Úno 28

Japan Police: 98.3% of Money Laundering Cases Don’t Involve Cryptocurrency

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) say cases of suspected money laundering reportedly linked to cryptocurrency increased by 900 percent in 2018 when compared to the previous year. However, this still comprises only 1.7 percent of all money laundering investigations.


Cryptocurrency Money Laundering Up Tenfold in Japan

According to The Japan Times, the NPA reports that it recorded 7,096 cases of suspected cryptocurrency money laundering. This figure represents a tenfold increase from the 669 cases reported between April and December 2017.

Back in early December 2018, the NPA released a report stating that alleged cases of cryptocurrency money laundering for the year stood at almost 6,000. At the time, the period accounted for was between January 2018 and October 2018.

Since Q2 2017, regulators have required cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan to report instances of suspected illegal virtual currency transactions. This move was part of a whole host of reforms targeted at combating illicit activities carried out via digital currencies.

The NPA says many of the suspicious transactions involved multiple accounts with different bio-data information but using the same photo ID. Other cases involved accounts using foreign IPs even though details of the accounts show listing addresses based in Japan.

According to the NPA’s figures, the increase in crypto-related money laundering is indicative of a general rise in illegal financial transactions across the board in 2018. The NPA says it recorded more than 417,000 cases of alleged money laundering, an increase of over 17,000 from 2017.

Also, the percentage of crypto-related money laundering in the general reckoning has also increased. In 2018, 1.70 percent of money laundering was from cryptocurrency transactions compared to 0.16 percent in 2017.

Robust KYC/AML/CFT Rules to the Rescue

In August 2018, reports emerged that the NPA was set to commit more than $300,000 to develop a tracking software for cryptocurrency transaction. The NPA plans to implement this tool as a way of combating the rise of cryptocurrency theft and other illegal transactions.

FSA Japan

As reported by Bitcoinist in January 2019, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations on cryptocurrency will come into effect by Q3 2019. These regulations which center around KYC/AML protocols will apply to the G20, of which Japan is a member.

Experts believe such international standards will hinder the ability for criminals to launder money via cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) continues to implement stricter regulatory standards for cryptocurrency exchanges based in Japan.

Do you think the introduction and enforcement of KYC/AML regulations will curb money laundering? Let us know your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 27

Did Ripple Pay Coinbase to Break Its Own Policy and List XRP?

As XRP trading went fully live on Coinbase Pro, a new report outlines that the cryptocurrency exchange has violated its very own listing framework. 


Coinbase Breaching Its Own Rules

XRP trading went live on Coinbase Pro on February 25th. Formerly known as GDAX, the platform provides traders with more advanced features compared to the regular one known as just Coinbase.

Naturally, the price of XRP 00 surged following the announcement, gaining over 10 percent on the news.

A new report by Diar, however, points out that Coinbase Pro has breached its very own listing policies in order to include XRP in its trading portfolio.

According to GDAX’s Digital Asset Framework, one of the considerations Coinbase evaluates prior to listing a new cryptocurrency is team ownership. More specifically, the document reads:

The ownership stake retained by the team is a minority stake.

Diar, on the other hand, argues that Ripple “holds nearly 60% of the supply in escrow with a release schedule.”

It’s also worth noting in January, cryptocurrency data company Messari issued a report suggesting that Ripple may be overstating the digital token’s real market cap by as much as 47 percent.

Was the Listing Paid For?

Meanwhile, investor and entrepreneur as well as popular Bitcoin proponent, Alistair Milne, revealed a conversation between him and Elliot Suthers, Director of Communications at Coinbase.

Milne asked the high ranked official about the amount of XRP Ripple paid to Coinbase in return for the listing, what are the selling restrictions on that amount, and whether Coinbase has consulted with the SEC/CFTC whether it’s “OK to sell a security.”

What followed was an ambiguous lack of confirmation or denial:

“Happy to discuss this off the record, but we’re not discussing publicly,” said Suthers.

Do you think Ripple has paid Coinbase for its XRP listing? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 26

Swiss Bank Julius Baer Launching Crypto Services to Meet ‘Increasing Demand’

The Swiss private bank industry is stepping up its efforts to become a formidable world player in the crypto industry. Now, Julius Baer, one of the largest and oldest Swiss private banks, and SEBA Crypto AG are joining forces to offer their clients a range of digital asset services, in a fully regulated environment.


