Čvc 06

European ETF Trading Behemoth Begins Trading Bitcoin and Ethereum ETN

Flow Traders NV, Europe’s largest exchange-traded funds (ETF) trader has begun buying and selling Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange-traded notes (ETN). The company becomes the first to reveal its participation in any cryptocurrency ETN. The big question now is, when will a Bitcoin ETF become a reality?


Buying and Selling Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs

An ETN isn’t all that different from an ETF. The principal difference between the two is that ETFs are investments in funds that track the price movement of an asset whereas ETNs are more like investing in bonds.

Flow Traders is trading in the Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs launched by XBT Provider in 2015 and 2017, respectively. XBT is listed in Sweden with an asset management portfolio north of $1 billion.

This news of a cryptocurrency ETN listed on a regulated exchange is perhaps the most significant virtual currency news since the emergence of Bitcoin futures trading in December 2017. For one thing, it is yet another investment vehicle that is right up the alley of institutional investors.

Many analysts and commentators have identified the entry of institutional money into the cryptocurrency space as the next milestone in the growth of the industry. Investment products like futures, ETNs, and ETFs provide a much more viable option for these investors than the usual cryptocurrency trading market.

Commenting on the development, Dennis Dijkstra, the co-CEO of Flow Traders NV said:

People underestimate crypto. […] It’s big, and it is to be regulated very soon. The market participants are much more professional than people think. Institutional investors are interested – we know they are because we get requests.

Image result for Dennis Dijkstra

How the ETN Works

As a high-frequency trader (HFT), the company plans to hedge each trade as quickly as possible regardless of the direction of the Bitcoin and Ethereum price movements. To do this, Flow Traders is hedging its ETN with CME and CBOE futures contracts. All of these, in theory, should lower slippage while increasing liquidity.

According to Dijkstra, the approach holds immense benefits for the company. He did not provide any details concerning whether the Flow Traders will utilize Bitcoin or Ethereum to hedge each trade, however.

The Quest for Bitcoin ETF

With an ETN already a reality, perhaps a Bitcoin ETF might be a possibility in the not so distant future. So far, the United States SEC has remained unwilling to approve any of the Bitcoin ETF proposals it has received.

The narrative was that the emergence of futures trading would herald the dawn of Bitcoin. However, half a year has come and gone since then and still no favorable decision from the SEC has been forthcoming. In June 2018, two prominent firms; VanEck and SolidX decided to collaborate with the hope of standing a better chance to obtain the much sought-after SEC approval for cryptocurrency ETF.

Will the trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs help pave the way for a Bitcoin ETF? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Flow Traders, Shutterstock

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Čvn 29

Indian Exchange Says Women More Bullish on Cryptocurrency Than Men

Women in India are making larger individual investments in cryptocurrencies compared to men, according to one local exchange. However, men are leading the charge when it comes to sheer numbers.


Women are Bigger Spenders

Women have turned out to be the bigger spenders in India when it comes to cryptocurrency investments, according to a recent survey conducted by BuyUcoin – a local cryptocurrency exchange. The average female trader invests more than RS 1.4 lakh (roughly around $2,000) in virtual currencies, double the amount their male counterparts invest.

The exchange surveyed more than 60,000 respondents between March and June of this year. According to the BuyUcoin CEO Shivam Thakral, the increased amount of money women invest is tied to their average age:

Usually, woman investors who are buying or trading are over 40 years of age. Therefore, typically these mature investors are able to put in more money. […] On the other hand, more men start investing at an early age with the average age for this investor group being 30.

Nevertheless, in terms of pure numbers, men are leading the charts, with over 90% of the investors being male across the entire country.

The Local Cryptocurrency Environment

In April the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) officially ordered regulated financial entities to refrain from providing their services to all businesses involved in cryptocurrency-related dealings. This move prompted an uproar within the community which resulted in swift counteractions from numerous companies involved in the field.

