Ripple Pledges $50 Million to Universities for Blockchain Research

San Francisco-based Ripple has announced a University Blockchain Research Initiative which will include a funding amount of $50 million for select academic institutions. Despite the current lethargy in cryptocurrency markets, interest in blockchain is at a fever pitch, especially on campus. Ripple recognizes that students and faculty are key elements for the creation of a more robust and valuable blockchain ecosystem. 


Academic Advancement

In an announcement on the company blog, Ripple — touting itself as “one of the most mature companies in the space” — said it was uniquely suited to partnering with the academic community.

The University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) will partner with 17 universities around the globe, including MIT, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, the business schools at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Texas, Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil, and colleges in the U.K., Netherlands, Australia, India, South Korea, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Canada.

Over $50 million in funding will be pledged by Ripple for the schools to focus on their own projects and priority areas, including:

  • Collaborate on research and technology development that will stimulate widespread understanding and innovation in the blockchain space.
  • Create new curriculums to meet high student demand for learning about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and other FinTech topics.
  • Stimulate ideas and dialog among students, faculty, technologists and business leaders on topics of shared interest.

Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of global operations at Ripple, said:

Academia has traditionally been a critical driver of technical innovation. The University Blockchain Research Initiative is an acknowledgment of the vital importance of the unique role universities will play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology.

Bitcoin Degrees

The projects will focus on various implications of blockchain applications and cryptocurrency adoption. Princeton University’s Center for IT, for example, will create a UBRI program to study the policy impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the U.S. and around the world. The University of Pennsylvania will meanwhile launch a new dual degree program, supported by the UBRI, for MBAs studying blockchain and crypto tech.

Greg Brown, professor of finance and director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler, said:

UNC Kenan-Flagler and the Kenan Institute are uniquely qualified to be part of this global initiative. Our research focus has always been around real-use cases that result in clear benefits to businesses and society, particularly with respect to cutting-edge technologies. This partnership with Ripple to discover useful applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is a logical extension of our efforts.

According to Ripple, universities have traditionally been viewed as the backbone of innovation as they may offer a level of independence that the private sector cannot.

What do you think of Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, DepositPhotos.

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Verge Hits Crowdfund Target, Price Spike Follows

Like most altcoins, Verge has had a pretty dire year. The cryptocurrency shot to fame in mid-December by promising revolutionary new privacy tech and jumping over 3000 percent in just ten days. Since its all-time high of $0.26, XVG has lost over 90% of those gains in a downward spiral over the past three months. Things could be about to change for Verge, though, as its latest fundraising plan has been a success.


To bolster interest and investment in the floundering altcoin, the team decided to launch a short donation drive to generate funds in order to secure what they deemed as “the largest partnership in crypto to date!” with “a global organization with a vast network of high traffic sites.”

Verge Hits the Target

Keeping partnership details under wrap, the developers asked the community and XVG holders to raise 75 million coins in just a few days. Yesterday, things looked a little bleak with just 20 million tokens in the donation pot. However, privacy-based payments platform TokenPay stepped in as the savior of the day to match donations up to 50 million.

Checking the blockchain explorer for the donation address reveals that the Verge community has hit their target, and there are now 76.2 million XVG tokens in the kitty. This equates to approximately $3.5 million at today’s rate.

A further Tweet dropped another enticing hint that big news is on the way and a video by lead developer Justin Vendetta is about to follow.

It seems that the lion’s share of donations has come from TokenPay, which sold out of their own tokens during the January ICO.

XVG Surges, All Others Slide

Although this has been a rather unorthodox method of rekindling interest in an altcoin, it seems to have paid off. XVG has been the only altcoin in the green during this morning’s Asian trading session. All other cryptocurrencies are getting battered, but Verge volume has surged. It is up 12% on the day and 50% on the week, according to Livecoinwatch.com. Compared to BTC, which has failed to maintain support at $8,000, XVG is doing even better, trading 20% higher on the day at around 600 satoshis compared to 415 sats this time yesterday and 300 sats this time last week.

All eyes are now on the Twitter feed of the altcoin for the announcement of the partnership which could well send the price of the altcoin even higher. Alternatively, if the news is underwhelming, as many altcoin partnership announcements are, XVG could slide back into the doldrums with all of the other cryptocurrencies today.

Disclosure: the author of this article is a holder of XVG.

Will Verge get back to its previous highs? Add your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@vergecurrency and Pixabay.

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Upbit Exchange to Launch Korea’s First Cryptocurrency Index

Upbit, South Korea’s second largest crypto exchange, is planning to launch a new cryptocurrency index called UBCI (Upbit Crypto Index). The concept is to provide a standard index which can measure market conditions by suggesting and creating a coin quote standard.


In a report by Business Korea this morning, it was noted that the company operating Upbit, Dunamu, aims to provide this index in order to make it easier for investors to understand overall market trends and the bigger picture.

South Korea

Branching Out

In addition to the new cryptocurrency index, the company also plans to expand the business so that the index can be used on international markets. There is often a discrepancy between cryptocurrency prices on domestic and international markets due to local demand. South Korea is a dominant player in crypto trading and what happens there often has wider implications across the rest of the world.

The new index will function by collecting long term transaction and trade data from the exchange and using it to create a standard value in confidence levels. Four indexes will be developed: a Market Index, Sector Index, Bitcoin Index, and a Strategy Index. The Market, Sector, and Bitcoin indexes will be launched in April, and Upbit will launch the Strategy Index later in the year.

Each index uses a different set of metrics to make its calculations. The market cap-weighted index will use the total market liquidity ratio to enable investors to observe the flow of all cryptocurrencies at a glance. Classifying the category of each type of digital coin will provide the data for the Sector Index, and the Bitcoin Index will use the market share and dominance of BTC to build its results. The Strategy Index uses a longer-term quantifiable investment quotient to analyze portfolios and track their yields.

