FinCEN Lambasts Iran’s ‘Illicit and Malign’ Use of Crypto to Evade Sanctions

FinCEN Lambasts Iran’s ‘Illicit and Malign’ Use of Crypto to Evade Sanctions

The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is calling on cryptocurrency exchanges to monitor Iranian use of crypto to evade sanctions. The agency requested this in an advisory issued Thursday, Oct. 11 The call comes as part of a wider directive warning of the “systemic” Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) risks Iranian activity poses to the global financial system. According to FinCEN, as of 2013 Iranian use of cryptocurrency includes “at least $3.8 million worth of bitcoin-denominated transactions per year.” Conceding that the use of crypto in the country is “comparatively small,” the document warns that crypto represents “an emerging payment system that may provide potential avenues for individuals and entities to evade sanctions.” It continues to outline that despite the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) banning domestic financial institutions from handling decentralized cryptocurrencies, the internet facilitates both individuals’ and businesses’ access to crypto-related platforms. These are listed as “Iran-located, Internet-based virtual currency exchanges, “U.S.- or other third country-based virtual currency exchanges,” and “peer-to-peer (P2P) exchangers.” FinCEN thus urges that “institutions… consider reviewing blockchain ledgers for activity that may originate or terminate in Iran,” noting that the “highly dynamic” international crypto industry is liable to obscure transaction footprints. As part of its recommendations, the agency advocates the use of blockchain intelligence tools and other means to monitor IP login activity from Iran-based entities through acquiring “technical details such as IP addresses with time stamps, device identifiers, and indicators of compromise that can provide helpful information to authorities.” The advisory more broadly “remind[s] financial institutions of [their] regulatory obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA).” As reported this spring, it has been suggested that Iranians were increasingly turning to Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in the midst of domestic economic turmoil ahead of the anticipated U.S. exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCOA). At the time, the chairman of Iran’s economic commission stated that citizens had so far succeeded in siphoning a staggering $2.5 billion out of the country via cryptocurrencies.More recently, Iran’s National Cyberspace Center has revealed that the draft of the state-backed cryptocurrency project is ready, which was avowed to be a centrally-controlled means of circumventing international sanctions when…

Leading Auction House Christie’s to Record Art Sales on a Blockchain

Leading Auction House Christie’s to Record Art Sales on a Blockchain

London-based Christie’s, one of the oldest and most noted art auction houses in the world, is turning to blockchain tech to securely store sales and provenance data. The firm, which has a history going back to 1766, announced in a press release Thursday that it is collaborating with blockchain-powered digital art registry Artory to pilot the encrypted recording of auction transactions. The pilot program will register Christie’s upcoming autumn sale of artworks from the Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, a privately-held collection of 20th century Modernist American art, which is estimated to bring in $300 million in total. Artory’s blockchain platform will store data from each sale, including the item’s title, description, final price and date. The startup will also provide a digital certificate of the transaction. Christie’s will then issue each buyer a registration card to access the encrypted information about their purchased artwork. Richard Entrup, chief information officer at Christie’s said: “Our pilot collaboration with Artory is a first among the major global auction houses, and reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology.” Artory said in a blog post that its blockchain registry offers a “secure digital record of transactions, with a goal of providing greater confidence in an artwork’s ongoing provenance and greater efficiency in its eventual resale.” Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually and handled sales of $4 billion in the first half of 2018, according to the release. Blockchain technology is gaining momentum across the art industry. Last month, Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs (1980) painting, was tokenized and sold on a blockchain using an ethereum smart contract.   Christie’s image via 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.

