Category Archives: Cryptocurrency

US Marshals Set To Auction Bitcoins Worth $4.2M Next Month

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A close-up studio photograph of Bitcoins resting upon a circuit board with medicine tablets signifying the illegal drug trade related to payment in cryptocurrencies. (Source: Getty, Royalty free).

The U.S. Marshals Service, the oldest law enforcement agency in the United States dating from 1789 when President Washington appointed the first thirteen Marshals, is auctioning some 660 Bitcoins next month, worth $4,220,040 at current prices. The cryptocurrency being auctioned relates to forfeitures from various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases.

This latest auction follows ones conducted by the agency at the start of 2018 (January 22) for 3,813 Bitcoins that were worth around $51.5 million at the time, and a subsequent Bitcoin auction on March 19. The latter was their seventh such auction to that point in time, which comprised around 2,170 Bitcoins, which were worth approximately $24 million at the cryptocurrency’s then market price on exchanges.

The Marshals Service manages a wide variety of assets, including real estate, commercial businesses, cash, financial instruments, vehicles, jewelery, art, antiques, collectibles, vessels and aircraft. Specifically, they handle the distribution of proceeds and payments to victims of crime and other innocent third parties.

As of September 30, 2017, the value of assets on hand was $1.8 billion within the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program, which was reported in a factsheet by the U.S. Marshals dated April 13, 2018. That figure was up from $1.5 billion as of September 2016. And, the amount distributed to victims of crime and claimants in fiscal 2017 was stated at $144.7 million, with $332.5 million shared with participating state and local law enforcement.

The cryptocurrency (Bitcoins) being offered in this sealed bid auction, which derived from assets seized by the FBI and the U.S. government authorities amongst other parties (see list below), are in seven blocks and consist of Series A (six blocks of 100 Bitcoins) and Series B (one block of 60 Bitcoins).

As well as a need to register a bidder’s interest, a deposit of $200,000, which is returnable to non-winning bidders, will also be required to participate. Failed bids will see the return of deposits immediately following the close of the Bitcoin transaction(s).

Series Bitcoins per Block Blocks Available Total Bitcoins Available in Series Required Deposit
A 100 6 600 $200,000
B 60 1 60 $200,000
Total 660

Those participating in the auction, which will occur over a six-hour time period on November 5 between 8 am until 2 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). They will not have the opportunity to view other bids or the opportunity to change their bid once submitted.

Registration & Requirements

Those interested in participating in the auction process must firstly register by complete all necessary registration requirements as at noon EDT later this month on October 3. Bids will be accepted from pre-registered bidders via email only.

One registration form allows a party to bid on multiple blocks from Series A and Series B at the same per Bitcoin price. However, it does not permit multiple bids to be submitted at differing per-bitcoin prices.

Should potential investors wish to table multiple bids/prices on multiple blocks, they will need to submit additional registration forms and extra deposit funds (i.e. So, two differing bids/prices on different blocks will need $400,000 to be deposited, while three differing bids in a similar fashion will call for $600,000).

The required registration items for this auction include the following, namely:

  • A manually signed pdf copy of the Bidder Registration Form;
  • A copy of a Government-issued photo ID for the Bidder (or Control Person(s) of Bidder);
  • Deposit in U.S. Dollars sent by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) originating from a bank located within the U.S.; and,
  • A copy of the EFT transmittal receipt.

Those wanting to participate must ensure they deliver the necessary registration items by email to USMSBitcoins@usdoj.gov. The USMS will then notify all bidders regarding their eligibility to participate in the auction by email no later than 5:00 PM EDT on Thursday, November 1, 2018.

But should the USMS determine that a party is not an “eligible bidder”, then the deposit funds will be returned, and they will not be eligible to participate in the online auction.

The deposit of the winning bidder will be retained by USMS and credited towards the purchase price. In the event that the winning bidder fails to close on the transaction through no fault of the USMS, the winning bidder will “irrevocably forfeit the deposit to the USMS.”

The USMS will seek to notify the winning bidder(s) by 5:00 P.M. EST on Monday, November 5, 2018. However, the number of bids received and the complexity of the review process may require additional review time, the agency indicated.

Foreign citizens can participate in the auction, but it should be noted that bids will not be accepted from any person or entity that appears on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control list of “Specially Designated Nationals.” And, all deposit and purchase funds must be received from a U.S. bank.

The list of cases from which the Bitcoins in this auction were forfeited following various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases are as follows.

