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NEM Foundation Launches Blockchain Hub in Melbourne

Melbourne is now home to a new blockchain hub where NEM representatives will provide support to members of the public on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

 

The hub will host educational programs and blockchain events, and it will also serve as a business incubator and support centre for NEM-based blockchain startups. Having benefited from local support through partnerships in Australia and New Zealand such as TravelbyBit, Australia holds bright prospects for the NEM Foundation.

 

NEM’s Growth in Pacific Region

Launched in 2015, New Economy Movement  (NEM) is a platform that brings new features to the blockchain system. The platform’s currency, XEM has increased in value since being picked up by commercial blockchain, Mijin. NEM now seeks to help unlock the benefits of blockchain technology through grants and other contributions.

 

NEM Foundation lead in Australia and New Zealand, Jian Chan has said the launch of the NEM Blockchain Hub in Melbourne is a strong sign of NEM’s commitment to supporting innovation in Australia and the world. According to Chan, NEM is now present in over 40 countries, having first launched its Australian operations at the FinTech Australia Intersekt festival last year. NEM’s rapid expansion may be attributed to the presence of similar hubs in other countries.

 

 

 

LaunchVic, a startup support program launched in 2016 with support from the Victorian government also expressed delight at the possibilities created by the new hub.

 

Speaking about the hub, Kate Cornick, LaunchVic CEO said:

 

“Blockchain is a fast-growing and evolving technology, and LaunchVic is pleased to welcome NEM.io Foundation to the Victorian Innovation Hub. This is set to become a multi-sector co-working facility that celebrates collaboration and innovation for more than 360 of Australia’s top startups, accelerators and incubators.”

 

GM of the Blockchain Centre, Karen Cohen also expressed delight at the prospects of working on the demand within the community to understand the difference between various blockchain protocols.

 

Both the NEM Blockchain Hub and Blockchain Centre will also be a part of Stone & Chalk, one of Australia’s fintech fixtures which expanded from Sydney to Melbourne last year. Alan Tsen, GM for Stone & Chalk expressed optimism that the collaboration would bring about “a great deal of diversity to the blockchain scene beyond the awareness of bitcoin and Ethereum, and a further example of a platform-level cryptocurrency, and how they differ from each other”.

NEM has also announced it is working on having more Australian partners and plans for some NEM-based ICOs in the future.

https://www.ccn.com/nem-foundation-launches-blockchain-hub-in-melbourne/

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Hedge Funder Accepting Bitcoin for his US$16 Million Manhattan Mansion

At current market prices, about 2,500 bitcoins are all you need to secure a prestigious address at 40 Riverside Drive in Manhattan.

 

According to Bloomberg, the president of New York hedge fund R.G. Nierderhoffer Capital Management, Inc, Roy Niederhoffer, is selling his Manhattan mansion consisting of six floors for bitcoin. The 10,720-square-foot house in Riverside Drive is listed for approximately US$15.9 million in cash which at the current market prices translates to nearly 2,500 bitcoins.

Cash will also be accepted but Niederhoffer, who has confessed to being a ‘big believer in Bitcoin’, will HODL the flagship cryptocurrency if the eventual buyer pays in the flagship digital asset:

 

“Whatever the obligations and brokers fees are, I would pay in cash and keep the Bitcoin.”

 

Completed in the late 19th century, the magnificent mansion on 40 Riverside Drive has a view of the Hudson River and a nearby park.

 

Peer-to-Peer Advantage

Real estate purchases using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become more and more common in recent years. According to reality TV show Shark Tank star, Barbara Corcoran, who built her multimillion-dollar fortune largely in the real estate sector, cryptocurrencies are a perfect fit for buying property since they eliminate intermediaries and thus lower the costs.

 

“I’m being very optimistic because, as a long-term play, it’s perfectly suited for real estate transactions,” Corcoran was quoted as saying three months ago in an interview as CCN reported.

In Manhattan, Niederhoffer is not alone among hedge funders accepting bitcoin as a means of payment for real estate transactions. Six months ago, a townhouse owned by hedge fund manager Claudio Guazzon de Zanett was put up for sale at a cash price of US$30 million or US$45 million in cryptocurrencies.

 

This premium, according to Zanett, was to cater for any likely volatility. Besides bitcoin, Zannett was also accepting Ripple and Ethereum.

 

Blockchain Island

Selling or buying real estate in cryptocurrencies is, however, not limited to the United States. Early last month, a palatial house in Malta went up sale at a price US$3 million with the seller demanding to be paid only in bitcoin. The property which is over four centuries old was listed by CryptoHomes.io, a firm which is focused on accepting cryptocurrencies for the properties it lists.

 

According to one of the founders of CryptoHomes, Dennis Avorin, the goal of the startup is to prove that cryptocurrencies are not just used for speculative purposes but can be used to buy solid assets:

“We simply want to promote the use of crypto as a vehicle for solid investments and Malta is a great start with the incredibly strong real estate market that we have seen in the past few years.”

https://www.ccn.com/hedge-funder-accepting-bitcoin-for-his-us16-million-manhattan-mansion/

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Partnership Could See up to 100,000 Regular ATMs in U.S. Turned into Bitcoin-Vending Machines

A deal between a traditional ATM manufacturer and a cryptocurrency vending machine firm will make it possible to buy bitcoin at tens of thousands of locations in the United States using a debit card.

 

Bitcoin ATM firm LibertyX and regular ATM manufacturer Genmega have forged a partnership which will make it possible to purchase bitcoin using a debit card at up to 100,000 locations in the United States.

 

 

However, since Genmega caters largely to the independent ATM deployers, adding the bitcoin-buying feature at the ATMs will depend on the willingness of the operators to offer the service. After making an application all that will be required will be a software upgrade in order to allow users to purchase bitcoin from the vending machine and have it sent to their cryptocurrency wallet.

 

Ease of Use

The development will be a boon to new users especially since the purchasing process of bitcoin from the ATMs is not very different from withdrawing cash from a vending machine. According to LibertyX, making cryptocurrency vending machines user-friendly has been a top priority for the Bitcoin ATM firm since it was founded.

 

“We have been working tirelessly to make it easier to buy cryptocurrencies for the last five years and now are bringing simplicity, convenience and trust to the cryptocurrency purchasing experience,” said Chris Yim, the co-founder and CEO of LibertyX, in a statement.

Currently, the number of bitcoin ATMs in the United States is nearly 2330, which is the highest in the world, with major urban areas such as Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York leading in coverage with more than 100 vending machines in each city. The United States is also home to Genesis Coin Inc, the world’s leading bitcoin ATM manufacturer with a market share of more than 32%, according to Coin ATM Radar.

 

U.S. Dominance to Continue

Various factors have contributed to the United States being the leader with regards to Bitcoin ATM coverage and this includes the high level of cryptocurrency awareness and adoption. A recent market research report has indicated that this will continue to be the case in the foreseeable future.

