US Customs Official Claims Crypto Conversions Can Be Traced

US Customs Official Claims Crypto Conversions Can Be Traced

A “vulnerability” is created every time criminals convert from cryptocurrency to government-issued ones, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday. Matthew Allen, an assistant director of domestic operations with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of ICE, discussed the role of cryptocurrencies in drug trafficking during an October 3 hearing before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. “On dark net marketplaces and other ‘unindexed’ websites, purchases are often paid for with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and monero, among many others,” he said in a prepared statement. Perhaps most notably, he noted that HSI is having some level of success in tracking criminals who use cryptocurrencies to launder proceeds from drug sales. While cryptocurrencies make transferring value relatively easy, he contended, criminals still need to convert cryptocurrencies into fiat – and vice versa – during the process. “Whenever monetary exchanges are made, a vulnerability is created,” he went on to say. “This is the time when criminals are most susceptible to identification by law enforcement means and methods,” Allen stated, explaining: “Utilizing traditional investigative methods such as surveillance, undercover operations, and confidential informants, coupled with financial and block-chain analysis, ICE-HSI is able to disrupt the criminals and dismantle the [transnational criminal organizations], as well as the cryptocurrency exchangers who typically launder proceeds for criminal networks engaged in or supporting dark net marketplaces.” Allen went on to discuss multiple types of cryptocurrency exchanges and how they may be used to facilitate money laundering. Peer-to-peer exchanges in particular, referring to startups which refuse to register as a money services business and do not follow compliance laws, are often used to ensure users remain anonymous. Despite that, however, national and international agencies are training investigators in how to best track cryptocurrencies, he said. “We train investigators … in an effort to deter organizations from laundering proceeds or using cryptocurrencies to fund the purchase of fentanyl/opioids or other narcotics,” he said. ICE logo image via chrisdorney / Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Bitcoin Startup Acinq Raises $1.7 Million to Double Down on Lightning

Bitcoin Startup Acinq Raises $1.7 Million to Double Down on Lightning

Lightning isn’t just a big hit with developers, the promising bitcoin technology is now attracting a little attention from investors. Acinq, one of the leading startups working on the lightning network, a top-level layer aiming to boost the number of transactions bitcoin can support, has closed a $1.7 million funding round led by Serena Capital, with participation from Talend co-founder Bertrand Diard, Sebastien Lucas, Alistair Milne and Snapcar founder Yves Weisselberger. As a result of the funding, Lightning Labs is no longer the only startup solely dedicated to lightning that’s been able to rake in money for its efforts. Since it launched a few years back, the Paris-based company has become one of the most pivotal in a broader push to build and design lightning. It has built Eclair, one of three lightning software implementations alongside those by Lightning Labs and Blockstream, as well as Eclair Wallet, the most popular lightning wallet to date. Yet for all the startup has accomplished, it’s all been done a small team of three. “Everything that we did was done with very little,” Acinq co-founder and CEO Pierre-Marie Padiou said. He told CoinDesk: “With this raise, we’re very excited to be able to do a lot more with more resources. We’ll be able to make even more cool services for lightning. This is not only good for us but for lightning in general and for pushing adoption forward.” Doubling efforts With the funds, Acinq also plans to hire three to four “highly technical” developers over the coming weeks and months. Acinq is sure to need it, as far as pushing lightning adoption forward, there’s still a lot to do. Lightning may have entered beta earlier this year as users started using it to send real money. (But, this isn’t exactly advised. The technology is still unfinished, so users can lose money.) Now, at least $700,000 worth of bitcoin is now tied up in the lightning network. That’s still a far cry, though, from what developers want lightning to be – safe and easy to use. They want it to grow the capacity of the network, so maybe one day people with no interest in cryptocurrency will be able to use it, To do its part in the effort, Acinq plans to take…

