Posts by MinerAlex

    South Korea: Bithumb Exchange Operator Gains $200 Million From Japanese Investment Fund


    The parent company of major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has received $200 million in funding from Japan’s ST Blockchain Fund, the latter confirmed in a press release shared with Cointelegraph Japan on April 15.

    The cash, which forms part of a Series A funding round, will allow Blockchain Exchange Alliance (BXA) to expand the international side of Bithumb, which is already one of South Korea’s largest exchanges. New trading pairs will also appear, the press release notes.

    ST Blockchain Fund is based in Japan, but features participation from investors throughout the world, including Europe and the United States.

    “The fund shared our vision of creating a global digital exchange platform that can efficiently transfer value across borders with lower costs, which was the key rationale behind this investment decision,” BXA stated in the press release.

    The move comes in the wake of upheaval at Bithumb, which suffered losses of around $13 million late last month in what executives suggested was an insider operation to defraud the company.

    The company subsequently released results of a third-party public audit, reassuring investors their funds were in suitably secure storage.

    Prior to that, in 2018, a much larger hack had seen Bithumb lose what initially appeared to be around $30 million, the figure subsequently being reduced to $17 million.

    As Cointelegraph reported last week, the company's annual losses for 2018 totalled almost $180 million.

    ST thus removes any doubt about its faith in the local market with the investment, as increasing Bitcoin (BTC) prices spark fresh interest from South Korea consumers.

    Last week, the so-called “Kimchi Premium” — a surcharge for Bitcoin in fiat terms on South Korean exchanges — reportedly reappeared after an extended absence.


    Top 5 Crypto Performers Overview: BTC, EOS, METAHASH, ETH, TRX, ETC


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

    The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

    The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have launched a private blockchain and quasi-cryptocurrency to bridge the gap between its employees and the blockchain technology. The cryptocurrency will be called “Learning Coin” and will have no monetary value, but the staff will earn these coins after reaching certain educational milestones. The developers are yet to decide on how these earned coins can be redeemed by the staff. This is a major step as it shows that international agencies are making efforts to understand the technology seriously.

    In a recent Twitter poll, IMF asked: “How do you think you will be paying for lunch in 5 years?” 56% of the respondents said that they would be paying in cryptocurrencies, well ahead of the 27% by mobile phone. Bank cards and cash were way behind at 9% and 8% respectively. To some extent, this projects the prevailing mood in the masses against cash and bank cards.

    Fidelity Digital Assets has appointed Christine Sandler — former head of institutional sales at Coinbase — as head of Sales and Marketing. While the groundwork is being laid out to facilitate the entry of institutions into the crypto space, we are yet to see their presence in a big way.

    After the rally from the lows, most cryptocurrencies have cooled off. Will the bears now sink the price back to the lows, or will the major cryptocurrencies form a higher low and indicate a bottom? Let’s find out by analyzing the charts.


    Institutional players are buying Bitcoin (BTC). Their purchase volume, the percentage of the total volume has reached 19% in April. This indicates that the large players expect the bear market to end in the near future. With a rise in prices, the Chinese traders have returned to action. However, due to the cryptocurrency ban in China, they are paying a premium to the over-the-counter services to take a position in Bitcoin. This shows that even in a place where Bitcoin trading is banned, traders are looking at ways to buy it, well above the prevailing prices.

    The rise from the lows has pushed Bitcoin to the most overbought levels since the bull run, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone. On the other hand, the “Bitcoin Misery Index,” created by Fundstrat Global Advisors Thomas Lee, has reached its highest level since 2016. This can either be a good sign or a bad sign, according to Lee. But what does our analysis project? Let’s see.

    15af810bba4c911346994f0a6edbe855.pngThe BTC/USD pair picked up momentum after it broke out of $4,255, quickly climbing above $5,000 and reaching a high of $5,404.82. With this rise, the 20-week EMA has started to turn up and the RSI has inched into the positive territory. This shows that the bulls are asserting their supremacy in the short-term.

    On the upside, $5,900 remains a major roadblock. The 50-week SMA is also located just below this level. Hence, we anticipate a stiff resistance between $5,600 to $5,900.

    Our bullish view will be invalidated if the cryptocurrency turns down from the current levels and slips below $4,255. Such a move will dent sentiment and indicate that the bears are still shorting at higher levels. The next few weeks are critical as it will confirm whether the bottom is in place or not.


