This week in crypto: All the important developments in cryptocurrency space

As active as the blockchain and cryptocurrency spaces are on a continual basis, it may sometimes be difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on. It’s also difficult to separate the real news from the fluff – those pieces that are only designed to appear noteworthy but that are, in fact, just publicity campaigns. In an effort to provide crypto enthusiasts with an overview of what’s going on, here is a rundown on some of the top stories of the week.

Bitfinex and Tether have had another rough week. There was some good news, as well as bad, as the saga over their close relationship and questionable activities continues. On the one hand, Bitfinex has been told by a judge that it won’t have to turn over documents related to those activities for now. The New York Attorney General’s Office wants to know exactly what the two have been doing behind closed doors, and they’re fighting the office over its reported lack of jurisdiction. Until a request to have the case dismissed over those jurisdiction claims can be answered by a judge, Bitfinex can ignore the request.

On the other hand, though, neither of the two entities should think that it’s off the hook. While they have been given a brief reprieve in the fight with the New York government, they face a separate one with New York investors. A law firm in the state, Roche Freedman, has filed a class-action suit against Tether for its “fraudulent” stablecoin scheme. Tether’s USDT stablecoin is no longer pegged to the U.S. dollar, as it had been advertised, and the company is accused of using its position to manipulate the crypto market.

Alipay was forced to take a defensive stance this week after rumors started circulating that it was now accepting crypto payments. This would have been against the Alibaba-owned payment platform’s own rules and would, according to the company, possibly violate payment financial regulations. Alipay has a strict no-crypto policy that doesn’t permit the platform to be tied in any way to digital currencies. The announcement came after the Binance exchange stated publicly that it was now able to receive fiat payments using Alipay, via a third-party processor, which didn’t sit well with Alibaba.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected yet another rule change proposal that sought to introduce a crypto-based exchange-traded fund (ETF). This one had been submitted by Bitwise Asset Management and the NYSE Arca exchange at the beginning of the year, and received the same response as have the myriad of other requests – the possibility of market manipulation prevents the SEC from signing off on the proposal. Bitwise has indicated that it might try again, but at a much later date.

On October 6, Bitcoin SV (BSV) reached a new milestone. A review of blockchain activity revealed that BSV had surpassed BTC in the total number of transactions per day. That day, BSV saw 290,000 transactions, while BTC saw 288,000. One of the biggest reasons for the increase comes from the difference in transaction fees. An average BTC transaction will set someone back around $51.42, while the average cost for a BSV transaction is just $0.31.

If there were any questions about how Bank of America (BoA) views the future of digital currency, things were just cleared up a little. BoA had long been a staunch opponent to anything having to do with crypto, but then began to seek blockchain patents and explore the fringes of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Its latest move leaves zero doubt about what is coming, as it has recently completed a recruitment action that was launched to find a Ripple expert to work in-house. The individual, according to BoA’s LinkedIn job posting, would “lead the project management team for the Ripple Project.”

Lichtenstein is still determined to be a leading financial hub, even if that hub centers on digital currency and not fiat. The country’s Parliament just approved a new Blockchain Act, which will give better protection to companies and investors, and will almost certain attract a lot of activity to the mid-Europe country.

Bitcoin SV is a safety beacon in the turbulent tides of the cryptocurrency chaos

Bitcoin SV a safety beacon in the turbulent tides of cryptocurrency chaos

There is a lot going on in the Bitcoin ecosystem right now. So much that it is sometimes hard to keep up. There are multiple scandals popping up constantly – OneCoin is being sued by an investor after it was revealed that the cryptocurrency was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and another fraudster used crowdfunding investments to purchase Bitcoin Core (BTC). As scandalous and embarrassing as these two are, though, they still pale in comparison to what has been making crypto headlines every day for the past week. The Bitfinex/Tether debacle, which has now potentially ensnared Binance, is taking center stage and shows how the top cryptocurrencies are apparently willing to play their own games in order to maintain their control and positions. All the top cryptocurrencies – except one.

Bitcoin SV (BSV) has stayed its course, ensuring that the original Bitcoin stays alive. While everyone else goes off to create their own crypto solution, ignoring the fundamentals of digital currency established by Satoshi Nakamoto, BSV is proudly not veering away, understanding completely what’s at stake.

