Two US Law Firms File Class Action Against Altcoin Nano and Exchange BitGrail

Two US Law Firms File Class Action Against Altcoin Nano and Exchange BitGrail

Two United States law firms have filed a lawsuit against the developers of altcoin Nano (NANO) as well as Italian cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail, according to a notice published Jan. 7. Crypto-focused law firm Silver Miller and securities law firm Levi & Korsinsky have filed a class action lawsuit representing James Fabian — “and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated” — an investor in Nano, formerly known as RaiBlocks (XRB). The lawsuit alleges that Nano and “key members of its core team” violated federal securities laws and directed investors to open accounts and place funds in “little known, and severely troubled” Italian cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail. According to the lawsuit, the defendants also include BitGrail itself, as well as the exchange’s CEO, Francesco “The Bomber” Firano “in connection with their promotion of a cryptocurrency called NANO.” In a controversial incident, over $180 million in Nano — calculated at the time of the event — went missing from the exchange in February, 2018. The lawsuit asks the court to order Nano to perform a ‘rescue fork’ of the allegedly lost Nano “into a new cryptocurrency in a manner that would fairly compensate the class of victims.” In a note on their website posted Feb. 9, BitGrail stated that 17 million Nano had been stolen in a hack. However, following the hack both BitGrail and the Nano team accused the other of being responsible for the theft of the tokens. BitGrail’s CEO Firano told Cointelegraph in an interview that “it’s impossible to refund the stolen amount.” A similar lawsuit was filed in April 2018, representing Nano investor Alex Brola. The lawsuit also accused Nano’s team of violating U.S. securities laws by selling unregistered securities and negligently misrepresenting the reliability of BitGrail. Later in October, Brola voluntarily withdrew the suit. The lead defense counsel Peters Scoolidge reportedly said that “the plaintiff withdrew the complaint because the case lacked merit.” Last month, Silver Miller filed a lawsuit against purported crypto hedge fund manager Jeremy Spence, accusing him of operating a fraudulent Ponzi scheme and promising “lucrative returns.” The returns reportedly were not profits from investments, but “were simply reallocations to older investors of new investors’ assets,” in a classic Ponzi scheme configuration.

ETH Dev Suggests Moving to ‘ASIC-Friendly Algorithm’ After ProgPoW Decision

ETH Dev Suggests Moving to ‘ASIC-Friendly Algorithm’ After ProgPoW Decision

An Ethereum (ETH) code contributor has suggested that Ethereum developers ‘embrace’ specialized mining hardware (ASICs) in a reply on Ethereum developer forum Ethereum Magicians, Jan. 7. As Cointelegraph reported last week, Ethereum core developers have tentatively decided to implement a new proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm, dubbed ProgPoW, which would decrease the efficiency divide between ASICs and GPUs, while rendering current Ethereum ASICs obsolete. According to another developer on Ethereum Magicians, David Vorick, ProgPoW would favor larger ASIC producers because the more complex hardware needed would exacerbate the economies of scale involved. Following Vorick’s comment, a developer named Alexey Akhunov stated in a response post: “If we want to obsolete the current EtHash mining devices, but at the same time not to induce more secretive behaviour on the part of ASIC manufacturers, we need to ‘embrace’ it and switch to an ASIC-friendly algorithm now instead of an ASIC-unfriendly algorithm. Which the opposite of what we are doing.” Ethereum devs’ general rationale behind objecting to using ASICs to mine ETH is that specialized hardware has no natural distribution, no reserve group, a high barrier to entry, production centralization and backdoor potential. The rationale was gently challenged by Vorick, who asked “what needs to be done in order to bring ProgPoW hardware peacefully to the Ethereum community?” Vorick continued: “Nobody has interest in making enemies or being hardforked and invalidated, yet multiple groups have interest in making special purpose Ethereum mining hardware, which at this point means targeting ProgPoW.” The developer argued that the amount of money at stake guarantees that at least some hardware producers will choose to keep new ASICs secret to prevent a new hard fork making the tech obsolete. Vorick then poses the question: “If a hardware developer manages to create a ProgPoW ASIC that outperforms GPUs by a surprising margin […] is it better for that manufacturer to keep their discovery secret and mine secretly, or is it better for that manufacturer to sell openly?” Linzhi, a Chinese mining hardware producer, had already released a call to Ethereum developers to “publish rules for what constitutes a good ProgPoW ASIC maker.” The company declared that it is currently designing an Ethash mining machine, announcing: “We reject arbitrary enforcement of rules, and request clear and equal…

