Kvě 25

The Sweet Smell of Success: Unilever-Owned Schmidt’s Naturals Adds Bitcoin as Payment Option

· May 24, 2018 · 7:00 pm

There are a lot of odd things you can buy with Bitcoin – spy gear, lasers, alpaca socks, and now, high-end deodorant.


‘Scent or Payment Method’

Deodorant maker Schmidt’s Naturals is the latest company to let online shoppers buy its products with Bitcoin. Co-founder and CEO Michael Cammarata claims Bitcoin has accounted for 5 to 10 percent of online sales since they started accepting the cryptocurrency on May 14.

“It’s starting to be a percent of sales more than we expected,” he said in an interview with Cheddar.

The all-natural deodorant comes in scents like lavender, tea tree, bergamot, and cedar and will set you back about $9, or 0.0011 BTC, a stick. Schmidt’s is the first company owned by hygiene giant Unilever to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method.

Cammarata said:

It kind of was actually a last minute surprise. We got a lot of consumers that are like, ‘Can we pay with Bitcoin’? We were playing around with the idea a little bit and our tech team was like, ‘Should we do this should not do it?’

But he admitted they “weren’t that shocked” when the company’s social media savvy consumers asked to pay with Bitcoin.

“We have a lot of millennials and highly socially active consumers,” he said.

Schmidt's Naturals Deodorant Bitcoin

Shopping with Bitcoin

You can make purchases on Schmidt’s Natural’s site using Bitpay, a widely available Bitcoin payments provider found on Shopify and in popular mobile games by Zynga. When it comes to e-commerce and online shopping, Bitpay is the most ubiquitous.

But the service has had its fair share of controversy. Newegg is a Canada-based online computer and electronics seller that uses Bitpay. The payment provider came under fire last month when a Newegg shopper accused Bitpay of taking more than their share when it comes to network costs.

Regardless, Bitcoin is becoming more widespread as a way to shop online. And as Schmidt’s Naturals co-founder said, it will take consumers demanding more payment options to see it more commonly accepted.

“Whether it be a scent or a payment method, we are very highly engaged with our consumer,” Cammarata said.

What do you think about paying for goods like deodorant with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments!


Images courtesy of Schmidt’s Naturals

Show comments

Share
Kvě 24

From Russia with Love: How Cryptocurrency and Blockchain are Finding Their Feet

· May 23, 2018 · 9:00 pm

In the West, crypto markets continue to battle with the regulatory uncertainty as the SEC and other regulatory bodies take their time to decide which camp they sit on. At the same time, things are not much rosier in the East either where China is yet to warm up to cryptocurrencies.


Blockchain has been around “long” enough to show the proof of concept in that by utilizing blockchain it is possible to streamline a number of processes, both on the governmental and also corporate levels. This then has prompted an exponential rise in fintech start-ups looking to challenge the status quo and disrupt the standard ways of storing, organizing, and extracting data sets. However, the actual implementation of blockchain technologies across much of Western Europe and even the US has been constrained by the regulatory uncertainty.

On the one hand, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are yet to put a fundamental framework forward to appease concerns surrounding utility vs security token model. While in Europe, an introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is perfectly suitable for blockchain applications, is being rushed through by compliance and HR departments with such haste that blockchain is far away on their radar.

In Blockchain We Trust

In Blockchain We Trust

Russia is an interesting case when it comes to the world of ICOs. On the one hand, it is a great place to source technical experts for your blockchain related ventures. The price tag might be astronomical but at least you know what you are getting for the labor and that is quality, reliability and of course security. So, with one piece of the puzzle sorted comes the tricky bit, finding a suitable business partner and this is where things go wrong… really wrong.

One of the most depressing and worrying statistics that has come out of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (RACIB) is that around half of the ICO funds in the country that were raised in the past year – amounting to $300 million – have gone to pyramid schemes.

Economic and political uncertainty, together with numerous corruption scandals has really dented investor appetite for projects in the country. It is very much high-risk, high-reward based game when it comes to investing in Russia and when combined with the volatile nature of the currency, this perception is unlikely to change anytime soon. The regulation and oversight by the government can help alleviate some of the concerns relating to fraudulent activities but at least for now, the crypto community is yet to “sanction” Russian projects altogether.