To that end, BSV has had to suffer in certain aspects. It hasn’t seen the monumental price increases that many incorrectly associate with a crypto’s true value. In fact, BSV is now trading below its utility value, but this is still not a foreboding of rough seas ahead.

BSV is doing what no other digital token is doing. It is scaling to levels that BTC and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) developers said weren’t possible or weren’t needed on an active blockchain. However, the ability to scale results in BSV having real, tangible utility value. By contrast, those digital currency platforms that are not scaling – including BTC and BCH, among others – have become 100% speculative offerings. As such, they are all subject to the whims of traders and could crash to almost zero at any time. This has already been seen on more than one occasion.

The surest guarantee against speculative trading is a utility token. This translates into BSV being the only safe haven in the current uncertain environment and the only alternative that is safe from tanking as a result of the Binance and Bitfinex fiascos that are sure to turn the crypto market upside down.

Bitcoin SV could surge as Bitfinex and Tether scandal unravels

Bitcoin SV could surge as Bitfinex and Tether scandal unravels

Despite a major scandal going on at one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, the price of Bitcoin Core (BTC) continues to climb, nearing $6,000 at the time of publishing. More people are now asking if the cause of the increasing price could be market manipulation. Just as importantly, when everything comes to light, will we see a rebound in price for Bitcoin SV (BSV)? 

Ethereum World News (EWN) looked into the potential manipulation on May 6, also wondering if something fishy is going on. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the market isn’t behaving the way you would expect considering the Bitfinex scandal.

First, considering Bitfinex has played fast and loose with Tether, using $900 million of it to cover up their own $850 million loss, there are questions as to why other exchanges, including Binance, continue to list Tether. Binance and Kraken were quick to delist BSV over the legal actions of Dr. Craig Wright, which is insignificant when considering a potential fraudulent cover up amounting to nearly a billion dollars.

As Chico Crypto has revealed, there are so many big players in the game who have something to gain by protecting Tether, in the case of Bitfinex, or by abusing it, in the case of Binance. Whatever their intentions are, as long as they continue to protect Tether, which doesn’t seem to be fully backed by fiat, the price of BTC is artificially inflated to the point of increasing in price.

While questions will persist about the actual value of BTC until all of this gets sorted out, and even then, questions will persist so long as the players remain involved, the greater impacts of their market manipulation might see reversals as they fall from grace.

When Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao unilaterally decided to delist BSV, the price of that token quickly decreased. Kraken and other exchanges followed suit. But now that allegations are surfacing, specifically for Binance, that they are protecting Tether to protect the current price of BTC and other altcoins, it’s entirely fair to speculate that they are choosing which coins to pump, and which to hold back.

Furthermore, the time is quickly approaching when Wright will be given his chance in court to prove he was the man behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. As EWN noted, Wright has been asked to reveal BTC addresses from the time shortly after Dave Kleiman’s death to a Florida court. Not only that, but he’s chosen to fight trolls who call him a fraud, and in doing so he will prove to UK courts that he was the true creator of Bitcoin.

When Wright lays down all his cards, the world will have all the proof it needs to know that he is the real deal, and the price of BSV should respond accordingly. Combined with the great development and progress being made by the BSV team, this makes it a great investment, as prices should grow healthily.

At the same time, the world will be finding out just how deep the corruption goes with Bitfinex, Tether, and other BTC manipulators. Their house of cards might not entirely topple right away; there’s too many people involved who will fight to keep it standing. Revealed for what they really are though, the world will know who has had the best interests of Bitcoin in mind all along, and who’s been running the biggest con the crypto world has ever seen.

Bitcoin BCH protocol upgrade: Which groups offer 'neutral' choice?

Bitcoin BCH protocol upgrade: Which groups offer ‘neutral’ choice?

At around 4:40 p.m. UTC on November 15, the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network will undergo its scheduled protocol upgrade. Unlike last May, this upgrade involves two technical proposals—Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision) and Bitcoin ABC.

Bitcoin SV, a new full node implementation for Bitcoin BCH, is designed to specifically advance the Satoshi Vision of Bitcoin’s original protocol, with a plan for faster scaling to bigger blocks on BCH. Bitcoin SV will raise the maximum default block size from its current 32MB to 128MB—another step toward massive on-chain scaling—in addition to re-enabling of the original “Satoshi” set of op_codes, particularly OP_MUL, OP_LSHIFT, OP_RSHIFT, and OP_INVERT.

