also expects individuals to thoroughly research any projects they may be interested in. As there are currently no ICOs to date that have been registered with the SEC, the Commission views the cryptocurrency sector as providing greater opportunities for fraud and manipulation than more traditional financial markets.

As a result, the SEC continues to issue investor alerts, bulletins and statements on initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency-related investments and urges all members of the community to keep abreast of their updates. Retail investors are also urged to remain vigilant and act maturely with regards to any potential investments. When dealing with ICOs, in addition to the normal risks that accompany any financial investments there is also the fact that any funds invested into ICOs may cross national borders and end up overseas. There is the possibility that the SEC and other market regulators may not be able to effectively pursue bad actors or to recover funds.

The stance taken by the SEC essentially calls on industry professionals to follow best practices and for individuals to exercise common sense when making investments and is far from the heavy-handed approach some in the community had feared.

SEC Intervention

Last year the SEC has stepped in on a number of occasions to put a stop to ICOs that were violating regulations. In December, the SEC announced that Munchee Inc. had provided refunds to its investors after the agency concluded that the token sale constituted the offer and sale of unregistered securities.

Just prior to this, the agency filed a fraud suit against the organizers of the PlexCoin token sale after it emerged that the ICO was promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month. The SEC obtained an emergency asset freeze to halt the PlexCoin ICO after it managed to raise up to $15 million by promising to yield a 1,354 percent profit in less than 29 days.

The project was led by the Quebec-based pair of Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Royer, and a complaint against the duo was filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York after it was deemed that they marketed and sold securities via the internet to investors in the U.S. and other jurisdictions.

Whilst in September, the SEC announced that it had put a stop to the REcoin Group Foundation and Diamond Reserve Club projects after it was discovered that they had promised investors sizable returns on investments backed by real estate and diamonds despite neither company actually being engaged in any real operations.

 

Featured image via Bigstock.

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Hackers Steal $400k from Users of a Stellar Lumen (XLM) Web Wallet

Hackers Steal $400k from Users of a Stellar Lumen (XLM) Web Wallet

Another cryptocurrency service provider has been hacked, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of losses to Stellar users this time. DNS hackers have hijacked the Blackwallet server, redirected some of the traffic and made off with 669,920 XLM.

Also Read: Japan’s Largest Bank to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange

Stellar Wallet Blackwallet Compromised

Hackers Steal $400k from Users of a Stellar Lumen (XLM) Web WalletThe team behind Blackwallet, a Stellar Lumen (XLM) web wallet, has confirmed reports that the service has been compromised on Saturday, and that hackers have taken 669,920 lumens, which were worth about $400,000 at the time. The stolen loot has since been transferred to Bittrex, and Blackwallet tried contacting the exchange asking for help in recovering it.

The Blackwallet creator commented: “I am sincerely sorry about this and hope that we will get the funds back. I am in talks with my hosting provider to get as much information about the hacker and will see what can be done with it. If you ever entered your key on blackwallet, you may want to move your funds to a new wallet using the stellar account viewer. Please note however that blackwallet was only an account viewer and that no keys were stored on the server!”

Hackers Steal $400k from Users of a Stellar Lumen (XLM) Web Wallet
The Blackwallet website is now still offline

DNS Hacks on the Rise

Hackers Steal $400k from Users of a Stellar Lumen (XLM) Web WalletBlackwallet was hit by a type of attack called DNS hijacking, wherein hackers redirect the Domain Name System system to point to servers they control instead of the affected server. “The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code, if you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet, explained cyber-security researcher Kevin Beaumont.

This is not the first time such a method was used to defraud cryptocurrency users, and probably not the last as copycats see how effective it is. Only a month ago DNS did hackers steal over $270,000 in ethereum and tokens from Etherdelta exchange users. The attackers have been linked with this ethereum address, which now contains almost $6 million of ETH.

What cryptocurrency wallets can be trusted to protect users’ funds? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Want to create your own secure cold storage paper wallet? Check our tools section.

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Market Update Report Jan.16

Panic among the crypto markets. With the sudden and recent news from China, sharp declines in the Bitcoin’s price, which fell by about 20% in just one day, and even worse situation in the altcoins. Keep in mind, we have experienced this in the past (“China bans Bitcoin”), but we cannot ignore the fact that Bitcoin is on a downward trend. This seems to be another shake of weak hands in the short term, as we continue down, but if we look at the past, Bitcoin is heading to a healthy correction.

The uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin’s price is well felt in the crypto markets. Its total value dropping from $830 billion to $560 billion (at the time of writing the update). $290 billion of the market’s value was erased within a week… Alongside the news from China, the holidays season may also be attributing to some of the declines this week, as this period of the year is characterized by taking profits. After a year of intense increases, it seems that in 2018 we still don’t know how much support Bitcoin will receive from the governments.

In the Altcoins Sector – despite the sharp drop, it appears that the Ethereum price still holds at around $1000. Alongside Etherium, it appears that NEO is also grappling with market volatility. This is due to the large number of ICOs that has been created on it’s platform recently. Apparently some investors exploited the momentum of the raising funds on NEO, in order to hedge the risk and reduce the impact of the sharp fluctuations in the market.

The largest Alts that sustained the most severe corrections were TRX and XRP, whose price dropped by approximately 30% during the last 24 hours. Of course, there are other Altcoins whose price has dropped at a higher percentage, but these are relatively new and not major ones.

Overall, 2018 began with too much enthusiasm around the crypto market, and it seems that the market has been given a cool-down injection. The volatility in the crypto market is not new to us, and it seems that despite the sharp declines, the crypto market is still on a long-term rising trend. Perhaps the all-time high is still ahead of us. The enthusiasm surrounding the crypto market is also reflected in the growing interest in blockchain technology. But it’s important to remember that it is only at the beginning of its revolution.

News from this week

Bank Sector

In the past few years, Goldman Sachs had expressed a distinct aversion to the crypto market, yet it seems that now their minds have changed. It seems that the bank now believes in Bitcoin’s chances of becoming ‘real money’, especially in less developed countries, such as African countries. Additionally, JP Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, is also changing his mind. Having been consistently opposed to anything related to crypto in the past year, and having even argued that employees of his bank should be fired for being involved in cryptocurrencies.

The US bank, Metropolitan Bank, froze all international transactions related to crypto currencies. The bank has earned its reputation as a private broker, involved in various trading companies, among them is the crypto exchange Coinbase. The Bank has yet to respond to the announcement. Simultaneously, one of the largest banks in Sweden, Northern European bank of Nordea, announced that it would prohibit its employees from holding and trading crypto-currencies.

Technological sector

IBM and Comcast’s MState have expressed their support for blockbuster startups and have announced plans to invest $25-50,000 in six companies from the crypto field. In addition, the Amazon-owned streaming company, Twitch, has announced it would begin receiving payments in Bitcoin. This is contradictory to Microsoft’s most recent announcement last week that it will not allow its customers to purchase its products for Bitcoin.

Two other giant companies plan to enter the blockchain market: Telegram plans to raise $1.2 billion, which would be the largest amount ever attempted to raise in an ICO. In the framework of the ICO, Telegram intends to launch their TON currency. To explain briefly, Telegram plans to build a blockchain-based payment system that will integrate with its existing messaging service. A concept similar to the Chinese Wechat, but for the global community. Along with Telegram, Eastman Kodak also announced that it plans to launch a platform based on KODAKOne which creates an encrypted, digital ledger of ownership copyrights for photographers. In addition to the platform, the KODAKCoin will be issued within the framework of the ICO, which is expected to be released on January 31st. In addition, the Indian mobile company, Reliance Jio, announced that it intends to launch its own crypto coin, the JioCoin.

Crypto Market News

The exponential growth of the crypto market seems to be continuing. News this week show that the largest crypto market in the world, in terms of trading volume, Binance, is adding about 240,000 new users per hour (!). This is despite the declines we experienced in the market this week. Also, it seems that the demands of various authorities to increase transparency in the sector are beginning to have an impact, and various trading platforms are tightening their KYC processes, most notably Bitstamp.

News from South Korea

The South Korean tax authorities have begun investigating two of the country’s largest crypto exchanges – Bithumb and Coinone – on suspicion of tax evasion. In addition, Coinone is also being investigated by the local police on suspicion of providing illegal gambling services, which would be in direct disregard with previous announcements and warnings made by the government over the past few weeks, which relate, among other things to tougher regulations regarding crypto. The Ministry of Finance announced that all users must convert their anonymous accounts into identified ones that are linked to their real bank account. Users who do not do so, within a period of one month, will be fined.

