Bře 23

Vietnam Reportedly Launching First Fully-Authorized Cryptocurrency Exchange

Vietnam’s largest distribution company, Linh Thanh Group, is apparently partnering with Switzerland-based blockchain company KRONN Ventures to establish the first fully-authorized cryptocurrency exchange in the Southeast Asian country. 


The information comes from a press release, which states that the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding and have received a license to establish a cryptocurrency exchange in Vietnam.

This news comes after the Zug-based KRONN Ventures AG brought together financial committees from Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to form a consortium in late last year. The consortium was formed to construct an international wiring system powered by blockchain technology.

The aforementioned press release claims that the Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures are building “a world-class cryptocurrency exchange” — which may have merit, given Zug’s standing as a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain hotspot in the world. KRONN has also worked with London’s King’s College on an artificial intelligence research facility.

“The industry expectation is that by combining Linh Thanh Group’s massive distribution network, which is the largest in Vietnam, with the world-class technology of KRONN Ventures, the impact will be widely felt not only in Vietnam but also in other surrounding Asian countries,” states the press release — though we’re not confident the press release is capable of speaking for the entire blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

The move from Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures is one likely driven by the desire of developing countries in Asia to not fall behind once the cryptocurrency market finishes correcting and commences on another positive trajectory — which is more likely to happen than not, given the behind-the-scenes development taking place on an industry level while coin prices fall and worthless tokens find themselves removed from the market. It is also a move that hopes to reverse the worrying trend in the region of regulators casting unfavorable eyes on the industry.

What do you think about Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures teaming up to launch Vietnam’s first authorized cryptocurrency exchange? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pexels.

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Bře 17

Gatecoin Ordered to Cease All Operations, Enters Liquidation

Gatecoin, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Hong Kong, has announced that it is shutting down and entering liquidation following failed attempts at recovering lost funds stemming from a dispute with a past payment services provider. 


The news comes via an official statement on Gatecoin’s website.

As detailed by the company, Gatecoin ran into trouble with its banking partners in September 2018, which forced the lesser-known exchange to commence a working relationship with a payment service provider (PSP). Said provider is apparently fully-compliant with French regulations. However, Gatecoin blames the PSP for failing “to process most of the transfers in a timely manner.” States the exchange:

[This] in turn almost paralyzed our operation for many months and caused substantial loss on our side.

Things apparently got worse when Gatecoin decided to replace the problematic PSP with “more reliable alternatives.” The prior PSP allegedly retained a significant portion of the exchange’s funds. Legal action apparently had little effect on recovering the funds — which seems a little suspect. Explains the statement:

After months spent trying to recover those funds, we commenced legal action against that PSP but were advised that it is unlikely that we would be able to recover the funds from them in full.

This financial difficulty, undoubtedly paired with the continued bear market, has forced Gatecoin to close up shop. The company was ordered to wind up by a court on March 13, 2019, and a provisional liquidator has been put in control. All operations must be ceased immediately. “Please rest assured that we will assist the liquidation process in order to expedite the realization and redistribution of our assets to the creditors,” the statement claims.

Gatecoin now joins the growing list of failed exchanges and bear market fatalities as the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry continues to flush out the waste and separate the wheat from the chaff.

What do you think of Gatecoin’s closure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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Bře 13

Justin Sun Planning $20M Cash Airdrop and Tesla Giveaway

TRON founder Justin Sun announced that he is planning to do a $20 million free cash airdrop, in addition to a giveaway of one Tesla vehicle, to a random winner. 


$20M Cash Airdrop from Justin Sun

Justin Sun, the founder of TRON (TRX) — the world’s 10th largest cryptocurrency by means of market capitalization — has announced his plans to do a $20 million free cash airdrop.

Prior to the airdrop, however, Sun is also going to give away one Tesla vehicle to a randomly picked winner.

“To celebrate BTT & USDT-TRON success, I am planning a $20m free cash airdrop. Good news – it’s coming, bad news – I may decide to give away more! First, I will randomly pick 1 winner for a Tesla up until 3/27! To apply, follow me and RT this tweet! Simple!”

Apparently, the first phase of the Tesla giveaway will end on March 27 and those who want to participate have to follow Sun on Twitter and retweet his post. So far, it has been retweeted over 29,000 times.

As for the second part of the initiative, which includes the $20m cash airdrop, there’s no additional information shared.

