Consumer Advocates Urge Libra Members to Quit Facebook Crypto

Consumer Advocates Urge Libra Members to Quit Facebook Crypto

A coalition of consumer advocacy groups has urged the 28 member companies of the Libra Association to quit the Facebook-led cryptocurrency project en masse. “We call upon you as respected members of the business, financial, technology, and civil society communities to collectively withdraw from the Libra project,” says the open letter signed by Open Markets Institute, Public Citizen, Revolving Door Project, and Demand Progress Education Fund. While the advocates said they agree with the Geneva-based consortium’s purported aim to extend financial services to the 1.7 billion global underbanked, they cautioned: “Achieving a laudable goal should not be cheapened with a project whose aims are in fact unclear and whose leadership structure is based on fear.” The alleged “fear” they refer to stems from Facebook’s clout, given the social network’s vast userbase. The letter quotes Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who said during Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing: “Members of the consortium actually have lots of questions too, similar to the questions that are being offered on this dais and they have great reservations about moving forward but they don’t want to be left out because of Facebook’s market power.” Don’t fear the Libra The advocates implored Libra’s members (which include Visa, MasterCard, Paypal and Uber) not to be cowed by their ringleader, saying: “We understand that Facebook is a powerful company, and that it has in part generated a climate of fear with its market dominance. But if you collectively withdraw from the project, it will signal that the just-beginning era of digital money will be based on fair rules and democratic deliberation, and not intimidation by the powerful.” The groups also cite Libra’s “potential to facilitate money laundering, terrorist financing, bank runs, systemic risk, evasion of sanctions, and anti-competitive activity” as reasons to ditch it. Among the letter’s four signatories, Public Citizen has been particularly vocal in opposition to Facebook’s plans to launch a global currency. Its president, Robert Weissman, called Libra a “cartel” in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, and the group earlier called on Congress to halt the project. Robert Weissman image via House Financial Services Committee

Privacy Cryptocurrency Zcash Prepares for ‘Friendly’ Fork

Privacy Cryptocurrency Zcash Prepares for ‘Friendly’ Fork

In about five hours, the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Zcash will spawn a new blockchain network called Ycash. It’ll be the first of its kind to boast a near-identical codebase to the Zcash blockchain but function as a separate network and de facto competitor. First announced in April, the effort is spearheaded by long-time Zcash supporter Howard Loo. Loo described in a Zcash forum post that Ycash was a preemptive move to resist future community decisions that may extend Zcash’s system of developer funding known as the “Founder’s Reward” beyond a promised 10 percent cap of total token supply. “We are also launching Ycash to uphold a promise – that the Zcash Founders Reward would be forever capped at 2.1 million coins – that we fear will come under increasing pressure between now and the expiration of the Founders Reward in October 2020,” Loo wrote in the forum post. Since then, prominent leaders in the Zcash community such as founder of the coin Zooko Wilcox have publicly expressed their support of Loo’s initiative, agreeing to disagree on certain network changes to the Founder’s Reward and others that will make Ycash backwards-incompatible to Zcash. Normally, network splits of this nature actually add value to a user’s cryptocurrency holdings. This is because users are able to redeem the exact same amount of coins minted on one blockchain on the new blockchain, free of cost. “From a speculator’s standpoint, network splits often present an intriguing investment opportunity,” said former CoinDesk markets analyst and current crypto trader Sam Ouimet. “New money often buys up the cryptocurrency being forked in order to secure his/her claims of the new coins.” Of course, the value of these newly issued coins, called YECs, on the Ycash network may be significantly lower than ZECs on the Zcash network. However, if past blockchain forks that have spawned spin-off cryptocurrencies are any indicator, coin prices shortly after a hard fork tend to take a hit and then rebound. Take bitcoin cash for example. The world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, forked on Aug. 1, 2017. In just four months time, the resulting cryptocurrency network dubbed bitcoin cash hit an all-time market capitalization of $69 billion with one BCH trading at roughly $4,000. The markets have since cooled considerably but the…

