Sunday, September 15, 2019

Browser Extensions Can Help Scammers Steal Your Bitcoin: Casa CE

 


Browser extensions can help scammers steal your crypto Casa CEO Jeremy Welch warned the audience at the Baltic Honeybadger conference in Riga this weekend.
"Browser extensions impose major risks, and these risks haven't been discussed until this point," Welch said.

Extensions can gather a wealth of data, which can be leaked, stolen, and used by scammers. One example is browser history, which can expose users' online habits, including crypto-related site visits.
"Make sure you don't expose your bitcoin addresses anywhere," Welch warned.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some extensions capture users' KYC information and can leak it to scammers. The only major multisig system that requires KYC at the moment is the one supplied by Unchained Capital, Welch said. He warns against commonly-used consumer software that gathers identity data.

As an example, Welch demonstrated how an extension providing wallpapers with inspiring quotes or other content was actually stealing data as you filled in KYC forms. The malware stole graphical data, like a photo of your driver's license, which is captured as a code and then easily decoded, providing an actual picture of your ID document to hackers.

Quiet data thefts
All this is happening on the background, without the user noticing.
"You got a nice background here and you don't realize that your browser is actually dumping data," Welch said.

The same wallpaper extension can alter a receiving address when you're trying to send your crypto to somebody else (or to yourself), sending it to a scammer's wallet instead. The ubiquity and popularity of browser extensions makes the situation quite dangerous, Welch noted:
"It's terrifying, right? We all are using browser extensions all the time."

Even if a user is very careful and selective in what they're using, the software can be upgraded and get new, unsafe features without a consumer noticing, Welch added.

Welch noted that many well-known applications request enough permissions to gather personal data, including password managers, text editing app Grammarly, Joule extension for in-browser Lighting transactions, Casa's own Sats extension and the Lolli bitcoin-earning extension.

The solution? There is no easy one, Welch says. Developers can only keep building better tools that will make users' experience safer and better.
"We all need to be discussing this issues more, because we're not even in the phase yet when real attacks will be taking place."

Welch added that Casa is planning to publish more security research soon and encouraged bitcoin developers and entrepreneurs to approach the company and share their concerns and ideas on how to address security issues.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Crypto Banking Expands With Positive Interest Rates and New Services

 



Banking, in the traditional sense of the term, has become a financial burden for account holders in regions where the era of subzero interest rates has already set in. European nations like Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and Eurozone countries have been in negative territory for some time, and banks there have started passing the burden to corporate and private clients. However, businesses and savers don't have to put up with losing money as the expanding banking services in the crypto space come with much better conditions, including positive interest rates.

Bank Accounts With Bitcoin Wallets in 31 EEA Countries
With the number of cryptocurrency users growing constantly, the need for dedicated digital asset banking naturally increases too. Currently, companies specializing in this niche are actually offering better terms to their customers than traditional financial institutions are able to provide within the fiat system. Of course, it remains to be seen if they will maintain the competitive edge once demand for their services expands significantly.

Germany, the leading EU economy, is now witnessing a backlash against low and negative interest rates. Politicians from different factions have expressed support for an initiative to outlaw punitive interest on deposits of up to €100,000. With negative rates imposed on them by the European Central Bank, ordinary German savers feel like they are once again paying the bill for the rescue of the common currency, the euro. And the ECB is preparing for a new rate cut to an all-time low of -0.50% this month.

Cryptocurrencies are an alternative to fiat money in many respects and they are likely to attract more attention as clouds continue to gather over the world economy a decade after the global financial crisis and the birth of Bitcoin. And while some have warned crypto companies probably shouldn't try to become the banks of a new financial era, there are also reasonable arguments that in many cases they can actually provide better services based on the strengths of decentralized digital currencies.

Berlin-headquartered Bitwala has established itself as a crypto banking and payment provider in Europe. Towards the end of last year, the company announced it's offering customers bank accounts with Ibans through a partnership with Solarisbank, a licensed financial institution operating under the oversight of Bafin, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany. Deposits up to €100,000 will be protected by the German deposit guarantee scheme.

Bitwala recently launched a bitcoin banking app for iOS and Android. The company explained that residents of the European Economic Area, all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, can open a German bank account that comes with an integrated BTC wallet and start trading on their smartphones. The onboarding process is now fully integrated into the mobile application and opening a new account takes only a few minutes. The platform uses video identification and EEA residents are required to provide a valid national ID as well as a proof of address. In a statement issued in August, Bitwala Chief Technical Officer Benjamin Jones noted:

Once you have an account, you can seamlessly integrate your daily banking activities – whether in bitcoin or euro – into your everyday life.

Bitwala users can buy and sell cryptocurrency directly from their bank account with a low 1% fee charged per trade. The multi-signature wallet also allows them to transfer bitcoin on a peer-to-peer basis with friends and family. Transactions can be authorized by using biometrics. The company assures customers that in order to protect their coins in the Bitwala wallet, the private keys will remain in their hands.

Zeux is another fintech company that provides banking solutions for both digital and traditional currencies. It recently launched its new Zeux app for Android and iOS devices and introduced bitcoin cash into its ecosystem. The cryptocurrency is now listed on its mobile app which allows crypto users to pay with BCH via Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The listing will help bring cryptocurrency into everyday life, Zeux explained in an announcement published on Medium.

The banking platform noted that Bitcoin Cash provides peer-to-peer electronic cash transfer at low fees and high security, thereby fulfilling the original promise of Bitcoin.

Earn up to 10% Interest on Your Bitcoin Savings
With the spread of decentralized digital assets and the problems fiat currencies are facing right now, often due to failed central bank policies, demand for traditional-style banking services in the crypto space will continue to grow. There's a void to be filled and platforms such as Cred are doing exactly that.

Similar to a bank, Cred uses the pledged assets to lend to various borrowers including retail investors and money managers. That's on a fully collateralized and guaranteed basis as the platform works with trusted collateral agents and leading custody partners including Bitgo, Bittrex Enterprise and Ledger. The aim is to ensure the safety and security of the digital assets deposited by its customers.