  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 1 Bitcoin
  • United States v. Thomas Mario Costanzo (Case No. 17-585)
  • United States v. Loui Ong (Case No. 17-191)
  • United States v. Anton Peck (Case No. 16-cr-171)
  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 0.76 Bitcoin
  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 0.22 Bitcoin
  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 5.07545536 Bitcoin and 3.98147685 Bitcoin
  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 6.95 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 27.152318 Bitcoin
  • HSI-USCBP Administrative Forfeiture of 6.9 Bitcoin
  • United States v. 7.26611032 Bitcoin (Case No. 18-cv-00553)
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 24.99934127 Bitcoin
  • United States v. Theresa Tetley (Case No. CR 17-00738)
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 11.46069937 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 0.07602526 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 0.06140349 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 0.55265864 Bitcoin
  • United States v. Sky Justin Gornik (Case No. 17CR2796)
  • United States v. Ralph Robert James Sergo (Case No. 17-14009)
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 9.88988757 Bitcoin
  • United States v. Nathan Anthony Ott (Case No. 1:17-CR-225)
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 22.55 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 0.782281 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 3.43208747 Bitcoin
  • DEA Administrative Forfeiture of 12.08794092 Bitcoin
  • FBI Administrative Forfeiture of a combined 115 Bitcoin in series.
  • United States v. Scott Maurice Rose (Case No. 3:0030148-001).

Further details on this upcoming auction are available on the U.S. Marshals’ website by accessing this link.

 

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10 Days That Shook the World of Bitcoin

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When Bitcoin’s history is written, the following events will command a chapter apiece. Bitcoin is a creeping revolution that does not lend itself to listicles, and thus any such attempt is destined to fall short. What follows, therefore, is a potted history of a transformative technology whose greatest moments have yet to come. In chronological order, these are the days that shook Bitcoin to its core.

Also read: Cypherpunk Essentials: A Beginner’s Guide to Crypto Privacy

Satoshi’s Final Bow, December 12, 2010

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinOne of the most significant days in Bitcoin happened before most people had even heard of it. Dec. 12, 2010 didn’t startle the community at the time, but the date would go down as the most pivotal since the mining of the genesis block. That’s the day when Satoshi Nakamoto composed his final Bitcointalk post and then quietly checked out, never to be publicly heard of again.

One day prior, he’d objected to Wikileaks using bitcoin to circumvent its Visa blockade, writing: “It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. Wikileaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.” We will likely never know why Satoshi left, other than the vague message he dictated to Mike Hearn in his final email on Apr. 23, 2011: “I’ve moved on to other things.”

Silk Road Bust, October 2, 2013

It’s hard to convey just how big of a role Silk Road played in mainstreaming Bitcoin, and how indebted we are to a mild-mannered pacifist now serving life without parole for the crime of being a tech visionary. (Okay, and for creating a market where you could buy every illegal drug under the sun.)  Oct. 2, 2013, is the day Ross Ulbricht’s ingenious creation fell, when an FBI bust saw the 29-year-old wrestled to the ground in a San Francisco library as he was logged in to the server.

10 Days That Shook the World of Bitcoin

The familiar Silk Road login screen gave way to the FBI’s smug seizure notice and bitcoin shed 25 percent of its value, falling to $109 in the aftermath. BTC has since recovered 60 times over, but for those who supported Silk Road and its swashbuckling captain Dread Pirate Roberts, things have never been the same since.

Bitcoin Hits $1,000, November 27, 2013

There are many all-time highs that might warrant inclusion in this list – BTC hitting $100, just seven months earlier, being one:

That day felt epic, but $1,000 was entering the realm of fantasy. Bitcoiners hadn’t dreamed the milestone might be reached so soon. It was only later that Mt Gox’s role in inflating BTC with the aid of its Willy trading bot came to light. This knowledge has done nothing, however, to dampen the memories of $1,000 bitcoin sticking two fingers up at the establishment.

Bitcoinity.org was where everyone checked the price of BTC in the age before Blockfolio, widgets and push notifications. When bitcoin hit $1,000, the site moved the decimal point three places to the left because the USD price was taking up too much screen space.

The Death of Mt Gox, February 24, 2014

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinDespite five years having passed since Bitcoin’s Titanic event, and restitution finally made, the sinking of Mt Gox is still a sore point for early adopters who lost funds in the insolvent exchange. It had been evident for weeks that something was wrong with Gox, but its spectacular collapse still induced shock and anger followed by lingering acrimony. The demise of Mt Gox plunged bitcoin into a downward spiral it took years to recover from.

