Chrome Browser Extension Ethereum Wallet Injects Malicious JavaScript To Steal Data


An Ethereum (ETH) wallet known as “Shitcoin Wallet” is reportedly injecting malicious javascript code from open browser windows to steal data from its users. On Dec. 30, cybersecurity and anti-phishing expert Harry Denley warned about the potential breach in a tweet:

– Source Twitter

According to Denley’s tweet, Chrome browser crypto wallet software Shitcoin Wallet is targeting Binance, MyEtherWallet and other well-known websites containing users’ passwords and private keys to cryptocurrency.

The Shitcoin Wallet Chrome extension – ExtensionID: ckkgmccefffnbbalkmbbgebbojjogffn – works by downloading a number of javascript files from a remote server. The code then searches for open browser windows containing webpages of exchanges and Ethereum network tools.

The code attempts to scrape data input into those windows. Once it does, the information is sent to a remote server identified as “erc20wallet.tk,” which is a top-level domain address belonging to Tokelau, a group of South Pacific Islands that are part of New Zealand’s territory.

Google Chrome removed MetaMask, but for different reasons

Shitcoin Wallet stealing user data may sound similar to recent incidents including Apple threatening to unlist Coinbase’s mobile DApp browser from its app store and Google removing Ethereum wallet app MetaMask from its Google Play App Store last week. Both of those instances, however, have been subject to considerable controversy due to lack of evidence of malicious conduct on the part of those apps.

A number of cryptojacking extensions were found on the Google Chrome web store last year. According to a recent report from McAfee Labs, cryptojacking, which occurs when a user’s computing device is secretly used to mine cryptocurrency, has been on the rise, up 29% in Q1 2019.

Shitcoin Wallet was built for trouble online

While the name should be a dead giveaway that it’s better to stay away from this particular Ethereum wallet software, Shitcoin Wallet contains some suspicious added features. 

According to a company blog post, the Ethereum wallet, which launched on Dec. 9 and claims to have over 2,000 users, is a web-based wallet that has several extensions for different browsers. The blog post notes;

“It is a web wallet which has several extensions for different browsers, which I will discuss further in the article.”

However, this doesn’t square with what the company mentions at the end of that very blog post, which says/reads that Shitcoin Wallet is currently only supported by Chrome.

A few days prior to the malicious javascript attack, Shitcoin Wallet announced the launch of its new desktop app, giving away 0.05 ETH to users who download and install the Shitcoin Wallet desktop app.

While those users may have received a bit of free ETH, they are now left vulnerable to having their data scraped and personal information compromised.





Source Cointelegraph

Vexed Tech Entrepreneur Turns Bitcoin Hacker, Steals €1M+ from Ex-Colleagues


A French tech entrepreneur has been nabbed for allegedly stealing over 1 million euros in Bitcoin (BTC) from his former colleagues in what is purported to have been an “act of revenge.”

On Dec. 22, the unnamed man was indicted by a judge in Paris on charges of theft, money laundering and fraudulently accessing data processing systems, local newspaper Le Parisien reported on Dec. 28.

“Washing away the humiliation”

The suspect’s motivation for the theft — his spoils totaling 182 Bitcoin (BTC), worth ~$1.3 million by press time — is purported to have been a thirst to “wash away the humiliation” of his redundancy. 

The man is reportedly a former employee of a French tech start-up, one whose founding in 2013 Le Parisien attributes to a desire to join the “closed club of overvalued unicorns” in the 2.0 tech universe. 

Once differences over strategy in the firm exploded, the suspect found himself one of several executives to be summarily ousted from the venture. 

In the fallout, he is said to have left the country in pursuit of new projects — yet his emigration also involved a metamorphosis from one time digital entrepreneur to cryptocurrency hacker.

Between Dec. 2018 and Jan. 2019, the remaining executives — whose work ostensibly involves daily use of multiple cryptocurrencies — reportedly began to notice their Bitcoin holdings dwindling.

The suspect is alleged to have designed his theft so as to ensure that each fraudulent Bitcoin transaction was for an amount below the threshold that would trigger an internal security warning. This insider knowledge is reported to have been a red flag for investigators, alerting them to the likelihood that a current or former employee was behind the crime.

Arrested en route from Calvados

Once a complaint was lodged, investigators at the Gendarmerie’s cybercrime division (C3N) spent several months reconstructing the thefts. 

The cyber sleuths’ work culminated in a search warrant being issued for the suspect and his eventual arrest on Dec. 20, when he returned from Calvados to France. Pending trial, his computer and private keys have reportedly been seized, with a part of the ill-gotten funds since being transferred to AGRASC — France’s agency for assets confiscated in the course of criminal proceedings.

The prosecutor’s office in Paris is reportedly pushing for the suspect’s detention ahead of his trial; for the time being, he has been subjected to travel restrictions.

Blockchain-savvy investigators

Earlier this fall, Cointelegraph reported that the C3N had used smart contracts issued on the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain to buy cryptocurrency from Europol-allocated funds and cover its operational costs with those assets. The system employed by the C3N was alleged to be “the first smart contract ever developed by a public authority.”





