US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy Coins

Posted on
US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy Coins

Privacy

The US Secret Service is worried about the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. A high-ranking official of the agency has urged Congress to consider additional legislation to address anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies and services intended to obscure transactions on blockchains such as tumblers or mixers.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Undermining US Laws

US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy CoinsDeputy Assistant Director of the US Secret Service’s Office of Investigations, Robert Novy, gave a testimony before the House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance on June 20.

Novy explained that his agency is primarily concerned with the use of cryptocurrencies “in criminal schemes that undermine the integrity of financial and payment systems, their use in cases of fraud, and their general use as a means of money laundering,” stating:

While some digital currencies have operated lawfully, others have been used extensively for illicit activity…The growing illicit use of digital currencies risks undermining the effectiveness of existing U.S. laws and regulations, especially those intended to limit the ability of criminals to profit from their illicit activities.

Asking Congress for Help

US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy CoinsIn his testimony, Novy asked “Congress for help in preventing cryptocurrencies like monero and zcash, which provide users with enhanced privacy and anonymity features, from being used for illicit purposes,” Forbes elaborated.

Referencing “the global nature of the Internet and modern communications,” Novy claimed that “digital currencies are particularly well-suited for supporting crimes that are transnational in nature.” He proceeded to tell Congress:

We should also consider additional legislative or regulatory actions to address potential challenges related to anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies, services intended to obscure transactions on blockchains (i.e. cryptocurrency tumblers or mixers) and cryptocurrency mining pools.

US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy CoinsAccording to Forbes, Greg Nevano, an official in the investigations division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agreed with Novy. “These new anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies are clearly ripe for illicit use in an effort to subvert legitimate law enforcement inquiries,” he was quoted, adding the claim that “although it is more difficult to trace the movement of illicit proceeds using these newer anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies, it is not impossible.”

Novy further suggested that law enforcement must adapt his agency’s “investigative tools and techniques to dismantle criminal groups that use these instruments for fraudulent activity or money laundering.”

What Criminals Prefer

Novy also claimed that “in recent years, criminals have increasingly used digital currencies to facilitate illicit activities on the Internet.” He elaborated, “some digital currencies are primarily used to purchase illicit goods and services,” while others “are primarily used for money laundering—particularly transnational transfers.”

US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy CoinsIn his testimony, Novy described the characteristics of digital currencies preferred by criminals based on the agency’s investigations.

Firstly, they have “widespread adoption as a medium of exchange for intended criminal activities,” in addition to “the greatest degree of anonymity.” Their ability for “protection against theft, fraud, and lawful seizure” is also important, as is the ability to “be readily exchanged to and from their preferred currency.” The last characteristic mentioned is “the ability to quickly and confidently transfer value transnationally.”

Citing that “the Secret Service has been at the forefront of investigating the illicit use of digital currencies,” Novy detailed the agency’s prior work in shutting down “two major centralized digital currencies that supported extensive criminal activity: E-gold Ltd. (in 2007) and Liberty Reserve (in 2013).” In addition, the agency also recently shut down a number of crypto exchanges including Western Express and Btc-e, he conveyed.

Zcash Company’s Response

US Secret Service Asks Congress for Help to Prevent Illicit Use of Privacy CoinsZcash, a cryptocurrency with strong privacy features, was created to protect the privacy rights of everyday citizens. The Zcash company, led by the famed computer scientist Zooko Wilcox, exists to support the privacy coin, but claims that it does not control Zcash or have special access to the cryptocurrency’s transactions.

The company responded to the Secret Service’s recommendations in an official blog post on Friday:

We believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States, the US Secret Service, and other governmental organizations to advocate for privacy rights and protect its citizens and businesses from harm.

What do you think of the US Secret Service’s recommendations to Congress? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, and Zcash Company.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

Wendy McElroy: Crypto as Class Warfare

Posted on
Crypto as Class Warfare

News

The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations
Section 4: State Versus Society
Chapter 9, Part 1
Crypto as Class Warfare

“Antagonism between the classes will be removed. I do not envisage a dead and artificial level among the people. There will be a variety among them as there is among the leaves of a tree. There will certainly be no have-nots, no unemployment, and no disparity between classes and masses such as we see to-day. I have no doubt whatsoever that if non-violence in its full measure becomes the policy of the State, we shall reach essential equality without strife.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Cryptocurrency is the realization of an anarchist dream that dates back centuries:  a free currency and a free banking system. Crypto is in its infancy, which means  its future applications are electrifyingly unpredictable, except in one regard: any successful application will fill a human need. No human needs are as acute as food and shelter, which require money and exchange. To control the flow of money and exchange, therefore, is to control life itself. And the financial flow is often captured by one word: banking.

In their quest for free banking, social reformers of the past made a distinction that is often lost today. Namely, banking is at the core of class warfare. The ramifications of that insight rests upon the definition of “class” being used: capitalist v. worker, nobles v. peasants, the political v. the productive. Crypto departs sharply from the meaning imposed by socialists centuries ago–capitalists v. workers–and expresses a 21st century form of financial class warfare: the political v. the productive.

The extraordinary crypto network is not a banking system, as traditionally conceived, but it can replace most banking functions. And future evolution within crypto applications may wipe out any remaining need for central banks.


Past Banking Experiments

19th century anarchists knew that freedom hinged upon what French radical Pierre Joseph Proudhon called a Bank of the People—a bank that served the financial interests of workers, not of the elite. Proudhon’s vision was a cooperative bank that provided low-interest credit and which issued notes based on labor instead of money based on gold.

