Crypto Exchange Zebpay Reopens in India Despite Banking Ban

Singapore-based crypto exchange Zebpay reportedly returns to the Indian market more than a year after an Indian Reserve Bank crackdown led to the exchange’s closure in the country. 

After discontinuing Indian services in late 2018, Zebpay will open its exchange for the country once again, although the central bank ruling that caused its demise has not changed, IBS intelligence wrote on Jan. 29, Citing “reports.” 

Shutdown in the face of regulation

In September 2018, Zebpay halted exchange availability in India after the Reserve Bank of India, or RBI, forbade banks from serving crypto companies. 

Although it closed operations in India, Zebpay announced expansion to Australia in May 2019, showing the outfit was still alive and growing. 

Comeback in spite of limitation

The RBI ban has not changed, but Zebpay has decided to open its doors to Indian customers once again anyway, according to IBS intelligence. 

Surrounding the rebound, Zebpay has updated its company brass, including a new CFO and CMO. The outfit also touts added features and crypto-based trading pairs. Additionally, the exchange expects to open an avenue for involvement in mutual funds, IBS wrote. 

The past several months have yielded numerous sessions in front of India’s Supreme Court on the RBI ban in an attempt to gain clarity on the situation. 

Cointelegraph reached out to Zebpay for comment, but received no response as of press time. This article will be updated accordingly upon receipt of a response.

Source Cointelegraph

Fewer Pronouncements of BTC’s Death in 2019, but Here Are the Top 5

Bitcoin has long been disregarded as a speculative asset class that is doomed to fail by mainstream media outlets around the world.

The apathy toward the world’s preeminent cryptocurrency has been embodied by countless articles that have either hailed the death of Bitcoin or predicted its impending demise.

For the past three years, Cointelegraph has reviewed the top annual Bitcoin obituaries courtesy of 99Bitcoins’ list of news articles that have unwittingly foretold the end of the cryptocurrency.

In 2017, Bitcoin and the overall cryptocurrency market saw the biggest surge in history, when BTC’s value soared to over $20,000 by December of that year. The lofty gains were eventually curtailed by a humbling price correction and stagnation that ensued for much of 2018.

Unsurprisingly, the number of Bitcoin obituaries skyrocketed during those years. In 2017, Bitcoin’s “death” was predicted 124 times, while 2018 saw that number reduced to 93. At the end of 2019, a full decade since Bitcoin’s inception, the number of articles proclaiming the end of the cryptocurrency had fallen to just 40.

In this listicle, Cointelegraph looks at the top five Bitcoin burials of the last year.

Bitcoin will go to zero

The annual World Economic Forum in Davos is a major event in the global financial and banking sphere, and cryptocurrencies have been part of its debates and forums over the past few years.

During a TV debate hosted by CNBC in Davos in last January, Bitcoin’s underlying protocol became a major point of contention in its potential future as a valued cryptocurrency.

BCG Digital Ventures Founder Jeff Schumacher highlighted concerns regarding the way in which Bitcoin derives value from its proof-of-work protocol — suggesting that its value could plummet to $0.

“I do believe it will go to zero. I think it’s a great technology but I don’t believe it’s a currency. It’s not based on anything.”

The debate itself was not centered around an attack on Bitcoin but a robust debate around the future of cryptocurrencies and the power of the protocols that underpin the blockchain technology used to keep them running.

Bitcoin is “absolutely worthless”

As Bitcoin’s price began to rebound from a lowly start in 2019, an article in Gizmodo slammed the cryptocurrency and people who have invested into the space. 

The author of the piece was scathing in his take on Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency bounced back to a four-month high following a difficult market climate in 2018.

“It’s fake money that’s about as practical to use in the real world as Monopoly bills.”

The writer also took aim at Bitcoin’s proof-of-work consensus algorithm, criticising the energy-intensive demands of recording transactions and maintaining the blockchain.

Bitcoin is a “digital game” — a SharkTank investor

In May 2019, renowned investor Kevin O’Leary of SharkTank fame likened Bitcoin to playing a “digital game” in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

O’Leary’s comments came as Bitcoin was sharply appreciating in value midyear. His major criticism was that investors could not take large sums of value in and out of Bitcoin because buyers demand a guarantee on the value of BTC they’re receiving.

O’Leary made reference to his own efforts to buy real estate in Switzerland using Bitcoin, with the difficulty being that the receiver of such a large amount of Bitcoin is not ready to trade other assets due to the risk associated with BTC’s price volatility.

“To me, it’s garbage, because you can’t get in and out of it in large amounts.”

