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According to multiple reports this week the decentralized currency bitcoin is still booming in many African countries. From South Africa to the Sub-Saharan region, citizens from all walks of life are finding bitcoin beneficial. This is making domestic cryptocurrency exchanges and peer-to-peer trading platforms’ volumes climb while digital currencies are also selling at a premium.
Bitcoin Interest and Adoption is Trending Among African Millennials
The digital currency bitcoin is trending in Africa according to many reports and Google’s aggregated trend data. One particular group bitcoin is appealing to is African millennials, the columnist Catherine Byaruhanga from Uganda reports. For instance, a young resident from Kampala, Peace Akware, hopes her investment in bitcoin will grow enough for her to purchase a vehicle, and possibly even buy land some day. Another individual from Kampala, Martin Serugga, is teaching young millennials about cryptocurrencies in his weekly class that over 50 people attend. Serugga teaches the class how to trade cryptocurrencies against fiat used in the region.
Other reports detail that since the economic and political turmoil in South Africa residents from the area started looking to bitcoin. The exchange, Etoro saw a spike in users back in March when the region’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan lost his position.
“In South Africa, the number of new users trading bitcoin through eToro rose by 671% from January to the end of November last year over the same period in 2016, more than the 574% overall growth,” explains Mati Greenspan, an analyst for Etoro.
Thousands of Trades Taking Place Every Week and BTC Exchanges for a Premium
More populated areas like Sudan, South Africa, and Kenya continue to see adoption levels rise. The head of marketing for digital asset platform Luno, Werner van Rooyen, details that “thousands of trades are being made by South Africans every week.” Further, as news.Bitcoin.com reported a few weeks ago, the recent resignation of Robert Mugabe has caused BTC prices in Zimbabwe to spike exponentially higher than the global average. The tumultuous economy in Zimbabwe has caused the price of bitcoin to exceed global averages multiple times over the past year.
The digital security expert, Neil Blazevic, believes these emerging technologies can transform Africa just like the telecom system.
“With the right support for innovation, and collaboration Africa could once again leapfrog over the digital divide and become a market leader just like it did in the move from landline communications infrastructure to the mobile phone ecosystem,” Blazevic explains.
Localbitcoins Volumes in Africa Skyrocket Despite Warnings from Central Banks
The trend of citizens from multiple African countries has concerned the East African Community (EAC), an intergovernmental central bank organization composed of six countries in eastern Africa. The group is hoping to create a solitary currency for all six countries similar to the euro, but members believe “bitcoin interest” in Africa is hindering the process. Warnings about bitcoin have also stemmed from central banks like the Bank of Tanzania, Kenya, and other areas over the past few months.
In addition to these developments, the peer-to-peer platform Localbitcoins is recording all-time volume highs in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. Since the summer the Localbitcoins trading in these three areas has grown significantly week after week.
What do you think about the growing interest and rising adoption levels in Africa? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Fotogrin, Shutterstock, Coin Dance Volumes, Google Trends, and the Etoro platform.
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South Korean regulators are seeking cooperation with counterparts from Beijing and Tokyo to address cryptocurrency speculation. Six commercial banks have been targeted by Seoul authorities inspecting crypto trading. Korean experience is to help a possible trilateral approach to regulation.
“Trial-And-Error” to Shape the Efforts
The Financial Services Commission of South Korea will be deepening cooperation with agencies from China and Japan in curbing speculative transactions. Deputy finance ministers from the Asian countries have already exchanged ideas last month, FSC’s chairman Choi Jong-ku revealed during a press conference. Seoul aims to “set up a detailed system of cooperation” with Beijing and Tokyo, Choi said, quoted by Yonhap News Agency. The nation’s top financial regulator briefed media about the bank inspection that will run through Thursday with the participation of the Korean Financial Intelligence Unit. He warned against what he called an “irrational trend” of investing in cryptocurrencies, noting the “ongoing fever of speculative investment”.
