Will Crypto Save Iran from a Financial Crisis?

Iran use crypto to avoid sanctions

Iran is inching closer towards the financial crisis due to sanctions, but the country might still turn to cryptocurrencies for help.


Iran is in a bad place right now, as the US officials state that the country’s finances might be in a worse situation than they believed. The country’s damaged economy has been sparking protests for a while now, and Iran is moving closer and closer to a financial crisis.

After the sanctions put a stop to Tehran’s oil exports, some major losses were felt throughout Iran. Since then, the country tried to evade the sanctions, which softened the blow somewhat, although it did not do it much good in the long run. Right now, Iran’s government is using the last of its foreign-exchange reserves, indicating that any control that the government might have over importing supplies and equipment might soon be lost.

Soon enough, Iran is likely to find itself in a more dire situation than it was six years ago, when President Hassan Rouhani and his government were pressured into nuclear negotiations.

For now, it is difficult to predict what might happen to Iran’s economy in the future, as there are many unknown factors that could still change. Further, some intelligence that the US has received from its allies suggests that Iran might have some off-book income that could help it through difficult periods such as this.

Alternatively, the country could simply turn to smuggle its oil and bring in supplies, although US officials doubt that the effect of the sanctions can be offset by smuggling. As this is likely correct, another option for Iran is to turn to cryptocurrencies for help.

Iran might find a way out through crypto

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are known for a number of qualities, such as their borderless nature, achieved through decentralization. This form of digital money is not under anyone’s control, meaning that the US cannot do much to stop Iran from using Bitcoin and other coins and tokens.

Several days ago, Bloomberg reported that Iran plans to manufacture $11 billion worth of various products in the next two years, in order to replace imports and find a way to deal with US-led sanctions.

On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that US officials believe Iran to be in a state of panicked aggression. This statement refers to several reports of assault against energy supplies, which Iran denied. Still, the problem lies with money, as the currency reserves of Iran are estimated to be at $86 million- 20% below the level reported in 2013. With a situation like that, US officials believe that Iran will either have to return to the negotiating table or burn through even more of its reserves.

Despite this, a Bitcoinist report from earlier this year believes that Iranian companies could exploit the anonymity of cryptocurrency and bypass the American restrictions. In fact, threats of US sanctions was historically more than enough to control Iran, until anonymous payments in digital currencies became a possibility.

The US Treasury seems to be well aware of this, as it warned digital marketplaces against trading Bitcoin with Iran-based firms and individuals. Some trading sites even started blocking buyers that were confirmed to be from Iran, while some even went as far as to confiscate Iranian clients’ funds.

However, these are believed to be isolated incidents, as cryptocurrencies’ very nature makes them extremely difficult to control, or even monitor. There is simply no way to duplicate banking sanctions when it comes to crypto, which is why the Iranian government might come to rely on digital assets to bypass the current restrictions and find a way to survive US sanctions.

What do you think about Iran’s chances to bypass sanctions with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock

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Hackers are Stealing Crypto Using Clipper Malware

hackers use clipper malware to steal crypto

Hackers can steal crypto payments by using a relatively new malware that replaces the receiving address between copying and pasting.


Don’t CTRL+C CTRL +V

According to a report from February of this year, a security researcher called Lukas Stefanko discovered that hackers had brought the so-called Clipper Malware to Google Play via infected cryptocurrency apps. He describes it in a blog post he named ‘First Clipper Malware discovered on Google Play,’ where he explains how the malware can steal crypto users’ coins.

The malware has a very simple and very dangerous purpose, which is to take advantage of copying and pasting public addresses of cryptocurrency wallets. When a user copies an address, the malware replaces it with an address of a hacker.

When the user uses the paste function to enter the address, it is not the same one that they had originally copied. However, this is usually not something that most people would notice, as crypto wallet addresses tend to be extremely long and random-looking.

The issue also appeared on the BitcoinTalk forum, where the user warned others about copying and pasting addresses via CTRL+C and CTRL+V commands. The user stated that checking the initial few characters is not enough to confirm that the address that was pasted is the same one that was copied. Often enough, the first several characters might be genuine, and the user might not notice that the rest are not.

Stefanko himself called the malware very dangerous, stating that,

This dangerous form of malware first made its rounds in 2017 on the Windows platform and was spotted in shady Android app stores in the summer of 2018. In February 2019, we discovered a malicious clipper on Google Play, the official Android app store.

Hackers love Crypto

As far as malware goes, this one is not particularly old. However, its capabilities make it quite dangerous, and the fact that it is found even on some prominent software hosting sites only confirms that researchers are right to be concerned.

The malware discovered on Google Play Store impersonated MetaMask, and it would try to steal users’ Ethereum coins if they were to download the app. Ethereum coins are often targeted by hackers, whether from users’ private wallets or from crypto exchanges such as Upbit.

Of course, Bitcoin is still one of the most targeted coins, if not THE most targeted crypto. Even the largest crypto exchanges, such as Binance, often fail to fend off a hacking attack, which indicates how innovative attackers have become.

How to make sure you are not infected

As for how to deal with the clipping malware, security researchers have suggested paying extra attention to the address that users enter into the payment form. All kinds of errors can occur because crypto addresses were not meant for humans to read them and remember them, which is why checking each character is extremely important.

Any difference between the address that users wish to send the crypto to and the one in the form will result in lost funds as soon as the user presses the send button. Further, some have suggested that switching to Linux might be a better option, particularly Mint, for those who are new to Linux OS.

One reason for this is the fact that Microsoft OS features Cortana, which is an unremovable keyboard logger that stores user information in the Microsoft cloud. Other than that, users should try to regularly update their software, and only download apps posted by trusted sources.

Do you regularly check addresses to which you send funds? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.


