Led 19

Singapore Bitcoin ATMs Sold Out, Trading Still Allowed

· January 19, 2018 · 6:30 am

When markets are volatile and crashes occur, the majority of people are cashing out and taking profits or panic selling. There are some, however, who see opportunity in the sea of red and buy up at lower prices. This is exactly what has been happening in Singapore this week when Bitcoin ATM machines ran dry.


According to reports, Bitcoin machines in downtown Singapore sold out of the virtual currency yesterday as prices plummeted below $10,000 for the first time since the end of November.

Lions and Bulls

Amid more confusion over clampdowns across the Asia Pacific region, prices fell and markets dropped as much as 40% since highs just after New Year. Much of the impetus for crypto market prices originates in Southeast Asia where they are traded heavily. Western media outlets, such as Reuters and CNBC, amplify the FUD when they misreport about total clampdowns that have not occurred.

Singaporeans, however, remain unperturbed and have been snapping up the digital currency at low prices. One café manager who has a Bitcoin ATM told media:

We had to put an ‘out of service’ sign at our machine. Over the past two days, we’ve had 20 to 30 people line up, from about 10 on a usual day.

Bitcoin Exchange founder Zann Kwan, who owns two machines on the island state, said the buying frenzy was bigger in December as BTC approached record highs:

Sellers are holding back in anticipation of higher prices, so we have less bitcoin supply. Buyers on the other hand are hoping prices will crash some more, so they can buy.

Nobody Panic

Experienced crypto traders and Bitcoin investors will know that market corrections are nothing new. However, a wave of panic sets in when those who are new to the markets rush to sell off their crypto for fears of a complete collapse. The despair was wide-reaching with suicide helplines appearing in crypto groups in the US. Additionally, South Koreans posted pictures of smashed up computers in anger at their government’s constant indecision and threats to close exchanges.

The official stance of the Monetary Authority of Singapore was outlined to the media:

MAS regulates the activities that surround virtual currencies if those activities fall within our scope as a financial regulator. The risks surrounding virtual currency exchanges include those related to money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF). Virtual currency transactions, given their anonymous nature, are particularly vulnerable to abuse for ML/TF. MAS will therefore introduce anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism requirements on virtual currency intermediaries that deal in or facilitate the exchange of virtual currencies for real currencies. The regulations will extend to the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency, or another virtual currency.

As in South Korea, the government wants more transparency and less anonymity with cryptocurrency trading. It does not want to shut it down.

Do you use Bitcoin ATMs to buy and sell? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 18

5 Reasons Why January’s Price Slump is Nothing to Worry About

· January 18, 2018 · 6:00 am

With more people entering the crypto markets than ever before, the seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt has a greater impact on price volatility. Newbie traders jumping in and out on the whims of social media hype, and then panic selling, causes what happened over the past couple of days. However, looking at historical crypto charts, this January dip is nothing new.


There are a number of reasons why the markets crash in January, and many originate in Asia where the bulk of crypto trading occurs. According to Coinmarketcap, which no longer includes South Korean exchanges, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies fell from $750 billion to $420 billion in four days. At the time of writing, they have since recovered and are on the way back up again, currently sitting at a total of $575 billion.

FUD vs FOMO

Reason #1: A lot of the impetus for crypto price action comes from Asia where the news has not been good in recent weeks. China is constantly trying to quash the entire industry, and South Korea just can’t make its mind up with regulatory hype and clampdown fearmongering emerging on an almost weekly basis. The FUD is as infectious as the FOMO, and panic selling over the past few days has sent all coins into freefall, with some losing as much as 40%.

Looking back on historical Bitcoin charts reveals that a January selloff has happened before, several times in fact. Bitcoin is the gold standard for crypto, and a lot of the altcoins did not even exist back then.


Crash Catalysts

Reason #2: It has been speculated that one factor causing this is the Chinese Lunar New Year, which usually falls in February. It is a time of year when people take time off work and travel to visit family, and for this, they will need fiat, not crypto. Since nations in Asia are responsible for the lion’s share of crypto trading, it stands to reason that this could contribute to the annual selloff.

Reason #3: Another factor could be the end of the tax year approaching where investors are planning to pay their annual taxes. Again this has to be done in fiat, not crypto. While not the only catalyst, it could have some influence over price action.

Reason #4: The ending of the first ever Bitcoin futures contract may also have contributed to traders shorting the asset. Once the big players, such as CBOE and CME, get involved, smaller markets can be manipulated by the institutionalized investors, and we could see more of this action until things stabilize.

