Is the Mt. Gox ‘Bitcoin Whale’ Gearing Up for Another $170M Selloff?

Nobuaki Kobayashi, the infamous bitcoin whale, and the lead attorney for the Mt. Gox trust may be gearing up for another selloff.


Another Round from the Tokyo Bitcoin Whale

Kobayashi earned the moniker the “Tokyo bitcoin whale” when he sold $400 million worth of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash from December 2017 to February 2018. The crypto sale is part of the efforts to pay off the credits of the defunct Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange that went bankrupt in 2014 after a major cryptocurrency hack.

The Tokyo bitcoin whale

The Tokyo bitcoin whale, Nobuaki Kobayashi

Cryptoground, which monitors Mt. Gox cold wallet addresses, shows that a significant amount of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash had been transferred out on April 26. It is possible that this could have been an OTC (over-the-counter) sale, though no one can confirm the actual purpose of this transfer.

Nevertheless, this has led to some speculation that the Tokyo whale is gearing up for another major crypto sale. Mati Greenspan, a senior analyst at eToro, said that there is considerable concern in the market over the movement of coins out of the Mt. Gox wallet.

Reports indicate that 16,000 BTC and 16,000 BCH have been moved out of the wallet. This amounts to about $170 million at the current market price of the two cryptos. All eyes will be on the market now to see if there will be any significant price changes on account of the expected sale.

Potential Impact on the Market

Experts like Martin Garcia, managing director at Genesis, believe that if done properly, the crypto sale will little impact on the market. According to Garcia, the prevailing market dynamic at the time of the sale will determine if the sale can be absorbed without much price fluctuation.

When the first sale round become public, some believed that it had a negative impact on the market. The price of the cryptocurrencies declined dramatically between December 2017 and February 2018 when Kobayashi was making the sales. The Mt. Gox trustee did, however, deny the claims, saying the cryptocurrencies were sold over-the-counter.

In a related development, a tweet by Greenspan showed that the CME bitcoin futures volume for April 25 was 51, 730 BTC. This is significantly higher than the 16,000 BTC moved by Kobayashi. Bitcoin has been enjoying a resurgence of late, posting its first back-to-back weekly gains for 2018.

CME future volume April 25

Mati Greenspan tweet showing CME bitcoin futures volume for April 25

The recent price increase might explain why Kobayashi seems to be intent on selling another portion of the trust’s crypto holdings. Kobayashi earlier said that he will try to sell the cryptocurrency for the highest possible price. There are still 146,106 units of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash (valued at $1.5 billion) left in the trust.

Do you think the impending sale of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash by Tokyo bitcoin whale will significantly affect the market? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


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Blockchain Technology Adoption could Kickstart Cashless Economy in the U.S.

Rod Garratt, a former Fed executive believes blockchain technology will soon kickstart a full-blown cashless economy in the United States. Cashless economy implementation has been a decidedly difficult task due to gross mistrust of the government by the American people. Garrett, however, believes that blockchain technology might hold the key to actualizing a truly cashless society in America.


The Sweden Cashless Economy Example

Garratt identified Sweden as an example of a functioning cashless economy. In Sweden, cash accounts for less than 1.2 percent of the country’s GDP. Many businesses in the country do not accept cash transactions. Swedish banks tend not to deal with cash transactions anymore.

In the United States, there exists a number of issues derailing the actualization of a cashless economy. Trust in the government and online privacy concerns are among some of these major issues. Research figures released by the Pew Research Center in 2015 showed that America’s trust in its government had plummeted to 19 percent. This is a massive decline from the 77 percent recorded in the mid-1960s.

Central Banks Adopting Blockchain Technology

Garratt believes central banks will soon start adopting and implementing blockchain technology. He made these remarks at the recent MIT Business of Blockchain conference in Boston. According to Garratt, central banks will soon begin to issue cryptocurrencies. Garret was previously attached as an advisor to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland. The BIS has been investigating mechanisms by which state-owned cryptocurrencies could operate. It recently stated that a central-banked cryptocurrency could destabilize the global economy.

