Congressman of Venezuela: “Police kidnaps Bitcoin miners” (Consensus 2019)

Venezuela has been in the spotlight a lot recently. It’s not often that both the mainstream media and the crypto media pay an equal amount of attention to a topic. The country is undergoing a major political crisis with two men claiming to be its legitimate presidents… Meanwhile, Venezuela’s inhabitants have had to deal with a 10-million percent annual inflation, many turning to cryptocurrency as the solution.

Venezuela – Kidnappings, corruption, blockchain identity

I had a chance to catch up with Armando Armas, a member of Venezuelan National Assembly and a strong supporter of Juan Guaidó. He believes that blockchain identity and the blockchain-based voting system could solve some of the problems inherent to the Venezuelan political system. When I asked Mr. Armas about the petro, he immediately replied that “it’s not a cryptocurrency, it’s a scam, it’s something that Maduro was trying to create to avoid sanctions”.

The current government is supportive of Bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency in general, but for its own reasons – it’s not uncommon for the miners or their families to be kidnapped by the police, to be released only in exchange for all their bitcoins. In addition, the businesses which accept cryptocurrency often become the targets of the police or military racketeering.

What do you think about Juan Guaidó?

He is great. He is young, he is brave, democratic, technology driven. He has a development plan for the country.

If your government comes to power, what kind of attitude you are going to have towards cryptocurrency?

I think blockchain has many good use cases, about cryptocurrency, I don’t know yet.

Hypothetically, if Maduro says “I am ready to leave, but in return, I want immunity for myself and my family”, do you think this could work?

Probably, but this would be up to President Guaidó. Also, even we give him immunity, it may not be enough as he has broken international law as well.

MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative)

Sebastien J.B. Henot, Manager of Business Innovation Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and who is Chairman of the Vehicle Identity workgroup at MOBI told us about the promise that blockchain technology holds for the auto industry as well as the challenges of building an industry-wide consortium.

One of the most basic and immediate goals of MOBI to come up with the framework for a car passport. “All major car makers have had blockchain pilots, but the goal now is to come with the industry-wide standards. So, for example, if a client brings a Honda to the Renault dealership as a trade-in, the dealer would be able to view all the major events in the car’s history”. If MOBI is able to come up with the standards for the on-chain car identity for the industry, it would help solve some of the thorniest issues in the industry such as lack of trust and overall bad image that car dealerships, in particular, have in the eyes of most consumers.

Some of the biggest players in the industry have already joined this initiative: Renault, Honda, GM, Ford… It’s great for the project, but doesn’t come without its own challenges. “All these companies are rivals, so it’s not easy to make them work together. But I believe in the end everyone will win”, notices Mr. Henot. This standard should be released in the coming weeks.

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Here’s why chain reorg on BTC ledger is exponentially unfeasible: Donald McIntyre

Donald McIntyre, one of the most active coordinators in the Ethereum Classic (ETC) community, recently shared his views and insights with Crypto Insider regarding the plausibility of a chain reorg.

McIntyre, a former Senior VP at Morgan Stanley and VP at UBS, specifically addressed the recent suggestion by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to perform a chain reorg. This, after Binance, the world’s largest cryptoasset exchange in terms of trading volume, suffered from a damaging security breach.

Due to the hack, the Malta-based digital asset exchange lost over 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC), an amount valued at over $41 million at the time of the incident.

Crypto Insider: Please explain, in detail, why a chain organization of Bitcoin (BTC), as recommended by Binance CEO, would be wrong or a bad idea.

Donald McIntyre: “A chain reorganization, as Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, referred to is neither wrong nor right. Bitcoin and any proof of work blockchain can be reorganized with little work within a short time window, generally accepted as 6 confirmations or less in Bitcoin, after which point it becomes exponentially difficult, therefore more costly.

This is why the whole Binance ordeal was so short; it either demanded a quick reaction, or bribing miners to recover the funds doing a reorg was not even economical for the victim (Binance) nor the bribed miners. This actually shows the power of proof of work after a certain number of confirmations.