Cointelegraph News

Bitcoin 2020 — Blockchain’s New Year Resolutions


Most of us believe in the “New Year — New Me” rhetoric: I’m going to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, stop being lazy, spend more time with family and whatnot. Yet, losing weight usually only turns into losing motivation instead.

But then, it doesn’t really make sense to laugh at our absurdities, as we humans have plenty of them. Not when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, at least. I mean, we can mostly agree that it’s just a hefty to-do list for the first week of January.

Now, what if it were the same for the disruptive and revolutionizing technology of blockchain? Does it hold the same stereotypes as us humans when it comes to New Year’s resolutions?

Let’s find out.

The United States Federal Reserve promises a more stable economy for its New Year’s resolution (did I just hear bailout?) by printing $425 billion by the middle of January 2020. Alongside an ever-increasing national debt, currently almost $24 trillion, this is another example of the Fed’s inept ability to manage the economy. Enter blockchain — the backbone of Bitcoin and other digital assets — which resolved to tackle double-spending; remove intermediaries and control from centralized powers; enable automatic, immutable and transparent transactions on peer-to-peer networks; and disrupt (while helping) financial institutions — and the list goes on.

Yet, despite all of this, the journey of Bitcoin (and of course blockchain) has been quite exciting, from exploding onto the scene and mining billions of dollars worth of coins to an implosion that wiped out at least 80% of the market’s value. Presently, not just Bitcoin but blockchain technology as a whole is expected to generate an increase in business value of more than $176 billion by the year 2025 and exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030. Blockchain’s unprecedented value will disrupt most of our industries in the coming years, if not all of them.

Does it sound like a fleeting dream like other New Year’s resolutions that are bound to fail? To get a better idea, let’s look at blockchain’s track record in this context.

Blockchain’s past resolutions checklist

Bitcoin’s added value

Blockchain banking leaders like Celsius — which recently hit $4.25 billion in crypto loans — are giving fair market value pricing with low loan interest rates and substantially higher interest rates for crypto banking. Much higher than traditional banks’ 0.5%–1%.

People keep saying that “Bitcoin is dead,” but this sounds like disenchanted haters with one too many failed New Year’s resolutions under their belt to me. Despite the volatility of its price last year, it still trades better than leading companies like McDonald’s, with a market cap of $170 billion. Also, the estimated number of global Bitcoin users is around 25 million, of which 5% are Americans. And the best part? Every time Bitcoin’s value goes down, it shoots back up. Now, as 2019 comes to an end, a single BTC is over $7,000.

Eliminating third-party intermediaries

If two is company and three is crowd, traditional payment systems are as chaotic as coastal Thailand fish markets. Considering the number of middlemen, it’s a typical case of “too many cooks spoil the broth.” A genuine decentralized peer-to-peer payment system is the fundamental resolution that blockchain (starting with Bitcoin) fulfilled, with no person or institution being “in charge” of Bitcoin transactions.

Decentralized industries

Not being a quitter and keeping its New Year’s resolution promise, blockchain is disrupting supply chain management through permanent, seamless documentation in a thoroughly decentralized and transparent manner. From creating P2P and more secure data storage networks to verifying data in insurance contracts, the applications of the technology in various industries are limitless. 

Institutional adoption

Back in 2018, Bitcoin was often bullied for not being “approved.” By the end of the year, fed up, Bitcoin (and blockchain as a whole) resolved to make institutional friends. And now, at the end of 2019, we must say that it’s been quite successful. Players like Yale University’s $30 million endowment fund, Square’s Cash App and Fidelity Investments — which provides financial services for $7.2 trillion in assets — have all joined the Bitcoin club. And, the Holy Grail of institutional adoption finally bestowed itself upon us when Bitcoin futures exchange Bakkt launched with full governmental approval.

While China has already banned crypto exchanges (but is now launching its own central bank digital currency) the U.S. government has tried shutting Bitcoin down in the past as well. The financial crisis gave bankers a worse reputation than they already had, but the blame also lies with the institutions that oversee and facilitate effective, timely and trustworthy asset transfers.

Using blockchain for mainstream payments eliminates fees that generate huge revenues for the banking industry. It’s pretty obvious that some are trying hard to obstruct blockchain going mainstream, so the resolution for institutional adoption is on a slow but steady push.

Hash rate

What’s the difference between humans and blockchain? Humans promise to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, doing away with their habit of procrastination — but in all reality, they end up just procrastinating not to procrastinate. Not Bitcoin, mind you. The Bitcoin network has witnessed a hash rate increase by 60% in 2018, which not only indicates enhanced investment in critical infrastructure, but also a greater degree of predictability and security for the network. A growing hash rate is a sign of a healthy network, and this increase can be attributed to the mining behemoths that entered the space while bringing a greater number of devices online to offer network security.

This also helps with blockchain’s resolution to achieve optimum scalability, which its currently still working on diligently.  