    FinLab EOS VC fund, a joint venture of FinLab AG and, has invested $5 million in Moonlighting, a freelancing website with over 700,000 users. The website will now migrate its users to the EOS blockchain. Charles Hoskinson, the co-founder of Ethereum (ETH) and IOHK, also lashed out this week at EOS and Ethereum for their approach to development.


    The EOS/USD pair is currently facing resistance at the 50-week SMA. The resistance line is also located close by: a breakout of this can carry the pair to $6.8299. If the bulls ascend above $6.8299, the next target to watch on the upside is $9.3483.

    The 20-week EMA is gradually sloping up and the RSI has jumped into the positive zone. This shows that the bulls have the upper hand. On the downside, strong support is at $4.4930 and below it at $3.8723. The 20-week EMA is also close to this level. Hence, we expect the bulls to defend this zone aggressively.

    However, contrary to our assumption, if the digital currency turns down from the current levels and plummets below the $4.4930-$3.8723 support zone, it will indicate weakness.


    Though Ethereum (ETH) has been losing out to Tron in DApp growth, it continues to be the first choice of developers to build their DApp on, according to a report by DApp analytics website Along with this, the Ethereum network is the sought after option to raise funds through ICOs, according to a report by rating site ICObench. In another report released by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum, the Ethereum blockchain was identified as the most preferred platform for the creation of tokens. Will Ethereum play catch up with the other altcoins or will it continue to underperform?


    The ETH/USD pair completed an ascending triangle pattern when it closed (UTC time frame) above the overhead resistance of $167.32. The pattern target following this breakout is $251.64. However, the pair quickly turned around and has again declined below the support at $167.32, which is a bearish sign. If a bullish pattern fails, it denotes weakness. The 20-week EMA has flattened out and the RSI is close to the 50 level. This suggests a consolidation in the near term. But if the digital currency reverses direction from the 20-week EMA and sustains above $167.32, it will indicate demand at lower levels. Above $167.32, the rally can reach $251.64 and above it to the 50-week SMA.


    Tron (TRX) blockchain has the fastest growing DApp user base with over 300,000 active users. A Tron-based version of stablecoin Tether (USDT) is about to be launched, which is being viewed as a major win for the network. Though Ethereum is a competitor, Tron founder and CEO Justin Sun believes that Tron will “officially collaborate” with Ethereum as soon as this year.

    The testnet of the Sun Network expansion plan is expected to launch in end-May. This will increase the overall capacity of the network, reduce energy consumption and improve security. With a host of fundamental news backing it, can the price start a new uptrend? Let’s find out.

    fe33fcaef13e07c25493293448f6af06.pngThe TRX/USD pair has been trading in a tight range of $0.01830 to $0.02815521 for the past few months. Though it has broken out of the range twice, it has not been able to sustain the higher levels and has re-entered the range within a week. This shows a lack of demand at higher levels.

    If the pair turns around after taking support at the 20-week EMA, it might again try to sustain above $0.02815521. A breakout above $0.03575668 will confirm a bottom and the start of a new uptrend.

    Conversely, if the pair slips below the 20-week EMA, it can remain range bound for a few more weeks. We might get a clear picture in the next couple of weeks.


    Circle-owned exchange Poloniex enabled margin trading on Ethereum Classic (ETC) for non-U.S. customers with a total leverage of 2.5 times. As with all the other coins that are available for margin trading, owners can lend their ETC and earn interest on it. The improving sentiment across the sector rubbed on to the digital currency as it skyrocketed higher on April 7. Let’s analyze its future prospects.

    089a696ff8e11c9bf5099e2794f340fa.pngThe ETC/USD pair traded in a tight range for 11 weeks before breaking out of the overhead resistance at $5.889. We had expected the price to reach $9.50 levels after breaking out of the resistance, but the pair turned around from $8.084.

    Currently, the digital currency is retesting the breakout levels of $5.889. If it rebounds from this level, it will again attempt to rise to $9.50. On the other hand, if the bears sink the price below $5.889, it can correct towards the lows.

    The 20-week EMA has flattened out and the RSI is close to the midpoint. This points to a consolidation in the near term.


    MetaHash (MHC) aims to bring an ecosystem to the users that is fast, completely decentralized, secure, economical to use and easy to operate, according to the firm. Its mainnet was launched on June 29 of last year, and it has a transaction speed of about 3 seconds and a declared capacity of 50,000 transactions per second. MetaGate is its official browser software, which has a multi-currency wallet and a DApps store; among the notable DApps launched are a blockchain-based encrypted messenger and a voting application.