Euro Exim Bank Taps Ripple’s xRapid for Cross-Border Settlements

Euro Exim Bank Taps Ripple’s xRapid for Cross-Border Settlements

Euro Exim Bank, a London-based bank primarily focused on providing financial services for export and import companies, will become the first bank to publicly announce it is using the XRP cryptocurrency for cross-border payments. Ripple announced Tuesday that Euro Exim Bank, alongside payment startups JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo and FTCS, would be leveraging XRP for cross-border transactions. Further, Ahli Bank of Kuwait, BFC Bahrain, ConnectPay, GMT, WorldCom Finance, Olympia Trust Company, Pontual/USEND and Rendimento have signed on to RippleNet. As a result, the startup now has more than 200 customers worldwide, according to Tuesday’s reveal. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said the company is now signing two-three customers per week, and last year saw a 350 percent increase in customers sending live payments. “We’re beginning to see more customers flip the switch and leverage XRP for on-demand liquidity,” he added in a statement. Euro Exim Bank director Kaushik Punjani noted that his bank’s customers have traditionally been restricted from settling transactions quickly and cost efficiently. This issue extends to both major corporations and individual remitters, he said, adding: “Working collaboratively with Ripple and selected counterparts, we have designed, tested and are implementing both xCurrent and xRapid in record time, and we look forward to the benefits these will bring our customers.” David Lighton, CEO and co-founder of remittance service SendFriend, similarly touted the focus on cheap cross-border payments as the main benefit of using xRapid. “A distributed ledger-based solution, leveraging Ripple’s XRP asset allows us to settle transactions in real time, with lower capital requirements and lower costs. We’re proud to partner with Ripple to offer our customers cheaper, faster, payments to the developing world,” he told CoinDesk. A number of other companies have already begun using xRapid, which uses the XRP cryptocurrency, for international payments, including MercuryFX, Cuallix and Catalyst Corporate Credit Union. However, while the three firms provide financial services, none possess a banking license like Euro Exim does. In the past, other companies including Western Union, MoneyGram, Viamercias and IDT have trialed xRapid, though none are utilizing the platform in full production at this time. Ripple image via Shutterstock

Coinbase Suspends Ethereum Classic Following 51 Percent Attack

Coinbase Suspends Ethereum Classic Following 51 Percent Attack

Exchanges Coinbase has ceased interactions with the Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain after the exchange detected a 51 percent attack on the network. Following the discovery of a “deep chain reorganization” of the ETC blockchain, Coinbase suspended Ethereum Classic withdrawals and deposits. Also Read: Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals Coinbase Stops Interacting With ETC Blockchain After Deep Chain Reorganization Coinbase has published a blog post titled “Ethereum Classic ETC is Currently Being 51% Attacked” detailing a malicious attack on the ETC network. The post states that on Jan. 5, 2019, Coinbase detected “a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain that included a double spend.” In order to safeguard customer funds, the exchange “immediately paused interactions with the ETC blockchain.” The exchange was alerted to the attack by its automated systems, after which the company’s on-call engineers responded and worked to confirm the report. Coinbase chose not to publicly post analysis pertaining to the attack earlier in order to avoid creating a “false alarm” that could have created premature or unnecessary market instability. The company also notes that traders who attempted to send or receive ETC using Coinbase’s platforms were unable to complete said transactions as a result of the response. Coinbase Yet to Re-Enable ETC Transactions Since the incident, Coinbase claims to have detected “12 additional reorganizations that included double spends,” totaling 219,500 ETC valued at approximately $1.1 million. The exchange notes that “a full blockchain analysis is beyond the scope” of its blog post, adding that further examination into “the addresses sending the double spend transactions, the history of sends/receives from the addresses, the block fields such as timestamp, and the subsequent movement of miner rewards from attack blocks may shed light on the threat actor or actors behind these attacks.” Coinbase is currently assessing the “safety” of re-enabling ETC transactions and will communicate with customers regarding updates to the exchange’s support for Ethereum Classic. The post asserts that “Coinbase was not the target of this double spend and no funds were lost.” What is your response to the recently increased prevalence of 51 percent attacks targeting altcoins? Post your thoughts in the comments section below! Images courtesy of Shutterstock At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services.…

