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SEC Halts Fraudulent ICO that Falsely Claimed Regulatory Approval

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Thursday that it had obtained an emergency court order to halt an initial coin offering (ICO) that fraudulently claimed to have SEC approval.

According to the complaint, which was filed under seal on Oct. 3, Blockvest LLC and its founder — Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III, aka Rasool Abdul Rahim El — told prospective ICO investors that the company had “registered” with the SEC and had been “approved” by the agency, along with other regulators. That, along with other claims that Blockvest made, was not true.

From the complaint:

“Blockvest and Ringgold claim their ICO has been ‘registered’ and ‘approved’ by the SEC and other regulators, even going so far as to use the SEC’s seal to promote their offering. None of that is true: the SEC has in no way approved, authorized or otherwise endorsed defendants, their entities, nor their ICO. Defendants also claim they are “partnered” with and “audited by” Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“Deloitte”)-which they are not.”

In a bizarre move to keep up the charade, Ringgold created a fictitious regulatory agency, the “Blockchain Exchange Commission,” whose logo closely mirrored that of the SEC and linked to the government agency’s official website.

“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.”

Had the SEC not obtained the court order halting the Blockvest ICO, the agency said that Ringgold would have made a scheduled appearance at an ICO conference in Los Angeles at which he would likely have continued to market his cryptocurrency token through fraudulent means.

Notably, the SEC’s action against Blockvest comes shortly after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed charges against a fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scheme whose operators impersonated CFTC regulators and forged documents to grift bitcoin from retail investors.

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The Young and the Restless: Millennial Males Dominant Among Crypto Investors in the US

Age and gender seem to be crucial factors when it comes to purchasing cryptocurrencies in the world’s largest economy.

According to a survey conducted by cryptocurrency startup Circle, the interest of millennial men in investing in crypto is higher than that of millennial women with 18% of the former planning on investing in crypto in the course of the next one year compared to 7% in the latter group.

This was not restricted to the millennial generation though as across the different age groups men were more interested in buying cryptocurrencies compared to women. For instance, 17% of males in the United States above the majority age intend to invest in crypto in the coming 12 months compared to 8% of women.

Attitude Towards Risk

With regards to risk-taking, the gender divide was present across generations too. More millennial men, for example, identified themselves as being aggressive investors compared to millennial women – 42% for the former and 27% for the latter. Among Baby Boomers (ages 52-70), 16% of the men indicated that they were aggressive investors compared to 9% of the women. For Generation Xers (ages 36-51), 34% of the men viewed themselves as aggressive investors compared to 19% of their female counterparts.

Regardless of gender, the survey which saw over 3,000 respondents above the age of 18 interviewed demonstrated that the younger the individual, the higher their interest in buying cryptocurrencies. In the coming 12 months, a quarter of millennials indicated interest in buying cryptocurrencies. For generation X, only 10% have shown an interest in purchasing cryptocurrencies in the next 12 months. The figure was even lower with regards to Baby Boomers where only 2% are planning to buy crypto in the next one year.

Already Dipped their Toes…

So far 71% of millennials have invested less than US$1,000 in cryptocurrencies with 29% have put in amounts ranging between US$500 and US$1,000 while 42% have staked amounts of less than US$500.

Notably, 25% of millennials indicated they would be open to moving some of their 401(k) into cryptocurrencies. Interestingly, a significant number of millennials still view cryptocurrencies as speculative assets with 11% saying it was a chance to make a quick buck.

Circle’s survey showing the higher interest in cryptocurrencies among millennials echoes another study conducted in the United Kingdom earlier in the year which showed that some in that age group preferred bitcoin over real estate. This was attributed to a view among millennials that bitcoin and other cryptos have more upside potential compared to property.

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Traders Expected Bitcoin to Rise as Stock Market Fell, What Went Wrong?

The sudden plunge in the price of Bitcoin has demonstrated that while it lacks correlation with the broader financial market, it is not inversely correlated with the global market.

Bitcoin and major cryptocurrencies are considered as a robust store of value for investors to hedge against the broader financial market because of its lack of correlation with equities, stocks, currencies, and bonds.

Lack of Correlation is not Inverse Correlation

In an interview, Matt Hougan, the vice president of research and development at Bitwise Asset Management, stated that the fundamental drivers of crypto are different from that of the traditional finance market.

But, Matt emphasized that non-correlation is not equivalent to inverse correlation and as such, investors should not expect the price of Bitcoin to increase when the traditional finance market or the stock market declines in value.

“Non-correlation is not the same as inverse correlation so there’s no guarantee that when the market goes down crypto will go up. Over the long term, we think the fundamental drivers of crypto are different from the fundamental driver of equities and other assets, and we would expect the low correlation to persist,” Matt said.

On October 11, the US stock market saw a substantial decline in value, which saw Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, lose more than $9.1 billion in personal net worth within a 24-hour period.

Charlie Ripley, a senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, said that higher interest rates have contributed to the drop in stocks.

“Higher interest rates typically bring on tighter financial conditions which could dampen growth going forward and equity markets are reacting to that,” said Charlie.

Financial markets had a major fall on Wednesday.

Medha Samant, investment director for Asian equities at Fidelity International, further emphasized that the global stock market sell-off spooked sentiment amidst fears that US markets would succumb to sell pressure after one of the longest bull rallies in the history of the country.

Alex Kruger, a cryptocurrency analyst and trader, said that a breakout of Bitcoin above a major resistance level in a period in which stocks are experiencing a large drop in value could allow the dominant cryptocurrency to see a massive increase in demand.

“A BTC breakout today, in a day when stocks and bonds are getting crushed, would be noticed by the whole world and would be very bullish. Waiting,” he said.

However, Kruger also noted that the correlation between stocks and traditional assets like gold and treasuries has also weakened in the past year. Thus, a struggling global market could also lead the crypto market to fall.

Kruger added:

“Treasuries and Gold are two assets widely used as portfolio hedges. Correlations with stocks broke down in 2018. Hence, in the event of a market crash, portfolios may suffer losses both from the stocks side and the hedge side. Forcing PMs to sell assets, accelerating a crash.”

