Category Archives: BTC

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Bitcoin Used by Russia To Hack 2016 US Elections, New Indictment Reveals

A 29-page Indictment has been released recently, stating Bitcoin’s huge role when it came to Russian interference in the 2016  US presidential elections.

The documents accuse 12 Russian agents of hacking into Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computers and stealing information of over 500,000 voters. Aides close to Hillary Clinton were then tricked into handing over this information by the Russian intelligence officers.

11 of the 12 accused are being charged with breaking into computers and releasing documents with the intent of influencing the last presidential election. The 12th was charged with conspiring to penetrate organizations that directly handled the elections.

“…had multiple units, including Units 26165 and 74455, engage in cyber operations that involve stage releases of document stolen through computer intrusions. These units conducted large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.”

Bitcoin was mentioned extensively in count 10 (Conspiracy to Launder Money). Money was required for the Russian operatives to acquire infrastructure needed for later actions.

More than $95,000 was laundered through Bitcoin, which was then used to buy servers, register domains, and other online payments. The documents state other currencies like the USD was used as well, but it seems Bitcoin was used primarily due to the enhanced levels of privacy it affords over other payment methods.

Some of the funds were also used to purchase computing hardware to mine Bitcoin, to help supplement their income for hacking activities. Bitcoin mined by the GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff) were used to purchase the domain dcleaks.com through a Romanian company.

Besides the purchase of the domain and hardware to mine Bitcoin, other notable purchases described in the pages was a VPN to log into the @Guccifer_2 Twitter account, a Malaysian server to host the dcleaks domain, as well as the leasing of another server for X-Tunnel malware injected into DCCC and DNC networks.

An additional two servers were also acquired to hack in the DNC’s cloud network.

The effects this will have on a meeting between the two presidents planned for next week are yet to be determined. Trump and Putin are scheduled to meet Monday in Helsinki, and nothing has changed despite the emergence of this indictment.

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Possible Addition of 6 Cryptos, New Coinbase Blog Post Reveals

Coinbase recently published a new blog post stating the possible addition of several new cryptocurrencies to their platform.

The assets in consideration are Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX).  The announcement was made at the same time within Coinbase and publicly to remain transparent, and perhaps to avoid a similar situation when Bitcoin Cash was added.

These assets were considered based on the criteria Coinbase has laid out in their Digital Asset Framework. The blog post goes into further details, discussing specific reasons why each asset stood out to the Coinbase team.

The platform says adding any or all of the above tokens will require “additional exploratory work” and places no promises on listing any of them for trading. This is unlike the Ethereum Classic support that is currently being worked on, due to its technical similarity to Ethereum.

Other caveats are discussed in the blog post as well, such as the possibility of some of the new assets only being available for purchase and sell, with no send/receive functionality enabled. This would give some coins purely investing characteristics, like what Circle is doing with their Circle Invest app.

The last two restrictions the post discusses is the way users maybe able to interact with certain assets: for example, Coinbase may only support deposits and withdrawals from transparent Zcash addresses. This is a likely scenario, in order to be in compliance with any financial regulations that may apply.

Coinbase may also stagnate the launch of these assets in certain regions, most likely testing them in other markets before they are available to the US customers.

No promises have been made on timeline for adding support to these tokens, as they have only discussed the possibility of them being on the platform. But if selected, Coinbase will be making their first expansion into smaller capitalization cryptocurrencies.

With many of Coinbase users being intuitional traders as well, this offers them an exposure to the segment of the crypto-market that was previously untapped.

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London Gallery Owner Helps Crypto Wealthy Make Expensive Choices

There is an increasing number of platforms being launched to help wealthy consumers part with their cryptocurrency, usually on luxury items, writes the China Morning Post.

Such entrepreneurs have created a business seemingly out of very little, but nonetheless, they are serving a specific crypto elite and creating a thriving retailer-consumer database.

Working from her gallery in London’s Mayfair, Eleesa Dadiani is one of the new providers to the crypto rich, with clients ranging from 20 to 70 years of age. It started a couple of years ago, she maintains, has noted that those who had made significant profits from cryptocurrency trading really had no idea how to spend it. Using her established clientele through her gallery Dadiani Fine Arts she decided to make it happen by forming a syndicate of retailers and customers to turn some of this wealth into goods. She explained:

“A couple of years ago, when we saw bitcoin perform as well as it did, there was no way to use those coins. You were rich on screen, but what could you do with it? You could invest in ICOs [initial coin offerings], but what about something tangible? The answer was ‘Nothing’.”

Dadiani is certainly a believer and wants to make cryptocurrency do what it was intended for. Her gallery was one of the first globally to accept multiple cryptocurrencies; she currently supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Ripple, Dash, and NEM. Her customers come to her so she can help them make that otherwise difficult crypto purchase.