Venezuela Makes Petro Crypto a National Currency, Publishes New Whitepaper

Venezuela Makes Petro Crypto a National Currency, Publishes New Whitepaper

News Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has made several claims regarding his country’s digital currency this week. He announced the launch of the petro as a national currency on Monday, reportedly claiming that it is already “present in the world’s six topmost international exchange houses.” A new whitepaper has also been published showing that the petro is no longer 100 percent backed by oil but is also backed by some of Venezuela’s other resources. Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals Petro Officially a National Currency Maduro announced on Monday the official launch of the petro, supposedly an oil-backed cryptocurrency created in February. In a televised address, he said: Venezuela makes history! Today we take a step forward with the launch of petro as a national currency and platform for strengthening our financial sovereignty. Telesur TV subsequently quoted him declaring that the petro, “unlike other digital currencies, doesn’t need to be mined because it already has a value; it is shielded with Venezuelan oil and mining wealth.” According to the publication, Maduro was also referring to “the country’s gold, diamond, iron, and aluminum.” New Whitepaper Following Monday’s announcement, the Venezuelan government published a new whitepaper for the petro. In contrast to the previous whitepaper, the new version states that the petro is using Dash’s X11 mining algorithm for Proof of Work, as well as a staked masternode system for Proof of Stake verification. The hybrid system will employ four-megabyte blocks and a one-minute block interval. A page of the new whitepaper, describing the basic concepts of the technology behind the petro, displays illustrations taken directly from the Dash and Bitcoin whitepapers. “Lol Venezuela’s new petro token is a blatant Dash clone,” tweeted Ethereum developer Joey Zhou upon reading the document. Furthermore, the petro is no longer backed fully by a barrel of oil. Instead, it is now backed by 50 percent oil, 20 percent gold, 20 percent iron, and 10 percent diamond, the new whitepaper details. Maduro Claims Petro Already in Six Exchanges Without naming any exchanges, Telesur TV also quoted Maduro claiming: The petro is already present in the world’s six topmost international exchange houses and will now be accepted at a national level. He further described, “All Venezuelans will have access…

Vote Buying Scandal Stokes Fears of EOS Governance Failure

Vote Buying Scandal Stokes Fears of EOS Governance Failure

EOS investors can’t say they weren’t warned. What was foretold in a March blog post by ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin may have come to pass on the world’s fifth largest blockchain, with a bout of vote buying drama rocking the $5 billion protocol over the weekend. That’s when a Twitter account named “Maple Leaf Capital” produced screenshots from a leaked Excel spreadsheet that supposedly shows the China-based exchange Huobi, one of the world’s oldest and largest, accepting money for its support of certain entities in the charge of ensuring the network’s distributed decision-making. The allegation is notable as EOS has only 21 “block producers,” trusted entities periodically elected to maintain the history of the blockchain and that receive monetary rewards in the form of cryptocurrency for doing so. No one can verify any of the claims made in this thread, nor the provenance of the spreadsheet’s data. Huobi promptly denied all the accusations. However, that doesn’t mean damage control isn’t being done. Block.One, the creators and maintainers of the EOSIO software, for which they raised $4 billion in a nearly year-long initial coin offering (ICO), issued its own statement on Tuesday. It reads: “We are aware of some unverified claims regarding irregular block producer voting, and the subsequent denials of those claims. We believe it is important to ensure a free and democratic election process within EOS and may, as we deem appropriate, vote with other holders to reinforce the integrity of this process.” Accusations of wrong-doing aside, the controversy illuminates deeper issues, adding fuel to the fire for those who allege the EOS protocol may have an incomplete approach to governance. At the simplest level, the debate is over whether or not block producers should or shouldn’t be allowed to pay other people to vote for them. The EOS interim constitutions, documents designed to put forth rules for participants on the network, clearly ban vote buying, but that constitution has never been ratified by EOS users. Yet, at the same time, EOS seems designed for block producers to support other block producers. Block producers earn tokens and have an interest in the long-term health of the protocol, so some argue it seems natural that they would (and must) use those tokens to support other block…