In Choi’s words cryptocurrencies are unable to play a role as a means of payment. “A virtual currency only triggers side effects”, the regulator educated reporters. Fraud, illegal fundraising, hacking, speculation and manipulation of market prices were mentioned in a long list. The government official left the door open to shutting down all cryptocurrency-linked businesses to minimize the aforementioned effects, according to the Korean Herald. Choi Jong-ku said the world was facing a “policy challenge pandemic” and added that Korea’s “trial-and-error” experience can help shape trilateral efforts to implement regulations.
Trust, but Verify the “Gatekeepers”
South Korea’s financial regulator is currently conducting inspections in six commercial banks, including Woori, Kookmin and Shinhan. Accounts of cryptocurrency traders have been targeted. Last month authorities ordered banks to stop issuing the so called “virtual accounts” used by cryptocurrency exchanges to manage their clients’ money. A new system to end anonymous trading and enforce real name identity verification on traders is to be implemented by the end of January.
The head of the FSC issued another warning in that respect: “Virtual currency transactions are highly susceptible to money laundering”, because of their anonymity, he said. Choi Jong-ku appealed to banks to act as “gatekeepers” when monitoring crypto-related transactions. He shared his concerns that they had remained silent about money flows for illegal uses. The ongoing investigation is supposed to determine if the banks have detected money laundering and non-real-name transactions, as they are required by law.
The Korean official complained that all regulators could do within the present legal framework was to order inspections. Choi also noted that filling the regulatory vacuum would take time. Korean authorities are planning to impose stricter requirements for exchanges. Tougher sanctions for cryptocurrency related crimes are also on the way in a country that hosts some of the biggest providers of crypto exchange service. But strong measures against illicit acts will be enforced even before the legislation is revised, the regulator vowed, quoted by KBS Radio.
The exact sanctions that might be imposed on banks and exchanges remain unclear. Suspending virtual account services seems to be the only step authorities can take now and the FSC’s chairman confirmed that. Such accounts will be closed if inspectors uncover any illegal activities. Choi declined to comment on the new plans to tax cryptocurrency transactions and sanctions for tax evasion.
Do you think China and Japan will team up with South Korea to work out a common approach to cryptocurrency regulation? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Bitpay is facing a backlash against its decision to implement a controversial feature it says is meant to protect bitcoin users. The leading payment processor is accused of abusing its dominant position to bully wallet providers into supporting its plans, degrading users’ privacy and hurting the use of bitcoin altogether.
Bitpay Power Play
Bitpay, the digital asset service provider based in Atlanta, Georgia, is coming under attack for a recent protocol change. As we reported at the time, only a handful of other wallets currently support BIP70 and its implementation is controversial. Meant to prevent main-in-the-middle attacks by using QR codes, critics fear BIP70 introduces legacy public-key infrastructure dependencies and its widespread implementation will create an increased risk of AML/KYC surveillance and monitoring of transactions.
Founded in May 2011 by Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair, Bitpay is widely considered to be the largest bitcoin payment processor in the world today. The company is accused of leveraging this power to coerce bitcoin wallet developers to support its position or be left out of reach for many merchants.
The developers of the privacy-centric bitcoin wallet, Samourai, commented: “Users should stand up to this kind of arrogance and stand up for their privacy. Samourai has already started the process of contacting all vendors we rely on who utilize BitPay as a payment processor and informing them of our intention to switch vendors, as using Bitpay is no longer tolerable or feasible. We hope others join us.”
BIP70 Instead of Segwit
The move was also criticized by bitcoin core developers for adopting BIP70 over segwit. The company didn’t need more negative feedback at this time as Bitpay was already under a lot of public pressure over its recent actions like limiting BTC transaction to $ 100 minimum and quickly backtracking and stopping all non-US credit cards.
The Samourai team added: “We absolutely do not support Bitpay in agressively using their dominant position of market share to bully wallet providers into supporting their business plans or bully users into a system that degrades their privacy and the fungibility of bitcoin as a whole. Bitpay should focus on repairing their image and brand after the cataclysmic failure of the Segwit2x Fork they helped architect, instead of reinforcing their image as an out of touch bully looking to hijack the network for their own gain.”
