Crypto Markets Continue to Rally Suggesting Bitcoin’s Bear Market is Behind Us: Week in Review Apr. 23

After a three-month bear market, it looks like the tide is finally turning for cryptoassets. The price of bitcoin has rallied for a second week in a row, by almost 10 percent week-on-week pushing towards the $9,000 mark. The prediction that cryptocurrencies would rally again after U.S. tax day is becoming true.

Positive statements regarding an “even-handed approach” for global cryptocurrency regulation by IMF chief Christine Lagarde helped to stabilize the markets while ambitious bitcoin price predictions by leading bitcoin experts helped to push the market to new recent highs.

Cryptocurrency investors Pantera Capital stated that now is a good time to re-enter the market and buy bitcoin while veteran bitcoin investor Tim Draper said that he believes that bitcoin will hit $250,000 by 2022.

The altcoin market has also experienced substantial gains with leading altcoin ether (ETH), ripple (XRP) and bitcoin cash (BCH) gaining 18 percent, 34 percent, and 50 percent respectively in the past seven days.

This week’s contributions have been provided by Cindy Huynh, Pratik Makadiya, Priyeshu Garg, Rahul Nambiampurath, Samantha Chang, and Shaurya Malwa.

Bitcoin Rush in Venezuela: Transaction Volume Reaches $1 Million per Day Milestone

On April 17, 2018, the bitcoin transaction volume reached a milestone of $1.006 million recorded in a single day according to the data released by VeneBloc. In what is a record for the crisis-stricken country, the attention of Venezuelans have increasingly turned to digital currencies due to the severely devalued local currency.

The bitcoin market allows Venezuelans access to forex which has become a rare commodity due to strict government forex regulations that have been in place since 2003. Capital controls have led to the emergence of black market forex platforms in the country. Everyone, from individuals to business entities have no choice but to patronize these black market forex operators regardless of the rates.

In Venezuela, there is limited access to the official forex market which means many people do not have any means of gauging what the actual forex rates are. They are left to depend on websites, WhatsApp groups, and cryptocurrency exchanges that list the bolivar-dollar rate. Many local businesses only accept payment in foreign currency due to the depreciated value of the Bolivar which continues to fall.

IMF Chief Urges Financial Institutions To Keep Updated With Cryptocurrencies

According to a blog post by the IMF chief, authorities around the world have been muddled about the standing of “real threats” and “needless fears” in the crypto-world. In a bid to rule this out, the International Monetary Fund is looking to be an enabler in changing this mindset.

The IMF is seeking a leading position in convincing the world’s central banks to keep pace with digital money and cryptocurrency in the global financial system.

Managing Director of IMF, Christine Lagarde, said that in order to decrease the risk factor while ensuring the process bears fruit, policymakers should work in unison, and with an open mind to construct a regulatory framework.

Bitcoin Is Wrongly Linked To Mass Money-Laundering, Says Canadian Chief Scientist

Bitcoin is wrongly blamed as a go-to vehicle for money-laundering, tax evasion, and criminal activity because the facts do not support these claims. That’s what Canadian cryptocurrency experts said after reviewing the evidence.

One reason for bitcoin’s image problem is the pseudonymity that cryptocurrency transactions afford because the ecosystem is decentralized and largely unregulated. But transactions are not completely anonymous, according to Quebec’s Chief Scientist Office.

Francis Pouliot, the CEO of blockchain startup Catallaxy, excitedly tweeted the findings on April 18, writing: “Quebec Government Chief Scientist declares that Bitcoin is not used for money-laundering unlike cash and has almost no impact on criminal activity.”

Telegram Using Bitcoin Grants to Circumvent Russia Ban

Pavel Durov, the founder of the popular messaging platform, Telegram has been using bitcoin payments to get around the platform’s ban by Russian authorities.

Writing on his vk.com social media account, he shared, “In the framework of the Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement in defense of digital freedoms and progress – I began to pay bitcoin grants to proxy and vpn administrators. During this year, I will be happy to donate millions of dollars of personal funds for these purposes. I urge everyone to join and participate – setting up proxy / vpn servers or their financing.”

Russian authorities recently blacklisted Telegram. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had requested the encryption keys to monitor group chats on the platform and had given Telegram an April 4 deadline to comply with the request. Telegram for their part declared that it is not possible to share encryption keys with a third-party due to the way the app is built and the fact that such a move goes against its user policy.

Barclays Pondering Potential Foray into Crypto Trading

The U.K.’s second-largest bank, Barclays, is considering a potential foray into the cryptocurrency market. The move comes after the bank released a report that compared cryptocurrency to an infectious disease.

The bank has been working behind the scenes for some months, sounding out investor sentiments to the proposed plan as stated by anonymous sources. While details of the plan haven’t been released yet, it is believed that the bank is planning to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk.

According to Bloomberg, the bank has done a preliminary feasibility study. Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for the bank, said that Barclays is committed to ensuring that its clients aren’t left out in the emerging cryptocurrency revolution. Smith said that the bank was continually monitoring the cryptocurrency market and having discussions with its clients as to the best way forward in terms entering the market.

Chilean Banks Close Accounts of Major Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Bank of Nova Scotia and state-owned Banco del Estado de Chile closed the accounts of cryptocurrency exchange platforms Buda, Orionx, and CryptoMarket in March 2018 with no explanation.

While the cryptocurrency exchanges have gone to an appeals court to challenge the bank’s actions, their bank accounts remain closed. Unfortunately, Chile’s financial institutions appear to be implementing a total and complete ban on the digital currency industry. “Hopefully the appeals court will see we’re right,” said Guillermo Torrealba, Buda’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

As reported by Bloomberg, South American cryptocurrency enthusiasts are worried that the Chilean government’s regulations and policies may soon follow the stricter cryptocurrency nations like China which have banned cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

Sale of Hardware Wallets Rise as Users Scramble to Safeguard their Crypto

Users have reportedly been buying more hardware wallets to store their cryptocurrency holdings than ever before, clearly indicating a preference for cold storage instead of exchange-provided wallets. Paris-based Ledger, which raised $75 million from its investors in a recent round of funding, announced January 23, 2018, that it had sold its millionth Nano S hardware wallet.