Bitcoin Wasn’t in an Ideal Position to Recover

After recording a yearly low daily trading volume, Bitcoin struggled to demonstrate a recovery in its momentum and price trend. Other major cryptocurrencies and tokens were affected by the lack of momentum in BTC, unable to initiate a promising price movement.

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5 Highlights from Bitcoin-Bashing NYU Economist’s Senate Testimony

This morning, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is holding a hearing on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, featuring testimony from New York University economist Nouriel Roubini.

Roubini, as CCN reported, has been bashing bitcoin since before most of the mainstream public had become familiar with the terms “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain,” and — true to form — his Senate testimony contained some real gems.

Here are some highlights:

1. ‘Sh*tcoin’ Entered the Congressional Lexicon

By the time this article is published, Roubini will have likely become the first person to use the word “sh*tcoin” in congressional testimony, with the word — a term of derision that bitcoin maximalists frequently use when discussing altcoins — appearing four times in his written testimony.

His testimony read:

“And a 70% capital loss was a “good” deal compared to thousands of alt-coins (otherwise better known as shitcoins) that have lost on average 95% of their value since the peak. Actually calling this useless vaporware garbage a ‘shitcoin’ is a grave insult to manure that is a most useful, precious and productive good as a fertilizer in agriculture.”

To his credit, Roubini did apologize for his use of the scatological term, adding in a footnote, “My apologies to the members of the Senate Banking Committee for using the scatological term ‘shitcoin’ but the term is standard in the crypto jargon and there are more than 500000 references to it in a Google search of this technical term.”

He also included a link to that Google search.

2. Roubini’s Crypto Dictionary

“Sh*tcoin” isn’t the only word that Roubini felt obligated to define for the committee members, most of whom are likely not familiar with the colloquialisms of Crypto Twitter. Indeed, he provided a veritable pocket-size dictionary of crypto terms, though his definitions are somewhat different than you might find in the official CT lexicon.

Here are some standouts:

  • Crypto-land: “an eco-system of con artists, self-serving peddlers, scammers, carnival barkers, charlatans, and outright criminals.”
  • HODLers: “suckers who have hold on their collapsing cryptocurrencies even after they lost 90% of their value”
  • Lambos: “the crypto obsession with stealing investors’ money to buy luxury energy hogging cars”
  • Whales: “large early crypto billionaires who are stuck with their fake wealth after the suckers of retails investors – who bought into the FOMO of the peak 2017 bubbles – lost 90% of their investments; those suckers are also called BagHolders”

3. ICOs are a Return to the ‘Stone Age’


This wouldn’t be a true Roubini post without a few classic crypto-takedowns, and with the eyes of the nation’s legislators upon him, the NYU professor did not disappoint.

In one section, Roubini alleged that, rather than representing the future of crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs) are actually a return to the stone age with its lack of a common currency. These tokens, he said, will create an economy worse than that seen in The Flintstones.

“That is precisely where the ICO charlatans would effectively take us – not to the futuristic world of ‘The Jetsons,’ but to the modern Stone Age world – that is worse than ‘The Flintstones’ – who at least used clam shells as their money and understood the importance of a single numeraire – where all transactions occur through the barter of different tokens or goods. It is time to recognize their utopian rhetoric for what it is: self-serving nonsense meant to separate credulous investors from their hard-earned savings”

4. Bitcoin a ‘Dinosaur,’ Worse than an Excel Spreadsheet

Continuing his assault, Roubini fired shots across the bow at bitcoin, hearkening back to criticism he has made in the past through Twitter and other means. In addition to arguing that bitcoin is more centralized the North Korea, he argued that it was, more or less, a worse version of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

“It is high time to end the hype. Bitcoin is a slow, energy-inefficient dinosaur that will never be able to process transactions as quickly or inexpensively as an Excel spreadsheet.”

5. Stablecoins are the ‘Biggest Scam of All’

While Roubini spent more than 35 pages excoriating the cryptocurrency ecosystem from top to bottom, he took particular aim at “stablecoins,” cryptocurrency tokens whose values are in some way pegged to a fiat currency (i.e., the U.S. dollar).

Roubini said that stablecoins are the “biggest scam of all,” noting that tether (USDT), currently the largest stablecoin, has never undergone a full audit to prove that its tokens are fully-backed by USD.

“And the biggest scam of all is the case of ‘stable coins’ – starting with Tether – that claimed to be pegged one to one to the US dollar but are not fully collateralized by an equal backing of true US dollars. Bitfinex – behind the scammy Tether – has persistently refused to be properly audited and its creation of fiat Tether has been systematically used to prop up manipulate upward the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies according to a recent academic paper.”

As CCN reported, non-profit cryptocurrency research and advocacy group Coin Center will also testify before the Senate hearing. The organization’s testimony, one can be sure, will present a marked contrast to that of Roubini.

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Crypto Exchange Zaif Reveals Customer Compensation Plan after $60 Million Hack

After waiting for over three weeks for a compensation strategy, victims of the Zaif cryptocurrency exchange hacking can now sigh with relief as the owner of the Japanese exchange has put forward a plan.

Tech Bureau, which owns the Zaif cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it will sell its entire stake to Fisco Digital Asset Group, a publicly listed Japanese firm which also operates a digital asset exchange. Consequently, the responsibility of compensating victims of the breach will fall on the new owner.

“In the official contract between the Fiscal virtual currency exchange corporation and our company, the contract specifies the former as the successor. Therefore, the contractual relationship between us and the customer will be transferred from our company to the Fiscal Virtual Currency Exchange Co., Ltd,” read a loose translation of the statement.

Initial Plan Aborted

Initially, Tech Bureau had planned to sell a majority stake to Fisco Digital Asset Group as earlier reported by CCN. The move by Tech Bureau to transfer the entire business to Fisco may have been prescient though as the bitcoin exchange halted the registration of new accounts less than a week ago.