Upbit creating indexes

President of Dunamu, Lee Seok-woo, told local media:

The present situation of the cryptocurrency market is quite similar to the traditional financial market based on stocks and bonds in its early stage. Accordingly, as the market gets more sophisticated, the UBCI is expected to play an important role in this area in the future. We will also disclose the index rulebook and let the market evaluate it before long.

Upbit currently handles $732 million (86,700 BTC) per day, according to Coinmarketcap. It has recently added a number of new altcoins to its listings, including Icon and Tron, and is the country’s second largest exchange after Bithumb.

Will cryptocurrency indexes increase trade and bolster markets? Add your thoughts below. 


Images courtesy of GoodFreePhotos, Pixabay, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Coincheck Clients Compensated from Crypto Heist, XEM Soars

When a crypto exchange or digital wallet provider is compromised, the digital loot is often moved away so fast that there is no chance of recovery. This is what happened to Coincheck in January when 523 million XEM tokens were pilfered from the exchange. As promised, however, the Tokyo-based exchange has just completed reimbursing its clients for the loss.


According to a report in the WSJ, Coincheck claims that it has completed the compensation it promised to its customers for the loss. A total of 46.3 billion JPY ($433 million USD) was spent from the company’s own funds to reimburse 260,000 customers that stored NEM on the exchange.

Coincheck executives apologizing for the hack.

Coincheck executives apologizing for the hack.

NEM Accounts Refilled

Customers received XEM at a rate of 88.549 JPY per token as previously advised by the exchange. This equates to approximately $0.83, which is almost double NEM’s current trading price and is closer to that at the end of January when the hack took place.

A spokeswoman for the exchange said that the total payout was completed on Monday. Trading has also resumed at Coincheck this week after a month’s suspension to reevaluate security protocols. A number of customers took to social media to express their relief.

Japanese authorities are still investigating the incursion at the exchange but have yet to report any conclusions. Regulators are still waiting for Coincheck to acquire the appropriate licenses and improve its governance and controls. Hong Kong exchange Binance, meanwhile, has offered a bounty for any information on a recent attempted hacking and phishing effort that was thwarted.

Coinxhexk

XEM Skyrockets

In reaction to the news, the price of XEM shot up over 20% during this morning’s Asian trading session. While most other cryptocurrencies were once again in the red, NEM traded higher on the day. Currently trading at $0.42, the token is up from $0.34 this time yesterday. In terms of BTC, it is performing even better, up almost 24% to 4486 satoshis from 3480 sats the same time yesterday. Over the week, XEM has done extremely well against BTC, climbing by 43% from 3140 sats this time last Tuesday.

As expected, Asians are leading the trading with the lion’s share of NEM’s $120 million 24 hour volume being traded in South Korea and Japan on Upbit and Zaif, respectively. NEM is finally making up some of that lost ground that put it at February’s worst performer in the top 25 cryptocurrencies.

Will XEM get back to a dollar? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Bitcoinist archives.

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Binance Seeks Bounty Hunters to Track Hackers – $250,000 Reward

The attempted breach of Binance’s systems on March 7 sent a wave of fear through the crypto community. Binance is one of the world’s largest exchanges with over a billion dollars in daily trade volume. Many traders still leave a lot of their assets on the exchange so it is holding a very large pot at any one time which makes it a lucrative target, far bigger than any traditional bank.


The company has realized that, even though the attempted hack was thwarted, it needs to be a little more pro-active against organized threats. According to a recent company blog post, Binance wants to actively prevent any instances of hacking before they happen, as well as follow through after-the-fact should any future hacks occur.

Bounty Offered

The exchange has taken the unprecedented step of offering a bounty for any information leading to the apprehension of the hackers who attempted to infiltrate their systems last week;

Binance is offering a $250,000 USD equivalent bounty to anyone who supplies information that leads to the legal arrest of the hackers involved in the attempted hacking incident on Binance on March 7th, 2018.

The reward, payable in Binance’s own cryptocurrency, BNB, will be given to the first person to provide substantial information and evidence that leads to arrests in any jurisdiction. Anonymity is optional, providing local laws permit it, and the company reserves the right to split the bounty should there be multiple sources of information.

Evidently, the exchange expects more attacks as it has set aside a reserve of $10 million equivalent currency for future bounty awards. Binance has also reached out to other exchanges to join the initiative and help to catch hackers and cyber criminals.

Failed Attempt – This Time

Fortunately, in this incident the hack was unsuccessful and withdrawals were automatically frozen. In a blog post explaining the situation last week Binance said;

However, as withdrawals were already automatically disabled by our risk management system, none of the withdrawals successfully went out. Additionally, the VIA coins deposited by the hackers were also frozen. Not only did the hacker not steal any coins out, their own coins have also been withheld. The hackers were well organized. They were patient enough to not take any immediate action, and waited for the most opportune moment to act. They also selected VIA, a coin with smaller liquidity, to maximize their own gains.

What is a certainty is that this will not be the last attempt to hack an exchange or deceive its customers. We humans are the weakest link in most online security breaches; we all need to be more vigilant, especially when dealing with cryptocurrencies which will become an increasingly bigger target.

Is a bounty a big enough incentive or should exchanges spend the money on better security? Add your thoughts below.


Images courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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MoneroV Hard-Fork Faces Delay

Hard forks are highly anticipated events in crypto-land. They often offer an opportunity for coin holders to get a free airdrop which increases the value and investment levels in the original coin leading up to the fork. Monero is about to be forked into MoneroV, however the team has delayed the split for a further six weeks.


According to a blog post on the fork, the MoneroV team stated that the snapshot date will be postponed to around April 30, or at block 1564965. A growing demand and increasing expectations from users, trading platforms, and large mining pools were cited as the reasoning behind the delay.