Trezor and Ledger are the two most popular cryptocurrency hardware wallet providers available on the market. Of the two, Trezor portrays itself as the first and yet, most secure hardware wallet in existence.

Pornhub Prefers Verge Over Litecoin but Signals Wider Acceptance of Crypto

An adult entertainment streaming website and one of the largest pornography sites Pornhub has now declared an affiliation with Verge (XVG), formerly known as Dogecoin Dark. It will now accept the coin as payment for all purchases and also for purchases on Pornhub Premium production channels such as Brazzers and Digital Playground.

Corey Price, Pornhub Vice president, expressed his views stating “it is not only exciting news for us and the adult industry, but also it’s exciting for the crypto space. We have been gazing at crypto, overall adoption is quite low, and we consider it has gained sufficient steam for us to come into the market.”

Pornhub has endorsed the partnership with a short video on YouTube which was shown along with a futuristic dialogue in the year 2077 amid a grandfather and his grandson in terms where Verge becomes the currency worldwide. Ahead of the promotional video on YouTube, Pornhub also confirms that the kick off will also be marked by events in Silicon Valley and New York City.

The founder of Verge, Justin Sunerok, supposed that Pornhub partnership will “signify huge market with a global reach that will clash with fiat currencies.” With litecoin as the payment cryptocurrency that first comes to mind for many crypto enthusiasts, Pornhub has different thoughts.

The post Crypto Markets Continue to Rally Suggesting Bitcoin’s Bear Market is Behind Us: Week in Review Apr. 23 appeared first on BTCMANAGER.

Source: BTC Manager

Hammering Home ASIC Resistance: Thoughts on the Monero Hard Fork

In this guest post, ‘B17Z’ and ‘thatmanontheright’ from the Vertcoin team outline their views on the Monero hard fork and the importance of ASIC resistance.

Recently, there has been a lot of attention on ASICs and ASIC resistance. With the advent of ASICs for the Ethereum network, some coins pledged to be ASIC resistant through and through. Bitmain is a monopoly that has a stranglehold on this space. They are not only the main supplier of ASICs but also the primary users of these specialized miners; this results in them having a concerning amount of hash power (estimated to be 39 percent of Bitcoin’s).

When it comes to consensus, no one or small few entities should control that much of the network. If any one entity controls 51 percent of the hashing power in the network, then it can rewrite the entire blockchain. Not only is that dangerous and can encourage malicious activity but even if you assume it’s not malicious, trust comes back into the equation and at that point and you may as well just use a bank.

Several coins are dedicated to ASIC resistance. Monero is one of the coins that has pledged ASIC resistance, and their recent hard fork showed it. Vertcoin is another and has also forked in the past to brick ASICs. Ethereum actually seems to focus on no-action in their approach toward ASICs. To understand why ASICs can be a threat to the network, we first have to go back to the basics.

Back to the Basics

It’s been roughly ten years since the financial crisis. It has also been approximately ten years since the world’s most disruptive technology popped into existence in the form of Bitcoin.

A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” – From the first sentence of the abstract of the original Bitcoin whitepaper

Satoshi Nakamoto released the whitepaper which was to become the foundation of Bitcoin; “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” This proposal for a digital currency set out to revolutionize the financial industry. Every transaction could be recorded in an immutable ledger, which could be verified by a wide variety of people. This mechanism became a sort of “distributed consensus on reality” where central authorities had no power over wealth or peer-to-peer transactions.

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.” – From the introduction of the original Bitcoin whitepaper.

The thought was that as long the work (mining) done came from a fair and distributed network, the integrity of the system would be maintained. However, if, for some reason, the majority of the network worked together to attack the network, the trust-less aspect of the system could be compromised.

The Problem with Centralization

The true power of a Proof-of-Work currency comes from its immutability and safety from control by centralized entities. If a network is truly decentralized, that means no government, company or Dr. Evil character can take control of the network.

This is the core of the financial freedom this system provides us with. This might seem trivial to you if you were born in a first-world country in the last 40 years. However, all it takes is a simple internet search to see how many third party, trusted entities behaved (not well) over the past 20 years alone.

As mentioned before, the integrity of a proof-of-work system can only be maintained if the work to verify the chain is performed by a distributed network. The reason Vertcoin and Monero focus on an anti-ASIC strategy is that ASICs currently are a great threat to all Proof-of-Work networks. We can clearly notice one central supplier taking a majority stake in every network it can. This is a danger to the network itself because it centralizes the network, which in turn opens up the network for control by centralized entities.

The problem is not that Bitmain is necessarily an evil company (although if they aren’t, the alternative is not much brighter). The problem is that in a centralized network, you have to trust Bitmain and you have to trust the government under which Bitmain operates. This is definitely not what was envisioned and should not be the goal of any cryptocurrency.

Back Up: Bitmain, ASICs?

What is an ASIC?

ASIC stands for Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. This is a circuit that is customized and intended for one specific usage. In the case of cryptocurrencies, it is usually a miner made for a specific coin. It is unlike a Computer’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) which is a type of FPGA (Field programmable gate array) intended for general consumer usage (think image processing, calculations, machine learning, etc.).

As it currently stands, Bitmain (ASIC miner-manufacturer) has a monopoly over the market (some statistics perhaps?) to the tune where they can wreak havoc by controlling a cryptocurrency’s network with their machines.

What is Bitmain?

Bitmain is a privately owned company founded by Jihan Wu in 2013 headquartered in Beijing. The purpose of creating Bitmain was to help develop an ASIC chip that would mine Bitcoin.

So, What’s the Problem?