Six of the Best Cryptocurrency Calendars

Six of the Best Cryptocurrency Calendars

Featured The world of cryptocurrency is a hectic and jam-packed one, with nary a day passing when there isn’t a major event of some kind going down. From conferences to seminars and coin burns to airdrops, crypto events large and small must be factored into the investment strategy and travel itinerary of cryptocurrency traders. We’ve rounded up six of the best event trackers so you don’t have to miss a thing. Also read: Under the Tent: A Look at the Latest Openbazaar Marketplace Software Coinmarketcal Coinmarketcal sprung up a year ago and is probably the best known site of its kind. It’s gradually refined its listing criteria to the extent where its community-supplied data is reasonably accurate and thus reasonably useful. In addition to listing general cryptocurrency events, Coinmarketcal enables visitors to filter by coin, category, exchange, and date. With Twitter and Telegram bots plus an email newsletter, Coinmarketcal has all bases and all events covered. Coinmarketcap Perhaps in revenge for Coinmarketcal ripping off its name, Coinmarketcap recently decided to borrow its near-namesake’s entire business model. While Coinmarketcap’s events page is rudimentary, it’s perfect for keeping track of upcoming blockchain conferences of note. A lack of curation, however, means viewers are forced to rely on the soundbites provided by conference organizers, which ensures that every event is dubbed as the event of the year. Kryptocal Kryptocal combines ICO listings with general news events and allows users to filter by categories such as airdrops, bounty programs, conferences, forks, and meetings. If you want to find out what’s coming up in the land of Bitcoin Cash, for example, there’s a page for that. Kryptocal can’t rival the number of listings offered by Coinmarketcal, but remains a well designed site that’s a pleasure to browse. Kryptocal Cryptocalendar Cryptocalendar isn’t as easy on the eye as some of the sites featured here, but is good at providing a snapshot of the number and scope of events taking place globally on any given day. Its search feature also works well, taking you to a dedicated events page for your preferred cryptocurrency. Cryptocalendar Coinscalendar With so many similarly named sites, it’s tough trying to distinguish the entries in this list from one another. Coinscalendar looks generic, but it does have several strings…

Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index

Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index

Digital currency wallet and exchange Abra has launched support for a new token, BIT10, that tracks the Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index, according to an announcement published Oct. 3. The Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index was developed by cryptocurrency asset management firm Bitwise Asset Management and is reportedly listed exclusively on Abra. The index tracks the ten largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, currently representing 80 percent of the total crypto market capitalization. Per the announcement, any investor is now able to acquire the BIT10 token through the Abra app, with a $5 minimum investment. Hunter Horsley, the CEO at Bitwise, said: “Index investing is extremely popular in stocks, bonds, and crypto because it gives investors diversified exposure without having to constantly monitor news and try to predict which assets will be most valuable. So far in the crypto space, index investing has only been available to institutions and accredited investors.” The cost of each BIT10 token reflects the value of 10 coins in the index, while the token’s positions are reportedly held in multi-signature smart contracts on the Bitcoin (BTC) or Litecoin (LTC) blockchains. The press release further explains the operational principle: “Once invested, Abra and the user are entering into a smart contract that effectively pegs the asset invested (either fiat currency or cryptocurrency) to the same amount of BIT10 tokens. Abra will get a real-time price feed from Bitwise Asset Management and the BIT10 investor will see the market movement up or down reflected in the price of their BIT10 tokens.” Last month, Abra enabled the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies for European bank accounts. Customers can now transfer euros or several other national currencies directly to their wallet which can, in turn, can be converted into the 28 cryptocurrencies supported by Abra. In March, Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt forecasted that “all hell will break loose” in BTC and altcoin markets this year. Barhydt said that he talked with hedge funds, high networth individuals, and speculators, who saw a “huge” opportunity in the volatility in the crypto markets. “Once that happens, all hell will break loose. Once the floodgates are opened, they’re opened,” Barhydt added.