Exchange Cooperation Needed

The post went on to elaborate that in order to facilitate the airdrop to XMR holders, exchanges would have to list MoneroV or XMV. This would take additional time to process and implement.

Previous hard forks such as the Litecoin Cash split have not been as successful as they could have due to the convoluted and risky process of claiming the free coins.

If the exchanges already support the new fork then more people will benefit from it leading to greater adoption, usage and investment, which will be good for both Monero and MoneroV.

Monero dark net drug markets

There has also been some confusion over Monero’s own software updates, which are due in March. At the same time, postponing the hard-fork helps both blockchains because mining pools also need more time to prepare for the event, which will ensure that XMV is more stable at the time of the chain split.

The post also mentioned some difficulty in storing Monero locally and that the delay will help more users to prepare and be able to claim their XMV’s.

The team also went on to warn about potential scams and phishing attempts that will occur as the fork draws nearer. They stated:

We will never ask you to register on any form/website that promises an ‘airdrop’ of MoneroV. The only XMV coins that will be generated are copy-imaged of the XMR coins the wallets at the time of the snapshot hold. You will never be asked or required to pay for anything at any time. You should never insert your private keys into any website, closed-source software, Google form or anything else except the official open-sourced MoneroV GUI wallet.

Monero Price Action

Monero has taken a battering along with all other altcoins this week. It has lost 34% over the week from $370 to yesterday’s low of $244. However, XMR has recovered slightly and is up 15% on the day.

Over the past month, Monero has also made gains when many other cryptocurrencies have fallen. Prices are likely to continue upwards as the hard fork gets closer that is, however, providing that the crypto markets, in general, remain bullish.

How high will Monero go before the hard fork? Share your thoughts below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tradingview

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Experts Claim Ripple Could be the Next Bitcoin

Analysts, traders, and investors are constantly looking for the next big thing. While Bitcoin is far from fading, other cryptocurrencies may emerge to replace it as the standard for digital financial transfers. One company that has made a lot of partnerships and gained a lot of attention recently is Ripple.


According to reports, a number of industry experts predict that Ripple’s XRP could be the next big thing as large gains from a sub-dollar asset would be far more likely than one that is already trading at $10K per coin.

Ripple

Ripple to Mainstream Crypto

Craig Cole of CryptoMaps is one expert that thinks Ripple and XRP could help catalyze cryptocurrency becoming mainstream. He offers:

Its faster transaction speeds and lower fees make it easier for financial systems to embrace the virtual currency, which is partly why Ripple’s value has increased dramatically just this year. Ripple is helping financial institutions save money and it is only expected to become even more prevalent in payment flows. The virtual currency is certainly on the rise and has the potential to be the first token to truly disrupt an industry, and if it does, expect XRP to reach Bitcoin-like levels of ubiquity in the near future.

Associate Director ITRC at Long Island University, John-Paul McCaffrey, is in agreement, especially if there are more platforms to exchange XRP for fiat, which will inevitably boost the altcoin. Roman Guelfi-Gibbs, CEO and Lead Systems Designer for Pinnacle Brilliance Systems Inc., claims that it will take another year for Ripple to gain market dominance, saying:

Ripple certainly has the potential to move up a notch in 2018, but I think it will be more likely in 2019. As the market observes more projects being coded in other algorithms such as XRP, ETH will likely take a backseat to the next big coin/token.

The early investors of Bitcoin had to wait almost a decade to reap the rewards and drive that Lamborghini out of the showroom. Ripple may not take a decade but it certainly will not happen overnight. Consumer awareness needs to increase along with direct trading in fiat for it to start moving upwards again.

Ripple CEO says crypto should work with regulators

Work with the Regulators

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has, meanwhile, said that for the industry to move forwards it has to work with the regulators, not against them. In an interview on CNBC’s Fast Money, he said:

It’s incredibly important that the entire industry recognizes that we have to work with the regulators, we have to work with the system. The blockchain revolution is happening from within the system it’s not going to happen from outside the system.

He went on to say that there are many in the Bitcoin community that advocate a down with banks and governments philosophy and that Ripple has been ‘a contrarian relatively speaking in that regard.’  There was no further elaboration on the Coinbase listing situation, or lack of, which caused a brief spike in Ripple prices earlier this week. Currently, XRP is down 4.4% on the week but up over 14% on this time last month.

Will Ripple be the next big thing in the crypto industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay and Shutterstock.

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Tron (TRX) Awakes on Bittrex Listing Boost

Nothing will boost the price of an altcoin better than a listing on a major exchange. They don’t come much bigger than Bittrex which announced the listing of Tron (TRX) a few hours ago.


Tron has been lagging since its almighty pump back at the beginning of January. When crypto mania was at its peak, fear of missing out gripped a lot of newbie traders who jumped in on what they thought would be the next biggest thing in crypto land.

Tron Pump and Dump

Tron is a Chinese entertainments based cryptocurrency founded by entrepreneur Justin Sun. Part of its early success was the flurry of activity on social media propelling the coin from $0.002 at the beginning of December to a peak of $0.28 by early January. This epic pump resulted in a surge of almost 14,000 percent in less than a month. A lot of people made a lot of money on TRX, including its founder, however, a lot also lost out if they brought anywhere near the top as Tron has been sliding downwards ever since.

That is until today’s announcement that it would be listed on one of the world’s largest exchanges, Bittrex.

Price action took a jump a few hours ago during the morning’s Asian Trading session when TRX shifted up a gear to trade 20% higher on the day. The coin is currently trading at $0.05 which is still a long way off its all-time high.

The Future for Tron

Justin Sun has been on the receiving end of a world of flak on social media for his constant partnership announcements. The company has made a few partnerships with smaller Chinese companies but nothing on the scale that would revive major interest in this floundering cryptocurrency. Add this to the fact that Tron has yet to launch a solid product and it is easy to see why confidence in this coin has waned over the past two months.