The entire stunt celebrates the success of BitTorrent Token (BTT) and the recent partnership between Tether (USDT) and TRON (TRX). As Bitcoinist reported, Tether is set to be introduced on TRON’s blockchain.

tron trx price

$20M — Why Not?

While $20 million might sound like a lot of money for a giveaway, Justin Sun’s recent moves have brought in a lot more.

BitTorrent had its initial coin offering (ICO) in January through Binance Launchpad. It ended in less than 15 minutes, selling $7.2 million in BTT tokens at $0.00012 a pop. At the time of this writing, BTT trades at $0.00075 — a six-fold increase on any investments made in the digital token during the time of its sale.

It’s also worth noting that, according to the token allocation plan of BitTorrent, 20 percent of the total supply is held by the TRON Foundation, 19.9 percent by the BitTorrent Ecosystem, and 19 percent by the “team.” The total supply of BTT is 990,000,000,000. In other words, approximately 594,000,000,000 tokens are held by entities owned by Justin Sun. At current prices, that’s roughly around $445,500,000.

What do you think of Justin Sun’s $20M cash airdrop and Tesla giveaway? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter.

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Bře 08

Amazon Shares Drop 2.6 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon suppliers received a lesson in centralization on March 7 after the e-commerce giant abruptly began canceling huge numbers of orders in a profits push. 


Amazon: We ‘Saw Opportunity’

As Bloomberg reported, quoting a statement from Amazon, the company wants to increase returns at the heart of its e-commerce operations. This has involved fundamentally altering the supply line, forcing even long-time sellers to sell products directly on its marketplace instead of using Amazon as a middleman.

This, reports say, results in reduced costs, as suppliers themselves foot the bill for issues such as storage and shipping. Amazon also takes a commission from each transaction.

“We regularly review our selling partner relationships and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value and convenience,” the statement reads.

The knock-on effect for suppliers, perhaps predictably, has already touched a nerve. As Bloomberg notes, given purchase orders agreed months in advance, seismic changes from Amazon can easily trigger chaos.

“If you’re heavily reliant on Amazon, which a lot of these vendors are, you’re in a lot of trouble. If this goes on, it can put people out of business,” the publication quoted Dan Brownsher, CEO of a consultancy counting around 50 Amazon vendors among its clients, as saying.

At press time, Amazon’s share price was down by close to three percent on the day.

amazon

Can Decentralization Tackle Monopolies?

As Amazon has grown to achieve a practically worldwide monopoly, the perils of relying on a giant centralized partner will ring true for those businesses which have adopted an alternative ethos.

Nonetheless, decentralized marketplaces have yet to achieve widespread popularity. Efforts to take on the e-commerce giants have so far seen little progress, with highly-anticipated offerings such as OpenBazaar failing to dent consumer habits.

“You should be able to buy and sell using cryptocurrency… if you get crypto, you should be able to spend it… you and buy whatever you need for your daily activity,” the platform’s founder, Washington Sanchez, told cryptocurrency advocate Tatiana Moroz’s podcast the Tatiana Show in January.

Sanchez is overseeing a diversification of OpenBazaar’s core offering, branching out into related software as part of parent company OB1.io.

What do you think about Amazon’s change of strategy? Let us know in the comments below! 


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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!


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Úno 10

Bitcoin and Various Altcoins Now Accepted by H&M Distributors

In its slow-but-steady crawl towards mass adoption, Bitcoin (BTC) will now be accepted at American wholesaler H&M Distributors. 


Not to be confused with the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company Hennes & Mauritz AB, H&M Distributors instead deals in cost-effective lighting — specifically, replacement ballasts, lamp holders, and accessories for lamp holders.

Though this may not be the most glorious or exciting announcement in the Bitcoin’s history of acceptance as a means of payment, it nevertheless is another brick laid on the road to mainstream adoption.

H&M Distributors will use the cryptocurrency e-commerce platform Chimpion to facilitate purchases with the market-leading cryptocurrency.

However, Bitcoin isn’t the only digital asset accepted by the company. Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), and others are also accepted. (Though, it’s legitimately difficult to imagine anyone purchasing replacement ballasts with Bitcoin Diamond.)

bitcoin accepted sign

The decision to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies comes after the company realized that the nascent asset class breaks down financial barriers (by removing the need for banks) and allows it to sell its products to a wider international market.

H&M Distributors founder and CEO Herb Needham stated in a press release:

After more than 20 years in the business, we consider ourselves experts in specialty lighting. Accepting cryptocurrency payments allows us to share that expertise with even more clients by removing many of the barriers that made it difficult to sell internationally before. What sold us was the settlement system, which allows us to convert crypto payments to a USD equivalent right away.

