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Bitcoin News Summary – November 12, 2018
Here’s what happened this week in Bitcoin in 99 seconds.
A strong move in Bitcoin Cash price comes in the run-up to the Bitcoin Cash SV hard fork, scheduled this week. On this date, Bitcoin Cash will split into Bitcoin Cash ABC, backed by Jihan Wu, Amaury Sechet, and Roger Ver, and Bitcoin Cash SV, backed by Calvin Ayre and Craig Wright. If you hold BCH, ensure that you’re prepared.
Pure Bit, a South Korean crypto exchange has completely shut down after raising $2.8 million in Ethereum from investors. The exchange posted “Sorry” and “Thanks” to their communications channels and it is suspected that this was a deliberate exist scam from the get go.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is charging the founder of popular decentralized ICO token exchange, EtherDelta, with running an unregistered exchange. As the SEC considers many such ICO tokens to be securities, it requires their trade to be regulated.
The launch of the first crypto exchange to be officially registered in the United Arabs Emirates was announced. The exchange, named “Crypto Bulls,” will be the first of its kind in Dubai.
Finally, Venezuelan demand for bitcoins has reached a new peak. Over 1,000 BTC per week are trading over LocalBitcoins in Venezuela. Also, the government revealed it will propose its national crypto, the Petro, to OPEC as a means for trading crude oil. The Petro is pegged to the cost of a barrel of oil.
That’s what happened this week in Bitcoin. See you next week.
Bitcoin News Summary – November 5, 2018
Here’s what happened this week in Bitcoin in 99 seconds.
Former US congressman and famous Libertarian, Ron Paul, advocated for the abolition of all taxation on cryptocurrencies. Paul said such a move may prevent recession. He also supported President Trump’s recent criticism of the Federal Reserve.
Venezuela’s state cryptocurrency, the Petro, was officially launched. However, reports indicate that only Petro certificates are currently being sold, not actual crypto coins.
South Korea’s central district court ruled that banks may not terminate partnerships with crypto exchanges without good reason. The country’s commissioner of Financial Services said that compliant exchanges will have no more problems with so-called virtual bank accounts.
The Bitcoin community celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the Bitcoin white paper’s publication. This groundbreaking document can be downloaded from bitcoin.org.
Wasabi Wallet for Bitcoin was finally released. This new wallet offers superior privacy, through built-in CoinJoin mixing, Tor network use, and other advanced features. The wallet is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Canadians were affected by the disappearance of the MapleChange exchange. About 2000 users have lost their Bitcoin or Litecoin as a result of a code exploit. Some suspect an exit scam. Other altcoins are being refunded by the exchange.
Finally, India’s Financial Stability and Development Council is considering a ban on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Indian exchanges are currently facing regulatory challenges but this ban would be a further clampdown on private crypto use in India.
That’s what happened this week in Bitcoin. See you next week.
2018, the year of Bitcoin? No, it will be the year of Blockchain
Awareness about Bitcoin — a specific use of Blockchain to issue a currency — will increase in 2018. But w >
By Dr. Vikas V Gupta
In the last quarter of 2017, the price of a Bitcoin has more than tripled. This has led to a sudden surge in the awareness of the word Bitcoin across the globe and especially in India. It is a textbook example of the diffusion of innovation theory in action. We have certainly breached the Innovators to Early Adopters, and probably, even Early Majority stage in terms of awareness of the word. In terms of understanding of the concept and participation in the ecosystem of Bitcoins (or Blockchain) we are, quite likely, still in the Innovators stage.
So, what is Bitcoin? With the name incorporating the word “coin”, of course, it connotes a currency and with the word “Bit” it connotes something digital. We could say it is a Digital Currency. The use of a currency is as a medium of exchange of value between participants in an economy. In that sense, if Bitcoins are accepted as a form of payment between different participants then it is being used as a currency.
In India, a digital currency can be used as a medium of exchange by mutual consent. Legally this can be considered a barter exchange. But for it to gain economy-wide acceptability like cheques, credit cards or digital wallets, it will need some sort of a regulation or a “killer app”, such as a widespread goods or service provider accepting it as a payment system. This could be the government itself—highly unlikely anytime soon—accepting payments in Bitcoins (or other digital currencies) or platforms like Flipkart or Amazon. It is unlikely that Bitcoins or other related currencies would become acceptable on a large scale within India in 2018.