    The idea behind MetaHash is to enable businesses and systems to easily use blockchain for various applications, the website states. It has been recognized as the 2018 Best Performance Project at POWER 2019 China Blockchain Contributors Annual Summit. The total number of server nodes has been increasing continuously and now numbers 500.

    The MetaHash coin is currently ranked 151th on CoinMarketCap. As most of the MHC coins are locked in node-stakes and other network economy, the supply in exchanges is usually scarce. Most of the coins bought at exchanges are withdrawn to the network native wallets.

    Currently, BitForex has a trading competition in progress using MCH where an award of up to 5 Bitcoin is on offer. MetaHash also has noted that it plans to be listed on various other exchanges in the near future. How does its performance look on the charts? Let’s analyze.


    The MHC/USD pair listed at $0.027813 on February 21 of this year. From there, the pair hit a low of $0.020628 on February 28. This proved to be the lowest point where buying emerged. It quickly pushed the price to a high of $0.106901 on March 22, which is a gain of 418%.

    After such a sharp rise, a minor correction or consolidation is to be expected. Currently, the price has corrected to just above $0.060, which is a critical support. If the bears sink the digital currency below this level, it can drop to $0.032.

    On the other hand, if the price rebounds from the current levels, it can again retest the highs. If the bulls push the price to new highs, a rally to $0.14 and higher is possible. We should see a decisive move in the cryptocurrency within the next few days.

    The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. Charts for analysis are provided by TradingView.

    *Disclaimer: MHC is a featured cryptocurrency from one of Cointelegraph’s sponsors, and its inclusion did not affect this price analysis.


    Cryptocurrency Price Trends Could Signal End of Bear Market, Says Binance Research


    Bitcoin (BTC) prices and altcoin prices could have already hit their lowest point, new analysis from cryptocurrency exchange Binance concluded on April 11.

    In the latest edition of its research bulletins, the exchange’s dedicated analytics arm, Binance Research, investigated various current phenomena and trends within cryptocurrency markets.

    Among them was correlation between Bitcoin and altcoin prices, data from 2014-2019 confirming that the 90 days to mid-March represented the longest period of high correlation in market history.

    According to historical behavior, such periods tend to trigger trend reversals. The 90 days to mid-March incorporated Bitcoin’s drop from $6,500 to around $3,100, leading Binance to suggest that markets could now rebound following the end of the record correlation period.

    “Having emerged from a period of the highest internal correlations in crypto history, the data may support the notion that the cryptomarket has already bottomed out,” the exchange summarized.

    As Cointelegraph reported, Binance had previously eyed the changing relationship between Bitcoin and altcoin prices, concluding altcoins were becoming less correlated with Bitcoin but more so against USD.

    The latest bulletin also held insights about cryptocurrency’s investor makeup: institutional investors control around 7% of the supply, Binance says, roughly equal to one-thirteenth of the institutional control of the United States stock market.

    Last week, another well-known voice meanwhile endorsed the narrative that crypto markets had bottomed.

    Thomas Lee, senior market analyst and co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, pointed to three-year high readings on his so-called “Bitcoin Misery Inde (BMI) as potential proof that no further downside would occur.

    “The main takeaway is […] further evidence the bear market for Bitcoin likely ended at $3,000,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.


    Bloomberg: SEC Required Two ETF Funds to Take Blockchain Off Their Tickers


    The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly required two funds to eliminate the word “blockchain” from their monikers, Bloomberg writes April 12, citing sources familiar with the matter.

    The exchange-traded funds (ETFs) of both Amplify and Reality Shares reportedly mentioned blockchain in early filings. Per Bloomberg’s unarmed interlocutors, the two funds were encouraged to change their names at the last minute in 2018.

    Despite eliminating the word “blockchain,” the funds’ tickers still refer to the technology. Ampilfy’s funds are traded as BLOK, while the product is described as “transformational data sharing ETF.” Reality Shares are using the title BLCN, depicting its product as “Nasdaq NexGen economy ETF.”

    Moreover, Bloomberg claims that there were other blockchain-related funds who eventually changed their names following the SEC’s request.