Is Bitpay abusing its power or just looking out for its users? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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Cryptocurrency prices are sliding downwards since our last markets update, as the top ten digital assets are all seeing a loss of gains on January 8. BTC/USD markets reached a high of $ 17,200 on Saturday evening on January 6, but the value has dropped since then to a low of $ 13,900 per BTC. The price has since rebounded and is hovering between $ 14,800-$ 15,050 during this afternoon’s trading sessions.
FUD from South Korea and Coinmarketcap Data Brings a Price Storm
Bitcoin markets have seen a two-day decline since reaching its high of $ 17,200 this past Saturday. Yesterday afternoon the decentralized currency hovered just above the $ 16K zone, dipping to the $ 15,800 range a few times. On Monday, January 8, the price of BTC has sunk further taking most other digital asset markets with it. During the early trading sessions, (EDT) bitcoin prices touched $ 13,900 with around $ 15.8Bn in 24-hour trade volume. Many traders and cryptocurrency enthusiasts are blaming this week’s tumble on South Korea and its officials inspecting local banks tied to digital asset trading platforms.
Today the U.S. dollar is the top currency traded with BTC commanding 37 percent at the time of writing. This is followed by the Japanese yen (35%), tether (USDT 9%), and the South Korean won has dropped considerably to 4.7 percent. A few days ago when markets were more bullish, tether USDTs were averaging approximately $ 1, but since today’s dip, USDT is now $ 1.02. Additionally, tether has the third highest digital currency volume worldwide at the moment which happens consistently during dips.
Another thing to note is the cryptocurrency website Coinmarketcap has dropped South Korean exchanges from its aggregated global price averages. The website has left an asterisk next to each price that states “* Price Excluded.” Coinmarketcap dropping South Korean exchanges has made the website’s price data fall by over 100 billion, as the total valuation of all markets is only $ 721Bn after reaching a high of $ 850Bn.
Looking at the charts shows bitcoin core markets have dropped several legs down since yesterday evening’s trading sessions. During our last report, the two Simple Moving Averages has a nice gap between the 100 SMA and 200 SMA. Today things are changing as it looks like the two trend lines may cross hairs soon. This indicates there is more substantial resistance towards the path to the upside and sellers are in control. 12 hours ago RSI and Stochastic levels were showing overbought conditions but both oscillators are leveling out at the moment.
Bulls could quickly rebound from the current vantage point as order books show there’s not much resistance ahead but new positions are filling up. Look for more extended pit stops in the $ 15,300-15,700 territory. On the back side, there is plenty of foundational support in the $ 14,000-$ 13,800 range if bears managed to cause a more extensive market sell-off.
Overall Most Digital Currency Markets Are Seeing Deep Losses
Digital asset markets, in general, are all in the red seeing deep percentage losses today. Ethereum (ETH) has repositioned itself as the second highest market cap but markets are down 2.2 percent. One ETH is averaging $ 1,089 today after the currency hit an all-time high above $ 1,200. Ripple (XRP) markets are down significantly as XRP has lost its $ 3.40 price high. XRP’s price is under by 28 percent and the global average per token is $ 2.40. Bitcoin cash (BCH) prices are also dipping as the price per BCH has lost 18 percent. One BCH is roughly around $ 2,398 and markets are seeing $ 1.2Bn in global trade volume. Lastly, the fifth largest market valuation is still Cardano (ADA), but its prices are down 15 percent. ADA prices are averaging around $ 0.86 at press time. Additionally, the most traded digital currency pairs on the swapping platforms Shapeshift and Changelly is BTC/ETH by a landslide.
Bear Scenario: Bears currently reign the market right now and have managed to utilize the South Korean rumors coupled with fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). If panic selling continues, the price could tumble below the $ 13.6K range. Watch for the Displaced Moving Average (DMA) to break $ 13,600 for some lower scalps.
