Daily Archives: August 26, 2018

P2P Becoming the Indian Way to Trade Crypto Following the Banking Ban

Peer to Peer (P2P) trading is on the march in India due to the country’s banks shutting down crypto services this year.

Since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decision earlier this year, Indian traders are adapting as only Indians can do, and are doing it with great success too, with homemade P2P platforms and exchange adaptations using P2P trading.

Peer-to-Peer trading cuts out the banks completely. Out of this move, a new service KoinLoop has launched such a service, born out of two collaborating exchanges; KoinEX and WazirX. The latter’s CEO argues that his company also has the cheapest BTC price in India, adding:

“If banking is something the exchanges are not allowed to do, then the solution is something that direct banking doesn’t come in.”

As Bitcoin News reported recently Dabba is also taking off as a way of avoiding the RBI ban. Best described as a way of trading through something called a “hawala” network rather any system connected with an exchange, Dabba is becoming increasingly popular. The trading only takes place through an overseas bank account mainly based in the UK, with Dubai another favorite.

Mainly using the messaging app Telegram its use best explained simply thus:

“The broker accepts money in cash, buys Bitcoins using an overseas trading account and sells them when the bet placed in India is settled. The difference is paid in cash to the customer.”

The KoinEX system offers a P2P trading solution called Loop which offers clients access to the trading of BTC, ETH, and XRP. CEO Rahul Raj explains:

“…buyers and sellers on Loop can create their own listings (like a marketplace) or explore existing listings to choose their best trades,” adding, “…while it’s still early days, Loop has been very well received by the Indian trading community and we are seeing increasing traction every day.”

LocalBitcoins have also seen a local boost to trading since the ban with the Indian rupee (INR) volume increasing 25% from around 68 million rupees to 85 million rupees to August. BTC saw a similar hike in trading volumes with a hike of 23% over the same period.

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50cycles Banking Debacle Reveals Attitude of Banks Towards Bitcoin Trading

The owner of 50cycles, Scott Snaith is experiencing a banking nightmare after performing some relatively small peer to peer trades on Localbitcoins. Localbitcoins is the most popular peer to peer Bitcoin trading site in the world, where individuals can contact each other and exchange Bitcoin for every fiat payment method imaginable while using an escrow system that ensures minimum scamming. However, Scott Snaith did some deals in excess of USD 10,000, as little as 2 bitcoins, and his bank accounts with Barclays and HSBC were frozen. He received cash in his personal bank accounts in exchange for Bitcoin, but then those personal accounts and a connected business account were frozen.

Scott Snaith says “My two personal bank accounts and business account were frozen for using a well known Bitcoin trading site. No unlawful activity has taken place but just because the word ‘Bitcoin’ was mentioned my accounts were locked instantly. A ‘senior fraud advisor’ then closed my complaint off – leaving me with no choice but to take the issue to the Financial Ombudsman for appeal. This situation is a complete nightmare and the knock-on effects have been unbelievable. One of my staff left as they had just had a baby and couldn’t afford to be in a job that was unable to pay them, which isn’t surprising. I’ll never be able to bank with Barclays again. I’m a professional business owner taking advantage of new financial technologies and it looks like the banks are failing to keep up with their customers’ habits. We are the ones being punished. The banks are deliberately creating obstacles. They are anti-digital currency and displaying a new form of financial discrimination. The message is clear: your funds are not yours”.

Apparently, Scott Snaith had been exchanging the Bitcoin as part of research and development for his business 50cycles, which rewards a cryptocurrency named TOBA for every mile pedaled, about GBP 20 for every 1,000 miles. As seasoned Bitcoin traders know, frozen bank accounts are a common consequence of trading Bitcoin peer to peer, or even trading with an exchange. As Scott Snaith experienced, banks don’t have to give a reason for freezing an account and can hold the money long term or even outright seize it. Banks do this under the guise of protecting customers, while in reality, they are crippling their customers who use Bitcoin.

Perhaps some people would say Scott Snaith would have had better luck if he used his business account instead of his personal account, and the best way would have been to exchange the Bitcoin with an official regulated exchange like Coinbase via his business account. However, as Bitcoin traders know, even when doing everything with business accounts and official exchanges eventually the bank freezes the account anyways.