    Per the Investment Company Act of 1940, issuers are obliged not to use “materially deceptive or misleading” names. In 2001, the SEC adopted the Names Rule (Rule 35d) to clarify the guidelines. The funds are therefore required to ensure that at least 80 percent of assets coincide with the description in their monikers.

    According to Bloomberg, the SEC is on high alert due to the growing number of ETFs launched by funds that offer to invest in a wide range of projects and services. The number of assets in these funds has nearly tripled between 2014 and 2018, and more than 10% of new ETFs in 2018 targeted a particular theme, the media out states.

    As Cointelegraph previously reported, in early 2018 the SEC had warned that U.S. companies who change their name to include the word “blockchain” would soon face increased scrutiny from the regulators.

    SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently noted that the crypto industry will stay in the regulator’s focus in the nearest future. He believes that there is a path for the industry to compliance with the federal securities laws.

    Earlier in April, the SEC released guidance on determining whether digital assets constitute investment contracts. The agency also stated a new initial coin offering token from startup TurnKey was not a security.


    Bitcoin Holds Near $5,100 as US Stocks Stand Still


    Friday, April 12 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting slight to moderate gains on the day by press time, as Bitcoin (BTC) approaches the $5,100 mark.

    Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

    Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

    Bitcoin’s price is up close to half a percent on the day, trading at around $5,085 by press time, according to CoinMarketCap. Looking at its weekly chart, the current price is close to two percent higher than the price at which Bitcoin started the week.

    Bitcoin 7-day price chart

    Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

    Today Fundstrat Global Advisors founder Thomas Lee pointed out that the Bitcoin Misery Index reached 89, which is its highest reading since 2016, which according to him is both good and bad. He points out that it has reported values over 67 only during bull markets and that he believes it is more evidence that the market is becoming bullish.

    Ethereum (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which is at about $17.4 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple (XRP), has a market cap of about $13.7 billion by press time.

    ETH also gained about half a percent of its value over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $165. On the week, ETH has gained just under one percent, but reported a mid-week high of $183 on Monday.

    Ethereum 7-day price chart

    Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

    Second-largest altcoin Ripple has lost just about one percent over the 24 hours to press time and is currently trading at around $0.328. Looking at the coin’s weekly chart, its current price is almost 10% lower than what it reported one week ago.

    Ripple 7-day price chart

    Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

    Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the one reporting the most notable losses is Maker (MKR), which is down over six percent. The most notable gains, on the other hand, have been seen by Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which is over six percent up.

    The total market cap of all cryptocurrencies is currently equivalent to $172.7 billion, which is just slightly lower than $173.9, the value it saw a week ago.

    Yesterday, members of the United States Congress sent a joint request to the Internal Revenue Service to provide clarity on reporting crypto taxes, ahead of the April 15 tax deadline.

    Also yesterday, a filing dated April 11 revealed that decentralized computing network Blockstack has applied to the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to launch a $50 million token sale which — if approved — would be the industry’s first SEC-qualified offering. If approved, the sale would notably see Harvard’s endowment fund, among others, directly involved in the purchase

    In traditional markets, the United States stock market is seeing little change so far today, with the S&P 500 seeing no change and Nasdaq down 0.21% to press time. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, has lost a solid 4.30% on the day to press time.

    Major oil futures and indexes are showing mixed movements today, with WTI Crude up 1.35%, Brent Crude up 1.12% and Mars US down 1.42% to press time. Opec Basket is also down a slight 0.06% and the Canadian Crude Index has not seen its value change in the 24 hours to press time, according to OilPrices.


    Blockchain Tech Startup Horizen Doubles Target to Raise $4 Million


    Blockchain technology startup Horizen Labs has raised $4 million in a seed funding round.

    Participating in the round were VC firms Digital Currency Group (DCG) and Liberty City Ventures, as well as other independent investors.

    The U.S.-based startup had initially been looking to raise $2 million, but ultimately received double its target amount, it said in an announcement Thursday.

    Horizen Labs said it will build “inexpensive, time-efficient, and customizable” blockchain solutions for businesses with the investment. The firm offers a proprietary sidechains-as-a-service platform it says removes the need for entities to spend their resources on development and allows for quicker deployment of existing systems using pre-built functional sidechains.

    Horizen Labs CEO Robert Viglione said:

    “We have seen considerable demand from customers and businesses for custom blockchain solutions that are not expensive and time-consuming to build.”