Bull Scenario: Bulls have some work to do to get back well above $ 15K and $ 16K price territories. There’s some good size sell walls throughout these positions, but order books show it’s still manageable for a considerable rebound to take place. At the moment, long positions and big players are stepping off to the sidelines waiting for a better entry point.
Where do you see the price of bitcoin and other digital assets heading from here? Do you think cryptocurrencies will see more gains? Let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Bitcoin 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.”
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Popular wallet developer Electrum has issued an emergency patch for a critical bug in its bitcoin wallets. The flaw allowed any website hosting the Electrum wallet to potentially steal the user’s cryptocurrency. A vulnerability meant that passwords were exposed in the JSONRPC interface, granting hackers complete control of the wallet. The first patch failed to fix the problem however, forcing Electrum to issue a second update on Sunday evening.
A Quick Fix to a Long-Standing Problem
Last week, the tech world was rocked by news of a bug in Intel computer chips that had lain undiscovered for years. It’s a similar story with the Electrum wallet vulnerability, with some reports stating that it had been in existence for over two years. Google vulnerability researcher Tavis Ormandy claims to have discovered the bug, though the flaw had been flagged last year. Within hours of Ormandy pointing out the vulnerability, Electrum had rushed out a patch to remedy it.
In a Bitcointalk forum post, site admin Theymos explained: “If at any point in the past you had Electrum open with no wallet passphrase set; and had a webpage open then it is possible that your wallet is already compromised. Particularly paranoid people might want to send all of the BTC in their old Electrum wallet to a newly-generated Electrum wallet.”
He later updated his post, adding: “If you had no wallet password set, then theft is trivial. If you had a somewhat-decent wallet password set, then it seems that an attacker could “only” get address/transaction info from your wallet and change your Electrum settings, the latter of which seems to me to have a high chance of being exploitable further. So if you had a wallet password set, you can reduce your panic by a few notches, but you should still treat this very seriously.”
The individual who first reported the flaw on Github on November 24 explained: “While the electrum daemon is running, someone on a different virtual host of the web server could easily access your wallet via the local RPC port. Currently, there is no security/authentication, giving someone access to the RPC port full access to the wallet.”
Electrum is free software that’s used by numerous cryptocurrency sites, including merchants and exchanges, to store bitcoin. Anyone can run an Electrum server and the software supports hardware wallets such as Trezor, Ledger and Keepkey. Enhanced features include multi-sig and the ability to sign transactions using a cold storage device that isn’t connected to the web.
The bug seems to have been fixed before any damage was done – albeit at the second attempt after the first patch proved ineffective – though given the length of time it lay undiscovered, it is hard to say for certain that no funds were stolen. The case illustrates, once again, the risks of leaving bitcoin stored in a web wallet.
Do you feel comfortable storing your bitcoin in a web wallet? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Litigation has been filed in an Indian High Court by a public prosecutor of cybercrime cases. Claiming that cryptocurrencies facilitate crime, he calls for their immediate ban or regulation.
Litigation Seeks Immediate Intervention
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed with the Calcutta High Court in India “seeking an intervention to regulate the flow of bitcoins,” the Indian Express reported.
Lawyer Bivas Chatterjee, a cyberlaw expert and the public prosecutor for several cybercrime-related cases for the government’s crime investigation department (CID) and the state police stated in his filing:
Drug trafficking, ransomware, extortion and other unlawful activities are being facilitated by the use of cryptocurrencies, which need to be immediately banned or regulated.
Citing the difficulty in tracking cryptocurrency transactions, he revealed, “Investigating authorities are facing hurdles while probing crimes involving cryptocurrencies or bitcoins because of their anonymity,” emphasizing that “In India, law enforcement agencies are confused.” He also claimed, “cryptocurrencies are perfect facilitators for crime” and “bitcoin is India’s currency of choice for drug trafficking, arms, and prostitution business.” As such, he demanded in his PIL:
Either the government should ban bitcoin by declaring it illegal like [they do in] China or there must be a regulatory body to control its flow.