In the meantime, the likes of Blackmoon (BMC) will remind budding entrepreneurs and investors of the success stories and there is, of course, hope that the government, which is actively looking at ways to promote and integrate digital economy, will not be overly involved in regulation aspect.

On the subject of regulation, it was reported that the Russian State Duma’s Committee for Legislative Work will support the first reading of an initiative that will add the basic norms of digital economy to the Russian Federation Civil Code. The initiative itself does not mean that digital currencies will now become a legitimate means of payment and instead, a separate law developed by other regulatory bodies, will outline conditions for using digital currencies as a payment method. The initiative will also look to treat a digital confirmation by a user in a smart contract is equal to his written consent.

What Does Russia’s Future Hold?

Over the course of 19-20 May 2018, Moscow hosted one of the largest cryptocurrency summits of 2018, with over 200 speakers and over 3000 participants taking part in the event. While the event may not carry the same weight as Consensus, which took place earlier this month, or d10e, it was an important event for the country that stands at a crossroads with the technology. The decisions that will be made by the government need to be made in the spirit of blockchain and with the aim to further technological, as well as economical, advancement as opposed to being the means to destabilize the Dollar.

The commissioning of the crypto-rouble is not far-reaching enough. Anyone looking for inspiration should turn to Dubai and their smart-city plans. According to Smart Dubai, which is conducting government and private organization workshops to identify areas that will benefit from the overhaul, the strategy could save 25.1million man hours, equivalent to $1.5 billion in savings per year for the emirate. It has been noted that the fast majority of improved efficiency will come from moving to paperless government.

What do you think of the latest developments in Russia and can it reform and lead the way in providing a sound base for crypto projects? 


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Kvě 23

John McAfee Says the Cryptocurrency Bull Rally is Near

· May 22, 2018 · 9:00 pm

John McAfee believes the march of the cryptocurrency bulls is at hand. The renowned tech activist and internet security expert has added his voice to the growing crypto institutional investment narrative.


Prices Will Go Through the Roof

In a tweet on Monday, McAfee urged traders to gear up for the next crypto price rally. He based his assertions on the influx of cash from institutional investors trooping into the market.

He also said that with the money flowing into cryptocurrencies, prices of the top ten coins will increase dramatically. McAfee also believes that other altcoins will experience growth as investors diversify their cryptocurrency trading portfolios.

When challenged on Twitter as to the veracity of his claims, McAfee gave no basis for his declaration. Instead, the controversial crypto proponent told responders to “use their heads,” “check recent news on institutional investors,” and “apply reason.” Safe to say, this is another one of McAfee’s bold assertions, much like his famous 2017 prediction that “Bitcoin will be 500k in the year 2020.”

The Emerging Trend of Institutional Cryptocurrency Investment

While McAfee did not provide any backing for his claims, there is some merit to his position regarding the flurry of institutional interest in cryptos that have made the news in recent times. A few days ago, Coinbase launched four new products targeted at institutional cryptocurrency investors. Goldman Sachs is also making plans to open Bitcoin trading to large investors as well.

Bitcoin

The overarching consensus is that the crypto market is maturing after a parabolic growth spurt in 2017 which saw prices hit record highs. Since the start of 2018, the market has declined in value, dropping 50 percent of its market cap in February. According to an April survey conducted by Fundstrat, 82 percent of institutional investor believe Bitcoin bottomed out when it fell below $6,000 in April.

The entry of hedge funds into the crypto market should increase the perceived level of legitimacy of cryptocurrencies. One important part of the emerging trend of institutional investment in digital currency is the establishment of trusted custodial services. In the past few months, there has been some progress on this front with a significant announcement by Nomura during the recently concluded Consensus conference in New York.

Do you agree with John McAfee’s assertions of an impending crypto price boom? Which altcoins do you think will dominate the market? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@officialmcafee, Flickr, and Shutterstock.

Show comments

Share
Kvě 22

Ethereum Certified Developer Bernard Peh on The Future of Crypto, Dealing with Regulations, and Blockbid (Interview)

· May 21, 2018 · 9:00 pm

Bitcoinist recently caught up with Bernard Peh, one of only 56 Ethereum Certified developers in the world, and picked his brain on his current project, the state of the cryptocurrency market, and what being “Ethereum Certified” even means. 


Bitcoinist: You are one of only 59 Ethereum Certified developers in the world. What exactly does “Ethereum Certified” mean, exactly?

