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In the past week or so, a number of publications, including cryptocurrency websites, but also “reputable” mainstream outlets, have given stage to a “Kremlin economist” with a bold prediction – Russia will invest billions in bitcoin to tackle U.S. sanctions, possibly triggering a new bull run as early as next month. The claim was quoted in multiple reports, although never double-checked or substantiated.
Moscow Said to Dump Billions Into Bitcoin
The statements came from Vladislav Ginko, a lecturer at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (Ranepa). Last week he told the Australian online edition Micky that new U.S. sanctions will push Moscow to diversify its cash reserves and there are limited options by which they can do so. One of them is to replace part of the $ 466 billion saved by the Central Bank of Russia with cryptocurrency. He insisted that Russia’s elite is also being forced to dump U.S. assets and currency and “invest hugely into bitcoins.” The expert economist stated categorically:
U.S. sanctions may be mitigated only through Bitcoin use.
Ginko further suggested that the first wave of significant Russian government investment into bitcoin, “worth billions of dollars,” could come within the next few weeks. “I believe that Russia will start diversifying its reserves with bitcoin in February, when the U.S. Congress will introduce new sanctions,” he said. The economist also shared his opinion that the Russian government is not against cryptocurrencies and noted that President Putin has referred to fintech as a key driver of the country’s economy.
Toward the end of the interview, Vladislav Ginko admitted that much of his work recently has been focused on persuading Russian officials that bitcoin is the best way to alleviate the effects of tough U.S. sanctions and prove to various stakeholders of Russian society the need for investing central bank money into the “heavily oversold bitcoin.”
Some ‘Exclusive’ Reports
The report was promoted by the Australian media outlet as exclusive, although Ginko has been actively spreading his views and forecasts on social media and in conversations with many journalists. A number of other crypto and mainstream media outlets, including Fortune, have quoted Micky’s report. However, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper has published its own article, posting additional information – again, unconfirmed by an official government source from Russia.
The Russian expert is quoted as saying that Moscow is ready to invest as much as $ 10 billion in the world’s most popular cryptocurrency as part of its de-dollarization efforts and in order to prevent interruptions of U.S. dollar payments for Russian oil and gas. Another unverified claim by Ginko, which has been quoted by The Telegraph, is that the cryptocurrency industry now accounts for 8 percent of Russia’s GDP.
In the meantime, Micky has come out with another article on the same topic, claiming to have obtained documents from Australian crypto OTC brokerage Lupo Toro reportedly showing “large and unusual increase in the volume of OTC bitcoin purchases placed by Russian nationals.” The so-called “Moscow Files” have been published under a title starting with “The Putin Pump?”
Clickbaiting With Bitcoin
Crypto prices did not see much pumping during a bearish 2018, but this didn’t diminish the spate of hyperbole-laden headlines. The cryptocurrency is a very convenient target for alarmists, attention-seekers, and clickbaiters. Bitcoin does not have a CEO and can’t complain about fake news, so the mainstream media simply doesn’t care about the actual facts. In this particular example, Russia’s Billions, Shift to Bitcoin, Ditching the Dollar, and Putin’s Pump have been an irresistible choice of words for many online editors. A reply to Barry Silbert’s tweet linking The Telegraph’s article sums it all up very well:
This is what happens when journalism becomes shitposting. ANY PROOFS? What’s wrong with reporters these days?
Russia does seek ways to decrease its dependency on the U.S. dollar. It has increased its holdings of the euro, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, and has discussed the introduction of a common digital currency within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and BRICS. But according to one real government official, Moscow is not looking at bitcoin. Elina Sidorenko, chair of the crypto working group in Russia’s parliament, recently noted that “there’s not a bit of common sense” in Ginko’s statements.
“The Russian Federation, like any other country in the world, is simply not ready today to somehow combine its traditional financial system with cryptocurrencies … The implementation of this idea in the next at least 30 years is unlikely to be possible,” she commented. Sidorenko believes the only way to use digital assets at the state level would be to create an international cryptocurrency as a unit of account between countries. A convertible “cryptoruble” has its supporters in the Moscow corridors of power as well – it fits in Russia’s “Sovereign Democracy” concept better than any decentralized crypto.