Blockchain-based network

A state-issued cryptocurrency could eliminate fees that make banking services expensive for low-income earners. One of the core principles of blockchain payment systems is inexpensive and instantaneous payment processing. To this end, the Swedish government is even attempting to create its own cryptocurrency for mobile payments. The proposed digital currency called e-Krona would be used for microtransactions.

Fedcoin and Project Jasper

Some individuals in the U.S. have suggested a few cryptocurrency payment solutions. J.P. Koning, a blogger suggested the idea of a cryptocurrency called Fedcoin. The crypto would operate on a 1:1 ratio to the U.S. dollar just like with Tether. The only difference is that it would be issued by the Federal Reserve as a digital currency companion to the USD. Garratt was also part of the Project Jasper team which was exploring how to create a blockchain network for large bank-to-bank payments.

If the central banks do begin to seriously consider cryptocurrencies then the role of commercial banks will need to be re-examined. Cryptocurrencies work without any intermediaries. As a result, banks could become antithetical to the new cryptocurrency-based economy.

What are views on a cashless economy? Do you think blockchain technology can provide a platform for a fully functioning cashless financial ecosystem? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, AdobeStock

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Taiwan Set to Introduce Strict Cryptocurrency Regulations to Combat Money Laundering

Taiwan is set to become the latest country to introduce clearly defined cryptocurrency regulations. The new crypto regulations are being designed to combat money laundering activities in the country.


Anti-Money Laundering Cryptocurrency Regulations

Qiu Taisan, the Justice Minister of the country says the laws should be in place by November 2018. He made this known during a recent conference held by the Taiwan Financial Services Coalition (FSC). Taiwan will play host to the Asia Pacific Group on anti-money laundering (AML) later in the year. The group is expected to evaluate the country’s existing AML laws. Justice Minister Taisan wants the new crypto laws to be in place before then.

Regulations

Taiwan Serious About Cryptocurrency Regulations

The Taiwan Central Bank, as well as the Ministry of Interior via its Bureau of Investigation, will be in charge of regulating the crypto market. The FSC invited a couple of cryptocurrency exchange platforms earlier in the month to discuss their operations in the country. Yang Chin-long, the Governor of the country’s central bank, had earlier called for AML laws to be enacted for bitcoin.

“High-Risk Clients”

The main focus of Taiwan’s new cryptocurrency regulations will be on preventing money laundering. This was made known by Gu Lixiong, the chairman of the Financial Supervision and Management Commission. As a result, banks in the country have been instructed to tag bitcoin accounts as “high-risk clients.” Banks and other financial institutions have also been instructed to educate their customers on the dangers of cryptocurrency investments.

No Imminent Cryptocurrency Ban

The threat of money laundering and terrorist financing continues to be a pressing issue as far as cryptocurrencies are concerned. However, there are no immediate plans to ban cryptocurrencies in Taiwan. As the crypto landscape in the Asian theater continues to evolve, more countries are abandoning their ambivalent stance for more concrete positions on cryptocurrency. Thailand, China, and India have come down hard on digital currencies while Japan and Singapore appear to be more crypto-friendly.

Wellington Koo, the chairman of the FSC said the country will not emulate China by banning cryptocurrencies. The Chinese crypto crackdown has seen the influx of crypto funds into Taiwan which still remains relatively liberal towards the market.

Do you agree with Taiwan’s stance on cryptocurrency? Do you believe cryptos can be exploited for money laundering and terrorist financing? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Pixabay, AdobeStock

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Ripple Releases Performance Report for Q1 2018

Ripple has published its performance report for the first quarter of 2018 on the company website. The San Francisco startup reported an increase in sales of XRP tokens.


XRP Sales Performance Report for Q1 2018

Ripple sold $167.7 million USD worth of its XRP tokens in the first quarter of 2018. This represents an increase of 83 percent from the sales figures of the previous quarter. The Q1 2018 XRP sales outstrip the Q1 2017 XRP sales by 2,400 percent.

