Led 31

Civic CEO: Bitcoin’s Crypto Winter Could Soon Turn ‘Nuclear’

The term “Crypto Winter” has been thrown around a lot lately to describe the more-than-one-year-long bear market in Bitcoin and broader cryptocurrency space. However, Civic’s CEO thinks that the phrase “Nuclear Winter” might soon be more appropriate.


‘Winter has come’ for Bitcoin (BTC) and the broader cryptocurrency market, but any hopes for a bull run in the immediate future might still be ‘A Dream of Spring.’

bitcoin price

Bitcoin has fallen hard from highs of approximately $20,000 in December 2017 to lows near $3,000 late last year — and the near-term forecasts aren’t very promising. According to Civic CEO Vinny Lingham, a fall below current support to levels below $3,000 would prolonge the bear market and turn ‘The Crypto Winter’ “nuclear.”

Lingham isn’t wrong. With capitulation on everyone’s mind, few buyers are stepping up. Instead, Bitcoin speculators and investors are eagerly awaiting ‘the bottom’ — or the lowest possible entry point to ride the next bull run.

A fall below $3,000 feels expected in the current investing environment, though targets for a bottom are still up for debate. Civic’s CEO, however, thinks Bitcoin won’t find its floor until it finds real use in the real world. Lingham told Micky recently:

The reality is that crypto needs real adoption and use cases. Until we have that we’re not going to have another bubble. The speculative mania is over. People want real numbers and usage and transaction volumes.

bitcoin atm

Fundamental developments behind-the-scenes for the market-leading cryptocurrency are promising, to say the least. Bitcoin is also continually gaining ground as a bucket to store wealth without the need for an intermediary, even if mainstream adoption as an alternative currency for daily transactions is still a ways off.

What do you think about Lingham’s statements regarding Bitcoin’s nuclear winter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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Led 30

Japanese Yen Overtakes the US Dollar in Bitcoin Trading

The Japanese Yen (JPY) has surpassed the USD in terms of worldwide bitcoin trading in the past 24 hours. 


Japanese Yen Tops Dollar

According to data from Coinhills, the JPY has officially overtaken the USD in terms of bitcoin trading throughout the world. A total of 490,925.45 BTC were traded against the JPY over the last 24 hours.

Data shows that 49.10 percent of the entire Bitcoin 00 trading volume for the last 24 hours has been exchanged against the JPY, while the USD accounts for 45.80 percent.

Together, both currencies account for as much as 94.9 percent of all fiat currencies in BTC trading. The Korean Won, the Euro, and the British pound round off the top five Bitcoin fiat trading pairs in terms of volume. Though these are dwarfed by JPY and USD, comprising less than 2 percent of the total volume each.

JPY/BTC has grown in popularity substantially over the last two months of 2018. In November, it accounted for only 21 percent of the BTC trading, compared to a solid 50 percent for the USD. But whether it will remain in at the top remains to be seen as Bitcoin price struggles to hold above $3,000.

What Changed?

In December, Bitcoinist reported on a study which claimed that Asia has more impact on Bitcoin price than America and Europe. The study cited major developments from Asia concerning cryptocurrencies, which had impacted the market by an average of 18.61 percent.

Thing are indeed moving fast in the East. Just a couple of weeks ago, one of Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coincheck, was registered with the Financial Services Agency.

Additionally, a new partnership was formed between Blockstream, Digital Garage, and Tokyo Tanshi, which will serve the Japanese Bitcoin market by launching a JPY-pegged stablecoin.

Furthermore, in October last year, the country gave formal approval for the cryptocurrency industry to regulate itself, substantially increasing the capabilities of the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), which is now authorized to punish operators which fail to conform to the stringent safety regulations put by the local authorities.

What do you think about the Japanese Yen overtaking the Dollar in Bitcoin trading? Share your thoughts below!


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Led 29

Iran May Unveil State-Backed Cryptocurrency This Week

Iran is reportedly expected to announce its state-backed digital currency at the annual Electronic Banking and Payment Systems Conference which starts on January 29th. The move is an attempt to bypass US-imposed economic sanctions. 


Iran-Backed Cryptocurrency

Iran first announced its intentions to launch a state-backed digital currency in the summer of 2018.

The move was occasioned by the fact that the country was set to undergo renewed economic sanctions from the US.

Since then. the country was also kicked out of the Society for Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which has highlighted the need for an alternative way of moving money even more.

According to a new report by Al Jazeera, the country may be announcing the state-backed cryptocurrency on January 29 at the annual Electronic Banking and Payment Systems conference, which this year has a  “blockchain revolution” theme.