BP: First of all, I like to congratulate B9lab for setting the golden standard in Ethereum Certification. As of today, the passing rate (based on the number of students who signed up) was about 15%. Basically, you cannot be certified if you do not have very good knowledge of Ethereum and its high-level programming language – Solidity.

In theory, being “Ethereum Certified” means that people should feel more secure with my code in the Blockchain. I have deployed many Ethereum smart contracts and I am still very skeptical of my own code due to the immutability of the blockchain. I think being certified might differentiate you from the rest, but having a paranoid attitude is required if you want to travel far in the blockchain journey. I am proud to be one of the 59 Ethereum certified developers in the world. (At the time of this interview.)

Ethereum

Bitcoinist: Tell us a bit about your new project, Blockbid, of which you are the Lead Blockchain Technologist.

BP: The purpose of Blockbid is to make cryptocurrency trading extremely attractive to traders and competitive with other exchanges. We want our exchange to be very secure and have a very user-friendly UI. Therefore, we have decided to build the bulk of the exchange in-house. This means that we have spent a considerable amount of resources in getting top quality developers. I am glad that I have the chance to work with the brightest minds in the industry.

My role is to liaise with the backend and infrastructure team to ensure that all the wallets for all our coins are implemented correctly. Our users will eventually benefit from our vision and the effort that we put in. Everyone will be able to trade with confidence on our exchange in the next few months.

Bitcoinist: What problem, specifically, does Blockbid solve in the industry today?

BP: Blockbid is being designed to help traders overcome three main issues; the inconvenience of needing to sign up to multiple exchanges, the unease associated with having coins scattered across multiple (and potentially untrustworthy) exchanges, and missed investment opportunities caused by time lapses in transferring funds between different platforms.

Blockbid is the only exchange to offer an insurance policy to protect against potential cyber-attack. Users do not have to worry about their cryptocurrencies in our exchange because they are insured.

Bitcoinist: How will Blockbid protect users’ funds against potential cyber-attacks?

BP: Blockbid is the only exchange to offer an insurance policy to protect against potential cyber-attack. Most other exchanges offer 2FA and for the majority of their liquidity to be held offline in cold wallets. While Blockbid will also offer 2FA and liquidity held in cold wallets, it is the only exchange to offer an additional layer of security in having an insurance policy.

I feel that the cryptocurrency market is still flooded with traders doing pumps and dumps. This has caused huge instability in the price of cryptocurrencies, preventing mass adoption for day-to-day purchases. Most people using cryptocurrencies today are risk-takers or people who are willing to bet money on their curiosity. I would love to see wider adoption.

Bitcoinist: Has Blockbid had to overcome any obstacles in relation to regulations? How difficult is it to comply with different rules in different regions of the world?

BP: With recent legislation last year in December being passed by the government requiring Australian exchanges to register with AUSTRAC, we can proudly say that Blockbid is only the third recipients of an AUSTRAC license, meaning they have been granted permission to legally operate as a digital currency exchange, according to Australian law. This follows on from the guidelines set out for Australian AML/CTF policies and require all our users to complete our KYC forms before trading, prior to this we were operating under the guideline of an AFSL license although now AUSTRAC has taken over as the regulatory body and has been setting the requirements and processes for the cryptocurrency industry in Australia.

In regards to complying with changing regulations in other countries, Blockbid stays up to date and monitors all news and information that would directly impact its operations offshore and acts accordingly. For example, restrictions and regulations on US or China based traders were closely monitored over the past year to ensure we operate legally and in compliance with the regulations of those countries.

Bitcoinist: What excites you most about working at Blockbid?

BP: Throughout my entire software development career, building a secure crypto exchange must have been the most challenging of all and in return, the most rewarding. There are many moving parts and many things to consider. The crypto landscape is changing very fast and the software needs to adapt to the changes quickly. We have to dissect every component and question everything. We also have a very strong team with a good rapport with everyone. There have been a lot of hair pulling moments but also a lot of laughter and I think our Chief Operating Office, David Sapper, has done a good job in gelling everyone together. I’m really glad that we value the team culture more than anything else.

Bitcoinist: What do you feel are the best ways to evaluate a cryptocurrency?

BP: There are a plethora of cryptocurrencies to choose from on the ever-expanding crypto market but there are a few things you should look out for when evaluating a cryptocurrency.