    “Through Horizen Labs’ proprietary Sidechain-as-a-Service platform, we aim to let companies benefit from the high-level security of Horizen, a privacy-focused blockchain platform with the largest node network in the industry,” he added.

    Horizen said it will pilot design partnerships with third-party businesses seeking to implement blockchain into their operations. To that end, the firm is working with design partners in different business areas in order to bring its first sidechain solutions to market.

    DCG founder and CEO Barry Silbert said Horizen provides “a seamless way for businesses to incorporate customized digital ledger technology into their operations, removing a significant barrier to blockchain adoption and advancing the industry as a whole.”

    Last month, Digital Currency Group also invested an undisclosed sum in cryptocurrency futures exchange CoinFLEX.

    Piggy banks image via Shutterstock


    Will China Ban Crypto Mining?


    On April 9, Reuters reported that a Chinese government agency is considering the elimination of crypto mining in the country. Given that China has been hosting the majority of mining pools on its soil, the global crypto industry might be poised to take a massive hit. However, the plan is not written in stone at this point, and part of community has dismissed it as casual FUD.

    Brief introduction to China’s relationship with crypto

    Chinese authorities have been spearheading the “blockchain before Bitcoin” approach since September 2017, when the infamous crackdown on local initial coin offerings (ICOs) and crypto exchanges occurred. As of now, people in China can hold cryptocurrencies, but they are prohibited from trading them.

    The local mining industry specifically has also been subject to repressions. In February 2018, CNN Money reported that the Chinese government pushed crypto miners to make an "orderly exit" from the industry due to tax issues and mining being generally dangerous for the environment.

    Indeed, according to a separate article published by Quartz a month earlier, the country’s top internet-finance regulator, the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation, ordered local authorities to use all available options — such as “measures linked to electricity prices, land use, tax, and environmental protection” — to force miners to shut down their business. In addition to that, the agency had allegedly obliged regional authorities to submit regular progress reports, detailing the existing mining facilities in their jurisdictions.

    In response to the intensifying crackdown, some of China's largest mining players chose to move shop or even change their main line of business. Thus, Chinese ASIC chip manufacturer and mining outfit Bitmain, once the industry’s most profitable company, which is now experiencing significant difficulties caused by the bear market, decided to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) as an alternate revenue source. “As a China company, we have to be prepared,'' Bitmain’s former co-chief executive, Jihan Wu, explained at the time. The company also planned to run a major mining operation in Rockdale, Texas, but had to suspend the plan due to the market collapse earlier this year.

    However, China remains a mining superpower. According to data from, most of the largest Bitcoin mining pools are controlled by Chinese organizations. An earlier study conducted by the University of Cambridge argued that the Chinese dominance in the mining market was made possible by the cheap electricity and land available in provincial areas such as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan and Sichuan. Reports issued around the same time indicated that over two-thirds of global mining pools were based in China.

    New plans: NDRC to dismiss mining as an eco-unfriendly activity

    Now, China's central state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has revealed it might curb crypto mining in the country altogether. Notably, the news was first broken by state-owned newspaper the Securities Times, who reported that the NDRC’s draft list “distinctly reflects the attitude of the country’s industrial policy” toward the cryptocurrency industry, as per Reuters.

    Thus, the NDRC has reportedly included crypto mining as part of its draft for a revised list of industrial activities the agency intends to shut down because they “lacked safe production conditions, seriously wasted resources, polluted the environment,” among other issues.

    The move forms part of the NDRC’s wider Catalogue for Guiding Industry Restructuring, which has been issued since 2005 and determines which industries are to be encouraged, restricted or eliminated in the country.

    The agency has reportedly not set a proposed deadline for eliminating crypto mining industry, postulating instead that it should be dwindled with immediate effect. The public now has until May 7 to comment on the draft.

    As local newspaper South China Morning Post reported, the new plan brings uncertainty not only to local miners, but to the makers of cryptocurrency mining rigs as well. That would include the aforementioned Bitmain, which, in 2017, controlled an estimated three-quarters of the global market, as well as Canaan Creative, another large Chinese mining hardware manufacturer. Both companies had filed for initial public offerings (IPOs) in Hong Kong, but were met with skepticism by the local watchdog.

    Additionally, according to its IPO filing, by mid-2018, Bitmain operated as many as 11 mining farms in China, and hence would be largely affected by the NDRC’s reported plans. The company has declined to comment on the issue, as per various media reports.