As mentioned above, the trust factor. Bitmain has full monopoly over ASIC based mining. A huge percentage of mining occurs in China or is owned by Chinese institutions. Bitmain not only is the main supplier of ASICs, but they also own and operate two of the world’s largest Bitcoin mining operations that account for some 38.9 percent of the entire network’s hashing power.

Satoshi created Bitcoin as a means to not have to rely on central points of failure such as banks and financial institutions. Bitmain monopolizing the ASIC market is a central point of failure. Things such as double spending and payment censorship would be possible if a mining pool(s) takes over majority hashrate.

The Bar of Entry

The point of a Proof-of-Work system is to have work distributed throughout the network. Everyone on the network should have a “vote” in consensus; this is what keeps a system decentralized.

However, it’s unprofitable to mine bitcoin (or any ASIC coin) with just a GPU. One would have to compete with an entity like Bitmain, which as mentioned, owns and operates two of world’s largest Bitcoin mining operations. To mine bitcoin with intentions of profit, which uses the SHA-256 hash function, you’d need to buy the Antminer S9 which costs around $1,800 for one. You’d likely have to buy a couple of them.

ASIC Resistance

What is Monero?

Monero is a privacy-centric coin that used to use the CryptoNight hash function.

Monero recently raised heads in the entire cryptocurrency industry. Bitmain announced their Antminer X3 that would be able to mine the CryptoNight algorithm, primarily used by Monero. It costs about $2,000. However, Monero developers released their Lithium Luna update that squashed the effectiveness of X3 miner. The algorithm is now CryptNightV7. In order to stay ahead of the game against ASICs, Monero releases updates to their algorithm on a bi-annual basis.

Ricardo “fluffypony” Spagni has said, “I will do everything in my power to help the community prevent the proliferation of centralization-inducing ASICs on the Monero network.”

Interestingly, Monero is supposed to be an ASIC resistant currency, and still, an ASIC was created for the network.

The truth is that there is no such thing as an ASIC-proof algorithm. You can make it less profitable to mine on a specific algorithm like Monero or Vertcoin did, but ASIC manufacturers can and will still develop ASICs for that algorithm. This is why ASIC resistance requires a form of social contract to fork when an ASIC is threatening the decentralized nature of the network. But the story isn’t over for Bitmain and Monero. Bitmain won’t let its Antminer X3 become a paperweight.

MONERO-CLASSIC!

Yes, that’s right, we now have Monero-Classic. And now we are getting the narrative that Monero-Classic is the true vision of Monero. This sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it? But that’s not the only fork; from that Lithium Luna update came four chains; Monero Zero, Monero Original Monero Classic, and Monero-Classic. Yes, the latter two are two different coins apparently.

After Monero’s fork against ASICs, we witnessed a massive drop in hashrate. Hashrate plummeted from 1 GH/s to 157 MH/s; this clearly indicates that ASICs were actually mining on the XMR network.

This kind of drop may raise concerns regarding the security of the network.

If we look at it from a network security perspective, if there would have been malicious actors on the network, the network would indeed get much less secure with a big drop in hashrate. However, since we witnessed such a decline because of the fork, we can assume ASICs were in play. This means that the network is now likely to be more secure than ever because of the greater decentralization of mining operations.

Improved network security is not the only immediate benefit from the fork. Without ASICs on the network, anyone with a decent computer can mine Monero and still turn a profit with it. This increased profitability is a pleasant surprise for honest GPU miners.

What About Ethereum?

The ASIC news didn’t stop there. In fact, it turned out ASICs were recently developed for Ethereum as well. Some developers and much of the community stated their desires to fork Ethereum and brick the ASICs, but Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin didn’t agree.

“Getting everybody to upgrade is likely to be fairly chaotic and detract from more important things. So, at this point, I personally lean quite significantly towards no action.” – Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik said he was not in favor of a hard fork, as he wants to put more energy toward turning Ethereum to Proof of Stake. Ethereum’s Proof of Stake proposal goes by the name of Casper.

While Casper definitely makes ASICs useless, it does not necessarily make the network safer or more decentralized. One of the strong points of proof of work cryptocurrencies is that everyone can have the same potential power to strengthen the network and to participate in consensus. You can turn on your PC right now and participate, no permission needed.

However, Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake solution requires you to stake somewhere around 1,000 ETH in order to make it profitable. This is an amount of money that is inaccessible to most people. This creates the danger of making the Ethereum network incredibly centralized; yes even with staking pools because solo stakers would likely get the lion’s share of the rewards. This argument can be made in the Proof-of-Work space with Bitcoin, but this is why ASIC resistance is of the utmost importance.

“The issue is that the only way to gather enough Ethereum to participate in consensus is by purchasing it from someone else, which requires permission. Secondly, these holders who I would purchase from do not really have an incentive for selling their fortune to me to begin with.” – CryptoPlankton, Vertcoin Developer

Vertcoin

Vertcoin has been committed to its fight against ASICs. Vertcoin has actually bricked ASICs before; on December 13, 2014, Vertcoin forked from Scrypt-Adaptive-N proof of work function to Lyra2RE to defend against Scrypt ASICs.

Lead Developer James Lovejoy has been adamant about keeping Vertcoin decentralized.

80 percent of the bitcoin mining occurs in China. So, that isn’t very decentralized. What if China really did ban Bitcoin mining and they just turned the power off, which they totally have the power to do? 80 percent of Bitcoin’s hashrate would disappear overnight, which would be pretty catastrophic. With Vertcoin, that would be pretty hard to do because you would be going into people’s homes and telling them to turn their computer off.” – James Lovejoy, Vertcoin Lead Developer

The key difference is between permissioned and permissionless systems. In my mind, the way the system is constructed now, ASICs in a system effectively makes it permissioned because you need to be friends with Bitmain in order to get the latest hardware so you can actually be a meaningful participant in consensus. Whereas with GPUs, they are general and they are everywhere, and they have been sold for years, and they are in every computer store. My propensity to contribute to a system in a consensus fashion is not limited by anyone else…” – James Lovejoy, Vertcoin Lead Developer

Vertcoin also has backup algorithms in place in case the current algorithm, Lyra2REv2, gets crowded by ASICs.