Another telling statement recently came from the chairman of the parliamentary Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov. No one is going to ban Bitcoin in Russia, he said. His main concern was that if crypto holders are pushed against the wall by the state, they will revert back to investing in the U.S. dollar. The legislation on digital financial assets the State Duma is about to adopt on second reading in February will simply not mention cryptocurrency at all – a decision that reflects Putin’s own admission that “cryptocurrency is something that goes beyond national borders.”
It seems that anyone who thinks Russia will fully embrace Bitcoin doesn’t know Russia very well, and anyone who thinks Russia will completely ban Bitcoin doesn’t know Russia enough. In the end, Russia may decide to treat Bitcoin like Snowden: we didn’t want you here but since you’ve come, you can stay and do your thing. And of course, we don’t want you to harm the interests of “our American partners.”
Misunderstanding, underestimating, and most often misinterpreting Russia remains a common mistake, as the following video humorously conveys:
JUST IN: Vladimir Putin talks about cryptocurrency pic.twitter.com/eP85oNRVL9
— størm (@stormXBT) January 15, 2019
Sadly, the case of “Kremlin economist” Vladislav Ginko won’t be the last time that mainstream media is badly wrong about Russia – or about Bitcoin.
Do you think Russia will invest in bitcoin, and if so, do you expect Moscow to officially admit it? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
The post Clickbait Media Uses Bitcoin and Russia to Pump Headlines Again appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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For the second time in a little over a month, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has hiked up the value of the national cryptocurrency, the petro, this time to 36,000 sovereign bolivars. The move has again been met with criticism.
‘A New Monetary System’
President Nicolas Maduro introduced a “new monetary system” on Jan. 14 which included another increase in the country’s cryptocurrency and a higher minimum wage in a bid to combat the “criminal dollar.” As the country continues to struggle with the world’s highest inflation – around 2 million percent – the leader of the South American nation said the move would protect the national bolivar.
“I want us to create a great alliance to produce and create new formulas of investment and financing,” Maduro told the Constituent Assembly in a video broadcast by local media. President Maduro said he would up the the minimum wage by 300 percent to 18,000 bolivars per month, around $ 6.70, and increase the value of the petro fourfold. His new monetary system will be based on the petro and he said he would stabilize the economy with his new measures.
But this isn’t the first time President Maduro has made such pledges. In December he hiked up the price of the petro, with experts and civilians alike expressing their skepticism, while the minimum wage was raised a total of five times last year. There is still no sign of a crypto wallet for the petro, the links to download it don’t work, and the Venezuelan government still strives to sell the digital currency and issue certificates of purchase to buyers. Venezuelans, meanwhile, are still fleeing the country’s dire economic situation in the hundreds of thousands.
Previously, when Nicholas Maduro hiked up the value of the petro and increased the minimum wage, he was slammed. It was the same story on this occasion. Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas consultancy Econometrica, wrote on Twitter: “The announcement will exacerbate both hyperinflation and economic downturn. The monetary restriction that continues, both for banking and for companies, is very dangerous.” He added: “They try and try to give the petro circulation. They ignore that the use of a coin is a voluntary act and in which confidence plays an essential role.”
Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Ecoanalitica, a Caracas-based economic research organization, told news.Bitcoin.com: “There is no intention to rectify the direction of the economy so it will continue on its deteriorating path in 2019.” Elsewhere, the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido, said: “Today, Nicolas Maduro mocks the Venezuelan people, once again, after taking economic measures that only bleed more in the pocket of Venezuelans,” adding:
The Venezuelan economy does not improve with an increase of the salary.
Other Venezuelans told news.Bitcoin.com that they had little faith in the petro improving the economy. One law student, Rafael Gutierrez, 23, opined: “It’s not even worth speaking about it. The whole thing is a sham – and the economy is doomed.” Fabian Camacho, a 28-year-old software developer and systems engineer, added: “No one has and no one ever will have faith in the petro, nor Maduro’s economic knowledge.”