1 AM UTC Is the Most Volatile Hour for Bitcoin: Research

1 AM UTC Is the Most Volatile Hour for Bitcoin: Research

Researchers at crypto analytics firm LongHash have found 1 AM UTC to be the hour of greatest volatility for Bitcoin (BTC) over the past two years. 1 AM UTC had more daily highs and lows than any other hour of the day over a period from 2017 to 2019, according to research released by LongHash on July 17. LongHash’s research is based on crypto price archives from major American crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase. The Hong Kong-based firm collected data from Crypto Data Download about Coinbase prices over the period from July 6, 2017 to July 2, 2019 and analyzed hourly high and low prices for each hour of each day. LongHash then compared each hour to the other 23 hours of each day, the company noted. As LongHash found, 1 AM UTC saw the most activity on crypto markets followed by midnight over the analyzed period, which is purportedly caused by crossing trading hours in Asia and North America. These hours are one of the times of day when Western and Asian traders are most likely to be active simultaneously, LongHash suggested, adding that 1 AM UTC is the beginning of the workday in Asia and the beginning of the evening in North America. As Asia’s traders are reacting to the news of the day in the morning, North American traders are still awake to respond to that reaction, the firm wrote. Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s reclaimed its $10,000 support earlier today after the coin had dropped below the mark on July 16.

Israeli Citizen Accused of Stealing Over $1.7 Million in Crypto

Israeli Citizen Accused of Stealing Over $1.7 Million in Crypto

Eliyahu Gigi, a 31-year-old from Tel Aviv, has been charged with stealing over $1.7 billion in a variety of cryptocurrencies. Gigi allegedly stole BTC, Ethereum, and Dash from users in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.  Lawyer Yeela Harel of the cyber department in the State Attorney’s Office filed charges against Gigi on July 17, according to a report published the same day by Globes. Gigi has reportedly been charged with crimes including theft, fraud, and money laundering, among others. According to the report, Harel’s indictment claims that Gigi set up a network of scam websites to steal crypto through the use of malware. He is accused of using a number of methods to cover his tracks, including employing remote servers and shuffling the stolen funds around through different wallets.  Gigi and his brother, a demobilized soldier, were reportedly arrested in June. The pair were suspected of being involved in international phishing fraud, but Harel moved to indict only Gigi. The police apparently first began to look into Gigi when they received information suggesting that he was dropping scam links on digital wallet forums. According to the report, Gigi would link to a website that appeared to have a downloadable wallet manager. However, Gigi appeared to have collected and misappropriated users’ account credentials to steal their crypto. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, an employee at Microsoft was recently arrested on suspicion of stealing $10 million in crypto. Volodymyr Kvashuk allegedly stole and flipped crypto gift cards for Microsoft products, selling them for a profit to customers over the Internet.

Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware ‘Ryuk’ Virus Found and Studied in China

Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware ‘Ryuk’ Virus Found and Studied in China

Tencent Yujian Threat Intelligence Center says that a Ryuk ransomware virus has been spotted in China. The intelligence center released information on the outbreak in a report on July 16. According to the report, Ryuk viruses are a family of malware aimed at infecting government and enterprise machines holding valuable data. According to the report, a Ryuk virus derives from the Hermes virus, with code that is directly modified off of the latter. As noted in the report, Ryuk is the name of a death spirit in the popular manga Death Note. As per its title, Ryuk possesses a notebook that can be used to kill a person by writing their name on one of its pages. Researchers at the intelligence center were reportedly able to capture and study the virus in action. According to the report, this virus came attached with a ReadMe note containing two email addresses. Upon replying to the first email address, the researchers received instructions and a ransom demand set at 11 Bitcoin. The intelligence center advised personal users to run Tencent PC Manager and enable file backups, turn off Office macros, and to stay away from unfamiliar emails. The report also referenced a number of Ryuk ransom cases. In the United States, for instance, the public administration of La Porte County, Indiana paid a $130,000 ransom to get rid of the virus. In Lake City, Florida, the local government paid a $460,000 ransom after Ryuk infected the city’s computer systems.  As previously reported by Cointelegraph, research in January suggested that Ryuk originated in Russia. The virus was originally thought to have come out of North Korea, but McAfee Labs and Crowdstrike have suggested that Russia is the more likely source. According to these cybersecurity companies, Ryuk may in fact have come from the Russia-based group “GRIM SPIDER.”