The goal of Bitcoin SV is to give BCH miners another choice—one that competes with other existing BCH implementations like Bitcoin ABC, which is pushing for a canonical transaction ordering rule (CTOR) that is not only risky to implement, but is also unproven in providing its claimed benefits.

The recent preview for the stress test scheduled for November 17 has already validated the growing hash support for Bitcoin SV, which is the first BCH implementation to cross over 50% estimated hash support since Coin Dance began reporting such data in advance of the November 15 protocol upgrade. As of press time, Bitcoin SV is already seeing a huge jump in estimated hash rate—about 72-75% compared with Bitcoin ABC’s 16-27%, according to data from Coin Dance.

It’s worth noting, however, that blockchain research and development firm nChain is not seeking a Bitcoin variant with Bitcoin SV, it’s simply providing another choice for BCH miners. Still, this hasn’t stopped groups from taking a side. Here at CoinGeek, we are highlighting the platforms that have opted for a neutral stance, offering their users the chance to put their money where they believe Bitcoin BCH is headed.

Poloniex leads the pack

Poloniex is one of the earliest exchanges to offer pre-fork trading for BCH mined with Bitcoin SV (BCHSV), as well as that using Bitcoin ABC (BCHABC) implementation.

In a statement, the Circle-owned exchange said, “We believe the responsible thing to do in this case is remain neutral and allow the community to decide which chain to support, and we want to empower the community to demonstrate their support through trading activity.

Following in the footsteps of Poloniex is Bitfinex, which assured users that it will complete a full account snapshot of Bitcoin Cash balances at 4:40 p.m. UTC. Deposits and withdrawals of BCH on the platform will be suspended effective 3:30 p.m. UTC.

“Bitfinex will not advocate for or against any particular fork, and miners have full prerogative to commit their hashing power to whichever projects they choose. At the time of writing, we do not believe that there is sufficient consensus to identify a clear winner in the Bitcoin Cash hard fork,” the exchange wrote in a blog post.

Crypto Facilities also suspended deposits and withdrawals of BCH as of 10 a.m. UTC “for an extended period of time to avoid any adverse impact of network instability on BCH deposits and transfers.”

The platform said BCH transfers will resume once Crypto Facilities has determined “…at our sole discretion, that network stability is satisfactory and a clear consensus has emerged for BCH. If you would like to control how you handle the upgrade, the best option is for you to withdrawal your BCH so you are in control of your private keys.”

In a bid “to protect customer funds,” Coins.ph, the crypto wallet service operating in the Philippines, will also suspend sending, receiving, and conversion functionality on the Coins.ph BCH Wallet two hours before the protocol upgrade. It will also halt all BCH trading on Coins Pro (BCH-PHP and BCH-BTC markets) and will cancel any open BCH-related orders. Service will be reinstated on the Coins.ph BCH Wallet and Coins Pro platforms once “the protocol upgrade is in a stable state.”

According to Coins.ph, “At the moment of the fork, the Coins team will save a record of customer BCH balances. In the event that the minority fork produces tokens that are deemed to have long-term viability, Coins.ph would consider whether or not it would be feasible to return these funds to customers, as we have done with certain forks in the past. The viability of any tokens resulting from minority BCH proposals during this fork will be assessed based on its broader industry support, hash power, and value.

Meanwhile, Asia-facing cryptocurrency exchange BitAsiaEx has opened trading pairs for BCHSV as well as BCHABC. Starting November 12, users of the platform can trade BCHSV or BCHABC against BTC, CNY, and BCH, or they can also convert 1 BCH to 1 BCH (SV) + 1 BCH (ABC) for trading.

HitBTC will also support pre-fork trading of BCHSV and BCHABC. On its website, the platform noted, “Starting from November 15, 15:00 UTC, an hour before the fork, all BCH deposits will be automatically converted to BCHABC + BCHSV in 1 to 1+1 ratio.” Withdrawals for BCH will be stopped at 15:30 UTC, followed by separate deposits enabled for BCHSV and BCHABC. Withdrawals for the two coins will be enabled after the network is stabilized.