Security — No procrastination here, just a challenging resolution

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Nobody likes quitters, so while blockchain shuttered to “fully” accomplish one of its resolutions, it has continued on like the little engine that could with a glorious attitude and a scope for redemption. Despite being labeled as “utmost secure,” several hacks have occurred on major crypto exchanges. Over $927 million was stolen by hackers in early 2018 alone from various platforms and cryptocurrency exchanges — all using public blockchains to some capacity.

Related: Crypto Hacks: Crypto Exchange Hacks & Cryptocurrency Hackers

Though blockchain had some major setbacks with this New Year’s resolution, it never quit. It has constantly been working on new strategies and methods such as regulation, better custody, insurance to fully back assets held and new funding methods like security token offerings and initial exchange offerings.

Blockchain’s 20/20 vision

Blockchain awareness

Over 58% of investors and 55% of consumers feel positive about blockchain’s potential to handle value transfers, monetary or otherwise. For the majority, blockchain is an emerging technology that is truly capable of transforming a multitude of business processes — much like the internet did.

However, according to a Deloitte survey, we still have 18% of the participants for whom blockchain is simply a database to record financial transactions. With organizations increasingly realizing the scope for blockchain implementation, the new year will probably witness a surge in blockchain adoption by businesses small, medium and large.

Greater interoperability

Bitcoin makes more money doing nothing than you did all week at work. Accept it. Yet, a major roadblock to the wider adoption of blockchain technology was the low interoperability of its applications.

Currently, blockchain innovators are working on new, viable ways of establishing secure connections between different ledgers. With these, blockchain aims to significantly improve interoperability between the financial institutions.

Enhanced security and analysis

A major aspect of blockchain’s 2020 vision is to rise above the bad reputation of “not being secure.” For the new year, blockchain aims for better smart contract execution, enhanced data privacy and even advanced analytics with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. This will improve overall network monitoring and the ability to troubleshoot on-chain events.

Blockchain as a Service 

Blockchains’ New Year’s resolutions aren’t purely selfish. In fact, whatever it works on always has something to do with the betterment of existing industries. At times, it even ushers in the possibility of new industries like Blockchain as a Service. Smart enterprises such as Microsoft and Amazon are already working on BaaS integration. Maybe this is part of their New Year’s resolutions as well.

2020 and the future

All that being said, blockchain technology indeed has a 2020 vision for the coming year. If you really paid attention while reading, then you noticed that blockchain has pretty much been crushing its resolutions year after year. You might be feeling a bit insecure about your own resolutions right now.

But still, to end on an honest note, there’s more work to be done. Above all, blockchain needs time, and we must be patient. Remember, the internet didn’t become what it is in a day.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

J.D. Salbego, the CEO of Legion Ventures, is a global leader in blockchain and digital securities with a history of working with industry-leading startups, crypto funds, institutions and governments to drive blockchain innovation, STOs/ICOs, crypto capital markets, international expansion, digital asset fund strategy and go-to-market frameworks. His work has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider and Yahoo. As a market influencer, speaker, published author and internationally recognized subject matter expert, Salbego is frequently invited to speak at leading conferences like the World Economic Forum, BlockShow and Delta Summit.





Source Cointelegraph

XRP Price Lost 66% Against BTC in 2019 — Will the Pain End in 2020?


Bitcoin (BTC) price has seen a significant increase in 2019 (by more than 100%), while altcoins are actually down significantly from the beginning of the year. 

Moreover, most altcoin/BTC pairs have been hitting new lows, and many of the coins are still trending downwards, looking for potential support.

Crypto market daily performance

Crypto market daily performance. Source: Coin360

One of these coins is XRP (XRP), which has seen a decrease of 50% over the year, going from $0.39 to $0.195. Will 2020 be a similar year for XRP and altcoins, or can we see a switch in momentum? A new analysis is warranted. 

XRP hitting new lows in USD value

It was a bad year for the XRP investor, with the price hitting new lows over and over again. 

XRP USD 1-day chart

XRP USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

Price held the $0.30 support throughout the beginning of the year. However, XRP wasn’t able to provide a higher high and continued making lower highs. These lower highs confirmed the downtrend and eventually, the breakdown of the $0.30 support level. 

Later in the year, the $0.30 level was tested for resistance and confirmed, as can be seen with the rejection earlier in November. This rejection started a new downwards trend, which temporarily ended with the latest low at $0.176. The last time this price level was seen was in November 2017, before a huge rally occurred for XRP.

BTC pair resting on the crucial support

XRP BTC 4-day chart

XRP BTC 4-day chart. Source: TradingView

The XRP/BTC pair is also continuing to trend down. This can be seen in the chart above, which shows that XRP started the year around 0.000096 and is currently near 0.000026.  In other words, XRP has lost roughly two-thirds of its value against Bitcoin in 2019. 

However, some exciting signals are given from the chart. First of all, there’s a substantial bullish divergence still being applied. Similar divergences were found during the lows in November 2015 and at the beginning of January of 2017. This divergence marked a trend reversal before XRP made a 5,500% move. 

Crucial for the XRP/BTC pair, however, is holding the green zone as support. A retest of the lows of September 2019 is not a bad sign. However, a higher low needs to construct to sustain the validity of the bullish divergence.