 

“The US is expected to continue to dominate the crypto ATM market during the forecast period owing to the presence of a large number of crypto ATM hardware and software providers and favorable investment environment (without any legal barriers),” a crypto ATM market research report released in August recently stated as CCN reported.

Though it remains to be seen what portion of the 100,000 Genmega ATMs will adopt the bitcoin-purchasing feature, even a small percentage would greatly increase the number of Bitcoin ATMs not just in the United States but globally. At the moment the number of Bitcoin ATMs in the world is a little over 3,800 with an average of 5.58 bitcoin ATMs being added daily.

https://www.ccn.com/partnership-could-see-up-to-100000-regular-atms-in-u-s-turned-into-bitcoin-vending-machines/

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Brazil’s Largest Bitcoin Exchange Just Fired ‘at Least’ 20 Employees

Mercado Bitcoin, Brazil’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, recently fired “at least” 20 employees amid restructuring efforts being made to “focus on professionalization, better governance and more agility in customer service.”

 

Local news outlet  Portal do Bitcoin  reportedly spoke to four now ex-employees that served at different hierarchical levels. One noted it “was horrible” and said that there “were people crying” over the occurrence.

The ex-employees revealed that senior executives started getting laid off earlier this week, on October 15, with other employees being fired by an executive the very next day. The company, justifying what was going on, revealed it was restructuring its marketing and human resources departments.

 

Those interviewed by the local news outlet claimed the affected departments were shuttered following the layoffs. One said that executives told employees that “it was a company moment, they needed to dry out their structure. In short, they went one step over what was being billed.”

 

 

Source: Shutterstock

The move could seemingly have been predicted as the ex-employees further claimed the working environment at Mercado Bitcoin was deteriorating. Per their words, about two months ago most of what they were doing was getting “shelved,” and their work volume kept on decreasing.

 

“We created processes and presentations but everything kept getting stuck. Things that we did in an hour, now started being done in two days. Some people were really idle. I had nothing to do.”

 

According to their accounts, Mercado Bitcoin  fired employees it hired from other companies less than six months ago and, in some cases, fired people that had been working there for less than two months.

 

The move is notable as the cryptocurrency exchange is the largest one in Brazil. According to available data, it traded 4,150 BTC in September, and 1,965 BTC so far this month, which means it represents over 30 percent of the Brazilian market’s volume.

 

Crypto Exchanges Under Scrutiny

Responding to a request for comment from Portal do Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency exchange revealed it has been “promoting changes in its structure” since the beginning of this year to serve its users better. In October, its reply reads, changes were made to the marketing, HR, and administrative departments, while others were left unchanged.

 

The exchange operator added:

 

“Regarding financial and personnel data, Mercado Bitcoin does not disclose its information to the market, but clarifies that the number of people who left the company in October is significantly lower than indicated, reaching 20 people only, if we include consultants and other service providers.”

 

The exchange’s move comes at a time in which XP Investimentos, Brazil’s biggest investment firm, is launching its XDEX cryptocurrency exchange. Huobi, the world’s second-largest exchange by trading volume, also expanded into the country earlier this year.

 

Notably, exchanges in Brazil have been under scrutiny, as back in August the government sent them a 14-point questionnaire to learn more about their businesses and their potential use in money laundering. Earlier this month, the country’s antitrust watchdog, CADE, sent them another questionnaire they’ll have to answer or face a fine that can reach $25,000.

https://www.ccn.com/brazils-largest-bitcoin-exchange-just-fired-at-least-20-employees/

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Bitcoin ATM Firm Not Liable for Scam Victim’s Losses: Canadian Judge

A Canadian bitcoin ATM firm which was sued by a victim of fraud can finally breathe a sigh of relief after a judge ruled that the firm was not liable for the losses incurred.

 

The victim, a woman whose name was withheld, had sued Instacoin ATM Canada to get back the C$62,500 she sent using the firm’s cryptocurrency vending machines to fraudsters, all the while thinking she was transferring the money to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to pay her taxes, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

 

 

 

Delivering the ruling in Charlottetown in Canada’s Prince Edward Island Province, Chief Provincial Judge Nancy Orr ruled that the contract between Instacoin ATM Canada and the woman was for the purchase of exchanging cash for bitcoin — not for the cryptocurrency vending machine firm to send the funds to the tax body.

 

‘Decentralized Responsibility’

Additionally, the judge stated that users of cryptocurrencies have to take personal responsibility for what they purchase as transactions are not reversible:

 

“Both sides involved in this case are completely sympathetic to the woman. It’s up to the bitcoin purchaser to know what they’re doing,” the judge ruled.

 

 

 

The victim was initially contacted by the scammers, who were posing as CRA officials and went on to accuse her of making false claims on her tax filings. A recent Iranian immigrant to Canada, the scammers threatened to have her arrested and deported unless she paid the taxes she owed the CRA in bitcoin.

 

To make the scheme look legitimate, the fraudsters faked a call which appeared to be originating from her accountant’s office with the “advice” that she should pay up. Now duped by the scam, the victim was directed to a specific bitcoin ATM located at a pizza restaurant in Charlottetown.

 

Fear of the State Machinery

Per the victim’s account of the incident, part of the reason why she acceded to the demands of the scammers was that, with her background, the heavy-handedness of the state was all too familiar and she wanted to avoid falling on the wrong side of the government. But, despite the woman’s lawyer arguing that she acted under duress, Judge Orr pointed out that “Instacoin did not put her under duress” and neither was it aware of her state of mind.

 

Such scams are, however, not restricted to Canada. Recently, as CCN reported, a similar scam was exposed in Australia, resulting in the country’s taxman issuing a warning to the effect that the Australian Taxation Office does not accept tax debts to be paid in bitcoin. Despite the warnings, the scam still persists, and as of earlier this month, the con artists had hauled in AU$50,000, with the amount being potentially higher since some victims are usually too embarrassed to report.

https://www.ccn.com/bitcoin-atm-firm-not-liable-for-scam-victims-losses-canadian-judge/

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The Onion Released a Guide to Blockchain, and It’s Hilarious

Despite the many amazing use cases for public and private blockchain networks, there’s no way around the fact that the word “blockchain” has been misused, misunderstood, and hyped into a state of near-meaninglessness in the last few years.

 

 

 

Money-hungry ICOs have jumped on the chance to put everything from celebrities to board games “on the blockchain,” and there have been multiple cases of the stock value of different companies skyrocketing simply for putting the word blockchain in the company name.

 

British firm On-line Plc changed its name to On-line Blockchain Plc and saw a 364 percent increase in stock value on the same day. At least the company was tech-related — when Long Island Ice Tea changed their name to Long Blockchain stocks value jumped 200 percent, and, well it’s a company that mostly just makes ice tea!

It’s no wonder that well-known satirical news network The Onion has taken a crack at the hyped up state of cryptocurrency tech, and they certainly make some, well, interesting observations.

