Republic of Abkhazia Develops Law Draft on Crypto Mining

What can I do to prevent this in the future?

If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware.

If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices.

US CFTC Approves LedgerX’s Application for Designation As Contract Market

What can I do to prevent this in the future?

If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware.

If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices.

SEC Begins Accepting Public Comments on ETF Backed by Bitcoin and T-Bills

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is kicking off the public comment period for a proposed exchange-traded fund (ETF) backed by bitcoin and Treasury bills.

The SEC published a rule change proposal Tuesday which would allow Wilshire Phoenix Funds to list shares of the ETF on the NYSE Arca exchange, announcing the beginning of a 21-day public comment period. The document must still be published in the Federal Register before this clock formally starts, though the regulator is already accepting input.

Wilshire Phoenix and NYSE Arca applied for the rule change proposal last month, hoping to offer shares in the United States Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust. The fund manager would oversee the trust, investing exclusively in bitcoin and short-term U.S. Treasury securities.

The firm tapped Coinbase’s custody wing to hold the trust’s bitcoin, with $200 million in theft insurance covering its holdings.

Under U.S. law, the SEC has 45 days from the filing’s publication in the Federal Register to make an initial decision, though it can extend this to 90 days.

The regulator is already assessing a number of other ETF rule change proposals, most notably submissions by Bitwise Asset Management (with NYSE Arca) and VanEck/SolidX (with Cboe Global Markets). The SEC has extended its deadline on each proposal several times, with its next decisions expected in mid-July.

Dollar image via Shutterstock

From Tom Brady to Crypto: Interview with Diginex Americas CEO Will McDonough

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Will McDonough has one of the most interesting backgrounds in the crypto space. 

Running a management company which represented New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and the estate of Nelson Mandela, he went on to the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs before launching Atlas Mara, a company that acquired banks in Africa which he took public on the London Stock Exchange in 2014. 

Moving into the crypto and blockchain industry in 2017 with the launch of iCash, the first ever smart contract adjudication protocol for blockchain transactions, Will is now Vice Chairman of Diginex Limited and Chairman and CEO of Diginex Americas, a digital asset investment bank.

I spoke to Will about his background before crypto, why he got into the space, what will bring the institutions to crypto, and what’s in store for Diginex in 2019 and beyond.

You’ve managed Tom Brady, worked for Goldman Sachs, and bought banks in Africa, is there a unique thread that runs through your career?

Luck.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity and I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to work with interesting partners in interesting businesses. Each business I’ve had has been a product of my experiences and the ability to prepare for and pounce on an opportunity.  Opportunities don’t last long and when you see them you need to execute fast. When I was in high school I actually started my professional career with the New England Patriots. While working in the organization’s marketing group, I was tasked with bridging the gap between our players, our community and sponsors.  Being able to do this for the team exposed me to Tom Brady and gave me relationships that still benefit me today. Those experiences drove me to form my own management company, and that business continues today, managing the Estate of Nelson Mandela and building partnerships for many notable athletes and entertainers, including Tom Brady, and his wife Gisele Bundchen. 

While running MMG I came into contact with many incredible people in the world of finance, one of whom was the founder of Avenue Capital, Marc Lasry. At our first meeting we started to discuss building a fund of funds to leverage our collective access.  Within a year we set up a distressed debt and credit fund-of-funds, and I moved to NY to build it out. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I was prepared for it, and I pounced.

When I was in NY, I became close with Gary Cohn, the former President and COO of Goldman Sachs, who recruited me to the firm to manage the Partners’ Capital. It was Goldman where I learned first hand the importance of diversifying across the alternative investment space and how hard it is for many to get appropriate exposures to esoteric asset classes or geographies.  I further took an interest in the emerging markets of Africa and brought a business to Bob Diamond (former CEO of Barclays) and he and I co-founded Atlas Mara, a network of banks in Africa which we took public on the London Stock Exchange in 2014. After taking Atlas Mara (ATMA: LSE) public, I focused all of my attention on Financial Technologies, and dove in deep to blockchain, which brought me to Diginex with the sole intent of creating a regulation focused, compliant digital asset and blockchain company built on the rigors of the professional financial services world I come from, to deliver institutional grade offerings in this new world of business and finance. 

When did you first hear about Bitcoin, and why did you decide you wanted to be involved in the crypto ecosystem?