You should always check the development activity of a cryptocurrency. A coin with an active development team will be updating and patching bugs all the time. If there aren’t active developments in a particular crypto, you should steer clear.

Looking into the trading volume of a crypto can also indicate if the price will grow. There isn’t much point investing when no one else is trading it. This low trading volume will cause huge price spikes whenever some are bought or sold which is not good if you’re planning a long-term investment.

Avoid pump and dump schemes by investing in coins with larger market capitalization. Low market capitalization can easily be manipulated whereas those with larger market capitalization will require significant capital to manipulate it.

7 Steps for ICO Analysis

Bitcoinist: What are your opinions on the current regulatory landscape? Do you feel that regulators have investors’ best interests at heart?

BP: Regulation is needed to be able to distinguish the real from the fake, to avoid distrust amongst potential participants, and prevent scammers finding any kind of success. Hopefully, regulators don’t enforce harsh regulations upon cryptocurrencies and kill the market off at such an early stage of development. We will have to see if regulators and governments can embrace the blockchain and aid the growth of the cryptocurrency market.

Bitcoinist: Do you have any advice for new investors?

BP: Consumers like to take their first tentative steps into the crypto market by purchasing a currency they have no doubt heard of before, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. However, it is key to do your research and know what ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) are happening and whether the project is viable – if it’s not, then it’s not worth your money as you could end up with nothing. This is where we need to be mindful of crypto-scams.

There is no clear indicator of when a project or coin might be a scam but there are a few red flags to be mindful of. Any reputable ICO project will have a detailed whitepaper document which details everything you need to know about the campaign. If this is not readily available, then you should ask yourself why. To this effect, it is once more where research becomes a great tool. Look into who the team is behind the project, what is their experience and what are they hoping to achieve. Scams and crypto thefts are increasing and are becoming more widely documented, and so we are seeing crypto exchanges beginning to form self-regulating tightening their regulations

Bitcoinist: What do you identify as the most significant problems in the cryptocurrency market today?

BP: The risk of a data breach is a common one faced by crypto exchanges. Playing host to a large scale of sensitive information, it is possible for company and user information to be accessed, without permission, through mining malware activity and DDoS attacks. The use of mining malware allows hackers to hijack a computer’s resources for mining cryptocurrency, resulting in a diminished processing power which enables fraudsters to make a speedy profit.

Bitcoinist: What solutions do you propose to the problems you mentioned?

BP: The solution would be for greater security protocols and more regulation within the cryptocurrency sphere – although this can only be executed efficiently through a comprehensive understanding of the digital landscape. Without this understanding, exchanges and traders are left vulnerable.

Let’s be honest; cryptocurrency is a technical subject. To use it confidently, you do need to have some technical understanding of how it works. We feel that educating the public on the technology is important. For example, most people do not know what is happening when they transfer one bitcoin to their friend. They might get panicked when their bitcoin didn’t get through to their friend after one hour and then got bombarded with terminologies like confirmation times and transaction fees when they raised a support ticket. We like to have a personal relationship with our clients and hand hold them from the start to the end of the process.

Bitcoinist: Where do you see blockchain technology in 5 years?

BP: Blockchain is already a household name. You see this word being used in almost all tech conferences today. A lot of funds have been poured into making blockchain scale and once we can hit a few thousand transactions per second, we are ready for global adoption. When that day comes (in the next five years), blockchain technology will be used everywhere, from personal identity to buying things online. Coupled with AI and Smart Contracts, there will be no longer a need for a middleman, cutting cost and saving time.

Do you have any other questions for Bernard Peh? Ask them in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Show comments

Share
Kvě 21

Wall Street Cryptocurrency Trading is Imminent, Former J.P. Morgan Exec Says

· May 20, 2018 · 7:00 pm

The cryptocurrency market continues to be a trending topic in the world of finance. However, the question remains; when will Wall Street banks begin crypto trading? The day is closer than we think, according to a former J.P. Morgan executive.


Big Banks to Start Trading Cryptocurrency Soon

Amber Baldet, formerly of J.P Morgan believes that the big banks will soon start trading cryptocurrency. She made this declaration during an interview with CNBC. According to her, such a move is even closer than many people think. This revelation holds a fair bit of weight given that it is coming from someone with insider knowledge of Wall Street.

Baldet used to head J.P Morgan’s blockchain division before leaving the bank in April. Goldman Sachs, another prominent Wall Street has already announced plans to establish a bitcoin trading service. When launched, it will be the first ever Wall Street crypto trading platform.