Image via Shutterstock

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Ethereum Devs Decide to Increase Inflation, Delay Difficulty Bomb

ethereum classic could replace ETH 1.0

Ethereum developers have agreed to postpone the difficulty bomb, thus increasing inflation when most coins are trying to reduce it.


Ethereum Devs Delay Difficulty Bomb Again

The recent debate regarding Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is finally finished, with a rough consensus being reached. According to developers, the difficulty bomb will see yet another delay.

The details regarding what was said are a bit more difficult to acquire, as the public call between the developers experienced a number of technical issues. However, PegaSys’ Tim Beiko confirmed that the developers agreed to push the difficulty bomb by another 4 million blocks.

According to estimates, the issue of difficulty bomb will next emerge in about 700 days, meaning in about two years. In other words, the bomb will kick in once again in 2021/2022. On the other hand, the PoS Beacon Chain will go through significantly earlier, likely in spring 2020.

Meanwhile, the inflation will grow by 2,000 ETH per day by the time the fork occurs. At the moment, the number of ETH per day sits at around 11,600, meaning that it is expected to grow back to 13,600, which is about the same number that miners were seeing before the bomb kicked in.

PoS and PoW hybrid will come before PoS itself

One thing to note is that developers did all of the decision making among themselves, without the participation of Ethereum’s community. One of the decisions included the proposed name of the fork, Melting Glacier. However, the name was eventually changed to Mountain Glacier.

The new name still holds the same message of ‘melting the ice age,’ which is what the difficulty bomb is also known as. In other words, the increased difficulty of mining would take more energy, making it less profitable and harmful to the environment.

However, once the PoS algorithm kicks in, it will remove the need for miners, while Ethereum itself would become much more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, Ethereum’s founder, Vitalik Buterin, believes that PoS is still far away and that reaching it will likely take years.

Instead, the developers will introduce a hybrid of PoS and PoW, although the two types won’t be in direct contact with one another. The issue is undoubtedly very complex, and solving it is far from being a simple matter. Furthermore, the delay of difficulty bomb likely won’t have a good impact on the efforts to solve it, either.

What happens now?

For now, the developers agreed to hold an urgent hard fork soon after the new Istanbul update, and the fork will take place in only a few days, on December 7th, on block 9,069,000. This is allegedly going to be the last hard fork that Ethereum 1.0 will ever experience, as it will open the way to Serenity, and eventually, Ethereum 2.0.

However, before the transition to Ethereum 2.0, the network will see a number of changes. This will include the activation of Casper, the alleged switch to PoS, the update to Ethereum virtual machine, as well as the change of cross-contact logic and protocol economics. On top of all that, in June 2020, Ethereum’s network is expected to get yet another update called Berlin, which will be the next step towards Ethereum 2.0.

What do you think about the developers’ decision? Let us know your thoughts on the matter down in the comments.


Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @TimBeiko

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Vertcoin Suffers its Second 51% Attack in 12 Months

Vertcoin falls victim to another 51% attack

Vertcoin recently suffered its second 51% attack in 12 months, with the newest attack occurring almost exactly 1 year since the previous one.


Reports of a 51% attack on the project known as Vertcoin (VTC) has flooded the web in the last few hours. The attack reportedly took place on December 1st at 15.19 UTC, when around 603 blocks got removed from the project’s main blockchain. Simultaneously, the attackers replaced them with 553 of attacker blocks.

According to reports, there were around 5 recorded transactions that included double-spending, while the hacker managed to ‘earn’ around 13825 VTC coins from block rewards, which is around 0.44 BTC ($3,211).

However, one interesting detail regarding the attack is that it took place exactly a year after the previous attack, Bitcoinist reported in early December 2018.

Vertcoin Falls Victim Again

Reports of Vertcoin (VTC) suffering a 51% attack started emerging in early December 2018, when the project experienced 22 deep chain reorganizations. 15 of them reportedly included double-spending of VTC. In the aftermath of the event, it was estimated that attackers had stolen around $100,000, while the largest reorg went 300 blocks deep, according to last year’s Medium report by Mark Nesbitt.

Now, a Github user known as metalicjames, who is Vertacoin’s lead maintainer, James Lovejoy, reported that the attack happened once again. According to the report, the project abandoned the PoW algorithm after the last attack, and shifted to Lyra2REv3. While developers believed that the project was safer for it, one of the miners started noticing an unusual upswing in hashrate rental prices on November 30th, 2019.

Since Bittrex is Vertcoin’s most trafficked exchange by volume, the exchange was notified of the suspected incident and advised to close its wallet to the coin. Bittrex reacted by disabling withdrawals as soon as they received proof that the project was under a 51% attack.

The motive remains unclear

For the moment, developers suspected that attackers used the hashrate rental service, Nicehash. Lovejoy believes that the attacker spent between 0.5 and 1 BTC to perform the attack, indicating that their efforts were not exactly profitable.

This leads to the question — why conduct the attack at all? Vertcoin is currently 194th largest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of $12.5 million. Meanwhile, its trading volume in the last 24 hours sits at $363,000. The coin’s price is currently at $0.236971, after suffering a 6.84% drop in the last 24 hours.

With the date of the attack being exactly one year since the last one, and the fact that the attack was not at all profitable, it appears that the hacker(s) had a different goal in mind. Lovejoy speculated that the attack might be proof-of-concept sabotage.

Alternatively, the real target of the attack may have been Bittrex itself, although Lovejoy points out that the double-spend portion attack was aborted even before the exchange disabled their wallet. In other words, PoC sabotage seems like the most valid explanation as of now.

Do you think that two attacks on Vertcoin are connected? Let us know in the comments below.