Exchange Says $200K in Ethereum Classic Lost As Blockchain Attacks Continue

Exchange Says $200K in Ethereum Classic Lost As Blockchain Attacks Continue

Cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io said Tuesday that it will absorb the loss of roughly $200,000 worth of ethereum classic – about 40,000 ETC – in light of a series of blockchain history rewrites that continue to occur. In a blog post, the exchange said it had confirmed the 51 percent attack – whereby an entity controls sufficient computing power to alter the network’s transaction history and double-spend coins – and identified three addresses that it said are tied to the attacker in question. “Gate.io’s censor successfully blocked attacker’s transactions at the beginning and submitted them to the manual exam. Unfortunately, during the 51% attack, all the transactions looked valid and confirmed well on the blockchain. The examiner passed the transactions. It caused about 40k ETC loss due to this attack. Gate.io will take all the loss for the users,” the exchange said in its statement. The press-time price of ETC is $4.97 per token, according to CoinMarketCap. The announcement corroborates similar claims made by crypto exchange Coinbase, which said Monday that it had identified double spends have occurred as a result of deep block reorganizations (reorgs) on the ethereum classic blockchain. Information shared by Bitfly (Etherchain), Coinbase and Blockscout indicates that the attacks continue. “We updated our blog last night with additional attacks. We won’t resume ETC sends/receives until we feel that it’s safe to do so,” a representative for Coinbase said. Speaking to CoinDesk, Bitfly CEO Peter Pratscher explained that although a number of reorganized blocks could be confirmed on the ethereum classic network, no analysis of the movement of transactions could yet be ascertained on their part to confirm or deny double spends. On the other hand, Blockscout’s project lead Andrew Cravenho told CoinDesk that evidence of a double spend attack is “100 percent.” Pointing to a reorg that occurred between block number 7261495 and 7261496 on the ethereum classic blockchain, Cravenho reported that 26,000 ETC were spent once before the reorg occurred on block number 7261492 and again thereafter on block number 7261497. “This double spend transaction was effectively stolen,” said Cravenho. He also added that while it’s still possible the event could have been caused by accident due to specialized mining hardware testing as suggested yesterday on the official Ethereum Classic Twitter page,…