Direct sales of XRP tokens stood at $16.6 million while programmatic sales accounted for the remaining $151.1 million. The direct sales figures indicate a decline of 17 percent from the previous quarter. However, programmatic sales more than doubled from Q4 2017.

Direct sales refer to the sale of XRP tokens conducted by XRP II LLC, the registered money service business (MSB). XRP II is registered by the New York State Department of Financial Services to engage in virtual currency trading. Programmatic sales are third-party sales of XRP by market makers using agreed upon algorithms.

Price and Market Share Performance Report

XRP tokens began the year trading at $1.91 but fell by 73 percent to $0.51 at the end of Q1. According to Ripple, this decline is indicative of the general market decline in the first quarter of 2018. The Ripple share of the total market capitalization increased by more than 100 percent from 3.56 percent to 7.57 percent.

The XRP market volume share also grew from 5.3 percent to 6.9 percent. This increase can be attributed to the fact that XRP was listed in 18 new trading venues in Q1 2018. XRP is now listed on a total of 60 cryptocurrency exchange platforms. The extension of over $16 million worth of XRP loans to market makers also contributed to the increase in the XRP volume share.

XRP Price and Volume

XRP Price and Volume Performance for Q1 2018

Effects of Regulatory Measures on Performance

The report also touched on the regulatory upheavals that characterized the end of 2017 and the start of 2018. The removal of South Korean exchanges from the index price calculations I early January led to a 50 percent market correction across the board.

This led to an XRP price decline of 19.1 percent. The report also stated that the uncertainties created by the situation in South Korea at the start of the year contributed to the increased volatility in the market.

How well do you rate Ripple’s performance in Q1? Share your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Ripple, Pxhere, Shutterstock

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Central Bank of Venezuela to Receive $1 Billion from Petro Sale

The Central Bank of Venezuela will receive $1 billion from the proceeds of the Petro sale. 


Petro Sale Exceeds $3 Billion

President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement in a statement to reporters on April 26, 2018. The money is being earmarked for foreign exchange auctions as the country tries to recover from a crippling economic crisis.

It’s a Hard No From the US

According to the Venezuelan President, early sales of the Petro cryptocurrency exceeded the $3 billion mark. Thus, he has decided to send $1 billion to the country’s central bank, which is expected to use it for Dicom auctions.

The government had earlier announced in March that it would auction off the state-owned crypto through the Dicom exchange. This auction is expected to be for foreign corporations interested in investing in the Petro.

During a February address, President Maduro said that the oil-backed cryptocurrency had raised $1 billion in its first two days of being on sale. At the time, almost 300,000 purchase options for the petro had been opened with a large percentage of them in dollars.

Lack of Transparency Continues to trail the Petro

Criticism and opposition continue to trail the controversial crypto both in Venezuela and abroad. The cryptocurrency was announced back in December 2017. It is backed by the country’s oil, natural gas, gold, and diamond reserves. Many have raised concerns over the veracity of the sales figures being released by the government. The lack of transparency surrounding the petro makes it difficult to perform independent verification of these sales figures.

Venezuela's oil-backed Petro crypto

Critics also point to the fact that the cryptocurrency is blocked by U.S. sanctions. U.S. President, Donald Trump recently issued an executive order prohibiting the sale of the petro in the country. Bitfinex, a major cryptocurrency exchange, also recently banned the petro.

The opposition-controlled Legislature in Venezuela has described the cryptocurrency as being “illegal and unconstitutional.” Nevertheless, the government has continued with its plans for the cryptocurrency, even declaring it to a legal tender in the country.

Venezuela has been suffering from hyperinflation, an extremely devalued national currency, as well as economic sanctions. After the oil price collapse in 2014, the country’s economy has been in a tailspin.

Venezuela, once the richest Latin-American nation is now among one of the poorest in the world with many of its citizens facing hunger and starvation. The Petro is seen as a means of circumventing U.S.-led economic sanctions thus providing a path for the country into the international market.