Norwegian Bank Invests in Crypto Exchange
Traditional financial institutions have been tempted to get involved in the crypto space and provide services related to digital assets. Such is the case with Sparebanken Øst, a Norwegian savings bank, which recently announced it had bought a 16.3% stake in the Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) for 15 million Norwegian krone (approx. $1.67 million). The new trading platform is expected to start operations this month.

Admitting the high risk of the investment, Sparebanken Øst nevertheless noted in a press release its belief that "the ownership position in NBX is sound, based on the bank's solidity and risk profile, and is responsible in relation to the bank's needs and desire to take a leading role in technological developments in the industry." The crypto exchange itself plans to also provide payment services to its customers. NBX will be fully compliant with Norwegian regulations applicable to its financial activities.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Indian Exchanges Innovate as Calls for Positive Crypto Regulation Escalate

 


Indian crypto exchanges are innovating, launching new products and improving services for their users, despite the country's regulatory uncertainty and unresolved banking restrictions. Meanwhile, the Indian crypto community continues its efforts to convince the government that the draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies is flawed, calling for positive regulation instead.

Better Trading Environment
Undeterred by regulatory uncertainty and an onerous banking ban, five crypto exchanges in India revealed their new projects last week. Crypto exchange Coindcx has shared with news.Bitcoin.com that it has partnered with Australia-based crypto trading platform Koinfox. CEO Sumit Gupta explained that the collaboration gives Koinfox's users access to his exchange's liquidity aggregated from major global exchanges. Meanwhile, users of his exchange will have access to Koinfox's advanced trading tools, including algorithmic trading and risk management strategies. The integration will be live by mid-September, he confirmed.

Besides an exchange service and a P2P platform, Coindcx also offers margin trading in over 200 markets as well as crypto lending. The lending program currently supports nine cryptocurrencies: BTC, USDT, BNB, XRP, ETH, TUSD, TRX, BTT, and LTC. Users can earn monthly interest of up to 1.5% depending on the coins lent. Further, they will soon be able to trade in crypto derivatives, Gupta revealed.

Two other cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitbns and Okex, also announced their partnership last week to better serve the Indian market, but have not unveiled any specific details of the collaboration. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchanges in India have been suffocating from the banking restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The central bank issued a circular in April last year, banning regulated financial institutions from providing services to crypto businesses. The ban went into effect 90 days later. It has been extensively challenged in the supreme court, which is scheduled to revisit the case on Sept. 25.

Smart Token Fund
Another Indian cryptocurrency exchange is launching a new product. Wazirx unveiled last week its Smart Token Fund (STF) program, which it described as "a simplified community-driven initiative where cryptocurrency enthusiasts can find smart traders, and let them grow their cryptocurrency portfolio." The exchange claims to already have "an existing community of pro traders who can trade with the funds of new entrants and in return, earn a certain percentage of the profits they make," elaborating:

STF's aim is to democratise cryptocurrency trading expertise for everyone. You can choose the right STF trader for yourself based on the tokens they trade, their trading history, performance, and more.

Wazirx CEO Nischal Shetty shared that many users on his exchange do not understand how to trade cryptocurrencies and have asked him for help. He emphasized that the biggest problem in crypto for new entrants is not knowing which tokens to invest in. "There's an exceptionally large number of people out there who don't have time to trade, don't know which token to trade or how to trade. These barriers are holding them back from investing in cryptos, and in turn preventing them from participating in this amazing revolution," he opined.

The STF program enables traders "to trade and manage multiple people's portfolio — all on a single interface," and keep a percentage of the profits they make for investors, the CEO explained. Investors can choose to invest with the traders based on factors such as their performance, the tokens they trade, or their trading history. They can enter and exit any time with no locked-in period. The exchange is currently giving early access to "selective expert traders."

How Wealthy Indians Plan to Invest in Crypto
The Indian government is currently deliberating on a draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies, drawn up by an interministerial committee (IMC) headed by former Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg, who was subsequently reassigned to the Power Ministry. The government has indicated to the supreme court that this bill might be introduced in the next parliament session.

Despite the country's uncertain policies on crypto assets, some wealthy Indians are planning to invest in cryptocurrencies, according to the first "Hurun Indian Luxury Consumer Survey 2019." Released Friday by The Hurun Research Institute, the survey reveals "the changes and preferences of lifestyle, consumption habits and brand cognition of high-net-worth individuals in India," the institute described. Respondents include 831 richest Indians on the Hurun India Rich List.

According to the results, 9.6% of respondents said that their investment in cryptocurrency would increase over the next three years. However, nearly half of the survey participants said they did not know much about cryptocurrency. Among those who did, 29.15% said they preferred bitcoin, 8.74% preferred ethereum, 6.8% preferred ripple, and 5.83% preferred other coins.

Calls for Positive Regulation Escalate
Since the IMC report and draft bill were made public on July 22, the Indian crypto community has been trying to convince the government to reexamine the draft bill. Many believe that the bill is flawed in many areas, from the definition of cryptocurrency to the ban recommendations. The community has gained support from a number of leading industry groups, such as The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) which also believe that banning is not the solution.

The "India Wants Crypto" campaign, which calls on the government to introduce positive crypto regulation, has entered its 306th day and has recently crossed its milestone of more than 50,000 tweets and retweets.

"The entire 5 million Indian crypto youth want to participate in achieving [the] target of growing Indian economy to $5 trillion," Shetty tweeted to his country's prime minister and finance minister. His persistence is starting to pay off, as at least one parliament member, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, is willing to hear more. The Wazirx executive further explained that many in the crypto sector are rapidly innovating, but they lag behind other countries due to regulatory uncertainty and banking restrictions. He believes that embracing crypto will lead to more jobs and investments, among other benefits, which he recently shared with us.