Taxation of Cryptocurrencies
The government has also been repeatedly warning citizens of the risks of dealing with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, demand for these instruments continues to soar in India. Besides taxation, the regulators have been actively discussing how cryptocurrencies should be regulated but no official decision has been made.
Taxation of cryptocurrencies has been a recent focus of the Indian government. In December, the tax authority conducted a survey of the country’s top bitcoin exchanges, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. Notices were then sent to wealthy cryptocurrency traders informing them of their tax obligations. However, no guidelines have been provided and Indians are confused about what their crypto tax obligations are.
Citing that the “Use of Bitcoin was maximised post demonetisation, when a cashless economy was being promoted,” Chatterjee pointed out in his PIL that several criminal cases in India have shown cryptocurrencies threatening taxation. “Moreover, the value of cryptocurrencies have witnessed upheavals in the absence of controlling authorities,” he was quoted by the Times of India. Chatterjee further elaborated:
In Bengal, the economic impact of such a decentralised, unregulated and unaccounted parallel economic system is huge.
The High Court will hear this case on February 2.
Do you think India will attempt to intervene in the flow of bitcoins soon? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Bitfury Group announced they’re concerned about the advent of bitcoin users having multiple wallet addresses, which the company views as leading to greater anonymity and, they also believe, facilitates crime.
Also read: Nine Years Ago, Bitcoin’s Block Zero is Born
Bitfury Watches Bitcoiners
“Currently, bitcoin users can have multiple addresses,” Bitfury Group CEO Valery Vavilov detailed, “making it easier to conceal identities and commit crimes on the Blockchain,” he concluded. The relative ease of keeping transactions somewhat private has raised grave concern at one of the largest companies in the ecosystem.
Founded in 2011, Bitfury is best known for its mining prowess. Estimates have it at one point the group held nearly half a million bitcoin, which put their reserves into the stratospheric category if they’ve managed to keep half that amount today (250K BTC x 16,000 USD = 4,000,000,000 USD).
Bitfury made its fortune and business model largely on mining transaction fees, which too are booming these days. This fact alone might be why its engineers are focused on other problems like bitcoiners’ privacy rather than mempool congestion, for example. Bitfury is respected in the bitcoin core community, and support the very pro-law enforcement Blockchain Alliance. The company long has had plans on being more than just a mining company.
“Bitfury’s award-winning engineers have come up with an incredibly innovative and novel approach to analyzing transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain,” Mr. Vavilov continued. This “new method will help ensure that it lives up to that potential by aiding investigations and reducing criminal activity.”
Mr. Vavilov insisted his company’s “ability to link related addresses, called ‘clustering,’ is an important new tool that helps law enforcement agencies conduct criminal investigations.” Indeed the announcement continues in this manner, slathering lauds upon police and regulators. Bitfury was quick to cite a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the US Department of Justice (DOJ), now Bitfury advisor, blustering, “Criminals should run, not walk, [… and] thanks to Bitfury, today they should be running away even faster,” he swaggered.
Who is Watching Bitfury
Bitfury released a white paper detailing their solution. They claim “address clustering is a process that exposes bitcoin users by determining which addresses belong to a single user through an analysis of Blockchain data. The act of clustering groups those addresses together, enabling investigators to link them to a single entity,” the company revealed.
The group’s attempt are innovative because while “prior algorithms constructed clustering models using Blockchain information and validated it with off-chain data, such as public information on the Internet, Bitfury’s new method uses both data types during the model construction step. The proposed approach allows investigators to reduce errors in unreliable input data sources and achieve a higher level of accuracy.”
Former DOJ investigator, now Bitfury advisor, Jason Weinstein agrees: “Having a traceable public ledger of every bitcoin transaction ever conducted allows law enforcement to ‘follow the money’ in a way that would never be possible with cash.”
Such cosy relationships with governments contain major problems for most attracted to the very concept of bitcoin. Often gleeful pronouncements about catching criminals boomerang into basic civil rights violations, crackdown on dissidents — folks governments are inclined to track in the first place.