Bittrex, meanwhile, assures its users that it “will take all reasonable steps to ensure that customer funds can be preserved on both chains.” The platform has already suspended withdrawals and deposits of Bitcoin BCH on November 14, and the wallet will remain closed “until the hard fork block is complete and it is deemed safe to open.”

Other platforms that have suspended deposits, withdrawals, and trading ahead of the BCH protocol upgrade include CoinBene, ZB.com, Bibox, Ledger, and Jaxx. On its website, Jaxx announced it will “support the chain that has the most hash power following the fork,” noting that “at this time, we do not plan to support any of the additional chains.”

Follow the Bitcoin Way

After the protocol upgrade, Bitcoin BCH with Bitcoin SV will finally come of age—no longer a dev experiment, but a mining-backed project. If you’re interested in seeing the true original power of Bitcoin, we recommend you to join the bComm Association and to also come to the CoinGeek Week conference from November 28-30 (with a special advance Miner’s Day on November 27), the perfect venue to meet the thought leaders and discuss the implications of the worlds first Bitcoin Hash War fought according to Nakamoto Consensus. Be part of the community that wants to let the original Bitcoin show the world its true power as sound money and so much more.

Fake Twitter profile busted for imitating official crypto accounts

Fake Twitter profile busted for imitating official crypto accounts

The old saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” This might be true in some cases, but it’s not always appreciated. A Twitter profile that has been busted for mimicking not just one, but six different accounts. While it’s still not known who is behind the deeds, it should only be a matter of time before the mask is ripped off.

On Twitter, verified accounts are denoted by a blue checkmark, worn like a badge on the profile. An article published on Wednesday by The Next Web, however, showed that the system is seriously flawed. It started with an innocuous account, that of independent film producer and director Seif Elsbei. Elsbei’s Twitter account, @seifsbei, prominently displays the blue badge, and was determined to be posing as the official Verge cryptocurrency account. Having nothing to do with crypto, it was rather odd that posts began appearing by the @seifsbei account that seemed to be promoting the altcoin.

As it turns out, Elsbei’s account had been the target of hackers and, due to the fact that verified accounts can change their handle on the fly, his profile became the @vergecurrency account. After gaining access to the account, the hacker or hackers could easily manipulate it to be identified as any other Twitter user.

After spending a little time as Verge, the account then transformed to become Bitfinex. Seeing an odd pattern of tweets from the account, the Twitter world did a little digging and was able to trace four other copycat accounts to the same hacked profile. Before the Verge and Bitfinex imitations, Elsbei’s profile had been used as a Bittrex profile and even that of Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin. Additionally, evidence popped up showing that the profile had emulated the @bitcoin and the Tron project accounts.

Digging a little deeper it was also revealed that Elsbei’s account was tweeting almost solely in Arabic before the beginning of this week, a possible clue to the origin of the hackers. Elsbei confirmed through his Facebook profile that he had, indeed, been the target of a hack, and that he was working with Twitter to try and put everything back in order.

CoinDesk attempted to make contact with the hacker, but didn’t get a response. As of now, the account has a name of “.” and has gone silent. It doesn’t appear that any real damage was done, but some lowlife certainly seems to have a lot of time on his hands, and not much common sense.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Is Bitfinex conducting fraud? Poland thinks so

Is Bitfinex conducting fraud? Poland thinks so

An account that is possibly associated with cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has had its assets frozen at a bank in Skierniewice, Poland, according to local reports. TVP reported the seizure of the account, worth approximately $491,000, comes as regulators believe the account was tied to Colombian drug cartels. However, the seizure is pre-emptive, and there has not yet been conclusive evidence to support the allegations.

The money is said to have been the result of fraud conducted against the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and comes from construction of an embassy being built in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The account is only one of several belonging to two companies that are currently under investigation by Polish prosecutors. Combined, the accounts reportedly hold as much as $371 million.

One of the companies is reportedly owned by an individual of Panamanian and Canadian descent, and is registered in Pruszków, Poland. The other company is allegedly run by a man who holds dual citizenship in both Panama and Colombia.

According to the investigation, documents posted on the Internet allegedly have Bitfinex sending customers to an account at the Cooperative Bank in Skierniewice. A Bitfinex user was supposedly interrogated by Polish police last week and testified that he had been a witness in the case of “Crypto sp z o.o” who was sent money from Bitfinex after the entity’s accounts had been blocked.