Image via Shutterstock,  Twitter @metalicjames

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Ethereum Researcher Arrested by FBI but ETH Price Unfazed

ethereum researcher arrested

Ethereum Foundation member Virgil Griffith was arrested on Thursday for traveling to North Korea to hold presentations regarding crypto and blockchain technologies and their use for evading sanctions. ETH price, however, has remained unaffected by the news. 


Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office released an announcement about arresting Virgil Griffith. Griffith is a US citizen and an Ethereum researcher, who allegedly provided the North Korean government with what was described as ‘highly technical information,’ knowing that it could and would be used for helping the country evade sanctions and launder money.

The announcement adds that Griffith’s actions jeopardized the measures that were enacted by the US Congress, as well as the president himself, in order to put pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime. The Ethereum foundation member did so after receiving several warnings against going to North Korea, according to Assistant Attorney General, John Demers.

Details of the Transgression

According to the authorities, Griffith went to North Korea back in April 2019, and he was finally arrested for his violation of the US laws on Thursday, November 28th, at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge also added that,

We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk.  It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.

Despite being the US citizen, Virgil Griffith (36) is actually a resident of Singapore, according to the announcement. The main charge against him revolves around conspiring to violate the IEEPA, which is a crime punishable with 20 years of imprisonment. Of course, Griffith’s sentence will be determined by the judge after his trial.

ETH Price Unfazed

For the moment, ETH’s price does not appear to be negatively affected by the news. In fact, the coin’s price sits at $155.81 at the time of writing, after seeing 1.59% growth in the last 24 hours.

What do you think about Virgil Griffith’s actions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image via Shutterstock, Twitter: @SDNYnews

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Bitmain Lawsuit Heats Up, Plaintiffs Fight Motion to Dismiss

Bitmain US court motion to dismiss denied

United Corp, a Florida-based cryptocurrency company that sued Bitmain in December 2018, contested the mining giant’s motion to dismiss the case in a US court this week. 


A cryptocurrency company United American Corp claims that China-based Bitmain should not be dismissed from the United States’ antitrust suit, as the mining gear maker requested.

The issue arose when Bitmain accused the United Corp of missing a deadline to serve the China-based firm. United Corp denied the accusations, claiming that both Bitmain and its CEO, Jihan Wu, were aware of the lawsuit against them. Instead, the firm continues to claim that it did everything in its power to properly serve the Chinese firm, and do its part before the deadline.

Bitmain vs. United Corp

Bitmain, on the other hand, claims the opposite in its November 12th motion. According to the mining giant, United Corp missed the deadline by as many as four business days. They claim that they do not have enough ties to the United States to face a jury there, much less to be aware of their obligations without being notified. United Corp once again claims otherwise, even stating that Bitmain’s current CEO, Jihan Wu, currently lives in San Jose, California.

Furthermore, United Corp. claims that it can show the ties between Bitmain and the US if the Florida magistrate judge doubted that such ties existed.

Bitmain Woes

Some of the company’s proof includes the fact that Bitmain and Wu were represented by the same counsel that represents related entities. Another thing that United Corp had pointed out is that the mining giant also filed for an IPO recently in the US. They also rented office space in San Jose. Finally, according to the company, Bitmain also invested hundreds of millions of US dollars in a Texas-based data center.

Even that is not all, as Bitmain supposedly has an entire history of business deals in the US, in general. In other words, Bitmain’s claim that it doesn’t have ties to the state of California is irrelevant, as United Corp only needs to prove ties to the US itself.

Bitmain and Wu are only two of the nine names that were listed as defendants in the antitrust suit, although all of them have moved for dismissal.

Bitmain itself is one of the largest companies in the crypto industry, and it is known for its development of mining gear. Less than two months ago, the company announced two new models in their Antminer 17 series, as reported by Bitcoinist. The firm claims that its goal is to use modern technological breakthroughs to improve power efficiency and increase hashrate output.

What do you think about the ongoing Bitmain’s case? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Case reference: United American Corp. v. Bitmain Inc. et al., case number 1:18-cv-25106, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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US Court Allows IRS to View Bitstamp Customer Information

Us court allows IRS snooping

US federal judge allowed the IRS to demand information about users’ assets from Bitstamp crypto exchange, although the agency was also ordered to reduce the number of requests.


The IRS’s involvement with the cryptocurrency industry continues to increase. This, in turn, has irked quite some crypto users. One resident of Washington even sent a request to the Washington County District Court, asking for a court order that would stop the IRS from receiving information about Bitstamp exchange’s users.

However, the court rejected the request, and it allowed the Internal Revenue Service to continue storing data, only ordering it to reduce the number of requests. The Washington resident in question, William Zietzke, presented two arguments to the court.

The first one was that the crypto user has a constitutional right to financial integrity, and the second, third parties (such as the IRS) should not be trusted with protecting the personal information of exchanges’ users.

IRS crypto tax

Zietzke and the IRS

According to new information, Zeitzke attempted to cancel the IRS disclosure requests for Bitstamp due to the agency’s efforts to check the crypto exchange’s transactions and other data. Supposedly, he reported a capital gain of $104,482 in 2016. However, he then realized that two of the reported crypto transactions — the ones that earned him the largest amounts — did not take place in 2016.

Instead, his real capital gain from 2016 was only $410. He then demanded the return of taxes that he paid, which caused the tax agency to request information from Bitstamp. Tsitske then argued that the IRS already had the data it needed and that they did not take the proper administrative steps required by the law.

While the judge agreed that the IRS’ request was ambitious, he also allowed it, stating that crypto transactions have tax consequences.

The IRS’s concerns with cryptocurrencies are nothing new, especially when it comes to potential tax evasion. Only days ago, Bitcoinist reported the agency’s concerns regarding Bitcoin ATMs and kiosks, stating that they need regulating like any exchange.