Bitcoin.com's Premier Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Now Live

 


Bitcoin.com launched their premier trading platform exchange.Bitcoin.com and registered users can access it right now. Since we announced pre-registration last month, over 10,000 accounts have signed up with our exchange and the platform is ready to provide a world-class trading experience for crypto newcomers and veterans alike.

Trade Your Favorite Cryptos Today With Bitcoin.com's New Exchange
Exchange.Bitcoin.com is live and we're thrilled to launch a trading engine that provides fast and secure exchange in this competitive crypto environment. On the two-year anniversary of the Bitcoin Cash fork, we announced a pre-registration period so people could get a head start and participate in our rewards contest. Since then, we've registered over 10,000 new accounts and our exchange is ready to provide deep liquidity for the most popular digital assets today. Moreover, new accounts will get paid to trade by benefiting from negative 0.3% trading fees for the next three months. Upon logging in, you will quickly notice that exchange.Bitcoin.com was designed by traders for traders, with a user interface and design that brings you the very best in optimized crypto trading.

"When you want to trade cryptocurrency, you look for an exchange which is trustworthy and which also offers you a wide range of digital assets", Bitcoin.com's CEO Stefan Rust commented on the new exchange. "Bitcoin.com has been in the crypto space since the beginning and our new exchange, which supports many different coins and soon SLP tokens, will complement our existing trusted products in making money work for everyone."

Bitcoin.com's exchange will host a slew of trading pairs including popular cryptocurrencies like litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP), tron (TRX), zcash (ZEC), stellar (XLM), Dash (DASH) and Eos (EOS). Exchange.Bitcoin.com will have markets denominated in base currencies like bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), bitcoin core (BTC), and tether (USDT).

The exchange will furnish professional charts with technical indicators, optional timeframes, and order books in real-time so traders can visualize the market's depth. Furthermore, in the near future, Bitcoin.com developers will integrate Simple Ledger Protocol (SLP) token support. This means you will be able to swap some of the most popular and valuable SLP tokens out there today.

Trading Fee Rewards and a Professional-Grade Trading Engine
To mark the launch of our new exchange, you can earn rewards through negative 0.3% trading fees. With exchange.Bitcoin.com, registered users will score more bonuses the more they trade. Negative 0.3% trading fees work in the following manner:

You'll earn negative fees up to $1,000,000 of cumulative trades for the first three months.
So, if your total cumulative trades are $1,000,000, the typical trading fees would be $2,000 and you'd earn $5,000 in rewards.
You'll receive these rewards at the end of the three months. To find out more, please read the full promotional details in the terms and conditions.
Bitcoin.com's Premier Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Now Live

If you haven't signed up for our trading platform, the process is quick and easy. Simply register with exchange.Bitcoin.com and you'll be able to instantly trade, deposit, and withdraw your favorite digital assets. Bitcoin.com's user interface is designed for ease of use combined with a professional-grade trading platform designed to offer seamless swaps in a secure environment. Exchange.Bitcoin.com's matching engine is faster than lightning and traders can execute trades smoothly with cryptocurrencies that have deep liquidity. Besides pleasing veteran traders, our new exchange will be one of the easiest ways for newcomers to obtain cryptocurrencies. As a trading platform that provides a superior user experience, exchange.Bitcoin.com will always be reliable and backed by our trusted brand.

"At Bitcoin.com we have a mission to bring financial freedom to the world and we're excited to offer industry-leading rewards on an exchange you can trust to help propel the crypto space forward," Danish Chaudhry, Managing Director of Bitcoin.com Exchange stated during the announcement.

A Better Trading Experience
Our web portal has been offering dependable crypto resources, tools, and services for years and exchange.Bitcoin.com's principled approach to security will help you trade with confidence. Accounts will be guarded with IP whitelisting, two-factor authentication (2FA), and institutional-grade encryption. You will always be notified if there are any login attempts using your account. These safeguards make exchange.Bitcoin.com ideal for both small and large traders. At Bitcoin.com, we understand the need for high-speed order execution in the fast-paced crypto marker, and our exchange has been configured accordingly.

We're excited to offer a world-class cryptocurrency exchange that provides an array of tools across all of exchange.Bitcoin.com's trading pairs. Right now the trading platform is live, and if you haven't signed up already, you can do so today and start trading cryptos immediately. With our rewards program, deep volume, and crisp user interface, we believe exchange.Bitcoin.com delivers a better trading experience and we think you'll agree.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Bitcoin Cash Innovation Accelerates With Cashscript High-Level Language

 


Software developers Rosco Kalis and Gabriel Cardona have been steadily working on Cashscript, a high-level programming language for Bitcoin Cash. When the language is tied to certain opcodes, specific schemes can be built that allow for autonomous and decision-based transactions. While testing Cashscript's capabilities, the two engineers recently deployed an oracle, forfeits, an onchain wager, and a recurring payments contract.

BCH Developers Are Innovating With Cashscript
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) development is in full swing and over the last six months the tempo has really started to pick up. Things like the Simple Ledger Protocol, Schnorr signatures, opcodes, Cashshuffle, the programming language Spedn, and token dividend payments have galvanized the network's versatility. Another project that's seeing steady development is Cashscript, a high-level language for BCH created by the software developer Rosco Kalis.

Since then, Kalis and other developers like Gabriel Cardona, the creator of Bitbox, have been eagerly showing the BCH community what Cashscript is capable of doing. "Cashscript is a paradigm shift in expressiveness for BCH contracts," Cardona explained this week while highlighting a bunch of experiments. For instance, Cardona showed the BCH community on Twitter how the Mecenas contract was replicated in Cashscript. Mecenas was a contract developed by Karol Trzeszczkowski that allows for recurring BCH payments. After redesigning the covenant-based smart contract solution in Cashscript, the developer asserted that "Large contracts like this is where Cashscript really shines." On August 24, Cardona also tweeted that last year in Milan at the Satoshi's Vision Conference, BCH engineer Awemany revealed a solution to the zero-confirmation problem by using a concept called "Zero-Confirmation Forfeits." So the developer decided to replicate the zero-confirmation forfeit idea using the Cashscript language.