CBOE Announces Increased Bitcoin Futures Margins Amid Market Manipulation Worries

Reason #5: As more new and inexperienced traders enter the market, these chart oscillations will amplify. Only when they realize that this is a natural cycle and crypto is not dead will things settle down a little. Since total market investment in cryptocurrencies has jumped over 2500% in less than a year, we are still at very early stages of what could be a game changing industry.

Did you panic sell your crypto or hodl it? Share your experiences below.  


Images courtesy of CoinMarketCap, Bitcoinist archives, and Pixabay.

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Led 17

Bitconnect Shuts Down Amid Crypto Crash

· January 17, 2018 · 6:15 am

Following months of bad press and publicity, lending and exchange platform Bitconnect has announced that it is shutting down. Many had suspected the platform of being a Ponzi scheme, and it had suffered multiple DDoS attacks on the website.


In an announcement on its website, the platform said it was closing the lending operation immediately with the release of all outstanding loans. The notice cited continuous bad press, including two Cease and Desist letters from the securities boards of Texas and North Carolina.

Coin Collapse

Bitconnect has stated that it will refund all active loans at a rate which it calculated from the past 15 day average price.

With release of your entire active loan in the lending wallet we are transferring all your lending wallet balance to your BitConnect wallet balance at 363.62 USD. This rate has been calculated based on last 15 days averages of the closing price registered on coinmarketcap.com.

Within moments of the notice, the BCC token price plummeted from around $180 to $24 amid a general market decline across all cryptocurrencies.

According to TechCrunch, many users will still have suffered severe losses on their fiat, or Bitcoin equivalents, if they had invested in BCC, which is effectively useless now since the platform has shut down.

FANG Stocks Lose Nearly $60 Billion as Bitcoin Claws its Way to the $10k Mark

Condemnation

A number of prominent crypto experts have also labelled Bitconnect as a Ponzi scheme, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Litecoin’s Charlie Lee who tweeted:

Turns out it was a ponzi after all. Sorry for those that got caught up in this. Ponzis work because people are easily fooled.

Bitconnect was an anonymously run operation that allowed users to loan their cryptocurrencies to the company for large returns of up to 40% per month. A large referral system generated a pyramid scheme on social media, with users plying their referral links for extra commissions.

The loans were in USD but had to be made in BCC, which could be purchased with Bitcoin. As its popularity grew, the token gained value and climbed from $10 in mid-2017 to a high of $435 at its peak at the end of the year.

Bitconnect has stated that they will continue supporting the coin:

Closing the lending and exchange platform doesn’t mean that we will stop supporting BitConnect coin. Closing the lending platform will allow Bitconnect to be listed on outside exchanges giving more options for trading. This is not the end of this community, but we are closing some of the services on the website platform and we will continue offering other cyptocurrency services in the future.

Although with the token’s value approaching the floor, renewed confidence and investment in BCC remains a very forlorn hope.

Did you use Bitconnect and has this affected you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pxhere and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 16

Mark Cuban: Buy Dallas Mavericks Tickets ‘Next Season’ With Bitcoin

· January 16, 2018 · 7:30 am

Billionaire Bitcoin skeptic-turned-bull Mark Cuban has said his Dallas Mavericks basketball team will accept Bitcoin “next season.”


Cuban Turns On To Bitcoin Acceptance

In comments on Twitter following publication of team line-ups, Cuban, who as recently as June last year called Bitcoin a “bubble,” confirmed fans would be able to purchase tickets with Bitcoin later in 2018.

The move is milestone for both US basketball and Bitcoin acceptance in sport, Cuban having warmed to Bitcoin considerably over the last six months.

“It is interesting because there are a lot of assets which their value is just based on supply and demand,” he told Bloomberg in an October interview, during which he confirmed he had invested.

Most stocks, there is no intrinsic value because you have no true ownership rights and no voting rights. You just have the ability to buy and sell those stocks. Bitcoin is the same thing. Its value is based on supply demand. I have bought some through an ETN based on a Swedish exchange.

Previously, in an apparent publicity stunt, the billionaire had purchased $20 worth of BTC in order to demonstrate its price would soon correct from highs of the time of around $2800.

Following In Footsteps Of Denmark’s Bitcoin Hockey Team

Outside the US, Denmark made an even more conspicuous gesture last month when an ownership change of a major league hockey club resulted in Bitcoin all but taking over.

Bitcoin Suisse’s three-year tenure means that Rungsted Seier Capital’s home stadium will now go by the name Bitcoin Arena, while the team’s top player will receive his salary in BTC, official announcements stated at the time.

The move “(paves) the way for others in- and outside of the world of professional sports to do the same,” an release added.