Craig Wright Is Satoshi Nakamoto, May 2, 2016

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinWright, on the day he revealed himself to be Satoshi Nakamoto

Many people have identified or been doxxed as Satoshi Nakamoto, but only two incidents gained global attention. Newsweek’s false dox of Dorian Nakamoto in March 2014 was noteworthy, but it pales in significance to the day Craig Wright stepped forward to claim the mantle, after Wired had first suggested the connection a few months earlier.

Gavin Andresen verified the digital signature, mainstream media swooped and Craig Wright basked in the adulation. Then the narrative began to fall apart. The evidence linking Wright to Satoshi was quickly debunked, turning Wright into a pariah dubbed “Faketoshi.” While a dwindling band of followers still believes Wright may have been involved in Bitcoin’s creation, few grant his claim to be Satoshi himself any credence.

The DAO, June 17, 2016

Like the Silk Road bust, The DAO technically wasn’t about Bitcoin. And yet the collapse of Ethereum’s flagship project, following the theft of $50 million in ether from its smart contract, reverberated throughout the entire industry, prompting Vitalik Buterin to assemble an online crisis meeting with exchange bosses in a bid to limit the fallout. “OK can you guys stop trading,” he implored and a meme was born. Ethereum eventually recovered, but not before a chain rollback and a hard fork. Bitcoin maximalism gained some new supporters that day, many of whom have remained wary of ETH ever since.

The Fall of BTC-e, July 25, 2017

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinWhen Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece in July of 2017 at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department, the market didn’t even blink. By then, the Russian’s shady exchange had long ceased to be relevant, but its importance in the history of cryptocurrency remains significant.

BTC-e was where traders cut their teeth. It was a no-KYC, no-questions-asked outpost, the last wild west town of its kind. It was where the original pump and dumps were orchestrated, led by pseudonymous kids with names like Fontas manipulating shitcoins with names like peercoin, long before shitcoin was even a word. It’s also where a vast chunk of Mt Gox’s stolen bitcoins were allegedly laundered. BTC-e was a den of iniquity and it had to go, but that doesn’t mean its legendary trollbox won’t be missed by those who frequented it at its peak.

The Birth of Bitcoin Cash, August 1, 2017

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinThe events surrounding Segwit’s lock-in, on July 21, 2017, and Bitcoin’s hard fork, less than a fortnight later, were momentous for all kinds of reasons. It had been unclear, in the run-up, whether enough miners would signal support for Segwit, but in the end the proposal comfortably passed. The sense of uncertainty was palpable, exacerbated by apocalyptic warnings, in the build-up, of fatal chain splits and market meltdown. In the end, Bitcoin became two, Segwit activated, and while the factions remain as polarized as ever, both parties got something out of the deal at least: Segwit for small blockers and Bitcoin Cash for the big.

The Cashening, December 19, 2017

10 Days That Shook the World of BitcoinFor a few crazy hours last December, it looked as if Bitcoin Cash might actually cause one of the greatest upsets in the history of cryptocurrency and become the dominant Bitcoin chain by market cap. In the end, the trading frenzy, fueled by zero-fee South Korean exchanges, Coinbase botching its BCH listing announcement, and a good deal of FOMO, The Cashening lost steam around the time the price of BCH reached 0.25 BTC. A lot of cryptocurrency was won and lost on the internet that day, as the bitcoin brigades put ideological differences aside and traded like their lives depended on it.

$20,000 BTC, December 17, 2017

The weighted average for bitcoin’s all-time high officially stands at $20,089 according to Onchainfx, though on some exchanges the cryptocurrency stopped just shy of the 20k mark before backing down. Through November and December of 2017, every day was filled with giddiness, over-exuberance, ridiculous headlines and all the other signs that, in hindsight, pointed towards a market that was way overbought. It was a fun time though, for coiners, nocoiners and bemused onlookers alike. We may never see such a frenzy again … until the next bull run that is. 10 Days That Shook the World of Bitcoin

Bitcoin Core Fees Hit Record High, December 22, 2017

One of the reasons why Bitcoin hard-forked in the summer of 2017 was due to disagreement over increasing the block size. Blockstream and its cadre of Core developers favored a maximum of 2MB blocks, despite the fact that the network was overloaded and fees were getting ridiculous. While Bitcoin Cash provided a solution for those who favored larger blocks, Bitcoin Core doggedly stuck to its path, culminating in average fees hitting $55 on Dec. 22, and a median high of $34.10 a day later.