Waves to Use Vostok as Utility Tokens for New Enterprise Blockchain Solution

Waves to Use Vostok as Utility Tokens for New Enterprise Blockchain Solution

Waves CEO Alexander Ivanov has announced a new department for enterprise projects that will be fueled by Vostok (VST) tokens.  According to a July 18 press release, Waves is opening a new company department called Waves Enterprise, which will employ a corporate blockchain solution of the same name. The Waves Enterprise solution is a management system for businesses that need to handle data sets containing private information. As per the report, VST tokens will be the utility token for Waves Enterprise, and will be exchanged for a variety of network-based services. As Ivanov states: “VST will lay the foundation of the Web3.0 economy, enabling control of (and payment for) app development, as well as other ecosystem solutions. VST is the network’s internal currency, needed for connecting your node to the network, paying operational (mining) fees, and anchoring the corporate sub-chains to the main chain.” Regarding the capabilities of the new blockchain solution, the press release states that it will support any algorithm in any programming language, including smart contracts. The technology supporting these capabilities is Docker, which is an automated system for application installation and management. Ivanov also predicts that private and public blockchain solutions “will merge into one global and universal technology in the future,” as per the announcement. According to its website, Vostok is a blockchain-based solution for enterprises and public institutions. The project uses a private blockchain platform and a proprietary system integrator. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Ivanov sold his stake in Vostok, a blockchain project launched by Waves, on July 16. Ivanov claimed that he sold his stake in Vostok in order to concentrate on developing the Web3 ecosystem through Waves. The GHP Group, an early investor in Vostok, is now the sole owner of the company. 

Bitcoin ATM Firm LibertyX Expands Locations via New Partnership

Bitcoin ATM Firm LibertyX Expands Locations via New Partnership

LibertyX, the firm that launched America’s first Bitcoin (BTC) automated teller machine (ATM), will add 90 new machines to its network. In order to expand the network, Boston-based LibertyX has partnered with independent ATM operator DesertATM, according to a report by global ATM market publication ATMmarketplace on July 18. As a part of the partnership, DesertATM will upload LibertyX on 90 of its Genmega ATMs to enable Bitcoin operations. New Bitcoin ATM locations will include gas stations such as AMPM, ARCO & Chevron, as well as Family Dollar retail stores, the press release notes. In October 2018, LibertyX teamed up with Genmega, an ATM supplier serving the Independent ATM Deployment market, to allow users to use their debit cards to purchase Bitcoin at any BTC-enabled Genmega machine. LibertyX CEO Chris Yim stated that the company has been making partnerships with ATM operators that already have locations to offer LibertyX services on their machines. According to Yim, the firm’s network now spans across 43 states and allows users to buy Bitcoin from a cashier or ATM using their debit card or a kiosk, with a limit of $3,000 of Bitcoin at a time. As previously reported, LibertyX obtained a BitLicense issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services in January 2019 alongside stock and crypto trading app Robinhood . Recently, Canadian exchange Coinsquare announced that they acquired software allowing traditional ATMs to sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The news came amid a report of a potential ban on Bitcoin ATMs in Vancouver over money laundering concerns. 