Buffett — Bitcoin is a “gambling device”

Globally respected investor Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway investment group, has long been a dissenting voice towards cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin in particular.

Earlier this year, Buffett cast fresh aspersions on the space while speaking to the press ahead of his company’s annual meeting.

Buffett went as far as saying that Bitcoin had become a “gambling device” and that the cryptocurrency hadn’t produced anything.

“I’ll tear off a button here. What I have here is a little token… I’ll offer it to you for $1000, and I’ll see if I can get the price up to $2000 by the end of the day… But the button has one use and it’s a very limited use.”

While slamming Bitcoin, Buffett gave credit to the power of blockchain technology while pointing towards JP Morgan’s recently developed blockchain products.

Bitcoin not built to last

An article in the New York Post speculated in June that Bitcoin would not survive in the future, despite another price surge occurring that same month.

The cryptocurrency had jumped up to $13,000, marking a massive increase in value from the beginning of the year, when it was hovering around $3,000. 

The author of the article suggested that the surge could have come down to Facebook’s reveal of its Libra cryptocurrency plans, which may have boosted market sentiment in the cryptocurrency sector.

The argument suggested that Facebook’s product is something that provides real value and could be the catalyst that leads to the demise of Bitcoin.

“In fact, it might spell the beginning of the end for bitcoin. There are almost no major Wall Street investors of substance with meaningful track records who have invested in bitcoin. To me, it’s fool’s gold. There are no financial statements, no balance sheets, no revenues or assets.”

Dawn of a new decade

A decline in the number of sweeping statements made about the future lifespan or looming demise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is an interesting development in the space.

The dawn of 2020 brings down the curtain on the first decade of the crypto era. Bitcoin led the way with its inception in 2009, and the space has subsequently exploded over the past 10 years.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrapped up his take on the last decade in a blog post early in the new year, in which he vilified the multitude of articles which had inaccurately written off Bitcoin.

“There were over 379 articles written, prematurely declaring the end of Bitcoin. Not only did Bitcoin survive, it thrived, becoming the top performing asset of the decade. The naysayers were proved wrong and we learned an important lesson about human nature: most big breakthroughs are contrarian ideas that people dismiss and ridicule at the start.”

As Armstrong suggests, the success and adoption of Bitcoin birthed an era of innovation that spawned a plethora of cryptocurrency and blockchain projects that have driven the development of the space.

Toward the end of the decade, the interest in the space spilled into mainstream industries. The world’s best investment firms started gaining exposure to crypto while some of the biggest companies began using blockchain technology or developing their own enterprise software and tokens.

A combination of all of these factors may be the reason for the significantly fewer Bitcoin obituaries being published. The focus seems to have shifted to major developments in the space, like Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency plans and moves by regulators around the world.

Cointelegraph News

USDT Moves Every Eight Days on Average, Data Shows

Recent data from crypto data site Coin Metrics shows USDT tokens change locations every eight days on average. 

“The trailing 12 month velocity of @Tether_to on Omni, Ethereum and Tron has rapidly and consistently increased since September and currently sits at ATHs, where on average each $USDT turns over 46 times per year,” Coin Metrics posted on its Twitter account on Jan. 31. 

Moving on three blockchains

Tether, one of the crypto industry’s oldest stablecoin operations, originally built its USD-pegged token on Bitcoin’s Omni token layer. Tether also operates on Ethereum’s blockchain as an ERC-20 token.  

Several years after its inception, Tether issued USDT on Tron’s blockchain in 2019 as an added market option.

Based on Coin Metrics’ tweet, all three blockchains currently host all-time high USDT transaction numbers, in terms of how often each USDT token moves from any given location. 

Crunching the numbers

According to the numbers Coin Metrics listed, each USDT on the market moves approximately 46 times per year on average. 

Taking into account a 365-day year, this would mean an average USDT moves approximately every eight days. 

Such movement shows that the market still uses USDT regularly, even after years of insolvency doubts, lawsuits and questions.

Authorities subpoenaed Tether and allegedly related exchange Bitfinex near the end of 2017 on questions of solvency. 

In 2018, a law firm came forward, stating sufficient backing for USDT. As of recently, Bitfinex sits in the spotlight, facing four lawsuits for alleged market manipulation in 2017. 

Cointelegraph reached out to Coin Metrics for additional comment but received no response as of press time. This article will be updated accordingly should a response come in.

Source Cointelegraph

Europe’s First Crypto License Issuer Warns of New Unregistered Crypto Firm

Major European financial regulator, Luxembourg’s Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), has spotted another unregistered crypto company.