The many attempts at free banking usually had a theme in common; they failed. Three factors played a significant role.

Ideology. Early anarchists accepted the socialist concept of a “Labor Theory of Value.” That is, the just economic price of a good or service is determined by the labor needed to produce it. The theory forms the linchpin of socialism’s condemnation of “the capitalist,” who steals the wealth earned by “the worker” when he charges and pockets more than the cost of production for a good. In short, socialists believe embedded labor, not subjective value or supply and demand, determine a just price. Banking experiments of the past tended to stumble and fall over this deeply flawed economic model. Not until Murray Rothbard fused individualist anarchism with Austrian economics, and popularized them both, did free-market anarchism emerge.

Structure. Many alternate institutions depended on the system against which they rebelled. Proudhon’s proposed Exchange Bank, which was intended to be an umbrella structure for smaller Banks of the People, is an example. The Exchange was meant to replace France’s central bank and to obsolete the financiers who preyed on workers. In his periodical Liberty, the iconic 19th century American anarchist Benjamin Tucker explained, “The Bank of Exchange was to be simply the Bank of France transformed on the mutual principle.” Thus, it was a vision of reform—radical reform, to be sure—but not a vision of revolution.

The alternate institutions that fared better tended to be part of a broader support system for a specific community, such as the social agencies operated by early labor organizations in America for their members. Those organizations exemplified the class awareness; for example, the Knights of Labor refused membership only to bankers, lawyers, gamblers, and saloon-keepers, who were viewed as the bane of working people.

Legal Opposition. Two circumstances that invited a backlash from authorities were intersection and visibility.

Intersection: In 1848, Proudhon approached Louis Blanc, a minister in the French Provisional Government, for assistance in transforming the Bank of France into an Exchange Bank. Proudhon was unsuccessful. But because his bank was partially based on government approval, it floundered. Today, so-called alternative financial institutions apply for licenses or otherwise comply with regulations. In doing so, they either go out of business or  cease to be alternatives; they become part of the problem.

Visibility: When an alternative financial institution threatens the status quo, and is seen to do so, it is dismantled. Transparency is not its friend.

A case on point is the massive network of voluntary labor unions in 19th century North America, which provided millions of workers with everything from credit to life insurance. The voluntary labor unions were also hotbeds of political dissent. President Franklin D. Roosevelt all but eliminated them by establishing a monolithic Big Union that enjoyed government privileges through legislation such the Wagner Act (1935); the fact that modern unions were backed by Big Business should have been a red flag. An article entitled “The Great Lie of the Modern Union,” explained, “The modern union that arose…” was “the opposite of what it claimed to be. It did not voice workers’ rights. It silenced them.” The decline of voluntary labor unions meant their financial safety nets evaporated.

Revolutionizing Class Definition

Cryptocurrency is not “new under the sun” in providing an alternative to government banking. It is not even new in providing a free-market one. But the dynamics of crypto are stunningly unique. The algorithms and blockchain are able to blow past three of the main pitfalls of previous alternatives—ideology, structure, and legal opposition.

Satoshi Nakamoto designed bitcoin and the blockchain to bypass a central banking system that served the status quo, not the individual. Given that the central banking system is not capitalistic but exists in communist societies, as well, the capitalist v. worker class analysis does not apply to crypto. Another form of class analysis fits perfectly.

Before discussing class analysis, however, it is necessary to define the word “class.” A class is a group of people or things with common characteristics. The grouping occurs because it is useful to whoever is defining the category. A researcher of financial habits might break his subjects into credit card users and non. A doctor studying drug addiction might split his patients into cocaine users and meth addicts. A classification can be defined by almost any shared characteristic: hair color, sexual orientation, preference in deodorant…

But if capitalists v. workers does not work well with crypto, what is the basis of crypto class analysis? It is the state v. society.

In his classic work, The State, the German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer spearheaded an analysis of these key terms.

Oppenheimer defined the state as “that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought into being by extra-economic power [force].” As well as the visible structure of politicians and bureaucrats, the state includes all agents (such as the military and law enforcement), affiliates (such as banks), and cronies (such as corporations and the mainstream media). Rothbard expounded on the concept. “I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as ‘taxation’; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area.”

Oppenheimer defined society as “the totality of concepts of all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man.” Rothbard explained that a free society was “one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual.” Society was the total of human interaction that occurred in the absence of institutionalized force.

Force and the threat of force are necessary to the state because it produces nothing. Its only source of “income” is the wealth it grabs from others, including through taxation, confiscation, fines, fees, tariffs, inflation, bribes… To exist, the state must steal. By contrast, society consists of voluntary exchanges that produce wealth, whether in terms of money, culture, family, spirituality, and other human values. An exchange occurs only when all parties to a transaction agree to its terms, which means all parties benefit.  occur. Rothbard highlighted the difference between state and society. “If I cease or refrain from purchasing Wheaties on the market, the Wheaties producers do not come after me with a gun or the threat of imprisonment to force me to purchase; if I fail to join the American Philosophical Association, the association may not force me to join or prevent me from giving up my membership. Only the state can do so; only the state can confiscate my property or put me in jail if I do not pay its tax tribute.”

Individuals who interact through force and privilege—“extra-economic power”– are the political class. Individuals who interact voluntarily are the productive class. The dynamic is political v. productive. The two are antagonistic because the political class is a parasite on the productive class, and it cannot exist otherwise.