Amber Baldet

Baldet, however, identified some critical issues standing in the way of broader crypto adoption by big banks. Lack of regulatory clarity and problems concerning custodial services are among the main challenges preventing a greater institutional presence in the market. The major banks have no secure crypto custody framework at the moment. This lack of trusted safeguards for cryptocurrencies might soon be a thing of the past, however. Both Nomura and Coinbase announced last week that they were launching crypto custodial solutions.

Search Engine for the Blockchain Ecosystem

Baldet also spoke about her new venture since leaving Wall Street. The former J.P. Morgan executive unveiled Clovyr at the recently concluded Consensus conference in New York. Clovyr is designed to be an app store for blockchain DApps. Commenting on the project, Baldet said:

There’s no way to discover what’s out there right now; there’s no Google for finding applications. The ability to discover apps is helpful, but the ability to build them is also encompassed in there.

Thus, Clovyr is more than a blockchain search engine; it is also a platform that allows developers to create useful DApps. Baldet has a lot of experience with developing blockchain solutions. She was an essential member of the team that created J.P. Morgan’s legacy blockchain project, Quorum.

Will the entry of the likes of J.P Morgan and Goldman Sachs be a good thing for the crypto market? Please share your views in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Twitter @AmberBaldet., Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Kvě 20

There’s no ‘Consensus’ Concerning the Direction of Bitcoin Price

· May 19, 2018 · 8:00 pm

Thomas Lee’s predicted post Consensus Bitcoin pop never happened. In fact, the market reversed and is now trading at a monthly low! As usual, investors are wondering where the market will go from here.


Market Overview

Contrary to popular expectation, Bitcoin failed to rally 69 – 130% after the Consensus conference in New York ended this week. In fact, it pulled back nearly 5% as the cryptocurrency market capitalization sank to $389 billion and it appears that the downtrend is set to continue for the short term.

Fortunately, things still bode well for crypto as:

  • Goldman Sachs is developing a dollar pegged cryptocurrency (USDCoin) through Circle which will finally provide an alternative stablecoin to Tether.
  • As Consensus wrapped up, the CFTC and SEC directors shared their view that they have no desire to stand in the path of blockchain development.
  • A platform for institutional investment in cryptocurrencies is gradually concretizing which further supports claims that institutional investors will boost cryptocurrency prices in the future.

Keeping this in mind, at present there is still more tangibly good news than bad news in the crypto-hemisphere and volatility is nothing new to cryptocurrency investors… though all of the moonshot valuations and promises of tripling market caps may have led us to forget this.  

Daily Chart

Bitcoin Daily Chart

After a nearly 5% drop, BTC briefly touched a monthly low at $7,925 on Bitfinex. As shown on the daily chart, this is a nearly 50% retracement of the pre-April rally low of $6,425.

On 18th May BTC had continued a pattern of lower highs and lower lows and the daily chart shows BTC below the 100 and 200-day MA and at the time of writing the RSI sits below the 50 indicating that bears have the advantage.

4HR Chart

Bitcoin 4HR Chart

There is a smidgen of positive news for the short term as around midday Saturday the 5 and 10-day MA changed direction and BTC is close to exiting the recently developed downward channel. On the other hand, both the 20 and 50-day MA are sloping downwards and BTC needs to cross the 50-day MA at $8,400. At the time of writing BTC still trades below the 50-day MA suggesting short term continuance of the bearish trend.

If BTC is unable to recover or hold above $8,000, there are long term supports at $7,800 and $7,600 but how likely these are to hold is questionable as $7,784 is at the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement. A close below $8,000 means that a reversal favorable to the bears is in place and the ensuing sell off could drop prices to $7,000 or lower.

Vision

  • BTC is close to crossing the 50-day MA at $8,400 and a close above the 50 would set BTC outside the recently developed downward trendline.
  • Failure to recover could lead BTC to touch the $7,784 support at the 61.8 percent retracement.
  • Traders are advised to watch from the sidelines as most technical indicators show bears having the advantage.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not intended as investment advice. Market data is provided by BITFINEX. The charts for analysis are provided by TradingView.