 

The Onion Guide to Blockchain

The guide starts off reasonably enough, pointing out that blockchain is the underlying protocol to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin, before facilitating a little Q&A for the readers. So far so good, right?

 

Q: How does blockchain work?

 

A: Do you want to talk science shit or do you want to make some fucking money?

 

Ah.

 

The Onion is, of course, referencing the borderline feeding frenzy that was ICO crowdfunding, in which billions were raised for companies with no products to speak of by investors who wouldn’t have understood what the products were for — had there actually been any. ICO fundraising has slowed down a lot in Q4 of 2018, but not before raising well over $13 billion in the first half of the year alone, according to some estimates.

 

In an unregulated market suddenly opening up investment for more people than ever before, hype tactics by ICO marketing teams made cryptocurrency sound like a magical solution to all the world’s problems, and many invested with no knowledge of what blockchain really even was. Whoops.

 

Q: Is the system fully secure from hackers?

 

A: Nothing that bad has happened yet, so we’re just going to say yes

 

While blockchain is purported to be one of the greatest leaps forward in cybersecurity history, it’s fair to say that further testing is needed to determine exactly how secure it is from attacks. NASA programmer and creator of the XKCD webcomic Randall Munroe had a go at the use of this technology for secure voting  software:

 

 

 

The Onion didn’t leave banking applications out of their post, stating that “As long as banks still find a way to exploit the poor, they couldn’t care less,” before moving onto the issue of child pornography allegedly encoded  onto the bitcoin blockchain.

 

Q: Is there really child pornography encoded into bitcoin’s blockchain?

 

A: Only a little bit!

 

Ouch. The article speculates on the potential for blockchain to “further entrench us in our dependence on technology without which we would be plunged into a horrifying new dark age,” and of course, took another shot at the efficiency of blockchain technology and its role in the wild west that is cryptocurrency investing.

 

Q: What is the benefit of using blockchain?

 

A: Provides a more efficient way for you to lose all your money at once.

 

In a turbulent and developmental industry, it can be good to poke fun once in a while. Blockchain has already been adopted by the world’s leading shipping firms, banks, and governments while being praised by the likes of the World Economic Forum for its potential to raise trade revenues by trillions of dollars.

 

Those of us who support cryptocurrency adoption can take The Onion’s guide in the tongue-in-cheek spirit in which it’s intended and wait for the industry to prove itself to the world through merit.

Of course, the final point about cryptoasset investing enabling someone to lose all their money at once probably hits home for a not-insignificant amount of aspiring investors around the world — something put into words quite well by otherworldly Twitter novelty account Crypto Demon:

 

 

https://www.ccn.com/the-onion-released-a-guide-to-blockchain-and-its-hilarious/

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Opinion: Can AI Tools Improve Cryptocurrency Adoption?

There are many different paths to choose from, to improve cryptocurrency usability.  Lately, I’ve been focused on project tokenomics as I have a feeling that better rewards distribution is the way forward. For instance, traditional exchanges do not provide enough rewards to users; a few exceptions are Binance, Coss, or ABCC. I especially like the last one as it really focuses on distributing the most revenue to users through their native currency, the AT token. They’re even implementing a governance-based token model which gives additional power to token holders. I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next as empowering users is, to me, the true purpose of decentralization.

 

 

 

Anyhow, I feel it’s time to take other hypotheses into consideration, such as the  role AI can play in cryptocurrency’s worldwide adoption. I agree this is not an easy task as most of us are not technical people and our understanding of how technology works and interacts with users is, in fact, limited.

 

Nonetheless, my goal today is to analyse some AI tools which can assist cryptocurrency projects in deploying better products, with more intuitive interfaces. We will discuss four types of tools which can be combined with natural-language processing (both with known and unknown goals), with a relatively simple aim: to allow any agent to better interact with blockchains.

Lastly, we appreciate the importance of data visualization as a key ingredient for users to understand blockchain data better.

 

Like having an epiphany, it now seems obvious that the influence AI-enabled tools, such as oracles or sovereigns like bots and virtual assistants, can have in cryptocurrency usability. So many issues arise from bad user-interfaces and smart contract code bugs, I feel implementing autonomous preventive measures around smart-contracts auditing or creating interactive user-focused bots could definitely lead to a serious improvement in adoption. How can  users benefit at the end? Let’s find out below!

 

–This article shouldn’t be taken as financial advisement as it represents my personal opinion and views. I have savings invested in cryptocurrency so take whatever I write with a grain of salt. Do not invest what you cannot afford to lose and always read as much as possible about a project before investing. Never forget: with great power, comes great responsibility. Being your own bank means you’re always responsible for your own money—

 

What are Neural Networks?

 

 

If you want to understand how AI learns and improves its knowledge, you should first read about artificial neural networks. It’s the latest and most up-to-date research on machine learning.

 

Neural networks (and natural language processing algorithms) allow machines to learn much like we humans do. Particularly, they are inspired by the behavior of neurons and the electrical signals they convey between input (such as from the eyes or nerve endings in the hand), processing, and output from the brain (such as reacting to light, touch, or heat). In a sense, neural networks take a heuristic approach to mechanistic learning, as they promote failure as a method of gaining knowledge. Key concepts to study, if you wish to widen your understanding of neural networks, are Game-theory, utility maximization, and optimization.

 

Types of Neural Networks

 

 

I won’t describe all types of neural networks, for obvious reasons, although I do want to mention the most important ones, which can be used in natural language processing (NLP). NLP can then be used by AI-enabled devices and algorithms to learn how to translate from language to language, text-to-speech, image-to-text or voice-to-text, by using common machine learning techniques — such as the Monte Carlo simulation and the application of random walks.

 

The ultimate goal of neural networks is to endow machines the power to learn human logic by trial and error.

 

Multilayer perceptron (MLP)

In MLP networks, every node in a layer connects to each node in the following layer making the network fully connected. For example, multilayer perception natural language processing (NLP) applications are speech recognition and machine translation.

 

Convolutional neural network (CNN)

 

 

Convolutional layers use a convolution operation to the input passing the result to the next layer. This means that convolutional neural networks show outstanding results in image and speech applications, such as translators and bots.

 

Long short-term memory (LSTM)

In a simple way, LSTM networks have some internal contextual state cells that act as long-term or short-term memory cells. The output of the LSTM network is modulated by the state of these cells. This is a very important property when we need the prediction of the neural network to depend on the historical context of inputs, rather than only on the very last input.

 

What are Assistants?

Now that you have a grasp on which type of learning processes can be implemented, let’s explain how these networks communicate with the average Joe.

 

Usually, when I think of  assistants, my mind travels to the typical 90’s installation wizards, which were a great tool to help users installing software. Do you still remember those? Of course, nowadays, we simply called them interfaces. Only now with the advancements in AI new types of smart-assistants are being developed and introduced in different products. We can find some examples by looking at Telegram and some websites which use communication bots — a very basic type of oracle or genie (depending on its properties).