Cuban meanwhile remains tight-lipped on what motivated him to launch Bitcoin ticket sales in the short-term.

What do you think about Mark Cuban’s decision to accept Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Thrillbender.com, Twitter

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Led 15

South Korea Won’t Ban Bitcoin Trading as Price Chart Turns Bullish

· January 15, 2018 · 7:00 am

Bitcoin pundits are forecasting a fresh bull run as news from South Korea and the cryptocurrency’s price turn markets increasingly optimistic.


Seoul To Regulate After ‘Sufficient Consultation’

After the South Korean justice minister caused “confusion and anger” last week by saying the government would ban cryptocurrency exchanges, local news media report, the latest statements from Seoul indicate a significant U-turn.

“The proposed shutdown of exchanges that the justice minister recently mentioned is one of the measures suggested by the justice ministry to curb speculation,” Yonhap News Agency quotes a statement from the Government Office of Policy Coordination today.

A governmentwide decision will be made in the future after sufficient consultation and coordination of opinions.

Politicians had previously sought to impose strict controls on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading activities within a seemingly very short timeframe.

South Korean Prime Minister Warns Youth That Bitcoin is a Gateway to Illegal Activities

In December, new laws were passed which would have significantly limited exchange activities from as early as January 20.

After mass public uproar and most recently accusations lawmakers were “ridiculing the Korean people,” the outlook for cryptocurrency regulation in South Korea has suddenly begun to look notably more constructive.

“Monday’s announcement suggests that a shutdown is not likely in the near future,” Yonhap concludes.

Bitcoin 50-Day Moving Average Dip Excites Investors

Across global markets, Bitcoin prices are already reacting in kind to the new hope, with one analyst noting Monday’s dip below the 50-day moving average is characteristic of an impending move upwards.

Korea had been the most active trading community in the world for Bitcoin, its influence still conspicuous; a petition even calling for senior ministers to be fired over legislation mismanagement accrued over 130,000 signatures in days, Bitcoinist reported last week.

Meanwhile, details of the style of regulation that could take hold in the coming months remain sketchy.

Across the water in Japan, a more advanced model of permissioned exchange trading appears to be delivering positive economic results. Analysts have even said that Bitcoin investors alone could already be contributing as much as 0.3% to the country’s GDP.

What do you think about the latest developments from South Korea and their impact on Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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Led 14

Pay Up or Else! Indiana Hospital Latest Victim of Ransomware Attack

· January 14, 2018 · 7:15 am

Hancock Regional Hospital in Indiana is the latest victim of a ransomware attack by hackers who are demanding a payment in bitcoins.


Technology is definitely a two-edged blade. The lightning-fast speed offered by the internet allows for people to connect instantly with each other from all over the world. Movies can be streamed, video conferences attended, and online games played due to the innovations made in tech over the last twenty years. On the flip side, such connectivity also allows criminals to target individuals and businesses from anywhere in the world just by the use of some malicious code. The latest example of this is a hospital in Indiana that has suffered a ransomware attack.

Hospital Held Hostage

Hackers making ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. Sadly, even hospitals are now being targeted by criminals. Hancock Regional Hospital, located in Indiana, revealed that they had been attacked last Thursday evening.

Hospital employees were aware of the attack immediately. However, hackers were able to affect the hospital’s internal operating systems, email system, and electronic health records. Hospital officials stress that no patient information was compromised. The hackers demanded a sum of bitcoins to release the systems, but the hospital has refused to pay. (The total amount of the demanded ransom has not been released.)

Using Pen and Paper

The hospital initially had an IT incident response company look into the matter, but it turns out the attack was beyond their scope. Now the FBI has been called in.

Fortunately, the hospital is still able to function despite the ransomware attack. However, they are now forced to keep pen and paper records.

The official statement from Hancock Regional Hospital about the hacking attack states:

Hancock Regional Hospital has been the victim of a criminal act by an unknown party that attempted to shut down out operations via our information systems by locking our computer network and demanding payment for a digital key to unlock it. Unfortunately this sort of behavior is widespread in the world today, and we had the misfortune to be next on the list. We are working closely with an IT incident response company and national law enforcement. At this time, we are deep into the analysis of the situation and see no indication that patient records have been removed from our network. In addition to excellent performance by our IT Department, our clinical teams have performed exceptionally well, and patient care has not been compromised. Our doors are open at Hancock Regional Hospital.

A Growing Problem

Hancock Regional Hospital is the latest in a long line of businesses and entities that have suffered a ransomware attack. Credit agency Equifax was hit with a $2.3 ransom demand back in September. Then the Sacramento Regional Transit system was attacked in November, with the hackers demanding a single bitcoin in ransom. Last December saw the county government of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, having their server files held for a 2 bitcoin ransom.