The agency even attempted to publish guidance regarding the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies, although its failure to include De Minimis Exception was heavily criticized. The agency explained its decision by saying that including it would only significantly burden the IRS.

What do you think about Tsitske’s case against the IRS? Do you agree with the court’s ruling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock

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Twitter CEO Sees Big Future for Bitcoin in Africa

jack dorsey twitter CEO

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, recently published a tweet in which he announces his move to Africa, as he believes that the continent will ‘define the future.’


Africa has always been a fascinating continent to a lot of people, and according to one recent tweet, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey feels the same. However, while many people want to go there to experience different cultures, climate, and observe the wildlife — Dorsey believes that going there will allow him to see the future unfold.

Twitter CEO plans to return to Africa

According to his tweet, Dorsey appears to be sad for leaving the continent, but he also sees great potential for the future in Africa. He especially points out that the future of Bitcoin might have great potential in African countries. The continent’s crypto industry is growing rapidly, as even the unbanked and underbanked areas still have access to the internet, and therefore — cryptocurrency.

The tweet also indicates that he plans to return, and spend 3-6 months in Africa, likely in the mid-2020. He has yet to fully arrange his plans, as he admits to not knowing where he will be during this period. However, Dorsey definitely seems to be making plans for a quick return within a few months.

Dorsey’s new fascination with Africa comes after a brief tour, which he announced back in October. The tour included several countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia. During his stay, Dorsey met with various entrepreneurs from these countries, allegedly discussing plans for the improvement of living conditions in the southern continent.

Africa is the future

Dorsey is also known for traveling around the world and engaging with interesting local customs in countries he visits.

While he apparently continued to practice some of these customs even after leaving the countries where he learned them, his visit to Africa seems to have been defined by talks with tech representatives of the continent.

As reported, Dorsey sees a lot of potential in Africa, which is often ignored by major tech firms due to the lack of Western-like infrastructure. However, Twitter CEO is known for being a visionary, and if he believes that Africa has great potential for the future, others might follow his lead before long.

What do you think about Dorsey’s plan to return to Africa? Let us know in the comment section below.


Image via Shutterstock,  Twitter @jack

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Bitmain’s Jihan Wu Announces Two New Antminer 17 Miners

Bitmain Bitcoin

This week, Bitmain Co-Founder, Jihan Wu, announced the launch of two new Antminer 17 series miners at the World Digital Mining Summit.


The World Digital Mining Summit saw quite a bit of discussion earlier this year in October, but also a few very important announcements. One of them came from Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, who announced two new additions to the famous Antminer 17 series.

The two new models include S17+ and T17+, both of which will bring new improvements to hashrate and power efficiency.

Details About the New Miners

According to Wu, Antminer S17+ will bring a hash rate of 73 TH/s, while its power efficiency will be 40 J/TH + 10%. T17+, on the other hand, will have a somewhat lower hash rate of 64 TH/s, while its power efficiency will be greater, sitting at 50 J/TH + 10%.

Wu also commented by saying that the Antminers will be the leading models of mining innovation. Wu said,

They each represent the future of its rig design and power efficiency.

He also added that Bitmain’s goal is to remain committed to researching and developing the miners‘ capabilities, which will ultimately allow the company to keep improving the devices further.

Another important detail about the miners is that they will use a new dual-tube heat dissipation technology, which also works to reduce fan noise. According to a report, the models also have a high temperature and fain abnormal protection mechanism, which will bring greater stability and allow miners to operate them safely.

Finally, both of the two devices will come with the Exposed Die package solution, which will allow them to easily adapt to mining farms, regardless of their size.

Wu also announced that the miners would be available for ordering on October 11th, and according to new information, the orders will start arriving within a few days, between December 1st and 10th of this year.

Bitmain Hopes to Regain Top Spot

As reported by Bitcoinist earlier this month, Bitmain’s dominance in the Bitcoin mining industry has been showing significant signs of struggle over the last 3 months. With high price volatility, internal disputes with the company’s management structure, and an increase in competition from other mining pools, Bitmain subsequently lost its place as the leading Bitcoin block producer.

The new release of the S17 mining rigs, combined with the recently announced plans for a new Texas mining farm, however, could be the critical catalysts that Bitmain needs in order to regain its grip on the industry.

What do you think about Bitmain’s new S17 series rigs? Leave your comments below!


Image via Shutterstock

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Alibaba, OneConnect Leads China’s Blockchain Patent Race

alibaba files blockchain patent

Alibaba and OneConnect scored the highest in China’s recent Blockchain Patents list after they both filed IPO prospectuses at the same time.


The development of blockchain technology continues to rage on across the world, and countless corporations are struggling to take the lead. A little over a week ago, on November 18th, BlockData published a new report titled China Blockchain Patents Report 2019 and the Comprehensive Strength list of China’s Blockchain Patents 2019.

The report leaves little doubt as to which Chinese companies are among the strongest in the blockchain patenting, with Alibaba taking the top spot on the list. However, immediately behind the e-commerce giant, OneConnect takes the second place.

OneConnect may be the second overall, but it still topped the list when it comes to the ranking by the strength of blockchain-related patents. The overall ranking actually considers several factors, including:

  • The number of patent applications
  • How many patents were granted
  • The scope of patent protection
  • The application for the patent
  • Patent family location

The two companies have another thing in common, apart from being the top blockchain patent holders in China. They both decided to issue their IPO prospectuses on the same day, and in the US and Hong Kong alike. They did so just before the list was published, and the move attracted a lot of attention.