In light of the authorities’ announcements over the past few weeks, the Justice Minister issued a statement this week announcing his intention to ban the trading of crypto coins in the country. As a result, several media outlets reported that South Korea has begun prohibiting crypto trading. However, the South Korean government issued an official statement stating that there is no prohibition on trading crypto in the country, and that such a prohibition is unlikely to be enacted in the long run. It seems that the Justice Minister issued an independent announcement, and that his statement was not approved by the government. Following the Justice Minister’s announcement, more than 120,000 citizens signed a petition against the proposal to ban trading of crypto currencies in the country. Furthermore, about 30,000 signed a petition calling on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice to resign.

New from Asia

In Japan: Line, the nation’s leading instant messaging mobile app with over 168 million monthly users, is considering adding crypto payments through its payment application.

The DMM Group, which works in e-commerce, has launched a new exchange, which, as of now, supports 7 crypto currencies. The group intends to establish another exchange during this spring, which will be designed for novice traders.

Indonesia – The country’s central bank has issued a severe warning about trading, buying or selling crypto currencies. This warning follows a previous warning issued by the Bank in September that it would not accept crypto coins as a method of payment. The previous warning also led to the closure of two major trading platforms in TokoBitcoin and BitBayar.

Another source from East Asia, the Lunu bank account operating from Malaysia, was frozen by the country’s tax authorities, and Lunu reported that they are not concerned about the possibility of client’s capital disappearing in the exchange, and that it is in discussions with the bank and the authorities to resolve the situation. It seems that they are required to strengthen the KYC processes of its Malaysian customers.

China – Bitmain, the Chinese mining company, is in the process of setting up a new subsidiary in Switzerland, Bitmain Switzerland. This move follows a direct increase in supervision by the authorities, mainly on the electricity consumption of the country’s mining farms. Bitmain is not alone, and alongside other mining companies, it plans to open centers in Quebec, Canada. This is due to the low cost of electricity and cold weather in the area.

Additionally, it seems that authorities in the country are continuing the fight against crypto trading, with an emphasis on online trading platforms. A senior official of the Chinese Central Bank called on state authorities to ban trading in crypto currencies in the country, as well as to restrict individuals or businesses to offer services related to trading in crypto this extends to things such as virtual wallet operations. Pan Gongsheng, Vice President of the bank, said the authorities should continue to exert heavy pressure and supervision on the market, and even called to block foreign sites that provide services to Chinese users. These announcements, together with announcements from South Korean authorities, led to a sharp drop in the price of the bitcoin, which reached its lowest level since early December, below $ 11,500.

In Australia, similar to the South Korean authorities’ approach, the country has set up a special team to identify and collect information about all crypto-transactions in the country for the sake of tax purposes. There seems to be a new trend in the world of increasing supervision on crypto traders due to fear of tax evasion. Similar actions can be seen in India and South Africa.

News from Europe

Russia – The Ministry of Finance has begun to draft a bill that will legitimize the crypto trading in certain government-approved exchanges. This is in accordance with Putin’s statement that the crypto market should be fully regulated in Russia. By doing this, it eliminates the inherent risks arising from trading in those currencies, and prevents any possibility of using those currencies for money laundering, tax evasion or terrorist financing.

Because of Putin’s statements, Russia’s largest exchange, Moscow Exchange, announced its intention to allow trading in financial instruments derived from the value of the Bitcoin (or other crypto currencies) and appears to be backed by the Minister of Economics. Yet at this stage the country’s central bank is strongly opposed to this option. In Belarus, the President signed an order earlier this month that for the next five years crypto trading, conversion between crypto and FIAT currencies, as well as ICOs will all be legal in the country, as well as exemption from any taxes (including capital gains). Expected to take place in March, he hopes this will attract new investors and entrepreneurs into his country.  

More from Europe, the French Economy minister, has strongly opposed the use of Bitcoin and cryptos in the country this week. This is mainly due to fear of damaging the country’s economic stability. He stated that this fear stems from various concerns of lack of disclosure and speculation in the crypto market.

More from Europe: Sweden is considering issuing a national crypto currency, the e-krona. Sweden is among the countries with the lowest rate of cash use in the world, which may allow easy acceptance into the crypto-world.