In the cybersecurity breach where cryptocurrencies worth approximately US$60 million were stolen, the various digital assets that were affected included bitcoin, bitcoin cash and monacoin. Per Zaif’s statement, victims of the hack who lost bitcoin and bitcoin cash will be compensated using Fisco’s holdings of the two digital assets.

On the other hand those who lost monacoin will be paid back part of their losses in the yen. During the hacking incident Zaif lost around 40% of the monacoins that it held. Tech Bureau has set a rate of 144.548 for every monacoin with the Japanese firm noting that this was at a premium.

“And the compensation amount is “144.548 yen per 1 MONA coin”. This amount was adopted as an intermediate value of the price at Bitfryer Corporation and Bit Bank Corporation at 9:00 am on October 9, 2018. Please note that the exchange rate on this exchange at the same time is 128 yen, and we will compensate more than this amount,” said Tech Bureau.

End of the Road

After the transfer of the entire business to Fisco Digital Asset Group, Tech Bureau plans to shut down the cryptocurrency exchange besides canceling its operating license:

“…after completing the process of this business transfer, we plan to dissolve the virtual currency exchange business after cancelling registration.”

Tech Bureau intends to obtain the approval of shareholders on October 19 when a general shareholders meeting will be held. The Japanese firm has also revealed that it will make a public announcement on October 22. If all goes according to plan the deal between Tech Bureau and Fisco Digital Asset Group will be concluded on November 22.

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Cryptocurrency Market Loses $16 Billion as Dow Jones, Nasdaq Plummet

All top ten cryptocurrencies and stocks from Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq, are in the red on Thursday.

A Deadly Crypto Dive

The price of significant cryptocurrencies dived with nearly $16 billion of value being swept out in a matter of three hours.

Source: CoinGecko

At the time of this writing, Bitcoin had dropped 4 percent to $6,294, while Ethereum and EOS dived over 10 and 8 percent, respectively, according to the data on CoinGecko. XRP and Tron, which had an overall bullish September, too fell drastically – by over 10 percent each, indicating the previous upsides were only hype-centered. Other coins, including Monero, Dash, Litecoin, NEO, Cardano, and Bitcoin Cash also tanked 7-10 percent in value.

The crypto market was previously showing signs of steady bullish momentum in the wake of new institutional investments. The drop came two days after the International Monetary Fund issued a severe warning over Bitcoin and crypto’s active growth. In its recent report, the UN organization feared that crypto growth would create “new vulnerabilities in the international financial system.”

Nevertheless, the market was able to sustain the so-called bottom predictions. Bitcoin, for instance, is expected to hold its value above $6,000 to remain attractive to miners and institutional investors.

Facebook, Netflix, Visa Join Crypto Plunge

The crypto drop also appeared hours after US stocks suffered a brutal decline on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Index was down 832 points, while the Nasdaq declined 4.1 percent, its worst session in two years.

Among the Dow losers were Nike, Microsoft, Visa, Apple, Boeing, and 25 other components – all of whom plunged more than Bitcoin did. Nasdaq losers also include big names like Netflix, Nvidia, Adobe and Amazon – which also dropped somewhat similar to their cousins in the crypto market.

The stock market as a whole, however, had solid reasons behind the fall: rising interest rates.

The bull market that began in 2009 soon after the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan added more liquidity with their historically low-interest rates and bond purchases began to lose shine after the Fed increased fund rates three times in a year. It alone could make investors expect an increase in interest rates. Thus, the short-term jitters for stocks.

Where Cryptos Meet Stocks

A correlation between Bitcoin and the other three stock indexes can be established in the chart above. It is the second time this year since February when the crypto market is falling in line with the stock market. The last week’s downside in the stock market was the time when funds were moving into Bitcoin. Before that, Bitcoin was showing stability in value as per the general crypto volatility standards around the same time stock market indexes were trending sideways.

The latest drop in crypto and the stock market has created opportunities for short-term investors. Typically, a fund manager who has distributed his risks across a portfolio comprising both mainstream and crypto assets should either sit ideal for a potential reversal, cross-sell from weak assets to strong assets, or just exit its position on a heavy loss. One might see some upside moves in the less-controlled crypto market which could generate higher near-term profits thanks to the volatility. Also, because the market is open 24/7, unlike the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

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Bitcoin Whales are Stabilizing the Market, Not Crashing it: Research

New data from Chainalysis has revealed that bitcoin whales are a surprisingly heterogeneous group of coin holders who might be doing more good than harm to the market.

Investors have long been wary of a market situation where a few whales can exert overwhelming control over the asset price, fuelled in part by reports suggesting that whales deciding to sell large amounts of their BTC holdings have triggered sudden downward price movement.

How Much Influence do Whales Really Have?

These fears, however, seem to be unfounded as a close observation of the bitcoin’s biggest wallets reveals. The Chainalysis data shows that bitcoin whales are a largely heterogeneous group with more than half of them not being active traders. It is also interesting to note that while the few amongst them who trade have the ability to influence a deep in the market, they tend to buy, not sell during a price decline. Also worthy of note is the fact that these large holders, being professionals tend to employ the use of OTC trading platforms that are able to manage the volumes of their transactions with moderate price disruption.

The 32 largest bitcoin wallets not on exchanges as at August 2018 account for about one million BTC, or about $6.3 billion. Chainalysis then categorizes these wallets based on traits they exhibit, classifying them as traders, miners or early adopters, lost and criminals. Of this number, nine wallets control over 332,000 BTC worth a little above $2 billion and account for about a third of total whale shares. This group, the traders are mostly new arrivals in the market joining the bitcoin world in 2017.

Another group, the miners, happens to be the second largest group and have been in the market before the ‘traders’. Accounting for a total of 332,000 coins worth a little above $2 billion, this group comprises 15 investors who, having entered the market as early as 2016 and 2017 are presumably very rich. The third group referred to as the ‘lost whales’ account for about 212,000 BTC, an equivalent of $1.3 billion with no transactions occurring on such accounts as far back as 2011 because owners have lost private keys with no means of accessing their accounts.