Frictionless Commerce: A Story of How Easy It Is to Start Accepting Bitcoin Cash

Frictionless Commerce: A Story of How Easy It Is to Start Accepting Bitcoin Cash

News Earlier this week news.Bitcoin.com received an email from an e-commerce shop owner who was having lots of issues dealing with traditional payment providers. Many of the problems stemmed from him not having a formal address and having bank accounts in different countries. However, the owner of store Bohemianbeachstyle.com quickly found out about Coinbase Commerce and how easy it is to accept the frictionless digital asset bitcoin cash and other cryptocurrencies. Also read: Popular Discussion Board 4chan Now Accepts Cryptocurrencies for Passes    An Online Store Owner’s Difficulties With Traditional Payment Providers This week an individual named Fabio, the owner of the online fashion outlet Bohemianbeachstyle.com, sent news.Bitcoin.com an email detailing his struggle with dealing with traditional payment providers like Paypal and credit cards. Fabio is originally from Italy and he lived in the UK for a few years, but just recently he moved to Dubai with his girlfriend. Fabio the owner of Bohemianbeachstyle.com just added Bitcoin Cash (BCH) acceptance to the e-commerce shop via the Coinbase Commerce platform. Since moving to Dubai, Fabio realized how much harder it was to set up payment services for the online business he recently started. Fabio began to have issues with credit card services and Paypal, and had to dedicate lots of hours dealing with lawyers, agencies, and other countries to get things situated.    “Since all of our documents are in the name of my girlfriend and I am only renting a space, I don’t actually own an address on my own — This is where I started to realize that I couldn’t do many things since I don’t have a “proof of address,” Fabio explains to news.Bitcoin.com. “My passport is Italian and my bank account is in the UK and UAE — This is confusing for a lot of banks when you need to ask them to verify your payments,” the store owner adds. Fabio said he had a lot of problems with laws and traditional financial institutions.  Coinbase Commerce and Bitcoin Cash to the Rescue Fabio continues by saying that governments and laws have not been on his side so he recently created an account with Coinbase Commerce. To Fabio’s surprise setting up an account for Bohemianbeachstyle.com to accept cryptocurrencies only took him five minutes. “Nobody…

Crypto Exchange Poloniex Removes Margin and Lending Products for US Users

Crypto Exchange Poloniex Removes Margin and Lending Products for US Users

U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange platform Poloniex will remove margin and lending products for its customers in the U.S and delist three digital assets, according to an announcement published October 3. Poloniex is a cryptocurrency trading platform founded in 2014 and designed as a digital-currency-to-digital-currency exchange. In 2018, Poloniex was acquired by Dublin-based payments technology firm Circle for $400 million. Currently, Poloniex is ranked 38th by the adjusted trading value, according to CoinMarketCap. According to the statement, the exchange will remove its margine and lending products for U.S.-based customers by the end of this year. Poloniex explains that the move has been taken to ensure the exchange complies with regulatory requirements in every jurisdiction. The announcement did not refer directly to any specific regulations. Additionally, Poloniex will reportedly delist three cryptocurrencies; Synereo (AMP), Expanse (EXP), and Gnosis (GNO) on October 10, so customers will have to desist any trades and withdraw any balances in these assets. In July, the Delaware Department of Justice (DoJ) investigated Poloniex after the exchange’s social media and support center accounts were besieged by users who had been locked out of their accounts. In May, a number of customers reportedly started receiving emails in which Poloniex required them to verify their account within 14 days. After that, the unverified accounts were frozen. Poloniex users further took to the exchange’s unofficial subreddit, complaining about missing or “stuck deposits.” One poster said the amount of complaints led him to shut down his account, despite not being directly affected. In January, Poloniex users claimed on the exchange’s unofficial subreddit that it had not been crediting user account balances when orders were cancelled. One user said: “When I cancel any open orders, the original USDT value isn’t returned. Usually, the intended buy value is returned to my total and everything is fine but just noticed today that every time I cancel an order, the “Estimated value of holdings” (DEPOSITS & WITHDRAWALS tab) gets smaller and smaller and never returns to the original total.”