In May the country’s Supreme Court declined an interim injunction against the ban, responding to a coalition of petitioners comprised of startup companies and four cryptocurrency exchanges. At the time, RBI stated that the Supreme Court cannot interfere with the economic policies of the country.

Nevertheless, those affected by the cryptocurrency ban will challenge RBI’s decision on July 20. The bank has continued to receive mounting criticism over its anti-crypto stance. Local lawyer Varun Sethi, however, laid down the bank’s justification on the matter:

The RBI also responded that no committee was ever formed for analyzing the concept of blockchain before the decision.

This gives confidence to local lawyers currently representing the industry. Rashmi Deshpande, associate partner at Khaitan & Co said of Sethi’s information that the justification of the bank cements the arguments which the cryptocurrency industry is making on the matter:

The grounds on which our writ petition has been filed is that the RBI has not done enough research to ban a business completely.

What do you think of the cryptocurrency situation in India? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, The Atlas

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Čvn 13

Factors That Will Push Bitcoin’s Price Higher Are Gathering Steam

· June 12, 2018 · 10:30 pm

The hacking of exchanges and relentless attacks from financial powers have, in the short run, adversely affected the price of Bitcoin. However, once the news about these adverse effects fades, investors will be able to turn their focus to several bright ongoing developments.


What Doesn’t Kill Bitcoin Makes It Stronger

The recent spate of crypto exchange hacks, ongoing regulatory issues, and reports of an investigation into possible price manipulation have sent the price of Bitcoin – and nearly every other cryptocurrency – tumbling. Despite these setbacks, the growing consensus is that, given Bitcoin’s inherent resiliency, developments taking place in both technical and financial arenas will enable Bitcoin’s value to retake its ascending trajectory with even greater intensity.

For example, frequent exposure to hacking will eventually make Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies immune to such attacks. As Forbes put it, hacking may be adversely affecting Bitcoin in the short term, but in the future, the cryptocurrency will rise stronger as a result. In this regard, Christian Ferri, President and CEO of BlockStar, declared:

As in every technology, hacking will be painful for some in the short term; but it will be a major driver in strengthening the crypto ecosystem, making it more secure, which is key for mass adoption.

Moreover, giant financial actors, including exchanges and big banks, are investing heavily and hiring talent to build Bitcoin trading capabilities.

For example, NASDAQ is planning to launch a futures market for cryptocurrencies. In fact, the stock exchange has already joined forces with Gemini, a digital asset exchange, to improve market surveillance to detect market manipulation and fraudulent trades. Additionally, a NASDAQ-powered cryptocurrency exchange platform – DX.Exchange – will be launched sometime this month.

In parallel, The New York Times reports that ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is working on its own online trading platform that will allow large Wall Street investors to trade cryptocurrencies.

Goldman Sachs is already ahead of the curve, having begun offering clients the ability to trade Bitcoin futures via one of its New York desks last month. According to The New York Times:

Goldman will begin using its own money to trade Bitcoin futures contracts on behalf of clients. It will also create its own, more flexible version of a future, known as a non-deliverable forward, which it will offer to clients.

Bitcoin Transactions Becoming Cheaper and Faster

Bitcoin Transactions Becoming Cheaper and Faster

On the technical side, Bitcoin has already advanced significantly in solving a key issue – scalability. Technological improvements that include SegWit, Lightning Network, and Atomic Multi-Path Payments over Lightning, and now Bitcoin Core 0.16.0, are already solving the issue of scalability and transaction fees costs.

Recently, Bitcoin enthusiasts celebrated the launch of Bitcoin Core 0.16.0, which among novel features, introduced full support for SegWit. Prominent Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase and Bitfinex immediately started to implement SegWit and, as a result, transaction fees are now lower and faster, thus facilitating near-instantaneous low-value Bitcoin payments. At the present time, nearly 40% of all Bitcoin transactions are processed using SegWit.

In addition to SegWit, many exchanges are using a new technique to increase efficiency – batching transactions. Batching further increases the efficiency of Bitcoin transactions by over 75 percent by clustering multiple outputs into a single transaction.