The most logical explanation that banks have is Bitcoins from Localbitcoins could be from money laundering, but they usually don’t explicitly say this since they are not required to give a reason. Banks have the right to freeze funds at will, that’s in the terms and conditions when people sign up for bank accounts. This logic breaks down when people have their bank accounts frozen even if they’ve only exchanged Bitcoins with an exchange like Coinbase, at that point, it becomes clear that banks have a very negative view of Bitcoin.

This incident and similar incidents that numerous other Bitcoin traders have experienced reveal a strong point of Bitcoin. Banks are centralized and can freeze money and ruin businesses at will. Bitcoin is decentralized, and can never be frozen or seized. This makes Bitcoin a much better option than banks for business and any other financial needs.

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UK Researches DLT Applications for Digital Evidence, Identity Security

The UK government has begun researching the applications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in securing digital evidence as part of the nation’s court reform plans.

An HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) blog post by Balaji Anbil details the service’s conjointly held meeting with the Open Innovation team in which they discussed the use cases for DLT in protecting digital evidence. Specifically, Anbil said that they were looking into ways of applying the new technology in traditional legal procedures, such as during evidence sharing and identity management.

Dr. Sadek Ferdous, Technology Policy Fellow and Research Associate at Imperial College shared his expertise on public and private DLT systems. Ferdous pointed out that one of the challenges currently experienced is the difficulty in verifying the original source and history of digital evidence, and that this audit trail is a key component for future systems.

By providing a chronological record of when evidence has been accessed or modified and from what location, DLT could be utilized to ensure the integrity of evidence remains, Anbil writes in the post. ”This is clearly a critical capability” it reads.

HMCTS is serious about embracing and utilizing innovative technologies when it comes to securing digital data and have plans to discuss artificial intelligence, cloud security, and next-generation design in the future.

Blockchain in the Legal System

Earlier this month, Bitcoin News reported on legal technology expert Paul Sachs’ advocation for the use of blockchain in the legal system and court proceedings. The most significant contribution blockchain could make in legal proceedings, as Sachs sees, is the potential it has in transforming security and protecting evidence during a trial, much like the DLT research conducted by the HMCTS.

Sachs referenced the UK courts’ GBP 1 billion modernization effort partially focused on digitizing processes to increase work efficiency that Anbil’s research applies to.

It would appear that the UK government is doing its due diligence and listening to the experts.

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Bitcoin News Radio Show, 25th August 2018

Listen to the 25 August 2018 Bitcoin News Radio Show below.

On this edition of the Bitcoin News daily radio show we discuss how Mt Gox victims will have a chance to get a refund. Hear how Brian Kelly has said a Bitcoin ETF is the last hurdle towards a rally, and why that could be wrong. Learn about why conditions are optimal for Bitcoin to rally to record highs, possibly even before 2018 ends.

Follow the Bitcoin News Radio Show on AnchorSpotifyGoogle PodcastsStitcherRadio PublicPocket Casts, and Breaker. We broadcast a new episode every day, covering the most important topics in the crypto, Bitcoin, and blockchain world!

 

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North America Cryptocurrency News Roundup 17-24 August 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country. Next up is North America.

USA

CNBC’s Brian Kelly Sees Bitcoin ETF Approval by 2019: Mainstream news channel CNBC’s popular program Fast Money host Brian Kelly has predicted that Bitcoin will jump considerably in the future following ETF approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). However, he doesn’t see that happening till August 2019.

Currently, the SEC has ruled against ETFs for the near future but possible reviews are likely expected in the future and further legal tussles which will result in slow approval overall.

SEC Rejects Nine Bitcoin ETFs and Stays Decision on Five Others: The much-awaited Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision mostly ended in a negative note as nine Bitcoin ETFs were rejected by the commission and five others are now pending further review.

The nine ETFs rejected included five from Direxion, two from Proshares and two from GraniteShares. But, as a silver lining, the SEC stayed its decision on five ETFs fuelling hopes that the commission might be willing to approve it after greater scrutiny.

$800,000 Announced for Scientific Blockchain Project: The US government announced a healthy $818,433 grant for a new blockchain project called Open Science Chain (OSC). The OSC is a new platform that allows researchers to verify the data of scientific experiments.