3 Bitcoin Price Factors That Suggest Bears Are in Charge

3 Bitcoin Price Factors That Suggest Bears Are in Charge

The prospect of a deeper drop in bitcoin prices has increased, price-volume analysis indicates. The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, which had been trading sideways since September 22, fell sharply to a three-week low of $6,220 on Bitfinex yesterday, confirming a range breakdown. The technical indicators on the daily chart also turned bearish, validating a negative moving average crossover on the long duration charts. Essentially, bears regained control 24 hours ago, opening the doors to the key support of $6,000. Furthermore, the bearish case is now looking stronger than it did 24 hours ago due to these three factors: 1) BTC breached key support As seen in the chart above, BTC witnessed a Bollinger band breakdown yesterday and also penetrated the support of the trendline drawn between the June 24 low and Aug. 11 low. This will likely embolden the bears, as the trendline had repeatedly put the brakes on any sell-off in the first half of September. Further, the trendline is now acting as a stiff resistance to the bulls. 2. Trading volumes hit multi-week highs Trading volumes on Bitfinex jumped to five-week highs yesterday. More importantly, total trading volume across all cryptocurrency exchanges rose 36 percent to $5.18 billion – the highest level since Sept. 21 – according to CoinMarketCap. The fact that trading volumes have grown places greater significance on the bearish move, as a high-volume drop is always considered a strongly negative indicator. 3. Short positions rise, long positions tank The high-volume drop was accompanied by a 10-percent drop in BTC/USD long positions and a 7.4 percent rise in BTC/USD short positions on Bitfinex. A break below key support, when accompanied by an unwinding of long positions and a rise in short positions, indicates scope for a deeper sell-off. So, it seems safe to say that the path of least resistance is to the downside. As of writing, the cryptocurrency is changing hands at $6,312, representing a 0.9 percent gain on a 24-hour basis. The slight recovery from three-week lows seen overnight is likely associated with the oversold conditions seen on the relative strength index (RSI) on the hourly and 4-hour charts. View BTC’s fall below $6,300 kick-started a bearish move toward $6,000 yesterday. The probability of a drop to $6,000 has…

3 More Bitcoin Price Factors Suggest Bears Are in Charge

3 More Bitcoin Price Factors Suggest Bears Are in Charge

After Thursday’s range breakdown, the prospects of a deeper drop in BTC prices have increased, the price-volume analysis indicates. The leading cryptocurrency, which traded in a sideways manner since Sept. 22, fell sharply to a three-week low of $6,220 on Bitfinex yesterday, confirming range breakdown. The technical indicators on the daily chart also turned bearish, validating the negative moving average crossover on the long duration charts, as discussed yesterday. Essentially, bears regained control 24 hours ago, opening doors for a drop to the all-important support of $6,000. More importantly, the bearish case is now looking stronger than it did 24 hours ago due to these three factors: BTC breached key trendline support As seen in the chart above, BTC witnessed a Bollinger band breakdown yesterday and also penetrated the support of the trendline drawn from the June 24 low and Aug. 11 low. This will likely embolden the bears as the trendline had repeatedly put brakes on the sell-off in the first half of September. Further, the trendline is now acting as a stiff resistance. Trading volumes jumped to multi-week highs As can be seen, trading volumes on Bitfinex jumped to five-week highs yesterday. More importantly, total trading volume across all cryptocurrency exchanges rose 36 percent to $5.18 billion – the highest level since Sept. 21 – according to CoinMarketCap. The fact that trading volumes jumped means a greater reliance can be placed on the bearish move. Hence, a high-volume drop is always considered a strongly negative indicator. Short positions rose while long positions tanked BTC’s high-volume drop to three-week lows was accompanied by a 10 percent drop in the BTC/USD long positions and a 7.4 percent rise in the BTC/USD short positions on Bitfinex. A break below key support, when accompanied by an unwinding of long positions and a rise in short positions, indicates scope for a deeper sell-off. So, it seems safe to say that for BTC, the path of least resistance is on the downside. As of writing, it is changing hands at $6,312, representing a 0.9 percent gains on a 24-hour basis. The slight recovery from three-week lows is likely associated with the oversold conditions reported by the relative strength index (RSI) on the hourly and 4-hour chart. View BTC kick-started…