I first heard about Bitcoin after my attempt to buy MoneyGram International, the global payments company. One of the biggest threats to MoneyGram is the bitcoin protocol. That was when I fell down the proverbial “crypto rabbit hole” and quickly realized that digital assets have huge potential. Coming from traditional financial services, I saw first hand the many inefficiencies that blockchain technology and digital assets can solve. One of my first realizations is that to realize those efficiencies the proper infrastructure must be set up and I dove right in.

What led you to Diginex Americas and what makes it unique?

Diginex has a uniquely strong team of high-caliber financial services and technology professionals. The caliber and experience of this team is without rival. This, along with the global reach and clear vision, is what drew me to the firm. The opportunity to build out the American infrastructure as CEO of the Americas and join the larger firm as Vice Chairman allows me to contribute directly to the growth of the firm both on home soil and abroad. The adoption of blockchain and digital assets on the institutional level  will take place slowly and with experienced professionals on both sides of the table working together to tap into the benefits. Diginex Americas is uniquely positioned to do that. 

What do you say to Bitcoin maximalists who believe only in bitcoin and view blockchain outside of Bitcoin as an unnecessary solution?

Bitcoin is an amazing innovation and does exactly what it was designed to do. That is P2P decentralized and censorship-resistant transactions. Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the way data is secured and transferred. To state that the only way this technology should be levered is short sighted.  Blockchain can bring the efficiencies it brings to Bitcoin value transfers to lots of data transfer parallels and can drive massive efficiencies to legacy systems.  

How do you convince skeptics that crypto-assets and blockchain are worth getting excited about?

The volatility and growth of the value of Bitcoin and other digital assets over the last 2 years has brought a lot of attention to our technology and the associated currencies.  Many of these currencies are a direct correlation to the demand for and adoption of their associated blockchains, and are a great way for investors of all sizes to get exposure to that growth.  Usually when new technologies are implemented and adopted retail investors don’t hear about them or have access to invest in them until they’re much more mature. This is a gift and a curse because the earlier you invest the more volatile hypothetically the opportunity.  This also can provide participation to massive appreciation if you’re invested in whoever becomes the next platform for accessing blockchain technology. People investing in crypto assets associated with early technologies need to be aware of and prepared for risk and volatility, and understand this is not like investing in traditionally more mature public companies.

Do you think the frenetic bull run of 2017 and subsequent crash was a net positive or a net negative for the industry?

Definitely a net positive. It brought a lot of attention to a space that previously had little to no attention. 2017 also marked the exodus of smart and successful people leaving high-paying and comfortable jobs to jump headfirst into blockchain. This influx of high quality human capital has only led to more implementation of the technology and has been driving innovation ever since that run.  The institutional adoption of the technology and recognition of the asset class sped up adoption massively and is a great benefit to the community.

Do you think “the institutions are coming”? If so, what will be the key driving factor that will bring them to the space?

They definitely are. 

Many of them are already here, and have invested in blockchain-specific funds or in Bitcoin directly to gain exposure. I believe the days of institutions holding digital assets in their portfolios is coming soon as well, but that will take a maturation of their mandates to allow for this newly defined asset, so availing them of products they can hold, that expose them to those assets, will be a major opportunity.  Only helping that will be clear regulation from the SEC and CFTC and the digital asset custody infrastructure being developed to a point where there is virtually no risk of the assets being stolen, or at least those assets being insurable. 

What is on the Diginex Americas roadmap for the year?

The goal is to establish a compliant footprint throughout the world that will allow us to transact and benefit businesses. We are still early in the blockchain story and thus have the time and patience to do it right. This will ensure we will be a big part of the story of blockchain and it’s future. By approaching this opportunity in an institutional manner we are able to work with the world’s top companies and operate at an extremely high level.

Top 3 Ways to Keep Your Bitcoin Safe in 2019

Bitcoin Crypto Bitcoin

Top 3 Ways to Keep Your Bitcoin Safe in 2019


With the price of Bitcoin on a tearing run right now, it’s more important than ever to think about the long-term security of your funds – if you haven’t done so already. Here’s a list of the best ways to keep your crypto safe.


Enough with entrusting your private keys to a cryptocurrency exchange or an insecure hot wallet. If you own any amount of Bitcoin, it’s gaining in value. That will make naturally make it a bigger target for the hackers. 

With more than $1.2 billion being stolen from crypto exchange hacks and fraud in the first quarter of 2019 alone, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. Check out these top three ways to store your Bitcoin safely.

1. Use a Hardware Wallet

Stop relying on the convenience of exchanges to transact. Hardware crypto wallets have come a long way since the start. Versions like the Ledger Nano X, for example, sync with your smartphone and mean you can transact on the go without the need for a computer.

store bitcoin with ledger nano x

It doesn’t compromise your security since your private keys and seed never leave your device. Bluetooth only transports public data. 