The list of her client’s purchases are impressive to say the least, from bloodstock to jets, from gold bullion to rare cars, she’s handled them all. Even the purchase of four Formula 1 cars valued at £4 million ($5.3 million) wasn’t enough to dampen her enthusiasm for her role as crypto “ middle-man.”

She says she has little time for crypto-idealists trying to create decentralized government-free crypto utopias, suggesting that people need to make a “cognitive shift” and find a way of integrating cryptocurrency into real life through gradual change. She argues:

“These libertarians, they don’t understand money, they don’t understand history,” she says. “They know nothing about politics or international relations. You have to understand the world you live in before you can change it.”

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Crypto Trading Bots: Why It May Be Easier to Train Your Dog

Is there a correct way to use cryptocurrency bots in order to enhance trader’s profits and if so, how? Ruchi Gupta asked the question in CryptoGlobe, questioning the effectiveness of automated crypto trading.

Cryptocurrency bots, as the name implies, are robotic. They are promoted as an easy way of trading, as they run on autopilot and don’t rely on the investors’ every waking minute. The tool is designed to make trading decisions on the investor’s behalf according to a pre-tailored algorithm, based either on the trader’s own algorithm or a trading strategy built in by the developer. The more advanced the algorithm, the more likely is a profit can be gained, or so it’s reported.

The crypto bot’s main advantage is peace of mind, as the devices will take of business while traders sleep. No more disturbing “what if” thoughts; everything is in hand and algorithms work for the trader.

So why isn’t everyone using them and putting their attention to more important business while they manufacture money on autopilot?

It appears that off-the-shelf bots with fixed algorithms may be fine in the long term but apparently, they won’t last. Because of the dynamism and fluctuating fortunes of the cryptocurrency market, it’s hard to establish any sense of permanent strategy using the bots, resulting in diminishing results for the expectant trader as time moves on.

To overcome this problem, the latest development is the AI bot, also seemingly suited to those who need to rely on others’ expertise as their own ability to tackle the complexities of trading in the cryptocurrency market is lacking.  The crypto bots with artificial intelligence are a step down that road from the off-the-shelf model, also integrating the capabilities of the custom-built variety, which normally relies on more specific trader knowledge. The AI bots are able to modify strategies to suit the condition of the market, reprogramming themselves as they do so, requiring no further trader intervention, apparently doing the job of both.

If this seems to be the solution for the new crypto trader, the bad news is that a robot is still incapable of accounting for every variable in the market that might affect trade and volume. It’s a robot. It lacks human intuition and, most importantly, given today’s crypto media full of hype, spin, and fake news, basically, it can become confused, limiting its ability to read the market accurately.

So back to square one?

The advice to new traders with a limited knowledge of the cryptocurrency market is, do your homework first before you train your bot.

 

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New Point-of-Sale Crypto Device Could Become Future of Retailing

Pundi X, a blockchain-based Point-of-Sale (POS) provider, has announced a partnership with Hong Kong group FAMA to improve retailing using cryptocurrency, writes Global Finance and Banking Review (GFBR).

The outcome of the partnership with FAMA, the organic food restaurant chain, will be a POS smart device enabling consumers to access easy purchasing using digital currency via cryptocurrency-to-fiat or crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Such solutions for mainstream consumers will simplify cryptocurrency transactions, enabling retailer outlets to install their POS devices for speedy acquisition or spending of major cryptocurrencies and could become the future for both retailers and consumers.

The Pundi X device will allow consumers access to BTC, ETH, NPXS, and other cryptocurrency using fiat money. According to GFBR, purchased cryptocurrency can be stored in the physical card wallet, or used to make cashless payments to top up phones, pay utility bills or buy goods, subject to local regulations in each market.

A promotion is currently underway in Hong Kong at four FAMA restaurants around the city: Locofama, Sohofama, SUPAFOOD and the Hive Café. Those trialing PundiX pass cards pre-charged with a pre-loaded giveaway will be able to use cryptocurrency to purchase coffee, snacks, beer or a full meal free of charge up to the value of each card using the preinstalled devices at one of the four restaurants.

Larry Tang, founder of the FAMA Group sees the POS system as a great boon for the company and the future of simple payments for services. He explained:

“Our restaurants celebrate traditional methods in our cuisine, but we also see ourselves as innovators and are pleased to be on the frontline in enabling customers to settle their bill with Bitcoin or Ether-based cryptocurrency by using a secure payment option such as the Pundi X POS.”

Pundi X co-founder and CEO Zac Cheah was equally optimistic amount the merger:

“This is the first of many partnerships that we will be setting up across Asia to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency in the retail economy over the longer term.”

Cheah explained that East Asian adoption of cryptocurrency was the highest in the world, but despite this, there were limited channels for spending digital currency. This was something that such devices would change, making retailing using cryptocurrency far more accessible to both seller and purchaser.

