Posts by BitcoinCowboy

    Binance Delists Bitcoin SV, CEO Calls Craig Wright a 'Fraud'


    Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by reported volume, will delist bitcoin SV (BSV) after a week of controversy around the cryptocurrency’s creator, Craig Wright.

    The exchange announced Monday that it would be delisting all BSV trading pairs on April 22, just days after Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) threatened to do so if Wright did not cease attacks on Twitter users claiming the latter is not Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin.

    In Binance’s announcement, the exchange says “we periodically review each digital asset we list to ensure that it continues to meet the high level of standard we expect,” citing a number of factors it weighs.

    These include the commitment of a team to the project, the level and quality of its development activity, its network and smart contract stability, the level of public communication, responsiveness to periodic due diligence requests, evidence of unethical or fraudulent conduct and its contribution to the crypto ecosystem.

    However, it is likely that BSV is being deleted due to Wright’s attacks on Twitter user hodlonaut (who started the Lightning Network “torch”) and other individuals. Specifically, Wright placed a bounty on hodlonaut’s identity after the latter claimed Wright is not Satoshi. CZ said Binance would delist BSV if Wright continued these attacks.

    In a series of follow-up tweets, CZ said “Craig Wright is a fraud,” and that “the real Satoshi can digitally sign any message to prove it,” and that doing so would be simple.

    Wright has sent legal cease-and-desist letters to other individuals claiming he is not Satoshi, including Peter McCormack, the individual behind the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast.

    Binance will continue to support BSV withdrawals until July 22.

    Wright has for the last several years claimed he is the person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, but his evidence for this claim has been widely disputed.

    CZ image via CoinDesk archives


    Startup Raises $3.9 Million in Tokenized Equity on London Stock Exchange Platform


    Blockchain equity startup 20|30 has raised £3 million ($3.93 million) in a sale of tokenized shares on a platform operated by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

    While a trial effort looking at using tokenized equity to modernize the financial markets, the share offering involved real cash and was issued on the LSEG’s Turquoise equity trading platform.

    20|30 sets out to tokenize equity and other securities using distributed ledger technology. The firm was notably part of the fourth cohort of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) regulatory sandbox, announced last July.

    As CoinDesk reported, LSEG and the FCA previously said they were working with 20|30 and distributed ledger technology startup Nivaura toward demonstrating for the first time that equity in a U.K. company can be tokenized and issued within a fully compliant custody, clearing and settlement system. With today’s news, the first stage of that plan looks to have been successfully carried out.

    The project set out to explore “tools to help companies raise capital in a more efficient and streamlined way,” said the LSEG.

    After the primary issuance of an equity token based on ethereum, “the next step will be to offer secondary transfers. Then we can work our way up the ‘capital stack’ to reinvent private equity and, public markets,” Tomer Sofinzon, co-founder of 20|30, told the Financial Times at the time.

    Speaking to CoinDesk about the project in July, Dr. Avtar Sehra, CEO and chief product architect at Nivaura, said: “Someone can use our technology to do all the legal documentation, tokenize these assets and execute them. LSEG has then been forward-thinking enough to help get these orders out to the existing market.”

    LSE image via Shutterstock


    Coincheck Exchange Adds Ethereum And Ripple to Its New Over-the-Counter Trading Desk


    Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck has added its first two altcoins to its recently launched over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk, Cointelegraph Japan reported on April 15.

    Coincheck, which began operating its OTC service with Bitcoin (BTC) at the start of the month, now also offers Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP), the second and third largest cryptocurrencies by market cap respectively.

    OTC desks offer specialized services for large-volume traders, allowing them to save on fees and skirt what would otherwise be considerable hurdles purchasing or selling major crypto investments via standard methods.

    The feature has become popular among major exchanges worldwide, Cointelegraph previously reporting on their continued emergence despite the ongoing crypto bear market.

    According to a blog post from Coincheck today, the company will also consider adding further altcoins to its OTC desk in due course, but did not hint as to which it would prioritize.

    Coincheck has gone from strength to strength following its takeover by online broker Monex Group last April.

    After redressing issues resulting from its giant half-billion-dollar hack in January 2018, Monex succeeded in gaining a Japanese regulatory license for Coincheck to continue serving customers in December 2018.

    In Q3, according to a financial report released at the end of January, Coincheck had already halved its losses compared to the previous quarter.

    Japan continues to become a hotbed of crypto trading business activity, with investment outfit ST Blockchain Fund today announcing that it had pumped $200 million into the parent company of Bithumb, one of South Korea’s largest exchange platforms.