The press release also claims that the acceptance of cryptocurrencies allows the company to “pass on even more savings to [its] customers” by way of “drastically reduced transaction fees […] and freedom from chargebacks.”

What do you think of H&M Distributors’ decision to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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Led 20

Australian Bitcoin ATM Startup Says Its Raking in $360,000 Per Week

A Bitcoin ATM company from Australia has reported a weekly turnover of $500,000 AUD (roughly $360,000 USD) despite the cryptocurrency bear market. 


$360,000 Weekly Turnaround

Auscoin, an Australian bitcoin ATM company, has reported a weekly turnaround of $360,000 in 2018. According to the reports, it’s currently operating 31 ATMs throughout Australia but it’s planning to expand.

Speaking on the matter, Sam Karagiozis, founder at Auscoin, said:

We currently have 31 Auscoin ATMs in Australia… and our turnover is $500,000 a week, which is just insane considering how much the price of Bitcoin has dropped. […] It just shows there really is a market for it and cryptocurrency is seen as a way of the future for many.

bitcoin atm

Auscoin bitcoin ATM

The company had an underwhelming ICO in 2018 after it managed to raise only $2 million of the projected $30 million. However, it hopes to expand to a network of more than 1200 bitcoin ATMs across Australia.

It’s Getting Easier to Buy Bitcoin

It’s becoming increasingly easier for people to buy Bitcoin at a range of physical locations. According to Karagiozis, accessibility is the main barrier to entry for regular people:

We believe the most significant barrier to entry for everyday people in the cryptocurrency market is accessibility.

Bitcoinist reported that the number of Bitcoin ATMs has doubled in 2018, growing to more than 4,000 in 76 different countries. According to the tracking website Coinatmradar, Australia has 54 Bitcoin ATMs in operation.

At the beginning of the month, France started selling Bitcoin at tobacco shops. The plan is to expand buying bitcoin to 24,000 tobacco kiosks across the country in the near future.

Just a couple of days ago, US-based Bitcoin ATM company Coinme partnered up with international coin counter Coinstar. The initiative has enabled users to buy Bitcoin at 20,000 Coinstar kiosk locations.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is also expected to see its first bitcoin vending machine go live within the next two weeks.

What do you think of the growing popularity of Bitcoin ATMs? Will this have a positive impact on its widespread adoption? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Pro 31

Bakkt Raises $182.5M From Microsoft And Other Big-Name Investors

Bakkt on Monday announced the completion of its first funding round, to the tune of $182.5 million. The platform which aims to offer the first-ever Bitcoin-settled futures contracts in the coming year says it is going ahead with its plans irrespective of the current market conditions.


$182.5 Million in Funding From High Profile Investors

In a Medium post published on Monday (Dec. 31, 2018) by the Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, the company announced that it had successfully carried out its first funding round. According to the announcement, 12 investors participated in the capital raising exercise.

The CEO notes the investors including some big names, namely:

The partners and investors in the first round include Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.

Bakkt Moving Ahead Despite Bear Market

For Loeffler, the status quo remains unchanged despite the prolonged bear market that characterized the cryptocurrency space in 2018. The company intends to continue its drive for proper onboarding of clients, as well as, collaborating with relevant business partners.

New York Stock Exchange Owner to Launch Bitcoin Data Service

Reinstating Bakkt’s commitment and resolve to the process, Loeffler, said:

We have worked to build new markets and products many times before. Those of us building Bakkt have earned our stripes by helping advance markets in once-nascent asset classes, from energy to credit derivatives and, now, bitcoin. The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention, and, finally, acceptance.

According to Loeffler, focusing on the BTC price 00 action is a distraction from the groundbreaking developments happening with Bitcoin as a whole. The Bakkt CEO also noted that paradigm-shifting technological breakthroughs have a long incubation time and price isn’t always the best metric for gauging growth.

Notably, 2018 was the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history. This was evidenced by rising investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as daily bitcoin transaction value and active addresses. Yet, these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the more narrow focus on bitcoin’s price…

Bakkt Postponed From January to ‘Early 2019’

Bakkt and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) continue to work out modalities for the launch of the BTC-settled futures contracts. However, the current government shutdown in the United States looks like it has pushed back the January 2019 launch to “early 2019.”

The official statement published on December 31, reads:

Following consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, ICE Futures U.S., Inc. expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019, for the trading, clearing and warehousing of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract. The launch had previously been set for January 24, 2019, but will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.