The reason it is neither wrong nor right to perform a chain reorg is because it is an original design assumption and everybody knows that by acquiring majority computing power, a PoW blockchain can be reorganized. That is a standing threat to coin receivers, even if done by well-known full-node operators such as Binance and recognizable miners, to any chain of that type and it is widely acknowledged since 2008, as it was written and proved mathematically by Satoshi Nakamoto in the Bitcoin whitepaper.

The only protection against reorgs is waiting for sufficient confirmations. For example, and ironically, for the hacker who stole the 7000+ BTC from Binance, he/she should wait for at least 3 to 5 days of confirmations to minimize the threat of Binance colluding with miners to reorganize the chain and steal back the coins. After that, the hacker can feel secure at least on-chain. The consequences off-chain are that he/she will be hiding or running from the law for the rest of his/her life.

It is important to note that the Bitcoin whitepaper actually describes the invention of proof of work as a new and improved consensus mechanism, not a digital currency, which existed long before.

The brilliant invention was the consensus mechanism which provides four things:

  1. As mentioned, consensus between machines with a 50% fault tolerance (all others have 33%-1 fault tolerance).
  2. A cost to producing the blocks which adds a barrier to printing currency spuriously.
  3. Security by making it difficult computationally to rewrite the chain.
  4. The same computational cost as a signal to the market that provides a reference for the price of the currency in the economy.

In addition to being protected on-chain, the Bitcoin ledger is protected by what is called the “coordination problem”.

That is, when you have operators of a $141 billion decentralized, permissionless, cross border network, with developers, miners and full nodes in different nations and different cultures, spread all over the world in the tens of thousands, and all with high incentives for the network to maintain its integrity to guarantee their property, thus livelihood and businesses, it is extremely unlikely that you will lead them into damaging the network just to recover your petty 7000 BTC, which you lost because of your own incompetence in the first place.

Even if a group of miners were to decide to help, they would have gotten a strong counter reaction by developers and full-node operators globally, which is a much larger threat to their businesses, in terms of capital and future cash flow, than any reward Binance could have given them. It is much more profitable to remain an honest node and miner in Bitcoin than to go through the trouble and coordination cost of reorganizing the chain. Ethereum Classic already demonstrated that.

It is important to note that a reorg can, in fact, be pulled off if the highly unlikely coordination mentioned above actually happens. However, even with the partial reputational loss of the system, the only victim would be the hacker who stole the funds. This is because, even if all miners were to collude with Binance, the only thing they would be able to do is to double spend the money the hacker stole. This means, they cannot change network rules, they cannot modify monetary policy, and they cannot steal money from other accounts nor do anything else for that matter.”

Crypto Insider: Can you compare the events that took place at the time of the DAO Attack with Ethereum hack and what we learned from that event (specifically, in how it would be relevant to this most recent event).

Donald McIntyre: “The DAO attack and subsequent chain reversion was orders of magnitude worse than what was suggested by the CEO of Binance. That event was an out of protocol, community-wide coordinated attack on the whole network. It was an agreement by a great majority of miners, full-node operators and developers to implement an irregular state change to delete the funds by hand from one account, to transfer them to another account (or group of accounts). All without the consent or using the private key of the owner.

This was possible in Ethereum (ETH) because it has a very high profile and strong leader in Vitalik Buterin that sets direction, a foundation with a lot of money who pays for a lot of the development and marketing of the network, therefore has direct influence in the roadmap of the system; and has a philosophy of subjective security, therefore maintain high coordination between the decision makers of the system, which is a reduced and culturally homogeneous group.

A reorg using 50%+ of hashing power, as suggested by Binance, would just be a local problem between the receiver of the funds and the sender, not a system-wide violation of the protocol. And, again, it is a known vulnerability that receivers can protect from by simply waiting more confirmations. In a 51% attack, nobody can delete or move funds without the private keys.

Crypto Insider: What do you think would be the main lessons learned from this event as far as Cybersecurity and Digital Assets are concerned?

Donald McIntyre: “There is nothing new to learn as reorgs with 50%+ are a known vulnerability. There are, however, many crypto industry participants (such as Vitalik Buterin, Emin Gün Sirer, Andrew Miller, Washington Sanchez, Vlad Zamfir, Amir Taaki, and Angela Walch, among others) saying that the suggested reorg by Changpeng Zhao is some sort of final proof that Bitcoin is centralized.