What other historic days in Bitcoin’s history deserved to have made this list? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Returns to Previous Range After Tether Caused Price Surge

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  • Bitcoin had experienced a surge in price over the past few days, largely attributed to the slip on the USD Tether peg.
  • The market has returned to its previous equilibrium level before the surge in price.
  • Support levels moving forward; $6558, $6453, $6261, $6189, $6032, $6000.
  • Resistance levels moving forward; $6639, $6715, $6824, $6862, $7053, $7300, $7431, $7606.. $7857, $8000.

Bitcoin has remained relatively stable over the past 24 hours of trading only moving a small -0.1%. The cryptocurrency king is currently trading at a price around $6583, at the time of writing, after seeing a +3.98% price hike over the past 7 trading days.

The number 1 reigning cryptocurrency in the industry currently holds a $113 billion market cap value and has seen a small -11.65% price decrease over the past 90 trading days, indicating that the bears have lost pace in their quest to push the market lower. Bitcoin is still trading at a price that is 66% lower than its all time high value.

Let us continue to analyse price action over the short term and update any potential support and resistance areas.

BTC/USD – SHORT TERM – 4HR CHART

https://www.tradingview.com/x/mJAKc8zt/

Analysing price action from the short termed perspective above, we can see that the market has had some significant movements since our last analysis. The episode of Tether slipping under its $1 peg caused Bitcoin to spike to a high of $7788 on the 15ht of October 2018. The market has since retraced back to its original value before the bull run, but this could be another sign that a major cryptocurrency bull run may be on the horizon.

The market has just recently slipped under the short term 1.272 Fibonacci Extension level (drawn in red) priced at $6715. It is now trading at support provided by the short term .382 Fibonacci Retracement level (drawn in green) priced at $6558. If the bears continue to push the market momentum lower we can expect immediate significant support below to be located at the .618 Fibonacci Retracement level (drawn in black) priced at $6453.

If the bears can penetrate further below the $6453 handle then we can expect more support below at the short term .786 Fibonacci Retracement level (drawn in green) priced at $6261 followed by the medium term .786 Fibonacci Retracement level (drawn in black) priced at $6189. The final level of support to highlight is the medium term .886 Fibonacci Retracement level priced at $6032.

Alternatively, if the bulls can regather momentum and push the market back above the resistance at $6639, we can expect immediate higher resistance to be located at the short term 1.272 and 1.618 FIbonacci Extension levels (drawn in red) priced at $6714 and $6862. Resistance above this level can then be expected at the medium term .236 Fibonacci Extension level priced at $7053.

If the bulls can continue to rally higher then more resistance above can then be found at the 1.272 and 1.414 Fibonacci Extension levels (drawn in purple) priced at $7431 and $7606, respectively. If the bulls continue with the acceleration higher then the final resistance levels to highlight are the 1.618 Fibonacci Extension level priced at $7857 and the psychological round number handle at $8000.

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Returns to Previous Range After Tether Caused Price Surge
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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Returns to Previous Range After Tether Caused Price Surge
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Bitcoin has remained relatively stable over the past 24 hours of trading only moving a small -0.1%. The cryptocurrency king is currently trading at a price around $6583, at the time of writing, after seeing a +3.98% price hike over the past 7 trading days.
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iCloud Hacker Demanded $175000 Ransom to be Paid in Bitcoin