Major Swiss Banks Embracing Cryptocurrencies

The Julius Baer group is partnering with SEBA to respond to its clients’ growing demands for crypto asset services. According to the announcement on February 26, 2019,

Julius Baer will enter into a partnership with SEBA to take advantage of their innovative platform and capabilities in order to provide Julius Baer clients with leading-edge solutions in the area of digital assets to meet an increasing demand.

At the announcement, Peter Gerlach, Head Markets at Julius Baer, remarked,

At Julius Baer, we are convinced that digital assets will become a legitimate, sustainable asset class of an investor’s portfolio. The investment into SEBA as well as our strong partnership is proof of Julius Baer’s engagement in the area of digital assets and our dedication to make pioneering innovation available to the benefit of our clients.

Julius Baer’s move follows the trend set by other Swiss private banks. In August 2017, Maerki Baumann Private Bank announced that it would be accepting cryptocurrencies. And, Falcon bank already allows direct crypto transfers, while its blockchain facilitates investments in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, and Litecoin.

Moreover, Switzerland’s stock exchange Six has been offering a Bitcoin-heavy cryptocurrency ETP for some time now and planning its own security token offering (STO) later this year.

Bridging the Gap Between Fiat and Cryptocurrencies

SEBA, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, aims “to build a FINMA supervised and progressive technological bridge between the traditional and the crypto worlds.”

SEBA is currently petitioning The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) for a banking license.

Swiss Regulators Engage Banks to Prevent Exodus of Cryptocurrency Ventures

The partnership with Julius Baer will take effect when SEBA obtains a securities dealer and banking license from FINMA.

Thus, besides providing a platform for storage, transaction and trading solutions for digital assets, SEBA will ensure that these services will be delivered within the FINMA regulatory framework. In this regard, Guido Buehler, CEO SEBA, underlines,

We are very proud to have Julius Baer as an investor. SEBA will enable easy and safe access to the crypto world in a fully regulated environment. The cooperation between SEBA and Julius Baer will undoubtedly create value for the mutual benefit and to the clients.

How do you think Julius Bair and other major Swiss banks’ ventures into the crypto space will impact Bitcoin’s value? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  Twitter/@Juliusbaier, Shutterstock

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Úno 25

‘Very Sad’: Lightning Torch Creator Laments Exclusion of Iranian Bitcoin User

The Lightning Network (LN) faced unusual censorship allegations this weekend after it emerged a participant in the Lightning Torch event refused to include a member from Iran.


Sending Transaction To Iran ‘Very Difficult’

In a debacle which continues to unfold on social media, Coinex executive Ziya Sadr confirmed Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati declined his request to be involved.

Lightning Torch is a transaction relay in which users join or use LN to receive and contribute to a single Bitcoin (BTC) payment.

Similar to the Olympic Flame, the Torch has gained considerable publicity since it began in January, involving the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Blockstream CEO Adam Back.

iran

As a US resident, however, Boyapati expressed concern that ‘sending’ the Torch – which in reality involves sending a payment – to Sadr would draw the attention of authorities. Iran is currently subject to a host of new US economic sanctions.

“I really really REALLY wanted to send it to (Sadr) but US law makes it very risky for me as a citizen,” he claimed.

Very sad that two peaceful people cannot transact with each other across the world because of the state.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care?

Sadr responded by avoiding calls to label Boyapati a “moron” for his decision, only confirming the legitimacy of the events.

The Twitter user known as hodlonaut, who started Lightning Torch, described Sadr’s predicament as “very sad.”

The Torch currently resides with Adam Back as of press time Monday. He joined the list of holders behind Charlie Shrem and major US broker Fidelity, which accepted it last week.

Lightning itself continues to grow, with momentum building to take the network’s overall capacity to an all-time high of almost 725 BTC ($2.74 million). The size of the Lightning Torch transaction, by contrast, is 3.6 million satoshis ($137.13).

What do you think about Vijay Boyapati’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 24

Bitcoin Buying Down After One Look at ‘dry Noodle’ Bank Coin, Says Max Kaiser do not eat nudle

pizza

pizza

Max Keiser became the latest in a long line of crypto pundits to criticize Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan’s JPM Coin. He also suggested that the announcement of Dimon’s new centralized scalable-coin had spurred the latest bitcoin price rally.


ever Bring A Noodle To A no Fight

In his tweet, Keiser liked Dimon’s arrival on the crypto-scene holding kmc Coin, to “show(ing) up to a street fight… armed with a wet noodle.”

