Shares of Long Blockchain Corp. LBCC, +2.14% rallied 8.2% in premarket trade Friday, after the company formerly knows as Long Island Iced Tea Corp. said it has decided not to buy Bitcoin mining rigs. Instead, the company said it will focus its efforts on “seeking to enter into and ultimately consummate” its previously announced proposed merger with Stater Blockchain Ltd. The company, which said in December said it was changing its focus on investing in blockchain technology, said in January that it cancelled plans for a public stock offering that the proceeds were going to be used to help purchase 1,000 Antminer S9 mining rigs and 1,000 APW3++ PSUs. “While we continue to believe in the value of mining equipment to the blockchain ecosystem, the purchase of these machines – which was negotiated as a no-risk option to the Company – was just one of the multiple strategic avenues we have been considering,” said Shamyl Malik, head of the company’s blockchain strategy committee. The comapny’s announcement comes as bitcoin futures XBTH8, -6.11% extended their recent selloff toward a new low since inception. Long Blockchain’s stock has tumbled 24% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, -1.72% has gained 24%.
Reports alleging a hack involving the Experty initial coin offering (ICO) in which hackers made off with an excess of $150,000 are now surfacing.
Successful Phishing Attempt
The hacker successfully managed to trick people into sending ether funds to a wrong address. Users that had signed up for notifications related to the ICO received an email stating that they could buy Experty tokens (EXY) in exchange for ETH transferred to a particular wallet.
Experty is a technology company engaged in making a VoIP enabled calling system. It is similar to Skype except for the fact that strangers are paid to share their expertise over phone calls. As stated on their website, through Experty any influencer, professional, or expert can grant instant access to their knowledge from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world.
The Experty token (EXY) is used over the platform for payments between users and experts, and the ICO has set a maximum supply of 100 million EXY tokens.
In its official press release, Experty stated that the company’s mission is to focus on solving the talent crisis in the blockchain community by allowing experts to monetize their skills through a Skype-like voice and video application. Payments are handled through an automated smart contract system using Experty’s native token EXY, allowing companies to obtain the talent they need and the blockchain community to continue to expand and flourish.
All users that had subscribed to the Experty ICO notifications received a phishing email on January 26 and 27, 2018 announcing the pre-sale phase of the EXY tokens. Individuals interested in the ICO were asked to transfer Ethereum to the hacker’s account. In this way, several users were easily duped into transferring ether to an anonymous account.
Those who had done their due diligence would have noticed that the original ICO sale is scheduled for January 31, 2018. Despite an announcement by the Experty team that only Bitcoin Suisse will be handling the sale of tokens, several overly enthusiastic users fell victim to the phishing scam.
Assessing the Damage
The scam affected over 71 people, netting the hacker an ether amount worth a surplus of $150,000. However, as per the screenshot posted by Chris Koerner, there remains a possibility that the total number of people scammed is much higher, given that the hacker is said to have used multiple wallets to transfer money.
You heard it here first: The @experty_io#ICO just now got HACKED. It was one of the more legitimate and hyped ICOs, and they even used @BitcoinSuisseAG (same as $OMG) for all KYC. All customer data was leaked. Just got an email. Stay safe, and avoid @experty_io ICO. pic.twitter.com/pVM4l8gzWX
— Chris Koerner | No BS Crypto | Altcoin Expert (@noBScrypto) January 27, 2018
The company in an official statement on its website has warned users that:
“We are aware of ongoing scams, such as offering extra tokens for ‘open crowdsale’ and impersonating members of the team. These are not true and are scams. Contributions will only be accepted through Bitcoin Suisse. All community contribution will go through Bitcoin Suisse platform only.”
The details of the subscribers to the ICO notifications is said to have also been compromised. The hacker may have procured users’ information by hacking into a computer belonging to Experty’s Proof of Care review division. It was initially promised that Experty would give EXY tokens worth $120 to everyone in the subscriber database. In a statement dated January 29, 2018, though, the company announced extra compensation for users who got scammed.
An Austria-based cryptocurrency startup Coinfinity is reported to complete the first Bitcoin ATM transaction made using the Lightning Network (LN).
Coinfinity is already known for having made a number of innovative moves like deploying the first Bitcoin ATM allowing a person to exchange bitcoins and cash as well as introducing a web-based cryptocurrency trading platform in Austria.
But the company isn’t going to stop. That’s why another landmark event became known a couple of days ago was quite an expected continuation . Coinfinity completed the first off-chain Bitcoin ATM transaction across the Lightning Network.
The Lightning Network is a decentralized network of “payment channels” that is based on the bitcoin blockchain. Users who install the Lightning software and establish connection with the network have the option of opening up payment channels with other users. Being an in-development solution to the bitcoin scalability issue the Lightning Network allows to make micropayments between two parties without a necessity to broadcast directly to the blockchain which contributes to reducing transaction fees, increasing the speed of the whole payment process as well as enhancing privacy. Though Lightning Protocol 1.0 was released in December, 2017 it has already won attention from the side of developers.