Similar to other altcoins, XRP is facing a significant downtrend. This red diagonal line has been a trend entrenched for more than a year. Breaking that line to the upside would potentially stage a big move to the upside. 

What will 2020 bring in general?

2019 was not the best year for the average investor in altcoins. Many of them have seen a red year with double-digit losses, despite some select altcoins seeing massive growth. 

Chainlink (LINK) surged 1,500%, Binance Coin (BNB) rallied 650%, and even Matic Network (MATIC) has seen a rise of 1,360%. However, the big caps didn’t see these numbers, so the question arises: what will 2020 bring?

Altcoin dominance chart

Altcoin dominance chart. Source; CoinTrader.Pro

By analyzing historical charts, the first quarter of the year tends to be the best period to trade altcoins. The altcoin dominance broke out to the upside in January 2016, causing Ethereum (ETH) to rally 1,900%. 

Similarly, January 2017 led a significant breakout as well, identical to the movements of January 2018, which made Ethereum hit its high of $1,440. 

Is the market cycle comparable to January 2016?

Looking closely at market cycles is something that every analyst tries to do. Particularly, people like to compare the last top of Bitcoin with the high of Bitcoin in December 2017. 

However, the market saw a similar parabolic move in December ‘15, but with a big difference. The market had hysterical euphoria during the bull-run of December 2017, while nobody was interested in Bitcoin during a similar parabolic move in 2015.

Through that, it’s more natural to compare the current market with the beginning of the last cycle, as there’s about as much euphoria right now as at a funeral. 

XRP looking similar to December 2015

XRP USD 2-day chart

XRP USD 2-day chart. Source: TradingView

If we analyze XRP against USD again, then the market is showing similarities with the period in December 2015. Similar to then, price broke below the support of a range and reached the next support level (blue horizontal line in both cases).

Additionally, the price is showing a significant downtrend. Breaking this downtrend would potentially lead to a substantial move to the upside, which could push XRP to $0.48, leaving bears in disbelief.

Ethereum facing a similar downtrend 

ETH BTC 2-day chart

ETH BTC 2-day chart. Source: TradingView

Not only is XRP facing a significant downtrend, but Ether has also had a pretty lackluster year overall. 

ETH price is a prime example of an excellent first quarter of the year. In fact, since Ethereum’s launch, ETH has always provided a bullish Q1. During 2016 and 2017, massive downtrends were broken to the upside, while 2018 saw its peak value in USD. 

There was even a 60% gain during the bear market at the beginning of 2019. But Ether is nevertheless in a two-year downtrend. 

Concluding, Ether, and other big caps have to start making moves soon, given that they are facing these downtrends. And the overall rule is; when big caps begin to move, the rest will follow. Therefore, if ETH starts to move up (it may or may not be due to Ethereum 2.0), most of the ERC-20 tokens will likely follow suit and possibly kickstart the so-called “altseason” that never quite happened in 2019. 

Happy New Year! 

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.





Cointelegraph News

Ethereum Network Overcame Intentional Attack Affecting Parity Nodes


The Ethereum (ETH) network was apparently the target of a coordinated attack, according to several analysts.

Following reports that some Parity Ethereum nodes lost sync with the network, on Dec. 31, core blockchain infrastructure company Parity Technology said it believed there was an attack underway and subsequently released network upgrades to protect against it. 

According to cryptocurrency security consultant Sergio Demian Lerner, the attack was implemented in a simple way, wherein “you send to a Parity node a block with invalid transactions, but valid header (borrowed from another block). The node will mark the block header as invalid and ban this block header forever but the header is still valid.”

Software developer Liam Aharon analyzed the attack, concluding that it was close to taking down the entire network and that Ethereum could become much more vulnerable to similar attacks in the upcoming year.

Per Aharon, the attack did not manage to bring down the entire network because it has a client dubbed Geth, which is immune to the attack. However, taking into account Parity’s intention to transition Parity Ethereum to a DAO ownership and maintainer model, Geth could become the only well-maintained client in 2020, he said.

“If this scenario came true, attacks similar to today’s would devastate the network, instead of just being inconvenient,’ Aharon further wrote.

Efforts to fix vulnerabilities in the Ethereum network

During the past year, Parity has released multiple updates geared to fixing node vulnerability. In March, Parity CEO Jutta Steiner said that the new controversial Create2 Ethereum function would have prevented the Parity multisig freeze, following an incident when a user “accidentally killed” the Parity multisig library by activating a vulnerability to become the owner of the library, and then self-destructing it.

In May, global hacking research collective SRLabs claimed that only two-thirds of the Ethereum client software that ran on Ethereum nodes had been patched against a critical security flaw discovered earlier this year. The data reportedly indicated that unpatched Parity nodes comprised 15% of all scanned nodes — implying that 15% of all Ethereum nodes were vulnerable to a potential 51% attack.

Other recent attacks

On Dec. 29, holders of IOTA were unable to confirm transactions for 24 hours due to a mainnet incident caused by an unusual set of transactions that may have been constructed as an attack. The Iota Foundation emphasized that the incident had not been caused by software changes or any other components of the network, but rather occurred due to the “absence of transaction processing logic for an unusual set of transactions.”