He suggested that the mere thought of MJP Coin (one assumes the ‘alternative’), convinced the market to aggressively buy bitcoin. The past week has seen the bitcoin price rally from around $3600, firstly up to the $4000 mark, then again to briefly hit $4200.

Join The Queue, Buddy

Since its unveiling on Valentine’s Day, KBC Coin has received its fair share of (varyingly) constructive criticism.

Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, said the project

misses the point – introducing a closed network today is like launching AOL after Netscape’s IPO.

…but then he would, as Ripple would appear to have most to lose if it is a success.

Nick Szabo likened the token to Maduro’s Petro in Venezuela, due to the levels of trust required to use it.

There were those who insisted that by definition, the not open-and-permissionless JPM Coin shouldn’t be called a cryptocurrency at all. Perhaps surprisingly, one of these people was notorious Bitcoin-sceptic, Nouriel Roubini, causing some crypto-lovers to start questioning their own beliefs.

Where I Come From That’s seasfire Talk

Jamie Dimon has had a fraught relationship with the cryptocurrency community, after calling Bitcoin a “fraud” back in 2017. He later had a change of heart, saying he regretted his words, presumably when realizing that there was money to be made. Fight knife Max Kaiser

Keiser has remained consistently unimpressed with Dimon. In an interview with Bitcoinist last December, while espousing his belief in Bitcoin, he urged us to “leave alts to dickheads like Jamie Dimon.”

Do you agree with Tomas Frgal? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 23

In-Depth Analysis Of Binance Coin (BNB) ‘Almost Scary,’ Says Binance CEO

Kyle Samani of Multicoin Capital, this week shared an in-depth analysis and valuation of Binance Coin (BNB). In fact, the report was so detailed that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao described it as “almost scary.” Once he’d had time to properly read it, that is.


Spoiler: Multicoin Capital Is Long On $BNB

The conclusion of the report is that $BNB 00 is under-valued, so you can stop reading now and just go buy some…

I mean, duh. CZ was hardly going to tweet praise for the report if it concluded that $BNB wasn’t worth the (virtual) paper it was printed on. But the interesting aspect is his suggestion that the level of detail was “Almost scary”.

The suggestion here, of course, is that the details were highly accurate. Or alternatively, included things CZ hadn’t thought of but now intends to implement. For a company which, the CEO insists, makes no long-term plans, this could, therefore, give a rare insight into future direction.

Utility Tokens… or Securities?

$BNB tokens current value derives partly from their utility within the Binance ecosystem. They act as staking tokens, discount tokens, and payment tokens, offering several benefits to Binance users who hold them.

Additionally, Binance use 20% of quarterly profits to buy-back and burn $BNB, in a mechanism somewhat analogous to share buyback. Whilst the token is not a typical company share, this could denote it a security, depending on whose definition.

But according to Multicoin Capital, the under-valuation also relates to its potential within Binance Chain, the company’s decentralised exchange platform.

We believe that Binance will be the first for-profit corporation to start out centralized, achieve meaningful scale, and ultimately decentralize itself to become the first internet-sovereign organization, and the largest decentralized autonomous corporation (DAC).

When Binance announced their decentralised exchange, it claimed that “Binance will transition from being a company to a community.”

binance dex

Multicoin Capital expect this to mean that the value created by Binance DEX, will flow towards $BNB, rather than Binance equity.

Initially, the decentralized exchange will likely eat into the market share of the centralized offering. However, over a time-period of several years, we may see the majority of transactions migrate to the DEX platform.

Due to the nature of exchanges, natural market equilibrium tends towards one dominant player, and Binance are well-placed to fulfil that role. The company’s greatest risk was that a decentralised exchange might rise up and take its prize. With the upcoming launch of Binance Chain, this risk is mitigated.

What do you think of Binance coin (BNB)? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 22

Cluck the Banks: Bitcoin Lightning Network Powers Remote Chicken Feeder

A new and decidedly niche consumer product for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has launched, allowing anyone to use the payment protocol… to feed chickens.