Consensus Should Be Decentralized

When consensus is on the line, no quarter should be taken. This isn’t some piece of hardware to streamline some of your computer processes; this is about consensus. Consensus is the lifeblood of a decentralized currency. The solution to keeping decentralization in the front seat is to commit to ASIC resistance and fair mining distributed amongst everyone in the network. When consensus is put in the hands of a centralized entity, we’ve essentially recreated the banking system; this is what Satoshi Nakamoto sought to fight against.

 

This article is a collaboration between B17Z and thatmanontheright. Special thanks to the Vertcoin Marketing and Development  Teams.

The post Hammering Home ASIC Resistance: Thoughts on the Monero Hard Fork appeared first on BTCMANAGER.

Source: BTC Manager

Investors Sue Another Crypto-Related Firm for ‘Disguising its ICO’

Xunlei, a China-based multinational firm has been dragged to Court by investors who feel they were deceived by the firm to invest in its ICO project in 2017.

Initial Coin Offering or Puff of Smoke?

The CEO of Xunlei, Chen Lei has strongly refuted accusations leveled against his firm claiming that they misled investors in a bid to organize a legal ICO project in China. According to the South China Morning Post, Xunlei operates a cloud-based platform for sharing digital content.

While most ICO projects require contributors to donate fiat or established cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether in exchange for their tokens, participants in the Xunlei ICO are only obligated to share their idle internet bandwidth with the project and get rewarded with “Linktoken.”

The CEO firmly believes that the distribution of Xunlei’s Linktoken is not an ICO as the company did not raise any funds through the issuance of the token and investors cannot trade Linktoken for profit. Lei declared:

“By making a public offering, really you need to use it to raise money. We have never used a coin to raise any money at all, that’s never our intention.”

The Crypto Bug and Lawsuit

Xunlei latched onto the blockchain bandwagon back in 2017, by launching the above mentioned digital asset. In the spirit of crypto, the distribution of Linktoken boosted the company’s stocks by nearly 500 percent in November.

Notably, the firm has experienced a sharp decline in its share price, crashing to a meager $10 in early April 2018.

Investors who purchased the company’s shares when it was red hot from October 2017 to January 2018 have accused Xunlei of issuing its token through a “disguised ICO.” Also, they alleged that the China-based tech firm made false and misleading statements about the business.

Investors claimed that they compulsorily purchased hardware from Xunlei to share their bandwidth and claim the Linktoken. However, Lei has denied all the allegations saying that:

“We are a small capital company, so our stock price does fluctuate, but I don’t think there’s any basis for the lawsuit because we’re operating in China and it is the Chinese law and regulations that we need to observe. The definition of an ICO has to be interpreted in the Chinese market.”

The founders of Xunlei have hinted that they are on the verge of hiring lawyers to defend the firm.

“ICOs are terrible, and a bad name to blockchain technology. Governments should clamp down on these practices – a crackdown is the only way blockchain can rebuild its reputation,” Lei declared, criticizing initial coin offerings by calling for more stringent laws to crush the budding industry.

Mr. Lei also reiterated that: “We have been very straight on our business practices – we do not sell tokens.”

China now frowns on all thing cryptos and ICOs. In 2017, the nation banned all forms of initial coin offerings and virtual currencies, including bitcoin.

The post Investors Sue Another Crypto-Related Firm for ‘Disguising its ICO’ appeared first on BTCMANAGER.

Source: BTC Manager

Swiss Blockchain SophiaTX Rolls out Expansion to Asia by Joining Forces with Cheng & Co

Venaco Group, a parent company of SophiaTX / Equidato Technologies AG, and Cheng & Co, a leading South East Asian accounting and outsourcing services organization, are pleased to announce their strategic partnership for B2B business and IT projects.


Both parties mutually agreed to adopt SophiaTX, the enterprise blockchain platform which is bringing innovation to industries by expanding applications like ERP, CRM, and others, to explore blockchain technology further to accelerate business growth and opportunities.

Under the agreement, Venaco Group will collaborate with Cheng & Co to provide strategic business consulting and transformation services to Cheng & Co in order to enhance and expand services provided to its regional clientele.

Marian Hires, Managing Partner of Venaco Group and Co-founder of Equidato Technologies AG, said:

We’re excited to team up with Cheng & Co as our Asia partner on IT consulting and innovation technology as we believe it will extend our presence and open new doors to opportunities in the market.

Mr. Hires added:

We share a common goal to address the rapidly changing business and operations needs of our B2B customers. By combining Cheng & Co’s accounting and outsourcing expertise with our skills and industry know-how in ERP, we enable ourselves to deliver a fully-fledged and comprehensive service to customers in this space.

Venaco Group provides independent SAP advisory, implementation, and innovation services globally. It has proven capabilities for complex SAP programs in a variety of assignments including global transformations and roll-outs, lean implementations, recovery and turnaround situations, mergers, restructurings, carve-outs, lean operations and support.

With key integrations established, it is crucial for the company’s executive team to have personnel and resources who could focus specifically on channel growth. The team engaged Cheng & Co to help expand partner engagement, primarily in the SAP Business One and SAP HANA ERP channel.

Tom Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Cheng & Co., said:

Digital transformation is promising to deliver value to enterprises of all sizes. As businesses expand and grow, it is imperative for businesses to evolve and adapt to technology advances in order to keep pace with the changing global business landscape.

Wong added:

We have found a great partner in Venaco Group and we believe that by integrating our solutions with its innovative technology, we can create an even more compelling end-to-end value proposition for our clients.

Both companies look forward to this mutually beneficial partnership and the growth it will create. 

About SophiaTX

SophiaTX is a blockchain platform and marketplace tailored for extending traditional applications like ERP, CRM and many others with robust collaborative and decentralized blockchain capabilities. It is Open Source and contains integration APIs to SAP and other enterprise applications. It is built and delivered by Swiss-based Equidato Technologies AG.