Earlier this month, major cryptocurrency payment service provider BitPay confirmed that its service had a temporary outage of Bitcoin (BTC) payments.





Source Cointelegraph

Turkish Bank’s Blockchain Platform for Digital Gold Transfers Goes Live


Turkey’s Istanbul Clearing, Settlement and Custody Bank (Takasbank) announced that its blockchain-based, physical gold-backed transfer system is now live.

Turkish Takasbank launched BiGA Digital Gold to provide banks with a blockchain-based system for the issuance, repayment and transfer of digitized gold, according to an announcement on Dec. 30. 

The BiGA system — first announced in September 2019 — enables participating banks to use blockchain tech to transfer digital assets representing a quantity of physical gold. Each asset represents a gram of gold that is physically stored in vaults of the Borsa Istanbul (BIST) Turkish stock exchange.

The BiGA project aims to “establish an infrastructure that will allow for the execution of the transfer of dematerialized gold at certain standards with their physical equivalents kept in safe custody using blockchain technology,” the official website explains. Speaking to Turkish news agency AA, Takasbank officials said:

“This platform distinguishes itself from many similar projects in the world by allowing the use of blockchain technology to transfer digital assets based on physical commodities, not having any value of its own, and ensuring full compliance with existing regulations.”

Major Turkish banks are on board

Takasbank launched the BiGA Digital Gold platform with the participation of several Turkish financial institutions, including state lenders Ziraat and Vakif, private lender Garanti BBVA, and private and state participation banks Albaraka Turk, Kuveyt Turk, and Ziraat Participation.

Takasbank is the central clearing and settlement house in Turkey, which also provides central counterparty clearing services for specific BIST markets designated by the local financial regulatory and supervisory agency, the Capital Markets Board of Turkey.

Turkey goes full throttle on blockchain

Following the announcement of plans for a national blockchain infrastructure, Turkey has seen steady growth in blockchain projects, both in the public and private sectors. In the 2020 Annual Presidential Program, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the government would finish testing its blockchain-based “Digital Lira” that year.

In September 2018, BIST developed a blockchain-based system to enable better financial data transfers in collaboration with Takasbank and the Central Securities Depository of Turkey. 





Source Cointelegraph

BitMEX Ends Year With Additional 13K BTC in Its Insurance Fund, Up 61%


The BitMEX Insurance Fund has added nearly 13,000 BTC in 2019, reaching a total of just over 33,491 BTC as of Dec. 30. This is equivalent to 0.19% of the total Bitcoin in circulation, based on the data available at Blockchain.com. 

The fund, which the cryptocurrency exchange set up to ensure that liquidation orders related to leveraged positions are filled, ended 2018 with almost 20,800 BTC. This means that the fund has seen a 61% increase since the start of 2019.

How does the BitMEX Insurance Fund work?

Crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX set up the fund to give margin traders more certainty that they will receive their winnings. Here’s the logic behind the fund.

In leveraged trading, market participants are allowed to make bets that the price of an asset will either rise or fall in multiples (that could be as high as 100x) of the amount they deposited. The idea is to amplify the potential profit for making the correct bet.

Here are two leveraged trade scenarios.

Source: BitMEX

In the oversimplified example above, Trader A, who has made the winning trade expects to make a profit of $5,000 based on the $500 rise in Bitcoin price multiplied by the 10 times leverage. However, since the losing trader’s actual position is worth only $4,000, there’s a $1,000 deficit for the winning trader.

As pointed out in a previous Cointelegraph article about a flash crash event on Poloniex, traders in the traditional leveraged market are required to pay for the loss or risk facing legal actions from the brokerage firm that offered access to the derivatives trading exchange.

For trading activities involving large financial institutions, in which the event of a default would significantly jeopardize the financial system, there are several layers of security. Traditional derivatives exchanges have large insurance funds that run into the billions. 

CME, the world’s largest derivatives exchange, has roughly $22 billion in its safeguard system. And in cases where the safeguard fund isn’t sufficient to cover the defaulted amount, the exchange can exert its power to ask participating clearing members to help finance the defaulting members. And in extreme situations, the government could issue a bailout to the defaulting institutions, especially when the event threatens economic stability. 

Various financial experts and commentators have claimed that derivatives played a major role is the 2008 financial crisis, a period in which there were government bailouts to large financial institutions.

The detachment of the crypto market from the traditional financial space means that such robust security is unavailable to crypto margin traders. Therefore, different crypto exchanges have developed different mechanisms to offer some level of security. For BitMEX, this is the insurance fund.

Why has the fund been growing?

BitMEX has developed a system whereby the insurance fund grows in a liquid market, signaled by a narrow bid/ask spread. Crypto derivatives analytics platform Skew found BitMEX to be the most liquid among the top crypto exchanges offering derivatives trading. 

Skew has been tracking the main perpetual swap bid/ask spread for $1 million, $5 million and $10 million. The other exchanges being tracked include Binance, bitFlyer, Deribit, FTX, Huobi, Kraken and OKEx.

The following charts are from Dec. 24, 7:30 a.m. GMT.