For a digital currency that has “died” 300 times and counting, Bitcoin’s future is looking pretty bright, indeed. Innovative techniques are making Bitcoin transactions more efficient, and its exposure to hacking attempts will make it stronger. Lastly, major financial institutions are becoming increasingly interested in trading Bitcoin. These are crucial factors that are amalgamating to drive Bitcoin’s value to new highs.

What do you think are the main factors that will eventually drive Bitcoin’s value higher? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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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

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Dub 12

Mike Novogratz Hires Goldman Sachs Exec for Crypto Merchant Bank

· April 12, 2018 · 3:30 pm

Famous cryptocurrency investor and trader Mike Novogratz has hired a Goldman Sachs executive for his cryptocurrency merchant bank.


 $40K Bitcoin by End of 2018?

Last November, Mike Novogratz made headlines when he predicted that Ethereum would hit $500 by the end of 2017 and Bitcoin could reach $40K by the end of 2018. Novogratz’s prediction for Ethereum proved true as the cryptocurrency actually surpassed $500 and even almost hit $1400.

Mike Novogratz

Since then, the whole cryptocurrency market experienced a major “shakedown” and dropped from a total market capitalization of over $8oo billion to $260 billion. The big correction may have caused uncertainty for retail traders, but many institutional investors are confident that a correction to the market was due and will soon stabilize. Some analysts predict that the total market cap for cryptocurrency could far surpass its old all-time high.

From Wall Street to Cryptocurrencies

This optimism for the cryptocurrency space is leading quite a few people from Wall Street to make the jump into the crypto world. One of the more notable of these individuals is Mike Novogratz, who was one of the first institutional investors to start seeing a future for cryptocurrencies.

Novogratz didn’t only bring millions of dollars to the cryptocurrency space, but he also brought years of trading and investing experience that he gained from Wall Street. Last December, the legendary investor announced that he would launch one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency hedge funds. The fund was supposed to launch on December 15th but, due to uncertainty in the market situation, was put on ice. He then turned his attention to creating a merchant bank, Galaxy Digital, that would serve the blockchain and cryptocurrency space back in January.

merchant bank

But Novogratz won’t be investing alone. According to CNBC, Novogratz has hired Goldman Sachs executive Richard Kim for the position of the chief operating officer for Galaxy Digital. Even though Novogratz’s fund launch is still paused, he stated the following to CNBC:

We are still feverishly building out a full merchant bank for crypto, i.e., I am still very bullish on the space.

The new hire is part of an ongoing trend and shows that, in the future, more Wall Street executives may switch from traditional trading instruments like stocks and bonds to a market with a brighter future, such as cryptocurrency and digital assets.

What are your thoughts on Novogratz’s decision to hire a Goldman Sachs executive for his COO? Do you think that the fund will eventually be launched and receive interest from non-cryptocurrency investors? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  Pixabay and Bitcoinist archives.

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Dub 09

Bitcoin’s Richest Could Own a Significant Part of Global Wealth

· April 9, 2018 · 3:00 pm

Credit Suisse’s latest estimates indicate that for the first time the richest 1% own 50.1% of all global wealth, a proportion that’s likely to move to the richest 1% owning two-thirds of global wealth by 2030.


World’s Rich Getting Richer

Global wealth inequality had improved between 2000 and the financial crisis of 2007-2008 but the trend since has seen global wealth statistics shifting. The top 1% of individuals have gained a greater proportion of the world’s total wealth.

Projections in a report by the UK Parliament suggest that the world’s wealthiest individuals, the top 1%, will own 64% of global wealth by 2030.

Since 2008, the wealth of the richest 1% has been growing at an average of 6% a year – much faster than the 3% growth in wealth of the remaining 99% of the world’s population. Should that continue, the top 1% would hold wealth equating to $305tn (£216.5tn) – up from $140tn today.