My response to that is the proof of 51% attacks was already given on the October 31st, 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper. Proof of stake has only 33%-1 fault tolerance and is much more centralized, and, in any case, they actually didn’t get any ‘new proof’ in this particular incident because it was just the CEO of Binance, along with a group of Bitcoin skeptics doing intellectual posturing about an imaginary reorg that **never** happened.”

Crypto Insider: Does this recent Binance hack suggest that crypto exchanges are highly unsafe, and we need maybe completely different infrastructure for platforms that allow users to trade cryptoassets?

Donald McIntyre: “In the same way that it is known that 51% attacks are possible in proof of work chains, it is also widely known that trusted third parties are security holes. This includes, of course, crypto exchanges. But they are not more insecure than traditional banks, brokers or mutual funds. They are just the old format of holding wealth.

Proof of work blockchains are precisely looking to solve that problem: In traditional banking, providers have custody of wealth and grant access to owners. In proof of work blockchains, owners have custody of wealth and grant access to providers, which significantly minimizes the risk of trusted third parties. This is done by at least controlling the private keys, and at most (ideal) by running your own full node in your own machine.”

Crypto Insider: What are your predictions regarding crypto market this year, in terms of both price and adoption? Where do you see the crypto industry towards the end of 2019?

Donald McIntyre: “I can’t predict what will happen in the next year, but in the medium and longer terms, I see increasing discovery, by developers, of how to more precisely use a combination of blockchain and layer 2 systems and off-chain systems to build useful applications. This will attract more individual users, enterprise and government to secure blockchains, and that will create more demand for the tokens of highly secure networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum Classic.”

Read More:

BitMEX settles all-time record $10 Billion in trades in 24 hours

Exclusive: Digix co-founder explains how to build secure Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Interview: Donald McIntyre (ETC Dev Team) on the advantages of Ethereum Classic

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Cryptopia Limited appoints Grant Thornton as liquidators

David Ruscoe and Russell Moore from Grant Thornton New Zealand were yesterday appointed liquidators of Cryptopia Limited, a New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange based in Christchurch.

The highly publicised hack of Cryptopia’s exchange in January 2019 had a severe impact on the company’s trade. Despite the efforts of management to reduce cost and return the business to profitability, it was decided the appointment of liquidators was in the best interests of customers, staff and other stakeholders.

The liquidators are focused on securing the assets for the benefit of all stakeholders. While this process and investigations take place, trading on the exchange is suspended.

“We realise Cryptopia’s customers will want to have this matter resolved as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation, working with several different stakeholders including management and shareholders, to find the solution that is in the best interests of customers and stakeholders,” says David Ruscoe.

“Given the complexities involved we expect the investigation to take months rather than weeks.”

The liquidators are also working with independent experts and the relevant authorities with regards to the company’s obligations.

Grant Thornton will be contacting all customers and suppliers about its appointment in the next few days.

An initial report will be available on the New Zealand Companies Office website next week. No further comment will be made until more information is available.

This piece was submitted by Claire Cucchini from Acumen republic

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Fundamental Analysis – May 13th 2019

Fundamental analysis examines various factors underlying the value of cyptoasset. Fundamental analysis seeks to know whether a cryptoasset is undervalued or overvalued. In traditional securities analysis that would include financial factors such as cash flow, but in crypto we would look at different factors intrinsic to these types of technologies. Let’s observe the top 5 coins this past week.


No other category of fundamental metrics matter as much as those on the network, or more aptly onchain. These metrics measure the internal activities occurring within blockchains. Onchain volume is one such metric that allows us to observe the total dollars moving through the chain on a given day.

Bitcoin remained the top cryptoasset this past week growing by 63% with a low of $3.4 bn and a high of $5.7 bn. XRP grew volume by over 7k% on May 6 to hit a high of about $3 bn until falling the next day back down to its more usual $100 mn range. This anomaly was most likely induced by Ripple enabling xCurrent 4.0. ETH grew its volume the most at 163% while BCH lost the most with a decline of 67%.