FinCEN Blasts Iran’s ‘Malign’ Use of Crypto to Bypass Economic Sanctions

FinCEN Blasts Iran’s ‘Malign’ Use of Crypto to Bypass Economic Sanctions

A U.S. crime-fighting agency is urging domestic exchanges to help prevent the Iranian regime from using cryptocurrency to bypass economic sanctions. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published an advisory Friday, stating that Iran’s “illicit and malign” use of cryptocurrency to “exploit” the financial system includes at least $3.8 million-worth of bitcoin-denominated transactions every year. “While the use of virtual currency in Iran is comparatively small, virtual currency is an emerging payment system that may provide potential avenues for individuals and entities to evade sanctions,” the advisory said. As such, the regulator urges that “institutions should consider reviewing blockchain ledgers for activity that may originate or terminate in Iran.” These activities, it added, have been highly dynamic and could thrive in Iran with “little notice or footprint.” The Trump administration announced in May this year it would withdraw from a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran alongside the reimposing of economic sanctions that restrict Iran’s access to U.S. dollars. The executive order went into effect on Aug. 6. The FinCEN continued that despite recent reports that the Central Bank of Iran is seeking to ban domestic banks from supporting crypto trading, it found that individuals and businesses in Iran could still access trading platforms either in Iran or the U.S., as well as via peer-to-peer exchangers. The agency reminded domestic crypto exchanges of their regulatory obligations as registered financial institutions under the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires them to deploy “appropriate systems to comply with all relevant sanctions requirements.” As CoinDesk reported in July, after the U.S. government had announced the reinstatement of the economic sanctions, government bodies in Iran indicated they were working on introducing a state cryptocurrency as a countermeasure – similar to efforts made by Venezuela, which launched its oil-backed petro cryptocurrency in February of this year. Iranian flag image via 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.

The Daily: Kanye Teaches Opsec, Crypto Foes Join Forces

The Daily: Kanye Teaches Opsec, Crypto Foes Join Forces

News The last 24 hours has been one of those all-too-rare periods in which the cryptosphere unites against a shared enemy. We’ll detail who in The Daily, right after we’ve discussed blockchain spam, Blockfolio’s new funding round, and how we learned an opsec lesson from Kanye West. Also read: Bitcoiners Shoot Down Roubini’s US Senate Testimony Coinbase Gains an Altcoin, Bitfinex Loses a Bank Coinbase finally listed 0z (ZRX) on Oct. 11, sending the price of the Ethereum-based token into a sharp climb. This miniature pump paled in comparison to that going on over at Yobit, whose exchange-orchestrated pump sent putincoin up 1,370 percent in just 15 minutes, prompting widespread condemnation. While pump and dumps have been part of crypto since the start, they’re rarely instigated by the exchanges themselves. 0x trading volume (in green) spiked upon confirmation of its Coinbase listing Two other noteworthy exchange stories also broke on Thursday. Firstly, Bittrex made the unusual decision of relisting metal (MTL), an altcoin it had previously delisted. Elsewhere, it was reported that Bitfinex has paused all USD deposits while it resolves banking issues, believed to have been caused by HSBC terminating the arrangement the exchange had in place via a private account with Global Trading Solutions. The same publication also revealed that Coinbase is shuttering its index fund for high-net-worth individuals, and will be focusing on selling its bundled baskets of cryptocurrencies instead. Blockfolio Completes $11.5M Funding Round Cryptocurrency portfolio app Blockfolio has completed a Series A round led by Pantera Capital. All told, over a dozen investment funds chipped in, as the project seeks to become more than just the industry’s go-to portfolio checker. Exchanges Bitmex and Huobi also got involved as part of the deal. “Blockfolio Signal is the beginning of our effort to help the ecosystem move from an era of speculation to an era of participation,” enthused the team. “With our new investment partners, our continued collaboration with token teams and exchanges, and our millions of dedicated users, the future is exceedingly bright. We’re excited to work together to push the ecosystem forward, one block at a time.” Litecoin Has a UTXO Problem UTXOs, also known as “dust”, are a problem faced by all Bitcoin-based blockchains. Generally, these nominal wallet balances are…