In 2018, it is possible that exporters or importers might start using Bitcoins for specific types of transactions if they become acceptable in the target countries they do business with. Of course, compliance with FEMA will have to be kept in mind, but it is possible to structure transactions in a compliant manner.
Suggestions could come in to the RBI and the Government of India to come out with some kind of a notification or clarification on the legal status of cryptocurrencies or digital currencies like Bitcoins. Some might also suggest that an official RBI or government-backed cryptocurrency like RupCoin be floated. Of course, this seems to conflict with the original idea behind Bitcoin where a distributed ledger not controlled by any central authority issues the currency.
This brings us back to small explanation of what is Bitcoin. In January 2009, an as-yet-unidentified individual, or group of individuals, named Satoshi Nakamoto (similar to the pseudonym Nicholas Bourbaki) released the source code and first set of digital currency called Bitcoins. He claimed in a white paper that he had solved the “double spend” problem of digital currencies. Typically, a central authority is required to authenticate a transaction and maintain a ledger of who owns how much and transfer money between the participants while maintaining the total amount of currency constant or trackable.
The problem with a central authority is that it is prone to intentional manipulation by those in authority or to hacking by those not in authority but being able to target the efforts towards the central ledger. Bitcoins are based on the Blockchain technology. Blockchain technology maintains a “distributed ledger”, i.e. it is a non-centralized ledger with potentially millions or billions of copies. The whole peer-to-peer network would have independent copies of the Blockchain ledger which is authenticated by the whole network itself. So there is no centralized authenticating authority or ledger and hence hack attacks or authority manipulation is not possible.
Bitcoin is a specific use of Blockchain technology to issue a currency. However, Blockchain can be used to replace all transactions or interactions which required a central authority to authenticate. Now all of that can be done, in principle, using distributed ledgers on Blockchain.
Coming back to use of digital currency in India, it is unlikely that it will be accepted freely in the economy, but if the Government of India adopts a RupCoin under the aegis of the RBI or UIDAI or some similar central agency, and accepts it for payment of taxes, it could suddenly gain widespread adoption. But this is likely to happen over the next three-to-five years rather than within 2018.
Within 2018, it is likely to become more and more widespread as an instrument for speculation. With easy money seemingly being made, more and more people would explore ways of owning and trading Bitcoins or other new cryptocurrencies. It is likely that the mania can spread further and SEBI will probably have to step in to regulate it or at least clarify its stance on how to allow people to lose their money through trading in a safe way; i.e. allow people to lose money via trading mistakes and stupidity but not to outright fraud. Clarity on taxation is also not there, but until it is defined clearly as a security by SEBI, or currency (whether domestic or foreign) by RBI, it is likely to be treated as an asset on which capital gains will have to be paid. On Bitcoin or other non-Indian cryptocurrencies, FEMA is likely to apply. But, again clarity would be expected from government authorities. Can Indian companies or individuals start a new cryptocurrency?
Legality will depend on clarifications from the RBI. In the meanwhile, the Indians are likely to do this in some foreign jurisdiction, thus India will lose the innovations to those locations. Applicability of GST to Bitcoins or other such digital tokens will also require clarity.
In short, expect a slew of notifications or clarifications or clarity emerging from actual action of the authorities and application of law.
The idea that Bitcoins can be used for illegal activities like money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption payments, tax evasion, etc. is valid but banning Bitcoins in India will hardly solve that problem. So, there is no option for the government but to allow it under an acceptable regulatory regime. SEBI will have to proactively consider allowing trading of Bitcoins on existing or regulated exchanges under existing or new laws.
So far, we have only addressed the visible and widespread uses of Blockchain as currency and speculative instrument. The most important and beneficially disruptive use of Blockchain is for transactions. It is likely that smart contract platforms will emerge within private ecosystems, probably backed by some large financial institutions, which will allow the participants to transact with each other.
Uses of smart contracts in government processes and in smart city implementations will likely be proposed by large global and Indian IT and consulting firms to the central and state governments. This is likely to be adopted in pilot projects for very specific, limited-use cases on trial basis within 2018.
Bitcoin awareness is likely to increase to the Late Majority within 2018. But widespread usage by citizens (B2C) for day-to-day transaction is unlikely. Most likely, Blockchain will enter the Early Adopters stage in 2018 in government and private enterprises (B2B). Speculative mania will likely be tamed due to various regulatory actions by relevant authorities.