Before crypto, even people who saw this class divide clearly were forced to use the state because so much of modern life was monopolized by it. Banking and the issuance of currency are fine examples. This essential realm of human interaction became a state monopoly. Little could be done about it; a bank account was almost a requirement of daily life, and it was extremely difficult to send money overseas without involving banks or other authorized institutions. No more. Crypto upends the state’s monopoly.

As with ideology, crypto is also able to answer the issues of structure and legal opposition that plagued prior financial alternatives to the state.

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.

Supremes Uphold Cell Privacy, Hope for Ross Ulbricht

Posted on
Supremes Uphold Cell Privacy, Hope for Ross Ulbricht

Op-Ed

The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision for the case Carpenter v. United States, ruled cops cannot access cell phone tracking information without a warrant. Around the country, privacy advocates and the mainstream media are hailing it as a “landmark” case. We’re told it has implications, “significance” for not only Fourth Amendment searches and seizures, but also for First Amendment expressions of speech. While better than the alternative, Friday’s decision is far from a satisfying answer.  

Also read: Troll Slayer: Derek Magill Defends Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash Against Defamation

Supreme Court Issues Narrow Cell Phone Privacy Victory

For the cryptocurrency community, cell phones, smart phones, mobile phones are a vital part of life. The misnomer is that they’re referred to as “phones.” They’re of course much more. They are computers, hot hard drives many of us use as wallets, storing, at times, hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of decentralized coins.   

“Given the unique nature of cell phone location information,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the slim majority, “the fact that the Government obtained the information from a third party does not overcome Carpenter’s claim to Fourth Amendment protection. The Government’s acquisition of the cell-site records was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” Supremes Uphold Cell Privacy, Hope for Ross Ulbricht

In the US Constitution, almost as an afterthought, rest Amendments. Twenty seven, in fact, help in large measure to clarify issues later deemed important. In nearly 230 years since its first ratification, the document has only been amended a little better than two dozen times, and its initial ten came as a package. Known as the Bill of Rights, its Fourth Amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth is often used as a barrier between ordinary persons and government employees of the martial variety, such as local, state, and national law enforcement. While it’s no panacea, it can be used after the fact to render an arrest or even a conviction moot. Timothy Carpenter’s prosecution was aided by cops using tracking information collected as a matter of course by providers. Essentially, police reverse-engineered Mr. Carpenter’s whereabouts relative to reported crime through his cell phone tower pings. Together with other evidence, Mr. Carpenter was convicted and sentenced to 116 years. He appealed, zeroing in on how key cell tower evidence was obtained unconstitutionally, without a warrant as required by the Fourth. The Court agreed, and the Chief Justice was joined by Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer.

Supremes Uphold Cell Privacy, Hope for Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht Implications?

To be perfectly honest, Constitutional arguments leave me cold. Superstitious reverence for a document I never signed, and on which my rights were smuggled by virtue of mere circumstance, the DNA lottery, is, to my way of thinking, very queer. Nevertheless, it is the real world system I live under, and so when nine persons chartered with interpreting what that ancient document means as it ultimately relates to my life, I do well to pay attention.

Carpenter doesn’t pretend to be more than narrowly requiring police, in cases involving cell phone tracking, to seek a warrant. Those are easy enough to obtain, as judges in many instances act as law enforcement’s rubber stamp. It’s a speed bump on the way toward a false faith in government’s ability to restrict itself. Probably a great revelation for most Americans is the substance of the case’s facts rather than more abstract principles.

Supremes Uphold Cell Privacy, Hope for Ross Ulbricht

It turns out your every move is being tracked by law enforcement, and it’s possible due to a kind of time machine … a default feature and bug necessary to the function of cell technology. Turn off GPS, and you’re still going to need towers to make your phone work as a phone. So long as that is the case, years later police, with mere permission from a judge, are able to charge you with a crime based on your previous whereabouts. Again, Mr. Carpenter’s case is effectively overturned due to an administrative error, allowing law enforcement to poison the fruit of evidence against him. Had they won a warrant, Mr. Carpenter would have no standing at the Supreme Court.

Carpenter might be a victory in a more important limited sense. Ross Ulbricht’s “legal team believes the outcome of the Fourth Amendment Carpenter case will affect Ross’s petition conference,” these pages reported.  Lyn Ulbricht, Mr. Ulbricht’s tireless mother, explained to Reason the Ulbricht appeal to the Supreme Court is being considered, seemingly “pending another important Fourth Amendment case, Carpenter v. U.S. […] Ross’ case is still before the courts.” Now that the Court has reversed Carpenter, Ms. Ulbricht hopes “they would remand [our case] and return it to the appellate courts. Ross would be back in New York in front of the 2nd Circuit, but with guidance from the Supreme Court […] Then I would hope that they would say we’d have a retrial. At the least, I would hope and pray for a resentencing.” Ross Ulbricht is serving double life. 

Do you think the SCOTUS decision is good for the crypto community? Let us know in the comments. 

This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.


Images via the Pixabay.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.

The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins Lost

Posted on
The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins Lost

The Daily

In today’s Bitcoin in Brief we mention some optimistic mid to long term predictions for crypto markets. And while decentralized currencies are hurting in a bearish month, the prospects for state-issued virtual money look even dimmer. Another senior Swiss central banker has noted the diminishing enthusiasm of governments to mint digital coins. Venezuela gives an example – Caracas has recently fired the nation’s crypto superintendent, reportedly for failing to raise billions through Maduro’s favorite El Petro. 