'BCH Supports Hodling Better Than BTC'
While showing the ported Cashscript examples on Twitter, Cardona also tipped his hat to developers who helped initiate these ideas like Tendo Pein, Karol Trzeszczkowski, Rosco Kalis, Emil Oldenburg, Chris Pacia, and Tobias Ruck. The next day on August 25, Cardona showed the public a wager contract from Emil Oldenburgs's onchain bet example from "Taking OP_Checkdatasig out for a test drive." The new wager contract was written in Cashscript, which executes an onchain bet between two parties and can only be settled by block height and price signed by an oracle. "Noncustodial financial services are about to change everything," Cardona exclaimed. In another example, Kalis and Cardona produced an oracle using Cashscript and OP_Checkdatasig. The contract forces holding onto the asset until a certain price target has been reached. The "Hodl-Vault" contract specifications state:

A minimum block is provided to ensure that oracle price entries from before this block are disregarded: When the BCH price was $1,000 in the past, an oracle entry with the old block number and price can not be used. Instead, a message with a block number and price from after the minBlock needs to be passed. This contract serves as a simple example of OP_Checkdatasig-based contracts.

After the contract was created, Spedn creator Tendo Pein tweeted: "BCH supports hodling better than BTC." "Anything BTC can do, BCH can do better," Cardona replied. On the Reddit forum r/btc, BCH supporters welcomed the innovation stemming from the Cashscript language. Cashscript can allow for many types of autonomous and decision-based transactions like oracles, zero-conf forfeits, digital good purchases via PGP signature, Pay to ID, cold wallet timeout, enforced multi-signature signing order, stablecoins, covenants, secure multi-party computation, blind escrows and spending constraints. "[It's] going to be exciting to see what people can come up with using these new features," one BCH supporter said after reading about the innovations Cashscript could prime in the future.

Oracles and Decision-Based Transactions Without the Need for a Custodian's Decision
One of the biggest conversations stemming from the r/btc post about Cashscript was the use of oracles. Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts and blockchain developers believe that the BCH blockchain could provide verifiable multi-sourced facts, so people can use a trustless oracle for better decisions. Oracles are neutral by design and can allow the BCH chain to verify enough valid data to prove something is true or false, which then would essentially trigger decision-based transactions based on the outcome.

Since ancient times, humans have used oracles to make hard decisions, execute bets and wagers, and provide validated reports. The opcode OP_Checkdatasig has brought the idea of blockchain oracle concepts using the BCH chain to the forefront. The opcode can check the validation of certain signatures, and return two different outcomes in an autonomous fashion. This means BCH-powered oracles can provide a definitive outcome for things like sporting events, election results, and prediction markets. But it would do so in a way that removes the need for a third party or custodian's decision.

Developers have already proven these types of decision-based transactions can work without changing the current BCH rule set. People have built onchain wagers, oracles, digital currency inheritance schemes and even a game of onchain chess. It's still very early, but Cashscript is maturing fast and BCH developers can utilize the language right now to execute these types of decision-based transactions into their workflow. As Cardona highlighted earlier this week, noncustodial financial services will decimate the current way we deal with money. Innovations like OP_Checkdatasig, Cashscript, Spedn, and Schnorr help to realize this goal.

Thai SEC warns against yet another crypto investment scam

 


The Thai Securities and Exchanges Commission has warned the public against a new cryptocurrency scam that has been targeting Thai investors. As reported by the Bangkok Post, the new scam poses as a legitimate digital currency trading platform operating from overseas.

The company, known as FX Trading Corporation is not authorized to operate in Thailand, a spokesperson for the SEC's Department of Special Investigations stated on Saturday. There are several other companies which are also involved in similar vices, he added, urging the public to be vigilant.

The scams all claim to be operating from overseas and operate through online portals. So far, the extent of the losses accrued to these firms is unknown.

The regulator further reminded the public that it has only authorized three companies to offer digital asset trading and one broker. The three are Satang Corporation, Bitcoin Co. and Bitkub Online. The only authorized digital currency broker in the country is Coins TH.

The SEC will continue to crack down on the crypto-related scams, the spokesperson assured. However, with the new wave of scams, the regulator's reach is limited as they are located outside Thailand. The watchdog will require the cooperation of their counterparts from the countries in which the scams operate from.

Thai regulators have been vigilant in their fight against cryptocurrency scams as the use of cryptos in the country continues to rise. As CoinGeek reported recently, the country's Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) committed to tackle crypto money laundering in the Southeast Asian country. The head of the watchdog voiced his concerns that the current regulation doesn't do enough to tackle this new form of money laundering. He further committed to spearhead the amending of the country's anti-money laundering laws to enable his agency to crack down on crypto money launderers.

Thailand has continued to formulate policies that are aimed at making the country a blockchain and crypto hub. Earlier this year, the country's parliament approved the issuance of tokenized securities through blockchain technology. A month later, the SEC approved the first ICO portal in the country and promised to work on another portal for the STO industry. In May, the government revealed that it would amend the Securities and Exchanges Act to allow for the regulation of tokenized securities.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project to Rival Facebook’s Libra

 


Top cryptocurrency exchange Binance is launching an open blockchain project "Venus" focused on developing localized stablecoins worldwide.

In an announcement published today, Aug. 19, the exchange argues it is well-positioned to launch such a currency ecosystem in light of its existing public chain technology, Binance Chain, wide user base and already established global compliance measures.

Leveraging existing know-how
The exchange says it is seeking partnerships with governments, corporations, technology firms, and other cryptocurrency and blockchain projects in order to develop a new currency ecosystem that will empower both developed and developing countries

The exchange's vision for the project, per the announcement, is to "build a new open alliance and sustainable community" that enlists partners who wield influence on a global scale.