Fake News Site Used New Zealand Prime Minister to Pump Bitcoin Startup

Fake News Site Used New Zealand Prime Minister to Pump Bitcoin Startup

A fake news site has used the likeness of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promote articles on Facebook aimed to pump a crypto startup. Local media source Stuff reported Friday that several sponsored posts had recently emerged on Facebook, featuring the image of the PM with headlines such as “New investment plan for Kiwis” and targeted at different age groups in the country. The posts linked to a fake news site that appeared to be impersonating CNN Tech, with articles falsely claiming that the country’s Treasury Department had just signed a $250 million deal to buy a company called Bitcoin Revolution. “This is where the future lies,” the fake article read. After Stuff reported the posts to Ardern’s office, the latter filed a complaint to Facebook, which then moved to take down the sponsored content, the report said. Furthermore, it appears that this is not the first time that fake news sites have associated the image of Ardern with cryptocurrency promotions. A spokeswoman for the PM’s office was quoted as saying that the number of such fake ads has become too large for them to track. They said: “We aren’t able to manually or digitally monitor the increasing volume of fake news that fraudulently uses images of the Prime Minister.” The news is yet another instance in which crypto scammers have been using social media giants to promote fake campaigns targeting internet users. As CoinDesk reported just yesterday, a verified Twitter account impersonating entrepreneur Elon Musk had been allowed to promote a tweet for a crypto giveaway scam. Jacinda Ardern image via 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.

US Court Issues Emergency Order Halting a Planned Initial Coin Offering

US Court Issues Emergency Order Halting a Planned Initial Coin Offering

Crowdfunding An American court has put a stop to an initial coin offering (ICO) by a company claiming to offer “the first licensed and regulated tokenized crypto currency exchange & index fund based in the US.” The ICO promoters even invented their own regulatory authority, which seems to have really irked the regulators. Also Read: The Daily: Whales Join China’s Richest Ranks, Seniors Take a Swing at Bitcoin SEC Stops Blockvest ICO The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced on Thursday that it has obtained an emergency court order halting a planned ICO by Blockvest. The Southern California District Court order also stopped an ongoing pre-ICO sale by the company and its founder, Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III, as well as freezing the defendants’ assets. According to the ICO’s website, Blockvest (BLV) is an ERC20 token based upon Ethereum. “Blockvest Nvestnodes generate passive income through asset backed profit sharing smart contracts. At it’s core, BLV is a security token that’s representative of the top performing cryptocurrency index.” According to the SEC’s complaint, Blockvest and Ringgold, who also goes by the name Rasool Abdul Rahim El, were falsely claiming their crypto fund was “licensed and regulated.” Blockvest and Ringgold also allegedly misrepresented Blockvest’s connections to an accounting firm. The Blockchain Exchange Commission The SEC complaint also alleges Ringgold promoted the ICO with a fake agency he created called the “Blockchain Exchange Commission,” using a graphic similar to the SEC’s seal and the same address as SEC headquarters. Screenshot “We allege that this ICO is using both the SEC seal and a made-up crypto regulatory authority to trick investors into believing the ICO was approved by regulators,” said Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit. “The SEC does not endorse investment products and investors should be highly skeptical of any claims suggesting otherwise.” A court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2018. The SEC will ask for injunctions, return of ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties, as well as a ban against Ringgold from participating in offering any securities in the future. Would you rather trust the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Blockchain Exchange Commission? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Images courtesy of Shutterstock. Verify and track bitcoin cash…