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief: Plagiary, Numerology, and Nano Does a No-No

Bottom Line: Bitcoin Will Recover

It takes a lot of optimism to make bullish predictions at a moment like this, but if it’s a relatively long term prognosis for growth, preceded by a short term one for further drop, then it does sound like a safe bet. Todd Gordon, founder of Tradinganalysis.com, is one of those analysts who believe the bottom line is that Bitcoin will eventually recover, by early 2019 to be precise.

“I did expect Bitcoin to drop, I thought for a long time we’re going to drop below $5,000,” Gordon told CNBC. He actually expects BTC prices to decrease a little more than that but he is also positive that the market will turn somewhere in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. “I think by the time this contest is over in February, we’ll be well back above $10,000 and in a pretty good shape,” he added.

The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins Lost

According to Todd Gordon, the correction we have seen from $19,000 down, in terms of percentage drop, is “inconsequential,” and “very much expected,” compared to the gains since 2015, when Bitcoin took about a 78 percent hit in the aftermath of the Mt. Gox hack. “Right now we are about two thirds of the way through that equal correction,” he said.

Gordon noted that his prediction is based on a “beautiful uptrend” on a percent change chart. “You can’t look on bitcoin on a traditional, linear, arithmetic chart,” he warned. The expert emphasized that the current 17 percent average weekly high-to-low range is the “lowest bitcoin is ever seen,” as the movement has reached 30-40 percent at times in the past. “If I am down 30 percent on bitcoin in this contest, that’s nothing – it can make that up in two weeks,” the analyst added.

Others Like the $10,000 Mark Too

Other members of the crypto space have made similar predictions about the mid-term prospects for bitcoin. At the end of May, blockchain venture capitalist Spencer Bogart said he expected the price of BTC to rise again above $10,000 per coin by the end of 2018, noting that the cryptocurrency is still worth buying, despite its continued losses.

The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins Lost“In the past, when the value of BTC dropped by 50 or 60 percent, a cloud of fear used to develop and people seriously questioned if bitcoin was over,” Bogart told CNBC. However, he highlighted a key difference between today and the crashes of the past – the exponential amount of development and adoption we have seen since those times. Bogart, a partner ат Blockchain Capital, also noted that most coins are overvalued in comparison with bitcoin. He advised investors to sell cryptos like cardano, tron, IOTA and NEO, but stressed they should hold cryptocurrencies like bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum, ripple, and EOS.

Most cryptocurrencies saw losses of up to 20 percent over a 24-hour period yesterday. Many observes attributed the latest dump to the recent measures taken by Japan’s financial regulator. The Financial Services Agency issued six new business improvement orders to crypto exchanges Bitflyer, Tech Bureau, Bitpoint Japan, Btcbox, Bitbank, and Quoine. In recent weeks markets have been also reacting to a number of negative events such as the hacks of Korean exchanges Coinrail and Bithumb, as well as the exposure of scams and suspected market manipulations.

Enthusiasm for State-Backed Cryptos Dying Out

Countries are unlikely to issue national cryptocurrencies any time soon, according to a high ranking representative of the Swiss National Bank’s management. Central banks around the world have become skeptical of introducing state-backed digital currencies, Thomas Moser, an alternate member of the governing board of SBN, told Business Insider.

“In the beginning, there was a lot of interest and enthusiasm about issuing their own national cryptocurrency but I think, in the meantime, that enthusiasm has slowed again because of the implications it would have for financial stability,” Moser explained. Nevertheless, he said he would not be surprised if national cryptocurrencies emerged in the longer term but noted that currently everyone is waiting for someone else to do it first.

The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins Lost

Thomas Moser thinks that to some extent it makes sense to have an electronic version of the banknote but warned the implications are substantial. “The advantages are relatively small but the unknown risks are potentially large so I think the balance is to be cautious.”

Moser’s comments reflect the position of another senior representative of Schweizerische Nationalbank. In April, Andrea Maechler, member of its governing board, stated that “private-sector digital currencies” are better and less risky than any version offered by a central bank. A government-backed coin “would deliver scarcely any advantages, but would give rise to incalculable risks,” she warned, noting that it would make it easier for people to withdraw money if they felt a bank was in trouble.

Venezuela’s Crypto Superintendent Reportedly Fired

The Daily: Analysts Predict Bitcoin Will Rebound, Enthusiasm for State Coins LostCarlos Vargas, Venezuela’s Superintendent of Cryptocurrency, has recently left his post. Some local media reported that actually he has been fired by President Maduro after his team failed to deliver on the promises to raise billions through the initial coin offering of the national oil-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro.

According to a publication by Caracas Chronicles, only 2,266 petros have been transferred so far on the distributed ledger that tracks their movement. Even if all of them were sold at $60 per coin, the outlet speculates, the government has raised no more than $136,000. That’s way below the once promised $5 billion.

Very little is known about the new superintendent, Jocelit Ramírez, and his team. He is believed to be very close to Vice President Tareck El Aissami.

Despite threats by officials to restrict decentralized cryptocurrencies and crack down on exchanges, Venezuelan bitcoin trade on platforms like Localbitcoins has spiked in recent months, largely due to the unattractiveness of the hyperinflated national fiat, the bolivar. The socialist government in Caracas has had hard time convincing its partners to accept the petro in bilateral trade. Several weeks ago, India rejected Maduro’s proposal to buy Venezuelan oil at discounted petro prices.