Telegram channel

Twitter channel

About Cheng & Co

Cheng & Co is one of Malaysia’s largest home-grown accounting firm. Following the acquisition of more than twenty local firms since 1997, Cheng & Co now has 11 offices across the country with more than 300 people in the firm serving more than 5000 companies. Cheng & Co provides a One-Stop solution to SMEs with services that include Audit, Tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST) advisory, Management Consultancy, Corporate Advisory (IPO and M&A), Internal Audit and Corporate recovery and insolvency.

Contact:

Olena Yanishevska,
PR Manager, SophiaTX
Tel: +421 948 495 836
+421 944 121 102
olena.yanishevska@sophiatx.com
https://www.sophiatx.com


Images courtesy of SophiaTX

The post Swiss Blockchain SophiaTX Rolls out Expansion to Asia by Joining Forces with Cheng & Co appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Bitcoininst

Half of the ICO Money in Russia Went to Pyramids

Half of the ICO Money in Russia Went to Pyramids

Russian ICOs attracted a total of $300 million last year but half of the funds went to financial pyramids, according to the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain. The organization that represents the crypto community in the country is now working on an ICO standard to help investors distinguish real projects from fraudulent schemes. Russian ICOs account for 10% of global volume.

Also read: Russia’s Supreme Court Overturns Decision to Block Bitcoin Website

Russia Expects Up To $1.5 Billion from Coin Offerings

At least $150 million dollars raised by Russian ICOs in 2017 were collected by pyramids, RACIB revealed, while announcing a plan to fight financial fraud in token sales. The initial coin offerings with Russian participation account for 10% of the global market, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. The association expects Russian projects to attract $1-1.5 billion USD in 2018.

This is some serious money and the Russian crypto community believes the country should take advantage of it. Two major factors can influence negatively these investments and RACIB is actively working on both fronts. Excessive regulation may force Russian companies to seek jurisdictions with a more favorable climate for crypto business. The association already warned about that in a report addressed to President Putin. RACIB is also preparing an “ICO standard” to help investors distinguish real ICOs from fraudulent schemes.

Half of the ICO Money in Russia Went to Pyramids

A startup conducting a coin offering will be judged by several criteria, including the credibility of its team members, Izvestia reported. RACIB will verify if the company has a website with information about previous projects. The association will check for a white paper and a roadmap for the ICO. Startups will be expected to announce a minimum rate of return of the investments.

The ICO standard is part of efforts to introduce a level of self-regulation and will not be included in the upcoming legislation. Two bills regulating the crypto sector have been filed in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. The draft law “On digital financial assets” legalizes various crypto activities, including initial coin offerings. Another bill aims to amend the civil code in order to regulate the use of “digital money” in payments and protect investors’ rights and interests.

Authorities Agree, Some Self-Regulation Is Necessary

The chairman of the parliamentary Financial Market Committee, Anatoliy Aksakov, shares the view that the ICO sector should regulate itself to a certain extent. The proposed legislation covers token sales only in general terms, he noted. The details can be introduced through self-regulation, the lawmaker added.

Some Russian experts believe that only “qualified investors” should have access to initial coin offerings. “Citizens can lose money not only because a project might be fraudulent, but also because they don’t understand cryptocurrencies very well,” says Teimuraz Vashakmadze from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Investments in tokens can be highly risky, he warns.

Half of the ICO Money in Russia Went to PyramidsClear and transparent self-regulation by market participants will help minimize fraud in this sector thinks Igor Nikolaev, Director of the Institute of Strategic Analysis at FBK Grant Thornton. However, he is unsure if that will help the market at all. Nikolaev says that the potential of digital currencies is limited due to the reluctance of central banks to recognize them as means of payment.

The State Duma has already accepted the bill “On digital financial assets”, which was also reviewed by the Cabinet of Ministers. This draft, along with the amendments regulating the use of cryptocurrencies, should be adopted by early summer, probably in time for the football World Cup. Russia is expecting $2 billion dollars from fans visiting the country. Part of the money is likely to come in the form of crypto payments.

Do you think self-regulation is an appropriate mechanism to fight financial fraud associated with ICOs? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Half of the ICO Money in Russia Went to Pyramids appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: Bitcoinnews.com

Bitcoin Private (BTCP) Surges Past ZCash — Did You Claim Yours?

If you even passively follow the cryptocurrency market, you’ve probably taken notice of Bitcoin Private – a lovechild of sorts hard-forked from both Bitcoin (BTC) and ZClassic (ZCL) which has been on an absolute tear as of late. What you may not realize, however, is that you might be entitled to share in the spoils.


Silent Assassin

In case you didn’t realize, Bitcoin Private (BTCP) has been killing it lately.

In early March, Bitcoinist predicted that BTCP should easily approach the highest market cap of any fork of BTC, having combined the privacy features of ZClassic with the Bitcoin branding and blockchain — and that’s exactly what has transpired.

At press time, Bitcoin Private has successfully made its way up to the 24th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, having climbed from trading just under $14.50 to roughly $55 at the time of this writing — higher than it’s privacy-centric grandfather ZCash (ZEC). The only Bitcoin hard forks currently ahead of Bitcoin Private are Bitcoin Gold (BTG, 22nd) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH, 4th).

Bitcoin Private - BTCP

Demand for the hard-forked coin has been driven largely by its community-driven approach, transparency, two-way replay protection, lack of pre-mine, lack of founders rewards, zk-snarks privacy technology, and fast transaction speeds.

Investors are also likely excited by the fact that the coin has yet to make its way onto any major exchanges, currently only trading on Trade Satoshi, Nanex, Exrates, TradeOgre, Octaex, and BarterDEX. Should BTCP hit the likes of Binance or Bittrex, the value of the coin would almost certainly skyrocket.

Did You Get Yours?