The last of this group is the ‘criminals’ comprising just 3 whales, and it happens to hold the smallest number accounting for only 125,000 BTC, worth close to $790 million. Of the three, two have been linked to the Silk Road darknet market and the third allegedly involved in money laundering.

It is noteworthy to observe that only the traders, who account for a third of total whale shares are active buyers and sellers. The trend among others is to hold except for the “lost bitcoin whales” who have been inactive since 2011 and are very likely to remain so. Therefore, despite suggestions that trading whales influence market fluctuations, the available data, in fact, reveals otherwise.

Trading whales actually purchased bitcoin during the price dip that occurred around December 2017 and in most of 2018 and did not sell in huge volumes in 2016 and 2017. This means that trading whales were mostly buying during and were thus, in fact, a stabilizing factor in the market, and not the opposite as is sometimes assumed.

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‘Strong Possibility’ Bitcoin Bubble Could Burst in the Near Future, Report Claims

A study conducted by market research firm Juniper Research has cast doubts on bitcoin’s long-term prospects owing to various factors stacked against it including regulatory scrutiny.

Per Windsor Holden, the author of the report titled ‘The Future of Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin & Altcoin Trends & Challenges 2018-2023’ the lack of ‘intrinsic value’ in the flagship cryptocurrency portends doom:

“Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. Like any asset, it is worth whatever someone is prepared to pay for it, but it has no meaning or existence beyond the confines of the ledger. It is a bubble, and there is a strong possibility that this bubble could burst in the near future.”

Lower Daily Transaction Volumes and Values

The study noted that both the daily transaction volumes and the daily transaction values of bitcoin had fallen from the record highs witnessed late last year. In late 2017, for instance, the daily transaction volumes averaged approximately 360,000 but in September 2018 this had fallen to 230,000.

The daily transaction values, on the other hand, had reached a figure of over US$3.7 billion late last year but in September the amount had declined to under US$670 million.

According to Juniper Research, the fall in bitcoin’s price happened despite the fact that leading fiat currencies have continued to be weak as a result of various factors in the global economy occasioned by the trade conflicts between the United States and China as well as the uncertainty surrounding Brexit among others.

“…if Bitcoin cannot make gains in such favourable circumstances, then it is unlikely to prosper as and when these issues are resolved,” the study concludes.

Hostile Environment

Some of the factors blamed for holding back bitcoin in the report include the restrictions imposed by governments on cryptocurrency exchanges as well as the advertising bans which were effected by tech firms such as Twitter and Google. The latter partly rescinded the ban recently, as CCN reported.

Additionally, the participation of casual investors has been limited following a decision by major banks to ban the use of their credit cards in making buying bitcoin.

While bitcoin has seen more than its fair share of prophets of doom, not everyone is betting against it. As recently as late last month, tech billionaire Tim Draper repeated his projection that the price of the flagship cryptocurrency will hit US$250,000 by 2022.


And two months ago, regular CNBC guest and co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, Tom Lee, reiterated his forecast that bitcoin will be trading in the US$20,000 range by the end of this year.

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South Korea Remains Firm on ICO Ban Despite Calls for Legality, For Now

The chairman of South Korea’s primary markets regulator has reaffirmed the authority’s initial coin offering (ICO) ban in a top-level meeting on Thursday.

Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Choi Jong-ku has told lawmakers during the annual government audit in a parliamentary meeting that the authority will stick to its policy of a sweeping blanket ban on fundraising through initial coin offerings.

The official stressed the regulator would continue to take this position despite calls from crypto industry, the startup sector and even some lawmakers urging the government to legalize ICOs under regulation.

During the meeting, FSC chairman Choi Jong-ku was quoted by Korean publication Yonhap as stating:

“Although many people call for the government to allow initial coin offerings, there are still uncertainties related to such a move as well as the possibility of serious fallouts.”

Taking its cue from China, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) – the country’s markets watchdog under the FSC – issued a ban on all ICOs in September 2017.

It wasn’t long before financial authorities began considering a reversal of the ban with a new bill drafted to legalize the launch of new ICOs and crypto tokens in South Korea.

Come May 2018, South Korea’s National Assembly – the 300-member national legislature – moved with an official proposal to lift the ban. The bi-partisan effort has seen lawmakers from various political spectrums advance the effort.

Elsewhere in South Korea’s Jeju island, governor Won Hee-ryong formally proposed that the central government designate the province as a “special zone” for the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector. The governor made the proposal in a meeting with Korea’s finance minister, the deputy prime minister for the economy and other key policymakers in mid-August.

If approved, the self-governing province would go on to legalize ICOs, governor Won confirmed.

“Entrepreneurs looking to innovate should be allowed to raise funds through cryptocurrency,” he stated, opening the shores of the largest island off the coast of the Korean peninsula to domestic startups and entrepreneurs from the mainland and its ban.

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ETH, BCH, and XRP Plunge 13% as Bitcoin Dips to $6,250: Factors and Trends

Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) have declined by 12 to 13 percent over the past 24 hours, as Bitcoin recorded a sudden dip in price from $6,600 to $6,250.

Subsequent to demonstrating a rapid sell-off, the Bitcoin price recorded a 4 percent drop within a 30-minute period, recording one of its steepest short-term drops in recent months.

The downtrend of Bitcoin led other major cryptocurrencies and tokens including XRP, ETH, and BCH to fall substantially.

Large Fall of Major Cryptocurrencies and Tokens Were Expected

On October 7, CCN reported that the volume of XRP, the third most valuable cryptocurrency in the global market, plunged by more than 50 percent in less than 48 hours.

At the time, traders were concerned that XRP demonstrated such a rapid decline in its daily trading volume in a period in which the project has secured some of its most crucial partnerships including the deal with Banco Santander to utilize XRP to fuel the bank’s mobile application.

“The 50 percent decline in the volume of Ripple and the lack of momentum of tokens have shown that investors are not willing to take high risk, high return trades in a period of uncertainty. Ripple has had two productive months in September and October, securing major partnerships with influential financial institutions including Banco Santander,” the report read.