To boost prices, a coin burn was planned which would reduce the number of tokens in total supply. The figure currently stands at 100 billion with 65 billion in circulation. At its peak, Tron was 6th place in the market capacity charts but has since fallen back to 15th. Current market capacity is $3.2 billion and daily trade volume is just under $500 million.

Bittrex may have just awoken the Chinese dragon, but it will take a lot more than just the exchange listing to get TRX back with the big boys.

Will Tron take off in 2018? Add your views to the comments below.


Images courtesy of Tron: Legacy/Walt Disney (2010)

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Crypto Experts Weigh in, Predict Big Gains for Ripple in 2018

Bold predictions on cryptocurrency prices can always be taken with a huge pinch of salt. If it were that easy to predict the price of Bitcoin, or Ripple in this case, we would all be driving Lambos. One analyst, however, is confident that the price of Ripple’s XRP will reach $16 by the end of the year.


According to reports, Samson Williams, CSO of Ireland-based fintech firm SeedUps, predicts XRP will go to $16 by December. He made this claim amongst a panel of five other crypto analysts on Finder’s cryptocurrency predictions for 2018.

Bold Claims

The average price of all predictions for XRP was a 540% gain to just over $6. However, Williams, who is also a partner of blockchain and crypto mining consultancy Axes and Eggs, thinks it could go a lot further:

Though not a cryptocurrency at all, it is the child of banks. So it’ll get the natural bump from [the] 2018 Recession.

Other panelists had their own views on why Ripple will do well this year. Technologist Joseph Raczynski thinks that a Coinbase listing could well send XRP up to $5:

In my opinion, this could take off, if Coinbase does in fact list it. My guess is that they will in the next few months, if they do – the sky will be the limit and I think this will boost the entire crypto market. If they don’t list it, I see it staying in the range of $.80 – $1.50.

News of Ripple partnerships is emerging on an almost weekly basis now, which can only be good for the company and the cryptocurrency. The biggest in recent weeks was the testing of xRapid, which uses XRP, by one of the world’s largest payments companies, Western Union.

Ripple (XRP) price predictions for 2018

Current Price Situation

Ripple has been on the move for a while now, however, it only really saw major action during the big upswing when it shot from $0.25 to $3.8 in just three weeks. Since then it has been largely in decline falling back to below a dollar where it currently trades. Looking at the long term chart paints a brighter picture, XRP gained an astronomical 14,000% since this time last year rising from $0.0065 in March 2017 to $0.92 today, outperforming Bitcoin several times over.

With partners being added on a weekly basis it is one of the few crypto companies with a viable, real world, operating product and over a hundred financial institutions and firms currently using it. Love it or hate it, if the predictions are even close, Ripple has a long way to go and the direction is up.

[Disclaimer: the author of this article is a holder of XRP]

Will Ripple go to the moon in 2018? Share your thoughts below.


Images courtesy of Finder, Shutterstock

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SEC Probes ICO Fundraising Methods

In an effort to bring the largely unregulated and highly speculative world of initial coin offerings in the US under control, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has started to issue subpoenas. Those initially targeted in the investigation were technology companies and advisers involved in the cryptocurrency industry.


Just a few hours ago, the WSJ reported that the SEC’s probe was intensifying the underlying need for US regulators to rein in the industry. The primary concern is not crypto trading, as such, but the unregulated world of ICOs and their methods of raising funds for their projects and concepts.

SEC

ICO Fundraising Eyed

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report went on to state that orders called for more information regarding the structure for sales and pre-sales of ICOs. These are not currently subjected to the same rigorous regulations as traditional IPOs for companies.

Blockchain and crypto companies had been previously warned for what officials have claimed are “widespread violations of securities rules designed to protect investors.” According to SEC chairman Jay Clayton:

Many promoters of ICOs and cryptocurrencies are not complying with our securities laws.

Clayton also told staff last month to be “on high alert for approaches to ICOs that may be contrary to the spirit of those laws.”

According to Token Report, the ICO market is on fire with over $1.6 billion already raised this year alone. Former SEC commissioner Dan Gallagher said this was the tip of the iceberg and that there would be a ton of enforcement activity. He referred to unregulated token offerings as “the freaking Wild West—it is ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ on steroids.

ICOs

Protection from Fraud

Contrary to what may be reported elsewhere, the SEC is not clamping down on cryptocurrencies. Its primary concern is the prevention of fraud and scams from unregulated ICOs, many of which have no physical product or platform to offer and are merely selling a concept. Citing a soon-to-be published MIT study on the ICO industry, the WSJ reported that between $270 and $317 million of the funds raised by ICOs are likely to have been scams.

Only a few of these cases have actually been successfully solved as regulators struggled to keep pace with the burgeoning industry over the past year. This latest wave of crypto-related subpoenas is focused partially on ‘simple agreements for future tokens’ (SAFTs) that are the method of choice for most ICO fundraising.

A little more regulation such as this will weed out the bad actors and make ICO and crypto investing a safer place for all of us in the long run, adding more legitimacy to the nascent industry.

Is ICO regulation a good thing for the crypto industry? Add your thoughts in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Flickr/@jnn1776, Shutterstock, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Thai Exchange TDAX Halts ICO Trading

Regulators and banks in Thailand are slowly turning the screws on privately owned crypto exchanges operating within the Kingdom. Thai Digital Asset Exchange (TDAX) is the first to postpone registration and trading of new ICOs while it waits for a clearer regulatory framework from the Securities and Exchange Commission. 


Bank Account Barred

The move comes just a few days after one of the country’s leading banks halted transactions involving trading of cryptocurrencies with the TDAX. Bangkok Bank is the first financial institution in Thailand to take such action. Their reasoning is that the exchange is not in compliance with its business purpose as registered with the Commerce Ministry.