Because Bitcoin Private (BTCP) was hard-forked from Bitcoin and ZClassic, anyone holding either cryptocurrency at the time of the fork is entitled to their fair share of BTCP. As explained by BTCP’s official website:

When the hard fork occured [sic], a snapshot of all existing ZCL and BTC holdings occured [sic]. Anyone holding ZCL or BTC in a wallet or supported exchange has been credited Bitcoin Private (BTCP) at a 1:1 ratio. For example, if you held 15.4 ZCL and 0.1 BTC, you receive 15.5 BTCP.

The snapshot took place on February 28, 2018, at block heights 511346 for BTC and 272991 for ZCL. If you had either digital asset at that time, you should see about getting yours.

Unfortunately, support for BTCP came only from a relatively small number of sources — meaning you can only currently expect to receive your BTCP if you held your own private keys for Bitcoin and/or ZClassic wallets.

Assuming you did hold the private keys to your wallet, said keys can be imported into Coinomi, Electrum BTCP, and BTCP Full Node Wallet — but make sure you always follow the included instructions, lest you risk losing your previous Bitcoin (or not so precious ZClassic) in the process.

Bittrex notably does not support the BTCP market. However, the exchange “will offer ZClassic holders on Bittrex partial support through claiming and withdrawing BTCP,” noting:

Bittrex will make all reasonable attempts to credit our ZCL users BTCP but until we have a fully supported wallet, we can not guarantee tokens.

Most other major exchanges, such as Binance, have remained largely quiet on their plans to either support or not support BTCP — which is why it’s always best to store your digital assets in locations where you own the private keys.

What do you think about Bitcoin Private? Were you able to claim your coins after the hard fork? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoin Private

The post Bitcoin Private (BTCP) Surges Past ZCash — Did You Claim Yours? appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Bitcoininst

As Blockchain Becomes a Game Changer for Influencer Marketing, AdTech Platforms Wants to Lead the Way

For many, the term “blockchain” may seem synonymous with bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general. It’s a logical connection to make, but blockchain technology is so much more than that. As a powerful distributed ledger technology, blockchain has the potential to positively transform many existing lines of business.


One of the areas set to benefit the most from the burgeoning technology is advertising and marketing, especially in the form of influencer marketing. According to Werner Geyser, founder of Influence Marketing Hub:

Influencer marketing provides a huge opportunity for brands to deliver their messages to a broader audience. Blockchain technology in turn provides much needed regulation for transactions between brands and influencers, ensures transparency and ultimately provides security for everyone involved.

Having just concluded their popular ICO, with an impressive 13,946 ETH (approximately USD $6.5 million) of SMT tokens sold, SocialMedia.Market (SM.M) aims to be the vanguard company that brings blockchain’s potential to mainstream influencer marketing endeavors. The idea for the company came about in late 2016 when CEO and founder Dmitry Shyshov set about to find a way to address the widespread use of ad blockers online.

During his research, he noted the opportunities available in the influencer marketing industry. Shyshov himself is something of an influencer. He was a founder of top private game retailer R.Games, as well as Nontita, the company behind the CSGO.CASH marketplace for virtual items, so he had a sense of the tools needed by all the players.

“Influencers” are people with a wide following on social networks, in the blogosphere, and other Internet media, who already communicate directly with a loyal audience. They often recommend products and services that they like, and their audiences usually respond positively, often searching out and purchasing the same products and services. It’s that positive response that marketers are after. Endorsements from the right influencers can pay huge dividends for a brand, but the trick for marketers and advertisers is finding the right influencers for their products and services.

Influencer Marketing

Most people would likely agree with Shyshov, who argues that digital advertising today is highly intrusive:

We wanted to create a solution for both brands and influencers who aren’t interested in irritating their audiences. […] Our aim is to provide an automated space that allows marketers to search for relevant influencers and then create and implement effective advertising campaigns. We also plan to supply the tools to effectively analyze their efforts, all in one space. I believe we can deliver on that for our users.

It’s been estimated that nearly three billion people around the world use social networks daily. That’s about 40% of the global population. Certainly, as social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter continue to hold sway with audiences, influencer marketing is proving to be one of the most powerful tools a marketer can employ to reach their target audiences. Influencer marketing is especially effective with “digital natives,” aka Generation Z and the Millennials (ages 16-34), who tend to discover new products and brands through social media and vlogs.

In their 2017 Marketer Survey, influencer marketing data company Activate reports that 67% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next year. Meanwhile, influencer marketing educator Shane Barker claims that well over half (69%) of marketers who use influencer marketing consider it effective, with 73% adding that it helps in lead generation and another 93% noting that it boosts brand awareness. It’s expected this trend will only continue to grow.

Influencer marketing could be an easy solution for modern advertising, but there’s still a number of hurdles facing digital marketers today, not the least of which is the complicated and often less than transparent payment system: the bulky supply chain can lead to price instability, serious pricing inflation, and non-payments, often because a client is unsatisfied with the influencer’s work product. This isn’t necessarily always the content creator’s fault, as the tasks and expectations may change over time.

This is where a platform like SM.M comes in. The app employs open and transparent smart contracts that set forth the terms of and prices for services. Since blockchain data is stored in multiple locations, the information can be distributed but not altered, making it completely public and quickly verifiable. An app like SM.M facilitates the fair exchange of value between all of the parties.

Using this system, contract fees can be held in escrow until the obligations established in the smart contract are met. Any subsequent changes to the obligations will be automatically added to the smart contract. Once the project is complete, the funds are paid, thereby securing the interests of both parties. SM.M even envisages a decentralized dispute resolution component, where platform users vote to resolve disputes on controversial cases.

Professional Social Media: The Next Big Space for Disruption?

Another project that offers a viable solution to many of the problems facing the market is Native Video Box (NVB). The platform is a decentralized video distribution system that places licensed video content on the publishing websites, driving massive additional viewership to content creators. NVB’s widget is inserted into a website, and the company’s AI technology proceeds to select the perfectly relevant content for the venue. Rather than viewing the resulting content as an intrusive annoyance, the site visitors now perceive videos as native to the site.