Leading Crypto Markets Post Worst Year of Monthly Price Action on Record

Leading Crypto Markets Post Worst Year of Monthly Price Action on Record

Markets and Prices When looking at monthly market performance, 2018 was the bloodiest year in the history of the cryptocurrency markets. Of the seven largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, only three were able to produce more than two green monthly candles during 2018. Also Read: Bitblock Publishes Alternative Valuation Model That Suggests BTC Is Underpriced BTC and ETH Produce Most Red Monthly Candles in Calendar Year Ever In 2018, bitcoin core (BTC) saw the most red monthly candles in its history, posting three green and nine red monthly candles throughout the year. BTC gained 2% during the month of February, 33% April, and 21% July. The price of BTC fell by roughly 73% during 2018, opening the year trading for $13,900 and closing 2018 at roughly $3,700. BTC/USD – Bitstamp – 1M, 2018Based on monthly performance, the second most-bloody year in BTC’s history was 2014, during which BTC posted four green and eight red monthly candles. In 2014, BTC fell by 56% from $730 to $320. BTC/USD – Bitstamp – 1M, 2014ETH also posted its poorest annual performance during 2018 with three green and nine red monthly candles. The price of ETH gained 53% in January, nearly 75% in April, and 19% in December of last year. Overall, ETH shed nearly 82% of its value during 2018, falling from roughly $735 to start 2019 trading for $135. ETH/USD – Poloniex (Estimated by Tradingview) – 1M, 2018XLM Posts Strongest Monthly Performance of Top Markets Stellar (XLM) was the strongest performing cryptocurrency of 2018 when counting green candles, posting four green and eight red candles during last year. XLM started 2018 with a gain of 53% in January, before gaining 103% in April, 44% during July, and 17% in September. XLM/USD – Bittrex (Estimated by Tradingview) – 1M, 2018Despite performing better than many other crypto assets during 2018, XLM posted its worst performing year on record. XLM lost 67% during last year, opening 2018 at $0.35 and closing the year below $0.12. BCH, XRP, EOS, and LTC Post Just Two Green Monthly Candles During 2018 BCH posted green months during April and July of 2018, during which it gained 97% and less than 4% respectively. Overall, BCH shed roughly 94% of its value last year, trading for nearly…

Payment Network RippleNet Exceeds 200 Customers, Garlinghouse Highlights Fiat Volatility

Payment Network RippleNet Exceeds 200 Customers, Garlinghouse Highlights Fiat Volatility

Crypto and blockchain company Ripple has reported today, Jan. 8, that 13 new financial institutions have signed up for the RippleNet payment network, bringing the total number of customers over 200. The new institutions range from locations including Sweden, England and Kuwait, with 40 countries in total across all customers. Ripple’s blog post notes that five of the new additions — JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo, FTCS and Euro Exim Bank — will use Ripple’s digital asset, XRP, for liquidity when sending customer cross-border payments. Other institutions new to RippleNet, like the named CIMB or Olympia Trust Company, will use Ripple technology for immediate settlement and more transparency payments. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse noted in the post that RippleNet is seeing two or three new customers join each week since last year, with a 350 increase in 2018 in customers sending live payments. Speaking to CNBC, Garlinghouse, addressing a common concern that crypto payments are a poor substitute for fiat payment due to the currency’s volatility, noted foreign currencies can also be volatile. He said: “The average Swift transaction takes three days — but really what we’re seeing is three business days. You’re taking fiat volatility risk while markets are closed over the weekend.” In March, SWIFT’s blockchain proof-of-concept reportedly was completed successfully with a focus on Nostro accounts — a bank’s account in a foreign currency in another bank. At the end of November, SWIFT India also partnered with a fintech firm to test a distributed ledger (DLT) network with the aim to increase the efficiency and security of financial products.

BitTorrent’s Master Plan to Bring a Tron-Powered Crypto Token to the Masses

BitTorrent’s Master Plan to Bring a Tron-Powered Crypto Token to the Masses

This weekend, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao lauded Tron on Twitter for bringing a crypto-powered business model to the storied file-sharing software it bought last summer, BitTorrent. Zhao, who topped CoinDesk’s Most Influential list for 2018, wrote: “The grandfather of Dapp[s] finally finds its decentralized currency and business model. Should be a very interesting case study.” Zhao’s tweet yielded over 100 retweets and over 500 likes, and a decent thread of comments following what he had to say. Many responders seemed to jump to the conclusion that Tron would make BitTorrent a paid service. Instead, it’s giving users an option to spend some crypto – the new BitTorrent Token (BTT), to be precise – to improve their user experience. The BTT white paper (PDF) promises a broad universe of possibilities, according to a review by CoinDesk. “By introducing a mechanism for value storage and exchange we aim to greatly broaden the universe of possible participants – either service requesters, service providers or both,” the document reads. As for whether BitTorrent would move to a paid model, the white paper addresses this directly: “Participation in the BTT transactions is required to be both fully disclosed and optional for end users.” The more substantive critiques of the move generally argued that BitTorrent wasn’t anything but a decentralized exchange for pirated material. The BTT white paper, however, argues that the protocol could find more uses with a token: “Optimizing the existing BitTorrent protocol is an obvious first step in the introduction of a cryptographic token but it barely scratches the surface of what is rapidly becoming possible.” The entities behind BTT – Tron and the BitTorrent Foundation – envision three core business lines that could potentially be decentralized via BitTorrent if a value instrument were to be built into it: content delivery, file storage and privacy-protecting proxy services. While the list isn’t exhaustive, it hits a lot of the same categories that the Telegram Open Network listed for itself as well. Further, Elaine Ou, a blockchain engineer and Bloomberg opinion contributor, has blogged about past attempts to tokenize bandwidth and data storage (spoiler alert: they haven’t worked out in the past). Regardless, these new BitTorrent activities still run up against the initial friction for existing BitTorrent users: they have become very accustomed to the protocol delivering its services for…