Increasing Number of Crypto ATMs in Europe Support BCH

Increasing Number of Crypto ATMs in Europe Support BCH

Featured A growing number of cryptocurrency ATMs in Europe now buy and sell BCH, increasing the popularity and widening the adoption of Bitcoin Cash. Many of the teller machines are located in major cities and resorts offering Europeans and visitors easy access to the world of fast and affordable digital money transactions. Also read: Chrome Extensions Will Soon Protect Against Miners and Hackers Numerous BCH ATMs and Tellers Help Bitcoin Cash Adoption Across Europe The Bitcoin Cash adoption has been increasing rapidly over the past year with more and more merchants, wallet providers and users taking advantage of the fast and low fee BCH transactions. Add to that a growing number of teller services offering the opportunity to buy and sell the electronic cash around the world. Europe often needs more time to embrace things, but in this case it has been quicker than usual – more ATMs and tellers now support purchases and sales of bitcoin cash. Many of them are located in Europe’s capitals, tourist destinations and resorts. According to data provided by Coinatmradar, there are numerous points where one can exchange – buy, sell or both – fiat money with bitcoin cash. Britain seems to be the absolute leader with over 70 bitcoin ATMs offering BCH. At least 50 of them are concentrated in London and its metropolitan area. The capital of the United Kingdom is a popular destination with almost 20 million visitors annually. The closest one to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus is located on 4 Lisle Street – it’s a buy-only machine which sells BCH, along with BTC, ETH, LTC and DASH. Purchases are limited to £2,000/txn. Spain, another fascinating country to visit, has at least 18 ATMs supporting bitcoin cash. There is a teller machine on 28 Calle Gutierre De Cetina Street in the capital Madrid. It’s a buy-only device and has a daily limit of €999 for the purchases of a number of cryptocurrencies. There’s a BATM in Palma de Mallorca, on 10 Carrer Carles I Street, which is a two-way device with transactions limited to €2,000. It buys and sells digital money, including BCH, with a fee of 6% over Bitstamp rates. The crypto teller machine on 8 Calle Londres Street in Adeje, Tenerife, also processes…

Op-Ed: KYC and Stringent Regulations Frustrate New Crypto Entrants

Op-Ed: KYC and Stringent Regulations Frustrate New Crypto Entrants

Op-Ed The following opinion piece on crypto regulations was written by Benjamin Pirus, a crypto trader who has written many articles for different ICOs, crypto news outlets, and clients. Government protection and regulations may provide reasons for thankfulness. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant frustrations and need for change in the current system. Regulation leads to normal citizens being inhibited or even put at risk in many ways. Definite need for change exists in two particular areas: the current United States accredited investor laws, and current overall KYC expectations. Also Read: Wave of Mobile Tax Hikes Squeeze Africa’s Poor to Indulge Governments With tokenized securities just around the corner, as well as recent ICO regulation, the U.S. accredited investor law has been the topic of much discussion. Under current laws, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), as well as many ICOs, ban U.S. citizens from investing unless they are deemed to be certified accredited investors. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an accredited investor is described as anyone who has “earned income that exceeded $200,000 (or $300,000 together with a spouse) in each of the prior two years, and reasonably expects the same for the current year, OR has a net worth over $1 million, either alone or together with a spouse (excluding the value of the person’s primary residence)”. The above described law prevents a significant portion of the United States from investing. This is extremely frustrating because there are often many people with more than enough knowledge to invest but are barred from participation. Just because someone has significant money, doesn’t mean they know how to properly handle it. In a recent interview, Desico (tokenized securities) co-founder and CEO Laimonas Noreika explained that “there are significant amounts of accredited investors who lack expertise in areas, but still have enough money to achieve accreditation. On the opposite side, millions of people do not have enough money for accreditation, but have more than enough knowledge to decide where and why they want to invest. We want to see both of these groups included.” The Frustration This is unendingly frustrating for educated individuals who see opportunity but are not legally allowed to capitalize on it. This also hurts companies and ICOs, as many are prohibited from initial…