 

Types of Assistants

 

 

There are four main types of assistants we can choose from, that grant their users the power to communicate easily with a given AI.

 

Depending on the assistant, there are higher or lower chances of the interacting agent making bad decisions — which can be any decision that goes against the end user’s goal. The strength of each AI’s predictions’ success is related, as we’ve seen before, to the data-set and machine learning algorithms. One thing worth mentioning, before diving deep into each AI assistant type, is the extreme importance of comprehending the strengths and weaknesses of assisted AI interaction.

The first problem is that, most times, agents cannot predict with absolute certainty whether the AI is following the proposed programmed logic to achieve the best outcome possible; in other words, the AI’s objective might change depending on its preferences, hence, applying the correct rewards and incentives game-like mechanics is so crucial for any AI’s success.

 

The second problem is that no AI developer will ever be able to create enough fail-safes to prevent dumb users from making mistakes. The reason being, expertise comes from knowledge and practice, meaning, if a certain AI evolves above a certain threshold of human understanding, even the AI creator won’t possess enough skill to understand its goals and logic.

 

Right, now that those problems are out of the way (not really, but at least we know they exist), let’s focus in discussing each assistant type.

 

1. Oracles: question & answer system (read-only)

 

Oracles are the first line of interface between user and machine. Usually, oracles serve the purpose of giving quick answers or instructions to users about the mechanics of a certain program. Oracles can be domain-limited, so each answer is mathematically based; output-restricted oracles come next, and these represent systems which give a yes/no/NA type of answers and, finally, there are oracles which can have fail-safes like not answering questions that go into a disaster criteria list. Telegram bots (found on most ICO projects) usually come in this category, as users are able to interact with specific groups by requesting the bot information about a topic related to said project.

 

2. Genies: command executing system (read-write)

 

 Genies are the second layer of tools and assistants, as these possess a certain degree of perceived intelligence by users. Usually, this assistant performs actions on a system based on the user logic — which can be through natural language (again, look at Telegram bots). In most cases users communicate with the genie through instructions (commands) or questions/answers, and the system will perform actions based on the users desired outcome. Fail-safes can be created to prevent agents from promoting bad outcomes, although this system is prone to human error, as usually, it’s considerably more open-ended than oracles

 

3. Sovereigns: open-ended autonomous operation (with known goals or unknown goals)

 

 

 

Sovereigns can usually be connected to natural language techniques, as these open-ended systems are created with limited instructions to achieve certain goals. The AI is supposed to learn using models, such as the Monte Carlo (random walks) and find the most efficient path by trial and error.

 

4. AI-Tools: a system not designed to exhibit goal-directed behavior

 

Tools represent open-ended search processes. Creating an AI-enabled tool would mean its behavior would be mechanistic and not agent-based like, which can be a problem as open search boxes might create unexpected results. Tools allow users to define parameters and context, and they are commonly associated with business applications like IBM Watson or Google Big Query.

 

Can you imagine now what we will be capable of, in just a few years, when AI fully develops easy-to-use interfaces? The immense power users will have over data analytics like predictive behavior and preventive monitoring will be exquisite. Fewer errors, better performance.

 

The Importance of Data Visualization

Now that you understand the basics of neural networks and their purpose, as well as the different types of assistants available to help users interacting with machines (IoT devices, websites, platforms, protocols, etc.), can you try to guess the missing piece?

 

If you thought of data visualization, you stand absolutely correct.

 

The final frontier between user and AI is how data can be expressed; by adding visuals like graphics, infographics, images, and charts, it becomes incredibly easier for humans to retain information. That’s why it is so important that new AI-enabled visualization tools can be implemented alongside bots and such NLP systems. It’s the quickest and most effective way of transmitting information between machines and humans.

Platforms like Blockchain, DappRadar, Ethplorer, and Coin360 are doing an amazing job in creating data visuals we can use to understand the cryptocurrency market better; however, I feel more options are needed. If oracles or sovereigns can be taught to interact with data visuals, it will be easier to teach complex information to all cryptocurrency users.

 

There are already a lot of interesting blockchain projects out there with lots of different use cases; consider the list below to be the AI projects which caught my personal interest. Of course, there are a lot more cryptocurrency projects out there, many of whom I may not know yet. Honorable mentions go to Golem, DeepBrainChain, and SingularityNET.

 

Share your opinions and thoughts down below. Don’t forget to give it a like!

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

https://www.ccn.com/opinion-can-ai-tools-improve-cryptocurrency-adoption/

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Checkbooks Ready! US Marshals to Hold $4 Million Bitcoin Auction

The US Marshals Service has announced an upcoming auction for over $4 million worth of bitcoin seized during various legal proceedings. The sealed bid auction, which is scheduled to take place in November, will offer approximately 660 BTC seized during about 31 federal criminal, civil and administrative cases under the asset forfeiture framework of the Department of Justice.

 

Particulars for the Auction

Interested parties are expected to register with the USMS to be evaluated and cleared for the bid process. The required items for the registration are a manually signed copy of the bidder registration form, a copy of a government-issued photo ID for the bidder, a deposit in USD sent from a bank located within the United States, and a copy of the EFT transmittal receipt.

 

Following submission, eligible bid candidates will be announced on November 1, ahead of the auction, which is scheduled to take place on November 5. According to the USMS website, bid registration will take place between October 22 and October 31.

Following this, the online auction period featuring vetted and accredited bidders will begin on November 5.

 

An excerpt from the announcement reads:

 

“The prevailing bids will be determined by the following criteria: The eligible bidder who offers the highest price will be the prevailing bidder; If there are multiple bids at the highest price, the first bid received will prevail; and If a winning bidder defaults, the next highest bidder will be declared the winning bidder.”

 

Changing Global Law Enforcement Strategy

The asset forfeiture program has traditionally been used to go after assets acquired through proceeds of illegal or criminal activity, which are usually in the form of real estate, artworks, vehicles, jewelry, and cash.

 

Over the past few years, however, regulators and governments around the world have increasingly recognised bitcoin as an asset to be confiscated during civil and criminal proceedings that necessitate asset seizure.

In July, CCN reported that Canadian police seized $1.6 million in bitcoin from an unnamed man accused of selling drugs on dark web marketplace Silk Road under the pseudonym “MarijuanaIsMyMuse.”

 

Last month, CCN also reported that the secretary of Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), Witthaya Neetitham announced that the government agency is planning to create its own cryptocurrency wallet for the purposes of tackling crime relating to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as it seeks to close a legal loophole that has allowed cybercriminals keep the proceeds of their activities despite prosecution.

https://www.ccn.com/checkbooks-ready-us-marshals-to-hold-4-million-bitcoin-auction/

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Tether Price Creeps Back to 99 Cents But Fails to Reach Dollar Parity

The tether price (USDT) is once again trading near $0.98 after failing to crack through the $1.00 threshold, prolonging the USD-pegged cryptocurrency’s departure from dollar parity.