Where do you think Bitcoin price will go this week? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tradingview.com

Show comments

Share
Kvě 19

eToro’s 9M Users Set To Increase with US Exchange & Wallet Launch

· May 18, 2018 · 8:00 pm

UK-based trading platform eToro has announced it will launch an international cryptocurrency exchange and mobile wallet, debuting in the US for the first time.


$100M Series E Funds Put To Work

As part of a keynote speech at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York which finished May 16, eToro CEO Yoni Assia confirmed the move, which will provide US traders with ten cryptocurrency pairs.

etoro

“U.S. crypto holders have a strong appetite for diversified portfolios,” he said quoted in an accompanying press release.

The platform’s ambitious plans come as little surprise on the back of a $100 million Series E funding round which it completed in March this year.

Prior to that, eToro had revealed it now counted nine million users on its books as it targeted international markets in Asia.

China Minsheng Capital was the major force behind the funding round, Bitcoinist reported at the time, with Japan’s SBI Group, Korea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest also among the contributors.

Ex-Samsung Executive Leads eToro USA

For the US, which is notorious for its patchwork regulatory landscape regarding trading, the company will create offshoot eToro USA, led by ex-Samsung director of innovation strategy Guy Hirsch.

“We know that there is a strong demand in the U.S. for crypto and we are excited to be able to offer U.S. investors the opportunity to learn about and invest across multiple cryptocurrencies,” Hirsch commented.

It is not yet known how the company will navigate obstacles such as New York’s BitLicense scheme, which has seen multiple cryptocurrency operators deny service to its residents.

The wallet and exchange will see a gradual rollout “over the coming months,” the former “eventually” being available for both Android and iOS devices.

In addition to standard functions, the wallet will also contain as yet unspecified “other features.”

Will eToro’s expansion move boost cryptocurrency trading in the US? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, eToro, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Kvě 18

US Securities and Exchange Commission Launches ‘HoweyCoins’ ICO

· May 17, 2018 · 8:00 pm

In a surprising turn of events, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has launched its own initial coin offering dubbed HoweyCoins.


‘A Hot Investment Opportunity’

Anyone looking for a hot new initial coin offering (ICO) should look no further than the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s brand new token sale for HoweyCoins. States the regulatory authority in an official press release:

If you’ve ever been tempted to buy into a hot investment opportunity linked with luxury travel, the Securities and Exchange Commission has a deal for you.

Check out the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s mock initial coin offering (ICO) website that touts an all too good to be true investment opportunity. But please don’t expect the SEC to fly you anywhere exotic—because the offer isn’t real.

Unsurprisingly, the SEC isn’t actually launching its own token sale. Rather, the independent agency of the United States federal government has set up a mock website in order to educate investors about the perils of investing in fraudulent ICOs.

Clicking “Buy Coins Now” on HoweyCoins.com — a tongue-in-cheek reference to a landmark US Supreme Court decision in 1946 — will not actually sell you coins, but rather offer tools and advice from the SEC and other financial regulators.

The website has reportedly been set up to protect regular investors, and “features several of the enticements that are common to fraudulent offerings, including a white paper with a complex yet vague explanation of the investment opportunity, promises of guaranteed returns, and a countdown clock that shows time is quickly running out on the deal of a lifetime.”

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s Chief Counsel, Owen Donley — aka HoweyCoins’ Josh Hinze — explains:

Fraudsters can quickly build an attractive website and load it up with convoluted jargon to lure investors into phony deals. But fraudulent sites also often have red flags that can be dead giveaways if you know what to look for.

Likewise, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton states:

The rapid growth of the ‘ICO’ market, and its widespread promotion as a new investment opportunity, has provided fertile ground for bad actors to take advantage of our Main Street investors. We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud. Distributed ledger technology can add efficiency to the capital raising process, but promoters and issuers need to make sure they follow the securities laws. I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions.

HoweyCoins.com does indeed look a lot like the vast majority of websites offering ICOs and may be interpreted as a clever and funny way to educate investors against fraudulent schemes — as opposed to simply providing bullet points on a government website.

What do you think of the SEC’s new mock ICO? Do you think this is a positive move in the education of investors against fraudulent ICOs and bad actors in the cryptocurrency space? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Kvě 17

Centra Tech Co-founders Indicted in $60 Million ICO Fraud

· May 16, 2018 · 7:00 pm

A grand jury in the Southern District of New York has indicted the three co-founders of Centra Tech. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the district issued a press release on May 14 announcing the indictment.