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A hacker who filmed himself accessing Apple iCloud accounts has appeared in a U.K. court.Kerem Albayrak had demanded around $175,000 in ransom be paid in Bitcoin and Apple iTunes vouchers for the non-disclosure of sensitive user data.Apple Hacker Charged in Connection with Bitcoin BlackmailAn IT analyst from north London has been charged with one count of blackmail and two counts of unauthorised acts intending to hinder access to a computer. Albayrak appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ court where he was granted unconditional bail until his case is heard at Southwark Crown Court on November 14.According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Albayrak had recorded himself hacking into iCloud accounts and posted the footage on YouTube. He then contacted Apple and demanded $170,000 to be paid in Bitcoin and iTunes vouchers. He warned the global tech giant that he would disclose the personal details taken from the 319 million users’ accounts he had gained access to if they did not meet his demands.During court proceedings today, it was revealed that Albayrak initially requested around $75,000 before upping his demands to double that figure. He finally settled on $174,000 in Bitcoin and around $1,000 worth of iTunes vouchers.The prosecution’s legal representative, Lorna Vincent, stated:“Mr Karem Albayrak is accused of sending emails to Apple making financial demands for downloading database iCloud accounts and factory resetting those iCloud accounts… He entered into the accounts of the alleged victims and posted a video of his hack onto YouTube.”Albayrak is far from the first to make such ransom demands on big companies. His efforts are reminiscent of last year’s WannaCry ransomware attack. Based on the same principle of blackmailing firms with threats of releasing sensitive data, the malware attack infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. The hacker behind it was able to evade authorities for over a year, but was arrested last month.In a number of decidedly more analogue attacks, people replaced data as the cornerstone upon which to leverage Bitcoin blackmails. In July of this year, a businessman from Cape Town was kidnapped and a demand of 50 BTC was made for his safe return. Liyaqat Parker was returned to his family in September. It is unknown if the ransom was met.Likewise, in Ukraine last December, a crypto-analyst from the EXMO exchange platform was also kidnapped. Once again, those responsible demanded Bitcoin for his safe return. In this example, the demands were met and Pavel Lerner was returned just days later.Fortunately, authorities were able to track Albayrak down before any harm could be done with the data he reportedly managed to access. This is hardly surprising, given how amateurish the young hacker went about coordinating his attack.Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled Sued for Involvement in Centra ICO Scam

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World-renowned boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and famed record producer DJ Khaled are dealing with the fallout of a class action lawsuit due to their involvement with Centra Tech’s CTR token, a crypto asset the suit claims is a scam that cost investors millions of dollars.

Their Role

Mayweather and Khaled both promoted the coin and other forms of cryptocurrency, via social media. Since last year, both of them have enthusiastically posted about the Centra ICO on Twitter with the caption “You can call me Floyd ‘crypto’ Mayweather from now on.” In one tweet, Khaled referred to the Centra card and wallet app.

The class-action suit, filed last year, culminated in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charging Centra’s founders with “orchestrating a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO).” The suit claims $32 million was stolen from backers of Centra’s fraudulent token in 2017, and hinges on the accusation that CTR tokens were bought and sold as unregistered securities. The two founders were arrested in April 2018.

US Judge Argues Centra Tech Tokens are Securities

Related: US Judge Argues Centra Tech Tokens are Securities

Centra claimed during the ICO, its customers could use their “Centra card” product to spend crypto using their conventional Visa or Mastercard debit cards, according to court documents. CTR was an ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain. No actual business relationship between Centra and the card companies appears to have existed, and investors contacted the company founders to request a refund based on that misrepresentation.

Centra Founders Lied About Paying for Celebrity Endorsements

Mayweather and Khaled are being drawn into the suit for their roles as celebrity endorsers of Centra’s product. Centra’s founders Robert Farkas, Raymond Trapani, and Sohrab “Sam” Sharma, lied about paying both celebrities to endorse and promote their product, according to court documents made public by the SEC, which read:

“When he was contacted by a Fortune magazine reporter about the celebrity promotions of Centra, Trapani claimed that two well-known celebrities had each been hired as a “managing partner” of Centra. When the reporter asked whether several posts to social media by one celebrity were part of a sponsorship or paid advertisement, Trapani responded, falsely: ‘No [he] is an official brand ambassador and managing partner of Centra Tech now.’”

The suit also alleges that Farkas and Trapani knowingly undertook part in manipulative trading to boost CTR’s price in the lead up to their ICO, a common practice in scams used to generate interest in the product.

The suit indemnifies the three main defendants as Farkas, Trapani, and Sharma as well as their “respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys and other persons in active concert or participation with each of them,” which appears to include paid celebrity endorsers.

Cover Photo by Mohammad Saifullah on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Our writers’ opinions are solely their own and do not reflect the opinion of CryptoSlate. None of the information you read on CryptoSlate should be taken as investment advice, nor does CryptoSlate endorse any project that may be mentioned or linked to in this article. Buying and trading cryptocurrencies should be considered a high-risk activity. Please do your own due diligence before taking any action related to content within this article. Finally, CryptoSlate takes no responsibility should you lose money trading cryptocurrencies.

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John Bogna

John Bogna is a freelance writer and journalist with seven years of experience covering everything from arts to tech.

