MARKETS DAILY: A North Korean Conspiracy and Top Hacks of 2019

MARKETS DAILY: A North Korean Conspiracy and Top Hacks of 2019

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Binance Crypto Exchange Adds Four Trading Pairs for Russian Ruble

Binance Crypto Exchange Adds Four Trading Pairs for Russian Ruble

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance listed four Russian ruble trading pairs, according to an announcement on Dec. 2. The first trading pairs featuring the ruble include Binance Coin (BNB), Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and XRP. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao commented on the development in a tweet sent the same day. Binance’s addition of trading pairs follows the introduction of ruble trading on the platform in late October when Zhao announced that users could then deposit and withdraw fiat funds in rubles.  Zhao has previously lauded Russia’s position as an important jurisdiction for the crypto and blockchain industries, recognizing the wealth of computer science talent in Russia, and going so far as calling President Vladimir Putin the most influential person in the blockchain industry.  New additions Rubble support and trading pairs are the latest in a series of new features and assets added to the platform over the last few months. In November alone, Binance added support for the Turkish lira and also became the first exchange to add the Fiat Gateway developed by stablecoin operator Paxos. In late October, the exchange also launched support for the Nigerian naira. According to Coinmarketcap, over the last 24 hours, the currency has seen a little over $43,000 in trading volume against Bitcoin, and nearly $25,000 against stablecoin Binance USD (BUSD). Fierce competition Meanwhile, competitor cryptocurrency trading platforms to Binance are also expanding their scope of operations. As Cointelegraph reported in mid-November, Bitcoin futures trading on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)’s Bakkt platform will expand to include a cash-settled option. In mid-November, crypto exchange OKEx launched Bitcoin futures contracts that are margined with the Tether (USDT) stablecoin.

Kakao’s Delayed Crypto Wallet Will Support Native Dapps, Collectibles

Kakao’s Delayed Crypto Wallet Will Support Native Dapps, Collectibles

Coming up first, however, will be a limited-feature browser extension for the wallet which will offer basic crypto storing and trading features, the executive said. Called Kaikas, the extension will work with browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera, and will be aimed at more experienced crypto users.

Vertcoin 51% Attack ‘Motive Uncertain’ as Hackers Lose up to $4,000

Vertcoin 51% Attack ‘Motive Uncertain’ as Hackers Lose up to $4,000

Unknown hackers have attempted to launch a second 51% attack on Vertcoin (VTC) but ended up paying for the privilege out of their own pockets. As Vertcoin’s lead maintainer James Lovejoy revealed in a report on the attack on Dec. 2, a malicious entity targeted cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex in order to manipulate the Vertcoin blockchain. Hackers paid at least $440 to attack VTC Vertcoin forked off from Bitcoin (BTC) in 2014 and experienced a major attack in December last year, during which hackers stole funds worth $100,000.  This time, however, it appears the exploit was much less successful.  “Based on the market prices during the attack’s preparation and the difficulty of the blocks the attacker produced, we estimate the attacker spent between 0.5-1 BTC to perform the attack,” Lovejoy explained.  As a result, the hackers appear to have come out with a net loss of between 0.06 BTC ($440) and 0.56 BTC ($4,100):  “The total value of the block rewards the attack received is 13825 VTC (~0.44 BTC). Given the attack was likely not profitable to perform based solely on block rewards, the motivation for the attack is not certain.” Fighting for scraps Bittrex is VTC’s main trading venue. After noticing suspicious activity, Lovejoy requested the exchange halt VTC pairs, which appeared to limit the attack’s success.  “Given the reorg was just deeper than 600 blocks (Bittrex’s confirmation requirement for VTC), it is possible that Bittrex was the original target, but the double-spend portion attack was aborted due to Bittrex disabling their wallet before the fork could be released,” he added. VTC/USD has fallen around 7% to $0.23 in the past 24 hours, but the move is broadly insignificant within the context of 2019 highs of $0.61 seen in June. As Cointelegraph reported, Bitcoin remains much more immune to 51% attacks thanks to its provably decentralized structure and unrivaled hash rate. As well-known pundit Andreas Antonopoulos previously noted, with Bitcoin, such an attack would cost around $1 billion for a 10-minute offensive, something which in itself is all but impossible to achieve.

The Vertcoin Cryptocurrency Just Got 51% Attacked – Again

The Vertcoin Cryptocurrency Just Got 51% Attacked – Again

Occurring on Sunday, Dec. 1, the blockchain reorganization caused five “double spends” to the value of 125 vertcoin (VTC) worth approximately $29. “Each of the double-spent outputs are coinbase outputs owned by the attacker and it is unknown to whom the coins were originally sent before being swept to an attacker address after the reorg,” Lovejoy said.