Since then, the volume of XRP has fallen from nearly $2 billion to $670 million. The significant drop in the volume of XRP led the cryptocurrency to continuously decline in value, recording another 13 percent decline on October 11.

Bitcoin Cash, which demonstrated strong momentum above the $500 mark, also demonstrated a loss of around 12 percent to $450.

The worst performing cryptocurrencies on the day include WanChain, Theta Token, Nano, Ripple, Tron, NEM, and Waltonchain, all of which dropped by more than 13 percent against the US dollar.

Yuji Nakamura, a Tokyo-based technology journalist, stated that traders in Japan and South Korea likely triggered the drop in the price of Bitcoin in the past 24 hours.

“Crypto getting spanked this morning in Asia. Hearing that Japanese day traders are leading the move lower, selling crypto to pay for unexpectedly big margin calls in stocks. Question is will Bitcoin $6,000 hold?” Nakamura said.

The volume of major cryptocurrency exchanges in Asia including Bithumb, Bitflyer, and Upbit have increased by a large margin in the past few days, suggesting that the sell-off of BTC was led by investors in Asia.

Can Bitcoin Hold $6,000

As Nakamura emphasized, it is of utmost importance for BTC to hold major support levels. As long as BTC can maintain momentum and show positive price movement above the $6,000 mark, it is highly unlikely for the dominant cryptocurrency to record another major drop to the $5,000 region.

Although BTC could initiate a speedy recovery in the short-term, it will be more challenging for XRP, BCH, and other cryptocurrencies with low daily trading volumes to see positive price development.

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India’s Government is ‘Evaluating’ a State Cryptocurrency: Report

A panel under India’s finance ministry tasked to propose regulations for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is reportedly set to recommend a state cryptocurrency backed by the government, instead.

Citing a senior official aware of discussions within the inter-governmental panel, Quartz is reporting that the group is set to suggest the development of a state crypto token on a blockchain developed by the government.

“We are evaluating the government-backed cryptocurrency and crypto-token,” Quartz cites the ‘senior government official’ as stating. The panel will also recommend the government to conduct its own research and development of the blockchain, the official added.

A Central Bank Digital Currency

The development comes at a time when the central bank has admitted to exploring a central bank-issued digital currency.

While reports of an internal unit at the central bank dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain research have been refuted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank confirmed the formation of an ‘inter-departmental group’ tasked to study the “feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency (CBDC)”, in its Annual Report 2017-18.

The RBI’s research arm, in early 2017, published a sweeping whitepaper courtesy of India’s foremost banking research institute to plainly conclude that blockchain technology had “matured enough” to enable the digitization of the rupee, India’s fiat currency.

As CCN reported in August, any state-backed digital currency issued by the central bank will be valued as the digital equivalent of the Indian rupee.

It was September 2017 when RBI executive director Sudharshan Sen first hinted at a “fiat cryptocurrency.”

“Right now, we have a group of people who are looking at fiat cryptocurrencies,” the senior central bank official said at the time. “Something that is an alternative to the Indian rupee, so to speak. We are looking at that closely.”

Officials have also discussed the possibility of naming the cryptocurrency “Lakshmi”, after the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity.

The official’s revelation came a little over a year after the Indian government enforced a controversial ban on denominations of physical cash to render 90% of India’s currency notes obsolete overnight. Following the unprecedented demonetization run, the central Indian government has since announced the “Cashless India” initiative as a pivot to digital payments in the everyday economy.

India’s effort to develop the ‘Lakshmi Coin’, if true, will follow the likes controversial Venezuelan crypto token ‘petro’. Backed by the country’s large oil reserves, the petro is the world’s first state cryptocurrency. Born out of a need to evade U.S.-led financial sanctions, the petro could soon be followed by Iran with its own indigenous state cryptocurrency.

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Emergence of $100M Crypto Funds in Bear Market Shows Investors are Interested

Over the past month, four major $100 million crypto hedge funds have debuted with strong backing from institutional investors, Wall Street, and high profile individual investors.

Reality Shares, former Point72 Asset Management executive Travis Kling, and JCE Capital Management have announced the launch of $100 million hedge funds targeted at the cryptocurrency market.

Most recently, former Bain Capital Ventures partner Alexander Pack and Ceyuan Ventures founder Bo Feng formed a $100 million fund called Dragonfly Capital Partners, to establish a diverse portfolio of crypto-first funds, protocols, and infrastructure-building startups.

Investors are Interested

Perhaps to compete against existing hedge funds in the cryptocurrency sector, Dragonfly Capital Partners co-founder Alexander Pack said that the firm will invest in startups, protocols, and applications that have a strong vision of transform various industries with the blockchain, outside of finance.

“Crypto is a new asset class, and it made sense to have a new firm to support it. We thought older ones would have a disadvantage,” Pack said, adding, “we try to take a very long-term perspective. Crypto has the power to transform things at a deeper layer. Not just money—transforming what we think of as property.”

Blockchain development is essentially solving unmatched cryptographic problems effectively scale and improve the capacity of a decentralized protocol. Hence, the strategy of Dragonfly to support the long-term vision of ambitious blockchain projects will require years of development and rapid progress.

The $100 million Dragonfly has raised this month to launch its hedge fund demonstrates the intent of investors to place long-term bets on the cryptocurrency sector and blockchain space in a period of uncertainty and doubt.

In July, Digital Currency Group’s Grayscale also raised more than $250 million in the first half of 2018 from investors in the traditional finance market, despite the 80 percent decline in the valuation of the cryptocurrency market.

In its official report, Grayscale said that the demand for the company’s hedge fund and investment vehicles experienced an unprecedented rate of acceleration. The team wrote:

“As the investment community knows, over the last six months, the digital asset market experienced one of the largest price drawdowns since the inception of Bitcoin in 2009. However, what is more interesting, and somewhat counterintuitive, is that the pace of investment into Grayscale products has accelerated to a level that we have not seen before. In fact, we raised nearly $250 million in new assets in the first half of this year, marking the strongest inflows of any six month period in the history of our business.”