What are your expectations for the future of decentralized cryptocurrencies and state-issued digital coins? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Make sure you do not miss any important Bitcoin-related news! Follow our news feed any which way you prefer; via Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, RSS or email (scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe). We’ve got daily, weekly and quarterly summaries in newsletter form. Bitcoin never sleeps. Neither do we.

PR: Propy to Hold Real Estate Auction on Blockchain

Posted on
Propy to Hold First Ever Real Estate Auction on Blockchain

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

Global property store with a decentralized registry Propy in collaboration with Hilton & Hyland Real Estate, a leading luxury brokerage are selling ownership for Rome’s architectural Masterpiece el Palazzetto Mansion in a historical blockchain auction. Set to begin on June 28th, 2018 at noon PST, the event will accept offers both in USD and in cryptocurrency.

The Palazzetto Mansion was built by geniuses of the Italian Renaissance and it is located in the center of Rome’s historic Palazzo Albertoni Spinola declared World Heritage site by Unesco. This prestigious area and its richness of prominent archaeological sites and museums make it one of most desired places to live in Rome. The luxurious four-floor mansion  is currently valued at €35 million including a redevelopment plan.

According to a blog post by Propy, this is a notable confirmation that the new technology is entering our everyday lives.

“We’re about to make history with the first blockchain-powered real estate auction taking place in the real estate industry”, said Alex Voloshyn CTO of Propy who will be overseeing the IT systems during the live auction. “This is the result of hard work, and we’re excited to inaugurate our first transaction within the European Union, with an innovative bidding process. We know this is not your everyday single-family house deal, however, through such ambitious projects we challenge ourselves to reinvent the real estate industry.”

The Blockchain technology automates the auction and offering mechanisms. It allows to hold temper-proof, publicly verifiable auctions and has the potential to make them accessible worldwide at a very low transaction cost.

Propy created an online portal to expedite the process and facilitate the access to more participants around the globe. Bidders need to follow these easy steps to take part in the auction:
– Create an account, review and sign the “BIDDER TERMS AND CONDITIONS” via Docusign
– Deposit funds of $100,000 USD or its Cryptocurrency equivalent, to be able to bid.
– Place an opening and max bid or make an offer up to June 27th at noon PST.
– June 28th at noon PST, sign in and participate in the live streaming auction.

For more information about the historical auction or to register as a bidder, visit https://auction.propy.com

Press Contact: Market Waves
Contact email: hello@marketwaves.co

This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

Quebec Hikes Electricity Price: Crypto Miners to Pay up to 3 Times Current Rate

Posted on
Quebec Hikes Electricity Price: Crypto Miners to Pay up to 3 Times Current Rate

Mining

The Canadian province of Quebec has reportedly decided to charge cryptocurrency miners up to roughly three times the current price after they flooded utility Hydro-Quebec with requests for mining operations. In addition, several crypto-related proposals have been submitted including one that requires crypto firms to bid for power.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Price Hike for Crypto Miners

Quebec Hikes Electricity Price: Crypto Miners to Pay up to 3 Times Current RateQuebec, a province in eastern Canada, offers one of the lowest power rates in North America. Its electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed by the country’s largest electric utility, Hydro-Quebec, which was formed by the government in 1944, and currently has over 4 million customers.

The utility has been courting cryptocurrency miners for months to use its surplus electricity. However, due to an overwhelming number of requests for crypto mining operations, the province has decided that it “will make electricity prohibitively expensive for cryptocurrency miners until it figures out how to deal with a surge in demand from the energy-hungry industry,” Bloomberg reported this week, adding:

Provincial regulator Regie de l’energie authorized utility Hydro-Quebec to charge 15 cents per kilowatt hour to blockchain companies, about three times the price they have enjoyed up to now. The temporary pricing doesn’t apply to existing clients and their operations, which total about 120 megawatts.

Quebec Hikes Electricity Price: Crypto Miners to Pay up to 3 Times Current Rate“Blockchain companies will be required to bid for power and spell out the jobs and investment per megawatt that they will generate,” the utility further proposed. “The starting bid is 1 Canadian cent ($0.0075) per kilowatt hour above the rate the industry had previously enjoyed — roughly a 20 percent increase.”

Furthermore, Hydro-Quebec unveiled a plan Thursday, which requires approval from the regulator, “to allocate as much as 550 megawatts” for crypto mining on top of the 120 megawatts that are already in operation or approved, the publication detailed. A selection process will also be proposed which “will enable Hydro-Quebec to survey the industry on what it considers a fair price and to gauge what investment and jobs the applicants will generate,” a spokesman for the utility, Jonathan Cote, explained.

Overwhelming Demand from Crypto Miners

According to the publication, crypto miners flooded Hydro-Quebec with “requests that it says exceed its short- and medium-term capacity.” Cote told the news outlet on Thursday:

We don’t want to send a message to the market that this is the price for cryptocurrencies in Quebec…It’s more that requests are suspended until we have the proper framework determining conditions for that market.

“The temporary price is expected to be in place for several weeks until the regulator sets a tariff that will then be applicable to all,” the news outlet explained.

Quebec has been trying to attract crypto miners with its inexpensive electricity and cold winters, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. However, Hydro-Quebec indicated in January that it will not be able to meet the scale of power demanded by crypto miners. Prior to the rate hike decision, it started turning down new applications for crypto mining operations and considered halting mining operations during winter.