Thailand

The privately owned Thai crypto exchange had registered. However, they were still waiting for the licenses to be granted. The bank’s decision to terminate the company’s trading account comes two weeks after the central bank issued a warning prohibiting financial institutions from dabbling in the crypto space.

Exchange founder and CEO Poramin Insom was not deterred as the account closure had not affected customers or trading:

Daily trading value remains normal, driven by demand from investors for digital currencies, and investors are able to conduct transactions with three other banks…

ICOs on Ice

In another move, the TDAX announced that it was putting the brakes on ICO registration and trading while it waits for the SEC to disclose its ICO regulatory framework.

The company recently completed an ICO for 100 million JFin tokens for J Ventures, a subsidiary of Stock Exchange of Thailand-listed Jay Mart Plc, at 6.60 baht per token. Reassuring investors, Poramin went on to state:

JFin coin will not be affected, as this ICO was fully subscribed to on Feb 16, while the first trading day will be held on April 2.

Bangkok, Thailand

A regulatory framework is expected to be released by the SEC on March 8th, and a fintech bill should follow. The ICO regulations are intended to supervise online cryptocurrency exchanges, which will have to register themselves with the SEC. The rush to regulate is part of a wider concern that the stock market could be affected if startups choose to raise funds from foreign exchanges.

There are currently only two private crypto exchanges in Thailand: TDAX, which handles a daily trade volume of $570k, and the larger volume BX, which handles $6.5 million per day, according to Coinmarketcap. Once the regulatory framework is in place, more cryptocurrency exchanges are expected to open within the Kingdom, which, along with Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, remains crypto friendly.

Will Thailand become more crypto friendly or follow in China’s footsteps? Add your thoughts in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Pixabay and Bitcoinist archives.

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Litecoin Lifts off Ahead of LitePay Launch

Crypto markets have been a little flat over the weekend, and there have been a few small shifts in either direction. Bitcoin has maintained a steady course around the $9,700 mark, fluctuating a couple of hundred dollars both up and down. The lack of momentum has trickled down through the rest of the altcoins, and there really isn’t much going on this morning, apart from in the Litecoin camp.


Litecoin is currently up 10% on the day, according to Coinmarketcap. This time 24 hours ago, it was trading at just over $200, and during Asian trading this morning, it hit a high of $234 before retreating a little to $228. LTC peaked at $252 on February 21st but has fallen back by 20% in subsequent days. Today, however, it has rallied upwards once again.

Litecoin

LitePay Launching Today

Today is the day that LitePay launches; this has undoubtedly caused LTC to be the only altcoin showing steady growth at the moment. LitePay is an alternative to BitPay, which allows merchants and businesses to accept crypto for their services and products. Specifically, Litecoin in this case, as many see it a faster and cheaper alternative to Bitcoin, which has become more of an investment vehicle than a currency as such.

Using a LitePay card and wallet will allow easy conversion from LTC into USD. The LitePay system will also increase adoption of the fifth most popular cryptocurrency as it will facilitate real world purchases, which were its intended purpose. Litecoin can also be purchased directly in fiat on some of the world’s major exchanges, such as Coinbase, which is also a boost for the virtual currency.

A Flappening Prediction

Litecoin founder Charlie Lee has remained very vocal about his baby since he sold off his stash a few months ago. The latest prediction is that Litecoin market capacity will exceed that of Bitcoin Cash in what has been referred to as a ‘flappening.’

Greater Segwit integration and Lightning Network adoption for Bitcoin will decrease the advantage Bitcoin Cash once had, and its value may not be sustainable. As Litecoin adoption grows, the likelihood of it surpassing BCH is strong as it is already seen as undervalued by many.

There are a total of 84 million Litecoins with 55.3 million already circulating. Market capacity at the time of writing is $12.6 billion, and it is traded heavily in Southeast Asia on OKEx and Bithumb. Trade volume over the past 24 hours has been 10% of the total at $1.26 billion.

Will Litecoin surpass Bitcoin Cash this year? Add your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@SatoshiLite, Bitcoinist archives.

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Cryptocurrency in Japan: Crypto Industry Groups to Merge, Launch Self-Regulatory Body

Japan is one of the world’s most crypto-friendly nations at the moment. It made digital currencies legal tender in April last year and enjoys a free and unfettered crypto trading environment. The drive behind this adoption of virtual currencies is an efficient and structured framework of regulation. This is about to be improved with the merger of two of the country’s leading cryptocurrency groups.


According to reports the Japan Blockchain Association and the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association are expected to merge as early as April. The ambition is to seek improved safeguards for investors and traders following last month’s $530 million Coincheck hack.

Safer Trading

The amalgamation of the two associations will produce one body with the possible appointment of the heads of the two existing organizations as chairman and vice chairman. However, the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association said in a statement that nothing has been decided and sources were not authorized to speak to the media yet.

The Coincheck incursion was one of the largest crypto heists to date. Hackers pilfered over half a million dollars of NEM’s token XEM from the Tokyo based exchange. However, in an unusual move, the exchange did offer to reimburse its customers for up to 90% of the lifted loot. Under normal circumstances, stolen crypto disappears pretty rapidly down the digital rabbit hole of anonymous wallets and accounts.

The attack exposed flaws in Japan’s system and has spurred action to further improve it as opposed to restricting it as other Asian nations such as China has chosen to do. South Korea is still sending mixed messages but in all likelihood, it will follow the Japanese route of regulated and safer crypto trading for its citizens.

Safer Trading

Crypto Powerhouse

Japan has some of the largest exchanges in the world including bitFlyer which has branches in Europe and America. According to local media Japanese Yen accounted for over 50% of the global trade in Bitcoin in January.  The Japanese are already familiar with trading traditional vehicles such as stocks, commodities, and forex so venturing into crypto has been an easy step for many.