The Wealthy are Investing

The House of Commons report goes on to suggest:

Wealth has become concentrated at the top because of recent income inequality, higher rates of saving among the wealthy, and the accumulation of assets. The wealthy also invested a large amount of equity in businesses, stocks and other financial assets, which have handed them disproportionate benefits.

Assuming that cryptocurrency investments could be among the financial assets providing “disproportionate benefits” how does this compare to the Bitcoin Rich List?

BitInfoCharts gave an estimation in January of how many millionaires had been created by the Bitcoin boom:

“It is impossible to know,” a spokesperson for BitInfoCharts told Penta. “My guess is somewhere between 20,000 and 200,000.”

What’s more is that the ultra-rich are starting to get into Bitcoin investment themselves. Yesterday, Bitcoinist reported how the Rockefeller family is placing a multi-million dollar bet on the bright future of cryptocurrency following the footsteps of billionaire George Soros and the Lichenstein crown prince just to name a few.

Bitcoin Wallets in the Top 1%

This could mean 200,000 of the world’s wealthiest 1% made at least part of their wealth from Bitcoin. Given that the price of Bitcoin could rise significantly by 2030, creating more wealth and more Bitcoin millionaires, Bitcoin owners could be a significant statistic in the volume of individuals controlling two-thirds of the planet’s wealth.

The three biggest Bitcoin wallets contain over 99974 Bitcoins, even at today’s low Bitcoin price of $6772 the three wallets are worth between $677 billion and $1.26 billion USD each. In comparison, the world’s richest individual, Jeff Bezos, is currently valued at $112 billion USD.

Twins

It is rumored that some of the biggest Bitcoin wallets and addresses are actually held by the FBI and that at least one of the top 10 wallets belongs to the as yet unidentified Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. The Winklevoss twins also hold at least one of the top 10 wallets.

Though some of the richest people in the world have undoubtedly got richer after investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies the sector has also created a healthy number of new millionaires. These new millionaires may at least, in part, diversify the pool of wealthy who control the majority of the world’s total wealth.

What are your thoughts on the unequal distribution of global wealth? Is it good, or bad, that Bitcoin might be contributing to this inequality?


Images Courtesy of ZeroHedge, Credit Suisse, Shutterstock.

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Dub 02

When Lambo? Cryptocurrency Millionaires Cause Supercar Sales Spike

· April 2, 2018 · 3:00 pm

Lamborghini sales have indeed been boosted by the cryptocurrency community’s obsession with the Italian supercar — but is that really all investors should aspire to achieve?


When Lambo?

As noted by Business Insider, rich individuals in Silicon Valley don’t generally flaunt their wealth — instead favoring a more casual, humble, and work-focused approach. That’s not the case with the newfound ‘crypto-rich,’ however.

Lamborghini

In a young industry full of newfound bag-holders looking who bought high and sold low during the epic bull-run and subsequent collapse over the last five months, the words “When Lambo?” have been sarcastically (and seriously) asked on virtually every cryptocurrency-related social media thread one can possibly find.

Though most users asking that question will never get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, plenty of cryptocurrency investors have struck it rich by getting involved with the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and others early on — which has, in turn, helped boost sales of the much sought after Italian supercar.

Now Lambo!

As reported by Lamborghini, 2017 proved to be another record year for the luxury automobile maker. The company delivered 3,815 vehicles last year, marking seven straight years of positive sales growth.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than a few of those automobiles have been purchased with cryptocurrency.

Lamborghini

Pietro Frigerio, the dealer principal and general manager at Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, California, told CNBC’s Make It that Lamborghini sales spiked when Bitcoin reached all-time highs in December 2017, saying:

We went from one, maybe two transactions a month from 2013 until 2016, and in [December 2017] alone we had over 10 transactions.

One particularly famous Lamborghini buyer is Peter Saddington, a 35-year-old coder living in Atlanta, who became internet famous after purchasing a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan, worth $200,000, with 45 bitcoins — which he purchased for less than $3 per bitcoin in 2011. Saddington remarked to Yahoo Finance:

Buying the Lambo with bitcoin is proof it can be used for real transactions, buying really cool stuff. It’s not only used by criminals.