ETH held the top spot in total transactions occurred ochain with an average of about 700k operations. As a note, different use-cases result in different outcomes. For instance, the application focus of ETH would encourage more transactions than the hedge asset of which BTC focuses on. BCH grew its transactions the most this past week at 66%, with a daily change high of 212% on May 10. BTC was the slowest grower at just 4%. XRP also ended the week nearly doubling where it started.


All of the top 5 cryptoassets profiled saw upswings in exchange volume at the end of the week. BTC held its consistent rank as top cryptoasset traded on exchanges. Those swings were:
XRP 176%
ETH 112%
LTC 107%
BTC 95%
BCH 80%

It’s unclear as to why volumes grew so much over the past week, but crypto advocates are generating marketing as of late to encourage adoption. For instance Grayscale launched their “Drop Gold” tv campaign and the NYC Blockchain Week kicked off just before this past weekend. The stickiness of these positive trends will be judged after the marketing fades.


It’s important to observe the social activity of these cryptoassets because it reveals the chatter and sentiment going on in the market and within coins. Looking into reddit active user numbers for instance, allows us to better gauge the engagement of a cyrptoasset’s human network. The average weekly numbers are:

BTC 4.5k
BCH 2k
ETH 1.5k
XRP 758
LTC 520

Another way to understand the impact of social networks within crypto is to measure the active ratio, which reveals if a community is inflated with inactive users that don’t engage with the forum. The lower the number the more likely each of the total users are engaging. BCH has the lowest number by far with 22 while LTC has the highest at 390.


Without a doubt, we now need to focus on what the software developers have been doing, as quantitative metrics of the development of these technologies are a must. As a caveat bigger doesn’t always mean better, yet it is useful to measure code commit activity on the cryptoassets’ software repositories.

ETH dominated the recent weekly commit activity representing 72% of top 5’s total. ETH historically outperforms in this category. This could be because ETH so much more dynamics to deal with as an application first protocol. It is also aided by having the most contributors listed, at about 1k, of the top 5 cryptoassets. LTC had no commits which highlight the attitude that lead developer from that cryptoasset have neglected it. XRP, BTC, and BCH did about the same levels of code activity.

Fundamental Analysis in hindsight

Overall, we can see that these fundamentals communicate a story about the underlying value of these cryptoassets. There are caveats, distinctions, and notes we must keep in mind but these are helpful ways to get a sense of comparison. BTC’s market cap gained the high of 9% this past week while LTC lost the most at .9%.

From this fundamental analysis, we can see why LTC fell. It had a severe lack of developer support, drastic inactivity on social media, and a stagnating chain. Although XRP displayed some increased network usage and announced a new software update, it still lost value over the week. Fundamental analysis might not always reflect the market’s outlook in the short term but these factors and categories might give us a more accurate glance in the long term.


By Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan is the CEO & Founder of Ryan Research. He led research efforts at CoinDesk, the most popular cryptocurrency brand in the world, where he produced data insights, cutting-edge reports, and useful tools to help users better understand the complex industry. Prior to that, he was an analyst assisting venture capitalists and startups in making smarter decisions through data. He received his B.A. from New York University in economics with a double minor in business & web development, as well as a certificate for business & financial modeling from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


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BitMEX settles all-time record $10 Billion in trades in 24 hours

Arthur Hayes, the 33-year-old CEO of the Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange (BitMEX), a Seychelles -registered cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, has revealed that the Hong Kong-operated trading platform recently settled over $10 billion in trades during a 24-hour time period.

According to Hayes, this is a new all-time trading record (set on May 11th, 2019) for BitMEX and that the dramatic surge in trading volume may be attributed to the recent spike in volatility of cryptocurrency prices.

Expressing confidence in the crypto ecosystem, Hayes believes we might now be in a bull market. He also pointed out that crypto exchange Bitfinex’s parent company, IFinex, Inc. has now reportedly secured $1 billion in funding through the successful completion of its initial exchange offering (IEO).

BitMEX Settled $86 Billion In Trades In Past 30 Days

Available data shows that BitMEX has processed nearly $86 billion in trades in the past 30 days, however Twitter user AskMeHowToGetRekt (@IAmRipOff) mentioned that trading volumes on  other cryptoasset exchanges have been “much lower.”