Market Trend

The cryptocurrency market is quite clearly still in a bear market with major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple unable to demonstrate strong momentum and large upside breakouts.

But, investors are still comfortable in investing large sums of capital to back emerging startups and projects. In a phase like this, it is more risky to invest in emerging startups than in established cryptocurrencies.

The approach of most hedge funds and high profile investors, both retail and institutions, represent confidence of investors in the long-term growth of the cryptocurrency sector.

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Crypto Startup Pundi X Says That it Made the ‘First Blockchain Phone Call’

Having launched a crypto-based Point-of-Sale (POS) device earlier this year with the goal of making cryptocurrency payments easier on the go, Pundi X now claims to have made the first blockchain phone call, according to a recent Medium post by the company co-founder Pitt Huang. The call was made on the startup’s newest device, called the XPhone, at the ongoing XBlockchain Summit two-day event at the Inaya Putri, Bali.

The XPhone is a blockchain phone that doesn’t use any centralized mobile carrier to function. It works on the Function X blockchain created by Pundi X. The Function X blockchain is an in-house network developed by the Pundi X team to solve some of the problems encountered with current blockchain platforms such as scalability, easy publishing of decentralized applications (dApps), and decentralization of the internet.

According to Huang, the new blockchain Function X comes with five essential components that make it a truly decentralized solution. These include the Function X OS, Function X Blockchain, Function X IPFX, FXTP Protocol, and the Function X Docker. The developers at Pundi X claim the Function X OS is built off the back of the Android OS 9.0, which makes it compatible with Android apps, making it easier for developers and users to transition to the platform. New dApps will also be easier to create and publish, the startup claims.

“Users will be able to share data in much the same way as they do online securely via the blockchain, while developers can quickly and easily publish decentralized applications via FXTP,” the post reads.

pundix blockchain phone

Source: Pundi X

Huang went to further to state that each device on the Function X ecosystem will function as a “node and each will have its own address and private key, uniquely linked to their node names, not unlike traditional URL and IP addresses.”

Users will be able to access their public data going through a particular path similar to what we type on our computers when visiting a website online. The user’s photos, files, or websites can only be accessed through this path. The path will be “FXTP://xxx.pitt,” with “pitt” standing for the user’s name on the network. Users can also call, text, or email the XPhone by using pre-defined commands such as “call.pitt” or “message.pitt.” Pundi X claims the data shared on the blockchain runs on a “complex exchange” of both public and private data keys which guarantees “communication without interception.”

Last week, CCN reported the decision of the UAE’s official credit bureau to launch a state digital currency emCash to drive wide adoption for digital currencies. As part of the move, the city will also roll out POS devices across government and retail storefronts in partnership with Pundi X, which will allow crypto users in Dubai to make purchases for goods and services.

Pundi X isn’t the only company working on a “blockchain phone.” Smartphone manufacturer HTC and cryptocurrency startup Sirin Labs are also working on variations of this concept.

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Bitcoin Price: Wait for Clear Bull Trend before Buying More Cryptocurrency

Wall Street strategy firm Fundstrat Global Advisors is among the mainstream financial industry’s biggest long-term cryptocurrency bulls. However, the firm is advising clients to hold off on buying more bitcoin — at least for right now.

Writing in a recent note to clients, Fundstrat technical strategist Robert Sluymer said that investors seeking to increase their bitcoin holdings should wait for the market to make a clear trend reversal.

“Investors should remain patient and wait for evidence of an improvement in ‘trend’ before increasing exposure,” wrote Sluymer in an excerpt of the note cited in MarketWatch. “A move above the September real and relative highs remains the key resistance/reversal level that will need to be exceeded to signal the early stages of a trend reversal.”

As CCN reported, the bitcoin price has seen record stability in recent days, with BTC’s daily trading range narrowing to levels not seen in more than 17 months and the coin’s price increasingly appearing tethered to $6,550. This decline in volatility correlated with a drop in trading volume, which analysts variously attributed to a decrease in sellers or a reduction in speculative buyers.

bitcoin price chart

BTC/USD | Bitfinex

Things appeared to be looking up on Tuesday when trading volume spiked above its recent levels and the bitcoin price crept up to $6,679 on Bitfinex. However, the rally stalled heading into Wednesday morning, and by the time of writing, BTC had sunk back to $6,588.

Even so, volume remains strong, and some analysts are optimistic that the market is preparing to make a significant movement, likely to the upside.

For instance, technical analysis from Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro, suggests that bitcoin is heading into a “classic breakout pattern.” A breakout could propel bitcoin through its 200-day moving average (DMA), which has provided the cryptocurrency with steady resistance over the past several months. This, Greenspan said, could fundamentally reverse trading sentiment in the market from bearish to bullish heading into the last two months of 2018.

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Breaking: Harvard, Stanford, & MIT Have All Invested in Cryptocurrency Funds

At least five more university endowments have invested in cryptocurrency funds, suggesting that the “herd” of institutional investors is finally beginning to place at least a small bet on the nascent asset class.

As first reported by The Information, a cadre of major educational institutions including Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina have each invested in at least one cryptocurrency fund through their respective endowments.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the investments, the publication reported that these five university endowments have invested tens of millions of dollars in these funds, which in turn invest in both physical cryptocurrencies and equity in cryptocurrency companies.

CCN previously reported that Yale University, which controls the second-largest university endowment next to Harvard, had allocated a portion of its $29.4 billion in assets into two cryptocurrency funds operated by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Paradigm.

Even with these investments, the six universities that are now said to have invested in crypto funds still have very little exposure to this asset class. Nevertheless, the fact that they are engaging with the market at all could help legitimize the space.

As The Information journalist Jon Victor explained:

“A move by endowments into funds that will directly bet on cryptocurrencies signals a major shift in investor sentiment toward the asset class, in the same way that institutions over the past decade became more willing to invest in private tech companies. Backing from such closely watched institutions could help validate cryptocurrencies, which are still considered too risky by many institutional investors.”