 

The USDT token had on Friday briefly surpassed a global average of $0.99, its highest mark since plunging below $1.00 on Oct. 15. Unable to sustain that recovery, the tether price dipped back to an average of $0.979 on early Saturday morning before recovering to a present value of $0.984.

 

 

Source: CoinMarketCap

On Kraken, which allows customers to trade tether directly against physical USD, the stablecoin is priced as low as $0.97. However, this trading pair, which has seen about $2 million in volume over the past 24 hours, accounts for a minuscule portion of the token’s $2.3 billion in global trading volume.

 

 

USDT/USD | Kraken | Source: TradingView

Tether also continues to trade at a moderate discount to other stablecoins, including Paxos Standard (PAX), TrueUSD (TUSD), and USD Coin (USDC). On DigiFinex, for instance, PAX is currently trading above dollar parity at $1.01, while UDST is priced at $0.982.

 

Per CoinMarketCap, tether currently has a market cap of just over $2 billion, representing a ~$38.5 million discount relative to its outstanding supply. That circulating supply now stands below 2.1 billion, as nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars’ worth of tokens have been pulled out of circulation since the beginning of October.

Even so, USDT continues to cling to its position as the eighth-largest cryptocurrency, though it now maintains just a $50 million edge on ninth-ranked cardano.

https://www.ccn.com/tether-price-creeps-back-to-99-cents-but-fails-to-reach-dollar-parity/

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Novogratz Says Cryptos Are Safe, Expects Bitcoin to Rally In Q1 2019

Mike Novogratz, a prominent cryptocurrency investor, and CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners has toned down his optimism, reiterating that he doesn’t expect a price surge in the price of Bitcoin until institutional adoption occurs, which could happen in the first half of next year.

 

Speaking with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker on “Bloomberg Markets: The Close,” the Galaxy Investment Partner who is known for his optimism about the future of cryptocurrencies, notably Bitcoin, said the price of bitcoin wouldn’t break $10,000 in 2018.

“One thing you learn in this process is that everything takes a little longer than you hoped it would. I don’t don’t see us breaking $10,000 by the end of the year,” he told the network.

 

Novogratz also spoke on Fidelity Investments’ decision to release a custodial solution tailored to institutional investors that were particular about the safety of the digital assets they purchase. He believes this move by Fidelity would favor the market, but he was a bit cautious about how much mass interest it can garner and how quick it can achieve it.

 

He went on to add that Fidelity won’t start “seeing institutional flows into purely crypto assets late first quarter [or] early second quarter.”

 

Just last month, Novogratz told CNBC that he sees bitcoin price increasing by 30 percent by the end of the year. He also said once the price rebounds to the $10,000 range, institutions will have an “‘all clear’ sign for people — big institutions and pension [funds] — to start investing.”

Novogratz has emphasized the need for a long-term rally, which he believes could lead the crypto market to a $20 trillion valuation. He also remains optimistic about the market’s ability to surpass all heights achieved in the past. He said the crypto market will bounce back from the major corrections being experienced in 2018 and surpass the previous all-time highs.

 

“[Cryptocurrency] is a global revolution. The internet bubble was only a US thing. It was rich US people participating. [Cryptocurrency] is global. There are kids in Bangladesh buying coins. It is monstrous in Tokyo, in South Korea, in China, in India, and in Russia. We’ve got a global market and a global mania. This will feel like a bubble when we’re at $20 trillion,”

https://www.ccn.com/novogratz-says-cryptos-are-safe-expects-bitcoin-to-rally-in-q1-2019/

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Over Half of All Crypto Exchanges Have Security Vulnerabilities: Report

A recent report from ICO Rating has found that only 46% of cryptocurrency exchanges meet the desired security parameters with the remaining 54% considered to have sub-par security measures in place, leaving hundreds of thousands of traders and investors exposed. The sample group of exchanges contains 100 exchanges all of which have a 24-hour volume of over $1 million.

 

A total of $1.3 billion has been stolen from hacked cryptocurrency exchanges since 2010, and yet it still seems that exchange operators are failing to take security seriously. The security report published last week by ICO Rating considers the following four factors when establishing a security rating:

 

Console errors

User Account Security

Registrar and Domain Security

Web Protocols Security

Here’s what each of those relates to.

 

Console Errors

Console errors have caused data loss before, although this is usually not the result of a malicious attack but coding problems. The report found that 32% of exchanges have code errors that lead to operational malfunction.

 

User Account Security

To measure this, the analysts created a separate account on each exchange and examined password security as well as email verification and 2FA measures. They found that 41% of exchanges allow for the creation of a password less than 8 characters long and therefore considered unsafe to use. 37% of exchanges allow users to create their passwords out of letters or numerical digits only without combining the two, which is also considered to be a security flaw.

 

More seriously, 5% of exchanges allow users to create accounts without email verification and 3% of exchanges lack 2FA (two-factor authentication which requires users to confirm with a separate device their sign-in, considered to be a fundamental aspect of fund protection).

 

Registrar and Domain Security

The analysts used Cloudflare to identify security flaws regarding their domain and registrar.

 

A number of factors were considered here, such as registry lock which prevents anyone using out-of-band communication with the registry from making domain changes as well as registrar lock which prevents domain hijacking through heightened security measures such as requiring more than an authorization code for domain access – role accounts are often used to protect sensitive domain information from leaking.

 

The analysts recommend a 6-month expiration period for domains to allow for complications regarding ownership, etc, and that was tested for along with the presence of DNSSEC which authenticates all DNS queries with cryptographic signatures to prevent cache poisoning.

 

Analysts found that only 4% of exchanges were using best practices in all of these areas – only 2% of exchanges use registry lock and 10% use DNSSEC, although no exchange completely neglected all 5 parameters.

 

Web Protocols Security

Web protocols were examined for their security level using WebSec by HT Bridge. Analysts tested for HTTPS headers in URLs, X-SXX- protection headers, content security policy headers, x-frame-options headers, and x-content-type headers.

 

Only 10% of exchanges used all 5 security measures, with 29% using none of the above and only 17% having a content security policy header.

 

General Security

 

 

The analysts then ranked the 100 exchanges by order of most to least secure.

 

Coinbase Pro took the lead as the most secure exchange, with Kraken following after in second place. BitMEX, GOPAX, and CDPAX made up the rest of the top 5.

The report highlights the ongoing problem of cryptocurrency exchange security and stated that the nature of the cryptomarket and of crypto exchange security and regulation was “really attractive to hackers.”

https://www.ccn.com/over-half-of-all-crypto-exchanges-have-security-vulnerabilities-report/

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Japanese Government to Simplify Cryptocurrency Taxation Process

A committee of tax experts in Japan that is responsible for advising the government on taxation matters has called for the simplification of the country’s cryptocurrency tax filing process.