 

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100 Merchants Able to Trial Lightning Network Thanks to CoinGate

CoinGate has announced a new pilot program, allowing 100 merchants to test a Lightning Network-enabled version of their service, making Bitcoin transactions faster and cheaper.

Since the Lightning Network is only now becoming a reality and is still very untested, CoinGate will cover any funds that are lost due to glitches or bugs in the software that may occur.

Other caveats apply too, such as the BTC 0.042 per transaction limit (around USD 270 at time of writing). Transactions larger than this limit will have to be made on the original layer, but USD 270 still covers the majority of everyday transactions.

Coffee, groceries, gas, and even small electronic purchases could all be done on the blockchain. With transaction fees becoming more expensive than a Western Union transfer during times of traffic congestion, the Lightning Network will greatly alleviate the number of transactions the blockchain has to handle.

Despite the unfinished nature of the network, CoinGate still believes there is much benefit in testing out its capabilities anyways, as it will provide valuable feedback for not only CoinGate but those working on the Lightning Network.

CoinGate’s CTO, Rytis Bielauskas, told CoinDesk:

“It’s a very new technology. Inevitably there will be some bugs, either in our implementation or in the Lightning Network. It will help, not just us, but the whole community because the bugs we find might help the whole protocol.”

Coingate is a payment processor that already accepts over 50 different cryptocurrencies and is partnered with companies like ShapeShift, Simplex, and PrestaShop.

With more purchases being made online, and a growing percentage of those online transactions being made with cryptocurrency, long-term scaling solutions like the Lightning Network are a necessary step in order to remain a viable payment method against credit and debit cards.

Lightning also opens up a new set of possibilities, such as micropayments or in situations where transactions are made repeatedly to the same recipient.

 

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Local Experts Claim China Has Lost 90% Control over Bitcoin Market

According to the UK’s Daily Express, the Chinese government has seen its control on the global cryptocurrency market drop from 90% to 1% since 2017.

However, it appears that the original claim by local experts that China had control of 90% of the Bitcoin market has been refuted. Reports in 2017 revealed that the trading volumes of Chinese exchanges before the government ban was put in place were highly exaggerated and were more likely to have represented closer to between 20% and 30% of global Bitcoin markets. Added to this, it has been suggested that cryptocurrency exchanges figures were also inflated by bot trading in early 2017.

Regardless of the accuracy of expert figures, many would nonetheless argue that a drop in the Chinese share of the global crypto market is hardly surprising considering the government imposition of a trading ban, and the request to local banks to cease trading with crypto exchanges in early 2018.

The Chinese Bitcoin market in 2018 has largely moved to Hong Kong, swelling the number of exchanges there and expanding its cryptocurrency market. Such has been the expansion of that market this year there were rumors that Hong Kong might even consider its own CBDC, although it was considering the plan even before the exchange ban on the Chinese mainland came into action.

The current HK government stance is that virtual currencies’ largely unregulated position makes them a risk, pointing out that unlike institutions offering fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies have no specific regulation.

Unlike China, rather than ban cryptocurrencies, the Hong Kong government has chosen the educative path with the Financial Service Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and the Investor Education Center (IEC), all subsidiaries of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), teaming up to launch a campaign which began earlier this year, including a TV campaign, warning Hong Kong citizens to stay away from cryptocurrency.

As Bitcoin News reported recently blockchain is very much the new darling of the Chinese authorities until any changes in crypto trading regulations come into place.

Given these current conditions, China is still a major Bitcoin player with 50% to 70% of global mining taking place in the country, although this number is not comparable with its far more significant figures before the ban was actually put in place. However, mining operations are increasingly moving overseas due to the ban.

 

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Bitcoin Still Best Bet, Says Wall St Crypto King

Bart Smith, Wall Street’s very own ‘Crypto King’, has said in an interview on CNBC’s Fast Money that Bitcoin is still the best option for crypto traders.

Smith, who launched a crypto desk which buys and sells millions of dollars in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, maintains this is primarily because people are out there using it. Therefore, its functionality makes it stand out from the range of available cryptocurrencies available today.

The head of the digital asset group at Susquehanna International Group remains upbeat on Bitcoin despite the falls of the last day. The future he says, is positive, recently suggesting that institutional investors will re-stimulate the cryptocurrency market once more regulatory clarity is provided. He commented:

“If you want to own the asset that you can actually use today and that people are functionally using, it’s Bitcoin… The use case for Bitcoin is valid today, which is the currency of the internet.”

He pointed out that cross-border exchanges using Bitcoin is a major use of the digital currency today. This makes it a significant usable medium of exchange.

Only recently, Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial reported that it intended to use blockchain technology to lower the cost of overseas payment after failing a bid to buy over MoneyGram. The Chinese multinational e-commerce conglomerate says the move will benefit the Filipino expatriate population of Hong Kong. They systematically send funds estimated to be HKD 4.4 billion (USD 561 million) annually back to families in the Philippines.