    Community reaction

    Historically, big news from China tends to affect the crypto market. For instance, when local regulators introduced yet another restraint on cryptocurrencies in January last year, Bitcoin swiftly dropped to its lowest level in more than a month, with Ethereum (ETH) declining 19% and Ripple (XRP) collapsing 29%.

    Similarly, the new ban, if implemented, is likely to have a strong impact on the global crypto industry, argue some crypto mining consultants, such as Mark D’Aria of Bitpro Consulting LLC. “Short term, it could be extremely disruptive,” he told Cointelegraph. He went on to say:

    “There will certainly be many winners and losers in the mining industry, as non-Chinese miners would benefit in the short term from significantly reduced difficulty, and from inexpensive surplus hardware as it filters out of China.”

    However, the ultimate effect largely depends on how, if and when the ban is implemented, D’Aria argues, which is unclear at this time:

    “If it was decreed that all miners were to shut down immediately, all of that hashrate lost in an instant could significantly disrupt the technical operation of the Bitcoin blockchain, slowing it down significantly until the next difficulty reduction. If this ban was implemented shortly after the last difficulty adjustment, this transitional period could last months.”

    In the worst-case scenario, D’Aria explains, it could take months for the network to bounce back — but either way, the Bitcoin blockchain should be safe in the long run.

    “It's yet another example of how resilient Bitcoin actually is — it can be disrupted in the short term, but long term it adjusts to compensate.”

    He elaborated:

    “Difficulty is adjusted every 2016 blocks. This takes approximately every two weeks at a stable hashrate. If 80% of the hashrate were to go offline 16 blocks after the adjustment, the next 2000 blocks would take 5x as long to mine (assuming the hardware wasn't rapidly redeployed outside of China.) This two week period would stretch out to over two months. During these two months transaction rate would also be slowed down by 80%, confirmations that used to take minutes will take hours and fees will likely rise dramatically due to competition for block space. At a time when Bitcoin is still widely criticized for being slow and expensive to use, it's hardly going to do Bitcoin any favors. [...] But if China allows miners to wind down over a few weeks, difficulty adjustment will gracefully handle the loss in hash rate, and there would be little noticeable change to the functioning of the Bitcoin blockchain.”

    If the ban does come through, however, part of the mining economy could move underground, but the overall scope of mining operations won’t be the same for China, which might be dethroned by other countries in that case, D’Aria said:

    “It [cryptocurrency mining in China] can continue at a very small scale — a basement here, a shed there, etc. However, it is not plausible that large mining farms would be using megawatts of electricity without the authorities noticing. Even if a few chinese miners try to carry on at a small scale, on a global level it would be insignificant. The US, Canada, Scandinavia and a few Eastern European nations would then comprise the lion's share of mining power — and in all likelihood the mining hardware would eventually filter outside of China to those who can still use it.”

    “China FUD”?

    Other parts of the crypto community don’t see any reason to panic whatsoever. For instance, Dovey Wan, founding partner at blockchain-focused Primitive Ventures, pointed out that the NDRC’s purview in regard to the industries it wants to eliminate seems limited:

    there is another version of such proposal published in 2011

    Obviously many stuff should be “eliminated” in the 2011 version reappear in the 2019 version 🙃🙃🙃 such proposal in China usually is just “proposal”


    Zooko Wilcox Envisions 'Ambitious' Changes for Zcach Cryptocurrency


    “We’ve been working on zcash for about five years and I expect it will take five more before it reaches the level of flourishing that has been on our minds all along.”

    That’s Zooko Wilcox, CEO of Electric Coin Company (ECC) — the firm behind the privacy-focused cryptocurrency zcash. He made the comments about the long-term trajectory of zcash during a conversation on the last day of the RadicalxChange conference, which took place February in Detroit.

    Suitcase and coffee in hand at the time of interview, Zooko was just about to jet off on a plane to Tokyo to embark on an extended “zcash promotional world tour” in East Asia.

    But as founder and CEO of ECC – the company that created the zcash protocol and continues to act as a central hub for zcash development – Wilcox admitted:

    “In the two years, slightly more than two years, of [zcash’] existence, we haven’t added substantial changes outside of privacy.”

    Launched back in 2016, zcash was originally created as an encrypted, privacy-enhanced fork of bitcoin. In October of last year, Zcash underwent its biggest protocol upgrade to date, nicknamed “Sapling.”

