Bitcoin (BTC) has a substantial liberating potential, American mainstream newspaper Time reports on Dec. 28.

The aforementioned article claims that “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”

According to the article’s author, Bitcoin “can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”

Alejandro Machado, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Open Money Initiative, reportedly said that the fee on a wire transfer from the United States to Venezuela can be as high as 56 percent.

To circumvent such conditions, Venezuelans have reportedly turned to cryptocurrency, receiving Bitcoin from their relatives abroad. The main alternative is to wire money to Colombia, withdraw and bring cash to Venezuela, which according to the article, “can take far longer, cost more, and be far more dangerous than the Bitcoin option.”

Times suggests that Bitcoin is a good way to protect oneself from fiat currency inflation. Venezuela is prime example of that, with the inflation of their native currency projected to top 1 million percent. But there are also other similar examples, like Zimbabwe, where former president Robert Mugabe “printed endless amounts of cash.” But the author points out:

“His successors can’t print more Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin is also, according to the article, a tool to evade mass surveillance in places like China. That being said, as Cointelegraph reported in March, according to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, Bitcoin isn’t optimal for avoiding government coercion, and he believes that the world needs a better option.

Times also points out the advantage given by the inability of governments to censor transactions or freeze Bitcoin wallets. In fact, Cointelegraph reported in April that WikiLeaks’ Coinbase account has been suspended due to a term of service violation.

Still, nobody can prevent WikiLeaks from using cryptocurrency wallets where the organization controls the private keys. In fact, WikiLeaks is still accepting cryptocurrency donations and also added support for Snowden’s favorite crypto Zcash in August 2017.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

An American bitcoin trader has been arrested in the Philippines for allegedly killing his girlfriend and dumping her body in a river.

Well-known bitcoin trader and Californian native Troy Woody Jr. was arrested together with Brooklyn native Mir Islam over the murder of Tomi Michelle Masters, according to the Daily Mail. The two are accused of suffocating Tomi, who hailed from Indiana, with a plastic bag before stuffing her body in a box and dumping it in Manila’s Pasig River.

Tragic End of Vacation

bitcoin trader philippines

CCTV footage that has been released shows the two men loading a huge box into the back of a ride operated by Asian taxi-hailing service and Uber-competitor Grab. While the two have confessed to dumping the body in the river, they both accuse the other of the murder, per the head superintendent of Mandaluyong City Police Custodial Facility, Igmedio Bernaldez:

We have yet to establish the motive. The three were here on vacation. If you ask the boyfriend, he will point to his friend as the killer. But if you ask the other suspect, he will say it was his friend who killed her. They are being questioned and the home they were staying at is being searched for evidence.

The suspicious behavior of the two was reported to the police by the cab driver. When the police searched the river, they found Tomi’s body which was wound in duct tape and covered in scratches. A post-mortem indicated that she died of suffocation, according to police. Troy and Tomi had been sharing an apartment in Manila after they moved to the Philippines from California.

According to friends, Tomi and Troy had a falling out earlier this month, and this emanated from Tomi’s desire to return to Indiana where she originally was from. Per Tomi’s father, Shawn Masters, Islam was of the view that if Tomi left for Indiana, Troy would follow her and consequently disrupt their ventures:

Islam needed TJ — he was the brains behind whatever it was they were doing.

‘Early Crypto Investor’

After their arrest, the two men indicated that they were both chief executive officers of Delaware-registered cryptocurrency trading firm known as Luxr LLC. On Twitter where he has more than 17,000 followers, Troy’s profile simply reads “Early Crypto Investor.” Troy’s following on Instagram is many times larger at 250,000, and in both accounts, he has documented a taste for luxuries including Swiss watches, Christian Louboutin shoes, and Dom Perignon champagne.

One of the cryptocurrency trades that Troy celebrated last year was buying Litecoin at US$50 and selling it at US$80 managing to turn a profit of US$24,000 in 11 days.

Besides trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Troy is also believed to be a core member of online mischief-making group UGNazi alongside Islam. Two years ago Islam received a 12-month prison sentence for crimes that included swatting (calling police with false information in order for SWAT teams to raid homes of particular targets), cyber-stalking, and exposing the privileged personal data of his victims online.

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Bitcoin and other forms of crypto may be falling in price, but people are still taking their earnings and investing in cryptocurrency projects. The most recent one comes by way of Madison Holdings Group, a Hong Kong stock exchange-listed wine company. The venture has just purchased shares in BitOcean, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange.

BitOcean is one of Japan’s 16 fully licensed crypto trading platforms, having recently garnered full approval from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). Madison Lab – a subsidiary company of Madison Holdings – has acquired roughly 67 percent of BitOcean, spending about $30 million in the process.