Digital Currency Group CEO Reveals New Trading Record

On Friday (May 10th), Barry Silbert, the Founder and CEO of the Digital Currency Group (DCG), confirmed via Twitter that Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), an over-the-counter trading option on OTCQX, registered a substantial increase in volume. In fact, over $50 million in total GBTC were settled this past Friday.

Bitcoin (BTC), the flagship cryptocurrency, is currently trading at around $8,100 according to CoinMarketCap data.

Comparing Bitcoin Price Each Time It Crossed $7,000 Mark

Commenting on Bitcoin’s recent price movements, Twitter user Kevin Rooke (@kerooke) noted via the microblogging platform that the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency hit the $7,000 mark, for the first time, on November 2nd, 2017.

Rooke, who’s known for being an active researcher, compared key metrics related to the Bitcoin network’s performance when it reached the $7,000 mark recently on May 11th, 2019 with when the cryptocurrency was trading for the same price in early November 2017:

Read More:

Bitfinex Opens Doors to Everyone

Microsoft building on Bitcoin ledger, NYSE owner’s Bakkt offering BTC futures

Warren Buffett, Crypto Trolle day - 13-May-2019e

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Crypto tweets of the day – 13-May-2019

Crypto Twitter is the place where many funny posts and memes are float around and keep us entertained. Below are some of the most interesting tweets of the day.

Someone new to the crypto space sends by mistake his Bitcoin to an Ethereum wallet. Consequently, he loses all coins. One crypto enthusiast Cryptonator warns people to be careful and not to send their Bitcoin to Ethereum wallets.

Bitcoin trading volume hit $29 billion yesterday – highest in its history.

Riccardo Spagni couldn’t attend the Magical Crypto Conference 2019, but he was present there interacting with the people using the remote robot monitor.

Below tweet is hilarious and self-explanatory.

They brought the real bull at the Magical Crypto Conference 2019. Rodolfo Novak funnily tweeted that he wants to sacrifice it for a Sunday BBQ.

Venezuelan currency Bolivar lying scattered all over the place, and below tweet says that it will be the future of fiat.

Google searches for Bitcoin picked up significantly last week and below tweet highlights that.

Jameson Lopp is a Bitcoin developer and he retweeted his old 2015 post where he mentions the vicious cycle that returns every time we enter the bull market. r/bitcoin subreddit will be filled with posts about price predictions, that will be picked up by mainstream media. This triggers the ignorant speculator to buy the top, and subsequent sell-off follows.

The above are a few interesting tweets, but there are lot many things happening on Crypto Twitter, keeping us entertained and at the same time enlightened.

Read More:

Institutional support for bitcoin growing, progressive regulations drafted

Qtum’s Unita protocol for enterprise-grade blockchains explained by project’s CIO

Why Tether (USDT) is necessary in crypto

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Microsoft building on Bitcoin ledger, NYSE owner’s Bakkt offering BTC futures

Microsoft develops on top of Bitcoin

Microsoft is increasing its involvement in the cryptocurrency industry as it prepares to launch a decentralized infrastructure that deals with the deep-rooted technology of how networks talk to each other.

Dubbed Ion, the open-source project will handle the decentralized identifiers that control the ability to prove you own your data. For instance, if an user was to log into Uber using their Gmail account, the protocol that allows the personal information from the email account to be used by Uber’s servers is the one that Microsoft plans to decentralize.

Christopher Allen, the co-founder of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), believes that Microsoft’s project could have a major impact across the entire technological industry.

“A lot of enterprise infrastructures use Microsoft products. So if they integrate this into any of their infrastructure products, they’ll have access to DID.”

An anonymous source related to the matter, commented that Ion will shift from using bitcoin’s testnet to the bitcoin mainnet later this year.

A German financial giant adds support for XRP and Litecoin

Börse Stuttgart, the second largest stock exchange in Germany, announced that it will be launching exchange-traded notes (ETNs) bsdrf on XRP and LTC, which have already been trading at a Swedish subsidiary, Nordic Growth Market, since April.