The project is being led by Subhashini Sivagnanam, a software architect and researcher currently working at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. The funds were awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the project. NSF is granting a sizeable number of funds to blockchain development programs this year.

US Border Agents Try Blockchain for Free Trade Compliance: US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that they are testing a new blockchain program that will help enforce the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The new decentralized program will be used to verify the original source of the products entering the United States through its borders and also help in authenticating them.

Universities Weigh in on Blockchain Applications: US universities are considering blockchain technology for a broad range of applications because of its tremendous potential. The applications under consideration will help government, private companies, and NGOs in achieving their objectives efficiently.

Some of the academics speaking in favor of widespread blockchain adoption include Robert Dahlstrom —  a Professor of Marketing at Miami University, David Noble — the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UConn, and  Lawrence Trautman — a Professor at Western Carolina University.

US Congressman Invites Crypto CEOs to Washington to Discuss Future Regulation: US congressman from Ohio Warren Davidson has invited top cryptocurrency representatives from the industry to visit Washington for further discussions on ICO and crypto legislation.

More than 32 CEOs and founders were contacted by the congressman’s office to schedule a meeting in the coming months. Davidson sits on the House Committee for Financial Services and his role could play a crucial role in furthering the cryptocurrency scene in the country.

Court Orders Hacker to Pay Bail in Bitcoin: In a new precedent, a US magistrate Judge Corley has ordered an accused embezzler Martin Marsich to pay an equivalent of $750,000 in bitcoin as bail.

The new precedent was set after the accused was presented before the court for hacking US video games company Electronic Arts’ (EA) servers and selling video games illegally online through black market websites. He is accused of hacking more than 25,000 accounts.

Mexico

Bank of Mexico May Set up Cryptocurrency Payment Infrastructure: Mexican state bank, Bank of Mexico has announced that it is considering developing a cryptocurrency payment infrastructure in the near future. The system will be used to process electronic payments quickly and effectively.

The bank announced the landmark decision during a public consultation process that was aimed at researching ways to use fintech innovations for its benefit.

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Europe Cryptocurrency News Roundup 17-24 August 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country. Up next is Europe.

Germany

Germany Aiming to Withdraw from US Financial System: Germany, Europe’s biggest economy has called for an independent payment system that will be free from US intervention, a piece of news that can be considered positive for cryptocurrencies in the future.

The move comes follows the widely criticized decision of the United States to unilaterally impose sanctions on Turkey and Iran over bilateral tussles. The German government is no all-weather friend of the US and since then it has said:

“For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system.”

The Swift system is the current world standard for money transfer and it is heavily influenced by the US.

Russia

Government Announces Blockchain-based Voting System: Russia is at the forefront of blockchain innovation in the world and is showing its prowess by announcing a new blockchain-based voting system. 

A non-profit association of independent observers known as National Public Monitoring is reported stating that a pilot project is in the works,  according to Russian news outlet Tass. The project has received an endorsement from the all-Russia congress of public observers,  who have submitted recommendations in this regard to the government.

No further technical details were disclosed at this point.

United Kingdom

Cryptocurrencies to Benefit UK in Post-Brexit Scenario: While the Brexit is seen as a negative move in almost all aspects, cryptocurrencies will actually benefit from it, according to a Britain-based CEO. 

Danial Daychopan of crypto startup Plutus said that the Pound’s and Euro’s interdependence and issues mean that decentralized cryptocurrencies are set to offer a variable and more stable alternative in the future in a post-Brexit United Kingdom.

EU has also called for tougher regulation on cryptocurrencies, something UK won’t be bound to follow after Brexit occurs.

France

$2.3 Million Bitcoin-Euro Conversion Deal Hits Snag: A sizeable Bitcoin sale in France went sour when a seller of EUR 2 million worth of Bitcoin was given counterfeit 500 EUR notes during the transaction. The notes were poorly photocopied fake currency and didn’t look real.

A visiting South Korean businessman was approached by a Serbian who said that he aimed to invest a sizeable sum in cryptocurrencies. The deal was set for 2 million in Euro notes in exchange for bitcoin but the buyer gave counterfeit currency instead.

Liechtenstein

Union Bank to Launch Fiat-backed Cryptocurrency: A union bank in Liechtenstein has announced that it will be launching its own security tokens and fiat backed cryptocurrency.