Essentially, NVB cuts out the congested ad supply chain, which allows the company to share up to 75% of ad-generated revenues with content producers and distributors, with 60% going to the publisher, 15% to the copyright owner, and 25% retained by the platform. The project founders believe that NVB’s ability to directly share ad revenues with those who truly create and distribute content will attract the best creators and top websites to the ecosystem.

Blockchain technology can also reduce the time required to launch marketing campaigns, help eliminate current difficulties in measuring their effectiveness and tackle the problem of scammers and fraud, which many marketers cite as the most pressing problems in the industry today. It will do so by bringing influencers, advertisers, and marketers together under one roof, providing tracking and analytical tools, and implementing know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. SM.M plans to bring together an unlimited number of bloggers from all major social networks, brands, and businesses of any size on its competitive blockchain platform. All pricing will be transparent, and all participants treated equally.

By and large, NVB shares this approach but it also views blockchain as a vital financial solution, which, on one hand, gives advertising outlets a rock-solid assurance that they will be paid the agreed amount of compensation, and, on the other hand, streamlines payments on the global marketplace, where each county has its own set of challenges and peculiarities. This is where their unique internal currency, NVB token, which is available for purchase until the end of April, will be instrumental in giving a peace of mind to influencers and venues alike.

SM.M advisor, Chafik Abdellaoui, says:

Blockchain is the bridge connecting influencers and their fans. Direct communication, fairness, and transparency – this is the true communication.

His enthusiasm for the technology is shared by his fellow advisory board members and well-known players in the marketing, AdTech, and blockchain spheres, including Keith Teare, Andrew Playford, Gabriel Zanko, Peter Zhalov, Alex Yastremski, Tatsunari Ono, and Slavik Nenaydokh.

According to Ono:

The social media audience in Japan alone is huge, which is why I was attracted to this project. SocialMedia.Market believes that blockchain technology can solve the problems influencer marketing faces, and I agree with them. That’s why I’ve given them my support and will be an early adopter of the platform.

Indeed, the company’s recently concluded ICO enjoyed great popularity in Asian markets, where just over 75% of their tokens were sold. The SMT token was particularly popular in Japan, where over 70% of the tokens were purchased. SM.M worked with ICOBox, a SaaS solution for companies who wish to run their own ICOs, and were advised by Daria Generalova and Dima Zaitsev. Generalova also specializes in Asian cryptocurrency markets and played a vital role in this area on the advisory board.

The next steps for SocialMedia.Market have already begun with token distribution underway, and the launch of their full product set for later this fall. They’ve also been busy pursuing strategic partnerships on research and development with other blockchain companies. With this goal in mind, the SM.M team views Native Video Box as a natural partner – the two companies are working in adjacent markets, offering mutually complementing solutions that were developed from slightly different angles. Together, they are striving to transform the rapidly growing social media marketing and video advertising industries.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock

The post As Blockchain Becomes a Game Changer for Influencer Marketing, AdTech Platforms Wants to Lead the Way appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Bitcoininst

Bitcoin Miners Unaffected by Price Decline — Hashrates Spiked Exponentially

Bitcoin Miners Unaffected by Price Decline — Hashrates Spiked Exponentially

Despite the multitude of headlines declaring that bitcoin mining was becoming unprofitable over the last four months, the hashrate between both Bitcoin Core (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) networks has exploded. At the moment both SHA-256 proof-of-work (POW) powered protocols have been maintaining more than 35 exahash per second, becoming one of the most powerful computational systems in the world.

Also read: Play Music on Jukebox.cash – a Bitcoin Cash Infused Global Playlist

BTC Mining Hashrate Unphazed by ‘Crypto Winter’

There has been a massive decline in fiat value for nearly all cryptocurrencies represented within the digital asset universe during the 2018 ‘Crypto Winter.’ During this time, researchers and pundits have declared that when BTC/USD prices dipped below $8K, mining was allegedly unprofitable in some regions. However, as far as blockchain data is concerned mining has grown exponentially even during the last four months when BTC prices found new lows. This year pools such as BTC.com, Antpool, Slush, and Viabtc have increased their hashrates considerably. A factor possibly due to new semiconductors and innovations in mining technology.   

Today the BTC global hashrate is 30 exahash per second. Over the last four months even when the price declined hashrate increased.

Over the last seven days, BTC miners have held a fairly consistent 30 exahash per second. From December 2017 up until April 2018, the BTC chain’s hashrate has increased significantly. According to estimates, Chinese mining pools make up most of the BTC hashrate (80%) as eight of the top ten pools are based in China.

Chinese mining pools make up more than 80 percent of the BTC global hashrate.

The top five pools command close to 75 percent of the global BTC hashrate with BTC.com taking the cream of the crop. BTC.com now captures 28.9 percent of the BTC hashrate today, with Antpool’s 15.2 percent following behind. There are a total of seventeen known mining pools pointing their resources at the BTC chain and one unknown operation controls 10 percent of the network.

Bitcoin Cash Hashrate Explodes

The Bitcoin Cash network has also increased its hashrate significantly as well, as BCH miners are now processing between 3.6-5 exahash per second. Just a few months ago the BCH hashrate was between 0.5-1 exahash per second. At the time of writing due to the 60 percent bitcoin cash price increase, it is 1.7 percent more profitable to mine BCH than to mine on the BTC chain. Presently the Bitcoin Cash Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm (DAA) is operating at 14.8 percent of BTC’s difficulty. March and the month of April were the biggest hashrate spikes for BCH since the DAA was fixed last November.

A side-by-side chart of BTC and BCH hashrates. BCH is represented in purple while the orange trendline is BTC.