A report that was published on Skierniewice’s Nasze miasto (our city) website alleged that “Crypto zp z o.o,” which is owned by Crypto Capital Corp., is connected to drug networks and that criminals could have used the bank accounts to launder fiat through cryptocurrency. There have been no charges yet, but Polish prosecutors are currently working with Interpol and Europol to determine if there is enough evidence to arrest the individuals.

This isn’t the first time that Bitfinex has found itself in hot water. The cryptocurrency exchange, along with its sister company Tether, were subpoenaed by U.S. regulators in December for reasons that were not published. Wells Fargo & Co. dropped out as a correspondent bank for Bitfinex in 2017, which resulted in the exchange suing the financial clearing house. That lawsuit was subsequently dropped unceremoniously by Bitfinex.

Tether has come under fire for concerns that it has been operating a fractional reserve. Claims have been circulating the exchange covers its reserve deficit not through its own reserves but, rather, through Bitfinex. When Tether severed relations with an independent auditor in January, those concerns were reinforced.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

source: https://coingeek.com/bitfinex-conducting-fraud-poland-thinks/

Bitfinex in talks to move business to Switzerland: report

Bitfinex in talks to move business to Switzerland: report

Bitfinex, the fifth largest cryptocurrency trading exchange platform, is reportedly planning to cut its relations with Asia and move its offices to Switzerland.

News of Bitfinex moving to Switzerland was first reported by Handelszeitung. In an interview with the Swiss news outlet, CEO Jean Louis van der Velde said the Hong Kong-based trading exchange and its parent company, iFinex, are “looking for a new domicile,” where they can “merge the operations previously spread over several locations.”

Bitfinex already had several meetings with the top leader of Switzerland to solidify its move to the country, according to the report. The meetings were to ensure Bitfinex follows the law and establish its new office without hitches. Van der Velde said Bitfinex is also considering London as another option.

Moving from Asia to Europe would require Bitfinex to shut down its offices in Hong Kong, with iFinex forming a new public company. If all goes according to plan, Bitfinex will have its core businesses headquartered in Switzerland, according to van der Velde.

The decision to relocate comes around a time when Bitfinex is being hounded by controversies, most recently about an alleged pump conspiracy with Tether. Van der Velde told the Swiss news outlet: “We want to be the most transparent of all exchanges and meet the requirements of the Swiss regulator.”

Bitfinex isn’t the only crypto company that is looking to relocate. Last week, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance—the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by traded volume—confirmed reports that it is planning to open an office in Malta and possibly soon start a “fiat-to-crypto exchange” on the European island nation. Binance founder Zhao Changpeng said the company is close to securing a deal with local banks that can provide access to deposits and withdrawals. The move could be seen as an effort by Binance to escape serious regulatory issues which it encountered in China and Japan recently.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

source: https://coingeek.com/bitfinex-talks-move-business-switzerland-report/

Bitfinex passes up on listing Venezuela's Petro token

Bitfinex passes up on listing Venezuela’s Petro token

One of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinex, has refused to list the first cryptocurrency backed by Venezuela’s crude oil reserves, Petro (PTR), in its platform.

On Tuesday, Bitfinex issued a statement in which it raised two concerns with regards to Petro. The first is that Petro offers limited utility, and that listing it can be seen as an attempt to circumvent legitimate sanctions against the Venezuelan government.

If you recall, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order last week banning American citizens from dealing with the Venezuelan cryptocurrency. The notice specifically ordered all U.Ss citizens from financing any token produced by the Central Bank of Venezuela, the state-owned oil company PdVSA, or any entity owned, controlled or acting on behalf of the Venezuelan government.

“We have never had plans to include the PTR or similar tokens in the Bitfinex trading platform,” the exchange said. Bitfinex also warned its employees and contractors against transacting in Petro or other digital tokens that go against the sanctions given by the United States, effective immediately.

Bitfinex’s announcement comes on the heels of a Time report, which revealed that the Russian government and businessmen had worked together with the Venezuelan government to launch the Petro. According to the report, the Russian government has been for a long time looking for means to get rid of the sanctions imposed on them after they invaded Ukraine. There have been efforts by the Russian elite to use cryptocurrency to lift the existing sanctions and prevent any future sanctions by the Western countries. The involvement with launching Petro was reported as one of the efforts against sanctions in Russia. Russia’s minister of finance has denied the report.