Gang of Masked Men Raid Bitcoin Exchange in Birmingham

Gang of Masked Men Raid Bitcoin Exchange in Birmingham

A gang of masked men have raided a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange in the English city of Birmingham, sparking a police investigation. Local Facebook page Brumz Updates posted footage of the burglars ransacking the building as sirens blared on July 15. Witnesses look on helplessly as the robbery unfolds — and seconds later, the gang speed away from the scene in a waiting car. West Midlands Police has launched an investigation, but have confirmed that nothing of value was stolen from the business.  According to the Daily Mail, the thieves had attempted to steal a Bitcoin ATM using a rope attached to their car. The owner of the establishment, Adam Gramowski, told the newspaper that he believes the robbers were after cash inside the machine rather than cryptocurrency, adding: “There are no BTC [Bitcoin] in the machine, they are being sent directly from our server.” Violent raids targeting Bitcoin businesses and traders are becoming more common. In February, a Bitcoin trader was attacked in his own home by a group of robbers disguised as the police.

Altcoins Back on the Rise With Litecoin Leading the Charge

Altcoins Back on the Rise With Litecoin Leading the Charge

The crypto markets are once again back on the rise with litecoin (LTC) leading the way in the top 10 cryptocurrencies at CoinMarketCap. The price of bitcoin (BTC) jumped by more than $1,000 in the expanse of 30 minutes yesterday, with the rest of the market following suit, rising between 5-20 percent, while Litecoin (LTC) outperformed all other top 10 crypto by market capitalization. LTC is up 13 percent over a 24-hour period and is currently changing hands just above the $100 resistance at $100.72. Top 10 at CoinMarketCap For now, the broader markets are flashing green, a welcome sight for the bulls who managed to stem the bleeding across the board with BTC defending a key area above $9,000 at 11:00 UTC yesterday morning. As a result names such as EOS, Binance Coin (BNB), Ether (ETH) and bitcoin SV (BSV) are up between 7-12 percent respectively. Litecoin has been most involved with the rebound rally and is leading the pack by an extra 1.02 percentage points. Hourly chart As can be seen in the hourly chart above, LTC has resumed its previous price action, witnessed July 11 to July 14, which shows a rough $8 consolidation range upon which prices attempted to find a fair price before moving lower amid greater market sell pressure on July 14/15. Consolidation is the term for an asset or stock that is neither continuing nor reversing a larger price trend. Consolidated assets or stocks typically trade within limited price ranges and offer relatively few trading opportunities until a clear pattern emerges. For now crypto traders can enjoy the temporary stop-gap offered from periods of consolidation to consider their next move as money continues to flow in and out of the markets. Speaking of which, the total market cap of the entire altcoin market, excluding BTC, rose by more than $10 billion over a 24-hour period marking a slight increase in investor interest for the lesser names, particularly LTC. Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing. Litecoin via Shutterstock; charts by Trading View

Binance Unknowingly Earns Staking Rewards of Stellar, Adds Support

Binance Unknowingly Earns Staking Rewards of Stellar, Adds Support

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance has earned staking rewards on Stellar (XLM) following a change of some parameters on cold and hot wallets. In a blog post published on July 18, Binance said that it unknowingly earned staking rewards of 9,500,000 XLM ($775,000 at press time) in extra XLM tokens in the wake of specific parameter changes on cold and hot wallets made a year ago. The exchange subsequently decided both to immediately add staking support for XLM and to share the gained XLM rewards with the entire community. The post further specifies: “Starting July 20, Binance will support staking for Stellar (XLM). Over a 40-day period, Binance will take daily snapshots of XLM balances on your Binance accounts. After that, on September 1, we will tally average user XLM balances based on these snapshots and complete the distribution of your XLM staking rewards.”  In June, Binance released its official Trust Wallet on its decentralized trading platform Binance DEX. According to the announcement at the time, Trust Wallet planned to launch support for layer-2 payment protocols such as Lightning Network in future, as well as support for staking services. Earlier this week, blockchain interoperability protocol Polkadot introduced its “canary network” dubbed Kusama, which functions as an experimental version of the protocol. Kusama will purportedly enable developers to build and use a parachain or test Polkadot’s governance, staking, and other functions in a real environment.