The cryptocurrency is expected to roll out in two different phases. The first phase will reportedly involve the issuance of a rial-backed digital token, which shall facilitate payments between local banks and other actively participating institutions.

The other phase will include the launch if an instrument that will enable retail use, i.e. currency.

Alternative to SWIFT?

While it’s currently unclear whether ‘IranCoin’ will be used to facilitate payments between Iran and other countries, it could be positioned by the Iran government as an alternative to SWIFT as Bitcoinist reported last year that Iran and Russia may use cryptocurrencies to bypass US sanctions.

It also wouldn’t be the first time countries are cooperating on creating a joint cryptocurrency. Recently, the UAE and Saudi Arabia announced a joint effort in this regard.

However, it’s questionable whether a state-backed cryptocurrency will provide regular Iranians with access to the global monetary system.

Additionally, the report notes that because ‘IranCoin’ will be nothing like Bitcoin and entirely centralized, it will likely fall short of circumventing any sanctions. This is because the US will guarantee it has no place in any credible international exchange just like the rial.

Speaking on the matter, blockchain and cryptocurrency developer, Yashar Rashedi explained:

They certainly can’t replace the likes of bitcoin due to their centralized nature, but their existence is harmless. […] Even as CBCCs may never find widespread everyday use among the general public, they may be able to offer some new features to startups and developers that had to work with centralized bank APIs before them.

Do you think a state-backed cryptocurrency will help Iran combat US-imposed sanctions? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 28

Top Bitcoin Lightning Apps You Can Use Today (Part 2)

So we continue our journey into the wonderful (and sometimes weird) world of Lightning Apps (LApps). And as a testament to how far the market has come, my quick ‘listicle’ has morphed into a two-part behemoth.


If you haven’t already, then check out Part 1, covering wallets, marketplaces, content monetization, and tip jars. If you have, then let’s get on with the ride.

Messaging via Lightning Network

International SMS messages cost a small fortune, but with Insms, the price comes down to that of a small lightning transaction. Ideal for anonymously stalking someone in another country. Or, if you need to receive an SMS, but don’t want to reveal your mobile number, Receive SMS has you covered. Temporary numbers to receive messages are currently available only in the US, with more countries coming soon.

But if you think terrestrial messaging is just a little passé, why not send a message via satellite.

Gaming and Gambling

Hammerland is a MineCraft lookalike MMORPG, using lightning for in-game payments (and rewards). Or if you prefer your MineCraft to be more… MineCraft, then BitQuest is the first MineCraft server denominated in cryptocurrency.

For those who prefer to expound less effort to gain (or lose) their bitcoin, there are a wealth of ways to gamble away your money with Lightning. Lightning Spin is a simple ‘wheel of fortune’-type game where sending an LN payment feels like you’re putting in a quarter into an arcade.

Meanwhile, Lightning Roulette is… well, a full-blown game of roulette.

Alternatively, depending on your preference, you can bet on Three-Card Monte. Although sadly the implementation of Thunder Dice, no longer seems to be active.

Setting Up Shop

There are several ways of accepting Lightning payments at your online store. Strike is one of the best and easiest to use, taking a flat 1% fee on all transactions, and offering unlimited free daily withdrawals.

Or if your establishment is a bit less virtual, and almost entirely more ‘brick and mortar’, then you can use nanopos. This simple Lightning Point-of-Sale system works best with stores selling fixed-price items, although it also offers a custom price option. So your customers can now use LN payments to buy coffee, beanies, a hat-stand, comedy tickets, ticker tape, audio cassettes, hearing aids, condoms…

Speaking of random stuff.

Random Stuff

Unleash your inner artist (or just scrawl obscenities on somebody else’s artwork) at Satoshi’s Place, where you can endlessly paint over as many pixels as you can pay for.

Buy a virtual coffee at StarBlocks; Listen to music on Lightning Jukebox; Set up a Twitter-bot to get paid for likes, retweets, and follows.

Or just exchange your cryptocurrencies in seconds for low fees at Shapeshift-esque ZigZag, and hunker down behind TorGuard‘s VPN.

Oh… then wait to see what amazing abilities LApps bring us in the future.

What other Lapps have you tried? Share your experiences below!


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Led 26

Indiana, New Hampshire May Be Next to Accept Cryptocurrencies for Taxes

A house bill for amending the currently existing taxation Code of Indiana has been filed January 24 seeking acceptance of cryptocurrencies for paying taxes. Another bill requiring the state treasurer of New Hampshire to develop an implementation plan for accepting cryptocurrencies for tax payments has also been filed. 