 

According to officials of the tax panel, the process is currently complicated and a change is required in order to enhance accuracy and compliance. Per a Japanese news publication, Sankei, the committee held a meeting earlier in the week where the proposal to change the current cryptocurrency tax filing system was discussed.

Part of the problem according to the committee lies in the fact that calculating cryptocurrency gains for taxation purposes is a complex affair and this discourages some owners of digital assets from declaring their crypto holdings when filing tax returns.

 

Taxing Gains and Conversion Premium

According to the tax panel, cryptocurrencies in the Asian country are taxed not only on the gains made but also on the gains accruing when one digital asset is converted into another. Other complications stem from the fact that a unified source of historical data on prices is lacking. Towards finding a solution the panel has indicated that it will hold meetings where it will seek views and opinions from various stakeholders.

 

As previously reported by CCN cryptocurrency investors in Japan face crypto tax rates ranging between 15% and 55% and this is classified under miscellaneous income. The amount paid as tax depends on earnings with the higher rate imposed on the high-earners. For instance, investors who generate yearly earnings of more than 40 million yen (approximately US$365,000) pay a 55% rate on their cryptocurrency income.

The view by the tax panel that simplifying the cryptocurrency tax filing process will enhance compliance is correct as it has been previously noted that a significant number of crypto investors in Japan could be evading taxes. A report released earlier this year, for instance, indicated that out of the 549 individuals who recorded a non-working or non-operational profit (income generated from investments) of US$1 million in 2017, about 331 were investors in the crypto space.

 

https://twitter.com/GigaBitcoin/status/1001322461437177861

 

Tax Avoidance

This was however met with incredulity with some observers saying that many more evaded paying taxes on their crypto investments especially given the fact that Japan is not only the world’s third-largest economy but the level of cryptocurrency use, awareness and adoption is among the highest in the globe.

 

“If the rapid growth of the cryptocurrency sector in late 2017 is considered, 331 is a number that is simply too low to be true. A large portion of cryptocurrency investors probably did not declare their earnings to the government,” one analyst observed as CCN reported at the time.

https://www.ccn.com/japanese-government-to-simplify-cryptocurrency-taxation-process/

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Wozniacki Becomes First Female Athlete to Launch Personalised Crypto Token

Caroline Wozniacki, 28-year-old, Danish, No 2 ranked professional tennis star has entered a partnership with Singaporean firm, Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX) to found her own cryptocurrency token.

 

Earlier in the week, CCN reported that Filippino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao could launch his own cryptocurrency before the end of the year. Other celebrity personalities with plans to launch personalised cryptocurrencies include former England soccer star Michael Owen, and singer Jason Derulo, both of whom have signed with GCOX to inaugurate specialized crypto tokens.

 

Visibility Through Endorsements and Partnerships

Speaking to  Reuters, at a signing ceremony held by GCOX, Wozniacki expressed her excitement saying:

 

“To be the first female athlete to have her own token is really cool…I am looking forward to expanding that before other people start getting into it.”

 

Wozniacki, who claimed her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, comes into the finals having  won the China Open this month.

 

GCOX anticipates the launch of the first celebrity token in what could possibly be the first quarter of 2019. Naming Pacquiao, Owen and Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed al-Nahyan, an Abhu Dhabi royalty as private investors in the company, GCOX revealed that the celebrity tokens will give buyers exclusive merchandise and interactions with their favourite celebrities. The celebrities in turn will benefit by collecting proceeds from the token sales. To purchase these tokens, prospective buyers must first acquire GCOX’s own tokens called ACM, the sale of which has only recently started.

GCOX CEO Jeffery Lin is quietly optimistic about potential sales, telling Reuters:

 

“We are trying to $300 – 600 million”.

 

GCOX Filling Some Big Boots

An excerpt from the GCOX  website reads:

 

“The ACCLAIM token (symbol: ACM) is the base token for all Celebrity Tokens creation, trading in the inbuilt DEX, with a total of 1 billion and a minimum unit of 0.00000001. The ACCLAIM token serves as a mean of exchange for the many different Celebrity Tokens corresponding to different celebrities.”

 

GCOX ultimately aims to be a global leader in the popularity index and the choice popularity index for celebrities; to be the platform of choice for fans to connect and engage with their idols and celebrities; and to bring business fundamentals to the world of blockchain and create value for fans, celebrities and investors.

CCN recently covered a series of stories outlining the growing relationship between sports and cryptocurrencies, led principally by European soccer teams. PSG and Juventus recently became the first globally recognised football clubs to announce plans for their very own fan token. English Premier League sides Newcastle United and Cardiff City have also expressed interest in raising money through crypto markets.

https://www.ccn.com/wozniacki-becomes-first-female-athlete-to-launch-personalised-crypto-token/

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Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Founder Slapped with $2.5 Million Fine

New York investment firm Gelfman Blueprint, Inc. (GBI) will see over $2.5 million in fines for fraudulent practices, as filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the agency, this marks the first time that CFTC has made an anti-fraud enforcement action involving bitcoin.

 

Yesterday’s CTFC press release states that Gelfman Blueprint Inc. and CEO Nicholas Gelfman engaged in fraudulent practices such as hiding trading losses by giving fake performance reports to customers regarding bitcoin trading. These reports led customers to believe profits had been made on their behalf. Actual records showed only a few trades and customer losses — not profits.

The CFTC, which initially filed charges against the investment scam last September, described the operation as “a pooled commodity fund that purportedly employed a high-frequency, algorithmic trading strategy, executed by Defendants’ computer trading program called ‘Jigsaw.'” GBI started its Ponzi scheme in 2014.

 

According to a CCN report last year, Gelfman received over $600,000 from 80 different investors over the course of two years.

 

CFTC Director of Enforcement James Mcdonald stated in yesterday’s press release:

 

“This case marks yet another victory for the Commission in the virtual currency enforcement arena. As this string of cases shows, the CFTC is determined to identify bad actors in these virtual currency markets and hold them accountable. I’m grateful to the members of Enforcement’s Virtual Currency Task Force for their tireless work on these matters.”

 

Although legal proceedings started last year, penalties were not finalized until three days ago. Legal orders concluded that GBI’s strategy for customer profit “was fake, the purported performance reports were false, and—as in all Ponzi schemes—payouts of supposed profits to GBI Customers in actuality consisted of other customers’ misappropriated funds,” according to a CFTC statement.

 

Nicholas Gelfman was also deemed liable for GBI’s Ponzi scheme actions. Yesterday’s press release also revealed, “that Gelfman, to conceal the scheme’s trading losses and misappropriation, staged a fake computer ‘hack’ that supposedly caused the loss of nearly all customer funds.”

Penalties include GBI being ordered to pay over $550,000 back to customers, and Gelfman himself paying about $492,000 to customers. The fraudsters will also pay over $1.8 million in penalties, as well as receive a permanent ban from trading and registration.