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Gibraltar Gov’t Launches Advisory Group to Develop Blockchain-Related Educational Courses

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The Government of Gibraltar in collaboration with the University of Gibraltar have created an advisory group focused on the development of blockchain-related educational courses, national news outlet the Gibraltar Chronicle reported Oct. 19.

The New Technologies in Education (NTiE) group is reportedly a joint initiative between the government, the University of Gibraltar, and a number of the leading technology firms based in the country. Following the expansion of new technologies in Gibraltar, the NTiE will address the demand for related skills both in the private sector and at the governmental level.

The courses — which are expected to be launched later this year — will also be backed by “significant input” from industry players who are in the process of becoming licensed by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.

“Providing access to innovative courses with expert input from those using this technology in the private sector is a vital component in the development of a sustainable distributed ledger technology (DLT) commercial community in Gibraltar,” stated Gilbert Licudi, a Queen’s Counsel and the minister with responsibility for the University of Gibraltar.

Within the initiative, the university will reportedly develop and enhance expertise in new technologies, including DLT, coding, and smart contracts, subsequently issuing a Professional Certificate of Competence within this area. The government stated:

“The launch of the NTiE advisory group continues to build momentum for Gibraltar as a hub for new technologies, following the announcement in January 2018 that Gibraltar would be the first jurisdiction globally to introduce legislation around Distributed Ledger Technology.”

Per Minister for Education John Cortes’ statement, only 27 percent of universities around the world offer blockchain-related courses, whereas half of the top 50 international universities provide related courses, meaning that interest in the subject is growing.

A Coinbase study conducted in August shows that blockchain- and crypto-related courses are most popular in the U.S. Only five of the 18 universities reviewed that operate outside of the U.S. offer at least one class in these topics.

In September, New York University (NYU) through the NYU Stern School of Business became the “first” university in the U.S. to offer students a major in blockchain technology. Following the increasing number of students interested in the new offer, NYU reportedly doubled its course offerings this school year.

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Russian Draft Bill Lacks Core Crypto Terms After Recent Edits

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Russian deputies have removed the definition of crypto mining from a draft bill on digital currency regulation ahead of its next reading in the State Duma, major local news agency Interfax reports Oct. 19. Consequently, the new law will not clarify tax issues for miners.

The chairman of the Duma Committee on Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov briefly explained the reason behind the deputies’ decision to eliminate a core crypto term from the bill:

“Earlier we had some thoughts on Bitcoins, on their integration into our economic system. But as we decided we don’t need them, these ambiguous Bitcoins, therefore we don’t need mining as well.”

If the law were to define crypto mining, it consequently would also need to define cryptocurrencies, Aksakov told Interfax. He further added that it would be “senseless” to include mining in the regulation proposed by the government. He said mining should be brought under tax watchdog jurisdiction if needed.

It is not immediately clear whether definitions for tokens and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and rules for crypto exchanges — which were included in the initial draft — remain in the current version. The present draft law will proceed to the second of three readings in the Duma.

The bill “On Digital Financial Assets” was first introduced in January by the Russian Ministry of Finance. In March, a group of deputies headed by Aksakov proposed a modified version that established know your customer (KYC) regulations for customer identity verification on crypto exchanges, echoing current requirements in the U.S. A draft of the bill was approved by the State Duma in first of three hearings in May.

However, before the second hearing scheduled for the Duma’s autumn session, a definition of “cryptocurrency” was removed from bill. Mining then was defined as the “release of tokens to attract investment in capital.”

In September, a lobby group from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) started working on an alternative crypto regulation bill. According to RSPP vice-president Elina Sidorenko, the new bill will divide digital assets in three groups and help eliminate contradictions in the state bill that she calls “unfinished and fragmented.”

Aksakov spoke to Interfax at Finnopolis 2018 — a fintech event that was held in the Russian city of Sochi this week. During the conference, state officials discussed crypto and its role in the country’s economy.

The head of the Russian central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, compared interest in crypto to a “fever” that was “fortunately” over. Herman Gref, CEO of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, predicted that governments will not abandon centralized control of monetary policy and currencies to allow cryptocurrencies to flourish within the next ten years.

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

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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.”

cryptocurrency North Korea hackSource: 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.