    Japan's SBI Holdings Invests in Local Crypto Exchange Applicant FXCoin


    Japanese crypto startup FXCoin revealed it has completed a third-party allotment of shares with financial services giant SBI Holdings. The development, which contributes to FXCoin’s aim of launching a crypto exchange business in the country, was reported by Cointelegraph Japan on April 15.

    FXCoin, which currently focuses on providing market information for investors, was founded in December 2017 by Tomoo Onishi — the former head of foreign exchange sales at Deutsche Bank. Alongside Onishi, who now serves as FXCoin’s CEO, the startup also reportedly counts Nomura, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and HSBC veterans in its workforce.

    As Cointelegraph Japan further reports, FXCoin sealed second tier membership within the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) this February. The membership tier is designed for businesses who are seeking to apply for an official crypto exchange operating license from the country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Association.

    As previously reported, JVCEA is a self-regulatory crypto exchange association that formed in March 2018 in a bid to establish industry-wide investor safety standards. The organization was formally granted self-regulatory status by the FSA in October 2018.

    An operating license has been mandatory for all crypto exchanges operating within Japan since the amendment of the country’s Payment Services Act back in April 2017. However, the FSA toughened requirements for applicants throughout 2018, in the wake of last January’s industry-record-breaking $532 million hack of crypto exchange Coincheck.

    As previously reported, the past couple of years have seen SBI pursue multiple ventures in the crypto sector, including its own exchange — Vctrade — alongside a series of investments in businesses developing crypto infrastructure and services.

    In October 2018, SBI and Ripple’s XRP-powered payments app, MoneyTap, went live for account holders at selected Japanese banks. The app has the eventual ambition of including a consortium of 61 institutions, representing over 80 percent of all of Japan’s banking assets, in its service. Thirteen local banks joined as shareholders in the project in late March.


    US Justice Dept. Convicts Two Romanians of Cybercrimes Including Cryptojacking


    A federal jury has convicted two Romanian alleged cybercriminals of spreading malware to steal credit card credentials and illicitly mine cryptocurrency, an announcement from the official website of the United States Department of Justice revealed on April 11.

    The malware allegedly spread by the suspects was reportedly used for cryptojacking and to steal credit card and other data that the suspects would have sold on darknet markets and used to engage in online auction fraud.

    As the Justice Department press release reports, Bogdan Nicolescu, 36, and Radu Miclaus, 37, were convicted after a 12-day trial.

    The two individuals were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit service marks, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts each of wire fraud.

    The two are scheduled to be sentenced on August 14 this year in the Northern District of Ohio.

    The activity was allegedly conducted as a “criminal conspiracy” from Bucharest, Romania, by the aforementioned suspects and another person who pleaded guilty. The malware itself was reportedly developed in 2007 and then spread via emails posing as legitimate communications from entities like Western Union, Norton AntiVirus and the Internal Revenue Service.

    As the press release explains, the recipients that clicked on the attached file in such an email had malware installed on their devices. The malware also harvested email addresses from the contact lists of the victims. The infected computers also reportedly registered over 100,000 AOL email accounts that were used to spread the malware further with millions of emails sent to the stolen addresses.

    The virus also purportedly redirected traffic to major websites such as Facebook, PayPal, eBay to a near identical version meant for phishing to obtain access credentials. The stolen credentials were reportedly used to rent server space, register domain names and pay for anonymization services.

    Lastly, the report also specifies that the case was jointly investigated by the U.S. Federal Investigation Bureau and the Romanian National Police.

    As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, Bitcoin (BTC) wallet service Electrum is facing an ongoing Denial-of-Service attack on its servers and users have reportedly lost millions of dollars.

    In a report from last month by AT&T Cybersecurity, it was revealed that cryptocurrency mining is one of the most observed objectives of hackers attacking businesses’ cloud infrastructures.

    At the end of March, news broke that a new strain of Trojan malware for Android phones is targeting global users of top crypto apps such as Coinbase, BitPay and Bitcoin Wallet, as well as banks including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.


    The Upside of Bitcoin's Upside (It's Not What You Think)


    Noelle Acheson is a veteran of company analysis and member of CoinDesk’s product team.

    The following article originally appeared in Institutional Crypto by CoinDesk, a newsletter for the institutional market, with news and views on crypto infrastructure delivered every Tuesday. Sign up here.

    The rally last week in cryptocurrency prices sent tremors of excitement through the mainstream press – is bitcoin “doing its thing” again? Could we be on the verge of a breakout?