Cryptocurrency investors and analysts such as Mike Novogratz had long predicted that a “herd” of institutional investors would power the next bitcoin bull market. Ari Paul, a cryptocurrency fund manager and a former portfolio manager at the University of Chicago’s endowment, said in April that he believed that a number of institutions were interested in investing in cryptocurrency but were waiting for major names such as Yale to make the first move so that they would have an “excuse” to do so themselves.

Notably, though institutional investors are generally viewed as having a more sober view of cryptoassets than retail investors, a recent survey by Wall Street strategy firm Fundstrat found that institutions that have already invested in cryptocurrency are actually more optimistic about bitcoin’s near-term prospects than retail investors.

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‘Liquid Network’: Blockstream’s Bitcoin Sidechain is Now Live

Samson Mow, chief strategy officer at Blockstream, announced today that the blockchain startup has launched the Liquid Network, a Bitcoin sidechain.

Liquid is, as described by the company, “an innovative sidechain built on the Bitcoin network, facilitating faster bitcoin transactions between businesses and individuals, while enabling extended functionality.” The main purpose for the technology is faster settlements, improved transaction confidentiality, and tokenization for various assets.

As CCN reported, a sidechain acts as a second data layer over the Bitcoin blockchain. It keeps the latest ledger as a carbon copy, but transactions that occur on the sidechain don’t need to be included in the main blockchain’s blocks. This means that no network fees are incurred, and the blockchain’s blocks are not filled up with the sidechain’s records. The word “pegged” means that the blockchain for the sidechain match Bitcoin’s. Liquid’s “two-way peg” implies that its native asset can be swapped back and forth to Bitcoin (i.e., put on-chain) seamlessly.

Federated Sidechains and Centralization Concerns

The Liquid Network uses a native asset, called Liquid Bitcoin (L-BTC). L-BTC acts as a two-way peg to BTC, which can be redeemed through the network at any time. This native settlement asset allows for improved privacy and speed, according to Mow.

According to Blockstream, the Liquid Network will rely on hardware and software run by cryptocurrency industry businesses:

“The participating exchanges and Bitcoin businesses deploy the software and hardware that make up the Liquid network, so that they can peg in and out of the Bitcoin blockchain and offer Liquid’s features to their traders. Liquid provides a more secure and efficient system for exchange-side bitcoin to move across the network.”

However, as exchanges gain the easier transfer of BTC value, it comes at the cost to miners, who would not get to tap the mining reward. Miners would only benefit if the L-BTC was swapped for real BTC.

Additionally, Liquid is a network that relies on “trusted functionaries” composed of a “consensus of participants.” Blockstream admits that “it will never be as decentralized as Bitcoin.”  Though Mow states that no single party, nor Blockstream, will have control over the Liquid Network, and no participant is in control of more than one Liquid functionary server, it remains to be seen how this plays out in practice, given the drama from EOS and other more centralized networks, as CCN reported.

Liquid and Lightning: What’s the Difference?

Lightning Network

The Lightning and Liquid networks both make Bitcoin more extensible, but they do so in different ways.

While Liquid’s features bear similarities to what the Lightning Network already does or promises to do, it serves a much different purpose. The Lightning Network is built for micro-payments that can be settling fast and nearly free, and it currently has a low maximum channel capacity to minimize the risk to users.

The Liquid Network, however, clearly targets large financial institutions and exchanges, which will be dealing with large transactions and high volumes. The fast settlements and cheap transactions first deployed by the LN can now be had for much greater amounts, albeit with Liquid’s native L-BTC asset.

Blockstream first made headlines in 2015 for announcing Liquid, the first sidechain of Bitcoin. The company then secured $55 million in series A funding in 2016 for its work in adding sidechains to the flagship cryptocurrency’s network. The public launch comes a bit behind schedule, which had previously been set for Q1 2018.

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Cryptocurrency Exchange Says it Plans to Nakedly Pump Random Coins

Middling cryptocurrency exchange YoBit has an unusual plan to attract more traders to its platform: randomly pump coins to artificially drive up their prices.

In a Tweet published this morning, the exchange, apparently based out of Russia, said that on Thursday it will inject 10 BTC (~$66,000) into 10 random markets.

“We will buy one random coin for 1 btc every 1-2 mins 10 times (total buy amount – 10 btc),” the exchange operator said.


Though not a large sum compared to the global crypto ecosystem’s estimated $12 billion in daily volume, it could lead to significant price increases in thinly-traded microcap altcoin markets.

Many Twitter users immediately questioned whether YoBit’s account had been hacked. However, this does not appear to be the case, unless the hacker also infiltrated the exchange’s website, which currently features a countdown timer for the self-described pump. Other users tagged the official Twitter accounts of regulatory agencies, alluding to the fact that the action could be illegal in many jurisdictions.

Yobit cryptocurrency exchange pump and dump


As CCN reported, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission earlier this year issued a customer advisory on cryptocurrency pump-and-dump schemes, warning that they may illegal. While it’s not clear if YoBit’s planned trading event quite meets that definition, it’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t qualify as some type of market manipulation.

Last week, CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said that the agency was “very focused on the fraud and manipulation aspects of cryptocurrency markets,” and the numbers bear out those facts. Per a Wall Street Journal report, cryptocurrency-related enforcement actions have contributed to a significant increase in the size of civil penalties exacted by the CFTC in 2018. In fact, the $900 million in penalties levied during the current fiscal year was actually larger than the amount levied by the CFTC during five out of the eight years of the Obama administration.

According to CoinMarketCap, YoBit currently ranks as the world’s 51st-largest cryptocurrency exchange, as measured by adjusted daily trading volume. The exchange has processed $19 million worth of trades across its 482 markets within the past 24 hours and has seen more than $918 million in volume over the past month.

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Brazil: XP Investimentos’ Crypto Exchange Won’t Let Users Deposit or Withdraw Bitcoin

The website of XDEX, the cryptocurrency exchange launched by Brazil’s biggest investment firm, XP Investimentos, is already up and accepting pre-registrations. It adds a few details on the crypto exchange, including that users won’t be able to send BTC to and from their personal wallets.