The Centra Tech Fraud

Sorhab Sharma, Raymond Trapani, and Robert Farkas, the three co-founders of Centra Tech allegedly tried to defraud investors via a token sale. They were all arrested in April 2018 and charged with the same crimes. Commenting on the indictment, Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Robert Khuzami said that:

As alleged, the defendants conspired to capitalize on investor interest in the burgeoning cryptocurrency market.  They allegedly made false claims about their product and about relationships they had with credible financial institutions, even creating a fictitious Centra Tech CEO.  Whether traditional or cutting-edge, investment vehicles can’t legally be peddled with falsehoods and lies.

The indictment alleges that the three men solicited investors to purchase unregulated securities. The securities in the form of CTR digital currency tokens were sold in an illegal ICO.

The Centra Tech founders also deceived investors into thinking the company had struck partnership deals with reputable corporations. Part of the ICO marketing narrative included purported collaborations with Visa, Mastercard, Bancorp. They also said Centra Tech secured money transmitter license in 38 states in the U.S.

From Left to Right: Sorhab Sharma, Raymond Trapani, and Robert Farkas

Under these pretenses, investors put up about 91,000 ether tokens currently valued at $60 million. Celebrities like the boxer, Floyd Mayweather, and rapper, DJ Khaled also endorsed the project. The SEC soon discovered the Centra Tech project to be a fraud leading to the arrest of the co-founders.

Sharma, Trapani, and Farkas face a total of 65 years in prison based on the indictment against them. The three of them are also liable to pay financial penalties on account of the charges, and they will remain in custody pending subsequent action by the court.

Crackdown on Illegitimate ICOs

2017 saw ICOs dominate the crypto space for much of the year with numerous projects raising hundreds of millions of dollars. With the industry virtually unregulated, fraudulent schemes became the order of the day. In response, financial regulators have begun to adopt a more hands-on approach to monitoring and regulating the market.

From blanket bans in places like China to strict measures in the U.S., the wild west days of ICOs may soon be at an end. Since the start of 2018, the SEC has repeatedly declared its intention to keep a watchful observance of the ICO arena. The Centra Tech co-founders are also up on civil charges filed against them by the SEC.

Is the indictment of the Centra Tech co-founders a positive development? Will more robust ICO monitoring impact positively on the market? Let us know in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of Business Insider, Shuterstock

Show comments

Share
Kvě 16

Move Over Ethereum: RSK to Enable Smart Contracts on Bitcoin Blockchain

· May 15, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Smart contracts and off-chain computing are coming to the Bitcoin blockchain, thanks to a partnership between RSK and iExec.


RSK to Add Smart Contract Functionality to Bitcoin

The RSK project — which aims to build Turing-complete smart-contract capabilities for the Bitcoin blockchain — is partnering with iExec in an effort to provide off-chain computing to Bitcoin applications and afford decentralized applications the ability to access on-demand and scalable cloud computing resources.

According to a Medium post from iExec editor Wassim Bendella, “the developers under RSK aim at adding value and functionality to [Bitcoin’s] ecosystem by enabling smart contracts, near instant payments and higher scalability.”

This seemingly makes RSK the first general purpose smart contract platform secured by the Bitcoin network, as it uses BTC as its native currency via a 2-Way Peg system. Said system guarantees a fixed conversion between SBTC and BTC at a ratio of one-to-one.

At the same time, iExec is busy developing the self-proclaimed “first blockchain-based decentralized cloud computing network,” which “allows participants who need computing power to meet those who own computing power, thus supporting the most compute-intensive blockchain applications.”

The Bitcoin blockchain is not only the originator but the most battle-tested on the planet. By joining forces, the two companies are pushing the tried-and-true Bitcoin blockchain even further into the future.

The next update from iExec will be coming this month. On Max 29, iExec is slated to release its V2, which is comprised of a decentralized marketplace for the trading of cloud resources. Explains Bendella:

Once V2 is made compatible with RSK as a next milestone, RSK applications and their smart contracts will be able to access the same decentralized cloud that Ethereum dapps make use of. Compute-intensive applications in the fields of fintech, artificial intelligence, scientific research or gaming will be able to leverage these resources, making RSK and iExec the backbone of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

What do you think about smart contracts on the Bitcoin blockchain? Does the prospect of off-chain computing for Bitcoin applications excite you? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Twitter/@RSKsmart.

Show comments

Share