News from America

Next…the United States, at this stage, there are no federal regulations of regarding crypto markets. Currently, the IRS and the Federal Tax Collection Authority’s approach is to recognize crypto as assets liable for capital gains. In coming February, a conference is scheduled, which will include senior SEC and CFTC officials, which main objective is to regulate the crypto market, so that in the coming months it can also be regulated on the federal level.

More news from the US: the US Securities and Exchange Commission ordered the ETF to freeze all ETF funds related to cryptocurrencies. This is caused by implications tying the ETF to volatile and illiquid assets. Additionally, on the political front, a new bill in Arizona proposes allowing citizens to pay taxes using crypto coins.

More Updates

KFC in Canada, launched a marketing campaign in which it launched a special edition item- the bitcoin bucket. For a limited time, you can pay for food using Bitcoin.

Calderon Calvin Ayre, founder of Bodog, announced his plan to set up a new venture to deal with the Bitcoin cash mines.

In addition, MoneyGram International Inc. announced the launch of a new pilot program to test the use of the XRP (Ripple) currency.

Bitcoin has reached a significant milestone – 80% of the total Bitcoin has been sold, about 16.8 million Bitcoin.

Bitlum, launched an alpha version of ZigZag, an exchange based on the lightning network.

In this following post there is everything you need to know about the Lighting network in one place.

The organizers of the North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) stopped allowing payments for tickets to the conference in Bitcoin, apparently due to network congestion and high fees. This news generated buzz on the social networks, and a wave of tweets, most notably the economics professor Paul Krugman, who tweeted to his four million followers – “Bitcoin conference will not accept Bitcoin because it’s too clunky and expensive. yay “.

Bitcoin

There has been support around 14K but it did not really hold, and it seems that in the near future, this area will become resistance. The market will become bullish if we can reach the 17K mark or above, however, until we see these price levels, the market feels a bit scary. Fear is reflected in the sharp decline during the past 24 hours. The price was dropping by almost $2000. Stabilization around $13,500 will be a very positive relief.

BTCUSD

Ethereum

Against the dollar: after a record high of $1450 last week, a sharp correction in the last hour led the price to trade at $ 1000 with subsidies around $ 900. The support level is marked in yellow.

ETHUSD

Against Bitcoin: the rise from the resistance areas were too rapid. After this run, support is around 0.083BTC and resistance in 0.1BTC areas.

ETHBTC

Bitcoin Cash

Against the dollar, the rate would have looked fairly stable, but the sharp declines did not skip BCash, which fell from it’s support level around $2,400 to a price level of $1,800. It is currently traded at these levels. The support areas are marked in yellow are still from the previous update.

BCHUSD

Against Bitcoin – the price went down a little this week, but looks positive from last week. Traded around 0.16BTC with support in the 0.14BTC areas and the resistance of around 0.2BTC remains intact.

BCHBTC

Litecoin

Against the dollar after a record of $370, (the exchange rate is very volatile) it dropped close to 50%. Currently traded around $190, with support around $ 80, and resistance around $260. We hope to see a bit of a rally on the way up.

LTCBTC

Against Bitcoin – the price is relatively stable. Strong support around 0.014BTC, where demand for LTC is high. However, it appears that the positive trend has stopped. Resistance lies around 0.0185BTC.

LTCUSD

Bancor

Against the dollar : The coin is in a positive trend, reaching highs of $11, but a sharp correction brought the price to levels of $ 6. Where support lies. Resistance is in the $11 zones.

BNTUSD

Against Bitcoin: we see a continuous decline since it’s price discovery. It seems that a floor of support was discovered in December and since then the price has been rising. Excessive enthusiasm around the coin seems to have resulted in too rapid of a rise inits price. However, the marked usually shows that after the sharp rise, the behavior seems quite healthy, and the growth of the coin’s volume is also evidence for that. Resistance is around 0.00075BTC, and support for this range in the 0.0005BTC areas.

BNTBTC

The post Market Update Report Jan.16 appeared first on CryptoPotato.

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Metropolitan Bank Denies Ceasing Cryptocurrency-Related International Wires

Metropolitan Bank Denies Stopping Cryptocurrency-Related International Wires

Just recently news.Bitcoin.com reported on the company Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp (NYSE: MCB) allegedly ceasing international cryptocurrency transfers. The bank is well known for being called the “Bitcoin Bank” and responded today to “erroneous statements” made by the media.