Crypto Investments Remain as Popular as Ever

Madison’s chairman Raymond Ting Pang-wan explains that the maneuver was all part of the company’s attempts to diversify itself and build its investment portfolio:

“Our wine business is stable and profitable, but then it is small. It is hard to make wine trading into a very big business. That’s why we have to diversify into financial technology and the cryptocurrency business – to achieve a better return for our shareholders.”

Despite being home to two of the world’s largest cryptocurrency thefts – Mt. Gox and Coincheck – Japan is, and remains a powerful cryptocurrency hub. The country’s FSA pledged to become more involved in crypto-based operations following the Coincheck debacle in January 2018, an event that saw more than $500 million in cryptocurrency funds disappear overnight.

The FSA began issuing warnings to several cryptocurrency exchanges, claiming that they would now have to undergo a registration process to continue their operations and that they would be required to improve their safety protocols or face being shut down.

This regulatory framework and Japan’s ongoing pro-crypto attitude is why, according to Pang-wan, now was the best time to obtain a stake in the crypto arena:

“Japan represents about 20 percent of bitcoin trading worldwide. Japan and the United States are the only two markets that have a licensing system for such trading platforms. We wanted to invest in a platform that was under proper regulation.”

Crypto Investments Everywhere

In a related story, HDR Global Trading – which owns the BitMEX Exchange in Hong Kong – is now looking into purchasing a 51 percent stake in Madison Labs. The deal has not taken part at press time, though it’s estimated the purchase will cost roughly $17 million.

Unlike Japan and the U.S., Hong Kong has yet to enforce an official licensing structure for cryptocurrency-related businesses, though it’s now working on a temporary system that would slowly begin to introduce regulatory tactics.

Will a deal like this cause competing companies to invest in crypto? Post your comments below.

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

South Korean electronics giant Samsung is apparently seeking a trademark in the United Kingdom for a cryptocurrency wallet, according to a Dec. 27 filing with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office.

In the “Classes and terms” section of the application, Samsung cites such developments as “Computer software for use as a cryptocurrency wallet; Computer software for cryptocurrency transfer and payment using blockchain technology; Computer application software for smartphones, namely, software to allow users to transfer cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology and pay via 3rd party’s application software.”

The application follows rumors — subsequently refuted by Samsung —  that the company has plans to include a cryptocurrency cold wallet on its Galaxy S10 smartphone. Samsung filed three European Union trademark applications for blockchain- and cryptocurrency- related software on Dec. 10.

Earlier in December, Cointelegraph reported that major smartphone manufacturer HTC integrated decentralized browser Brave on the HTC Exodus 1 phone, “the first native blockchain phone” with support for multiple blockchains, including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) networks.

Last month, blockchain-focused electronics supplier SIRIN Labs launched its first blockchain-based smartphone called FINNEY. Based on both Android and SIRIN’s open-source operating system, SIRIN OS, the FINNEY phone offers a cold-storage crypto wallet and provides encrypted communications.

In October, Samsung’s production wing, Samsung Foundry, launched a new production process of its 7-nanometer (nm) Low Power Plus (7LPP) process node, which could reduce its energy consumption by up to 50 percent. The chip could purportedly have positive implications for crypto miners usings Samsung’s hardware, as energy costs prove to be a critical factor in the industry’s profitability.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Japan is one of the largest crypto hubs across the globe. Along with the United States, it’s the only country that enforces some sort of licensing structure for companies looking to enter the crypto space, and as it turns out, most companies are looking to get a piece of that action.

According to Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), approximately 190 new cryptocurrency firms are seeking entry to Japan’s digital asset market. Four months ago, that number stood at only 160, suggesting an increase of roughly 30 companies in a relatively short period.

Japan’s Crypto Scene Is Expanding

The FSA has issued a statement, explaining:

“Including preliminary consultation/ inquiries regarding registration, more than 190 operators are expressing their intention of market entry.”

This presents an interesting scenario in the sense that most companies are showing interest in being part of a legit enterprise. Japan’s FSA has sworn to become far more involved in the nation’s crypto arena following the Coincheck debacle that occurred last January. More than $500 million in crypto funds were stolen, and the exchange was widely criticized for its utilization of hot wallet over cold storage tactics.

The FSA then began working with Coincheck and competing exchanges to update their security protocols. The organization also began issuing warnings to exchanges advising them to cooperate with its new licensing structure and explaining that those who refused would face the possibility of shutdown.

There are roughly 16 licensed cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan including GMO Coin and SBI Virtual Currency. All cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the FSA before opening their doors for public trade.