Often known for its quirky culture Japan has a number of crypto themed bars and coffee shops and even a cosplay girl group promoting cryptocurrencies to the youth. Self-regulation, safer trading and a secure ecosystem can only be a good thing for Japan’s booming crypto market.

Should other countries follow Japan’s lead and self-regulate, or leave it to governments? Add your thoughts below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pixabay

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Blue Trading Platform: Managed Trading Without the Worry

If last year was the big bang for cryptocurrencies, 2018 will be the same for ICOs, exchanges, and trading platforms. Finding the right one with a solid reputation, good customer support, and fair fees will be a challenge in this ever expanding market. The Blue Trading platform seems to have hit the sweet spot with a diverse team with over 40 years of experience at the helm.


Blue Trading

A crypto trading platform that accepts fiat forex trading and commodities would be something special. The Blue Trading platform, started in 2012, does exactly that. It was originally founded by Richard Anderson and his team and is based in Japan, which has long been regarded as the most crypto friendly country in the world. Additionally, Blue Trading is a member of the Financial Commission as well as a signatory with the FX Global Code and the Crypto Valley Switzerland Association.

A managed account platform that offers all traders a wide range of options and performance metrics simplifies the process of buying and selling currencies and commodities. Clients have the ability to view their account anytime, 24 hours a day, but are not required to make any trade execution decisions on their own behalf.

The team of traders at Blue Trading has a combined 40 years of experience, allowing them to achieve impressive trading returns while clients monitor their accounts from around the world via their computer or mobile devices. Traders continually research the ever changing markets in forex, commodities, and crypto to find the best trends for executing high probability trades. This is achieved by utilizing sophisticated analytical models to determine and identify these opportunities on specific trading instruments. All Blue Trading client accounts are segregated with trades executed through a range of liquidity providers.

Blue Trading

The performance of the award winning managed Blue Trading accounts has been impressive with a proven track record. Fully compounded results in 2016 yielded a remarkable 590%, and 2017 was even better with a year-to-date return of 870%. The average monthly return since inception in 2015 has been 19.08%.

Unlike many popular crypto exchanges, there are no fixed fees. All fees are based on performance, and users on the Blue Trading platform will not be required to pay a management fee for getting started. There is a transparent flat fee of 18%, which is charged on net profits made by the account over a period of one year.

VIP accounts with higher initial deposits have a lower trading commission of 14%, and regular accounts can be upgraded at any time. This performance incentivized fee structure is a better basis than an exchange taking a cut, regardless of whether the trade or transaction is profitable.

Blue Trading card

Getting into cryptocurrencies or forex trading for beginners can be especially daunting considering the steps that you have to go through to open accounts and execute trades. A degree of technical knowledge is required which not everybody will possess. Blue Trading alleviates these problems with a fully managed trading platform that has been proven to produce results in previous years.

Have you tried Blue Trading Platform yet? Which of their features appeals the most to you? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Blue Trading and YouTube/@Blue Trading.

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Ripple and Western Union Testing XRP Transfers

San Francisco-based Ripple has not had the best of starts to 2018. Its cryptocurrency, XRP, has been on a downward slide since the first week of January and has lost almost 70% of its value. However, things could be about to turn around for the company as Western Union is now test driving its transfer technology.


The list of banks and financial institutions that are using and testing Ripple’s products is growing by the week.  Fortune has reported that global payments giant Western Union can be added to that list this week. CFO Raj Agrawal told media that efforts were in a ‘testing phase’ and there was nothing so far in the process that would be a ‘big unlock.’

Ripple

Expanding Partnerships

Regardless, it is still a huge boost for the blockchain company that has seen the price of its cryptocurrency plummet in recent months. On Tuesday, CEO Hikmet Ersek told analysts that Western Union is experimenting with Ripple and XRP for settling transactions and for capital optimization. The move comes a month after Ripple’s dealings with rival company Moneygram, which was also testing XRP transfers.

Ripple has made more progress with partners than any other cryptocurrency. Just last week, it signed a deal with foreign exchange giant UAE Exchange, and it has also made moves into the Chinese online shopping market. The Asian arm of the company, SBI Ripple Asia, has made a lot of headway with Japanese and South Korean banks in adopting blockchain solutions for money transfers.

western Union

Ripple Providing the Products

Ripple has two primary products: xCurrent, which over 100 financial institutions are currently using, and xRapid, which is based on XRP. This is the one that Western Union is now testing. A Ripple spokesperson tells Yahoo Finance:

We’ve been testing different products with Western Union for a while. We’re excited about our work towards a pilot implementation of xRapid, which uses XRP in payment flows.

Western Union CTO Sheri Rhodes told media:

We continue to explore possible blockchain applications for our business, and we are piloting some settlement tests with Ripple for certain corridors. For blockchain in general, we’re looking at areas such as transaction processing and settlement, working capital optimization, regulatory technology, and digital identity.

XRP is up 10% in the past 24 hours but has yet to take off on the news and is currently trading around the $1.15 mark. Almost 50% of the global trade is in South Korean won on major exchanges in the country. Market capacity is $45 billion, and it is the third most popular cryptocurrency.

Is XRP about to shoot to the moon on this news? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Flicker/@David Weekly, Shutterstock, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Charlie Lee Labels Litecoin Cash a Scam

Forks are now commonplace in the crypto industry. Bitcoin has had more of them than an Italian restaurant in recent months. While they may cause confusion to those new to the scene, they are essentially just another version of the original blockchain. Well most of them are anyway; a new fork of Litecoin may not be all that it seems.


It has been reported this week that Litecoin founder Charlie Lee is actively warning people not to trust or invest in Litecoin Cash. The new version apparently has nothing to do with the original LTC and is just using the name to generate interest and dupe people into believing it is.

Forking Confusion

One of the major problems with cryptocurrency at the moment is that anybody can launch their own one and scam people out of money by claiming it is something else. This is why governments are scrambling to get some regulation in place to prevent these things happening.