Two Largest Blockchain Patent Holders in China

Alibaba decided to submit its own preliminary prospectus about two weeks ago, on November 13th, and it appeared on SEHK (Stock Exchange of Hong Kong). The company revealed that it aims to issue as many as 500 new shares that will appear on the exchange’s mainboard.

alibaba files blockchain patent

In China itself, Alibaba held 6,175 authorized patents, with 13,336 additional patent applications. On the outside of the country, the firm had an additional 3,112 authorized patents, and 9,742 new applications, as of June 30, 2019.

As mentioned, OneConnect applied for the IPO on the same day, November 13th. The company approached the US SEC, with its prospectus claiming that the firm has applied for 542 foreign patents, as well as around 2,850 domestic ones.

However, one thing to note is that OneConnect ended up being the highest-ranking firm based on the strength of its blockchain patents. Its FIMAX blockchain solution even reached the super vehicle management office of China’s government. Further, it became a solution for supply chain, enterprise loans, trade finance, mortgages, intelligent environmental protection, and more.

What do you think about Alibaba and OneConnect filing blockchain patents? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Images via Shutterstock

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BitTorrent Creator Tees Off Against Ethereum

BitTorrent Creator Tees off against Ethereum

Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, recently spoke out against Ethereum in a 28-post tweetstorm outlining his concerns about the project’s viability. 


The crypto community is no stranger to drama, and a new one is seemingly unfolding right now. Recently, Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, shared a text under the title of ‘Hard Problems in Cryptocurrency: Five Years Later.’ In the text, he elaborates on different aspects, plans, and issues that are or might start affecting the crypto industry, and especially Ethereum.

However, while Buterin seems to be generally concerned about these issues — such as scalability, timestamping, Arbitrary Proof of Computation, Code Obfuscation, Hash-Based Cryptography, and more — not everyone agrees.

Cohen criticizes Vitalik Buterin

BitTorrent creator, Bram Cohen, stood up against Buterin’s claims on Twitter, basically dismissing most of them or pointing out that some solutions are not even worth considering right now for various reasons. He called Buterin’s claims wrong-headed, and began a 28-tweets-long thread in which he addressed Buterin’s claims, point by point.

For example, in the part of his text where he talks about Blockchain Scalability, Buterin mentions on-chain scaling with sharding as the only option worth considering. Cohen strongly disagrees, stating that payment channel networks are a much better way to go about it, and are becoming ‘a real thing.’

This appears to be one of the most concerning parts of Buterin’s text, as he sees it as a sure way to end up requiring miners to have all the shards. According to him, that would not be sharding, but redefining what a ‘full node’ is. Of course, Buterin did not claim this himself, but Cohen sees it as a very likely result if the technology behind crypto heads down this path.

Cohen addresses the rest of Buterin’s points in a similar manner, usually disagreeing with his viewpoints, or claiming that some solutions are still underdeveloped to be considered seriously at this time.

One example of the latter concerns Buterin’s views on ‘Arbitrary Proof of Computation.’ Cohen commented that there is ‘a lot of very exciting stuff going on.’ However, he noted that he would not dare to look into it seriously for at least a few more years. He does have high hopes for the concept, although he clearly believes it to be underdeveloped at this time.

There are also points that Buterin made that Cohen sees as unnecessary. Code Obfuscation is one such segment, where the Ethereum Co-Founder hopes for further progress while Cohen believes that ZK techniques already fulfill pretty much all use cases in practice.

Ethereum POS is a ‘Bad Idea’

He also hit close to home for Ethereum by commenting that PoS ‘continues to be a bad idea.’ He believes it to be a fundamentally weakened security model that will cause countless additional technical issues. He admits that there was some progress in the field, but he still doesn’t seem to have much faith in it.

He also commented on timestamping, claiming that it is fine as it is and that there is no need to bring additional changes.

Blockstream CEO, Adam Back, also decided to weigh in on Cohen’s tweetstorm against Vitalik, comparing the Ethereum Co-Founder to the disgraced Founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes.

 

Do you agree with Bram Cohen comments regarding Ethereum? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @bramcohen @VitalikButerin @Adam3us

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Crypto Markets Surging on Back of Rising US Tech Stocks?

crypto us stock tech market

A recent rally of technology companies’ shares led to an overall increase in US stock prices, which are hitting new records. Could this bullish activity be the cause of today’s crypto recovery? 


US and China willing to continue with the talks

The US/China trade war still rages on, but recent events have had some positive impacts on the prices of stocks around the world. The recent increase comes directly after China’s officials announced speeding up of penalties and punitive action for patent infringement and copyrights.

Meanwhile, the US declared that it is willing to continue negotiating, provided that China can assure the US that it will stay true to its commitments. Clearly, China’s response indicates that the country is willing to continue talks with the US, which is considered to be a good sign for assets such as stocks.

Stocks are known to be risky assets, and this was confirmed throughout the year, as the uncertainty regarding the two powers’ negotiations prolonged. Confirmation that the negotiations will continue in good faith has had a major impact on the shares of many companies, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose by 0.7% (190.85 points). Nasdaq Composite grew by 1.3% (112.60 points), while S&P 500 went up by 0.8% (23.35 points).

Moving forward, stock market participants do not expect any sudden moves, unless some unexpected news ends up having a major impact. Further, due to the holidays approaching, the bond and stock markets will be closed Thursday and shut early on Friday.

Stock and Crypto Markets Bounce

When it comes to the tech firms in the US, the country has had quite a few significant gainers, including Advanced Micro Devices, whose shares rose by 1.6%, as well as Nvidia, which saw a 4.9% surge.

bitcoin price surge reasons

While the US/China situation did have a significant impact on the stock prices, it is worth noting that the recent growth in deal-making also had a major influence on the positivity surrounding stock prices.