“I am disappointed in Bitfury,” bitcoin core developer Jimmy Song said in exasperation. “It’s a bad story. This is like the next level of Chainalysis. You can go find out who is doing what. I am kinda disappointed in Bitfury Group that they’re sorta enabling this stuff,” he shrugged. “The data is there, so I guess somebody was bound to come up with some way to analyze it.”
What do you think of Bitfury’s address clustering solution? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Images courtesy of Pixabay.
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The South Korean government has announced that some taxes can be applied to cryptocurrencies under the current law, which will be finalized in the first half of this year. Other taxes are also being considered but some are not easily implemented under the current tax system.
Some Taxes Coming Soon
The South Korean government has been discussing ways to tax cryptocurrency transactions. “Virtual currencies are not taxable under the current Income Tax Act,” Chosun described. Previously, the regulators had not confirmed if the current legal framework allows the taxation of cryptocurrencies.
However, at a briefing on the amendment bill for the Enforcement Decree of the Revision of the Tax Code on Sunday January 7, Choi Young-rak, head of the tax department of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, was quoted by the Kyunghyang Shinmun:
There are some things that can be taxed under the current law.
Specifically, “Under current law, corporate taxation is possible,” Edaily quoted him explaining. The publication noted that the tax plan is expected to be finalized within the next six months. News1 Korea added, “The part that can be taxed by the current law will be taxed in the first half of this year.”
Specific Taxes Being Discussed
The Virtual Currency Taxation Task Force was recently created following the releases of government’s measures for crypto regulation. The group met for the first time recently with related experts and ministries including the Korean Ministry of Internal Affairs and Internal Revenue Service, according to Choi.
He was quoted by Asia Today, “There are some areas where legislation is necessary, such as capital gains tax. We need to review whether it is appropriate to impose capital gains tax and legislate.”
News1 Korea elaborated:
At present, it is concluded that the taxation of income tax, corporation tax, transfer income tax, etc. is possible in the case of virtual currency, while taxation of virtual currency is difficult in terms of value-added tax.
In addition, at a recent meeting of the National Economic Advisory Council, presided over by President Moon Jae-in, an official was quoted saying “countermeasures against the difficulty of tracking tax revenue are also necessary.” He added, “there is a need to regulate brokers who mediate virtual currency transactions such as exchanges and accumulate taxation information.”
How many different taxes do you think the Korean government will impose on cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Tron, Cardano, Verge and Ripple – Four Cryptocurrencies That Actually Meet the Definition of VaporwareJanuary 8, 2018 | dailybusinessnews
‘Vaporware’ is a term that’s tossed about loosely, often against cryptocurrency projects that have no clear use case. It’s an easy accusation to make given that many crypto projects are still at the development stage, and haven’t had a chance to prove themselves. This year’s vaporware could be next year’s ethereum – or at least so the investors hope. While a vast number of cryptocurrencies are derided as vaporware, the following four attract this jibe more than most.
Catching the Vapors
Vaporware has been defined as “software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed”. That definition applies to 90% of all ICOs right now, which are either still tallying up their ether or hunting down devs capable of bringing their six-page white paper to life. It will be months or even years before we discover which projects proved their worth, and which were wearing the emperor’s new clothes: ”blockchain” dressed up as innovation.
The vaporware meme gained traction in November after Nate Murray published a graphic describing the top 100 cryptocurrencies in four words or less. In it, Veritaseum was labeled as vaporware, though there are coins much higher on the list that arguably warrant that epithet like Kin, a billion dollar token with zero uses at present. The following projects have every chance of success. To their detractors, though, they’re little more than software in search of a solution – and unbuilt software at that.
Tron founder Justin Sun is a rising star, listed in Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 and CEO of a company that’s risen from nothing to attain a $ 13 billion valuation in under six months. Tron has been one of 2018’s biggest success stories, despite the year being barely a week old. The token soared into the cryptocurrency top 10 after its market cap quadrupled in a day and a half. On January 5, Tron commanded a $ 16 billion market cap: not bad for a company that has no product whatsoever. Not everyone is a fan though, including Monero’s Riccardo Spagni.