Samourai BTC Wallet Removes Security Features at Google’s Behest for Transparency Policy

Samourai BTC Wallet Removes Security Features at Google’s Behest for Transparency Policy

  Bitcoin (BTC) wallet provider Samourai Wallet said it was disabling several security-related features in its products due to notices from Google to block the wallet, according to a Jan. 7. blog post. Samourai, which has aimed to provide a Bitcoin-centric experience through adding enhanced anonymity options and removing references to fiat currency, confirmed it was removing three functions from its wallet in time for its latest update released Tuesday. “Again, we are sorry for this inconvenience, but our hands have been tied by Google,” the blog post reads, adding: “We hope to bring these features back somehow in the future in the Google Play Store release, and are dedicated to offering the full feature set experience via alternative distribution methods such as direct download and F-Droid in the coming months.” Google began mandating certain levels of transparency for third-party add-ons since last year. Samourai, by offering “stealth mode,” remote SMS commands and a way to mitigate the risk of so-called “SIM swapping” attacks, allegedly flouted these, despite all three features being present in its wallet since the time of its 2015 launch. The stealth mode option for the wallet, which is not enabled by default, is a privacy setting allowing users to hide their apps from their devices’ home screens and disallows notifications of deposits. “We applied for an exemption with Google months ago, which was rejected days ago, despite our argument that removing such functionality would cause users who rely on those features to be less secure and more exposed,” executives added. Users are required to disable stealth mode themselves prior to installing the update. Samourai said the version offered on F-Droid, an open source app store, would remain unchanged.

Japan Eyes Regulation of Unregistered Crypto Investment Schemes

Japan Eyes Regulation of Unregistered Crypto Investment Schemes

Japan’s financial regulator is reportedly looking to close a legal loophole that lets unregistered investment firms solicit funds in cryptocurrencies rather than cash. According to a report from Sankei Shimbun on Tuesday, Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) is planning revisions to bring such schemes under the country’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, although no timeline for the changes was provided. Currently, the act prohibits unregistered schemes from collecting investments in fiat currencies, but it does not mention cryptocurrencies. The issue has reportedly received increased focus from the watchdog in the wake of rising incidences of crypto pyramid schemes in the country. Back in November, police in Tokyo arrested eight men alleged to have run such a scheme that collected 7.8 billion yen (almost $69 million) in cryptos from thousands of victims. The eight were said to have collected most of the payments in bitcoin, as well as another 500 million yen (about $4.40 million) in cash, under the guise of a bogus investment firm called Sener. Sankei Shimbun cited officials as saying that, if the scam had solicited only cryptocurrency, it’s possible the criminals would not have been caught. Japan’s FSA has been actively regulating the cryptocurrency space since the shockwave that followed the collapse of the Mt Gox exchange in 2014. Measures have included instigating a licensing scheme for crypto exchanges and scrutinizing exchanges over security and compliance with anti-money laundering rules. Just yesterday, the agency was reported to be considering approving crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs). At the same time, it has now apparently dropped plans to approve trading of crypto derivatives on financial exchanges due to concerns the products would encourage speculation. Bitcoins on keyboard image via Shutterstock