Trezor doesn’t have that function but its touch screen provides a simpler user experience. If you want a wallet fit for a rockstar, check out the chunky GRAY Trezor Corazon to make you feel like a million bucks–while making sure your fortune is safe from opportune hackers.

Store your Bitcoin with the Gray Trezor Corazon

2. Go Completely Mobile

Another alternative if you don’t like the idea of investing in a hardware wallet is to go completely mobile. Try downloading a Bitcoin wallet like Mycelium, which is available for both iOS and Android.

Mycelium

The UX on this wallet isn’t great. But still less of a headache than using a Ledger or Trezor and worth it for the additional security over an exchange.

Note, Mycelium isn’t a cold wallet. However, it is known for its security, and you get to keep your Bitcoin in your pocket at all times.

3. Try Timelocking Your Bitcoin

Not for the beginner, there is a series of steps that you have to take if you want to timelock your Bitcoin. There are also some major advantages (and disadvantages) of doing this.

Think of a timelock as one of those savings accounts or trust funds that you can’t touch until a certain date. You basically set up a smart contract that prevents you from spending your Bitcoin.

The advantages of this are that your Bitcoin is safely locked into a smart contract which no one can access without the private keys.

It also stops you from selling your Bitcoin when the market rallies, as Lucas Nuzzi mentioned below: 

Obviously, though, this could also be a disadvantage if you seriously need to access your BTC and want to cash out.

Take the Time to Store Your Bitcoin Safely

Yes, it’s easier to keep your BTC on an exchange if you’re not a computer person and find the whole wallet experience nauseating. But you’ll get a far sicker feeling if a hacker seizes your funds or the exchange goes belly up.

There are other solutions that let you earn interest rather than just HODLing your BTC. But be sure to check them out thoroughly and be prepared to store your Bitcoin with a third party.

What do you make of this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Bad Actors Hijack Ukraine’s Government System to Mine Monero

Bad Actors Hijack Ukraine’s Government System to Mine Monero 

Hackers have planted cryptocurrency mining malware on the computers of the Ukrainian State Judicial Administration (SJA), secretly minting privacy-centric monero (XMR) altcoin for over six months, reports Finance Magnates on June 24, 2019.

Stealthy Cryptojacking Operation Uncovered 

Per sources close to the matter, Ukrainian security personnel have discovered a secret cryptocurrency mining operation that has purportedly been going on since the beginning of this year.

Reportedly, the researchers found a deadly monero (XMR) mining malware installed on the computers of the State Judicial Administration, with the primary aim of stealing system resources to mine cryptos.

Specifically, the group of unknown hackers started the mining operation earlier in January 2019, by planting the MinerGate malware.

To be clear, Minergate is a legitimate cryptocurrency mining software in itself, however, it is described as a ‘riskware’ due to the fact that it is often deployed remotely on people’s computers to secretly mine cryptoassets without the permission of the host. 

Malware Disrupted the Database 

According to the Security Service of Ukraine, the Minergate software hid in the server equipment of the data center as well as the entire computer infrastructure.

Due to the malware’s activities which consumes a lot of computing resources, the security agency says it led to the loss of a huge chunk of data stored on the websites of the courts, as well as the web portal of the “Judicial Power of Ukraine.”

That’s not all, the security authorities have also stated that the malware paralyzed the email service of the judicial administration and several important electronic services.

The agency said:

“In the same vein, the email service did not function in the judicial administration in the courts, other government parastatals and institutions of the justice system. Access to some electronic services provided by ESITIS was also impossible.”

Crypto Crime Steadily on the Rise

Just like in the traditional financial industry where rogue actors constantly raid banks and orchestrate other forms of illicit acts in a bid to get rich quick, the growing ubiquity of bitcoin and altcoins has also spurred crypto thieves to get more sophisticated in their game.

In January 2019, reports emerged that two notorious hacking groups had succeeded in stealing at least $1 billion worth of digital assets from exchanges.

On June 22, 2019, BTCManager informed that Florida’s Riviera Beach leaders had agreed to pay hackers a whopping $650k in bitcoin (BTC) following a severe ransomware attack that crippled its entire online operations. 

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Bitcoin’s Price Rises Above €10K in First Since January 2018

Bitcoin’s price topped €10,000 on Tuesday, hitting its highest level (in euro-denominated terms) in 17 months.

The cryptocurrency rose to €10,024 at 13:10 UTC today – a level last seen on Jan. 21, 2018 – according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index, as prices refreshed 15-month highs in US dollar terms with a move above $11,400.