The Venezuelan state-backed digital currency was launched in February, attracting over $5 million during the pre-sale period, according to local reports. People are still purchasing this token by using Chinese yuan, Turkish lira, euro, and Russian rubles. They can also pay for the token using other cryptocurrencies like legacy Bitcoin (BTC), Ether, Litecoin, or Ethereum.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

source: https://coingeek.com/bitfinex-passes-listing-venezuelas-petro-token/

Anonymous Bitfinex critic hires lawyer after receiving threats

Anonymous Bitfinex critic hires lawyer after receiving threats

Blogger @bitfinex’ed prepares for possible legal face-off with Bitfinex.

Over the past year or so, the anonymous blogger @bitfinex’ed has been an active critic of Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex, writing investigative articles that expose suspicious actions by Bitfinex and Tether, as well as supporting proofs.

So far, @bitfinex’ed has been hitting a few nails right on the head. Last year, the blogger alleged that Bitfinex and Tether were run by the same people, despite former Bitfinex CTO Craig Sellars claiming that they are just a customer of Tether. In November, a massive leak of documents involving 120,000 companies and individuals, referred to as the Paradise Papers, confirmed this.

In December last year, after being subpoenaed by the CFTC (Commodities Futures Trading Commission), Tether finally posted a list of their team members on their website, confirming that they are being run by the same people running Bitfinex.

Long-time anonymous Bitfinex critic hires lawyer after receiving threats, warns Bitfinex

The blog also brought to light questions on where the companies are banking, as well as allegations of running a Ponzi scheme, wash trading, and speculations on why they would not allow an audit have also been brought to the surface. Probably the most damning and damaging for the cryptocurrency trade, however, was the allegation that Tethers (USDT) are not backed by US dollars at all—that Tether and Bitfinex are using their resources to collaborate on a synchronized pump of the price of BTC using fraudulent Tethers.

Unsurprisingly, the blog has been applauded by some, while receiving antagonism from others. It has even become one of the go-to resources for speculation on what is going on with Bitfinex and Tether. The blogger’s Twitter account now has 41,200 followers as of last checking.

Obviously, such a blog will not go unnoticed not only by avid supporters of USDT, but by the target companies Bitfinex/Tether themselves. The blogger has apparently been on the receiving end of threats, and has hired DC lawyer Steven Palley in preparation for a possible legal face-off with the companies. And while it is yet to be proved whether Bitfinex and Tether had anything to do with the threats the blogger has been receiving, Palley has already sent Bitfinex legal counsel Stuart Hoegner a firm warning.

“As you know, threats have been made and continue to be made against @bitfinex’ed. If we learn that your client is directly or indirectly responsible for these threats, or if any harm should take place to @bitfinex’ed as a result of these threats, there will be legal consequences.”

This isn’t the first time blogger @bitfinex’ed had to face backlash for the blog. Last month, the blogger’s Twitter account was suspended, and @bitfinex’ed went on Reddit alleging that Bitfinex was behind the suspension. “Some people just don’t like their scams being exposed,” the blogger, going by the user name AtlasRand1, wrote in the post. The account was quickly restored hours after, with a Twitter spokesperson dismissing it as an innocent mix up.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Rick Levin on cryptocurrency crime: the days of crypto-anarchy are numbered

Rick Levin on cryptocurrency crime: the days of crypto-anarchy are numbered

We interviewed law veteran Rick Levin on some of the most pressing issues surrounding the cryptocurrency space.

As the blockchain industry moves forward, it is not unforeseen that there would be bumps along the way. But what we may have not foreseen was the gravity of these bumps—the damages caused by hacks have hit the 11-digit mark. As of December last year, Reuters estimated this figure to be around $15 billion for BTC alone, with recent hacks adding to the total sum for cryptocurrencies overall, and with probably more to come.

Apart from the obvious cryptocurrency hacks and cybercrime, there are other, far less conspicuous criminals on the loose—and their crimes far harder to prove. With token creation becoming easier even for those with no coding background, pump and dump ICO’s have become rampant—by anonymous or otherwise unverified entities no less.