Also read: French Entrepreneur’s Case to Overturn the Bitlicense Dismissed

Various Reports State the ‘Bitcoin Bank’ Allegedly Ceased Offering International Cryptocurrency Transfers

Metropolitan Bank Denies Ceasing Cryptocurrency-Related International WiresThis week the financial publication Fortune reported on the company Metropolitan Bank and said the firm was not processing international wire transfers tethered to cryptocurrencies. The news followed the recent problems European users faced a week prior as some specific crypto-based debit Visa cards ceased operations. According to the Fortune report, a Metropolitan customer said the bank notified him and said it was “ceasing all international crypto-related wire transfers to and from.” Many cryptocurrency proponents thought that debit cards produced by Bitpay or Coinbase would have issues because they use Metropolitan Bank.

Metropolitan Bank Denies Ceasing Cryptocurrency-Related International Wires
Metropolitan executive Edward Nebb’s statement about the bank’s services on January 16, 2018.

Metropolitan Bank Responds to Erroneous Statements

On January 16:th the bank responded to “erroneous statements contained in articles that have recently appeared in some online publications” and stated that the company’s policies have not changed.          

“As a matter of policy, the bank does not accept cryptocurrency-related wire transfers from non-U.S. entities,” explains Metropolitan executive Edward Nebb. “This is a long-standing policy of the bank and remains in effect today — Last week, the bank sent out a reminder to customers of its policy against accepting cryptocurrency-related wire transfers from non-U.S. entities.”  

This reminder to customers is not a new policy for the bank and was not due to, nor did the bank experience, any “incident of international fraud.” The bank’s long-standing policy of not accepting cryptocurrency-related wire transfers from non-U.S. entities is part of its robust risk management program that is designed to ensure the safe and sound operations of the Bank in compliance with applicable laws, rules and guidance.

Metropolitan Bank-based cryptocurrency cards seem to be operating just fine, and users of both the Coinbase Shift card and Bitpay’s Visa services have not complained about issues. International cards issued by Wave Crest Holdings are still out of service which includes cards such as Bitwala, Tenx, Bitpay, Coinsbank, and Xapo.

What do you think about Metropolitan Bank’s statements towards reports about it ceasing crypto-related services? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Metropolitan Bank logo, and building and SEC archive. 


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How Blockchain Technology Will Transform Healthcare in 2018

As recently as a year ago, the groundbreaking effects that blockchain technology would have on nearly every industry were yet to be understood, let alone considered. The leading futurist of 2016, Alec Ross, wrote in his best-selling book, The Industries of the Future, that the next ten to twenty years would be marked by three key innovations: Coding (computer and genetic), AI (and neural networks), and the blockchain. Now, with 2017 coming to a close it seems clear to many – the blockchain is chief among these things – and it is set to disrupt everything.


Several industries have already been completely disrupted by blockchain technologies. The obvious example is finance – traditional financial behemoths are realizing fast the power of cryptocurrencies, and governments are scrambling to keep up. More and more, cryptocurrencies are being legalized – and regulated – in major developed economies, and are providing a way for citizens of underdeveloped ones to protect their wealth (ie. Venezuela, Zimbabwe).

Now, as more and more startups seek funding through initial coin offerings (ICOs) and established corporations begin distributing tokens (see the examples of Overstock and IQ Option), new and different industries become transformed by the blockchain every day. One industry, however, that hasn’t gotten too much attention from the crypto community has been – until now – healthcare.

The Future of Healthcare is eHealth First

At the beginning of 2017, a number of healthcare, blockchain and business professionals – researchers and physicians at the top of their fields – came together with an interesting idea. They knew, already, that lots of data was being collected. Patient records have been stored digitally by doctors for years, and a wealth of data, including medical research and information on patient outcomes, has already been gathered. This group of physicians realized right away that this data can be stored on distributed ledgers – on the blockchain – to keep it secure, but also accessible in such a way so as to make medical care more effective.

This group of physicians has gone one step further and has enlisted several top experts in computer science and robotics in doing so. This data, that has already been collected, and continues to be collected, could be processed using artificial intelligence algorithms, machine learning, and neural networks. A user – be it a medical professional or the patient itself – could potentially enter metrics regarding symptoms into the system to find a diagnosis, as well as the best possible solution to their problem.