Binance Chain, as the announcement notes, has already been running several native asset-pegged stablecoins, including a Bitcoin (BTC)-pegged stablecoin (BTCB) and the Binance BGBP Stable Coin (BGBP) pegged to the British Pound.

Binance says it will leverage its existing infrastructure and experience with various regulatory regimes to consolidate a compliance risk control system and build a multi-dimensional cooperation network for the Venus project.

Vying with Libra
Binance's ambitious new venture appears to compete directly with plans from social media titan Facebook to launch a fiat-pegged stablecoin, Libra, that would power a global crypto payments network embedded into the company's three wholly-owned apps: WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

With its choice of name, "Venus," Binance is also stepping into the astrological waters of both Facebook's Libra project and the Winklevoss Twins' Gemini exchange and Gemini dollar.

Philippines Increasingly Crypto Friendly - A Look at Driving Forces

 


There are many reasons why the Philippines is becoming increasingly crypto-friendly. Not only has its central bank registered more crypto exchanges recently, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has also been actively finalizing crypto guidelines. The country has an active crypto community, and one of its largest banks has engaged in multiple crypto projects.

Rising Number of Crypto Exchanges
The number of approved crypto exchanges has been increasing in the Philippines. The country's central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has registered 13 of them so far: Betur Inc. dba Coins.ph, Rebittance Inc., Bloomsolutions Inc., Virtual Currency Philippines Inc., Etranss Remittance International Corp., Fyntegrate Inc., Zybi Tech Inc., Bexpress Inc., Coinville Phils Inc., Aba Global Philippines Inc., Bitan Moneytech Co. Ltd., Telcoin Corp., and Atomtrans Tech Corp. The latter two were added to the BSP's list of approved exchanges last month.

The central bank adopted a formal regulatory approach to cryptocurrency through the issuance of Circular No. 944 back in 2017. It requires businesses engaged in the exchange of cryptocurrencies for fiat money in the Philippines to register with the central bank as remittance and transfer companies.

Among the registered companies is Rebittance Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), a fintech company building a blockchain ecosystem in the Philippines. Co-founder Miguel Cuneta told news.Bitcoin.com that, besides the 13 registrants, many others are in "in the process of applying."

In addition, the Philippines has a special economic zone where many overseas crypto exchanges have been licensed to operate. The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) revealed in June that it had licensed 37 crypto exchange operators. In collaboration with property developer Northern Star Gaming and Resorts, the authority has been building "Crypto Valley of Asia" for companies operating in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. However, CEZA's licenses do not entitle licensees to "sell securities to Filipinos or to exchange tokens into fiat currency," the authority clarified, noting that a BSP license is needed for such purpose.

Growing More Crypto-Friendly
Cuneta further shared with news.Bitcoin.com that he believes "The Philippines has always been one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world," highlighting several factors.

Firstly, he emphasized that the Philippines is "one of the first in the whole world" where the central bank registers companies wanting to provide services using cryptocurrency. The BSP started registering them in 2017, the same year Japan's top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), began registering Japanese crypto exchanges. The FSA has registered 19 operators to legally operate crypto exchanges in Japan so far. Moreover, Cuneta elaborated:

We also now have new draft guidelines from our own SEC on ICO fundraising and order-book exchange regulations, paving the way for a more mature ecosystem with our own crypto marketplace for local price discovery.

The SCI co-founder additionally remarked that his country has "an active community and active meetup groups established since 2014." He also acknowledged that CEZA "allows overseas crypto companies to register and cater to offshore customers." After conveying various reasons for the crypto savvy image of the country, he concluded that "Definitely, the Philippines is becoming more and more crypto-friendly."

Luis Buenaventura, founder and chief strategy officer at Bloomsolutions Inc., shares a similar sentiment. Describing his country as "one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world," he told news.Bitcoin.com: "Not only do we have an actual regulatory framework for crypto exchanges, but we're also a predominantly English-speaking population that can use all the same tools and apps as North American or European audiences with minimal localization. Thus we tend to be a launchpad for U.S. startups looking to expand in the region."

As an example, he mentioned popular mobile bitcoin wallet and investing app Abra. The startup has been offering its crypto-to-fiat conversion network in the Philippines since 2016, trialing it in the country first, before expanding to others. Many Filipinos are also trading bitcoin cash on Bitcoin.com's peer-to-peer marketplace.

Crypto Adoption Advancing
Buenaventura estimates that there are approximately two million people in the Philippines who have had some exposure to crypto; some were "caught up in the buying frenzy of late 2017."

We have a fairly sizable expat population, mostly Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese so there's a lot of cross-pollination when it comes to financial technologies and payment systems.

Cuneta also believes that crypto adoption is growing in the Philippines, "at least in terms of the number of on-ramps and off-ramps we have for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the country," he explained to news.Bitcoin.com. "You can send money, pay bills, buy phone credits, and exchange crypto to fiat using several central-bank licensed exchanges and service providers."

Another factor recognized by the SCI co-founder was that "Banks and other business are also more comfortable working with companies that are licensed by the central bank, unlike when we were starting out in 2014 and banks would just shut down our accounts as soon as they found out we are dealing with bitcoin." He continued, "In terms of user adoption, we see more sophisticated and knowledgeable users, traders, and enthusiasts as compared to the speculative mania of 2017."

While asserting that "Bitcoin-as-retail-payment has never caught on here," Buenaventura opined:
Less than 2% of payments in the Philippines happens digitally so the importance of creating cash-to-crypto bridges can't be overstated.

Stressing the growing number of places where "people can actively exchange physical cash for crypto," he disclosed that his company "powers about a dozen physical locations, and they're all licensed FX outlets, and we're aiming to be in 50 by the end of the year."

Unionbank's Crypto Initiatives
The Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank), one of the largest banks in the country, has engaged in a couple of crypto projects. Following the installation of a bitcoin ATM at its branch in Makati called The Ark, the bank has reportedly launched a stablecoin.