The aim of the unrelated altcoin is to increase the block speed at which the network can process transactions. The creators claim that Litecoin Cash has a goal block time of 2.5 minutes, which is faster than LTC and with 90% cheaper transaction fees.

The fork will occur at block 1371111, around February 19th, but Lee and the Litecoin team say it is nothing to do with them.

Free Cash Catch

One of the big draws to crypto forks is free equivalent coins when the split occurs. This is exactly how Litecoin Cash founders are generating support; they claim to be offering 10 free LCC tokens for every Litecoin users hold. This is enough to entice those wanting a quick buck to jump into Litecoin, which is up 15% in the past 24 hours following a month of downtrending.

There is a catch, however. In order to receive your free LCC altcoins, a private key from your Litecoin wallet needs to be imported into the new Litecoin Cash wallet. This is inherently risky and should not be attempted. There are some workarounds, but at the time of writing, things do not appear as they seem. Also, the LCC team have not provided a safe option for receiving coins or elaborated on which exchanges will support it.

crypto fork

This has been posted on the website to explain the name choice:

We’re using the Litecoin Cash name simply because it has become customary in recent months for a coin which forks a blockchain to prefix its name with the name of the coin being forked. This practice has become a widely understood convention. We’re not associated or affiliated with Charlie Lee or any of the Litecoin team in any way; we are big fans though.

As we’ve seen previously in the Bitcoin community, a fork is not just the split in the chain; the founders and fans are also divided. Coin loyalties run deep and scams are abound, so stay safe in crypto land and do your homework.

Do you hold Litecoin and will you be claiming Litecoin Cash? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter/@SatoshiLite, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Bitfinex to Build EOSfinex, the First Decentralized Exchange on the EOS.IO Platform

All crypto traders will agree that one major drawback to the entire ecosystem at the moment is centralized exchanges. Companies such as Coinbase rake in billions of dollars through inflated fees and commissions on what should theoretically be a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Crypto exchange Bitfinex is planning to alleviate this problem with a decentralized exchange of its own.


According to Coinmarketcap, Bitfinex is the world’s fifth largest exchange with just under a billion dollars traded in the past 24 hours. In an announcement yesterday, the company introduced the first high-performance decentralized exchange to be built on EOS.IO technology.

On-chain Exchange

The company has said that its new product, EOSfinex, will combine the speed and scalability of EOS with its own leading industry expertise. The result will be an on-chain exchange providing fast, transparent, and trustless transfers of digital currencies. EOS.IO, with the ability to handle thousands of transfers per second, was a good fit with the goals of Bitfinex to continue pushing the boundaries of the high volume trading platform.

Bitfinex CEO, J.L. van der Velde

Company CEO, J.L. van der Velde, stated;

We are excited to leverage EOS.io to further advance the field of high performance and trustless on-chain exchange. Block.one continues to display an unwavering dedication to improving blockchain scalability through the EOS.IO platform and it is our hope that this collaboration will allow significant advancement for all decentralised exchange.

He went on to note:

Our experience indicates that these advancements represent fundamentally transformative capabilities for the blockchain industry, and Bitfinex remains dedicated to leveraging the latest innovations to continue offering the world’s leading trading experience.

EOSFinex Decentralized Exchange

EOS over Ethereum

EOS is a blockchain protocol which enables horizontal scaling of decentralized applications (dApps). This effectively allows developers to create high performance distributed applications that do not operate on the same chain. Ethereum developers are working on a similar technology called sharding which will facilitate the same thing when the update is rolled out.

The EOS token is currently ninth in the market capacity charts, trading at the time of writing around $9. It has risen steadily over the past week by 50% but is still down from its all-time high of $18 on January 11. The total market cap is just under $6 billion and it is traded predominantly on South Korean exchange Bithumb which has 40% of the total. Around $348 million has been traded in the past 24 hours and the news of the partnership is likely to boost these figures for EOS.

Would you use a decentralized exchange over a centralized one? Add your thoughts below. 


Images courtesy of Bitfinex, EOSfinex, Shutterstock

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Government Websites Attacked by Mining Malware

Reports of mining malware infestations are an almost weekly occurrence now. With cryptocurrency mining becoming more lucrative than ransomware, hackers are upping their game and widening the digital net. Those caught in it this week included a number of government websites in the UK and Australia.


In what has been newly termed as ‘cryptojacking,’ the Guardian reported that thousands of websites had been infected over the weekend. Those that visited the compromised websites would have their computer hardware hijacked in order to mine Monero for the perpetrators.

crypto mining malware

Multiple Victims

According to the reports, websites of the NHS services, the Student Loans Company, and several English councils, were all infected. Over the weekend, the website of the UK’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, was taken offline to deal with the infection.

The malicious software came via a plugin called BrowseAloud which helps partially-sighted people access content on the web. The plugin authors took their own website down while they tried to resolve the problem. As many as 5,000 website have been compromised with a variant of the Coinhive mining script, which allows webmasters to leech resources from the hardware of their readers.

Monero is usually the crypto of choice as it is anonymous and encrypted and, therefore, cannot be traced back to the source wallets.

Scott Helme, an IT security consultant, raised the alarm after a friend got an alert from his anti-virus software after visiting a government website:

This type of attack isn’t new – but this is the biggest I’ve seen. A single company being hacked has meant thousands of sites impacted across the UK, Ireland and the United States.

Monero

Digging Down Under

It appears that mining malware has also compromised websites in Australia, including the Victoria Parliament’s site, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Queensland ombudsman, the Queensland Community Legal Centre, and the Queensland legislation website, which lists all of the state’s acts and bills.

The same plugin was found to be the cause of the incursion.  Helme, who documented the attack, went on to state:

There were ways the government sites could have protected themselves from this. It may have been difficult for a small website, but I would have thought on a government website we should have expected these defence mechanisms to be in place.