Now, these medical and computing experts are ready to announce that they have begun work on a platform – eHealth First – that will allow users to do just that. EHF (www.ehfirst.io) consists of two applications. The first is a user-friendly mobile and web application that allows users to get diagnoses and recommendations that improve medical conditions and increase lifespans. The second is an open platform for medical professionals, that allows specialists to access medical research data in order to build other platforms specializing in a wide array of medical conditions and diagnoses.

Taking the eHealth First platform into consideration, as we move into 2018, it seems the blockchain will revolutionize healthcare in three ways:

Provide secure use of medical records which can be used for diagnosis by doctors or AI.

Medical professionals have been storing patient medical records digitally for two decades already. This data can be securely stored on a distributed ledger, all while maintaining patient privacy.With the help of advanced algorithms, this data is extremely valuable. These records show the symptoms that lead to a diagnosis, and then the treatments that worked, and the ones that didn’t. Apps are being developed that will allow symptoms, laboratory and instrumental indicators, as well as other data, to be entered as input, and for a diagnosis and treatment or prevention recommendation to be received as output.

Store medical research on distributed ledgers to be processed by AI.

In addition to medical records, medical research is already largely digitized, and when stored on the distributed ledger will be easy to access by physicians and other medical professionals, worldwide. This means that if doctors need help in diagnosing a patient, or in finding effective treatment, they will be able to search through all the data – fast – with the help of AI algorithms.

Make it possible to access medical records wherever you are on the planet.

Imagine you’re on vacation in Thailand and your chronic skin condition acts up. A doctor in Thailand will be able to access your medical records from back home – securely – and see your home doctor’s diagnosis, and the treatment that has worked for you in the past.

Thanks to blockchain technology, as well as big-data, AI, and machine learning, access to medicine will become more affordable and more accessible all over the world. Just as it has disrupted and improved so many other industries, the blockchain is set to transform healthcare for the better in 2018, and well into the future.


Images courtesy of eHealth First

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Cryptocurrency App Users Increase 14-Fold in South Korea

Cryptocurrency App Users Increase 14-Fold in South Korea

The number of cryptocurrency app users in South Korea has increased 14 times in the last 11 weeks to approximately two million users, according to a recent analysis. Users spend an average of 26 minutes using them daily and the majority of users are in their 30s.

Also read: South Korea Urges 23 Countries, EU, and IMF to Collaborate on Curbing Crypto Trading

A 14-Fold Jump

Cryptocurrency App Users Increase 14-Fold in South KoreaApplication analytics company Wiseapp recently conducted an analysis of 23,000 Android smartphone users in South Korea.

The company found that “Nearly 2 million South Koreans are estimated to have used cryptocurrency applications with their smartphone in the past week,” Yonhap wrote, adding that:

A total of 1.96 million people may have used apps that allow them to handle digital currencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, last week, up from 140,000 tallied between Oct. 30 and Nov. 5.

Cryptocurrency App Users Increase 14-Fold in South Korea
Weekly chart of the number of crypto app users from Oct 30 to Jan 14. 196 is equivalent to 1.96 million.

According to Wiseapp’s data from October 30 to January 14, “Virtual currency app users increased 14 times in the last 11 weeks,” the company wrote. Popular apps include those related to cryptocurrency trading, particularly bitcoin, as well as “quotes, bulletin boards, etc,” the company detailed.

More South Koreans are increasingly using cryptocurrency apps despite multiple regulatory announcements, including the crackdown on anonymous crypto trading. The tax authority has also been discussing ways to tax cryptocurrencies.

In addition, two major exchanges, Bithumb and Coinone, are being investigated by the authorities. Then, over the weekend, the regulators announced that crypto traders could face fines if they do not convert from virtual accounts to real-name accounts once the new system is implemented.

Bitcoin App User Demographics

Wiseapp’s research also revealed that last month 1.8 million people used the top 10 bitcoin-related apps while 2.67 million people used the top 10 securities-related apps during the same time period. However, bitcoin app users spend an average of 26 minutes using the apps, which is twice the 13-minute daily use time for securities apps in the same period.

In addition, the company also found that 6.5% of bitcoin app users are in their teens, 24% in their 20s, 32.7% in their 30s, 21% in their 40s, and 15.8% are 50 and over.