Major events around the fund in 2019

The high liquidity enjoyed by BitMEX, per Skew’s research, presents a plausible explanation for why the fund has been growing. According to BitMEX:

“The Insurance Fund grows from liquidations that were able to be executed in the market at a price better than the bankruptcy price of that particular position.”

Still, there have been a few small day-to-day declines in the balance of the fund. The largest drawdown since the fund began over three years ago happened on April 12, 2018, involving about $5.1 million worth of Bitcoin.

Key facts around the fund

Criticisms

BitMEX has been widely criticized for the lack of transparency of its insurance fund. Criticism has ranged from how the exchange doesn’t fully disclose all the trade variables, such as bankruptcy price, to traders. 

Crypto publication The Block also noted that the BitMEX Insurance Fund lacks a known breakdown of how drawdowns are made per contract. This all has led some to suggest that BitMEX considers the fund an asset on its balance sheet

Competitor Deribit mentioned in a blog post that large insurance funds like that of BitMEX could indicate an overly aggressive liquidation mechanism, which may reduce the incentive to pursue other market security innovations. 

Other derivative insurance funds

At least three other top derivative exchanges have an insurance fund as well: Deribit, Huobi and OKEx. Unlike BitMEX, which uses auto deleveraging to account for losses that its insurance fund can’t cover, these other exchanges use socialized loss mechanisms to account for losses higher than their insurance fund balances.

The BitMEX Insurance Fund, however, dwarfs the fund balances of these three other exchanges. 

As of Dec. 24, the OKEx Insurance Fund is worth nearly $46.3 million, much lower than the $100 million increase seen by the BitMEX fund in 2019. Deribit said in June that its insurance fund had increased to 150 BTC, while Huobi’s fund details are inaccessible.





Cointelegraph News

DLive Joins BitTorrent Ecosystem to Make Blockchain-Based Content Sharing Mainstream


Peer-to-peer filesharing giant BitTorrent announced on Dec. 30 that DLive, the blockchain-based live streaming platform, will be joining its ecosystem.

Through this partnership, DLive will bring peer-to-peer content sharing and live streaming capabilities to BitTorrent’s 100 million monthly active users.

BitTorrent CEO Justin Sun told Cointelegraph that following YouTube’s crypto-content ban, decentralized content platforms are the future.

“It’s unfortunate to see content platforms such as YouTube taking down crypto-related content, this is the issue with centralized agencies. Decentralized content platforms such as TRON’s newest partner DLive are the platforms of the future.”

DLive, which was launched nearly 2 years ago, already has over 5 million monthly active users and a passionate live streaming community. In April 2019, one of the world’s most famous YouTubers, PewDiePie, conducted his first live stream on DLive. PewDiePie has since co-streamed on DLive with famous YouTubers like Ninja, James Charles, and Jack Black.

Sun explained that DLive is one of the leading blockchain-based platforms for live streaming. 

“DLive is one of the best real-world examples of what is possible when you combine blockchain and digital media. DLive is a great solution for live media producers. Think of how valuable live streaming content is already to centralized social media platforms who take ownership and advantage of their users’ hard work. We look forward to DLive bringing value to the entire world with the addition of TRON and BitTorrent’s global community of passionate creators.”

DLive will merge its account systems with BitTorrent’s to further integrate the communities. For example, BLive, the live streaming platform introduced by BitTorrent in early 2019, will migrate into DLive, joining the teams together.. DLive will also advertise their products and services on BitTorrent networks to generate awareness for decentralized content sharing.

DLive’s CEO, Charles Wayn, noted that he is looking forward to the integration. 

“We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to be part of the BitTorrent ecosystem. I’ve watched them pioneer the digital peer-to-peer space. DLive’s goal of empowering creators and rewarding communities is one step closer with the amplification of this new venture.”

Creating a truly decentralized content sharing platform

DLive, which is currently built on the Lino blockchain (previously hosted on the STEEM blockchain), will migrate to the TRON blockchain as a result of the collaboration. TRON acquired BitTorrent in July 2018 to merge the systems together in an effort to create the world’s largest decentralized protocol for file sharing.

DLive will continue to support the Lino blockchain until the transition to the TRON blockchain is complete. While the Lino blockchain technical infrastructure will be integrated into BitTorrent, the LINO coin cryptocurrency used by DLive to pay content creators will no longer be the fundamental unit of value in the new ecosystem.

To facilitate the integration of BitTorrent’s BTT cryptocurrency into the existing DLive ecosystem, DLive plans to offer benefits and rewards to existing users to transition from the Lino blockchain onto the BitTorrent ecosystem.

DLive will also use BitTorrent’s new service for file storage, known as the BitTorrent Filesharing System (BTFS). 

According to Sun, BTFS is one of the largest decentralized protocols in the world and will make it almost impossible to delete information from the internet. 

Sun told Cointelegraph that BitTorrent plans to collaborate with cryptocurrency influencers to demonstrate how BTFS ensures content remains online.

“We plan to work with crypto influencers, as many have experienced their content being deleted on YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and other centralized platforms. As long as they use the BTFS network, it will be impossible to delete content, as everything is distributed across BitTorrent users’ computers globally.”