 

Yesterday’s release concluded with a statement that, “The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure the wrongdoers are held accountable.”

https://www.ccn.com/bitcoin-ponzi-scheme-founder-slapped-with-2-5-million-fine/

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If Your Bitcoin is Stolen, There’s Only a 20% Chance You’ll Ever Get it Back

If you’re ever so unfortunate as to become the victim of a bitcoin theft, there’s very little chance that you will ever see your cryptocurrency assets again.

 

For this reason, security experts have suggested that only a fraction of these cases ever get reported, as victims believe they are not likely to retrieve stolen cryptocurrency.  Reuters reports that the unique nature of cryptocurrencies has created a double-edged sword where investors do not expect criminals to be caught after successful crypto heists, and cybercriminals are turning to crypto in larger numbers, driven by the perception that it offers them complete insulation from the law.

 

Peculiar Challenges

Alluding to the unique nature of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency assets — and the peculiar security problems they pose — Patrick Wyman, supervisory special agent in the financial crimes section of the FBI anti-money laundering unit, said:

 

“A decentralized currency system like bitcoin or another form of virtual currency is not governed by any entity, suspicious reporting activity, and any anti-money laundering compliance.”

 

The cryptocurrency market is a fast-growing one, and so also is the associated crime, the data reveals. Security professionals believe the high rate of these crimes is why investigators tend to be more preoccupied with high-profile cases, while small investors are left unattended. Jaroslav Jakubcek, an analyst at Europol — the center of EU’s law enforcement cooperation, expertise, and intelligence — told Reuters that it is impossible for every law enforcement agency to commit resources to every crime.

 

Autonomous NEXT and Crypto Aware, a financial research firm that collaborates with victims of crypto scams, estimated that about $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, were stolen between 2012 and the first half of 2018. The data also reveals that over $800 million has already been stolen this year. Per the research, approximately 85% of crimes are never even reported.

 

20 Percent Recovery Rate

Quoted in the Reuters report, David Jevans, CEO of California-based CipherTrace, stated that only about 20 percent of stolen crypto ever is recovered, even when trading platforms or exchanges are hacked, owing to the ease with which tokens can move across different borders. Following protocol, getting law enforcement in several countries involved, and gathering evidence to open a case usually takes a long time, and by the time this is done, the money has been moved. The money at stake has to be huge to justify the efforts.

 

Moreover, the targets are just large cryptocurrency exchanges. In August, CCN reported that U.S. entrepreneur and cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin had $24 million in crypto stolen from his mobile wallet by sim hackers, causing him to him file a $224 million suit against his service provider AT&T, who denied responsibility.

Just this week, a 24-year-old Norwegian bitcoin investor was murdered shortly after exchanging a large amount of cryptocurrency for cash. According to reports, the perpetrator may have been after those proceeds, which he was keeping in his apartment.

https://www.ccn.com/if-your-bitcoin-is-stolen-theres-only-a-20-chance-youll-ever-get-it-back/

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Stablecoins in a Nutshell…And Why They Can Kill Decentralization

he most commonly known stablecoin is Tether. It is a cryptocurrency that buys one American Dollar from the market before issuing one tether. This means that when one American Dollar leaves active circulation, one Tether enters active circulation. Thus, the price of Tether has stayed stable over the years. A swing of fewer than 10 cents is unheard of in the crypto world. Except, in cases of stablecoins such as Tether (TICKR: USDT)

So, what seems to be the problem with stablecoins? Is it not a good sign that we finally have a clutch of cryptocurrencies that can stay stable despite the high volatility shown by their non-stable brethren?

 

A Brief History of Cryptocurrencies

The regular back and forth between intrinsically valuable currencies and extrinsically valuable currencies gave an opportunity to the powerful. They could stir war-like situations and political stability to keep the cycle going and make profits. The Housing crisis of 2007 caused a sharp decline in the price of the American Dollar and a steep rise in the price of commodities.

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency came into being at this time, and analysts rushed to classify it as one of the two types of currencies:

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SEC’s New Fintech Hub Helps Blockchain Startups Navigate ICO Rules

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced  today the launch of a “New Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology.”

 

In a surprising move, the project — dubbed “FinHub” — allows blockchain innovators and initial coin offering (ICO) operators, among other fintech stakeholders, to speak with the SEC directly on rules and market integrity. As the project’s website states:

 

“FinHub will play an important role in facilitating the SEC’s active engagement with innovators, developers, and entrepreneurs. In addition to being a resource for information about the SEC’s views and actions in the FinTech space, FinHub is also a forum for engaging with SEC staff.”

 

The SEC has opened up the FinHub amid their ongoing crackdown on fraudulent ICO operators, and illegal securities offerings, as CCN reported. Other countries globally are clarifying and easing regulations for ICOs and fundraisers, including Japan and the EU. Additionally, at nearly every hearing with industry experts, SEC members have been repeatedly told that rules need to be accommodative to keep talent and capital in the United States. The SEC seems to be taking those recommendations seriously.

 

While FinHub supports other fintech verticals, including automated investing and artificial intelligence, digital assets are at the forefront. The hub encourages potential ICOs and exchanges to reach out to them directly for a consultation with actual SEC staff.

 

Perhaps a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs who remain in the dark about regulations or edge cases, the option to discuss the rules with the actual regulators. While some industry stakeholders have stated the regulations are sufficiently clear, others have publicly rebuked the SEC’s handling of the nascent industry, especially as it comes to ICO regulations and pending ETF applications. There is perhaps contention behind closed doors at the department, but these latest developments are firming up their SEC’s stance on digital assets.

 

As SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said:

 

“The SEC is committed to working with investors and market participants on new approaches to capital formation, market structure, and financial services, with an eye toward enhancing, and in no way reducing, investor protection. The FinHub provides a central point of focus for our efforts to monitor and engage on innovations in the securities markets that hold promise, but which also require a flexible, prompt regulatory response to execute our mission.”

 

The hub will be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation and Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. As CCN reported, the SEC appointed Szczepanik to head up the first-of-its-kind regulatory division.

https://www.ccn.com/sec-bullish-on-blockchain-tech-with-a-new-fintech-hub/

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$571 Million: Notorious North Korean Hacker Group Has Stolen a Fortune in Cryptocurrency

Even though blockchain technology has all sorts of security applications, one thing is for sure: cryptocurrency exchanges are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, and hackers have exploited these flaws for massive gains. However, no hacker crew has been quite as successful as the infamous North Korean group of hackers, dubbed “Lazarus,” which is responsible for the theft of over half a billion dollars in cryptocurrency since 2017.

 

Group-IB Report

The information arrives courtesy of a new report by Group-IB, widely considered one of the leading cybersecurity companies in the world. The award-winning company was founded in 2003, and is known for successfully protecting the 2014 Sochi Olympics (with regards to its brand, ticket sales, etc), as well as blocking attempts to pirate media from some of the largest media companies in the world, such as Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Fox TV.