Really? Lambo?

Not everyone in the cryptocurrency space is so keen on Lamborghini purchases as a means of flaunting one’s newfound wealth.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin — who recently contributed to a $1 million donation in OmiseGO (OMG) tokens to refugees living in poverty — once lambasted ‘#WhenLambo’ cryptocurrency investors on Twitter.

In a statement regarding Buterin’s and OmiseGO’s donation to impoverished refugees, the collective wrote:

The crypto economy has grown immensely over the last year, bringing a great deal of wealth to many people and organizations within the ecosystem. In part we simply see an exciting opportunity to share that wealth. We hope the fortunes made in the crypto space will lead not to extravagant lifestyles but to extravagant generosity.

Though we’re not one to tell people how to spend their money, don’t expect to find ‘When charity?’ questions to be asked by eager Redditors on the Verge subreddit anytime soon.

What do you think about the cryptocurrency community’s desire to buy, above all things, Lamborghinis? Do you think cryptocurrency-generated wealth could be better served? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Pixabay, and Twitter/@VitalikButerin.

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Bře 17

Despite Recent Volatility, Majority of Financial Experts Remain Bullish on Cryptocurrency

· March 17, 2018 · 2:00 pm

Despite recent market volatility and declining valuations, more than half of investors exposed to cryptocurrency plan on purchasing more over the next year.


Undeterred Optimism

Research conducted by international communications agency Citigate Dewe Rogerson has revealed that 56 percent of cryptocurrency investors are planning on purchasing more digital assets over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of cryptocurrency investors are planning on holding all or selling some of their digital assets, while 8 percent plan on dumping it all.

Bitcoin volatility

Recent weeks have seen the prices of cryptocurrencies plummet. At press time, Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at $8,346.50, which is well off its all-time high of over $20K. Likewise, Ethereum (ETH) is trading at $608.65, Ripple (XRP) at $0.68, Litecoin (LTC) at $164.10, and Cardano (ADA) at $0.17 — all significantly lower than their peaks a few months ago.

Nevertheless, financial professionals reported optimism to Citigate. 54 percent noted that they expect the valuations of cryptocurrencies to rise over the next 12 months, citing increased regulation and adoption as positive drivers in price. On the other hand, 32 percent expect a drop. The same percentage of respondents also expect a “dramatic” increase in cryptocurrency valuation from now until 2021.

Citigate Dewe Rogerson executive director Phil Anderson told City A.M.:

At the start of the year, the market capitalisation for cryptocurrencies was around $800bn (£577bn), but by 2021 over half of the financial professionals (59 per cent) we interviewed expect it to be over $1 trillion, while 15 per cent anticipate it to be more than $2 trillion.

Tenfold Return in Bitcoin Over Three Years

This positive sentiment mirrors that of others in the financial industry — like Bitwise Asset Management Vice President of Research and Development Matt Hougan, who stated last month his belief that cryptocurrency is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. Hougan explained:

The road between now and trillions of dollars will be extremely rocky … we could get there in a few months. We could get there in a few years. We could go down 50% before we get there … [but] I think the pathway to a trillion dollars eventually is fairly certain. How we get there is going to be volatile and uncomfortable. I think we’ll get there pretty soon, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended the year with an accumulated market cap over a trillion dollars.

Are you planning on increasing your cryptocurrency portfolio, or are you looking to simply hold on to what you’ve got? Do you have plans to sell it all? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of AdobeStock, Bitcoinist archives, and Pixabay.

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Bře 07

SEC Chairman: ‘Abide by the Law. We are Watching.’

· March 7, 2018 · 12:30 pm

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton went on FOX Business yesterday to inject some fear into investors — particularly those interested in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).


‘We Are Watching’

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has issued a serious threat to the cryptocurrency space and, in particular, to ICOs.