Probably the best-known example includes the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s purchase of Tiffany, whose shares surged by 6.2% following the announcement. Another example is the surge of Charles Schwab shares, which rose by 2.3% following the agreement to buy a rivaling firm, TD Ameritrade Holding. The rivaling company itself saw a share surge of 7.6%.

Other major gainers include eBay (2.1%), but also the GBP, which increased by 0.6% against USD, and the FTSE 100 index, which grew by 0.9%.

The improving stock market could be a contributing catalyst for the relief rally we’re witnessing take place across the crypto markets today. Right now, the leading cryptocurrency has recovered 5% of its losses from the week, and returned to the psychological support at $7,200. According to Coinmarketcap figures, the global market cap has added $16 Billion in the last 24 hours, arousing hope that the crypto market bottom is finally in.

What do you think about the new stock price rally? Do you expect that the share prices will continue growing throughout the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.


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Bitcoin Whale Moves 47,000 BTC ($338 Million) as China Cracks Down on Crypto

bitcoin whale moves btc

China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrencies may have caused Bitcoin whales to move huge quantities of BTC. 


China’s recent praises of blockchain technology do not seem to extend to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as the country’s central bank launched another crackdown on crypto.

The People’s Bank of China warned that ‘illegal actions’ involving digital assets would not be tolerated, and noted that investors should not mistake crypto with blockchain. Only hours after the move, a Bitcoin whale made their move in a single, massive transaction.

Bitcoin Whale Moves Over $300 Million in BTC

As mentioned, a single, massive transaction was recorded only a few hours ago, involving 47,000 BTC, which is over $337.8 million considering current prices. The transaction recorded that funds were moved from one unknown wallet to another.

The news from China also resulted in a massive Bitcoin price drop, in the last few days. BTC is currently sitting at 00 after dropping by 4.33% in the last 24 hours.

The dump brought down altcoins, as well. The top 10 cryptos are currently seeing drops between 4% and 8.7%, excluding the stablecoin Tether (USDT), which climbed to the 4th spot on the list of largest cryptocurrencies.

China Steps Up Efforts to Launch its Own Coin

China’s move, which seems to have started this series of events, comes in light of recent discussions regarding the country’s potential to open up to crypto. It appears that the interest in digital currencies in China rose due to the country’s positive stance towards blockchain technology. Many started speculating whether China might lift the ban on cryptocurrency trading.

Now, the country once again confirmed its anti-crypto stance, although it still continues with plans to launch its own, national digital currency known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP). The central bank confirmed that China’s national coin is still under tests and detailed studies, but that it will see launch eventually.

What do you think about China’s recent move? Did you expect Bitcoin price to move in such a drastic way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Twitter: @whale_alert

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Crypto Worth $6.7 Million Seized from Kiwi Programmer

crypto seized from piracy expert

During a movie piracy setup crackdown, Hamilton Police seized $6.7 million in cryptocurrency from a software programmer. 


According to recent reports, law enforcement officers in Hamilton, New Zealand successfully arrested a 31-year old programmer and movie pirate Jaron David McIvor. During the arrest, the police also managed to seize around $6,7 million worth of crypto — as well as $1.1 million in bank funds.

The arrest comes as a result of an investigation into online movie piracy. As per reportings, McIvor’s residence did not have much stored wealth, despite major amounts in his possession. All the more, he lived in a rental property that he shared with a relative who is also sought after by the US tax officials.

Piracy Hunt Order: PayPal Tipped IRS and the IRS tipped the Police

The police seized the funds under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, which allows authorities to freeze bank accounts of suspects provided there is a suspicion that the suspect made a profit from criminal activities. In McIvor’s case, he committed money laundering by earning millions from movie piracy. McIvor allegedly helped create an illegal streaming website, where he uploaded movies without permission. So far, McIvor has denied the money laundering charges.

The police made a move after the United States’ IRS tipped them, stating that they received Suspicious Activity Reports on McIvor from PayPal. After carefully perusing the report, the IRS tracked McIvor to New Zealand. He is not the only suspect in the movie piracy case, although he appears to be the only one in New Zealand. Other individuals connected to the case were tracked down to Vietnam, Canada, and even the US.

The records obtained by the police state that McIvor earned around $2 million by streaming pirated movies. He received the money on PayPal and Stripe, and he then transferred it to his bank account.

He allegedly earned the rest through cryptocurrency trading. The funds will likely be sold by the High Court’s order to ensure that they do not lose value over time, should crypto prices drop.

What do you think about this case? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Binance to Sue The Block for Damaging the Exchange’s Reputation

cz binance to sue the block

Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, stated on Twitter that the exchange would sue The Block for false news reporting pertaining to a Chinese ‘police raid’ on the exchange’s Shangai office.


The Block’s recent report claimed that Binance’s China office got raided by the police, which never happened according to the exchange’s CEO. Now CZ called out the crypto media outlet on Twitter, demanding an apology for the egregious mistake.

CZ Confirms Binance’s Lawsuit Plans

CZ’s response came as a comment on another tweet posted by Misha Lederman. Lederman stated that Frank Chaparro, The Block’s news director, plans to ‘address the usage of objectionable language’ in the story that had reported the raid. Lederman also commented on the story, calling it ‘very poor journalism’ that has damaged the reputation of Binance and the crypto industry itself.

To that, Binance’s CEO added that the fake news also affected BTC’s price and that The Block is now trying to save face by trying to change perspective. He then asked for the news outlet to ‘own up and apologize.’

When asked whether Binance plans to sue The Block, Zhao confirmed that this is indeed the plan.

Fake News Damaging the Crypto Industry

Fake news with false or exaggerated claims is nothing new on the internet, and it is a problem that has been around for a long time. Numerous media outlets are guilty of their use of strong or misleading language that has a goal of attracting clicks.