The firm, Crypto Bull, operating under the url, claims to be based in Luxembourg while it does not have permission to provide crypto services in the country, the CSSF announced on Jan. 31.

The warning notice reads:

“The CSSF informs the public that this entity has not been granted any authorisation to provide investment services or other financial services in or from Luxembourg.”

The unregistered firm wants to provide services to British, Spanish and Russian users

According to the website, Crypto Bull positions itself as a “reliable and technologically oriented” platform for cryptocurrency trading. Claiming to be located at 2, place de Paris, 2314 Luxembourg, Crypto Bull does not explicitly note whether the company is licensed or not.

The firm seems to be directing its services to users in the United Kingdom, Spain and Russia, according to the three relevant company phone numbers on the website.

With its domain purportedly registered in February 2019, Crypto Bull has apparently had a chance to mislead some crypto users. In fact, some online reviews claim that the firm is not a legitimate investment platform but rather a crypto Ponzi scheme. Other reviews say that Crypto Bull has already come into the spotlight by authorities in Italy and Spain and was blacklisted as a scam.

Luxembourg was the first European country to license a crypto exchange

Meanwhile, Luxembourg has been friendly to the crypto industry as the country houses major global cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitstamp. The CSSF, which regulates Luxembourg-based crypto exchanges, reportedly issued Bitstamp the first crypto license in Europe back in 2016.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the government of Luxembourg views cryptocurrencies as “intangible assets” that are not subject to income tax until they are exchanged for fiat. As such, all crypto-related transactions were reportedly exempt from VAT within Luxembourg as of August 2019.

In line with supporting the development of the local crypto ecosystem, Luxembourg authorities have been actively monitoring the market for potential scammers and fraudsters. In September 2019, the CSSF red-flagged the activities of a fraudulent clone website that is impersonating cryptocurrency payment services provider BitPay. Previously, the regulator issued a warning against Cryptominingoptionsignal, another crypto-related entity that claimed to be licensed in Luxembourg.

Source Cointelegraph

Bitcoin Price Drops 3% on Brexit and Coronavirus Case in the UK

Bitcoin price (BTC) has been declining amid the recent coronavirus developments as today media reported that patients in the UK and Russia tested positive for the virus. The declining trend has been followed by major cryptocurrencies. 

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

In a day that will mark the departure of the United Kingdom (11 p.m. UTC) from the European Union and the confirmation of 2 cases of coronavirus virus infection in the UK, BTC/GBP pair has been declining by more than 3.7% since midnight.

Looking at the 15-minute timeframe, Bitcoin was trading near ‎£7,274 at midnight and started to decline steadily throughout the early morning.

BTC GBP 15-minute chart. Source: TradingView

Since 1:30 p.m., around the time most American and British news outlets reported on the confirmation of coronavirus, Bitcoin’s intraday price trend has been volatile. The digital asset reached a daily low of £7,015 around 2:30 p.m. with a slight recovery at £7,086 (around 4 p.m.). Shortly thereafter, the digital asset ended up declining again, nearly dropping to a daily low at 4:50 p.m.


BTC GBP 5-minute chart. Source: TradingView

As reported earlier by Cointelegraph, Bitcoin price declined after the coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. and a similar effect seems to be happening in the BTC/GBP price as the health threat reaches a global presence. On the same page, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average Indexes are down by more than 1% for the day.

Following the same trend, the FTSE 100, the main stock index for companies in the UK, declined more than 1%. However, the GBP/USD exchange rate was up today, contradicting the global stock market trend and suggesting an opposite behavior to Bitcoin.

The overall cryptocurrency market cap now stands at $255.7 billion and Bitcoin’s dominance rate is 66.2%. A handful of large-cap altcoins also mirrored Bitcoin’s losses. Most notably, Bitcoin SV (BSV) is down more than 8% and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) more than 5%. EOS is also down by more than 5%. On the winning side, NEM has gained more than 8% and Ontology (ONT) rallied 6%.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Cointelegraph News

Price Analysis Jan 31: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, BSV, LTC, EOS, BNB, ADA, ETC

Price Analysis Jan 31: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, BSV, LTC, EOS, BNB, ADA, ETC

Source Cointelegraph

Trezor Wallets Can Be Hacked, Kraken Reveals

Kraken Security Labs revealed on Jan 31. that Trezor hardware wallets and their derivatives can be hacked to extract private keys. Though the procedure is quite involved, Kraken claims that it “requires just 15 minutes of physical access to the device.”

The attack requires a physical intervention on the Trezor wallet by either extracting its chip and placing it on a special device or soldering a couple of critical connectors.