    “Sapling I think was the biggest improvement of the protocol to date. It was huge,” Josh Cincinnati, executive director of the Zcash Foundation, told CoinDesk. “It makes privacy much more accessible and also opens up the door for mobile applications. That was a moonshot project by the Electric Coin Company and it succeeded.”

    Now, Wilcox envisions another “three or four year long moonshot project” in order to develop zcash “in ways that are not specific to privacy.”

    “I’m in favor of an ambitious scalability improvement,” says Wilcox. “I think we need high scalability at layer one in order for us to reach the mission of empowering everyone with economic freedom and opportunity.”

    He went on to add:

    “Even though I think layer two is cool and has a lot of potential and potential uses, I think we also need a scalable layer one. So that’s what I’m pushing for within my company and within the zcash community.”

    But there are other proposals at hand, Wilcox noted. One of these includes extending “zcash to become programmable like ethereum.”

    “Of course, the way we’d tend to do things is use zero-knowledge proof to make it so that execution of the smart contracts is private and off-chain,” said Wilcox.

    All of these proposals will ultimately have to move through a process of community review and debate.

    Called the Zcash Improvement Proposal (ZIP) process, Cincinatti told CoinDesk that for the first time in the protocol’s history new ZIPs will be reviewed by a representative from the ECC and the Zcash Foundation.

    The new ZIP process

    Originally, implementation of ZIPs was entirely up to the ECC,while the Zcash Foundation was primarily “a grant-giving organization.”

    Last month, the Foundation announced steps to become more actively engaged in the protocol development process alongside the ECC.

    “The metaphor is that I want us to exist in a two-of-two multi-signature governance model where the Electric Coin Company holds a key and the Foundation holds a key and where broader decisions about zcash really have to be mutually agreed upon by the Foundation and the Electric Coin Company,” said Cincinatti.

    As such, for the network upgrade scheduled by the Electric Coin Company to activate in April 2020, all ZIPs will undergo a process of review by two so-called “ZIP editors.”

    “Both us as editors have to agree on what features should be accepted as ZIPs. It’s not as much us agreeing about what should be included as much as it is agreeing that there is consensus [in the community] that these things should be included,” highlighted Cincinatti.

    The deadline for ZIP proposals into Network Upgrade 3 ended on April 1 and as Cincinatti tells CoinDesk a total of 8 proposals are currently undergoing review by the editors – Daira Hopwood at the ECC and Cincinatti from the Foundation.

    One of these proposals would introduce a new polling feature enabling users to vote with funds held in invisible “shielded” addresses directly without moving funds to a public “unshielded” address. Another proposal seeks to lay the building blocks for a private layer-two payment network on top of the zcash protocol called BOLT.

    And by the time these proposals are approved, tested and activated on zcash mainnet, Cincinnati points out zcash will finally have its second software – also called client – implementation for the protocol. Presently, all users rely on the ECC zcash implementation called “zcashd.”

    In light of a forthcoming multi-client ecosystem for zcash, Cincinnati explains that it’s important to begin iterating on the ZIP process now, noting:

    “Eventually, if there’s many of these consensus compatible implementations running, you have to be able to share and collaborate on the roadmap and the feature set.”

    Privacy as the mainstream

    Outside of ZIP process, the Zcash network is also preparing for the activation of two backwards-incompatible changes in a system-wide upgrade also called a hard fork this upcoming October.

    Nicknamed Blossom, the hard fork once initiated will increase block times on the network and will split up the network’s 20 percent block reward tax into three set wallet addresses – one for the Zcash Foundation, the Electric Coin Company Strategic Reserve and the remainder.

    The aim of this latter change – as stated on GitHub by ECC project manager Nathan Wilcox – is to decouple the once singular funding stream “organizationally, legally and operationally” and further reinforce “transparency as to the structure of the Founders’ Reward.”

    “It’s just meant as clean up to make it easier for people to distinguish the stuff that’s going to the Electric Coin Company, early Founders’ Reward recipients, and otherwise,” added Cincinatti to CoinDesk.

    This model of sustainable development funding through a block reward tax Zooko Wilcox noted to CoinDesk has been copied by other cryptocurrency projects such as the recently launched privacy coin Beam. Beam which debuted back in January was shortly followed by the launch of another privacy-focused cryptocurrency leveraging similar technology known as Grin.