The fact that Japan is being strict with crypto-based businesses and operations, yet so many companies want in suggests that these enterprises strongly desire regulation and a sense of legitimacy. Among the companies looking to perform crypto-related business in Japan are Yahoo!, Daiwa Securities Group, Money Forward Inc., Yamane Medical Corp., Avex Inc. and Samurai & J Partners.

The FSA Is Always Watching

In addition, the FSA has also given approval to Coincheck (following an extensive audit), Lastroots and Everybody’s Bitcoin as cryptocurrency dealers. This gives them and companies like them the opportunity to operate in Japan’s primary crypto sector while their applications are still under review.

Coincheck has slowly been reintroducing its services to customers after it was obtained by the Monex Group just a few months ago.

Are we likely to see other companies banging on Japan’s cryptocurrency doors? Post your thoughts and comments below.

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

Recent research by the Wall Street Journal published Dec. 27 revealed that hundreds of cryptocurrency offerings showed signs of fraudulent activity, improbable returns and plagiarism.

In the course of its research, the WSJ downloaded “white papers” of 3,291 cryptocurrency projects that announced an initial coin offering (ICO) from three websites — ICOBench.com, Tokendata.io and ICORating.com.

A white paper is an informational document issued by a company that describes the company’s position, team biography, and technical specifics of a project, and is designed to be used as a marketing tool for potential investors.

The reporters further conducted an analysis of the documents, excluding duplicate and non-English papers:

“To identify duplicate language, the Journal compared sentences with at least 10 unique words to every other sentence in other white papers. Reporters then read and reviewed nearly 10,000 sentences appearing more than once among the 3,291 papers analyzed and removed technical and legal sounding language. Then, the Journal compared reported offering dates to determine which document first published any given sentence and excluded those projects from this database.”

The analysis reportedly indicated that 16 percent — or 513 — of the aforementioned white papers showed signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of implausible returns. White papers of more than 2,000 of the 3,291 projects contained sentences with luring terms such as “nothing to lose, guaranteed profit, return on investment, highest return, high return, funds profit, no risk and little risk.”

State and federal regulators in the United States have previously cracked down on various offerings with similar language, issuing cease and desist orders and at times filing charges against alleged offenders.

Additionally, the WSJ tried to identify fake team members by reverse image search of photos of people associated with 343 crypto projects, which did not cite key data about team members. Some documents did not list team members at all, so the Journal searched for names appearing in a list of over one million managed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In August, the WSJ claimed in a study that cryptocurrency price manipulation was largely conducted by organized “trading groups” using services such as Telegram. The WSJ suggested that coordinated “pump and dump” schemes had seen traders inflate and crash the prices of various cryptocurrencies this year.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Blockchain could make its way into disaster relief operations from the United States Department of Defense, the organization revealed in a press release Dec. 21.

During a presentation hosted by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) office in Philadelphia earlier this month, officials reviewed how blockchain technology could help emergencies responses.

Efforts to provide aid following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico were used as a case study.

“We think there’s a lot of potential [in blockchain],” CPI management analyst Elijah Londo commented, quoted in the press release:

“Where do we want to be as an organization in shaping and influencing where the [Department of Defense] goes with blockchain?”

The technological improvements would target centralized aspects of the current system, notably areas of logistics that depend on multiple centralized entities. Data sharing under such circumstances is an area ripe for innovation.

Also under review are “transaction processing and in-transit visibility of shipments.”

“This is where I can see where blockchain would have been a big help,” Construction and Equipment deputy director Marko Graham continued:

“Flowing [materiel [sic’ specifications and tracking data] from the manufacturer buying the raw materials to…getting the transportation and getting it on the barges.”

The broader U.S. defense setup has targeted blockchain’s benefits for several years, involving everything from blockchain workshops to a cryptographic chat platform.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

In a bid to accelerate its efficiency and productivity via blockchain technology, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a Mumbai-based conglomerate holding firm that deals in petrochemicals, telecommunications. textiles and more, has invested $5 million into Vakt Holdings Limited, which is a U.K.-based distributed ledger technology (DLT) firm, reported VCCircle on December 24, 2018.

Energy Trading Company Adopts Blockchain Technology

Reliance Industries Limited is primarily focused on the exploration and production of oil and gas, but of recent, their attention has been drawn to blockchain technology.

This is evident in their 5.56 percent equity share in Vakt Holdings Limited which was bought at $5 million.

According to the Mumbai-based company, they aim to digitize their trading processes and also meet the trends in technology. Therefore, they have decided to employ a blockchain solution in their energy markets division to create an ecosystem that is secure and trusted.

While revealing the details of the said investment, RIL mentioned that regulations were not carried out before an agreement ensued between both parties.

Moreover, this is an investment that cannot be categorized under the “related party transactions.”