The Trezor chip must then be connected to a “glitcher device” that would send it signals at specific moments. These break the built-in protection that prevents the chip’s memory from being read by external devices. 

The trick allows the attacker to read critical wallet parameters, including the private key seed.

Though the seed is encrypted with a PIN-generated key, the researchers were able to brute force the combination in just two minutes. 

The vulnerability is caused by the specific hardware used by Trezor, meaning that the company cannot easily fix it. It would need to completely redesign the wallet and recall all existing models.

In the meantime, Kraken urged Trezor and KeepKey users to not allow anyone to physically access the wallet.

In a coordinated response published by Trezor, the team minimized the impact of the vulnerability. The company argued that the attack would show visible signs of tampering due to the need to open the device, while also noting that the attack requires extremely specialized hardware to perform.

Finally, the team suggested users activate the wallet’s passphrase feature to protect from such attacks. The password is never stored on the device as it is added to the seed to generate the private key on the fly. Kraken also noted that this is a viable alternative, though researchers referred to it as “a bit clunky to use in practice.”

The feature also adds significant responsibility to each user. The passphrase needs to be complex enough to not be easily brute forced as well, and forgetting it would completely lock users out of their money.

Cointelegraph reached out to Kraken for additional details, but had not received a response as of press time. The article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Source Cointelegraph

Bitcoin Price Pulls Back to $9.2K, BTC Realized Cap Hits All-Time High

Bitcoin price (BTC) pulled back to $9.2K levels on Jan. 31, or almost 1% lower over the past 24 hours, after exceeding $9,500 earlier today. 

“It’s over 9 thousand” BTC price hits new 2020 high

The move to $9,530 resulted in a new 3-month high for BTC/USD alongside rising volume, pointing to an overall bullish trend that has persisted in the first month of 2020.

Bitcoin daily price chart. Source: Coin360

Meanwhile, the founder and CEO of Global Macro Investor, Raoul Pal, suggested today that more interest rate cuts by the United States Federal Reserve are coming, which is expected to have a positive effect on the cryptocurrency market. 

“The bond market, already rallying on weakness saw the light immediately and 2-year yields collapsed, breaking key supports and a new cyclical low,” he tweeted on Jan. 31, adding: 

“The Fed are going to have to cut aggressively and soon.” 

Pal, a former head of equities and equities derivatives at Goldman Sachs UK office, explains that the bond market trend is now set and that the reaction of central banks is well understood.

“The commodity markets rightly got the signal fast too. The knock-on effects are now spreading slowly into the currency markets. That is where I think where the next phase lies,” explained Pal. 

Bitcoin daily price chart. Source: Coin360

Adding to strengthening fundamentals for Bitcoin such as record hash rate and mining difficulty, on-chain data monitoring service Glassnode reported on Jan. 31 that the Realized Cap (1d MA) has hit a new all-time high over $100 billion. 

BTC Realized Cap. Source: Glassnode 

The Realized Cap is an alternative calculation of Bitcoin’s market capitalization derived by multiplying the price each Bitcoin last traded by the size of each trade. This figure has now passed $103,459,450,323.361, which is higher than the previous all-time high of 103,455,655,651.676 observed on Nov. 18, 2019.

As reported by Cointelegraph, the Realized Cap broke $100 billion for the first time last August. 

Bitcoin following bullish scenario 

In January, the price of Bitcoin is following a bullish scenario, as presented earlier this month by Cointelegraph Markets analyst, Michaël van de Poppe. 

Similarly, the price has broken to the upside in recent weeks, breaking a 7-month old downtrend to the upside, signaling the likely end of downward momentum amid an overall shift in market sentiment. 

“The targets based on previous support/resistance and Fibonacci levels first include $8,000. If that’s broken, the price is ready to aim for $9,100-9,500, which would typically shift the sentiment from fear to neutral,” correctly predicted Van de Poppe in a Jan. 4 analysis. 

Currently, the crypto & fear index reading currently 55, or Greed, according to the latest data, which suggests that a short-term pullback in price is now likely.

Bitcoin Fear & Greed Index. Source: 

“There may be a bit of a selloff but I’m still expecting the bulls to finish the week strong and looking to buy dips,” said Cointelegraph Markets contributor and analyst filbfilb in private comments. 

The overall cryptocurrency market cap now stands at around $254 billion and Bitcoin’s dominance rate is 66.3%. Large-cap altcoin performance was mixed with Litecoin (LTC) as the standout gaining 4.19%, and Ether (ETH) slightly in the green over the past 24 hours.