    These reports attract clicks and eyeballs, so I understand why they are run – but their breathless fascination with price volatility and potential profits misses the bigger impact.

    While we can generally agree that investment gains are good, the broader benefit is this: cryptocurrency price increases throw into starker relief the uniqueness of the asset class.

    (To avoid over-complicating the discussion, in this article I’ll focus on bitcoin – but the same or similar arguments can also be applied to other cryptocurrencies, depending on their characteristics.)

    Supply and demand

    First, let’s compare bitcoin to other commodities.

    In practically all other instances, a price increase affects supply. When gold or oil go up in price, there is an incentive to extract even more from the ground. Previously unprofitable mines or wells become profitable, and those that were to begin with become more so. Operators will logically seek to maximize the opportunity by producing what they can while prices are good, and supply goes up.

    As supply goes up, however, demand generally comes down as consumption budgets are reallocated and substitutes are sought. As demand comes down, the price comes down again, which lowers the incentive to produce, which eventually lowers supply. And so on and so on.

    Comparing bitcoin to fiat currencies displays a similar dynamic. An increase in demand for a currency relative to another one will eventually make goods denominated in that currency expensive compared to alternatives denominated in different ones.

    With bitcoin, the price does not affect supply. At all. An increase in demand will lead to an increase in price which – without the “correcting mechanism” of a potential increase in supply and/or reallocation of demand – could continue indefinitely.

    Fair compensation

    However, all markets need self-correcting mechanisms. One of bitcoin’s is transaction fees – a sharp increase in demand will most likely boost the fees the miners can charge when processing transactions, which could dampen the upswing in volumes.

    This highlights the second significant differentiating factor, which is bitcoin’s ingenious incentive scheme. As the price goes up, the network becomes more secure.

    Miners process blocks of transactions and, in compensation, are rewarded with a set number of bitcoins. As the price of bitcoin goes up, so does the value of the reward. More miners will be attracted by the potential profits from both the earned bitcoin and transaction fees. A greater number of miners results in better distributed network maintenance, which enhances the cryptocurrency’s resistance to bad actors.

    This, in turn, should bolster confidence and demand, which should both increase the price and the network’s resilience even further.

    Hang on

    This does not mean that a price bump will continue into the stratosphere indefinitely.

    External factors such as regulation, the emergence of alternatives or even macroeconomic mood could have a significant dampening effect on demand. Internal factors such as forks and governance debates could also have an impact.

    But one of the overlooked features of bitcoin is that, all other things being equal, it does not have a fundamental self-correcting mechanism like most other assets. Not only will a price increase not trigger a supply/demand rebalancing, it actually enhances the network’s strength and potential demand.

    “All other things” are rarely equal, however. Sentiment plays a powerful role in all markets, but especially in one such as bitcoin where widely accepted valuation methods don’t yet exist. As we saw in 2017-18, the “reflexivity” (in which perceptions affect the market which affects perceptions) that pushed the market up can bring it back down fast.

    This, in a sense, is bitcoin’s main self-correcting mechanism: market skittishness. Given the relatively low liquidity and overall lack of transparency, traders and investors seem to follow the well-worn principle: “If you must panic, panic first.”

    Smoother ride

    Yet even this is likely to be mitigated over time.

    The crypto winter was not just about the building of a more robust (and regulated) market infrastructure; it was also about the education of institutional investors, who will no doubt bring more sophisticated trading strategies to the market.

    While many institutions will probably take positions with a long-term view, we won’t be hearing them cry “To the moon!” There will come a time when their strategy indicates a lock-in of profits, and even a hint of volume selling could be enough to trigger a sharp correction.

    But the same level of sophistication will also set floors for any correction, and as volumes grow, infrastructure continues to improve and valuation techniques develop, volatility will smooth as will the tendency for large market participants to react blindly to perceived shifts.

    With this, the cryptocurrency’s fundamental characteristics will increasingly predominate investment decisions. And bitcoin and its peers will continue to show us that cryptocurrencies are, indeed, a different type of asset class.

    Upside-down world image via Shutterstock


    Blockchain Use in Finance Still Faces Major Challenges: Chinese Researcher


    The use of blockchain technology in the financial sector still face many challenges according to a major Chinese researcher, local news agency Sohu reports on April 12.

    Wei Kai, head of blockchain research at the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), described roadblocks to the technology's further adoption at a 2019 meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission.