Cryptocurrency App Users Increase 14-Fold in South Korea
Demographics of bitcoin app users (yellow) and securities app users (green). Source: Wiseapp.

What do you think of these stats on cryptocurrency app users? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Wiseapp.


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Japan’s Largest Financial Group To Launch Own Virtual Currency

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is launching an initiative to open a new exchange and issue its own virtual currency: the “MUFG coin.”


By controlling the exchanges themselves, MUFG plan to suppress fluctuations in the price of MUFG coins in order that they can be used stably for settlement and remittance. The MUFG coin, due to their distribution being made available on a centralized exchange, can be directly overseen by the bank. In addition, the bank can also control the value of the coin, which is aiming to be worth approximately 1 yen. Users can then use these coins, accessed from their smartphones, to pay for goods and services in a secure fashion.

MUFG is aiming to increase adoption with suppliers and retailers throughout Japan for the payment platform and is aiming to launch later in the year. The move demonstrates how cryptocurrencies and blockchain tech are slowly being realized by traditional financial institutions, who are eager to benefit from the reduced operational costs that virtual currencies can offer.

Legislative Hurdles and Financial Regulation

MUFG has already notified the Financial Services Agency on their plans to issue coins and open an exchange. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ will make full preparations for the MUFG coins issuance, with plans to organize contests to generate ideas for business usage of the MUFG coins in March.

In order to establish a virtual currency exchange in Japan, it is obligatory to register with the Financial Services Agency, and there are still some hurdles left. As the Fintech industry continues to grow, further legislation for responding to new services like MUFG will continue to be developed in the country. Bitcoinist previously looked at the state of the Fintech industry in Japan here.

Online Responses To The MUFG coin Announcement

Users took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the upcoming coin launch. They were quick to point out that the MUFG coin is not OMG and that the price is to be capped at 1 yen per coin.

The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is Japan’s largest financial group and is the 2nd largest bank holding company in the world, holding around $1.8 trillion USD.

Will we see increasing cryptocurrecy initiatives such as this, with centralized banking controls? Do they offer the same degree of security as other decentralized cryptocurrencies? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images Courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Twitter/@iamjosephyoung, Twitter/@btc883n, Twitter/@ETHtrenpreneur, and Pexels.

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Japan’s Largest Bank to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange

Japan's Largest Bank to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange

As bitcoin trading becomes the new mainstream in Japan, leading financial firms are stepping in to offer services to preserve their market share. MUFG, the largest bank in the country, is now planning to launch its own exchange, a pegged cryptocurrency and bitcoin segregated accounts for clients of other exchanges.

Also Read: Some UK Mortgage Lenders Refuse to Serve Bitcoin Investors

MUFG Exchange and Pegged Coin

Japan's Largest Bank to Launch Cryptocurrency ExchangeMitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:MTU), the fourth largest bank in the world, plans to launch its own cryptocurrency exchange this financial year. According to reports from the country, MUFG has already notified the Financial Services Agency (JFSA) on the decision to launch an exchange.

The bank is known to be working on issuing its own cryptocurrency. The plan as it seems now is that by controlling the exchange where people can trade this MUFG Coin, the bank could suppress drastic fluctuations in its price so it can be used for shopping, settlements and remittances stably. The idea is that the new cryptocurrency will be kept pegged at around JP¥1, but not fixed in advanced so as to bypass regulations regarding issuing and transmitting such private money in Japan.

Needles to say, while MUFG only envisions its coin used to make stable transactions in Japan, once the cryptocurrency will be out in the wild global traders can use it for other uses as well. One interesting application is for it to be used in trading pairs on non-fiat exchanges instead of USTD, backed by the largest bank in Japan instead of Tether.

Bitcoin Segregated Accounts

Japan's Largest Bank MUFG to Launch Cryptocurrency ExchangeThe bank is reportedly working on another service for Japanese cryptocurrency traders, MUFJ Trust – will keep client holdings in accounts which can link to exchanges but without sending the money to their control. Similar to how segregated accounts are used to protect forex traders, this can safeguard client funds at the bank in case the trading company is hacked or goes bankrupt. The service will also monitor accounts for suspicious activity and uncommon transactions, which could get flagged for inspection instead of being processed.