A Different Breed Of Blockchain Supply Chain

Currently circulating on social media, Pollofeed.com facilitates automated feeding of the birds, powered by Bitcoin Lightning Network payments.

“Pollo Feed is a automated chicken feeder powered by bitcoin lighting payments,” the service’s description reads.

Users use the website to generate a payment invoice and send funds. After, Pollo Feed automatically dispenses a small amount of feed to a chicken in an enclosure in a hitherto unknown location.

The chicken is visible via a stream from within the enclosure, and developers promise that each successful payment will result in video evidence of receipt.

There is as yet no data concerning how many times the chickens have profited from Bitcoiners’ generosity, or exactly how automated the setup is.

Doing More With Lightning

Despite its relatively small appeal as a tool, the reaction to Pollo Feed further demonstrates the rapidly increasing mainstream popularity of Lightning, which just months ago remained all but unknown beyond technical circles and enthusiasts.

As Bitcoinist reported, multiple new services designed to make using the network easy and attractive for the lay consumer have launched this year alone.

In February, these included Lightning Pizza, delivering Domino’s to any US resident and soon elsewhere, and Tippin.me expanding Bitcoin micropayments to Twitter users.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, further stated that it was a case of “not ‘if’ but ‘when’” regarding Bitcoin Lightning implementation in his own payment network Square.

Lightning continues growing hit new records on a daily basis, with currently capacity topping 715 BTC ($2.8 million) according to monitoring resource 1ML.com.

What do you think about Pollo Feed? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, pollofeed.com

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Úno 21

Bitcoin Transactions Per Second Approaching All-Time High

Bitcoin transaction rate is currently at its highest level since December 2017 despite the 14-month long bear market. With transaction per second on the rise, the top-ranked cryptocurrency is also experiencing a resurgence in both actual use, especially in emerging markets, and interest as seen in the latest Google search trends.


Rising Bitcoin Transaction Rate

Data from Blockchain shows that Bitcoin’s transaction rate is currently at 3.8 transactions per second (TPS). The figure represents the highest BTC transaction rate since its all-time high of 4.7 in mid-December 2017.

After the initial price crash of February 2018 that took BTC price to $6,000 the transaction rate also fell. However, since then, BTC’s TPS count has been rising steadily.

Bitcoin transaction per second

Despite the steady increase, transaction fees have remained relatively stable on the lower end of the spectrum. In 2017, as the daily transaction volume rose, so did the average fees paid to miners also increase.

By the time of the eye-catching bull rally in late 2017, fees had topped $50 on the average, a massive increase from sub-$1 levels before the surge. The fact that BTC transaction volume without any corresponding hike in fees shows that capacity-boosting upgrades like SegWit are having an effect.

Last month, Bitcoinist also reported that Bitcoin daily on-chain transaction volume has also reached the highest level since the 2017 price peak.

Bitcoin Popularity Staging a Comeback

Bitcoin’s TPS isn’t the only thing on the rise related to the top-ranked cryptocurrency at the moment. Different metrics show a resurgence in both interest in and actual usage of Bitcoin.

Data from Coin Dance shows a significant surge in BTC P2P trading via the LocalBitcoins platform. Countries like Venezuela and Indonesia are currently registering record Bitcoin trading volumes on a weekly basis.

Mati Greenspan, Senior Market Analyst at eToro opines that BTC is finding increased utility in emerging markets with less stable economies. Even with the year-long bear market, BTC [cion_price] constitutes a viable-enough proposition for people in such countries.

Since the second week of February 2019, BTC price has experienced two significant jumps that have seen it test $4,000. In that time, there has also been a marked increase in global Bitcoin searches as shown by data from Google Trends.

Do you expect a significant price rally for Bitcoin in 2019? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Blockchain.com, Twitter (@MatiGreenspan), Shutterstock

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Úno 20

Google Registers Bitcoin.dev as New Domain TLD Goes Public

Bitcoin.dev is no longer available on the Google .dev domain registry. This news comes amid the public rollout of the .dev top-level domain (TLD).


$12,500 for Bitcoin.dev

If you were eyeing ownership of bitcoin.dev while waiting for Google to release the new TLD officially, that chance is long gone. A redditor with the name “salsa-system” posted a couple of hours ago that Google has registered both the bitcoin.dev and blockchain.dev domains on Tuesday (February 19, 2019).

bitcoin.dev

This news means that someone splashed $12,500 to lock down the .dev domain for the top-ranked cryptocurrency. That’s $25,000 in total if the same entity also acquired blockchain.dev.