    According to Wei, despite blockchain’s potential to transform a number of industries, tech disruptors have not solved three major problems in regard to the financial sector at the current stage of blockchain adoption. The researcher argued that the blockchain community has yet to work out such problems as data privacy, operability, as well as blockchain’s ability to be integrated with enterprise systems.

    Kai also noted other important issues such as coordinating regulatory approaches between different jurisdictions worldwide.

    With that, the blockchain expert still noted that blockchain tech has the potential to transform the banking industry, as well as to bring benefits to other industries such as manufacturing, transportation, medicine, government, and others.

    Established in 1957, the CAICT research center operates under the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

    Recently, Big Four auditing firm KPMG published a survey showing that most finance and tax executives do not consider using blockchain technology, with 67% of respondents claiming that they were not using the technology at the time of the poll.

    On April 9, the developer of community website StackOverflow found that 80% out of 90,000 developers worldwide are currently not using blockchain technology.


    Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Considers Delisting BSV Because of Founder's Behavior


    Founder and CEO of major cryptocurrency exchange Binace Changpeng Zhao warned that he will delist Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) if the creator of the altcoin Craig Wright does not change his behavior in a tweet published on April 11.

    The community reacted to Zhao’s warning by asking various exchanges to delist BSV and creating a #DelistBSV hashtag. The tweet is presumably a reaction to Wright’s recent action against Hodlnaut, the Twitter user behind the Lightning Torch initiative.

    As recently reported on crypto news outlet Coingeek, a $5,000 bounty in BSV has been set by Wright for information regarding the identity of Hodlnaut. The cryptocurrency community reacted on Twitter by creating #WeAreAllHodlonaut hashtag, to show support for the now deleted twitter user.

    Wright was purportedly motivated by the anonymous twitter user calling him a fraud and accusing him of falsely claiming to be the mysterious creator of Bitcoin (BTC), Satoshi Nakamoto.

    Per Coingeek, Hodlnaut targeted Wright with offensive tweets, calling him “a very sad and pathetic scammer. Clearly mentally ill.” Hodlnaut also reportedly participated in the creation of the #CraigWrightIsAFraud hashtag.

    Wright’s attorney’s reportedly stated that he “has not fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto” since he allegedly is Satoshi Nakamoto. The statement further claims that he wrote Bitcoin’s white paper, sent the first Bitcoin transaction, and played an integral role in the network’s development. Wright has reportedly demanded an apology from Hodlnaut and a statement in open court acknowledging the alleged falsity of his allegations.

    Much of the cryptocurrency community does not believe Wright’s claims, which earned him the nickname “faketoshi.” WikiLeaks called him “a proven serial forger of documents claiming that he is the inventor of Bitcoin.” IT news outlet Motherboard reported in 2015 that the proofs provided by Wright “are probably backdated and point to a hoax.”

    As Cointelegraph reported at the end of last year, a United States court has rejected repeated requests from Craig Wright to dismiss a $4 billion lawsuit against him for having allegedly stolen up to 1.1 million BTC from the estate of deceased crypto developer David Kleiman. Some have speculated as whether Kleiman was an original developer of Bitcoin.

    In December last year, Bitcoin SV faced criticism after a researcher reportedly showed how any user could spend the same coins twice on its network in a “0-conf transaction.”


    Ethereum Core Developers Debate Benefits of More Frequent Hard Forks


    How often is too often to alter consensus?

    A group of ethereum’s veteran open-source developers discussed the subject in a bi-weekly meeting Friday, wherein they aired the possibility that system-wide upgrades, also called hard forks, to the software could be enacted as often as every three months.

    Wanting to “check the temperature,” the developer asking the question explained that certain upcoming ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) such as state rents would require multiple upgrades sequentially spaced out for full effect.

    Three months, however, in the eyes of Joseph Delong, senior software engineer at venture capital studio Consensys, is “too quick for a turnaround.”

    Team lead at the Ethereum Foundation Péter Szilágyi agreed, explaining:

    “As a [software] client developer if you’re only job is to implement hard forks and do them then three months is fine but usually clients require a lot of maintenance. So, if you start doing three month hard forks it will essentially take all the time away from general maintenance and performance improvements.”

    Ethereum Foundation security lead Martin Hoste Swende, while agreeing that a hard fork every three months “would be a bad thing,” noted that particular cases with simple changes unanimously agree upon could have shorter run times.

    “The idea would not be to schedule a hard fork every three months but see if feature X is finished and there exist test cases and it is implemented in all clients. If so, then we can hard fork pretty soon,” argued Swende during the call.