    To the emergence of these new entrants to the cryptocurrency space, Zooko Wilcox tells CoinDesk:

    “I don’t like their technology much … [but] I really like the communities because they’re that win-win collegial mindset, where they like to help other people, and I like to help them because we’re all on the same side of history.”

    And history Zooko Wilcox explains will eventually prove privacy coins like zcash, beam and grin as the norm for all cryptocurrencies in the future. Likening the present wave of privacy-enhanced cryptocurrencies to the period in the 1990s when encryption for web browsing was introduced. Wilcox pointed out that after “about ten years of political and activist struggle, encryption became standard.”

    “In the early days, when HTTPS was invented, people perceived it as making the web into some kind of special privacy web that was dangerous and that could allow lawbreaking,” said Zooko Wilcox. “Now, the United States government requires you to use HTTPS on everything that is sensitive and could affect users.”

    A similar sort of struggle, Zooko Wilcox argued, is occurring right now with governments viewing cryptocurrencies like Zcash, Grin and Beam that host “strong privacy protection” as being “dangerous and scary.”

    He said:

    “In ten years, nobody is going to say, ‘Oh that’s a privacy coin.’ They’re going to say, ‘Oh, that’s a normal coin that you can use for all normal business anywhere in the world.’ Just like how today we don’t say, ‘Oh HTTPS, this must be a privacy website and I must be using a privacy browser.”

    It is these grande changes to norms and technical protocol that Wilcox fully expects will happen sometime in the next decade. Once at the Detroit airport and ready to board his flight, Wilcox messaged me one last parting thought from our conversation – a quote.

    “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” – Bill Gates

    Zooko Wilcox image by Christine Kim


    San Francisco-Based Thor Token Project Shuts Down


    San Francisco-based blockchain project Thor Token is shutting down as the project “was not able to gain traction and achieve commercial success.” The news was announced by co-founder and CEO at Thor, David Chin on April 9.

    Thor — which was built on Neo (NEO) — has announced it is closing its doors as it reportedly could not manage to raise enough capital to come up against the lack of sales, as well as find a new place where it could benefit from more resources.

    Chin revealed in the post that the company has been trying to find the right person or entity to hand over the Thor project in order to let it continue, however it has not been able to find one for an acquisition at this time. Chin further stated:

    “Thor will be ceasing operations in the near future given no other funding or acquisition offers are found. [...] All Thor code and products will remain open source for the community to use, modify, or fork, for its benefit.”

    Recent months have seen the closure of various digital currency projects. Last December, news broke that major United States-based stablecoin project Basis would shut down operations and return the majority of the $133 million in funding it raised in a private placement last April to its investors. The move was reportedly due to regulatory concerns around one of Basis’ token types.

    In January, Chinese cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain announced it would reduce its operations in the Netherlands. Bitmain said that the move was part of its longer-term roadmap of cost-saving measures. Bitmain reportedly suffered as a result of decreased profitability of Bitcoin mining in past months, with Bitcoin (BTC) circling around $4,000.


    US Startup Raises $14.1 Mln for Blockchain-Based Payments Network for Retailers


    New York-based blockchain startup Flexa has raised $14.1 million to develop a payments network for retailers. The development was announced in a press release published on April 11.

    Per the release, Flexa has raised $14.1 million in funding from such participants as early stage token fund 1kx, investment firms Access Ventures and Nima Capital, and hedge fund Pantera Capital, which recently revealed that it was close to completing funding for its third venture fund, already raising $160 million.

    The company intends to create a payment network for retailers that would reduce costs, overhead, and fraudulence by means of blockchain-based settlements. Flexa is also planning to release a mobile application through which customers could conduct operations with cryptocurrencies they already own.

    Tyler Spalding, Co-Founder and CEO of Flexa, said that "the anti-fraud and cost benefits of global cryptocurrency payments are enormous, but there are many barriers to mainstream adoption for merchants and consumers alike. Flexa's going to change that."

    Blockchain technology has become widely applied in the retail industry. Earlier today, United States food and drug chain Albertsons Companies announced it will use IBM’s Food Trust blockchain platform to track the supply chain for romaine lettuce, but aims to branch out into other products.

    Last month, the U.S. Pork Board partnered with blockchain startup to test out a blockchain platform for pork supply chains. The collaboration will ostensibly enable the Board to use a blockchain-based ecosystem to monitor and evaluate sustainability practices, food safety standards, livestock health, and environmental protections.