Litecoin-Funded Grin Developer Challenges Mimblewimble’s Privacy Issue

Litecoin-Funded Grin Developer Challenges Mimblewimble’s Privacy Issue

A Grin (GRIN) developer funded by the Litecoin Foundation has suggested a solution for fixing the “Achilles heel of Mimblewimble privacy.” David Burkett, a developer at Mimblewimble’s (MW) privacy-centric coin Grin, started a thread on monthly updates detailing progress on both Grin’s development and the integration of MW’s privacy-focused technology into Litecoin (LTC). The developer announced the news on Twitter on Dec. 1: “I’ll be posting monthly status updates detailing progress on the LTC MW EB (YAY acronyms). This is geared toward those interested in LTC development, but will also talk a lot about Grin++ changes, so it may be interesting to Grinners as well.” Burkett challenges the “Achilles heel of Mimblewimble privacy” In terms of Grin’s progress, the developer has purportedly performed the first-ever pre-broadcast MW CoinJoin that would allegedly make transactions more private by disabling broadcasting before transactions joined others in the CoinJoin block. Burkett noted that this issue is one of the most critical problems associated with MW’s privacy. He wrote: “The Achilles heel of mimblewimble privacy though, has always been that transactions are broadcast before they’ve had a chance to be joined with other transactions. That means nodes monitoring the network can see the original input-to-output links of most transactions. Sending a transaction directly to a CoinJoin server before broadcasting is one of many different techniques we can use to combat that.” Some researchers claim that there is no way to fix Mimblewimble’s privacy The implementation follows a recent report claiming that MW’s privacy is “fundamentally flawed” as a developer managed to track 96% of Grin transactions before they came to CoinJoin, a block that collects all MW’s transactions to ensure their anonymity. Published by Ivan Bogatyy at blockchain research firm Dragonfly Research, the report claims that there is no way to fix that issue for MW, and the protocol should no longer be considered as a “viable alternative to Zcash or Monero when it comes to privacy.” Litecoin Foundation is funding Burkett’s efforts to integrate Grin’s privacy Alongside Grin’s developments, the developer confirmed that the Litecoin Foundation will be funding his efforts to implement the MW extension block as well as to continue his work on Grin. Litecoin creator Charlie Lee announced the initiative on Oct. 30. Burkett also noted…

P2P Bitcoin Marketplace Paxful Set to Surpass LocalBitcoins in Volume

P2P Bitcoin Marketplace Paxful Set to Surpass LocalBitcoins in Volume

Peer-to-peer (P2P) Bitcoin (BTC) marketplace Paxful recently hit an all-time-high in weekly traded volume. As of Dec. 2, CoinDance data reveals that for the week of Nov. 23, Paxful saw close to $30 million in P2P Bitcoin trades continuing a consistent upward trend since the platform’s inception. Weekly Paxful Volume (Global), 2015-present. Source: CoinDance Paxful trumps LocalBitcoins’ trend Paxful is a P2P over-the-counter platform that connects users offering to buy and sell Bitcoin using gift cards, Paypal, domestic bank transfers and other payment methods. As a decentralized and non-custodial service, Paxful reportedly sees Bitcoin trades denominated in 70 different national fiat currencies and has seen $20-25 million in trades (weekly) throughout much of 2019. While Paxful has reported a consistent uptrend since 2015, data from LocalBitcoins.com — a veteran name in the P2P crypto trading space — has seen a shakier arc with peak volumes largely reported during the winter 2017 cryptocurrency bull run. Weekly LocalBitcoins Volume (Global), 2013-present. Source: CoinDance Despite this, LocalBitcoins’ volume remained broadly in the $40-60 million (weekly) range for much of 2018-2019, although the last few months have seen a downturn with consistently sub-$40 million levels throughout October and November. As noted, one of Paxful’s niche markets is the exchange of retail-branded gift cards for Bitcoin: the platform’s site reveals that Amazon gift cards are currently the most popular, followed by eBay, Steam and iTunes. LocalBitcoins’ challengers As reported, LocalBitcoins has seen its market share challenged as rival LocalCryptos — formerly LocalEthereum — announced it was set to add Bitcoin support alongside Ether (ETH). LocalBitcoins has also come under criticism for its move to register as an official virtual currency provider with regulators in its home country of Finland, alienating users who hope to transact pseudonymously. Centralized exchange alternatives and tokenized gift cards As Cointelegraph reported in July, major centralized American cryptocurrency wallet and exchange Coinbase has also entered the crypto gift card market, allowing customers in certain countries to exchange coins for brand e-certificates. In August, Japan’s largest gift card platform Amaten revealed it would start issuing tokenized gift cards in partnership with blockchain network provider Aelf.

‘Hodlers Are Insane’ — 64% of Bitcoin Supply Has Not Moved Since 2018

‘Hodlers Are Insane’ — 64% of Bitcoin Supply Has Not Moved Since 2018

Over 60% of the total Bitcoin (BTC) in circulation has not left its wallet in more than a year, highlighting demand among investors.  That was the conclusion of analyst Rhythm, who uploaded statistics about Bitcoin network activity on Dec. 2.  BTC investors shun risk and short-term gains Of the roughly 18.08 million Bitcoins which have been mined, 11.58 million — or 64% of the supply — has stayed in the same wallet since 2018.  The figure is striking as during that time, BTC/USD expanded from $3,100 last December to 2019 highs of $13,800 just six months later.  Subsequently, markets reversed downward, shaving 52% off the highs to reach local lows of $6,500 on Nov. 25.  “Hodlers of last resort are insane,” Rhythm summarized.  According to the data, the amount of dormant BTC as a percentage of the total supply has sharply increased in recent years. The trend has remained intact during both bull markets and bear markets, signaling a desire among investors to save rather than spend regardless of profitability.  Hard money mentality Such a trait fits Bitcoin’s characteristics as hard money: a currency with a fixed supply and emission schedule which no central authority can manipulate.  As Cointelegraph recently noted, the cryptocurrency’s proponents have long drawn the distinction between its characteristics and those of “easy money” such as fiat currency.  A currency, which can have its supply manipulated fits an economic system that incentivizes spending and borrowing while discouraging saving. As Saifedean Ammous summarized in his popular book, “The Bitcoin Standard,” consumers feel the urge to spend money sooner, as it loses its value in the long-term due to government and central bank interference. Bitcoiners, by contrast, continue to exhibit a so-called “low time preference” economically — saving for the future, understanding that it is more profitable to do so than purchase as much as possible as soon as possible.