We turned to law veteran Rick Levin, chair of the FinTech and Regulation Practice at the AmLaw 100 law firm Polsinelli whose more than 20 years of experience with large investment firms and encyclopedic knowledge of the FinTech industry and regulatory environment the world needs now more than ever. Below, he gives his insights to some of the most pressing issues surrounding the cryptocurrency industry.

 Exit scams

 Exit scams are now becoming a disturbing trend, with ICO founders bailing out shortly after an explosively lucrative token sale and using “hacks” as a scapegoat for their closure. Proving this would be difficult due to the anonymity (or pseudonymity) of wallet addresses—for all we know, the founders hacked their own platform. How are regulators equipping themselves to possibly eradicate such a practice given the technical gaps?

What you call exit scams and others refer to as pump and dump schemes are a serious issue.  While the pseudonymity afforded by blockchain technology is a cornerstone of its development, it offers unscrupulous users the ability to attempt to conceal their identity.  However, as was the case with Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road who used the pseudonym, Dread Pirate Roberts, the government was able to ascertain his identity, arrest and criminal prosecute him.  Mr. Ulbricht is now serving two life sentences in a federal correctional facility.

The SEC and CFTC will be unable to eradicate the use of blockchain technology for nefarious purposes.  However, the agencies will use their ability to ask for an emergency court order to freeze the assets and the accounts of parties the agencies believe have violated the law.  The agencies can also ask a court to enter an order permanently enjoining the alleged violations of law.  If the agencies believe the parties have committed a criminal violation of the securities or commodities laws, they will make a referral to the Department of Justice which can initiate a criminal prosecution and arrange for the parties to be taken into custody by the FBI.

 Trade manipulation

 Trade manipulation is a serious allegation that can be hard to prove. In such cases like the Tether-Bitfinex trade manipulation and pump allegations, how can law enforcers definitively prove or disprove illegal practices?

The SEC and the CFTC are charged with maintaining market integrity and protection of the investing public.  The agencies have considerable investigatory resources they can marshal to prove market manipulation and fraud.  In many cases blockchain data, trading records on crypto exchanges, email and instant messaging communications, and bank records can be used to establish the manipulation.

Ponzi schemes

Big-time Ponzi schemes like Bitconnect and Davor, while they take advantage of new technology for their schemes, aren’t exactly new. Could regulators have taken them down earlier, before they amassed so much money and gained enough influence to matter? If so, why didn’t enforcers do that?

The agencies are working hard to deal with the flood of ICOs and other digital assets that are being launched by legitimate and nefarious actors.  I do not believe regulators could have prevented scammers from launching their offerings.

Bitconnect and Davor – promoters, founders, and members

 If there will be any prosecution against similar companies, how wide is the scope of that prosecution—will it be just the founders, or will promoters and members be included? After all, they all were involved in the pyramid scheme regardless of whether they realize it or not.

Any civil or criminal action against the issuer will more than likely also identify the officers of the issuer of the digital asset and any third parties they hired to solicit potential investors.  Parties that engage in sales of securities without a registration or an exemption from registration may be subject to enforcement actions by the SEC, relevant state regulators, as well as investor actions for rescission. The SEC and the state regulators have authority to enforce respective federal and state securities laws through administrative proceedings, civil court proceedings, and referrals for criminal prosecutions.

The SEC can bring an action in court and seek permanent or temporary injunction or a restraining order against a party that has violated the securities laws.  In addition to an injunction, the SEC may also seek civil penalties and equitable relief for such violation.  The SEC may transmit such evidence of securities laws violations to the attorney general, who may, in his or her discretion, institute the necessary criminal proceedings under the securities laws.

Anonymity and fake profiles

 This is perhaps, one of the biggest challenges regulators and enforcers now face. In an age where anonymity and fake profiles have been quite efficient in protecting criminals, how do regulators plan to fight back?

The SEC, the CFTC, and the Department of Justice have considerable capabilities to investigate and identify parties that are engaging in civil or criminal violations of the securities and commodities laws.  While cryptographers may think they can evade detection of their illegal activities, the government will eventually catch up with them.

Balancing legislation

 Are regulators zeroing in on a framework that would circumvent technical gaps and vulnerabilities while also balancing the freedom that blockchains provide—such as in the tug-of-war between privacy (anonymity) and security (transparency, KYC/AML)?