Pay Taxes With Cryptocurrencies in Indiana

House bill number 1683 filed January 24th, asks the General Assembly of the State of Indiana to amend the current taxation Code of Indiana.

Be it enacted, the bill may approve the usage of one or more virtual currencies to pay taxes, penalties, interests, costs, special assessments, or any other liabilities which are imposed under the bill.

According to the document, a county treasurer

shall determine the value of the payment in United States dollars at the time the payment is made by using the applicable exchange rate.

If the bill is approved by the General Assembly of Indiana, it will be in effect from July 1st, 2019.

New Hampshire on a Similar Path

In the state of New Hampshire, House bill number 470-FN, filed January 5th, 2019, seeks the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as payment for taxes and fees by state agencies.

New Hampshire License Plate

If the bill is enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court, it will require the state treasurer, in consultation with other state officials, to develop an implementation plan for the state to begin accepting cryptocurrencies as payments for fees and taxes starting July 1st, 2020.

The plan is also supposed to identify an appropriate third party payment processor. As per the documents, the payment processor should facilitate transactions at no cost to the state.

The plan should be submitted by the state treasurer on or before November 1st.

The bill will allow the state agencies to accept cryptocurrency payments but it doesn’t obligate them to do so, inferring that approval might be necessary.

Florida’s Seminole County became the first US locality to accept Bitcoin for taxes in May 2018. Later in November, Ohia also began accepting Bitcoin for taxes.

What do you think of paying taxes with cryptocurrencies? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 26

Davos: IMF’s Lagarde Says Fintech Will Shake The System

International Monetary Fund Head, Christine Lagarde, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, “fintech is going to shake the system.” She also urged against relying on central banks in the next financial crisis, at the CNBC-hosted panel.


Central Banks Have Very Limited Ammunition

Her comments followed UBS CEO, Sergio Ermotti, saying that he hoped “we don’t rely on central banks to resolve the issues,” in the wake of another crash. He suggested that some central banks have “very limited ammunition,” while others perhaps had a bit more flexibility.

Lagarde concurred that,

It would be very nice if the economies at large didn’t have to rely on the central banks yet again in order to resist the next shock.

She singled out Mark Carney of the Bank of England, and Jay Powell of the Federal Reserve, as two of the very few central bankers who have a little bit of space to maneuver in the wake of the next downturn.

Complete Reforms While The Going Is Good

Both Lagarde and Ermotti suggested that it was important to complete reforms while the economic environment is good. Central Banks took unprecedented measures to stimulate lending and economic growth after the 2008 crash (by printing a record amount of money).

However, a belief that this fallback will always be there, can lead to complacency, meaning critical reforms are never implemented.

Ermotti said that countries must “take the bitter medicine” and implement changes that would benefit their citizens. Lagarde urged policymakers to “take the right course of action” on reforms. Although work had begun, this in some cases barely scratched the surface. It is essential to complete these critical reforms and that they go deep enough.

Fintech Is Going To Shake The System

Lagarde concluded by saying that banks needed “purpose” beyond just the single-minded pursuit of profit. She warned against complacency regarding fintech, which includes virtual currencies and bitcoin, that she said would “shake the system.”

Repeating her view that a regulated fintech with AML measures and consumer protections was a positive force, she continued to say that many large banks realized this, and were either incorporating fintech companies or moving in the same direction themselves.

Of course, Bitcoin didn’t exist at the time of the last financial crisis. In fact, it was ‘spawned’ as a direct response to it, according to ECB Executive Board member Benoît Cœuré.

Meanwhile, adoption is always accelerated by national economic failures and unrest. The next global financial crash could provide a key momentum swing, leading to the eventual collapse of banks that have indeed become complacent with their monopoly over money creation.

Do you agree with Lagarde in the disruptive power of fintech? Share your thoughts below!


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Led 25

Wall Street Invests $20M to Bridge Blockchain With Capital Markets

Despite the bear market, and rising camp of naysayers predicting Bitcoin’s demise, Wall Street is steadily plowing funds into crypto. The latest blockchain company to catch investors’ eyes is Symbiont, a New York startup bringing blockchain tech to capital markets.


2019 The Year of Institutional Investment

Bitcoinist reported yesterday that Nasdaq is positively bullish on bitcoin. Ahead of Davos, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman stated unequivocably that cryptocurrencies would play an important role in the future. She even predicted that bitcoin could become a global currency.

Now the world’s second largest stock exchange Nasdaq Ventures initiative is taking the lead in Symbiont’s series B funding round. Along with Citigroup, and other high-name investors including Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, they’re investing $20 million.

This vote of support in Symbiont shows that Wall Street is still anxious to make its way into the cryptocurrency space. Despite a torrid 12 months with as much as 90 percent of value wiped off of some altcoins.