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The 'Hodlers of Last Resort' Saviors of Bitcoin

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We have all listened to no-coiner acquaintances reasoning that, “Bitcoin is purely virtual, so the price could crash to nothing”. But why are they wrong? Who are the heroes that stop the drop in a bear market cycle? These, my friend, are Bitcoin’s Buyers of Last Resort.


What Goes Up…

The rise of bitcoin has depended on increasing adoption, occurring as more people discover, then desire, then buy bitcoin. If only this discovery was purely organic, based on word of mouth, and led to a steady accumulation of new users over time. The resulting appreciation in bitcoin price would be stable and sustainable.

Unfortunately, adoption happens in waves. A few positive articles in mainstream media causes a swell of new investors, eager to snap up the available coins at any price. Momentum traders join in the fun, speculating to profit from the sudden influx and price gains.

Must Come Down

But the adoption and momentum eventually peak. Nobody wants to get caught holding the bomb when the music stops, and the price begins to drop. Momentum traders switch to shorting. Uncle Bobby, who was sure it was all a scam but didn’t want to miss out just in case, panic sells.

Nobody is buying, so the Bitcoin price 00 keeps on falling, causing more panic and desperate sellers. With a price in freefall, something needs to stop this negative feedback cycle. That something is the ‘Buyers of Last Resort’.

BOLR, HOLR and LOLR

Actually, we don’t just have to thank ‘Buyers of Last Resort’ but also ‘Hodlers of Last Resort’. Both of these terms derive from ‘Lender of Last Resort’. This typically describes central banks, who can provide liquidity to financial institutions when they are unable to borrow elsewhere.

HOLR seems like a misnomer, unless you consider bitcoin itself as the entity needing them. These ‘true believers’ refuse to fold under the pressure of falling prices, FUD-mongering and panic selling. They calmly wait until the cycle reverses again, and perhaps announce it on social media. I mean, that is how the term came to be – thanks to a drunken late night post on Bitcointalk.org in 2015.

Undoubtedly, Bitcoin has the most HOLRs, leaving it less prone to wild price fluctuations compared to low-liquidity altcoins.

BOLR soak up seller panic by providing liquidity to the market. They include employers who pay staff in bitcoin, regular investors, and HODLers who have perhaps received a recent cash windfall. These groups buy irrespective of price. A subset of BOLR are the ‘Bidders of Last Resort’, who put in low limit bids to capitalize if the price drops low enough.

Together, enough BOLR will stem the panic, the market will regain confidence. and prices will start to rise again. So we should all be thankful for them…and maybe join them?

Remember, the ‘Buyers of Last Resort’ always bought the dip.

Are you a buyer of last resort? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Cryptocurrency Offline Storing System Developed by Security Services Giant G4S

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The custody solution targets virtual asset exchanges as well as institutional investors.

UK-based multinational security firm G4S has launched an offline cryptocurrency storing system in a bid to expand the company’s presence outside of its traditional source of revenue – cash transportation services. The new virtual asset custody offers “physical security to a sector at the cutting edge of financial technology,” according to a press release from Tuesday.

G4S, which operates in around 90 countries around the globe, turned to the crypto industry due to the rise in popularity of virtual coins and higher demand from its clients. The company decided to offer an offline vault storage: the system breaks cryptocurrencies up into independent parts, which as separate fragments have no value, and then store them in vaults. That process significantly reduces security vulnerabilities compared to custodian services offered by some crypto exchanges and online wallets, according to the G4S.

An offline or cold storage means that virtual coins are put in devices without internet connection in contrast to an online or hot system.

“Access to these sites is heavily restricted with multiple layers of security and robust protocols, and only when all the fragments are combined with specific technology can they unlock access to the value stored within,” Dominic MacIver, a senior risk analyst at G4S, said in the company’s statement.

Recent criminal attacks including the $530 million Coincheck hack in January have created uncertainty among institutional investors despite their desire to enter the market, according to G4S. Established virtual asset exchanges also search for reliable custodian services as a way to prevent thefts and to invest in secure infrastructure.

 “The original goal of cryptocurrencies was to redesign the fundamental architecture of money. Although some early adopters have made enormous returns, the sector has attracted the same old threats for financial systems, including robbers, scammers, market manipulators and many others,” MacIver explained.

“It has been a justified cliche to describe the cryptocurrency space as a Wild West.”

The custodian services market has become very competitive with several major crypto and traditional players entering it including the recent BitGo US custody approval, the Goldman Sachs plan for offering that type of service to virtual asset funds, or the Coinbase custody platform for institutional players.

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