The Liechtenstein Union Bank AG is going to issue a Union Bank Payment Coin (UBPC) and hopes to become a full blockchain investment bank in the future. Liechtenstein government has a very pro-crypto stance and it is allowing new companies and technologies to emerge from the country.

Norway

Mining Farm Could Be Closed by Government Due to Bomb Threat over Noise: In a bizarre event, a cryptocurrency mining farm based in Norway may be closed down after receiving a bomb threat due to its excessive noise generation.

According to a neighbouring resident:

“The sound of the factory comes 24 hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. Our summer has been ruined.”

Thing went out of hand when another person threatened to blow up the Kryptovault mining facility. Cryptocurrency mining farm has taken the threat seriously and may wind up operations in the area.

Sports

Football Clubs Signing Contracts with Cryptocurrency Platforms: More and more football clubs are now being sponsored by cryptocurrency exchanges in Europe. Recently, ex-premier league champion club Leicester City has announced a deal with FansUnite, a Canadian startup.

CEO Darius Eghdami said:

“Leicester City FC is one of the premier brands in all of football, being one of just six clubs to hoist the Premier League Trophy since its inception in 1992. They are at the forefront of incorporating new technology to help improve player performance and fan engagement.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers, a new English Premier league team became the first football club to have a cryptocurrency exchange logo displayed on its shirt.

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Asia and Australia Cryptocurrency News Roundup 17-24 August 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country. Next up is Asia and Australia.

China

Government Restricts Cryptocurrency Trading Websites: The Chinese government has banned cryptocurrency trading websites in the country as the digital currencies are considered illegal in the country.

But, despite the ban, there is a considerable presence of cryptocurrency circles in the country, which the government is planning to target them. There are over 206 crypto exchanges listed on coinmarketcap.com and the government has reportedly shut all of their websites down in an effort to crack down on cryptocurrencies.

The government is also looking to monitor ICO activity in the country.

South Korea

South Korean City Partnering with US Company to Reduce Carbon Footprint: A major South Korean metropolis Chuncheon is partnering with a clean energy company Swytch based in the United States to boost environmental and economic stability in the city.

According to a press release by the local government, Mayor Lee Jae-Soo was in attendance when the agreement was signed between the two parties. Several other South Korean cities are also looking to use blockchain for green initiatives.

Government Finds Security Flaws in Cryptocurrency Exchanges: South Korean exchanges are one of the most vulnerable to hacking attempts as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of coins have been lost to various hacks in the last several months alone. A recent government check found exchanges having varying levels of vulnerabilities in their systems.

The Korean government recently checked 21 local cryptocurrency exchanges and identified 17 out of 85 issues that need improvement, of which 11 concerned crypto wallet management. The investigated exchanges included Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit, Coinnest, Coinlink, Coinone, Coinplug, and Huobi Korea.

North Korea

North Korean Lazarus Group Infiltrates Crypto Exchange: North Korean hacker group named Lazarus have hacked into another cryptocurrency exchange in a hacking operation called Operation Applejeus by Kaspersky antivirus lab. The group has a longstanding history of hacking South Korean banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, and government websites.

But, Operation Applejeus is the first time that the group has successfully created malware for Mac OS, the native OS of Apple. An unidentified employee of an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange downloaded the malware belonging to the Lazarus group that led to the hack. The group has also attacked the US and South Korean governments in the past.

It is not yet clear what amount of cryptocurrencies the hackers were able to gain access to in the cryptocurrency exchange.

Japan

Financial Services Agency all for Balance between Innovation and Consumer Protection: The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has said that it is aiming to create a balance between technological innovation that blockchain proposes and consumer protection.

The FSA’s top regulator Toshihide Endo said that the industry needs to grow under proper regulation so that it won’t need government intervention in exchanges operating within the country. FSA has already enforced trading caps on exchanges and restricted use based on age groups.

Thailand

Central Bank to Test Digital Currency: The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has announced a landmark project to see the launch of a new Central Bank Digital Currency according to a press release on 21 August 2018.

The new state cryptocurrency will use R3’s Corda platform with a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) being deliberated for wholesale fund transfers. Wholesale central bank currency limits usage to banks and financial institutions only, as opposed to a retail one that is ready for public use.