Exchange-traded notes are “unsubordinated and unsecured debt securities issued by an underwriting bank,” similar to exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These allow investors to gain exposure in a wide range of assets including, cryptocurrencies.

The XRP and LTC ETNs will reportedly be tradeable on the exchange between 7:00 and 21:00 hours UTC.

Juergen Dietrich, an Executive Director at Boerse Stuttgart, stated that there is a growing interest in cryptocurrencies in Germany’s financial markets and these ETNs will allow investors to keep track of the future market valuation of both cryptos.

Deliverable bitcoin futures

Bakkt, a digital asset-focused subsidiary owned by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), announced that it will be launching bitcoin futures contracts in collaboration with ICE Futures US and ICE Clear US.

After working with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for over a year, Bakkt’s management aims to offer bitcoin futures contracts that meet the need of its customers and are compliant with federal regulations.

In a blog post, the firm revealed that it will list two different contracts:

“A daily settlement bitcoin future, which will enable customers to transact in a same-day market and a monthly bitcoin futures contract will enable trading in the front month and across the forward pricing curve.”

The settlement prices on ICE Futures U.S. will be based on prices discovered in Bakkt’s physical delivery contracts, without relying on unregulated markets.

The entity that will physically deliver and secure the storage of bitcoin, is subject to regulatory approval, and will be supported by insurance, cybersecurity, and comprehensive compliance, including an anti-money-laundering program and blockchain analytics.

Although an official launch date was not given and the bitcoin custodian still has to go through approval, rumors are circulating that the proposed start date will be around July 2019.

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eBay might soon accept cryptocurrencies

The crypto community prepares to welcome eBay after leaked images hint that an announcement could be coming soon.

eBay could add crypto payments

A series of banners at the Consensus conference in New York indicate that the e-commerce giant could be about to finally adopt crypto payments.

A telegram account, with the handle name @PatronsofTheMoon,  leaked the images.

eBay has not yet made an official statement regarding whether it will  accept  cryptocurrencies on its platform. However, a confirmation of the rumors could encourage the marketplace’s 179 million active users to use cryptocurrencies as a method of payment, which may help the industry reach mainstream adoption.

Rumors have been circulating about which crypto will be selected to lead eBay’s new payment feature. Among the cryptocurrencies in question rank bitcoin, litecoin, and even Binance Coin. However, the recent addition of an eBay and Paypal executive to UTRUST could hint a possible partnership with the payment processor.

In 2018, UTRUST hired Sanja Kon as the Vice President of Global Partnerships.

“Sanja’s experience at PayPal and eBay makes her the perfect person to help UTRUST drive merchant adoption of our crypto-payments platform… We anticipate that she will be a key driver in elevating UTRUST’s brand in the crypto-commerce space and ultimately the future of online payments industry.”

Although there has not been an official statement made by eBay or UTRUST executives, a partnership between the two is what makes sense the most. UTRUST is an international payment gateway that accepts cryptocurrencies on behalf of merchants and exchanges them for fiat currencies.

eBay, the world’s biggest marketplace, has been involved in the cryptocurrency space for a while. At the moment, it is one of the main sponsors of Consensus, one of the biggest blockchain conferences in the US.

This is not the first time that rumors about accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment method surround the marketplace giant. Back in 2017, when bitcoin was trading around $17,000, the crypto community began speculating about eBay’s crypto endeavours.

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Last Week in Crypto Adoption: Lightning on the Apple Watch, Facebook Relaxes Ad Ban

While attention inside and outside the cryptoverse has been firmly focused on exchange hacks and the soaring price of bitcoin, the headlines can mask more subtle news about the adoption of bitcoin and other cryptoassets. If we are indeed in the early stages of another bull run, the injunction of the bear market to “BUIDL” might get lost in the cacophony of those shouting “HODL”.

In this article therefore, we take a look at some of the standout stories of adoption over the last week.

Facebook Softens Ads Ban

Last week, Facebook revealed that it is relaxing its ban on cryptocurrency and blockchain advertisements on the platform. Following an outright ban on crypto and blockchain ads in January 2018, the social media giant revised its policy in June to allow “pre-approved partners,” but still prohibiting ICOs from advertising on the site.