The website, first spotted by local news outlet Portal do bitcoin, advertises commission-free bitcoin trading to its users, although it notes the platform will charge fees when they’re trading other cryptocurrencies like ethereum.

According to the company, it has a built-in transfer recognition system connected to its banks, which “ensures speed and reliability when transferring real money to buy cryptocurrencies.” While it isn’t yet clear when the exchange will open for business, its page restates users will have to open an account when it does.

The feature is interesting as earlier this year Brazil’s antitrust watchdog, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), launched an investigation into whether the country’s banks were purposefully harming crypto exchanges by restricting their operations.

Notably, as the local news outlet points out, the crypto exchange clarifies users won’t be able to send bitcoins to or from their personal wallets. The page reads:

“Deposits, redemptions and / or transfers of digital assets / cryptocurrencies from and to a virtual wallet (E-wallet) through the XDEX platform are not permitted. The deposits / redemptions and / or transfers will be made only in reais, and the sale of the digital asset will be mandatory for the redemption in reais.”

As CCN reported, it was revealed that XP Investimentos was launching its cryptocurrency exchange earlier this year, as available data showed it registered a company called XDEX INTERMEDIACAO LTDA, whose registered capital was $7.3 million.

bitcoin wallet

Users will not be able to deposit funds from or withdraw funds to their personal bitcoin wallets.

The firm’s official announcement came near the end of September, and its president, Guilherme Benchimol, revealed that he wasn’t entirely happy with the move, as he stated: “It’s a theme, I confess, would be better not to exist.”

To this, he added:

“Today there are three million Brazilians who have exposure to bitcoin in Brazil and 500,000 people who invest in stocks. Look at the discrepancy. We felt obliged to move forward in this market.”

In Brazil, investment funds have recently been allowed to indirectly invest in cryptocurrencies, through the acquisition of derivatives and foreign funds. They aren’t allowed to directly invest in the crypto ecosystem, per the superintendent of institutional investor relations at the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission, the CVM.

Cryptocurrency exchanges in the country have been under scrutiny. In August, the government sent exchanges a 14-point questionnaire to learn more about their businesses and their potential use in money laundering, and earlier this month CADE sent them another questionnaire they’ll have to answer or face a fine that can go up to $25,000.

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U.S. SEC Gets Tougher with Crackdown on ICO Funded Startups

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has intensified efforts to crack down on Initial Coin Offering (ICO) funded startups.

The financial regulator who had sent out a number of subpoenas to startups that failed to comply with its rules at the beginning of the year seems to be exerting more pressure on those startups to settle their cases, according to a report from Yahoo Finance.

For the companies, while some have been able to get off the SEC’s hook by quietly refunding investors money and paying a fine, others argue that they have been left in the dark regarding what the agency wants or how to satisfy its demands, according to anonymous sources who spoke on a recent investigation into the matter. Yahoo Finance and Decrypt conducted an investigation, where they spoke with industry sources, many of whom are employees of companies that have been subpoenaed by the SEC in the past.

ICOs grew in popularity last year, as it became the go-to funding strategy for blockchain startups, who preferred the ease of raising capital compared to the traditional investing route favored by venture capitalists.

In an ICO funding, the startup sells a digital token, typically for use in the future the startup plans to build. In most cases, the companies that run an ICO funding have not yet launched any product, and in some cases, they don’t – period. There is also very little data to back up the legitimacy of startups funded by ICOs. The report quotes blockchain listing service ICO Alert, who has tracked more than 5,000 legitimate ICOs over the past four years.

While startups have been successful in naming their tokens all sorts such as utility tokens or a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT), the SEC has been unimpressed with the labeling, weighing each ICO on a case by case basis.

The agency also tagged each ICO offering as securities, making anyone who wants to raise funding through ICOs to be compliant with federal securities law. At a Senate hearing in Federal, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said he viewed every ICO as security.

For a company issuing a security, the offering must be registered with the SEC or qualify for an exemption—which includes selling to accredited investors, investors outside the U.S. or to certified investors with annual income above $200,000. William Hinman, the SEC’s director of corporation finance provided further clarity in June when he said that, while ICOs are securities, bitcoin and — in his opinion — ether were not.

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Cryptocurrency isn’t Real Money: Tongue-in-Cheek Google Ad

Google has finally betrayed its true feelings on cryptocurrency. Well, maybe not, but a tongue-in-cheek advertisement for the search giant does take a few potshots at the nascent asset class.

During the ad, which promotes Google’s new Call Screen service, one character, Abby, remarks that the other’s electricity bill is “super high.” That character, Teddy, explains that he mines cryptocurrency, which “takes a lot of energy”

“Cryptocurrency? That money’s not real,” Abby says.

“Yeah, well I’ve got news for you: money isn’t real,” Teddy replies.

“You gonna live that lie?” the skeptical Abby retorts as the ad concludes.


The exchange is somewhat ironic, considering that the company’s co-founder has taken an interest in crypto mining. A few months ago, Sergey Brin (now president of Google parent company Alphabet Inc.) credited ethereum mining — which, at least until currently, relies primarily on GPU chips — with helping drive the computing boom. Later, he revealed that he had begun mining ethereum with his 10-year-old son. Perhaps the ad was taking a lighthearted jab at Brin.

However, despite Brin’s interest in cryptocurrency, Google, along with other major ad companies including Facebook, banned cryptocurrency-related advertisements earlier this year, warning that risky investments in this and other financial sectors had the potential to harm retail investors. Several weeks ago, however, the company — which was on the receiving end of nearly 39 percent of all digital advertising spending in 2017 — reversed the ban on cryptocurrency ads.

Last week, Google responded to the growing threat of cryptocurrency mining malware by banning obfuscated Chrome extensions that include mining scripts. While some of these extensions had valid purposes — such as allowing a user to donate their idle computer resources to mine coins for charity — malicious developers had also concealed mining scripts inside other extensions that were purportedly designed for completely different functions.

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