(Dr. Vikas V Gupta is CEO & Chief Investment Strategist at OmniScience Capital. Views expressed are the writer’s own)
This article is part of a 14-story-series on disruptions that will change your life in 2018
Bitcoin Price Lost 72% in 2018
2018 was a brutal year for the bitcoin price. Shortly after hitting an all-time high, the crypto bubble popped. Over the following twelve months, the bitcoin price slowly bled out to end the year on a low note.
Bitcoin began 2018 at $13,464 and ended the year at $3,742 – a 72% loss in value.
The total cryptocurrency market capitalization fell from $626.6 billion to $125.6 billion – an 80% drop.
Bitcoin price chart 2018. Source: CoinMarketCap
How did bitcoin lose 72% in price?
To understand the phenomenal fall in price, we must go back to 2017 – a year of irrational exuberance and hype in the crypto space. Bitcoin became a mainstream talking point and hundreds of new cryptocurrencies emerged. “Initial coin offerings” promised easy returns.
But the mania quickly turned into anguish. As millions flooded to cryptocurrency, Bitcoin came up against severe scaling issues, hindering its adoption as a currency alternative.
And the reality of ICOs was laid bare. Most projects couldn’t possibly deliver on their wild promises. Many were nothing more than scams designed to part investors with their cash.
The subesequent 72% price crash in 2018 was the dose of reality.
Bitcoin price fall triggers layoffs across the industry
As the year progressed, blockchain and cryptocurrency firms began to announce layoffs. Many of these companies had raised money in crypto so the dramatic price falls tore away at their operating funds.
ConsenSys, a company that supports new projects on the Ethereum blockchain, announced a 50-60% staff cull. Steemit, a blogging platform powered by cryptocurrency, shed 70% of its staff.
In more high-profile layoffs, Bitmain -the world’s largest bitcoin mining company – is reportedly downsizing with up to 50% of staff members at risk. And cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is streamlining its team, although exact numbers are yet to be revealed.
This is the harsh reality of “crypto-winter.”
$1 billion crypto hacks
The discussion of cryptocurrency security reared its head again after the biggest exchange hack in history took place in January 2018. Coincheck was hacked to the tune of $532.6 million with further hacks at Bitgrail and Bithumb through the year.
The constant hacks weakened trust in the crypto exchange ecosystem and put further selling pressure on the bitcoin price.
Some progress is being made with a landmark move into crypto insurance from the Winklevoss Twins. All funds on their Gemini exchange and custody service are now fully insured.
Even traditional players are stepping into the ring as Fidelity announced a crypto custody service. Expect secure custody services, aka bitcoin banks, to develop at pace in 2019.
Bitcoin hits a regulatory brick wall
Cryptocurrency regulation continued to hinder progress throughout 2018.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action against numerous ICOs. The SEC chairman concluded that “every ICO I’ve seen is a security,” which means stricter investor rules should be applied.
China maintained its ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, while South Korea authorities raided exchanges on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion.
Most notably, the SEC rejected or pushed back at least nine bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The inevitable launch of a bitcoin ETF is often cited as a major catalyst for the bitcoin price, but the continuous delays weighed on crypto prices throughout 2018.
Any good news for the bitcoin price?
There are plenty of potential price triggers to look forward to in 2019. The much-hyped Bakkt platform is expected in early 2019. Bakkt is a futures trading service settled in real bitcoin and is backed by ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.
We will continue to see bitcoin ETF proposals thrown at the SEC. At least one SEC commissioner, Hester Peirce, is supportive of bitcoin and serious discussions are taking place. Expect this to dominate bitcoin conversation for the coming year.
Elsewhere, huge leaps are being made in cryptocurrency technology. The lightning network is rapidly gaining pace in a bid to facilitate micropayments for bitcoin. Blockstream’s satellites are now beaming the blockchain to every landmass on earth, eliminating the need for internet access for bitcoin transactions.
Ethereum and Ripple 2018 price roundup
Ethereum fared worse than bitcoin through 2018, falling 85%. ETH started the year at $880 and ended at $133.
Ethereum price chart 2018. Source: CoinMarketCap
Ripple XRP also fell 85%, starting the year at $2.31 and closing at $0.35.
Ripple XRP price chart 2018. Source: CoinMarketCap