The service, which will be available just for bitcoin at first, is expected to launch in April 2018 or as soon as the JFSA recognizes bitcoin as an asset that can be placed in a trust. This will be the first ever trust arrangement for cryptocurrencies, according to its application for patent protection. Enjoying the protection of MUFJ Trust’s would cost a fee, but “customers will feel peace of mind knowing that a trust bank is managing their assets,” said CEO Noriyuki Hirosue of Tokyo-based exchange Bitbank.

Should any of the new cryptocurrency trading services in Japan go global? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Cornell Researchers: Bitcoin Not as Decentralized as Assumed

Cornell Univ. Researchers: Bitcoin Not as Decentralized as Assumed

Cornell University researchers, using the Falcon Relay Network, have concluded that neither of the two most popular cryptocurrency blockchains, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are as decentralized as once thought. A two-year longitudinal study claims Bitcoin underutilizes its network, Ethereum is better distributed than Bitcoin, and Bitcoin’s rewards for smaller miners is often unpredictable due to block size limits.

Also read: Ditch University and High Transaction Fees!

Cornell University Researchers Release Blockchain Study

Decentralization in Bitcoin and Ethereum Networks, a peer reviewed study from the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) at Cornell University, lead by Emin Gün Sirer (associate professor and co-founder of IC3), is bound to make some waves. Originally scheduled to be presented February at the Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference in Curaçao, the paper was released online and made available to the public 15 January 2018.

The paper measures the actual practice of decentralization, rather than hype to that effect, surrounding two the largest market cap cryptocurrency networks, Bitcoin and Ethereum. Researchers examine nodes and their interconnection, protocol requirements, and how they stand up to attacks, using the Falcon Relay Network (FRN) to gather data.Cornell Univ. Researchers: Bitcoin Not as Decentralized as Assumed

FRN disseminates blocks, connecting miners, full nodes, and ferries blocks by reducing orphans. In turn, the network overall is more efficient and can concentrate on security with the ultimate goal of helping Bitcoin scale by effectively decoupling disseminating block speed from network size. The hope is doing so will level the playing field among miners and increase decentralization.

Along with colleagues Adem Efe Gencer, Soumya Basu, Ittay Eyal, Robbert van Renesse, the paper studies years 2015 through 2017, building on their earlier 2016 position paper. It appears bandwidth for Bitcoin nodes has increased by 1.7 times since 2016. With more allocation of bandwidth, researchers claim, block size can increase without impacting decentralization. And with an increase per second cleared, transactions for bitcoin should be able to nearly double – a major bone of contention for users.

Cornell Univ. Researchers: Bitcoin Not as Decentralized as Assumed

Mining Concentration

If the worry then shifts to disk requirements, the authors point out how the costs of CPUs and disk space generally have bettered inversely: lower prices and more space. They argue, “To date, we have seen no sound, quantitative arguments for any specific value of the maximum block size in Bitcoin,” insisting there is “dissonance between the technical-soundness of the arguments and the actual technical facts on the ground.”

Cornell Univ. Researchers: Bitcoin Not as Decentralized as Assumed
Emin Gün Sirer

“Compared to Ethereum, Bitcoin nodes tend to be more clustered together, both in terms of network latency as well as geographically,” the study insists. “Put another way, there are more Ethereum nodes, and they are better spread out around the world. That indicates that the full node distribution for Ethereum is much more decentralized.” Researchers attribute this to data centers holding a larger percentage of Bitcoin nodes, over half in fact. Ethereum data center nodes, by contrast, account for little over a quarter.   

Data centers can become troublesome in the quest for decentralization because they’re often held by corporations. Node counts can also help skew public opinion through what are known as Sybil attacks. Sybil attacks can overinflate influence in a peer-to-peer system, making it appear there to be more consensus than the actual reality. These are real concerns for consensus networks like Bitcoin.

The study indeed found in both Ethereum and Bitcoin “mining [is] very centralized, with the top four miners in Bitcoin and the top three miners in Ethereum controlling more than 50% of the hash rate.” Indeed, the “entire blockchain for both systems is determined by fewer than 20 mining entities.” Finally, “mining rewards are more unpredictable for smaller miners in Bitcoin” compared to Ethereum. “This is partly because the high block rate in Ethereum helps provide many more opportunities for the laws of large numbers to apply in Ethereum, while Bitcoin, with its infrequent blocks, can exhibit much more uncertainty from month to month.”

Do you think decentralization is important in cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Cornell University.


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