The Philippine Star reported on July 26 that Unionbank had issued "a stablecoin dubbed PHX and became the first bank in the country to conduct transactions using the blockchain technology." This stablecoin is not to be confused with the Red Pulse Phoenix coin which uses the same symbol. Unionbank backs the value of its coin, which is guaranteed to be at parity with the Philippine peso at all times, the publication conveyed.

A senior vice president and head of the fintech business group at Unionbank, Arvie de Vera, revealed that live PHX transactions were implemented on the bank's i2i platform. Project i2i, which stands for island-to-island, institution-to-institution, and individual-to-individual, is the bank's clearing system that connects rural banks through blockchain technology. Three banks participated: Summit Rural Bank in Luzon, Progressive Bank in Visayas and Cantilan Bank in Mindanao. Each performed buy, transfer, redemption transactions and domestic remittances using the stablecoin. Initially available only to i2i participants, the coin can be purchased and redeemed by debiting from and crediting directly to their Unionbank accounts. According to de Vera:

PHX is a stable store of value, medium of exchange and is a programmable token with self-executing logic. It enables transparent and automatic execution of payments.

SEC's Digital Asset Exchange Rules
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines has published a document entitled Rules on Digital Asset Exchange, which primarily governs the registration and operations of digital asset exchanges accessible in or from the Philippines.

The document has 10 main sections covering areas such as registration requirements, anti-money laundering measures, as well as the powers and responsibilities of digital asset exchanges, including capitalization maintenance requirements. "The digital asset exchange shall maintain the unimpaired paid-up capital of one hundred million pesos (Php 100,000,000.00 [~$1,912,450]) at all times … in a form, and amount as the Commission determines is sufficient to ensure the financial integrity of the digital asset exchange and its operations," the SEC document reads.

Stakeholders, exchanges, broker-dealers, investment houses, the investing public, and other interested parties had until Aug. 14 to submit their input regarding the proposed rules.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Poloniex Will Reimburse $13.5 Million Loss From Clams Flash Crash

 


Cryptocurrency exchange, Poloniex, has announced a scheme to reimburse users affected by a flash crash in May, which led to total losses of around 1,800 Bitcoin (BTC). In an Aug. 13 blog post, the company pledged to repay daily trading fees (in BTC) to impacted lenders until their losses are fully recovered.

Payments will begin later in August and the first credit will include all trading fees incurred since the generalized losses were first recognized on June 6, 2019.

Margin trading multiplies effects of flash crash
Poloniex has a peer-to-peer margin trading system. Users can receive interest for sending their BTC to a lending pool, from which other users borrow to trade. Borrowers must maintain collateral.

In late May, a little-known token named Clams (CLAM) crashed almost 80% in less than an hour. The unprecedented speed of the crash caused safety measures to fail in the automated liquidation system, designed to protect lenders' capital.

The 1,800 BTC subsequently lost amounted to around $13.5 million at the time.

An ongoing commitment to reimbursement and winning back trust
This is the second step by Poloniex in its reimbursement of the lost funds. The first occurred shortly after the incident, on June 14, when around 10% of the losses (180.736 BTC) were distributed proportionally amongst impacted lenders.

In its blog post, Poloniex stresses that its work to "make customers whole" is not limited to these two steps. It is also actively pursuing other strategies, with more information to follow.

Twitter Crypto Scammers Continue to Fly Under the Company’s Radar

 



Over the last two years, cryptocurrency scamming on social media has been prevalent. In January 2019, it was reported that crypto impersonation scams on Twitter raked in millions in cryptocurrencies from people pretending to be well known blockchain personalities. Now a new form of deception can be seen on the platform, as scammers are using photoshopped pictures of tech personalities and businesses like Coinbase to further another crypto con game.

There's a New Crypto Scam on Twitter
There's a new swindle on crypto Twitter where scammers are sharing screenshots of well known cryptocurrency and tech luminaries promoting supposed BTC giveaways. Typically these fraudsters will use a very popular post with hundreds or thousands of likes and type the phrase "Great News." Underneath the user's text is a photoshopped picture of an announcement from Coinbase saying that it's offering a BTC giveaway. The tweets are a blatant scam in order to con a person into believing they can "double" their coins. For instance, on August 12, Morgan Creek cofounder Anthony "Pomp" Pompliano tweeted his usual weekly investors' letter where people can sign up and get regular emails from Pomp. Just below Pomp's tweet is a Twitter account called "Adam[BTC/HODL]" who states: "Thanks Coinbase I just received 1.90680 BTC — Anyone can join, not much left." Below that statement is a photoshopped picture of a faked Coinbase account stating:

To celebrate 50 million users, we decided to host a 5,000 BTC giveaway event — You can use any wallet or exchange to participate. Visit our promotion site — If you are late, your BTC will be sent back, thank you for your support, Coinbase team.

Below the tweet, another scam Twitter account adds to the con game by saying they got some coins from the giveaway. "OMG — Just got 2 BTC, thanks for sharing this," the user "Sierra" exclaims while 59 people have liked her tweet. Another fake account dubbed "Charrlees Hooskiinson" can be seen tweeting the same scam in a real Twitter thread started by Cardano's Charles Hoskinson. The picture shared, in this case, is a photo of a phony Elon Musk account which says: "Our marketing department here at Tesla HQ came up with an idea — to hold a special BTC and ETH giveaway event for all the crypto fans out there." Just like the bogus Coinbase account picture, the fake Musk account shows a website to visit where people can allegedly double their coins.

Impersonating Prominent Crypto and Tech Influencers and a Phony Block Explorer
While investigating the first fraudulent website tied to these scams, visitors can see a Coinbase logo and a message geared toward new guests. The site says that if a person sends 0.1 to 10 BTC to the address they will receive a whopping 1-100 BTC in return. Below that is a BTC address the person can send funds to, which has also changed regularly since news.Bitcoin.com started this investigation.