However, the use of such language also damages reputations, and this time, the damage is quite severe. Not just, Binance but the credibility of the entire digital asset space is at stake due to the false report.

Bitcoin has been taking a nosedive in the last few days due to this report, although China’s newest crackdown on cryptocurrency trading in Shanghai likely also contributed. Right now, Bitcoin’s price sits at 00, which is about $1,000 lower than what it was earlier this week.

The rest of the crypto market followed the drop as well, resulting in a major price loss for almost all coins. However, the fake news probably had the harshest impact on the price od Binance’s native crypto, BNB. The coin has seen the largest drop amongst the top 10 largest cryptos, with its price down by 8.46% in the last 24 hours.

What do you think about the new situation? Do you agree with Binance’s decision to sue The Block? Let us know in the comments below.


Image via Bitcoinist Media Library, Twitter: @cz_binance, @mishalederman

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Ethereum Block Rewards Reduced by 1000 ETH as Block Times Rise

ethereum eth block rewards

The Ethereum network is now producing less ETH per day. Block rewards have reduced from around 13,500 coins to 12,500. 


Ethereum is currently facing a situation where the block reward output per day is about 1,000 coins lesser than last week. This is a major drop compared to the situation three years ago when the average number of coins produced per day was at around 30,000. 

Block rewards in 2017 were pegged at 20,000, dropping once more to 14,000 earlier in 2019. Usually, the drop in block rewards is tightly connected to major upgrades in the Ethereum network. This time, however, there were no upgrades that would affect the production of new coins. ETH rewards are simply dropping, while the hash rate seems to be appreciating.

Recent data indicates that Ethereum block times have gone up as well, although only by around 1 second. The only explanation for the current situation is that the difficulty bomb has kicked in.

What is the Ethereum Difficulty Bomb?

As many might be aware, Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is a protocol level algorithm that increases the amount of power required to find and solve blocks. Difficulty bombs have been activated in the past, as well, with one of the most notable spikes occurring in 2017, during the months of March and April. The time needed to solve blocks surged from 14 to 30 seconds. This situation lasted until October 2017.

 

The bomb also went off almost a year ago, in December 2018, but block times only climbed only to 20 seconds. This time, the bomb remained active for around two months.

Now, one year later, the difficulty problem seems to have kicked in again, although it only brought the time needed to solve a block down to 13 seconds. The effect is slow at first, but soon enough, finding a block becomes extremely difficult. It will likely become more and more strenuous to solve blocks as time goes by, meaning rewards will probably decrease further in the near future.

ETH price might grow due to the incoming shortage. For now, the recommended course of action is to let the bomb do its job, while Ethereum inches closer to its transition to PoS. 

Some dApp users might see slight delays in transactions, but ultimately, this should not pose a major problem for the project.

What do you think about the latest drop in Ethereum block rewards? Do you expect the ETH’s price to grow? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Twitter: @VitalikButerin

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Ethereum Block Rewards Reduced by 1000 ETH as Block Times Rise

ethereum eth block rewards

The Ethereum network is now producing less ETH per day. Block rewards have reduced from around 13,500 coins to 12,500. 


Ethereum is currently facing a situation where the block reward output per day is about 1,000 coins lesser than last week. This is a major drop compared to the situation three years ago when the average number of coins produced per day was at around 30,000. 

Block rewards in 2017 were pegged at 20,000, dropping once more to 14,000 earlier in 2019. Usually, the drop in block rewards is tightly connected to major upgrades in the Ethereum network. This time, however, there were no upgrades that would affect the production of new coins. ETH rewards are simply dropping, while the hash rate seems to be appreciating.

Recent data indicates that Ethereum block times have gone up as well, although only by around 1 second. The only explanation for the current situation is that the difficulty bomb has kicked in.

What is the Ethereum Difficulty Bomb?

As many might be aware, Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is a protocol level algorithm that increases the amount of power required to find and solve blocks. Difficulty bombs have been activated in the past, as well, with one of the most notable spikes occurring in 2017, during the months of March and April. The time needed to solve blocks surged from 14 to 30 seconds. This situation lasted until October 2017.

 

The bomb also went off almost a year ago, in December 2018, but block times only climbed only to 20 seconds. This time, the bomb remained active for around two months.

Now, one year later, the difficulty problem seems to have kicked in again, although it only brought the time needed to solve a block down to 13 seconds. The effect is slow at first, but soon enough, finding a block becomes extremely difficult. It will likely become more and more strenuous to solve blocks as time goes by, meaning rewards will probably decrease further in the near future.

ETH price might grow due to the incoming shortage. For now, the recommended course of action is to let the bomb do its job, while Ethereum inches closer to its transition to PoS. 

Some dApp users might see slight delays in transactions, but ultimately, this should not pose a major problem for the project.

What do you think about the latest drop in Ethereum block rewards? Do you expect the ETH’s price to grow? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Twitter: @VitalikButerin

The post Ethereum Block Rewards Reduced by 1000 ETH as Block Times Rise appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

LocalBitcoins Reports 135,000 New Customers Per Month

Localbitcoins gains 135,000 users per month

LocalBitcoins CEO recently revealed that the company is growing at a huge rate, stating that the platform still receives over 135,000 new users per month.


The advancements of the crypto industry are becoming more and more apparent as the years go by. Numerous new exchanges are emerging, the number of cryptocurrencies is larger than ever, and the industry has made significant technological breakthroughs.

The interest in crypto trading, particularly P2P trading, is also growing, according to LocalBitcoins’ CEO, Sebastian Sonntag, in a recent interview. During the talk, he admitted that the company is expanding and that its user base is gaining 4,000 to 5,000 users per day.