Clayton — who was nominated by President Donald Trump — initially claims he’s just got investors’ best interests at heart, telling FOX Business:

I worry in particular about people who see things that look like a New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ listing for ICOs or cryptocurrencies and think that I’m getting the same protection for my token that I would be getting for a share of stock that trades on an exchange. They’re not.

Now that you know Clayton’s got your back, you can also rest assured that he and the SEC are investigating whether or not ICOs are violating securities laws. He told FOX Business:

Many ICOs and many of the ones I’ve looked at specifically are securities. … For some reason, people selling ICOs seem to think they don’t need to follow either path; they seem to think they can have the best of both worlds: a limited disclosure from a private placement and public trading and public offering of the token.

SEC

Unsurprisingly, Clayton’s concerns rest primarily with how ICOs raise their capital. He explained:

We have seen instances where companies seem to have had trouble raising money in a traditional private placement and then have switched to an ICO in order to raise the money. The business hasn’t changed substantively, but it’s a form-over-substance way to raise money. That is troubling.

Nevertheless, Clayton knows a war against cryptocurrency will ultimately not work in anybody’s interest — particularly his. Thus, he pretends he wants to open a constructive dialogue, while at the same time sending a threatening message:

It’s important to understand that the fundamentals of our securities laws do apply in this space. It’s a technology with great promise. … It’s a technology that I really think is pretty cool and can change the way people do business at a great deal of efficiency, but it doesn’t mean that you can obviate our tried-and-true approach to the federal securities laws.”

Clayton’s entire discussion can ultimately be summed up in three authoritarian sentences:

Abide by the law. We are watching. Others are watching.

What do you think of Clayton’s warning? Do you think ICOs should be more careful with how they raise funds? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 16

Optioment Bitcoin Scam Triggers Europe-Wide Manhunt

· February 16, 2018 · 10:30 am

After possibly thousands of investors got burned by arbitrage-trading company Optioment last year, Austrian authorities have asked Interpol to help track down the fraudsters responsible for the Bitcoin scam.


Another Bitcoin Scam Burns Buyers

European authorities are on the hunt for criminals involved in defrauding thousands of individuals and losing over $100 million worth of investors’ Bitcoin.

According to reports, Optioment ran a now-defunct website while holding large-scale events in Austria — in which the company advertised itself as a “private Costa Rica-based Bitcoin fund” promising unrealistic returns. Law firm Lansky, Ganzger & Partner claims Optioment promised weekly interest payments upwards of 4 percent on long-term Bitcoin deposits, with the added incentivization of inviting new users.

Optioment apparently paid out returns on a timely basis at the beginning of its operation, which boosted investor confidence and encouraged users to reinvest in the scheme. Sometime around the massive bull run in November and December of last year, however, the returns stopped coming, and the fraudulent scheme collapsed.

Spokeswoman Christina Ratz told Bloomberg that prosecutors in Vienna are consolidating “hundreds of complaints” against the fraudulent company, and Die Presse originally reported that upwards of 10,000 individuals have been victimized, resulting in roughly 12,000 lost bitcoins — currently worth an estimated $118.5 million at the time of this writing.

Interpol

According to Bloomberg, no arrests have yet been made, but Interpol has been asked to investigate individuals in Denmark, Latvia, and Germany.

Reinforcing European Rhetoric

The hunt for Optioment’s operators comes at a time when some European countries are calling for a crackdown on cryptocurrency.

French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire and interim German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier have gone on record to state that cryptocurrencies are risky for investors and threaten long-term global financial stability.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has also expressed concerns over cryptocurrency’s criminal usage, stating that she is looking “very seriously” at cryptocurrencies “because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals.”

EU

Additionally, European Central Bank board member Yves Mersch has recently stated that cryptocurrencies are “not money, nor will they be for the foreseeable future.”

Most recently, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have also recently issued a press release warning consumers of the dangers associated with buying cryptocurrency.

Do you think scams like Optioment are permanently damaging the reputation of cryptocurrency in Europe and around the world? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/@Plani and Bitcoinist archives.

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