What do you think of Quebec hiking the electricity price for crypto miners? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Hydro-Quebec.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

Crypto Markets, Weak Demand from Miners Hurt GPU Producers

Posted on
Crypto Markets, Weak Demand from Miners Hurt GPU Producers

Hardware

Dipping cryptocurrency markets are hurting not only crypto holders but also a number of related businesses and sectors. Manufacturers of hardware that can be used in mining applications, like GPU makers Nvidia, AMD and their OEM partners, are also hit by weak demand in the sector which is pushing inventories up.

Also read: Bitcoin Businesses Denied Banking Services in Ireland

Excess Inventory Due to Weak Sales in the Crypto Segment

Recent tech media reports suggest that the leading video card maker, Nvidia, is experiencing excess inventory issues in the GPU channel. The surplus is most likely the main reason for the delay in the launch of Nvidia’s new gaming card based on the Volta architecture, which was expected to replace the Pascal generation. The postponement was confirmed in comments made by Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang during Computex 2018. He said the company is not planning to release new graphics processors in the near future.

Crypto Markets, Weak Demand from Miners Hurt GPU ProducersWith crypto markets reacting to a number of negative events in recent weeks, like the hacks of Korean exchanges Coinrail and Bithumb, regulatory actions in Japan, and the exposure of scams and suspected market manipulations, the rumors of a technical issue with the new consumer lineup have been replaced by another explanation – inventory buildup. Observers say it is probably due to overestimated demand in the gaming sector and the underestimated impact of the declining demand in the market for mining equipment.

These suspicions have been increased by rumors that a major Taiwanese OEM partner of Nvidia, ASUS, MSI or Gigabyte, has reportedly returned 300,000 graphics cards to the company. According to reports by Seeking Alpha and Semiaccurate, the giant has been also aggressively buying GDDR5 memory, which indicates an excess stock of lower-end GPUs that need to be made into boards. Quoted sources from the industry claim the return of the chips is related to the decreasing demand from cryptocurrency miners.

Nvidia has previously shared its expectations that the crypto fever would last until at least the third quarter of 2018, but obviously GPU sales have already started to go down. The prices of many altcoins that are mined with video cards decreased along with that of bitcoin. BTC is trading well below $7,000 and experts believe the downturn in the demand for graphics processors is largely due to the prices under this threshold.

Crypto Markets, Weak Demand from Miners Hurt GPU Producers
AMD Price Chart, Ycharts

The crypto market ups and downs and the weak demand from miners have also affected Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia’s main competitor. According to Investopedia, AMD’s shares rose by 25% in February before plunging by 30% in April, then soaring by 50% in May, until reaching around $17 on June 18. At the time of writing, their price is $15.69, according to data provided by Ycharts.

A Shift Towards Modest Expectations, Results

In April, AMD announced revenues of $1.65 billion dollars for the first quarter of 2018, with net income reaching $81 million, a 40% year-over-year growth. The company benefited substantially from the increased sales to crypto miners, which allowed it to reduce the gap between its results and those of Nvidia. In the last quarter of 2017, AMD’s share of the GPU market rose from 27.2% to 33.7%. AMD products remain cheaper while offering similar productivity, when it comes to crypto mining.

In May, Nvidia announced its revenues for Q1, noting that the total has increased by 66% year-over-year, and 10% sequentially, to a record $3.21 billion. For the first time, its quarterly report mentioned separately the amount generated from sales to the crypto market. The total GPU business revenue was $2.77 billion, up 77% from a year earlier and up 12% sequentially. $289 million of it is related to sales of GPUs for mining.

Crypto Markets, Weak Demand from Miners Hurt GPU Producers

The two leading producers of video cards reacted differently to the increased demand for hardware for mining applications. In February, AMD said it was planning to increase production. Nvidia initially took steps to limit GPU sales to crypto miners. Then it was rumored that the company might launch a dedicated mining card called “Turing.” Later reports suggested its launch has been postponed to until at least July. If the current trends persist, however, both companies are likely to announce more modest plans and results in the coming months.

According to sources quoted by Digitimes, Taiwanese suppliers of graphics processing units are also expected to experience dropping shipments and profits in the second half of this year. Companies like Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology, Micro-Star International, and TUL have seen their inventories increase significantly, mostly in result of shrinking demand from the mining sector. Observers expect a shift in the focus towards the gaming and datacenter segments.

What are your expectations for the future of the GPU market and the crypto mining sector? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Make sure you do not miss any important Bitcoin-related news! Follow our news feed any which way you prefer; via Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, RSS or email (scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe). We’ve got daily, weekly and quarterly summaries in newsletter form. Bitcoin never sleeps. Neither do we.

Bithumb Lowers Theft Estimate – Will Fully Repay Customers Despite Deficient Insurance

Posted on
Bithumb Lowers Theft Estimate - Will Fully Repay Customers Despite Deficient Insurance

Exchanges

South Korean exchange Bithumb has lowered its theft estimate from the original amount after undergoing some of the recovery process. The exchange promises to fully repay customers using its own fund even though its insurance is unlikely to cover the loss.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Theft Amount Reduced

Bithumb Lowers Theft Estimate - Will Fully Repay Customers Despite Deficient InsuranceSouth Korea’s second largest crypto exchange, Bithumb, has clarified its situation after reporting a theft on Wednesday, June 20.