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Vakt, Formed by the Alliance of Reputable Companies

The U.K.-based startup, on the other hand, is a blockchain venture created in December 2017. It was formed as a result of an alliance with nine major energy companies and banks, including Shell, Statoil, Mercuria,  Societe Generale, and ABN Amro.

As per sources close to the matter, the DLT solution monitors the full life cycle of energy trading, as well a the manual processes of maintaining information on paper, as well as mitigating risks and fostering cost-efficiency.

Although Vakt is still in its development stages, there are plans that member companies will be among the first to gain access to it in 2019. These companies, as well as RIL, will be using it for the trading of oil and gas.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, an arm of Reliance Industries reportedly made it clear that they were also interested in modern technologies a few months ago.

A team was hired to look into the application of nascent technologies such as DLT, artificial intelligence  (AI), and machine learning.

On November 14, 2018, BTCManager reported that Shell and Equinor had sponsored a blockchain-based platform that is aimed at revolutionizing the oil and gas sector. In related news, on December 2, 2018, BTCManager informed the Vakt had been successfully launched, in a first of its kind occurrence for the oil and gas ecosystem.

Blockchain Cuties, one of the most popular crypto collectible games today, is officially launching on Tron Arcade on December 28, making it the first full-features gaming dApp to launch on the platform, BlockTribune reported on December 25, 2018.

Blockchain Cuties Collectibles Game Launches on Tron Arcade

Blockchain Cuties, a crypto collectible game that rose to popularity for being the first Gaming Dapp to achieve interoperability and simultaneous gameplay across multiple blockchains, is officially launching on Tron Arcade.

According to the company, the official launch of Blockchain Cuties on TRON is scheduled for December 28, 2018, making it the first full-featured gaming dapp to launch on the platform.

When Cuties launches on TRON, they will again become the first gaming Dapp to build cross-chain functionality for three different networks, Tron explained in a Medium post. The company noted that this type of operability could help blockchain games realize their potential in delivering a new gaming experience.

Despite being a crypto collectible game at its core, Blockchain Cuties aims to provide a unique experience to its users. There are many strategic elements to the game itself, as each Cutie has a has a unique genome that serves as an analog for human DNA. Arguably the most exciting part of the metagame is to decode the breeding system to create the most valuable and appealing Cutie.

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Tron Arcade has started a pre-sale to prepare for the official launch of the game, where users can buy the Cuties version of the company’s mascot Tronbeary. The pre-sale also features a Cutie version of Justin Sun, Tron’s CEO, with his patented pineapple sneakers.

Tron Actively Trying to Break into Gaming

While blockchain gaming isn’t a new phenomenon, the industry has had a tough time penetrating the lucrative gaming industry for quite some time.

With many of the most popular blockchain networks being too slow to support thousands of users that these games would bring, some industry leaders have focused on building stand-alone systems that would be used only for games.

Tron’s Mainnet managed to solve the issues networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum had when faced with a large scale gaming operation – scalability. To do that, the Tron Foundation launched the Tron Arcade earlier in November and dedicated a $100 million fund that would be used to improve the company’s gaming blockchain.

Tron’s founder and CEO, Justin Sun, commented on the matter in a November press release, saying:

“Tron strives to tackle existing issues faced by the gaming industry by leveraging the open, transparent, and immutability of blockchain technology. Tron Arcade will play a crucial role in encouraging developers to join in our mission and provide the best blockchain gaming experience to users around the world.”

This post is credited to btcmanager

A Taiwanese man suspected of stealing electricity worth over $3 million to mine Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) has been arrested, according to a report from local news channel EBC Dongsen News Dec. 26.

The suspect, whose surname has been given as Yang, has been accused of allegedly stealing the electricity to successfully mine cryptocurrencies worth over 100 million yuan (around $14.5 million). Yang is purported to have used a minimum of 17 various business premises to open toy shops or internet cafes there as a facade for his alleged crypto mining activities.

The report claims Yang hired electricians to rewire the premises in such a way as to evade electricity metering and detection of the stolen power. State-owned utility provider the Taiwan Power Company is reported to have first noticed irregularities in the power supply, prompting a police investigation. In addition to Yang, a suspected accomplice has also been reportedly identified.

Wang Zhicheng, deputy head of the fourth brigade of Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, is quoted by EBC Dongsen News as saying that:

“The [suspects] recruited electricians who managed to break into the sealed meters in order to add in private lines to use electricity for free before that usage reaches the meters.”

Suspected power theft to fuel crypto mining operations is not unprecedented; this October, a man in China’s northern Shanxi province  was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for allegedly stealing power from a train station to fuel his Bitcoin mining operations.

Also in China — this time in the country’s Anhui province — a separate suspect was arrested for attempting to steal electricity to fund his reportedly “unprofitable” mining operations.

This post is credited to cointelegraph