 

Group IB’s report, which was first profiled in The Next Web, also points out that some of the most aggressive hacker groups will likely shift their focus to cryptocurrency exchanges instead of banks. There is no doubt that hacking cryptocurrency exchanges has been lucrative when successful, considering that over $700 million was stolen within the first half of the year. Many have questioned just how preventable some of these attacks are, with Coincheck — a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange hacked for more than $500 million — admitting that, “we didn’t have enough people working on internal checks, management, and system risk.”

 

 

Source: Group IB/The Next Web

About The Lazarus Group

The group of hackers known as The Lazarus Group (also known as HIDDEN COBRA) is notoriously elusive, and no significant tally can yet be made of how many members are involved. Regardless, they have attacks that have been attributed to them stemming from 2009. They are known for several high-profile bank attacks – most notably, the 2016 Bangladesh bank robbery, that resulted in the group successfully stealing over $80 million. They are perhaps best known for the infamous Sony Pictures Hack.

 

Lazarus has been focused on cryptocurrency for some time now, and recently have been utilizing a malware campaign known as AppleJesus that was especially effective with regards to Mac users. Many believe that the hacker group is targeting cryptocurrency as a result of the fact that the United States is attempting to isolate the country from the global financial system, as a result of its nuclear program, and that cryptocurrencies are an easier target, considering the fact that they are not controlled by a bank or government.

https://www.ccn.com/571-million-notorious-north-korean-hacker-group-has-stolen-a-fortune-in-cryptocurrency/

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Fake News: Elon Musk’s Flamethrower Company isn’t Accepting Bitcoin

Yesterday, various news websites including The Next Web reported that Elon Musk’s Boring Company was accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for its famous flamethrowers. However, it has now been revealed — also by TNW — that it is a fake website created by a scammer and that the real Boring Company is not accepting cryptocurrency.

 

The fake website is still live and displays a range of payment methods including cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and litecoin. It also claims that all proceeds will be used to support Hyperloop technology. However, Musk hasn’t responded to the recent scam yet.

Elon Musk is no stranger to the crypto industry. Despite staying away from the crypto buzz, some crypto enthusiasts are convinced that he created bitcoin. It all started in 2014 when Musk said that bitcoin was a “good thing” and called it a “legal to illegal bridge.” He also clarified that he didn’t own BTC at that time.

 

In 2017, Sahil Gupta, a former SpaceX employee, published a Medium post speculating that Musk was Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. This launched a debate in the crypto industry with some supporting the argument, and others lambasting it as outrageous. Later, Musk rejected the theory and added that he had no idea where his bitcoins, sent to him by his friend, were. Earlier this year, he revealed that only 0.25 BTC were given to him by his friend.

 

Even so, Musk is often in the cryptocurrency headlines, primarily because he is the frequent target of crypto scambots found on Twitter.

Musk, like other celebrities, suffered from hackers hijacking various verified profiles to promote crypto scams. He even replied to a follower, “At this point I want ETH even if it is a scam.” These accounts use the targeted professional’s picture as well as their Twitter handle and comment below their tweets. Due to the prevalence of these scams, Vitalik Buterin changed his name to “Vitalik Non-giver of ether.”

 

Last month, Musk reached out to Jackson Palmer, creator of Dogecoin and product lead at Adobe, to solve this problem, saying, “[I]f you can help get rid of the annoying scam spammers, that would be much appreciated.” Palmer was able to create a script to block ETH giveaway scammers and help Musk in implementing it on his Twitter.

https://www.ccn.com/fake-news-elon-musks-flamethrower-company-isnt-accepting-bitcoin/

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Such Borrow, Many Loan: Crypto Lender SALT Now Takes Dogecoin as Collateral

Cryptocurrency investors have another way to access capital without having to liquidate their portfolios. SALT Lending, which has issued more than $50 million in blockchain-backed loans, is capitalizing on the liquidity in dogecoin and has begun offering loans in USD collateralized by longtime crypto darling DOGE. Dogecoin’s profile has been on the rise in recent months as investors have flocked to the altcoin while leaving others out in the cold.

 

SALT promoted the coin addition subtly on social media by adding Doge, a “Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu” who is the dogecoin mascot, to its Twitter profile. In addition to dogecoin, SALT also supports loans backed by litecoin (LTC), bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH).

“The majority of loans are collateralized by bitcoin, though some loans are collateralized by ethereum, litecoin or a combination of the three. We are excited to have Doge as our newest collateral type,” Jennifer Nealson, SALT’s chief marketing officer, told CCN.

 

 

Source: Twitter

DOGE boasts a market cap of $500 million and trades on many popular cryptocurrency exchanges with one notable exception, Coinbase. While rumors have been circulating that Dogecoin community leaders are pursuing a Coinbase listing, the DOGE team rebuffed those claims.

 

 

In the announcement, SALT described dogecoin as an “internet sensation,” one whose value has recovered in 2018 while other altcoins have suffered. DOGE, whose value is up approximately 80 percent since mid-August, has made its way to the top 21 cryptocurrencies, having recently surrendered the no. 20 spot to privacy coin zcash (ZEC).

 

According to GitHub,”Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, although it does not use SHA256 as its proof of work (POW). Taking development cues from Tenebrix and litecoin, dogecoin currently employs a simplified variant of scrypt.”

 

SALT Lending

SALT’s Nealson explained to CCN that, depending on their jurisdiction, borrowers can use the funds either for personal or business reasons. “SALT transfers the loan amount to the borrower’s bank account to be used by the borrower,” she said.

 

Incidentally, earlier this month, SALT began issuing USD loans backed by litecoin, at which time it revised its interest rate model to include rates as low as 5.99 percent for loans less than $75,000 and 11.99 percent for loans up to $25 million. With the addition of dogecoin, SALT integrated a voting system for new coins that borrowers want to see on the platform.

“We’re listening to members of our community and are continuing to learn what’s most valuable to them. Currently, people can vote on ETH Classic, Monero, XRP, Cardano, Dash, Bitcoin Cash, or they can fill in their own recommendation, as we’re always working to expand our collateral offerings,” said Nealson.

 

Competitive Landscape

Perhaps the next area of focus will be stablecoins, which are the latest trend in the cryptocurrency community. BlockFi, which is a competitor to SALT Lending that similarly offers loans backed by cryptocurrency, in recent days announced its support for Gemini Dollar (GUSD) as collateral for USD loans. GUSD is the stablecoin that was issued by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ crypto exchange, Gemini. In addition to GUSD, BlockFi also added support for litecoin-backed loans, though it’s not a stablecoin.

 

Meanwhile, SALT has experienced rising demand for its crypto-backed loans from the “UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Vietnam,” and the firm recently expanded its reach in the U.S. to 35 U.S. states.

https://www.ccn.com/such-borrow-many-loan-crypto-lender-salt-now-takes-dogecoin-as-collateral/

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