Citing that it “quickly followed the procedure to immediately report the incident to KISA [Korea Internet & Security Agency] announcing that about 35 billion Korean won [~US$31.5 million] worth amount of cryptocurrency was stolen,” the exchange wrote:

However, as we undergo a recovery process on each cryptocurrency, the overall scale of damage is getting reduced. Hence we expect that the overall damage will be less than the amount we initially expected.

The exchange is currently collaborating with the authorities investigating the theft. “We are working hand in hand with governmental institutions as well as security professionals including KISA, National Police Agency, and Ahnlab to find out the exact cause and make an improvement,” Bithumb confirmed.

Bithumb to Fully Compensate Customers

The exchange assured customers that all cryptocurrencies and the Korean won “are safely stored in cold wallet and bank respectively.” Bithumb says it “currently has about 500 billion KRW worth in a company fund,” citing the firm’s audit report as of December 31 last year on the website of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) showing 558 billion won (~$502 million) in the fund.

The exchange emphasized:

The amount of damage that occurred this time will be fully covered by Bithumb’s own company fund, hence all our customers’ assets are intact and fully secured.

The exchange continued to explain that it is “currently undergoing a total change in our wallet system in order to prevent any similar cyber-attacks as well as for our customers to trade securely and safely.” Furthermore, without giving specific dates, Bithumb revealed that its KRW withdrawal services are also being reviewed.

Insurance Unlikely to Cover Bithumb’s Loss

Bithumb Lowers Theft Estimate - Will Fully Repay Customers Despite Deficient InsuranceBithumb maintains insurance of up to 6 billion won (~$5.4 million), according to local media. Its policy is with Heungkuk Fire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. for “cyber insurance and personal information lease liability insurance,” Inews24 described on Friday. According to the media outlet, both policies cover “system loss or interruption of business due to hacking, but they do not protect the property value of cryptocurrencies.”

“The cryptocurrency loss due to hacking is not covered by insurance coverage,” the publication noted. “The cyber-hacking products of the non-life insurers have focused on leakage of personal information caused by hacking, system damage, and business interruption. If the system of the exchanges is damaged by an attack or if the customers’ personal information is leaked, compensation should be paid.”

An insurance industry official explained:

The fact that the criteria for damages compensation is unclear is that the range of disclaimers that insurance companies can cover is wide…It will take a long time for an insurance company to guarantee the loss [of cryptocurrencies].

What do you think of Bithumb’s theft and repayment plan? Do you think insurance policies should cover cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Bithumb.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

Introducing Gitcash.io the Bitcoin Cash Powered Github Tipping App

Posted on
Introducing Gitcash.io the Bitcoin Cash Powered Github Tipping App

Finance

On Friday, June 22 a new bitcoin cash tipping application has been announced called Gitcash.io. The new platform allows registered Github users to tip each other with BCH using the web-based hosting service tethered to the Gitcash.io service.

Also Read: Bitcoin Cash Football: Multiplayer World Cup App Powered By BCH

Gitcash.io Allows Github Users to Tip Each Other On-Chain Using Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) developers are at it again with a new tipping application that works with the hosting service Github. The website Github is an extremely popular service that hosts open source codebase and gives developers access control, bug tracking abilities, and task management.

Introducing Gitcash.io the Bitcoin Cash Powered Github Tipping App

With an open source project, the developer community can collaborate in order to make codebase integrity more secure for many software projects. Now developers can tip each other in bitcoin cash using the Gitcash.io platform. For instance, if someone helped find an issue, a bug, or helped code a few things for your project, you may want to tip them a few bucks for their assistance.

“GitCash.io is an on-chain Bitcoin Cash tipping platform for Github, allowing users to directly support the developers who are writing the open source code that powers our planet,” explains the Gitcash programmers.  

GitCash supports custom user profiles, complete tipping histories, and full-featured HD wallets capable of generating and sweeping custom password protected paper wallets. Our platform is now and will forever be completely free and not-for-profit. Also, we accept zero-confirmations so your transactions are faster than lightning.

Introducing Gitcash.io the Bitcoin Cash Powered Github Tipping App
Directions on how to use Gitcash.io tipping app.

Bitcoin Cash: A Powerful Tool Capable of Bettering the World

Furthermore, the unofficial nonprofit marketing team the Bitcoin Cash Fund has given the Gitcash.io team $1,000 worth of funding per month for the next two months. The money will be used for tips, advertisements and bounties, explains the Gitcash.io team. Moreover, the Gitcash.io project was produced with help from the Chaintip team and the organization’s bounties will be the first to appear on the website. Additionally, the Gitcash application was built using the Bitbox platform

Introducing Gitcash.io the Bitcoin Cash Powered Github Tipping App
Gitcash.io bounties.

“We built Gitcash on Bitcoin Cash because it is truly censorship resistant and sound money that has the potential to benefit every person in the world equally, including those living on less than two dollars per day,” explains the organization’s founder.  

We’re super happy for Gitcash to be a part of that. The Gitcash project is supported solely by donations and is completely free to use. The platform was built by a small team of passionate developers who believe that Bitcoin Cash is not only the future of money, but a powerful tool capable of bettering the world.

The Gitcash founder also has thanked everyone in the BCH community for staying positive during the “monumental disinformation and censorship campaign” that’s being spread about bitcoin cash. “This is exactly the type of thing Bitcoin was created to fight — The battle is far from over but I can already tell the tides are turning,” the Gitcash founder concludes.