On Wednesday (May 8) in an update posted on its blog, Facebook announced that while it still requires pre-approval for many crypto ads, the policy has been narrowed so that “ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events,” will no longer require approval. Importantly, the complete ban on ICO advertisement, or what the company terms “cryptocurrency token sales” is still in force. This language almost certainly means that those wanting to promote IEOs (Initial Exchange Offerings) – which seem to be all the rage in 2019 – will have to look elsewhere to get their tokens noticed.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network on the Apple Watch is bound to increase adoption

Sunday (May 5) saw the release of the first ever Lightning Network-enabled Bitcoin wallet for Apple Watch Users. The new feature, from open-source mobile developers BlueWallet, adds to their existing Bitcoin app for iOS and Android. The free downloadable software now allows users to receive Lightning payments via the Watch, see the latest transactions from their wallets and easily generate invoices via a QR code, which can be scanned via smartphone. Users simply click on a Lightning wallet set up on the app, specify an amount in Satoshis, and can create an invoice with a name, in “5-10 seconds”:

With the Lightning Network currently standing at over 8,300 nodes according to Lightning monitoring site, and with a payment capacity of 1061 BTC – at the time of writing close to $8 million, this latest addition will likely contribute to the network’s strong growth. However, given the state of Lightning development and how early enthusiasts are considered to be “reckless”, the adoption rate looks promising and it can only get accelerated by such applications.

Abra App Adds Thousands of US Banks

In significant news for US crypto investors, last week saw Cryptocurrency wallet and investment app Abra announce the addition of “thousands” of banks to the app. Thanks to an integration with Plaid, a bank-connection solution from the San Francisco-based fintech company of the same name, users will now be able to purchase cryptoassets in-app.

Previously, users of the Abra app were required to make purchases via bank transfer in order to buy crypto with fiat. The new integration expedites the process allowing users to buy crypto entirely within the app.

Abra Head of Sales Paul Williamson explained that the expansion is particularly useful for customers of smaller banks, while CEO Bill Barhydt emphasized how the move takes them closer to bringing mass crypto adoption:

“With today’s announcement, Abra is taking yet another step closer toward our vision of democratizing access to financial services for our hundreds of thousands of customers around the globe.”

Abra also announced an expansion of crypto withdrawals to external crypto wallets. While app users so far had the ability to withdraw to Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum (ETH) wallets, the app now supports over 30 cryptoasset withdrawals including Zcash (ZEC), Ethereum Classic (ETC) and NEO.

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Within ten days Bitfinex raises $1 billion in an IEO

Paolo Ardoino, Chief Technology Officer at Bitfinex, just announced that the new iFinex Inc. subsidiary, Unus Sed Leo, was able to raise $1 billion in a private sale of its initial exchange offering (IEO), referred to as LEO tokens.

In only ten days, the firm was able to sell out the 1 billion LEO tokens it made available for purchase. The sale ended on Saturday, May 11, and did not even make it to the public since private investors were able to reach the investment goal.

Mr. Ardoino explained in a tweet the massive support industry leaders gave to the IEO.

“Private companies, giants in our industry and outside, made investments of over $100 million each. A legion of inside and outside users made investments for over $1 million each.”

The Bitfinex CTO believes that the company’s reputation remains intact among institutional investors who were able to recognize its trustworthiness and hunger to prevail as one of the industry leaders.

Zhao Dong, one of China’s biggest over-the-counter traders, published a marketing document detailing iFinex Inc.’s plans to conduct the initial exchange offering on May 4. Bitfinex’s management did not make the official announcement until six days later when it released the LEO token whitepaper.

The private sales come at a time when the company has been involved in a probe, led by the Attorney General of the State of New York, for allegedly engaging in a cover-up to conceal the apparent loss of almost $850 million of co-mingled client and corporate funds.

Just last week, the US Department of Justice seized an HSBC bank account that was directly connected to Bitfinex. The account was allegedly used to commit bank fraud by secretly transferring US dollars to and from customers of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The recent news have created a massive exodus of traders out of Bitfinex. Approximately $400 million have been moved out of the exchange’s cold wallets, mainly in bitcoin and ether.

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