As of writing, BTC’s EUR-denominated exchange rate (BTC/EUR) is trading at €9,939.40, representing 2.75 percent gains on the day. On a month-to-date basis, BTC/EUR is up about 28.7 percent, while BTC/USD is flashing a 31.2 percent price rise.

Bitcoin’s underperformance in EUR terms could be associated with the fact that the 17-nation currency has strengthened 2 percent against the greenback this month. The investors have sold the greenback across the board on rising odds of an interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve.

Looking forward, BTC/EUR may continue to lag BTC/USD as interest rate futures are pricing a 100% chance the Fed will cut rates at the end of July. More importantly, markets are betting on a high probability that the US central bank will reduce rates two more times after that.

The performance differential may narrow or could flip in favor of BTC/USD in the near future if the focus shifts from the Fed to strengthening expectations of fresh monetary easing by the European Central Bank (ECB).

BTC/EUR weekly chart

Bitcoin has retraced more than 50 percent of the bear market drop and is currently 260 percent from the low of €2,780 seen in December 2018.

The cryptocurrency is looking overbought at 17-month highs, as per the above-70 reading on the 14-week relative strength index.

The price, however, is showing little signs of bullish exhaustion, with the Chaikin money flow reporting strongest buying pressure since December 2016.

The bullish outlook would be invalidated if the price invalidates bullish higher lows, higher highs pattern with a move below the May 30 high of €8,191.

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.

Euro coins image via CoinDesk archives; charts by TradingView

Minnesota House Bill Aims to Outlaw Cryptocurrency Donations

A group of Democratic Minnesota House Representatives have some opinions on crypto and, well, they don’t want it mixing into political donations. Minnesota House Bill 2884, introduced by Rep. Rick Hansen (D), Rep. Jamie Becker-finn (D), Rep. Raymond Dehn (D), and Rep. Peter Fischer (D), wants to outlaw “from any source a contribution or donation of any digital unit of exchange, including but not limited to bitcoin, that is not backed by a government-issued legal tender.”

Interestingly, it’s not clear where stablecoins would fall here.

The full text of the Bill is below:

An individual, political committee, political fund, principal campaign committee, or party unit may not solicit or accept from any source a contribution or donation of any digital unit of exchange, including but not limited to bitcoin, that is not backed by a government-issued legal tender. An individual, political committee, political fund, principal campaign committee, or party unit that knowingly solicits or accepts any digital unit of exchange is subject to a civil penalty imposed by the board of up to $3,000. A person who knowingly accepts any digital unit of exchange in violation of this section is guilty of a felony.

As we can see, this could be a serious deterrent for a certain swathe of voter, especially since crypto is slowly entering politics. The first candidate to accept bitcoin, Andrew Hemingway, took donations in it as early as 2014 and it appears Andrew Yang is accepting crypto donations for his presidential bid. Many others are following suit.

The representatives introduced the Bill on May 14, 2019 and the House is currently in recess. We’ve reached out to them for further comment.

Photo by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

Istanbul Tunes Ethereum (ETH), Prices Firm Above $300

  • Ethereum (ETH) up 14.3 percent
  • EIPs 1702 and 2024 to be activated in the next network upgrade

During hard fork Istanbul, there will be activation of two approved Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) in 2024 and 1702. These two will reduce costs while simultaneously easing future network upgrades. While at it, ETH is 14.3 percent higher from last week’s close, trading at over $300.

Ethereum Price Analysis

Fundamentals

Hard fork Istanbul completes what wasn’t possible in the last major upgrade, Constantinople. Executed in two phases, it set the ground for the Serenity.

The upgrade is a necessary enhancement affirming Ethereum’s dominance in the smart contracting sphere. Presently, there is progress as far as Istanbul is concerned. By approving two Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) meant for activation in a tentative date in Oct 2019, it shows how vital these two EIPs are.

EIP 2024 introduces a pre-compile to the Ethereum’s Virtual Machine for a new hash function, Blake2B. The hash function is in use by other blockchains and is faster than SHA-3. Often, pre-compiling in the EVM is an expensive operation attracting charges.

Meanwhile, EIP 1702 activation will allow smooth upgrading. The proposal was put forth by Wei Tang of Parity Technologies, introducing Accounting Version, which is simply a new methodology for hard forking. In his explanation, Tang says:

“By allowing account versioning, we can execute different virtual machine for contracts created at different times. This allows breaking features to be implemented while making sure existing contracts work as expected.”