What do you think about President Maduro upping the value of the petro again? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
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The post Venezuelan President Raises Petro’s Value Again in Bid to Create ‘New System’ appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Chalk up another one for Sandy Hook families. A Connecticut judge ruled Friday that six families of people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 can review legal documents of conspiracy peddler Alex Jones’ website, InfoWars—which claimed the school shooting was a hoax, per ABC News . The ruling…
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Privacy is relative, but by many people’s reckoning, bitcoin could use greater anonymity. The Bitcoin Core protocol hasn’t changed much over the past decade, but the tools used to forensically inspect it have. In a bid to reclaim some of that eroding privacy, a number of fungibility-enhancing tools have been released by open source developers. Wasabi’s desktop BTC wallet incorporates a number of these to good effect.
A Little Wasabi to Heat up the Privacy Battle
Pseudonymity isn’t easy in an age of enhanced surveillance, increased KYC/AML checks, and ever-improving forensics tools. It also isn’t helped by poor opsec practices, such as recycling wallet addresses due to laziness. Wasabi Wallet makes it easier for privacy-minded bitcoiners to protect their identity while still benefiting from the superior security, liquidity, and adoption that the BTC network holds over other cryptocurrencies.
In a Reddit AMA on Jan. 7, Wasabi co-founder “nopara73” spoke cogently about the importance of privacy and of its need to operate at “the highest layer, which directly interacts with the user.” Espousing the mantra that “anonymity loves company,” Wasabi utilizes Chaumian Coinjoin, making it the first BTC wallet to trial the coin-shuffling tech. In addition, the non-custodial wallet incorporates a number of other features, including Tor connection, that are designed to keep users cognizant of the importance of privacy and the steps they can take to heighten this.
A Wasabi Wallet Walkthrough
While available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, Wasabi does not offer a mobile wallet – and as “nopara73” acknowledged in his AMA, it’s unlikely to get one anytime soon. For technical and fungible reasons, Wasabi Wallet is bech32 only, which should only present a problem when receiving funds from an exchange that has yet to adopt this address format. If you’re using Wasabi, however, you’re probably not the sort to be loading your wallet with funds sent from a centralized exchange.
Despite the slew of advanced features that Wasabi packs, the wallet is no harder to operate than any other desktop client. The interface is easy to grasp, the onscreen prompts are intuitive, and the setup process is no more convoluted than that of any other desktop BTC wallet such as Electrum. After noting down your 12-word seed, you’ll be given the option of importing an existing wallet or creating a new one. I went for the former option and, after creating a bech32 address, sent some bitcoin there for test purposes.
One neat thing about Wasabi is that it rates the privacy level of each transaction; in this case my test send scored poorly due to reuse of the sending address. It is little touches like this which help to subtly reinforce the many ways in which bitcoiners can enhance their privacy and increase the fungibility of their coins.
Enhanced Privacy for Those Who Need It
For users interested in optimizing their privacy when using Wasabi, the project’s Reddit page is a good place to start. Popular posts include video tutorials on anonymizing bitcoins with the aid of the open source wallet. It’s fair to say that many of Wasabi’s earliest adopters have been privacy advocates, libertarians, and anyone else with a distaste for the insidious KYC that’s enshrouded the cryptocurrency landscape.
Each time you prepare to receive funds into your Wasabi wallet, you’re forced to create a new address to give to the sender. Then, when it comes to sending funds from Wasabi, there’s the option of selecting which of your multiple addresses you wish to despatch coins from. Alternatively, you can queue your BTC in Coinjoin, where it will be masked through mixing it with other transactions. The more users who queue their coins, the greater the anonymity enjoyed by everyone, so there’s an incentive for mass participation.
Wasabi won’t be for everyone or for every instance of sending or receiving bitcoin. As a wallet for hodling, however, and for periodically sending or receiving BTC, it acquits itself very well. After using Wasabi for a few days you’ll be more mindful of the various ways in which privacy can be increased. Should you then return to using your regular bitcoin wallet, don’t be surprised if you feel naked, deprived of the comforting cloak of Wasabi’s transaction obfuscation tools. Wasabi Wallet isn’t the last word in bitcoin privacy, but it’s a solid start. Expect to be hearing a lot more about this non-custodial wallet in 2019.
Have you tried Wasabi and if so what was your experience of using it? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Wasabi.
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Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned 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 this article.
The post Review: Wasabi’s Privacy-Focused BTC Wallet Aims to Make Bitcoin Fungible Again appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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