As at press time, a quick check on the registry shows that ethereum.dev is unavailable but addresses like satoshi.dev and btc.dev haven’t been claimed yet. Like in other business segments, prime domain names are also highly sought after in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

.dev TLD Now Available

The news comes as Google, the owners of the .dev domain announced the public release of the new TLD in a blog post published on Tuesday. According to the statement, individuals and companies alike can utilize the early access program to acquire their preferred .dev domain names.

An excerpt from the announcement reads:

We hope .dev will be a new home for you to build your communities, learn the latest tech and showcase your projects-all with a perfect domain name.

Entities who chose to register their domains names on the day of the launch paid $12,500 in total fees. Those electing to do so today, Wednesday (January 20, 2019) will pay $3,500. By the end of February, getting a .dev domain will cost $20.

Making .dev Public Again

Currently, platforms and organizations like GitHub, Salesforce, and JetBrains are already using the new TLD. According to Google, the .dev domain is for developers and coders.

This admission by the company might in some way be an attempt to appease developers. In 2015, Google’s acquisition of the .dev TLD caused an uproar from stakeholders in the industry.

At the time, developers used the domain for their internal website testing protocols. This situation became even further exacerbated when a couple of years later, the company took the domain private, causing test webpages to stop working.

In any case, it seems like Google is starting to dip its toes into Bitcoin. Just yesterday, Bitcoinist reported that Google has introduced the Bitcoin symbol (₿) into its iOS keyboard.

Who do you think paid $22,000 to lock down bitcoin.dev and blockchain.dev domain names? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Google (.dev registry), Shutterstock

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Úno 14

13% Have Used Bitcoin to Buy Stuff Online: Kaspersky Labs Study

Researchers at cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Labs say one-in-ten people have now used Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to make purchases online. Also, data from Bitcoin directory service platform, Coinmap shows that businesses accepting Bitcoin have surged by more than 700 percent within the last six years.


Online Retailers Accepting Bitcoin

According to a survey by Kaspersky Labs, about 13 percent of people have used cryptocurrency as a payment method. The study collected responses from more than 12,000 consumers in 22 different countries.

The results of the survey show that crypto use is still the least popular method with 81 percent of respondents saying they used credit/debit cards for online purchases. However, the implication of having 13 percent of people across multiple countries using Bitcoin is profound from an adoption point of view.

13 percent of people have used Bitcoin

Commenting on results, Vitaly Mzokov of Kaspersky Lab said:

Despite a fall in cryptocurrency prices, there is still a strong desire for digital transactions amongst consumers. Our consumer research has found that 13% of people have used cryptocurrency as a payment method, which was surprising to see.

Cryptocurrency prices fell by more than 80 percent in 2018. However, a fraction of internet shoppers seem to have no problems using virtual currencies. More importantly, online retail outlets aren’t shying away from accepting cryptos.

These results also counter the mainstream narrative that cryptos fund no utility in the online retail arena. Critics like JPMorgan would have people believe that merchants aren’t accepting BTC and crypto’s only appeal comes via risky speculative investments.

Bitcoin Acceptance Continues to Grow

Concerning the pace of BTC acceptance, data from Coinmap shows that businesses that accept Bitcoin across the globe have increased by 702 percent since December 2013.

Global Bitcoin Acceptance Heat Map

According to Coinmap, there are now 14,346 venues that accept BTC as against 1,789 recorded almost six years ago.

Coinshares CEO, Ryan Radloff, showed this massive increase in BTC acceptance over the past five years in a tweet posted on Tuesday (February 12, 2019). With increasing adoption in countries like Ecuador and Venezuela, the BTC acceptance heat map for the north of South America looks a lot different than it did six years ago.

Reports show that these avenues aren’t restricted to online shopping platforms as brick-and-mortar establishments like Montessori schools and high-end restaurants are also adopting crypto payments. In stores across the United States, Europe, and Asia, the sign “Bitcoin accepted here,” is becoming less of a novelty.

Have you used Bitcoin to pay for goods and services online? Share your experiences below!


Images courtesy of Kaspersky Lab, Coinmap.org, Twitter (@RyanRadloff), Shutterstock

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