The outspoken developer of the darknet’s favorite privacy coin conceded, however, that he bought Tron in December, explaining “just because I can identify scams doesn’t mean I’m averse to making money.” Critics have called Tron “the $ 14 billion whitepaper with no product” and the project seems to borrow heavily from LBRY, which launched last May.
The Tron roadmap looks like this:
Provided those TRX tokens keeping pumping for the next nine years though, everything should be just fine.
Verge appeared on Nate Murray’s cryptocurrency list as “privacy dogecoin”. Given that the coin started life as a doge fork known as dogecoin dark, that figures. Verge has come a long way since then in fairness, but has that journey taken it forwards or sideways? XVG is meant to be a privacy coin. The trouble is, it doesn’t appear to be very good at that. News.Bitcoin.com recently reported on a website which claims to expose IP addresses used in verge transactions.
The verge community bitterly dispute the accuracy of the site in question, although with no word from Verge themselves, the matter remains unresolved. The operator of the site is adamant that the data is accurate, and also reports that only 2% of verge addresses use Tor, despite anonymous deep web transactions being XVG’s USP. One writer scathingly opined that “Verge fails to offer real privacy and is indistinguishable from a scam”.
The Verge team are currently working on something called the Wraith Protocol, which supporters are prone to referencing in hushed tones. It’s “a technology that allows the user to seamlessly switch between public and private ledgers on the Verge Blockchain”, which sounds like the sort of functionality that’s been built into coins like Zencash for some time. Whether the Wraith Protocol proves to be the savior of privacy coins remains to be seen. Either way, it’s immaterial, since the majority of the verge community are only interested in using verge to speculate on the price of verge.
With a $ 25 billion market cap, Cardano is cryptocurrency top five royalty. The project will form “a decentralised platform that will allow complex programmable transfers of value in a secure and scalable fashion” which could describe most crypto platforms. What’s so different about Cardano? Apparently it “differentiates itself by being designed from the ‘ground up’ to deliver a secure and sustainable blockchain that can protect user privacy whilst allowing for regulation,” which doesn’t help a lot. Also “Cardano aims to be a mature blockchain”, which is something that surely only time can apply.
Vaporware or not, decentralized cryptocurrency purists aren’t convinced by Cardano’s assertions that “full anonymity can be counterproductive, as can complete lack of regulatory oversight. The project’s founders aim to find “the right mix of individual privacy protection and provision for regulatory control”. One person who’s certainly not a fan is Dan Larimer. The Bitshares, EOS, and Steem founder is rustled by the fact that the Cardano white paper doesn’t cite his own dPOS work. He seethes:
Cardano’s Ouroboros algorithm is not mathematically secure due to bad assumptions regarding the relationship between stake and individual-judgment being distributed by the pareto principle. Furthemore, their algorithm is not “new” but a less secure slower variation of the DPOS algorithm I originally introduced in April 2014.
Larimer has his own platforms to protect, of course, so was never going to smile kindly on a competitor. Still, $ 24 billion for a decentralized anything seems like a lot of money for a product that exists only as a whole lot of documentation, one section of which is named Haddock.
Ripple is a fully functioning company and one of the longest established players in the cryptocurrency space. It’s still working on building up those all-important banking partnerships, but at least it has a service to offer. But what about XRP, its centralized cryptocurrency without a purpose? Ripple claims to have signed up over 100 banks, but the trouble is none of them seem to be using XRP tokens for money transfer.
The NYT quotes Blocktower Capital’s Ari Paul as saying: ““I’m not aware of banks using or planning to use the XRP token at the scale of tens of billions of dollars necessary to support XRP’s valuation.” One Mexican financial company has committed to using XRP so far. And that’s it. Still, like all of the cryptocurrencies on this list, ripple has enriched its early adopters, and for investors who are sitting comfortably in profit, that’s reason enough for its existence.