Nevada’s Utilities Agency Eyes Blockchain for Energy Credit System

Nevada’s Utilities Agency Eyes Blockchain for Energy Credit System

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, a government agency charged with supervising and regulating power utility services in the state, is looking to implement blockchain for its energy credit tracking system. The commission last month investigated whether a blockchain-based solution would help track and certify Portfolio Energy Credits (PECs) in a better way for meeting the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Renewable energy producers in Nevada earn PECs that can be sold to utilities that then use them to comply with the Standard. One PEC represents one kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. “The current PEC tracking system, NVTREC, is becoming obsolete”, PUC Commissioner Ann Pongracz said in a release, adding that the “investor-owned NV Energy, the utility company that serves almost all of Nevada, no longer maintains the software and that is putting additional demands on commission staff’s limited time resources.” There is also an alternative tracking system, the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System, which is used in the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. But it has a threshold of 1 MW (megawatt), which, Pongracz said, makes it “not well suited to providing the value of PECs to smaller generators.” In an attempt to address some of these shortfalls, the agency’s Commissioner Bruce Breslow and its Chairman Ann Wilkinson have expressed the support for implementing blockchain technology, but have also asked the staff to investigate alternative technologies as well. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is not the first government agency to eye the blockchain technology for better energy operations. Earlier in July of this year, a group of four utilities including the New York Power Authority teamed up to study the potential of smart contracts for state’s power system. The Arizona Corporation Commission also started the investigation for the potential for blockchain technology in the state’s energy sector. In March 2018, IT giant Cognizant in its report “Blockchain for Power Utilities: A View on Capabilities and Adoption” said that the utility space is evolving into a distributed and smart power grid. The firm also specified the various blockchain-based (both permissioned and private ledgers) use cases – such as energy credit management, the promotion of green energy, asset optimization, payments within microgrids, prepaid smart meters and payments to distributed generation asset owners. Solar panel in Mojave Desert…

Largest South Korean Exchange Launches Crypto Market Indices

Largest South Korean Exchange Launches Crypto Market Indices

Exchanges The largest crypto exchange in South Korea by trading volume, Bithumb, has launched two cryptocurrency market indices. One tracks all coins listed on the exchange while the other tracks only altcoins. Meanwhile, Upbit, the country’s largest crypto exchange by the number of coins listed, has two similar indices and sub-indices divided into three broad categories. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Bithumb Launches Crypto Indices Bithumb announced Wednesday the launch of Bithumb Crypto Index (BTCI) which comprises two separate indices. The exchange detailed: BTCI has been developed in consideration of market representation and liquidity to provide investors with a single indicator that can show the trends of the cryptocurrency market. It consists of Bithumb Market Index (BTMI)…and Bithumb Altcoin Market Index (BTAI). BTMI is calculated based on all cryptocurrencies listed on Bithumb while BTAI only takes into account “all non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies” listed on the exchange. The former aims to provide “an overall view of the price changes in the cryptocurrency market” while the latter “a view of the price changes in the cryptocurrency market excluding bitcoin.” Bithumb began calculating BTCI on July 1. The index is calculated real-time and updated every 10 seconds. At the time of this writing, Bithumb is South Korea’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to Coinmarketcap. With 53 cryptocurrencies listed for trading against the Korean won, the exchange has a 24-hour trading volume of $726,488,270. Upbit’s Crypto Indices The country’s largest crypto exchange by the number of coins listed, the Kakao-backed Upbit, also has a crypto index called Upbit Cryptocurrency Index (UBCI). Launched in May, the index consists of two main indices: Upbit Market Index (UBMI) and Upbit Altcoin Index (UBAI). However, there are also over 20 sub-indices grouped into three broad categories: market, theme, and strategy. “The index is designed to help investors grasp the movements of the cryptocurrency market at a quick glance,” Business Korea detailed at the time and quoted Lee Seok-woo, the president of Dunamu Inc. which operates Upbit, commenting: The UBCI will become a standard in observing the whole cryptocurrency market…We will improve it in terms of technology and management to make it a representative index not only in the Korean market but in the global market. At the time…