Moreover, Sun noted that the BTFS network is completely free of a centralized authority, enabling DLive to becoming truly decentralized moving forward.

“All the content on DLive is currently monitored by a dedicated team to ensure adherence to their community guidelines. This partnership takes us closer to our goal of making the TRON BitTorrent ecosystem a developer’s paradise. We want to bring all of our developers customized tools together with an engaged audience so they can share their projects. The same is true for DLive. We want DLive live streamers and content creators to have access to the largest peer-to-peer audience in the world, one that is free from a centralized authority.”

Sun revealed to Cointelegraph that the BTFS network will launch in Q1 of 2020.





Source Cointelegraph

Justin Sun Explains the Rationale Behind His $1 Million Greta Thunberg Donation


On Dec. 18 Cointelegraph reported that Tron (TRX) founder Justin Sun publicly pledged to donate $1 million to Swedish activist Great Thunberg to raise global awareness of the climate crisis. 

Following the COP25 UN Climate Conference in Madrid, Sun tweeted:

Although Sun has pledged a donation of $1 million to Greta Thunberg’s campaign, it was left unclear as to how cryptocurrency would help reduce carbon footprints through the creation of decentralized settlements.

Regarding this, Sun told Cointelegraph that decentralized settlements and decentralized finance platforms are run by computers on cloud computing systems. In turn, this eliminates the need for paper documentation.

“Decentralized settlement and decentralized finance are completely run by computers on cloud computing systems, thus eliminating the need for ledger documentation and management records kept on paper.”

Additionally, cloud computing systems do not rely on physical transportation infrastructure, as everything is digital. Systems like these could make it possible for people to travel less, easing the travel sector’s burden on the environment — it accounts for 8 percent of global carbon emissions.

“These types of records require postal mailing which is done through transportation. The whole Know Your Customer process also requires face-to-face interaction, which sometimes makes it necessary for people to travel. All of this will not be compulsory when decentralized finance is utilized.”

Sun also pointed out that using a Point of Sales (POS) system could reduce energy consumption seen in traditional Proof-of-Work (POW) mining methods used by Bitcoin. To put this into perspective, a study recently showed that Bitcoin mining emits over 22 megatons of carbon dioxide annually, comparable to the total emissions of cities such as Las Vegas and Vienna.

“By adopting a POS system, it drastically reduces the massive energy consumption used in traditional POW mining method used by Bitcoin.”

Lastly, Sun mentioned that decentralized financial systems are beneficial in that they are readily available around the world.

“Decentralized finance systems are available to everyone in the world! Bank the unbanked. Today, the traditional finance system is limited, expensive and not cost effective. Enormous resources and steps are required just to open an account. Imagine having to serve a heavily populated country and all the wastage that ensues. I truly believe blockchain must be in our future if we want to eliminate wastage and make a difference.”





Source Cointelegraph

Amid Rising Adoption, Funding for Blockchain Startups Dries Up


Blockchain has become a buzzword in the startup ecosystem and multinationals alike. Numerous benefits provided by the technology has incentivized businesses and governments to adopt, explore or invest in it. 

However, a surprising turn of events took place in 2019 when it comes to the amount invested into blockchain technology and companies behind them. After the incoming funds peaked in 2018 with $5.5 billion in capital raised, this year saw a sharp decline — with less than $3 billion of capital flowing into the ecosystem. 

There are numerous reasons to explain this, however. The bullish hysteria around Bitcoin was over with the value of Bitcoin falling from an all-time high of around $20,000 to a low of $3,100. 

Another explanation could be that initial coin offerings lost their charm. There were other external factors, such as the overall decline in funding of the fintech sector, that led to decreasing funds for blockchain companies as well.

Funding of blockchain companies in 2017–2018

2017 was the year when ICOs really began to take off. The majority of funding raised by blockchain companies came through ICOs. Bancor protocol’s innovative token sale of $153 million set a standard for a new generation.

Tron also completed its ICO in 2017, propelling it to swiftly become one of the most recognized altcoins. The ICO became a worldwide phenomenon, as huge token sales were taking place in Israel, Singapore, China, the United States, Germany and more.

While 2017 marked the rise of cryptocurrencies, blockchain and ICOs, 2018 was the year of market corrections. The inflated crypto prices that reached an all-time high in January 2018 came crashing down — along with the hopes and dreams of many people who invested in crypto, believing it was a get-rich-quick scheme. 

As the data suggests, there was a sharp decline in the number of ICOs for the top funded blockchain companies. Institutional investors started to be interested in funding, fueled by their fear-of-missing-out.

Robinhood and Coinbase continued their massive fundraising spree. Bitmain, a major producer of ASIC miners, also raised $340 million in a pre-IPO round, raising its valuation to over $12 billion. However, falling victim to the decreasing mining demand, the valuation fell sharply. 

Funding of blockchain companies in 2019

Back in 2017, blockchain evangelists argued that ICOs would render traditional VCs a thing of the past, but an entirely different story has played out. For the promising potential ICOs had shown at one point in time, they effectively became obsolete. 