To be fair to the likes of Tron and Cardano, any new cryptocurrency that shoots into the top 10 is liable to be labeled vaporware until proven otherwise. And it’s not as if these are the only coins rocketing in value: altcoins across the board, from the tiniest microcaps to the largest unicorns, are currently in the green. Even Kekcoin, a meme coin for frog worshippers, is up 68% on Cryptopia this week. Then again, with a total supply of just 11 million, Kekcoin can boast one attribute that none of the tokens on this list have – digital scarcity.
Which cryptocurrency projects do you think are vaporware? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Intervention by Visa spelled an end to European crypto debit cards for the majority of customers on Thursday. Around a dozen crypto companies were affected by the shutdown, which instantly wiped out their services across Europe. Issuers such as Bitwala, Tenx, Bitpay, and Xapo were left high and dry after a Visa subsidiary stopped processing payments. Two of the companies affected have since spoken to news.Bitcoin.com, revealing their plans to find an alternative solution.
Crypto Card Holders Are Locked Out
On Thursday, news.Bitcoin.com reported on a sudden crackdown on crypto cards within Europe, orchestrated by Visa subsidiary Wavecrest. The report explained how “the prepaid cards, which have become extremely popular in the crypto community, provide a means of indirectly paying for goods and services using cryptocurrency.”
Bridging the gap between fiat and crypto is one of the biggest challenges cryptocurrency platforms face. Hybrid cards, which allow a debit card to be funded with crypto and then used to make purchases in the local fiat currency, were seen as a smart solution. That all changed this week when hundreds of thousands of European crypto-holders found their cards had been rendered useless.
Tenx was one of those companies affected by the ban. The company’s co-founder, Dr. Julian Hosp, told news.Bitcoin.com that around 200,000 customers had been impacted, but signaled that a resolution is on the horizon:
Tenx was prepared for this, as the company has recently entered partnership with a new card issuing partner and is in the process of getting the new cards live to replace the old ones as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Tenx customers will be able to withdraw their funds from their accounts as of Monday evening (January 8), while they await developments.
Dr Hosp also appeared on a live Hangout on Saturday to explain more about the current situation. The company’s co-founder seems upbeat, telling news.Bitcoin.com of plans to introduce a “live virtual currencies card” and obtain a banking licence for better fiat currency integration.
The Hunt for a New Issuer
Wirex is another crypto card firm that finds itself without a payment processing partner after Visa slammed the door. The company claims to be Wavecrest’s largest client, with over one million customers – most of whom don’t use crypto cards, it should be noted. Nevertheless, the effects of the Visa veto were still dramatic: around 600,000 Wirex plastic or virtual card holders were left without service after the ban.
Interestingly, Wirex CEO Pavel Matveev asserts that Visa are blameless in this, insisting that the blame lies solely with Wavecrest. He told news.Bitcoin.com: “Wavecrest have been violating Visa rules for months…it’s 100% Wavecrest’s fault and they knew it was coming a couple of months ago.”
Like Tenx, Wirex is confident the situation won’t leave its European customers serviceless. Pavel says they have four alternative issuers to choose from, one of which is based in Europe. “For us,” he said, “it’s a question of switching issuer and re-issuing cards, so it’s just a temporary problem; but for a lot of companies it’s the end of their business – they don’t have an alternative issuer and finding one plus integration might take anyway from 6 to 18 months”.
Who’s to Blame?
Some in the cryptocurrency community were swift to point the finger at Visa in the aftermath of the ban, though there is no evidence as yet that the order came from up high. Given that it processes more than 100 billion transactions a year versus bitcoin’s circa 130 million, it’s premature to assert that Visa is feeling threatened by cryptocurrency. Whatever bitcoin is, be it a store of value or a medium of exchange, it is not, as yet, a Visa killer. Nor is Visa, or its subsidiary Wavecrest, a crypto killer.
It seems likely that the majority of European card issuers will be able to resume service in the near future. Customers will be wary, though, of putting all their faith in one crypto card, in the knowledge that a repeat of the Wavecrest incident could see service suspended at any time.
Do you think Visa are culpable, or was this matter none of their doing? Let us know in the comments section below.
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