Candlestick Arrangements

Ethereum ETH

Like BTC, ETH bulls are in control. However, volatility is not as pronounced as it is with the former. To quantify, in the last week, ETH is up a mere 14.3 percent even after clearing the $300 mark.

By doing so, the conditions laid out in previous ETH/USD trade plans are now valid. As a result, there is an opportunity for aggressive traders to add to their long positions.

On the other hand, conservative traders can buy the dips in smaller time frames while aiming at $400 or higher.

However, damping expectations are low trading volumes accompanying this break out above $290 and $300. That is despite the remarkable June 21 bull candlestick and bars banding along the upper Bollinger Bands (BB).

Technical Indicators

Nonetheless, as momentum increase, ETH bulls will likely flow back. In that case, participation will continue to pick up as average trading volumes consistently exceeds 152k of June 24.

Chart courtesy of Trading View. Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

比特币矿机需求超供应 交付或需等到三季度

金色财经 比特币6月26日讯 比特币最近的牛市激发了市场对新矿机的需求,也“迫使”矿机制造商生产足够的挖矿设备来满足矿工。

O5qBPSWORgEaa2gaUoCnrAzZDDSPhd20caow5YWq.jpeg

在上周末突破1万美元之后,比特币价格本周又再次迈过11,000美元阻力位,自二月份以来上涨了近200%。

阿瓦隆矿机制造商嘉楠耘智的全球销售和营销主管史蒂文·莫舍尔(Steven Mosher)解释说,比特币价格激增导致矿机需求增加,引发出供不应求的问题。虽然史蒂文·莫舍尔拒绝透露该公司的矿机订单量,但他在一封电子邮件中透露目前整个矿机行业的库存量处于下滑状态,但需求却很高,他写道:

“现在似乎回到了2017年第三季度、第四季度的情况,矿机市场需求量是供应量的三倍。”

当时,比特币价格在2017年7-9月期间翻了一番,之后又在2017年最后一个季度涨了四倍,达到近2万美元的历史高点。

加密货币挖矿和交易分析研究公司TokenInsight认为,过去几个月比特币价格上涨,导致新矿机设备的平均回报周期从120-280天减少到了60-150天。

新矿机机型

为了抓住新的市场机遇,,嘉楠耘智上个月推出了全新矿机AvalonMiner 1041,算力可 达到 37 TH/s,每小时耗电量为2,361 瓦。相比之下旧机型Avalon 851的算力只有 14.5Th / s,每小时耗电量为1450瓦。

史蒂文·莫舍尔还透露,由于大客户批量购买兴趣激增,现在新款矿机最早交付时间已经排到了今年十月。类似的事情也发生在了加密矿机制造巨头比特大陆身上,他们上周也推出了两款 AntMiner S9改进版矿机——蚂蚁矿机 S9 SE 和 蚂蚁矿机 S9k,但首批新款矿机的发货时间也延迟到了今年八月。

不仅如此,现在的加密市场对算力更大、价格更加昂贵的矿机需求也很高,前比特大陆芯片设计总监杨作兴推出的神马矿机M20也吸引了大量购买需求,下一批 M20 矿机目前已经几乎售罄,发货时间至少要等到十月份。

另一方面,杨作兴认为造成当前矿机供不应求问题的一个重要原因就是芯片供应量出现短缺,由于没有足够的芯片让矿机供应量无法满足需求,他表示:

“比特币算力增长现在跟不上价格跳涨的步伐,矿机产能是个瓶颈。”

比特币算力创历史新高

实际上,最近比特币全网算力也达到了历史最高水平。矿池 BTC.com 的数据显示,最近一天比特币网络算力和7天平均算力分别达到6500 万TH/s和5800万TH / s。相比于去年年底比特币熊市时3600万TH / s的14天平均网络算力 ,目前比特币网络累计算力涨幅已经达到了约80%。

OvjZpqd24q5BQ3L5Lz1svgEvEegrUPoeOVbF6cgY.png

如果新增的网络算力都来自于市场上的常用矿机,比如蚂蚁矿机S9或阿瓦隆851,并按照14 TH/s 的平均挖矿算力计算的话,在过去的几个月时间里市场应该新增部署了约200万台矿机。

因此,BTC.com估计比特币采矿难度将在下一个调整周期开始时进一步增加6%,达到历史最高水平——高于7.8万亿。(金色财经注:采矿难度是一个对算力而言的相对值,代表着每一T算力在单位时间内的产出值。全网难度越大,就代表着每T算力的产出值越小)

文章编译自 CoinDesk