It’s a given that ransomware attacks are going to continue. The fact that every government agency, business, and health care facility are all connected online provides an abundance of victims that hackers can target, no matter where they’re located in the world.

Do you think the hospital should pay the ransomware demand? Will such attacks increase in frequency in the near future? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Pxhere, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 13

Hodl the Chicken as KFC Introduces the Bitcoin Bucket

· January 13, 2018 · 5:00 am

Crypto comes to the fast food world as KFC Canada introduces the Bitcoin Bucket, a meal for $20 worth of the digital currency.


There are some brands that have become incredibly iconic over the years. One such brand is Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC for short. KFC has spread from a regional chain to franchises spanning the globe. Their “finger lickin’ good” food has been devoured by millions of loyal customers. Now their famous fried chicken is getting a crypto boost as KFC Canada has rolled out the Bitcoin Bucket.

walrus KFC Bitcoin Bucket

Crypto Gets You Tasty Fried Chicken

In a really awesome marketing ploy, the Canadian branch of the fast food company is jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon in a clever way. The Bitcoin Bucket rolls off the tongue and is very catchy.

People can pick up the new bucket by spending the equivalent of $20 in the virtual currency. The meal comes with 10 original recipe chicken tenders, waffle fries, a medium side, gravy, and 2 dipping sauces.

This is a pretty tasty meal, even though I would be bummed as it doesn’t come with biscuits. I am jealous that it does feature waffle fries, a menu item that has long been vacant where I live.

Amazing Tweets

While the Bitcoin Bucket in itself is interesting, it’s the tweets put out by KFC Canada that are really the icing on the cake. The various tweets are really funny and show that whoever is behind the campaign knows how to keep people engaged.

Here is a sampling of some of the tweets:

Sure, we don’t know exactly what Bitcoins are, or how they work, but that shouldn’t come between you and some finger lickin’ good chicken.

That’s 0.000662 herbs and spices in Bitcoin.

Avoid bucket FOMO. Invest now!

#BitcoinBucket is currently sold out. There will be a restock tonight. We’re mining for more as fast as we can.

The latest, and likely first, venture into the crypto-chicken space.

According to the website, the Bitcoin Bucket is currently sold out. However, a recent tweet says that more buckets are on the way, which means that the promotion was very successful.

This marks the first time that a parent restaurant company is accepting cryptocurrency. There have been specific franchises in the past that have done so, such as Burger King Arnhem. A recent trend is food companies creating their own coins to expand loyalty programs and take advantage of the blockchain system. Companies that have done this include Burger King Russia and Hooters.

What do you think about the KFC Bitcoin Bucket promotion? Are you now hungry? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of KFC Canada and Twitter/@kfc_canada.

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Led 12

New Data Shows Coinbase May Be Spamming the Bitcoin Network

· January 12, 2018 · 7:30 am

US exchange and wallet provider Coinbase is facing fresh criticism from both users and Bitcoin industry figures over its delayed SegWit adoption.


‘You Alone Are Spamming The Network’

As the company continues to suffer technical outages due to high demand, its effect on the Bitcoin mempool has become the source of renewed calls for SegWit as a priority.

“You need to batch your outgoing transactions,” Twitter user Civ Ekonom wrote in response to Coinbase’s latest reported system breakdown.

You are ALONE spamming the network. If you would use segwit and batch all outgoing transactions the mempool would be EMPTY.

Citing analysis of the mempool as “clear evidence,” the mempool size appears to drop significantly when Coinbase recently suspended sending Bitcoin. This has added fuel to existing community anger that the exchange has failed to implement SegWit, which would significantly reduce the cost of Bitcoin transactions it handles.

New GM: Performance ‘Totally Unacceptable’

CEO Brian Armstrong has also borne the brunt of accusations regarding his exchange’s performance and roadmap. Last year, he claimed SegWit was not a high priority on Coinbase customers’ wishlists.

In a different response to the outage, Blockchain real estate personality Ragnar Lifthrasir went as far as to suggest firing Armstrong would serve to improve Coinbase’s reliability.

New Evidence Emerges, Points to Possible Insider Trading at Coinbase

Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported on a user-filed petition on Change.org to force a SegWit upgrade as a priority. That petition has now accrued over 8000 signatures.

In its latest official correspondence Thursday, Coinbase focused on “improving customer experience” via its new general manager Dan Romero.

Romero had previously announced SegWit as engineering priority number three in 2018.