Related: IEOs, ICOs, STOs and Now IDOs — How to Raise Funds for Crypto in 2019?

However, VCs were still interested in the blockchain ecosystem, but mostly only advanced-stage funding rounds saw a large influx of funds coming in. Robinhood continued raising funds for a fourth consecutive year, this time clutching $323 million and a further $50 million in its Series E round. Figure, a leading fintech company in both home equity and the blockchain space, raised two rounds of funds that totalled close to $175 million.  

Speaking to Cointelegraph about the decline of funding compared to 2018, Sidharth Sogani, the CEO of Crebaco Global Inc., which offers credit ratings for exchanges, blockchains and coin offerings, attributed it the skeptical nature of the institutional investors when it comes to crypto. He said:

“As per our statistics, over 95% of blockchain or crypto projects failed. Most were scams and MLM/Affiliate marketing schemes and some of them didn’t know how to head a company, and because of lack of knowledge, they failed. More than 10.6 Billion US Dollars were lost from the 2018 Bull run till June 2019 which is a massive figure. That is the main reason why traditional institutional investment is reluctant in entering the space because they do not know how to assess this technology and understand the feasibility of the project.”

However, in many ways, 2019 was the year of enterprise-level blockchain, both in terms of adoption and funding. Even though fewer projects were getting funded, the deal structure is increasing in complexity by having more investors per deal. More money is being invested per project, indicating the maturity of blockchain investment market. 

Blockchain funding coming from China has been a recent phenomenon as the technology penetrates the market. During the first six months in 2019, Chinese blockchain startups raised $368 million through 71 funding deals. However, even these numbers represent a drop of 67% in deal-to-dollar value compared to 2018.

Institutional investors’s interest in blockchain?

Institutional investors have been bullish on blockchain startups for sometime now. In fact, Fidelity’s Global Institutional Investor survey found that 80% of investors think that blockchain and similar technologies will fundamentally change the industry by 2025.

According to reports obtained by Cointelegraph, Digital Currency Group tops the list with 95 blockchain-based portfolio companies such as Coinbase, Circle and Figure under it. Pantera Capital has 55 portfolio companies, while BlockchainCapital has 47. Other notable institutional investors in this domain are Blockchain R&I, Boost VC, NGC and 500 Startups. 

IBM has invested more than $200 million in a blockchain-powered data-sharing solutions for the Internet of Things, and Google has reportedly been working with blockchains since 2016.

Related: Biggest Crypto Hedge Funds and What They Tell About the Market

The number of early stage backers had been high in the pre-2018 boom due to the massive returns from early investments in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Following the price decline and stabilization, these early investments did not transform to follow on-rounds. This indicates that while early stage funding is comparatively easy, many VCs are waiting for evidence of product–market fit and clearer signs of revenue before making further investments.

Evolving to reach a Series B grant is a hard business, and few firms can reach that stage. Challenges with learning curves in user experience and designing profitable business models make it difficult for startups in the ecosystem to evolve. Speaking to Cointelegraph, Raullen Chai, the CEO of IoTeX, a Silicon Valley-based IoT company said:

“We have transitioned into a phase in the industry where there is more emphasis on actually having customers use blockchain and blockchain-powered products, as opposed to startups focused on raising money. It is true that many companies that raised money have fallen by the wayside or failed or deliver much. But, at the same time, many have been heads-down working and have managed to use the raised money for creating products that get used and that stimulate blockchain adoption.”

Adoption still on the rise

In 2018, a Deloitte survey found that 95% of companies across various industries are investing in blockchain tech projects. In 2019, those projects are finally moving from the test stage to the end user. What was initially thought to be a tool to enhance the financial industry is finding application in cybersecurity, health care, agriculture, supply chain and more. 

Enterprises no longer question whether blockchain is worth the attention. On the contrary, they are proactively seeking new ways of incorporating this technology in their legacy systems.

Blockchain players in the payments segment, such as Ripple, are increasingly partnering with non-bank payments providers, the businesses of which may be a better fit for blockchain technology.

Adoption of blockchain is bound to increase in 2020. For instance, gaming giants AMD has announced that it is joining the Blockchain Game Alliance. The gaming industry has always been a trailblazer when it comes to emerging technology adoption. Being an industry that attracts a lot of capital, it is clear that more money will be flowing into the blockchain sector.

Furthermore, a Gartner study has found that blockchain is estimated to generate $3.1 trillion in new business value by 2030. The same study emphasized that 2023 will be the tipping point in terms of mainstream adoption, as companies start to explore more realistic means of utilizing the technology. Sogani is optimistic that 2020 will be the year of blockchain. He said:

“There are specific VCs for Blockchain as far as we have observed. The traditional VCs are still taking time to understand the technology. As the industry gets more regulated, scam free and mature, more traditional VCs will enter. I believe 2020 will be a bright year for Blockchain.”

The ability to move blockchain from proof-of-concept to adoption has been less than what was anticipated by early blockchain evangelists. While the market is giving blockchain companies plenty of room to prove themselves, investors are also becoming more concerned about results.





Source Cointelegraph