Do you think the Petro will succeed in solving Venezuela’s economic woes? Share your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia, Shutterstock

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Data Breach Exposes Thousands of Investors in a John McAfee-backed Cryptocurrency

Kromtech Security has revealed a data breach tied to investors of the Bezop cryptocurrency. The cybersecurity firm made the announcement on April 25, 2018. The leak exposed confidential information about investors of the Bezos cryptocurrency.


Details of the Data Breach

The sensitive information exposed by the breach include full names, wallet information, and even scanned photos of ID documents. More than 25,000 investors were affected by the leak. Apparently, the team at Bezop had failed to secure a MongoDB database, thus opening the way for hackers. Bezop is a startup cryptocurrency company with its own blockchain-powered e-commerce app platform.

Details of the Data Breach

Conflicting Reports

Bezop posted an announcement via its Medium account stating that it was already aware of the leak and that the issue had been resolved since January 2018. According to the announcement, the platform had suffered a DDoS attack which had exposed some unsecured databases on the platform. Deryck Jones, the CTO of Bezop confirmed the data breach and said that all investors were notified. He also confirmed the fact that the issue had been resolved and that the affected databases had been secured.

Despite reassurances, a Twitter user claims to have seen the leaked database online as recently as March 30, months after it was supposedly secured by Bezop. The cryptocurrency startup insists that the only breach was in January and any new reports are simply “old news.” It is important to note that the Kromtech report confirms the database leak.

Another bit of controversy – perhaps more concerning than the leak itself – is that the leak appears to have been deliberately orchestrated. According to Kromtech researchers, changes made to MongoDB protocol makes it impossible for such a mistake to occur accidentally. This means that the database was intentionally configured to be accessible to the public.

Bezop Adviser, John McAfee

John McAfee

The John McAfee Connection

John McAfee, the cybersecurity tycoon, is one of the investors exposed by the leaked database. He is also listed as an advisor on the Bezop website. McAfee has previously touted the platform as having the potential to challenge Amazon in the e-commerce scene. The Bezop Medium post also indicated that McAfee had been paid to promote the platform. McAfee who has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter charges as much as $105,000 to promote ICOs on his Twitter account.

What do you think of the Bezop leak? Was it deliberately orchestrated or just a case of poor security? Let us know your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, DepositPhotos, Shutterstock

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Nasdaq Eyes Becoming a Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform

Adena Friedman, the CEO of Nasdaq says the company is interested in becoming a cryptocurrency exchange platform. Nasdaq is the second-largest stock exchange in the world in terms of market capitalization. The company is the latest in a slew of institutional investors looking to enter the burgeoning cryptocurrency market.


Properly Assessing the Cryptocurrency Landscape

The Nasdaq CEO said that the company would consider creating its own cryptocurrency exchange service in the future. She made this known during an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, 25 April 2018. Friedman also said that the company would carefully evaluate the market to determine the viability of such a move.

Adena Friedman, Nasdaq CEO

Nasdaq CEO, Adena Friedman

She further went to express bullish sentiments about the market, saying that:

I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it’s just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature. Once you look at it and say, ‘do we want to provide a regulated market for this?’ Certainly, Nasdaq would consider it.

Nasdaq is set to launch its own bitcoin futures trading sometime in the first half of 2018. The company has also invested in many blockchain-based enterprises.

Adequate Cryptocurrency Regulations

Friedman, however, identified cryptocurrency regulations as a major hindrance to such a plan. The crypto market is mostly unregulated and it is a situation that prevents many institutional investors from putting up equity in the market. According to the Nasdaq CEO, adequate regulations must be put in place first before the company can move in.

ICOs are a major area of concern for Freidman, who believes them to be securities. Thus, she agrees with the SEC that ICO tokens should be under the purview of securities law. The SEC has been shining a bright spotlight on ICOs in 2018. Jay Clayton, the SEC chairman says that the Commission is devoting a lot of resources to its oversight of the ICO market.

Gemini Partners with Nasdaq to Fight Crypto Trading Fraud

In a related development, Gemini has struck a partnership with Nasdaq to combat crypto trading fraud. The partnership will see Nasdaq use its SMARTS software to monitor the Gemini platform to prevent fraud and manipulation. The software will monitor the platform’s bitcoin trading as well as its daily bitcoin auction process.