BCH has roughly thirteen known mining pools and 2-3 unknown mining operations pointing their resources at the chain. The biggest BCH mining pools over the last seven days include BTC.top, Viabtc, BTC.com, Antpool, and Bitcoin.com. Over the last week, the 2-3 unknown mining pools have captured 31 percent of the BCH network hashrate. Roughly 60 percent of the BCH global hashrate stems from China, as bitcoin cash has a more diversified spectrum of countries within its hashrate distribution.

Bitcoin Cash mining pool hashrate distribution over the last seven days and 24-hours.

The Entire Cryptocurrency Ecosystem Has Seen Hashrates Spike

Overall there is a lot of computational power directed at both of these two networks, and they eclipse the entire landscape of 1500+ other digital asset hashrates. Although the processing power for those cryptocurrencies has increased as well over the last four months. Since January 2018 until now, the Ethereum network’s hashrate has grown immensely during the ‘Crypto Winter.’

Nearly every PoW cryptocurrency’s hashrate has spiked over the past four months.

The same thing for the Litecoin network, as its hashrate has exploded during its 4-month price downswing. This trend has taken place across nearly every single cryptocurrency that uses a POW-type of consensus algorithm. Most all of the cryptocurrency hashrates worldwide have spiked considerably this past January through April 23, 2018. It’s safe to say all these theories of miners shutting down machines soon, and ‘losing their shirts’ is pretty far fetched.

What do you think about the hashrate explosion between BTC and BCH and all the other currencies over the last four months? Let us know your thoughts about this subject in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Fork.lol, BTC.com, Blockchain.info, Coin Dance, and ETHscan.io.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Bitcoin Miners Unaffected by Price Decline — Hashrates Spiked Exponentially appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: Bitcoinnews.com

Malta’s Prime Minister: Cryptocurrencies Are ‘Inevitable Future of Money’

While countries around the world argue and dither over how to effectively control, manage, or ban cryptocurrencies, the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is looking to become the blockchain capital of the world.


Valour and Firmness (and Crypto)

When it comes to effective cryptocurrency regulation and encouragement, Malta is years ahead of (most of) the competition.

As noted by Bloomberg, the island nation’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has claimed that cryptocurrencies are “the inevitable future of money” and will form the future global economy’s foundation.

However, Maltese officials also understand that cryptocurrency carries benefits in the near-term, with Binance planning to “eventually hire up to 20o people” during its relocation from Hong Kong.

Malta has made itself an attractive destination for cryptocurrency exchanges and companies with its fair and defined rules and regulations, which the government claims “will offer legal certainty in a space that is currently unregulated.” On top of that, the archipelago offers an enticing tax rate of as little as 5 percent for international companies.

Fight for First

The island is currently positioning itself in direct competition to major cryptocurrency hubs Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong — all of which house a plethora of major exchanges.

Japan is arguably in the lead currently, with pro-cryptocurrency regulation aimed at eradicating theft and fraud while protecting consumers and encouraging development. South Korea and Hong Kong had dithered, on the other hand, leaving the door open for Malta to assert its dominance.

Malta also faces competition from one of its European counterparts: Switzerland. The low-tax country already plans on regulating initial coin offerings (ICOs) and has developed what many in the cryptocurrency sphere call “crypto valley.”

Swiss Based

The announcement that Binance — one of the largest exchanges in the world — plans to move to the island of Malta has sent ripples throughout the cryptocurrency market, as did the announcement of similar plans from rival exchange OKEX, German blockchain firm Neufund, and digital-currency-focused gaming platform The Abyss.

What’s more, Tron-founder Justin Sun has gone on record to claim that he is “seriously considering” moving to Malta. Ian Gauci, Malta-based partner at GTG Advocates, told Bloomberg:

We anticipate that more outfits will be looking at Malta, and the interest will be on a wider spectrum and not exclusively cryptos.

Look for Malta to continue making news in the blockchain space when it hosts the Malta Blockchain Summit 2018 in the beginning of November.

What do you think of Malta’s push to become the blockchain capital of the world? Is your country crypto-friendly? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives

The post Malta’s Prime Minister: Cryptocurrencies Are ‘Inevitable Future of Money’ appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Bitcoininst

The Biggest ICO Event Heading to Cyprus – Featuring a Stellar Line Up of Speakers and the First Ever ICO Battle with a Live Prize

The iCoin summit which will host the world’s first ever ICO battle with a live investment is heading to Cyprus with a line-up of more than 30 well-known speakers, 16 blockchain start-ups, and a $250,000 grand prize.


This unique event is sponsored by one of the biggest companies in the ICO world, 7Marketz and will take place at Atlantica Oasis hotel on the 9th and 10th of May 2018.

Rapidly growing demand for blockchain calls for an event of this caliber to bring the crypto community together in a rare learning and networking opportunity hosted by one of the world’s most active trading hubs, Limassol. Since its announcement, the iCoin Summit has tracked attention from prominent industry names and partnered with leading blockchain publishers like CoinMarketCap, CoinTelegraph, ICOwatchlist, and Webrazzi.

Attendees will get insights into the blockchain market through speeches and panel discussion on a vast variety of subjects from the top minds in the industry like Benjamin Biliski from NAGA Group who was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 and the most on demand advisor, Yagub Rahimov who has been a blockchain visionary since the start of the crypto movement in 2009.

What sets this summit even further apart is the ICO battle which adds an element of interaction as attendees get to take part in voting for the next ICO to be funded with up to $250,000 in direct investments. Start-ups will showcase their benefits in four different categories and battle for the grand prize through four different rounds.

Among criticism on ICO investing, iCoin Summit will instill trust in the industry by bringing big names for open and honest discussions on all aspects of crypto investments. Details on the event are available on the official website. Hundreds of participants are already signed up to attend. Slots for attendees and companies to join are still available.

For more information and registration, visit www.icoinsummit.com.


Images courtesy of iCoin Summit

The post The Biggest ICO Event Heading to Cyprus – Featuring a Stellar Line Up of Speakers and the First Ever ICO Battle with a Live Prize appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Bitcoininst