While awaiting CFTC approval, the platform says it will continue to onboard customers while firming up its institutional-grade infrastructure.

Do you think the signs are good for Bakkt following this successful fundraising round? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@Bakkt), Shutterstock

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Pro 29

Use Bitcoin! Customers Condemn PayPal After It ‘Bans’ The Hacker News

Cybersecurity news resource The Hacker News (THN) has become the latest PayPal user to have its accounts frozen without warning, the company has claimed.


‘At Least One Valid Reason’

In a series of tweets December 28, officials reported that funds from “all” its corporate accounts with the money transmitter were no longer accessible.  

“(PayPal) has permanently banned all of our accounts without mentioning any reason and hold wallet funds wrongly for 180 days. Upon asking, (PayPal Support) also refused to share any details,” they wrote.

Describing the situation as “frustrating,” THN also accused PayPal of failing to provide “at least one valid reason” for its actions.

PayPal has often instigated funds blocking against corporate clients, including those involved in the cryptocurrency industry, without explanation.

As Bitcoinist has reported, such blocks are part of the service’s terms of use, which include the caveat that users can be frozen out of their accounts without the company being required to explain why.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care

Almost immediately after THN made the news public, Twitter commentators pointed it in the direction of Bitcoin as an alternative.

The event comes amid a progressively changing mood to centralized payment providers among tech circles.

The same day, TIME Magazine had published a pro-Bitcoin article focusing on its use as a circumventive method, specifically highlighting PayPal’s Venmo as an example of middlemen who “can potentially censor, surveil, and profit” from customers.

The backlash has extended beyond PayPal in recent months. In August and on several occasions since, crowdfunding platform Patreon blocked high-profile users and gave dubious reasons for doing so.

Open source alternatives have also targeted centralization within cryptocurrency, such as BTCPay rapidly taking custom away from industry names such as BitPay and Coinbase, which have both faced controversies of their own.

At press time, no further information had come from PayPal over the THN stunt.

What do you think about PayPal allegedly blocking The Hacker News? Let us know in the comments below!


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Pro 24

Bitmain Fires Entire Bitcoin Cash Development Team: Report

Things appear to be far from well with Bitcoin Mining firm Bitmain as several reports indicate another round of employee layoffs at the firm. This news follows reports that the company’s IPO is also dead in the water after rumors of Q3 losses running into over $700 million.


Bitmain on Firing Spree

According to Blockstream CSO, Samson Mow, there are rumors swirling that the mining giant laid off its entire Copernicus team. Mow cited posts from Chinese LinkedIn published by company employees. The Copernicus team was responsible for developing the Bitcoin Cash GO client for Bitmain.

In another report, other messages indicate a far more extensive labor cutback, which could target up to half of Bitmain’s entire workforce. Earlier in the month, Bitcoinist reported that the company closed down its research division in Israel. More than 20 employees lost their jobs after the move.

BCH Blues

Bitmain bet on Bitcoin Cash 00, a move that now appears to have backfired leading to severe losses for the company. Rumors of massive Q3 2018 losses are also casting huge doubts over the company financials and will likely stonewall its IPO plans.

The second half of 2018 has turned out to be a challenging one for the company. From the massive fall in BCH prices to the Bitcoin Cash hash wars, Bitmain’s bitcoin mining industry monopoly could be in jeopardy.

Recently, US IT firm UnitedCorp sued Bitmain along with Kraken, Bitcoin.com, and Roger Ver for allegedly manipulating the BCH network.

Tis the Season of Layoffs

Bitmain is only the latest in a series of mass layoffs in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry. Earlier this month, Consensys fired 100 of its employees (about 10 percent of its entire staff strength) as Ethereum price 00 plummeted from an all-time high of $1,400 in January to as low as $83 in early December. Reports even indicate that the company isn’t through with its downsizing.

Others like Steemit and Ethereum mobile dApp maker Status have also significantly reduced their workforce in the past months. For many of these startups, the reason for their downsizing is directly tied to the dramatic fall in cryptocurrency prices with many experiencing drop of over 90 percent.

Oddly enough, despite the increasing layoffs, the latest figures show that talent is still very much in demand in the space. A recent Glassdoor survey found that job openings in the cryptocurrency industry are at an 18-month high.

What do you think the situation at Bitmain reveals about the state of similar companies in the cryptocurrency scene at the moment? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@DoveyWan and @Excellion), Shutterstock

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