Commenting on the partnership, Cameron Winklevoss, the president and co-founder of Gemini said that:

We’re doing this because we believe in the importance of creating a rules-based marketplace. We believe this is where things are headed.

The partnership is part of an ongoing trend that is introducing more adherence to best practices in a market that has largely been unregulated thus far. Gemini is one of 13 cryptocurrency exchange platforms that received a letter from the New York Attorney General. The purpose of the letter was to investigate the safeguards being put in place against crypto trading fraud and manipulation on these exchange platforms.

What are your thoughts on a Nasdaq cryptocurrency exchange platform? Will it be able to compete with giants like Binance and Coinbase? Let us know your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Forbes, Flickr/Naoki Nakashima

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Binance Now Lets Users Convert Crypto Dust to BNB

Binance has launched a new feature that allows users to convert crypto dust into BNB tokens. Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the Binance CEO made this known via a tweet on April 23, 2018.


What is Crypto Dust?

Crypto dust refers to a fractional cryptocurrency value. It is usually impossible to trade crypto dust due to the fact that they are less than the transaction fees. Being lower than the minimum trading limit, it usually sits idle in user wallets. Hence, the term “crypto dust.”

This new feature released by Binance will allow users to turn their cryptocurrency dust into useful tokens. Binance users will be able to convert crypto dust that is equivalent to less than 0.001 BTC into BNB tokens.

BNB tokens are the native cryptocurrency of the Binance platform. They are used to pay transaction fees for all exchange and trade transactions on the platform. Binance is currently the largest cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world. As at the time of writing this article, more than $3 billion in crypto trades has been hosted on the platform in the past 24 hours. BNB is currently trading at $13.65 according to Coinmarketcap and is the best performing global asset so far in 2018.

How to Crypto Convert Dust to BNB

Convert to BNB button

New Binance Feature to Convert Crypto Dust into BNB tokens

The process of converting crypto dust to BNB tokens on the Binance platform is quite straightforward. A “Convert to BNB” button has been added to the user dashboard. Once the user logs in to their Binance account, they can click the button and follow the prompts. The user then selects the cryptocurrency dust in their account that they wish to convert. The value in BNB of the crypto dust being converted is shown at the bottom of the page as well as the transaction fee.

Crypto dust to BNB conversion rates

Crypto dust values in BNB

User Reactions

The reaction on social media and online crypto forums has been largely positive. Binance has drawn plaudits for the simplicity of the process. This new feature is significantly more hassle-free than the previous crypto dusting process on the platform which had some limitations.

Binance currently lists more than 300 cryptocurrency tokens on its platform. It focuses on crypto/crypto trading pairs. There have been reports that fiat trading pairs might be introduced in light of the platform’s imminent move to Malta.

What do you think about the new Binance crypto dusting feature? Do you have crypto dust that you’d wish to convert to BNB or do you prefer to hodl? Let us know your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Binance and Twitter

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Japanese Crypto Exchanges Launch Self-Regulatory Body

The 16 registered cryptocurrency exchange services in Japan have come together to form the Japan Cryptocurrency Exchange Association (JCEA). This is according to a report by Asahi Shimbun, a local news outlet in Japan. The JCEA will be responsible for the self-regulation of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange platforms.


The JCEA

Taizen Okuyama is the chairman of the JCEA. He is the CEO of Money Partners, a forex firm which recently entered into the cryptocurrency exchange market in Japan. Members of the JCEA include bitFlyer, BitPoint, and Xtheta. Others are Tech Buro, QUOINE, and SBI Virtual. The JCEA is made up of two cryptocurrency and blockchain-focused associations. These are the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association (JCBA) and the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA). Bitcoinist had reported in February 2018 that a merger of the JCBA and the JBA was imminent.