Blockchain Technology Called into Question

According to Symbiont CEO Mark Smith, this much-needed backing from Wall Street comes not only during the crypto winter but at a time when blockchain technology is being called into question as well.

After an overhyped 2017, 2018 left people’s expectations deflated like a helium balloon after a children’s party. Smith told Bloomberg that we were now entering a much more “realistic phase” about what blockchain can and cannot do.

We are leaving the peak of the hype cycle and entering the trough of disillusionment, especially for people who inappropriately applied this technology hoping it would become a panacea for solving all their problems.

From finding a cure to cancer to eradicating corruption in the supply chain, blockchain was the solution. However, it’s becoming clear that while the technology is undoubtedly important, its uses are limited–for the current time.

What Makes Symbiont a Good Bet?

Symbiont’s smart contract platform Assembly allows financial institutions to verify and share data. By using smart contracts, the company aims to make the mortgage bond market more efficient. It also plans to speed up times for syndicated loans.

As well as the backing of Nasdaq, Citi, Novogratz, and Jim Pallotta’s Raptor Group Holdings, Symbiont has also teamed up with Vanguard Group Inc.

This will be an important partnership that will enable investment giant Vanguard to apply blockchain tech to update the index data behind mutual funds.

Symbiont will use the funds to improve their data management process and work on private equity, mortgages, and syndicated loans.

And as for Nasdaq? The world’s second largest stock exchange will be looking into opportunities to capture new clients who want to tokenize assets and use smart contracts through Symbiont’s Assembly platform. Watch this space.

Will this latest cash injection materialize for the Wall Street investors? Share your thoughts below!


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Led 24

McAfee Hunted by the IRS But Will Still Run For President ‘In Exile’

Controversial cryptocurrency proponent John McAfee revealed that the IRS has convened a grand jury to charge him, his wife, and four of his campaign workers, with ‘unspecified’ crimes of felonious nature. McAfee, who’s campaigning for the 2020 US Presidency will continue to do so ‘in exile’.


McAfee Hunted by the IRS

In a new video released on his official Twitter profile, John McAfee shared that the IRS has convened a Grand Jury in the state of Tennessee on January 22nd.

According to him, the authorities seek to put him on charges for ‘unspecified’ crimes of felonious nature.

In the video, McAfee also reaffirmed that he hasn’t been paying taxes for the last eight years and that he hasn’t filed any tax returns either.

McAfee, who’s a popular cryptocurrency proponent, has more than once made the case that governments fear decentralized digital currencies because they can’t tax them.

He’s also clashed with the SEC’s chairman over defining initial coin offerings (ICOs)  tokens as securities.

Running For President ‘In Exile’

Now, McAfee, who currently appears to be in the Venezuela on a self-proclaimed “Freedom Boat,” says he’ll continue campaigning ‘in exile’.

As odd as it may sound, McAfee intends to run his presidential campaign remotely… from a boat.

In another video, posted shortly after the first one, he details that his campaign already has ‘thousands’ of volunteers who will be wearing masks with a picture of his face on them.

These people will appear on various locations through the US, including conferences, debates, restaurants, and street corners, carrying portable loudspeakers through which McAfee will be voicing his merits.

Apparently, however, the cryptocurrency advocate doesn’t really want to become a president – he just wants the stage.

Interestingly enough, his latest Twitter blast caught the attention of Vladislav Ginko, the Russian economist who recently said that Russia is looking to invest $10 billion in Bitcoin.

Commenting on the matter of McAfee’s exile, Ginko tweeted:

You will never feel safe anywhere in the world from US enforcement until you will land to Russia. You’re welcome!

What do you think of McAfee’s plans to run his campaign remotely from a boat? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 23

Bitcoin’s Liquid Sidechain Welcomes Japanese Yen Stablecoin

Blockstream has announced Crypto Garage, a joint venture with Digital Garage and Tokyo Tanshi, to serve the Japanese Bitcoin market. The partnership will soon launch the Liquid sidechain based SETTLENET suite, the first application of which will be a yen-pegged stablecoin.


SETTLENET on Bitcoin’s Liquid Sidechain

The SETTLENET suite aims to provide Japanese exchanges and OTC trading desks with enhanced liquidity, speed and security. Although why Crypto Garage feel the need to shout SETTLENET every time is anybody’s guess.

Exchanges can issue the JPY-token (L-JPY) on the Liquid sidechain, and trade it against Liquid Bitcoin (L-BTC) using atomic swaps. Atomic swaps allow instant, trustless, peer to peer trading between different types of digital asset.