Bitcoin SV (BSV) was among the notable losers down over 10% by press time, alongside Ethereum Classic (ETC) and Dash (DASH), which were down 10.3% and 7.4%, respectively.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Cointelegraph News

Investigators Bust €6 Million Bitcoin and Gold Fraud Scheme

French, Belgian and Israeli investigators have brought down a scheme that defrauded €6 million ($6.64 million) from French and Belgian citizens, a Jan 29. press release from Europol reads.

The fraudsters promised significant returns for the victims’ investment in what appears to have been a Ponzi scheme.

The international network of fraudsters was allegedly masterminded by a French-Israeli citizen. Authorities arrested nine suspects connected with the scam in 2019.

The investigation started in 2018 and was coordinated by Europol and Eurojust.

The criminals reportedly set up a system promising large gains from investments in Bitcoin, diamonds and gold, and offered their “services” on undisclosed online platforms.

The fraud displays the tell-tale signs of a Ponzi scheme. The organizers promised returns from 5 to 35 percent then pretended to manage users’ wallets and invited them to invest more money. Some of the victims were indeed paid interest to increase their confidence in the platform.

Organizations were also targeted, with a “big French private company” and a local French authority reportedly falling victim to the scam.

Fraudsters succeeded in collecting at least €6 million, with outstanding invoices for several million more. Authorities managed to recover more than one million euros, with the rest supposedly having been transferred outside of the European Union.

French regulators previously noted a significant increase in crypto-related scam threats in the country.

Source Cointelegraph

1% Bitcoin No Longer ‘Crazy’ for Portfolios, Says Morgan Creek CEO

Bitcoin (BTC) represents an investment in technology and innovation, making it a must-have in any portfolio, suggested the CEO of Morgan Creek Capital, Mark Yusko, in an interview with Max Keiser on the Keiser Report, published on Jan. 30.  

Morgan Creek CEO: Bitcoin exposure boosts portfolios

Keiser began by noting that portfolios with even 1% exposure to Bitcoin have more alpha or, in other words, have outperformed just about everything over the past five years. 

By definition, alpha represents the performance of a portfolio relative to a benchmark. Portfolio managers seek to generate alpha by diversifying portfolios to remove unsystematic risk.

“It’s incredible,” said Yusko. “If you took 1% of all the endowments and foundations five years ago, that would have been $6.7 billion out of $670 billion. You took that one percent — half percent from stocks, half from bonds — instead of making 7.2%, which is what they made, they would have made 9.2% or 200 basis points better. Two on 7.2% is a lot of alpha.”

But while conceding that Bitcoin had a non-zero probability of price going to zero, he also pointed out that it offers ten-to-one downside capture. This, according to Yusko, makes Bitcoin one of the most asymmetric assets he has ever seen in his career. 

He also suggests that it will become increasingly normal for traditional funds to seek exposure, continuing: 

“So the idea that ten years from now we won’t look back and say that as a fiduciary of a pension fund, sovereign wealth, family office, etc. you had to have exposure to this asset, is crazy.”

Bitcoin showing staying power as an asset class

Evidence is indeed mounting that Bitcoin becoming increasingly accepted among investors, particularly as the price of BTC is currently climbing back toward the $10,00 mark.  

Cryptocurrency market monthly performance

Cryptocurrency market monthly performance. Source: Coin360

With Bitcoin’s rising volumes and open interest on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, new institutional investment products, not to mention outperforming everything including Amazon stock and gold in recent years, BTC is looking increasingly attractive to investors. 

Admittedly, many fund managers still view Bitcoin as some scam or scheme, notes Yusko, as opposed to what he says is truly an evolution of technology, in which Bitcoin will play a fundamental role as a base layer protocol.

Keiser: “You’re owning a piece of the protocol”

But while both Keiser and Yusko agreed that most cryptocurrencies will fail, Bitcoin and perhaps a handful of other cryptocurrencies may provide an opportunity that’s quite different from dot-com era tech stocks. 

“The protocol is the application,” said Keiser, equating it to an opportunity of buying shares in the concept of email in the 1990s. He continued: 

“With Bitcoin, you have that opportunity. You’re owning a piece of the protocol that’s dominating.” 

As Cointelegraph reported last month, Bitcoin has dwarfed all other assets in returns over the past decade at nearly 9,000,000 percent. So far this year, however, BTC isn’t even the best performing asset. Tesla stock, or TSLA, is up 38% year to date compared to Bitcoin’s 30%.

In October, Cointelegraph reported on investment management firm VanEck explaining why Bitcoin improves investor portfolio performance, with BTC’s low correlation to traditional assets cited as one of the main reasons.

Cointelegraph News