Taizen Okuyama, JCEA Chairman and CEO of Money Partners

Taizen Okuyama, the JCEA Chairman

Sanitizing the Industry via Crypto Self-Regulation

The first order of business for the JCEA will be to sanitize the cryptocurrency exchange market in the country. Okuyama, speaking at the JCEA official launch, said that the Association will make security upgrades of cryptocurrency exchange platforms a priority. He also said that the JCEA will enact a regulatory framework that will oversee the activities of the members.

The JCEA will create appropriate checks and balances in the system.

Okuyama also said that:

[He] will make sure that security measures and internal control are in place.

The Association will ensure strict compliance with its rules and regulations. There will be stiff penalties for platforms that flout the rules and regulations of the Association. The JCEA chairman also said that the body will offer assistance to unregistered cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the country.

Japanese exchanges self-regulation

Restoring Consumer Confidence

The move to self-regulate comes as the FSA has increased its cryptocurrency oversight activities. The January 2018 Coincheck hack that led to the loss of more than $500 million worth of NEM has cast many doubts on the security infrastructure of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. The FSA has come down hard on some platforms in recent months, even shutting down a couple of them.

The Okuyama-led JCEA has said that it is determined to restore consumer confidence.

The JCEA chairman is quoted as saying that:

We want to eliminate customers’ concerns and work to restore public confidence in order to develop a healthy market.

There have also been calls for self-regulation in the cryptocurrency market of other countries. Reports indicate that cryptocurrency stakeholders in South Korea are close to launching a cryptocurrency self-regulatory body. Top financial regulatory experts in the U.S. have also urged cryptocurrency firms to regulate themselves.

What are your views on cryptocurrency self-regulation? Do you think that it will positively affect the market? Share your views in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Money Partners Group, GoodFreePhotos, and Bitcoinist archives.

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MyEtherWallet Users Lose Funds to DNS Hack

MyEtherWallet (MEW) has reportedly been the victim of a DNS hack on a day when Google appears to be having some issues. Social media and online crypto forums are awash with reports that reveal funds have been stolen from the wallet of some users. Other users who might have logged into the service during the period of the hack may have also been compromised.


Users Report Stolen Funds

A MEW user broke the news on Reddit saying that 0.09 ETH (about $65) had been stolen from his/her account. The user had apparently fallen victim to a phishing scam based on a DNS exploit. The affected user also reported that upon visiting the site, the notification appeared that the connected was not secured. This is an anomaly for a service like MEW and an indication that all was not well. The user ignored the warning, entered his/her details and in 10 seconds, the coins were stolen.

Image showing warning message ignored by MEW user

MEW isn’t the only Ethereum-based service to have been hacked via a DNS exploit. Etherdelta was also hacked in December 2017. Many experts believe this phenomenon is due to the vulnerability created by the presence of a single point of failure in such services.

MEW and MyCrypto Confirm the Hack

MEW has since confirmed the hack via Twitter. An Ethereum address possibly linked to the hack has been identified. The address has already been tagged on Etherscan under suspicions of being involved in the hack. According to Etherscan, the tagged address conducted 180 transactions during the hack, stealing 215 ETH ($150,000) in the process. Comments on another Reddit post claim that MEW has traced the hack to a Russian IP address.

MyCrypto, a MEW rival service has also confirmed the DNS hack. The platform posted a tweet announcing that MEW user accounts have been compromised. In what seems can be seen less than subtle schadenfreude, the MyCrypto team is giving out all the details of the problem. It will be recalled that a bitter feud between MEW founders is what led to the breakaway of MyCrypto from MEW.

Google DNS Issues

There have been reports of problems with the Google DNS service today, April 24. Binance posted a tweet in the early hours of the day, telling users that Google DNS was experiencing problems. Apparently, users of the platform had been affected by service disruptions. There is no indication of a connection between the Google DNS disruption and the MEW DNS hack. However, a tweet posted by CobraBitcoin alluded to a possible link between the two incidents.

Edit: While writing this article, MEW posted a tweet saying that the issue had been resolved.

What are your views on the MEW DNS hack? Were you affected? Let us know in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Reddit, Twitter, AdobeStock, MyEtherWallet

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