Sonntag answered a number of questions regarding LocalBitcoins itself, the altcoin market, regulations, challenges that the crypto world is facing now, and more.

The interview

When talking about LocalBitcoins, Sonntag stated that the company is going through a transitional period. The firm is growing rapidly, and he admitted that the firm is,

Working to catch up with a sharp increase in support queries, by hiring more staff and investing in training.

However, he also noted that the company’s plans for the future do not include providing wallets for the altcoins, even the ones among the top 10 largest coins. However, the platform does work on improving itself, especially due to its adoption in various regions.

LocalBitcoins Reports 135,000 New Customers Per Month

Sonntag stated that LocalBitcoins recently enabled ‘multiple simultaneous open trades,’ which would make trading more convenient and significantly faster. The changes were received very positively.

LocalBitcoins grows and improves

He particularly addressed the topic of crypto regulations. He noted that LocalBitcoins has always been taking steps to respond to legal requirements in all jurisdictions in which it operates. However, the platform does not serve US clients at the moment, although it is seeking legal advice on what it could do to change that.

Apart from the US and other similar regions, LocalBitcoins is one of the platforms with the widest reach in the industry. Even so, he believes that one of the platform’s main challenges is related to user education — not only regarding crypto but cybersecurity itself.

Sonntag also briefly touched upon Libra, stating that he is unsure of its impact on the crypto market and whether it will fuel adoption and expansion.

Do you think that Localbitcoins is more practical than crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comment section below!


Images via Shutterstock, LearnBonds

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Crypto Tax: De Minimis Exception Could Complicate Things for IRS

crypto tax IRS

A provision for de minimis exception in crypto taxes could lead coin holders to manipulate the system while burdening IRS further.


The US Internal Revenue Service recently published guidance regarding the tax treatment of digital currencies. The document was long-awaited due to the fact that it contains instructions on how to calculate taxes on crypto transactions. However, many have also noticed that it requires US citizens to report every sale, exchange, and transaction of cryptocurrencies in order to calculate gains and losses.

The document also doesn’t provide a de minimis exception — a certain threshold that would relieve crypto users from reporting smaller amounts and paying taxes on gains made from those small amounts. Many were disappointed to see the lack of de minimis exception, as numerous US citizens supported and requested it.

However, it appears that the IRS may have considered adding it, but eventually decided against doing so. The reason for this is a concern that crypto holders could have manipulated the system in order to bypass detection. This would only lead to the development of advanced tax evasion techniques.

The Lack of De Minimis Exception Explained

The reasons quoted by the IRS are simple to understand. If a de minimis provision were included, the agency itself would have to invest a lot more time and effort to comb through countless transactions in order to monitor the crypto market. In other words, the IRS would have to increase its own administrative burdens, while crypto holders would keep hoodwinking the system every time.

IRS crypto tax

The AICPA was one of the most vocal supporters of the de minimis exception, particularly in the last few years. It claimed that tracking the basis and fair market value of crypto at the time of each transaction is burdensome and time-consuming. While it is necessary for bigger transactions, the small ones are more often and not worth it.

However, Omri Marian, The University of California’s Irvine School of Law professor, argues that it makes no sense to add such a rule. That would only encourage the use of crypto, which is something that the government would not want to do.

Others have argued that adding de minimis exception would help crypto traders, while the contra-argument was that it would not, as digital asset traders would still have to track their profits in order to know whether or not they qualify for the tax exception rule. And, if the rule existed, it would likely only lead to its abuse, which is why the authorities have decided against it.

What do you think about the IRS’ ‘no de minimis’ decision? Were you hoping for a positive outcome? Let us know in the comments below.


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Second Largest Australian Bank Broke AML Laws More Than 23 Million Times

australia westpac money laundering

Westpac, Australia’s second-largest bank, violated money laundering laws 23 million times and could be fined AUD21 million (US$15.7 million) per breach.


Westpac Banking Corp, the second-largest bank in Australia, currently faces multiple accusations. One of them is pertaining to the biggest breach of terrorism financing and money laundering laws in history. According to reports, the bank failed to detect over $7.5 billion in cross-border transactions, in addition to infringing money laundering laws 23 million times.

According to reports, each act of transgression might receive a $15.7 million (21 million AUD) fine.

Australian Banks Need to Improve Their Business Practices

The news comes as a surprise. Westpac has always been among the banks that are known for its reputable security and safety. However, Australia’s banks have started getting embroiled in one scandal after another in recent years, effectively losing reputation along the way.

Australia Westpac bank money laundering

This is not only the case. Only a year ago, Australia’s largest lender, known as Commonwealth Bank of Australia, got accused of 53,800 money laundering contraventions. The matter was settled for AUD 700 million, excluding the legal costs themselves. While this was Australia’s largest corporate civil penalty to date, it could have gone significantly higher than the quoted figure, reaching even AUD 1 trillion.

As for Westpac, the bank allegedly self-reported to Austrac (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), which then filed a statement of claim against it. Westpac CEO, Brian Hartzer, openly agreed with the statements, admitting that the bank should have done better,

Accusations Against Westpac Keep Piling Up

Austrac reported that infractions occurred between 2013 and 2019. They were possible due to Westpac’s adoption of an ad-hoc approach to money laundering and terrorist financing risk management and compliance. The bank even failed to manage known child-exploitation risks, allowing customers who served jail time for child exploitation to open accounts.

Westpac already saw a 3.3% drop in shares, and it recently reported its first annual profit drop in four years. Hartzer commented on the bank’s situation, insisting that the bank invested in improving the managing of financial crime risks. Some of the new precautions include improving automatic detection systems.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s central bank is investigating the claims as well, trying to determine whether they are relevant to the bank’s New Zealand subsidiary.

What do you think about the Westpac AML breach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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