Australia

Texthelp, the company responsible for the compromised plugin, said:

The company has examined the affected file thoroughly and can confirm that it did not redirect any data, it simply used the computers’ CPUs to attempt to generate cryptocurrency, The exploit was active for a period of four hours on Sunday. The Browsealoud service has been temporarily taken offline and the security breach has already been addressed.

Just last week Apple and Android systems were infected with similar mining malware, and the frequency of exploits such as this will only increase due to the gains to be made and lack of any prosecution.

Is your antivirus software ready for a mining malware attack? Share your experiences in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives.

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John McAfee Polls Community Revealing ‘Biggest Threat to Crypto’

Computer security entrepreneur John McAfee has made quite a name for himself in the crypto sphere. Social media plays a monumental role in the industry, and McAfee has taken to it by storm. His comments and altcoin pumps have caused spikes and troughs on the charts, but now he has taken to surveying the crypto community, producing some interesting results.


The soi-disant crypto warlord has moved on from coin shills into ICOs and has even recently Tweeted offering services writing white papers. Over the past couple of days, he has taken the unprecedented step of polling his followers and those with an avid interest in cryptocurrencies.

Big Response

Over 400,500 responses were recorded to a series of 9 questions he posted on his Twitter feed. The results offer an interesting insight to the mindset and demographics of those currently dabbling in cryptocurrencies.

In the first poll, the ages of the crypto community were surveyed, and it came as no surprise that around half the people were between 18 and 30. What was quite a shock, though, is that only 4% of those surveyed were over 50, indicating that they prefer more traditional investment vehicles (or they don’t follow McAfee on Twitter).

The frequency of buying and selling cryptocurrencies was the subject of question two, and 42% responded with once a month or less, indicating that they were hodling and investing rather than day trading. Less than 20% of those that responded were trading cryptocurrencies on a daily basis.

Interest in the type of cryptocurrency came next, and over 40% said that altcoins held the greatest attention for them. Roughly 27% each selected Bitcoin/Ethereum or all currencies, and only 5% admitted that they invested in ICOs.

When asked the percentage of one’s total assets invested in cryptocurrencies, it was very surprising to see that almost a third of those surveyed had over 50% of their funds in crypto. To balance that out, 35% said it was less than 10%, which would be more advisable for those that don’t like big risks, which evidently isn’t the millennials.

Nearly 60% answered that their primary use for cryptocurrencies was for investment purposes only, with 38% using them for both investment and as a currency. As global adoption increases and it becomes easier, faster, and cheaper to transfer them, this ratio is likely to shift.

Crypto and fiat co-existing was the majority vote on this question. However 27% thought, or probably hoped, that crypto would eventually replace fiat.

It came as no surprise that 55% of those surveyed said that governments were the greatest threat to cryptocurrencies. 30% were of the opinion that banks are, though banks are generally controlled by their governments.

Registering with exchanges posed the biggest obstacle for getting started with cryptocurrencies. When centralized profit-making exchanges are replaced and the entire network is peer-to-peer, cryptocurrencies will truly shine.

Not surprisingly, almost a third of all respondents were students.

Although this survey was very restricted with its participants to begin with, it does open a window into the psyche of the average crypto aficionado: young, optimistic, and willing to take a risk. A demographic that is the total opposite of the older skeptics, old school bankers, and corporate bosses that have already accrued the majority of their wealth.

Did you take part in the John McAfee poll? Does his poll validate your beliefs or not? Share your thoughts on it in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@officialmcafee and Flickr/@Gage Skidmore

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Ripple to Provide Faster Payments into China with New Partnership

Online shopping is an immense industry in China, with hundreds of millions of users and worth over $670 billion last year. Some of the largest e-commerce markets on the planet are targeted at Chinese consumers, and their spending power is growing. Payment convenience is a key component of the success of online marketplaces, and Ripple intends to facilitate that with new partnerships in the country.


In an announcement on the Ripple company blog yesterday, the San Francisco-based blockchain firm stated that it was entering into partnership with a leading Chinese money service company. Lianlian International is a Hong Kong licensed operation with 150 million users in the region.

China

xCurrent Cross-Border Transactions

The company has joined RippleNet to receive real-time cross-border remittances, invoice payments, and e-commerce payments. It will be using Ripple’s settlement solution, xCurrent, that offers end-to-end tracking, powering cross-border transactions between China, the US, and Europe.

Lianlian joins Ripple’s existing network of over 100 financial institutions to reap the benefits of faster, cheaper, and more convenient cross-border payments. The company processes billions in payments each year between merchants and consumers, such as Amazon, Ali Express, and eBay. This makes it one of the largest money service companies serving China’s burgeoning e-commerce market. Online retail is expected to reach over $1.3 trillion this year, according to China Daily.

LianLian CEO Arthur Zhu praised the partnership:

With RippleNet, we will further enhance that experience and increase our market share by offering customers instant, blockchain-powered payments across the 19 currencies that we currently support. We look forward to working with Ripple to power payment flows between China and RippleNet members in new markets.

RippleNet Ventures Further

xCurrent is essentially an enterprise software solution that enables banks to instantly settle cross-border payments with end-to-end tracking. RippleNet is expanding its network of xCurrent partners, which it already has in Japan, Thailand, India, and South Korea. This would facilitate transaction speed and lower costs between those using the system.

Ripple’s cryptocurrency, XRP, is not a part of this partnership and has failed to react to the news of the growing acceptance of the company’s partnerships and banking products. The token has been on a downward trend for the past month, falling from $3 on January 9th to $0.75 today. The majority of the trade in XRP is in South Korea, with exchanges there handling over 60% of the total volume.

[Disclosure: the author of this article is a holder of XRP]

Will XRP be revived by greater acceptance of Ripple products? Share your thoughts below.


Images courtesy of Pexels and Bitcoinist archives.

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