Needless to say, Blockstream CEO, Adam Back’s tweet of the announcement attracted equal parts awe and mockery. The latter, in particular, from the Ripple-army, who were quick to point out how easily XRP could achieve this (though whether XRP is trustless is a different argument).

Compliant With Japanese Regulations

One of the Crypto Garage partners must have some friends in high places because SETTLENET has already received regulatory clearance. Both the Japanese Financial Services Authority and the Cabinet Secretariat approve. This leaves the JPY-token well-placed to be a key driver in Japanese Bitcoin market liquidity.

CEO of Crypto Garage, Masahito Okuma, said:

SETTLENET together with Liquid makes trustless Bitcoin trading a reality, in a sustainable regulated environment. This is going to lead to a huge boost in Bitcoin liquidity in Japan and cement the region’s place as a leader in the emerging Bitcoin industry.

Liquid Growth

The venture also marks the continuing growth of the Liquid Network sidechain since its launch last October. Blockstream market Liquid as a fast, secure, and confidential method for high trading-volume entities such as exchanges, brokers, and financial institutions to transact.

money laundering

JPY-token is just the beginning of Blockstream’s ambitions for the stablecoin market, according to CSO, Samson Mow:

We expect SETTLENET’s Japanese yen token to be the first of many stablecoin issuances on Liquid.

What do you think about the Liquid sidechain welcoming its first stablecoin? Share your thoughts!


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Led 22

Avoid These Exchanges If You Want to Keep Your Bitcoins

Hackers stole over $1.8 billion in 2018 from crypto exchanges. So, if you’re still trusting one with your private keys, you really ought to know better. But if you’re too busy or too lazy to set up a hardware wallet for your funds, at least you should know where exchanges rank when it comes to cybersecurity. According to a report by CER and Hacken, not very well.


Top 100 Crypto Exchanges by Cybersecurity Score

CER and Hacken evaluated the state of the cybersecurity in the top 100 crypto exchanges by volume on CoinMarketCap as of January 1. What they found was a little disturbing.

Without getting overly technical, for the sake of this study, cybersecurity means all the processes and technologies an exchange has in place to deter hackers from entering its system. An effective system, says CER, is one that reduces a hacker’s chances of breaching it.

Since crypto exchanges must be responsible for users’ money and personal data, strong cybersecurity is imperative.

Cyber Security Score (CSS) Methodology

To measure cybersecurity at the top 100 exchanges, the companies checked whether they had sufficient user security in place, server security, and some kind of Ongoing Crowdsource Security Assessment (OCSA).

When it comes to server security, factors cush as SSL/TLS certificates, secure cookies, and open ports come into play. If a hacker uncovers just one vulnerability in a server it is enough to compromise all the components and cause huge monetary losses.

The user security level takes into account all the elements that exchanges can add to make it easier and safer for users entering and transacting on their exchange. These include things like 2FA, captcha, and strict password requirements.

Data Breach Exposes Thousands of Investors in a John McAfee-backed Cryptocurrency

If there is no captcha, for example, hackers can easily uncover a user’s password. 2FA significantly decreases the chances of an account being compromised since a telephone is needed as well as simply entering through one device. And when it comes to passwords they can simply be cracked with “brute force” if they are too weak.

Ongoing Crowdsource Security Assessment (OCSA) refers to whether an exchange has any processes in place to improve and develop their cybersecurity. This could be a Bug Bounty program that looks for white hat hackers to find vulnerabilities with the system, either in-house, or through a special platform like Hacken.

Avoid These Exchanges If You Want to Keep Your Funds

According to the research, the least safe of all the exchanges are:

These three exchanges all scored less than 5 out of a possible 10 points, based on the factors mentioned above. The safest exchanges are:

  • Kraken
  • Coinbase Pro
  • Binance and BitMEX

Only Kraken managed to achieve a score of above 9 out of 10, while Coinbase Pro racked up 8.74, and Binance and BitMEX achieved 8.50 each.

Almost Zero Ongoing Programs Throughout

Only 13 percent of all exchanges have ongoing Bug Bounty programs in place to improve their security. Another major weak point for these top exchanges is their  HTTP Security Headers with some 59 percent of exchanges missing 6-7 of the 7 headers required.

According to Ledger CEO Eric Larcheveque, crypto is the easiest asset in the world to steal. So keeping your funds in an exchange is really not advisable.

And as per the findings of this study, the top exchanges are among the lowest scoring when it comes to CSS, with Bithumb number 1 on CMC, and 98th in the CER top 100 crypto exchanges.

Do you agree with the study’s conclusions? Share your thoughts below!


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