    But encouraging developers to take their plans “one step” at a time, Fredrik Harryson CTO of Parity Technologies noted that even a timeline of six months for a planned ethereum hard fork has never been achieved.

    “There’s a couple things we probably need to automate in order to do [shorter hard forks] really well. A lot of the time that goes into the hard fork is not just making the code. It’s everything that goes around,” said Harryson.

    In addition to this, Ethereum Foundation advisor Greg Colvin noted that most teams building ethereum software clients do not presently have “the right person” to handle essential jobs for hard fork implementation such as “setting up testnets, running test cases, doing testing” among other responsibilities.

    To this, Harryson responded the matter was about not having enough finances to onboard such team members. “For us, it’s money. We don’t have enough money behind it,” quipped Harryson.

    Multi-step upgrades

    But it’s not only a matter of whether or not there should be more frequent hard forks.

    Developers during today’s call also discussed whether there was a need for ambitious, longer-term changes to the present ethereum blockchain in light of an impending move to ethereum 2.0 – a new ethereum network which once fully activated users would migrate over to from the current mainnet.

    Suggesting that developers like Alexey Akhunov and ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin have cautioned against “changes that aren’t for the survival of the [present ethereum] chain,” Harryson asked:

    “How much do we sway outside of this because [EIP 615] leads into a long chain of improvements that go into several years before we’re seeing massive benefits from it.”

    EIP 615 is one of five proposals considered for inclusion in the next ethereum hard fork called Istanbul. It aims to introduce improvements to the very heart of the ethereum codebase known as the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) which is responsible for executing all self-deploying lines of code – also called smart contracts – on the platform.

    The EVM is also a key technology that other enterprise blockchain initiatives such as Hyperledger have been reported in the past to build interoperability with.

    “The design of the EVM makes low-gas-cost, high-performance execution difficult. We propose to move forward with proposals to resolve these problems by tightening the security guarantees and pushing the performance limits of the EVM,” writes the authors of EIP 615 Colvin, Brooklyn Zelenka, Pawel Bylic and Christina Reitwiessner.

    However, as noted by Swende during today’s call, EIP 615 as proposed would require at least two hard forks to fully execute and “a positive speed effect” to actual code computations in the EVM would not be noticeable until the latter hard fork is executed.

    “That’s my main concern about this EIP, it’s a lot of work but I don’t think it will lead to a much better EVM. It might be better for the external tools like if you’re doing a reverse analysis of the security properties of a smart contract,” said Swende.

    Such tooling Zelenka suggested is essential to ensure continued “forward compatibility” with forthcoming EVM upgrades like eWASM and a smooth onboarding experience for smart contract developers in light of “an undetermined ethereum 2.0 release date.”

    “There are other options for smart contract developers out there. We need to keep ethereum 1.x alive and that means continuing to move,” argued Zelenka on today’s call.

    Agreeing to continue debate and discussion on the EIP in further weeks, Swende concluded that at present he remains skeptical about “implementing such large changes into the old engine which basically takes a couple of hard forks before it finally settles.”

    But agreeing with uncertain sentiment around the future of ethereum 2.0, Harryson, who raised the initial question about ambitious, multi-hard fork upgrades said:

    “We shouldn’t adjust our roadmap or thinking based on what ethereum 2.0 may or may not be.”

    Fork image via Shutterstock


    Binance Labs Grants $45,000 to 3 Open-Source Blockchain Startups


    Binance Labs, the investment arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has awarded grants of $15,000 each to three startups supporting open-source development of blockchain technologies.

    Receiving the grants are Ironbelly, a mobile wallet for the Grin/Mimblewimble blockchain; HOPR, privacy-preserving messaging protocol; and Kitsune Wallet, an upgradeable on-chain wallet.

    The three startups are now the first “fellows” of Binance Labs’s Fellowship program, which funds and supports early-stage open-source development projects, according to a blog announcement Friday.

    According to Binance Labs director Flora Sun, innovation requires “an engaged community of developers and entrepreneurs who imagine ideas and create new projects to bring products to market.”

    She continued:

    “Our part is to support early-stage projects that are helping to create the building blocks and infrastructure for larger utility and enabling growth in the blockchain market.”

    Binance Labs also operates an Incubation Program that supports early-stage blockchain projects. Back in December, the exchange announced the expansion of its incubator program to five new cities: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Singapore and Hong Kong.

    Last month, the Argentinian government said it would be matching investments in local blockchain startups made by Binance Labs and LatamEX Founders Lab, a local startup incubator.

    Binance image via Shutterstock