The current address displayed on the scam giveaway site today has zero BTC and no transactions tied to the address have ever been recorded. But the website's visitors get a different look as there's a dummy block explorer shown on the website aiming to bolster the claim that people are really doubling their money. Watching the fake explorer shows someone just deposited 8 BTC and got 88 BTC sent back to the original address, but on a real block explorer, these transactions don't exist.

The scam Twitter posts have a phony photo with a URL address that leads people to a fake Coinbase 'doubler' site.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, is also targeted in the fraudulent Twitter act as photoshopped pictures show another BTC doubling scam. The con is done in the same way as the Coinbase example. Some random Twitter account shares a fake picture and underneath another phony account someone says they were just awarded a couple of BTC. The website in the photo leads to a fake Tesla page too that is almost exactly the same as the Coinbase version, but it's red with a Tesla logo. Just like the last one, there's another deceptive block explorer showing fictitious BTC transactions. There's also a progress bar showing how much BTC is left in the so-called doubling pot and the longer you stay on the website it makes it seem like you're missing out on a lot of BTC.

The fake block explorer shown on the web page.
Twitter Scammers Continue to Make Millions of Dollars From Crypto Newbs
It's uncertain whether Twitter is aware of the latest scam revolving around the crypto Twitter space. Last year, researchers uncovered empirical data which confirmed 15,000 cryptocurrency scam accounts were strewn across the Twittersphere. In February, social media cryptocurrency community member impersonators were making $5,000 a day in ethereum on Twitter. One particular person sent $18,000 to a fake Erik Voorhees account. In March 2018, the well known crypto influencer Emin Gun Sirer told Twitter owner Jack Dorsey that the scams were getting out of hand, adding that if he "can't detect this kind of brazen scam, what hope do you have of improving your platform?" Dorsey did respond to Sirer's post that day and said: "We are on it."

But the scam tweets have continued relentlessly and people are still complaining to Twitter every day about this obvious con. "People do not tweet out that they are giving away money for free — That is a complete scam — The old saying is true 'if it seems too good to be true it probably is.' There is a Bill Pulte investor in the cryptocurrency space that is promising to give away money — Twitter needs to investigate," one person wrote on Monday. Another person tweeted: "This person has been creating accounts all over Twitter, trying to scam people out of crypto. Accounts keep cropping up replying to tweets from prominent people in the community — It's a scam." By the look of some of crypto Twitter's most popular posts today, it seems the company still hasn't received the message.

Monday, August 5, 2019

How Governments Steal Your Money and Conceal It Through Inflation

 

Dozens of countries all over the world have used the same trick called redenomination to hide how they have stolen their own citizens' money through inflation or hyperinflation. The next nation to try this economic sleight of hand is the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran Cuts Four Zeros From Hyperinflated Rial
According to recent media reports from Iran, the government in Tehran last week approved a major change to the country's fiat currency presented by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) back in January. Four zeros will be cut from the Iranian rial and it will also be completely replaced, gradually and over a two-year period, by a new currency going by an ancient name, the toman.

"The council of ministers, at a meeting presided by President Hassan Rouhani this morning, approved the central bank's proposed bill to change the national currency from the rial to the toman and delete four zeros," the Fars news agency reported on Wednesday. This decision was made "to maintain the efficiency of the national currency and facilitate and restore the role of cash instruments in domestic monetary transactions," Fars added.

The Persian toman was used in the country until 1932 when it was replaced by the rial as the official currency. Out of habit, the people of Iran still use it as a monetary unit to this day to mean 10 rials, exactly at the rate it was replaced at almost 90 years ago. However, the new toman will be worth 100 rials, creating in effect another tenfold redenomination of the Iranian currency.

The real reason for the Iranian government's move is that the rial has been suffering from severe inflation in the last couple of years, dropping to exchange rates as low as 190,000 rials per US dollar last September. During 2018 alone it has lost about 60% of its purchasing power, wiping out most of the value of people's savings and earnings.

This process started in December 2017 when the Iranian government decided to cut interest rates on savings accounts in an effort to boost exports. It was kicked into high gear with the help of another round of U.S. financial sanctions over the country's nuclear program.

The Iranian government later tried to correct course but its actions have been mostly futile and some have even backfired. For example, setting the official exchange rate at about 45,000 rials to USD caused a new online black market to spring up where people now use instant messaging apps to trade at real prices outside the control of the government and its approved money changers.

A Long History of Hiding Failure
Iran did not invent the idea of cutting zeros off its currency to hide its diminishing worth, of course, and it is just the latest in a long line of countries that have done the same over the years. In fact, fiat redenominations have being going on for over a century now, with some countries doing it over and over again whenever inflation pops up such as Brazil and Argentina. Sometimes it has coincided with an improvement of the local economy but often it has merely hastened its approaching collapse. In recent years this has been most notable in the case of countries suffering from hyperinflation such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

In February 2009 the government of Zimbabwe decided to cut 12 zeros from its currency, after the Zimbabwe dollar set a new world record in hyperinflation estimated to be in the billions of percent. This meant that 1 trillion in old Zimbabwe dollars was at once made equivalent to just one new Zimbabwe dollar. The step was taken after the old currency became basically useless as money, with even the highest notes of 100 trillion dollars not worth enough to buy a single loaf of bread. Just the year before, Zimbabwe already cut 10 zeros off its currency.

In August 2018 the Venezuelan government removed five zeros off its fiat as President Nicolas Maduro decided that the new "sovereign bolivar" would officially be worth 100,000 times the older bolivar. Just 10 years prior, Venezuela cut three zeros off its currency. Maduro also claims that the sovereign bolivar is backed by the dubious petro cryptocurrency he created.

Why Redenomination Fails to Make an Impact
Governments and central banks present several reasons for making such drastic redenominations. Some are practical, such as saving people the trouble of having to use a wheelbarrow full of paper money just to get a loaf of bread to feed their family.

Others are purely psychological, such as restoring ordinary people's confidence in the national economy by making the currency look like it's worth more in international terms. These appear to be more honest, as the real purpose is after all to hide the fact that the people in power have wiped out national savings through disastrous policies such as endless money printing.