Talking of traditional cross-border payments, Smith argued:

“They use Western Union, traditional banks; It is slow and it is expensive… and there are people that can stop you from sending that money, whether that’s good or bad. With Bitcoin, I can send money. It’s fast. It’s cheap. And frankly, no one can stop me.”

As for other coins, Smith suggested that this may be the future but it isn’t now. He argues that new tokens will face difficulties establishing new “technological advancements”. Hence, despite the initial excitement, it will be Bitcoin that will be continued to be used for practical purposes.

 

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Hodling Bitcoin May Be Best If You’re Looking for a Mortgage

According to a post on the Reddit forum r/btc it appears that mortgages may not be quite so easy to acquire for those with a cryptocurrency selling history.

For those who made substantial profits from trading cryptocurrency in last year’s bull market, buying a property may be a viable proposition. Reportedly, this investor came across problems with his bank when applying for a mortgage loan.

The person in question applied for his loan at the PNC bank but was reportedly refused as his funds were derived from the sale of cryptocurrency. PNC’s website states:

“For more than 160 years, we have been committed to providing our clients with great service and powerful financial expertise to help them meet their financial goals. We are proud of our longstanding history of supporting not only our customers but also our communities, employees and shareholders.”

Not for those that need to make up some of their loan shortfalls with crypto, if the story is correct. Reddit user fojawi claims:

“I sold some coin in December, and I have jumped through tons of hoops, unrelated to Bitcoin, while getting a traditional mortgage with PNC — They didn’t mention Bitcoin as a concern at all during the entire process.. after I make all the concessions they want, answer all of their questions, they admit they were throwing up these walls because some of the source of funds for the down payment is Bitcoin.”

Apparently, such issues are not uncommon. Bitcoin.com explains that according to a broker from House and Holiday Home Mortgages, Mark Stallard, one individual he was working with, had accumulated GBP 40,000 from Bitcoin investments and Stallard had difficulties with lenders. He claimed:

“The first mortgage lender I rang asked me what a cryptocurrency was. I rang two other lenders and they said they would not touch it.”

He continued, “When I mentioned where the money had come from there was massive reluctance to help or understand the problem. I do not believe the mortgage providers, in general, are ready for this issue and research tells me that a lot more people will be knocking on our doors with funds made or raised in this fashion.”

There appears to be no problem for those lucky ones that don’t need to plug a financial shortfall. Properties and luxury items are changing hands frequently across the globe with major digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum being happily accepted.

Some mortgage givers have no problem. UK’s Skipton, Yorkshire, and Coventry Building Society say they will accept funds derived from cryptocurrencies after through ID and verification processes have been carried out. For some other lending institutions, it seems that money laundering fears are still an issue.

 

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Gallery Sees Crypto Payments Boost Sales by 427%

An online sales art gallery has seen its sales leap by 427% after accepting cryptocurrency payments three months ago, writes the Daily Hodl.

Lynx Art Collection, which sells a range of quirky and unusual pieces from embossed small panels to Bitcoin beach towels, says that it has seen its sales rocket since selling its first poster back in 2012. The site now takes an extraordinarily broad range of crypto payments amounting to 725 cryptocurrencies. Incredibly, the company still feels it would like to add more coins to its list of payment options.

The site has linked up with Coinbase Commerce in order to take the major currencies. Nano payment is also available by using QR scanning for quick purchases.

Perhaps the success of Lynx shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. There is now a kind of anti-financial- establishment trend which provokes a need to purchase Bitcoin-related pieces, however kitsch some of them might be (remember, the art is in the eye of the beholder). When JPMorgan Chase & Co Chairman Jamie Dimon recently called crypto a”“terrible store of value”, artist ‘cryptograffiti’ decided to produce his own artistic version of the description, as reported in Bitcoin News.

Terrible Store of Value’ is a portrait of a “disintegrating” Dimon – “mirroring the public’s trust toward traditional banking institutions”, according to cryptograffiti’s website – executed on a bank deposit box that’s connected to a Bitcoin wallet, reports Bloomberg. The piece eventually sold for GBP 33,000.

Add to this the artist Kevin Abosch of Yellow Lambo fame imprinting 100 physical artworks with the IAMA contract address on the Ethereum blockchain “corresponding to the creation” of 10 million virtual works titled ‘IAMA Coin’…using his own blood to ensure each coin literally was a piece of the artist as Abosch indicated.

If this might not be to the buyer’s taste, Andy Warhol may be, or perhaps a watercolor. Whatever one’s taste, cryptocurrency is becoming an increasingly popular payment method for art investors, and now that blockchain is being adopted to solve problems over copyright and provenance issues, it looks like crypto and art have made a match.

 

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