What do you think about the Gitcash.io tipping application for Github? Let us know your thoughts on this subject in the comment section below.


Images via Shutterstock, and Githash.io 


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even look up the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

Posted on
Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

Markets and Prices

Cryptocurrency markets are slumping today as most digital asset markets are seeing losses between 8-20 percent over the past 24-hours. Lots of speculators are attributing the dump to the recent measures taken by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), asking cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitflyer to make improvements to the Japanese trading platforms’ anti-money laundering practices.

Also read: William Shatner Joins Bitcoin Mining Project, Admits He Doesn’t Quite Get It

The Crypto-Bears Are Back

Just a few days ago digital currency market prices were reversing northbound after the extremely bearish first two weeks of June. Now markets are once again being attacked by bears, and most of the top cryptocurrencies are seeing deep losses over the past day. Bitcoin Core (BTC) values have tumbled 8.5 percent over the last 24-hours and the currency is down 6.3 percent over the last week. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) markets are also down 12.5 percent during the past day, and over the last seven days BCH is down 11.7 percent. The decline in prices started after Japan’s FSA began telling exchanges they need to upgrade their systems and anti-money laundering procedures. We don’t really know whether or not this announcement is the true reason behind the dump, but traders and speculators have tethered the two together.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

Bitcoin Cash Market Action

Bitcoin Cash market prices are hovering around $759 USD per BCH at the time of publication. BCH is the fifth most traded cryptocurrency today as far as volume is concerned as the market has traded roughly $496Mn over the past day. At the moment the BCH market capitalization is 13.2Bn. The top exchanges swapping the most BCH today are Okex, Bitfinex, Huobi, Hitbtc, and EXX. The top currency traded with bitcoin cash today is BTC holding an average of around 42 percent of trades. This is followed by tether (USDT 22.8%), USD (21.2%), ETH (3.7%), and KRW (3.4%).

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

BCH/USD Technical Indicators

Looking at the charts show things are uglier today than our last markets update. The two Simple Moving Averages (100 & 200 SMA) have a deep gap between each other looking at the 4-hour BCH/USD chart on Bitfinex. The short-term 100 SMA is well below the longer term 200 SMA which indicates the path of least resistance will likely be towards the downside. However, MACd is steadily heading southbound and could reverse and show improvement in the next few hours. The Relative Strength Index (RSI) levels are showing oversold conditions around -29 at the time of publication. This also reveals we could see a small trend reversal soon for a short period of time and volume indicates this as well. Looking at order books towards the upside bulls need to muster up strength and push past strong resistance at $800. There’s another upside pitstop at $875 if bulls really push it to the limit before getting exhausted. On the backside, bears will see some stops between the current vantage point and $680 as there are some strong foundations there for the time being.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

Bitcoin Core Market Action

Bitcoin Core (BTC) market prices are around $6,135 on Friday, June 22, 2018. The currency is the largest traded cryptocurrency as far as volume and BTC has traded $4.3Bn over the last day. The digital assets total market valuation today is 106Bn and BTC market dominance is 40.7 percent a slight increase since last week. The top exchanges trading the most BTC today include Binance, Bitfinex, Okex, Huobi, and Bitflyer. The Japanese yen accounts for over 60 percent of trades on June 22 as yen volume has decreased. This is followed by the USD (31%) USDT (7%), EUR (1.9%), and KRW (1.1%).

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

BTC/USD Technical Indicators

Looking at the 4-hour BTC/USD chart on Coinbase and Bitstamp shows similar action taking place compared to the BCH/USD analysis. The 100 SMA is below the 200 moving average which shows again that bears may continue holding the reigns. MACd just saw a small push up but is now heading southbound once again. RSI levels are around -21 indicating oversold conditions as well. BTC bulls need to jump past the $6,400 range again and will see more resistance around $6,700 where the price hovered for a few days prior. On the backside, bears will need to crunch through buy orders between now and $5,400 which are mountainous walls, at least for now.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

The Top Crypto-Markets Tumble — EOS Suffers

Overall most of the top currencies are seeing losses, and the second highest capitalization belonging to ethereum (ETH) is down 10.7 percent today. One ETH is priced at $474 per coin, and the currency is down 5.2 percent over the last week. The second highest market, ripple (XRP), is down 7 percent today and one XRP is $0.49 cents per token. Lastly, the fifth largest valuation still belongs to EOS but the token is down 16.8 percent today. One EOS is priced at around $8.63, and markets have shaved 20.3 percent over the last week.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

The Verdict: Skepticism Remains Strong

The verdict today is far less positive then our last markets update as things are starting to look gloomy again as the weekend approaches. Traders are all calling newer and lower bottoms, and many are skeptical of brighter skies in the short term.

Markets Update: Cryptocurrency Prices Tumble Before the Weekend

Of course most are optimistic about the long-term but for now, no one is sure how long this bear run will last. With the naysayers saying 2018 is nothing like 2014 (including myself), it just may be that we are going through similar circumstances that may last just as long.

Where do you see the price of BCH, BTC, and other coins headed from here? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Price articles and markets updates are intended for informational purposes only and should not to be considered as trading advice. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses or gains, as the ultimate decision to conduct a trade is made by the reader. Always remember that only those in possession of the private keys are in control of the “money.”


Images via Shutterstock, Trading View, Coinlib.io, and Satoshi Pulse.


Want to create your own secure cold storage paper wallet? Check our tools section.