Members of Congress in both parties are currently struggling with this issue.  There is a desire to promote innovation and a fear that certain technologies may facilitate criminal activities, money laundering and terrorist financing.  It is difficult to predict where Congress and the President will come out on these issues.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Bitfinex builds EOS-powered ‘high performance’ exchange EOSfinex

Bitfinex builds EOS-powered ‘high performance’ exchange EOSfinex

A new decentralized platform is in the works for cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, and it’s one that promises to enable “fast, transparent and trustless” trading of digital assets.

In a Medium post, the exchange announced that it has teamed up with EOS.IO, a blockchain protocol for decentralized applications. The partnership will utilize the EOS.IO technology to build EOSfinex, a first-of-its-kind high performance decentralized exchange.

Block.one-published EOS.IO is a blockchain protocol that can be used to develop decentralized applications. It’s similar to Ethereum in the sense that it is also a smart contract enabled hosting platform targeting open-source projects. EOS, however, aims to offer a more scalable blockchain that can be used for large-scale businesses. The EOS.IO software provides accounts, authentication, databases, and the scheduling of applications across multiple CPU cores and/or clusters, according to Block.one.

The plan, according to Bitfinex, is to combine the scalability and speed of EOS.IO with the company’s expertise to deliver an “on chain” decentralized exchange—one that uses digital tokens instead of fiat currencies for trading. Decentralized exchanges are slowly gaining popularity among cryptocurrency enthusiasts due to their multiple benefits, including eliminating the single point of failure problem commonly seen in centralized exchanges.

“A continuous goal of Bitfinex has been to research and sandbox the capabilities of various protocol-level technologies that meet the rigorous requirements of a high volume, blockchain-based trading platform. This vision has led us to EOS.IO, whose goal of processing tens of thousands of transactions per seconds, with minimal fees and confirmation times, is heavily aligned with our ambition,” the cryptocurrency exchange said in its post.

Bitfinex is one of the largest crypto exchanges by trading volume. Despite its popularity, the exchange has also been criticized for its connection with Tether, which is believed to have been issuing USDT tokens without being covered by the U.S. dollar. Recently, Bitfinex has also been hit with reports that its U.S.-based corporate investors had a hard time accessing the site’s margin trading facility.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
US corporate investors shut out of Bitfinex margin trading

US corporate investors shut out of Bitfinex margin trading

Corporate investors in the United States reported difficulties accessing Bitfinex’s margin trading facility, in the wake of news that the exchange was shutting margin services for individual investors.

According to comments posted from several corporate investors on Reddit over the past few days, Bitfinex margin facilities appeared to have been closed to their investments, despite prior reassurances from the exchange.

When Bitfinex terminated margin trading services to U.S. individuals back in November, they specified explicitly that corporate investors would not be affected and would continue to enjoy uninterrupted access to trading cryptocurrency markets on margin.

However, following the slew of comments on Reddit and elsewhere, it now appeared as though the situation may have changed suddenly over the past few days.

For some investors on Reddit in particular, the disruption caused significant difficulties, including an inability to manage open positions.

“We’ve had a corporate account with Bitfinex since early 2017 and [are] approved for both exchange, margin, and funding. […] We’ve been making 6-figure trades on margin and currently have 2 margin positions open. On Feb 7th, […] we were locked out of margin trading. No explanation or warning of why our account can’t trade on margin,” according to one Reddit user.

“Worst yet, we can’t manage our margin positions. Not good in this very volatile market. We’ve received a couple of liquidation warning emails as the market dived down yesterday. We sent a support ticket […] and probably over 7 emails. No response from Bitfinex. It appears that they haven’t even opened any of the emails,” another use said.

Shortly thereafter, a response was posted to these concerns, advising that the issue had been forwarded for immediate attention. Interestingly, the representative from Bitfinex explained that U.S. corporate investors should not be trading on margin—creating further confusion.

At the time of writing, it remained unclear whether Bitfinex has changed its policy, and whether any change will be a temporary or permanent measure. Nevertheless, the confusion has been causing concern among margin traders, including investors with significant margin positions in often volatile cryptocurrency markets. While the matter remains unresolved, corporate customers were likely to remain concerned about the future of their open positions, and their margin facilities.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.