“Dan’s first priority as GM will be improving the Coinbase customer experience,” Armstrong explained.

…Dan will provide an update on what we are doing to improve the experience and I will continue to post about all of the major activities at the company.

Romero meanwhile called the past technical performance throughout 2017 “totally unacceptable.”

What do you think about Coinbase’s SegWit situation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock

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Led 11

The Noose Tightens? US Senate Meeting with Market Regulators Over Cryptocurrency

· January 11, 2018 · 6:00 am

Bitcoin regulations may be on the way as the US Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to meet with top market regulators in February over cryptocurrency.


The noose may be tightening around Bitcoin and its digital brethren in the United States in the coming months. According to Reuters, the Senate Banking Committee will be meeting with some top financial regulators in early February. Their topic of concern – cryptocurrency.

Are Regulations Coming?

Right now, there are no federal regulators that oversee cryptocurrency within the US. The government (and most importantly, the IRS) view crypto as property that’s subject to capital gains taxes.

However, this may change in the future. The Senate Banking Committee will be talking to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Christopher Giancarlo and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton to discuss Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, along with any risks that crypto trading can bring to the public.

Will this meeting lead to future Bitcoin regulations? My magic 8-ball says that it’s a distinct possibility.

Governments Yearn for Control

The reality is that the CFTC and SEC have been staking out some jurisdiction over crypto. The CFTC did allow both CME and CBOE to begin listing Bitcoin futures contraacts last month. However, they are now reviewing their process for this after receiving some criticism.

It should be noted that both the SEC and CFTC have issued warnings about the volatility of cryptocurrency and that they may not be able to protect investors from crypto scam artists. There are always those looking to earn some ill-gotten gains by using crypto as the lure. Case in point is BitConnect, who were shut down by the state of Texas over their claims of monetary rewards.

Yet any time government committees get together, it should be a cause for concern. The reality is that any national government will not be too friendly with an economic system that lies outside of their control. To that end, you can bet that regulations are at the forefront of every senator’s mind when that meeting rolls around.

Of course, one of the chief draws for cryptocurrency is its lack of centralization and regulation. Many view virtual currency as an expression of economic freedom, but governments look at crypto in a different light: something to control and to tax.
Shidan Gouran, president of Global Blockchain Technologies Corp. summed up the thought that one of the reasons why cryptocurrency was so valuable was due to a lack of regulation. He said:

We believe that the greatest threat is regulation. Several governments across the world have clamped down on exchanges, some halting trading altogether. Others have gone on to outright ban the use of Bitcoin. Sudden government actions in major Bitcoin trading hubs stand to disrupt the market, with the potential to severely affect the utility of bitcoin — and accordingly, the value.

Are you worried that the upcoming Senate Banking Committee meeting will lay the cornerstone for increased Bitcoin regulation? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 10

Bitcoin Fees Near-Zero as Company Launches Mainnet Lightning Payments

· January 10, 2018 · 6:00 am

Anonymous VPN service TorGuard has become one of the first consumer businesses to accept Lightning Network (LN) payments for Bitcoin.


‘Testnet Is So Boring’

In messages on Twitter staff since appeared to back up privately, TorGuard confirmed users can now pay for its services in Bitcoin using Lightning, significantly reducing transaction times and fees.

The news makes the company a pioneer of Bitcoin mainnet LN payments after the technology debuted as a testnet interface last month.

“Disclaimer: c-lightning is not production ready. TorGuard will cover loss of funds when sending us LN payments. Testnet is so boring,” tweets added.

One Transaction = One Satoshi?

Excited community members reacted broadly positively to a customer service representative similarly offering LN payments, seemingly unaware TorGuard had already publicly announced the new feature.

“Do you have (an) LN (mainnet) node up and running? If so, I can invoice you for 1 month of our service for only 1 satoshi,” the representative offered.

This last point appeared to cause contention, responses arguing the actual cost of a Lightning transaction would be significantly higher than the $0.‎00014167 quoted due to the need to open and close a channel before and after.

Bitcoin advocates have long championed Lightning as the crucial solution to the ongoing high transaction fees and slow confirmation times which have plagued the network since its mass uptake which began around one year ago.

While altcoins such as Bitcoin Cash and most recently Ripple have jumped on the problem as proof their offerings are more valuable than Bitcoin, early adopters remain confident that so-called Layer 2 updates such as LN payments will make such arguments null and void.

Late last month, Bitcoin-based cellphone top-up service Bitrefill also began using Lightning mainnet payments to fulfil customer orders as part of successful “limited testing”.

What do you think about the launch of mainnet Lightning Network payments? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock

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