Australia

Citizens Can Now Pay Bills With Cryptocurrencies: Australian citizens will now be able to pay their bills using cryptocurrencies as two fintech startups have teamed up to provide a crypto bill payment service for citizens.

The crypto startups Cointree and automated billing platform Gobbill are behind the initiative. The system involves Gobbill accepting cryptocurrencies and then paying bills on their behalf in the form of fiat currency to the concerned authorities.

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Africa and Middle East Cryptocurrency News Roundup 17-24 August 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country. Next up is Africa and the Middle East.

Africa

South Africa

Cryptocurrency Mining Still Popular Despite Price Tank: Bitcoin may not be profitable to mine in many places but cryptocurrency mining equipment is still seeing popular demand in South Africa as people continue to buy a wide range of mining rigs in the country.

According to the BitSmart CEO Jacques Serfontein, crypto miners still have a strong appeal in the South African mining community because of a decent return on investment over there.

He said:

“People are still buying miners, a 7%-30% ROI per month based on the different cryptocurrencies out there is still a great ROI,”

While both ASIC miners and GPUs were popular in the country, the focus has now shifted towards ASIC chips rather than gaming chips, much to the relief of the gaming community because it resulted in expensive gaming equipment for them.

Government Targeting Cryptocurrency Traders: The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is researching ways through which they can track down cryptocurrency traders in the country who are not paying taxes.

According to the acting commissioner Mark Kingon:

“The key thing is identifying people who are trading because it’s easy to say cryptocurrency gains must be deductible, but there are also those who lose. That’s why it’s important to identify the trader,”

The expected tax dodgers are likely to be identified by tracking credit cards that they use for purchasing cryptocurrencies with fiat for trading purposes. There are other ways under deliberation as well.

Nigeria

Nigerian Bitcoin Stake Drops Down to N1.3 Billion: The Nigerian crypto investors are feeling the brunt of a bearish coin market as the total unofficial holding of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency is down to N1.3 billion. 

The total bitcoin holdings are on a downward trend overall, partly because of falling prices in the Bitcoin market as the currency has reached the $8,000 figure twice, only to disappointingly return to the $6,000 mark. The total holdings in the country are down from N1.6 billion earlier this month to N1.3 billion currently.

Middle East

Turkey

Bitcoin Being Promoted as the Answer to Turkey’s Financial Crisis: Turkey’s recent spat with the USA has resulted in its national currency lira crashing in the currency market in anticipation of sanctions. But, while the situation is becoming worse, it is proving to be a fertile ground for cryptocurrency adoption in the country that can help Turkish citizens circumnavigate the issues in the currency market.

Bitcoin P2P trading platforms like LocalBitcoins.com have experienced a flood of activity in recent times as soon as the lira started to spiral out of control. While the government made appeals to the Turks to liquidate their dollar reserves, many are paying as much as 25% premium to buy Bitcoin through lira.

United Arab Emirates

Realtors Looking to Add Cryptocurrency Options: UAE realtors are looking to add cryptocurrency payment options to boost investment in the sector. The country is already a real estate haven in the world but it is facing increased competition from other areas and now the sector sees cryptocurrencies as a game changer.

Dubai-based IMKAN Properties is considering a cryptocurrency payment alternative for home buyers in the business. Imkan is among other realtors who are looking to add the cryptocurrency feature.

CEO Walid El-Hindi said:

Imkan is looking into new ways of approaching financials… We’re looking into cryptocurrencies and new technologies when it comes to putting together financial packages in relation to real estate,”

Bitcoin is regulated fiercely in the region, but in UAE it has some legal protection.

Saudi Arabia

Government Puts Blanket Ban on Cryptocurrency Trading: The Saudi Arabian government, after banning the use of cryptocurrencies in the country has now put a blanket ban on their trading as well and tasked competent authority to limit cryptocurrency market dealings.

A statement released by the government said:

“The committee warns all citizens” against investing in cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for their high-risk consequences. One should not give the illusion of getting rich quick, there are risks in terms of regulation, security, and volatility”

The kingdom’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies follows a regional trend but many citizens are reportedly involved in cryptocurrencies.

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