According to economic research, redenomination has a long term impact on an economy only when it is accompanied by strong anti-inflationary financial steps and the removal of the economic policies causing the problem to begin with. Otherwise, the practice can backfire as people will see that the government can just remove as many zeros as it wants but inflation will keep biting, causing the populace to lose confidence and flee to more stable monetary options, further depressing the value of the local currency.

In the long term, the only foreseeable solution to preventing hyperinflation is to take the power to print money away from the state by transitioning to an inflation-resistant cryptocurrency-based monetary system.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

When Cash Is Banned, Centralized Cryptos Are Not Going to Save You

 


Australia is now moving forward with its proposed legislation to ban cash purchases over 10,000 AUD ($6,900) for business purposes. According to the treasury website: "The Black Economy Taskforce recommended this action to tackle tax evasion and other criminal activities." While many Aussies are celebrating Bitcoin's exclusion from this clause, others find the move away from hard cash somewhat chilling. After all, if this finally goes through, banks and the state will be given sole power to deny or approve any and all purchases above this limit. Crypto is not yet affected, but when cash is erased, and the control grid is tightened, be sure that centralized shitcoins are not going to save anyone, either.


Never Mind the Hype Parade
There's always been a lot of zealous hype in crypto circles. Search "bitcoin" on Twitter and you'll be overwhelmed with an avalanche of largely meaningless noise. "Feeling really bullish right now thanks to X, Y, Z!" "If you don't have any Bitcoin by now, you're doing it wrong." "Crypto #Revolution." These hyped-up voices flash in the pan like cheap sparklers, and tend go quiet when the markets tank. They talk about being "unbanked" and the revolution of all things "powered by blockchain."

But at the end of the day, what the hell does all this really mean? A lot of people seem to think that freedom in finance can come easily, without a fight or intentional action. That the dynasty of powers that be are just going to roll over and accept a money they cannot control. For all the shouts of "ditch fiat!" and "why are people still using statist play money?" very few seem to understand the real score, which is this: there's no war being waged on your technology, but on its ability to provide you with financial autonomy, self-sufficiency, and privacy.

The really bad news for these folks, though, is that if Australia pushes through this ban on cash purchases, and they are forced to use only digital assets and credit, it doesn't matter how much of whatever centralized crypto shitcoin anyone holds. At that point, the state is in control, and fiat cash–as evil as it is–would be a lot more friendly.

Five Eyes On Privacy
The alliance of Five Eyes nations (FVEY) really seems to have chosen Australia as a testing ground for implementing Orwellian, anti-privacy measures. Aussies are no longer allowed to be secure in their communications thanks to a controversial new law outlawing encrypted devices and chat applications. Now they are moving away from the privacy of paper money as well. This ostensibly to combat drug trafficking and terrorism via almost completely state-supervised monetary transactions for everyone.

It likely won't be long until similar laws make their way into other FVEY countries like the United States, the U.K., Canada, and New Zealand. If that happens, the only cryptocurrencies that will be able to help secure value are those that are open source, private, secure and decentralized. Not surprisingly, these are the very coins now being specifically targeted by these nations, and slandered as "tools for criminals."

The Survival of Sound Money
If sound money is to survive this financial tyranny, it seems there might be some kind of battle. Many believe technological innovation can make this struggle a more or less peaceful one. When dealing with groups that do not respect the individual, inalienable rights of human beings to their bodies, minds, and property, however, there always comes a point where "no" must be uttered.

Whether it be boldly proclaimed from a stage in the spotlight or silently through a private action or transaction, it still must happen. There is no change without conscious, human action. Bitcoin allows for this by being decentralized. No state has control over the network. "No" is still an option. "No" is still somewhat of an option with fiat paper as well, as much as sensationalists might hate to hear it, or fear to say it.

Cash Is Better Than State-Controlled Shitcoins
These aforementioned hypesters don't get that the propagandized fiat money they rail against (and indeed they are correct in their criticisms) is still much more private and useful than a centralized, government-regulated digital money could or ever would be. The Ripple crowd, for example, brags about how realistic and adoption-friendly they are, the company itself writing a saccharine, syrupy letter to Congress on July 29. They speak about wanting to comply with whatever regulations must be put in place:

We don't take for granted the vital role of central banks in issuing currencies and setting monetary policy in concert with the complex dynamics of economies around the world. For centuries, governments have been well suited for the job because paramount to the acceptance of any currency is trust.

Well-suited? For what job? Is debasing and devaluing people's money, letting terrorists and violent traffickers off the hook, and losing trillions, spending trillions to finance the death and destruction of hundreds of thousands in war and democide "well-suited"? They've lost their minds.

If crypto is to be useful, it has to resemble the models of gold and cash, as far as privacy and user autonomy is concerned, and improve upon them immensely–not make a mealy-mouthed return to state-sponsored, central bank-controlled play money irrelevancy. Imagine being an Australian business owner and trying to buy something, but it's too expensive to pay for with cash. For whatever reason, your bank cannot approve the purchase. Your account is frozen, or their servers are down. You're stuck. This issue doesn't exist with physical money. But it already does with bank accounts and centralized crypto exchanges.

Dignity for the Win
The moment someone tells you in your private life that you're "not allowed" to have something that is rightfully yours, and they try to steal it, you cease trusting them, and cut off the relationship. Why, when it comes to the state, should things be any different?

Like a patient off his head on painkillers, these people talk about pie-in-the-sky crypto utopias to be brought about by "blockchain revolutions" controlled by the very people who oppress them the most. Writing letters to Congress. Laughing at the "idealists" who wish to retain the keys to their holdings.

When cash is out, erased, kaput, if blockchain is going to save people, it's going to be secure money, and not state shitcoins or digital, bank-regulated credit and debt. What the poor Twitter zealots have missed is that this peaceful resistance for non-violent money called the "crypto revolution" is not about just "getting rich," but at its root is about preserving the dignity of precious, individual human life everywhere.