Being initially proposed with an aim just to make the Bitcoin network more useful, the unique Lightning Network is progressively developing and showing the growth of Lightning nodes. Despite the alpha-stage testing, the main Lightning Network already has 417 nodes and over 1,000 open payment channels.
In January, the first “pizza transaction” of the Lightning Network took place in the framework of which a user purchased a router from TorGuard through an LN payment. It was the first recorded case of an LN payment utilized for buying a physical item, nevertheless, the company had started to accept LN payment for its VNP earlier.
The development and implementation of the Lightning Network is gaining momentum. However, users should be aware of the fact that the software before a production release may have some bugs and errors that could potentially result in LN funds losses.
Let us also recall that in January the San Francisco-based tech company Blockstream announced the launch of the micropayment processing system called “Lightning Charge” with a view to provide developers with an easier way to build payment apps on top of the Lightning Network.
After bitcoin‘s struggles last month, several analysts see other digital coins gaining ground in a cryptocurrency world that is trying to mature.
tumbled 28 percent in January amid a widespread sell-off that saw just a third of the 15 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization rise for the month, according to CoinMarketCap data.
“Altcoins are going to become more dominant,” said CNBC‘s , co-founder Investitute. He noted that bitcoin transactions are getting more expensive, and the cryptocurrency is turning into more of an investment asset than a unit of exchange.
“I love bitcoin. I trade it. I own some right now, but I own far more of , neo and some of the others,” Najarian said. He expects the total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies will quadruple to $2 trillion this year.
The top three performing cryptocurrencies in January, among the 15 largest, were neo, stellar and ethereum, according to CoinMarketCap. Bitcoin‘s share fell from about 38 percent to 33 percent of the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies, the website‘s data showed.
“I think ethereum will overtake bitcoin in terms of market size,” said Nick Kirk, quantitative developer and data scientist at Cypher Capital, a cyrptocurrency trading firm. He expects more projects based on ethereum‘s platform will deliver throughout the year, such as coin for online casinos called FunFair, and Dent, a coin for buying mobile data.
But the majority of lesser-known cryptocurrencies fell in January. , which stole the spotlight from bitcoin in 2017 with a gain of 35,500 percent, lost half its value in January. , which had soared in December, fell 30 percent last month. Monero, which focuses on user privacy, dropped 22 percent.
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“The sad truth with the cryptocurrency market today is that market capitalizations and price fluctuations are not necessarily correlated with actual user adoption traction and on-the-ground reality,” said William Mougayar, blockchain investor and author of “The Business Blockchain.” “Many other alternative currencies will have their moment in the limelight, but their lasting value will remain to be proven.”
However, based on measures of ecosystem size, and the number of developers and adopters of real projects, Mougayar said bitcoin and ethereum should remain dominant and ripple has a “good chance” to be a leader in enterprise use cases.
The overall market capitalization of cryptocurrencies dropped 40 percent, to about $500 billion at the end of January, from a record hit earlier in the month of $832 billion.
“The major trend is [it] just appears that the big bubble is cooling down or popping,” said Erik Voorhees, CEO of digital asset exchange ShapeShift. It‘s a “speculative cycle cool off.”
He told CNBC on Wednesday that the recent sell-off could send bitcoin into a $4,000 to $9,000 range.
Change in market share of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the last three months
The cryptocurrency briefly fell below $9,000 Thursday for the first time since late November, following reports that raised concerns about increased regulation in India and potential price manipulation at a major exchange. On Friday, for the first time since Nov. 24.
Worries about a crackdown in South Korea and tighter restrictions in China weighed on bitcoin‘s price in January. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also stepped up its efforts to halt speculation in digital currencies, particularly token sales known as initial coin offerings, or ICOs.
“I think regulation is a recognition that something is both valuable and potentially dangerous,” Najarian said. “I expect that ICOs will be the initial focus and eventually exchanges will be more and more of the focus.”
As a result, Najarian expects half of the cryptocurrency exchanges in the world to close this year. But he expects more so-called cryptofunds to grow.
Financial research firm Autonomous Next also predicts the number of cryptofunds will jump to 500 this year, nearly triple 2017‘s year-end figure of 175.
Anecdotally, interest is growing. Najarian said his lawyer, who helps clients set up hedge funds and investment vehicles similar to private equity funds, was getting one call a month about setting up a cryptofund. In the last few months, the number of calls jumped to 50 a month, and since December the lawyer has set up three such funds a week, Najarian said.
“What we‘re going to see is an explosion,” he said. “As they come through, they‘re going to change volatility and change markets because that‘s an awful lot of capital that‘s going to be charging into markets.”
With its ideator somewhat shrouded in mystery, blockchain is being heralded as the next-generation technology that some predict will have an equal or greater impact than the birth of the internet.
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (supposedly a pseudonym) published a whitepaper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System.” Nakamoto’s paper posits that blockchain technology can be used to allow the exchange of peer-to-peer payments without the need for traditional financial institutions to host such transactions.
The beauty of the blockchain for many is its unchangeable nature. Through a combined use of cryptography, a peer-to-peer network and a protocol, blockchain hosts a distributed, immutable ledger. As a result, it promises to host much more than digital currencies. In fact, it may just be the marketplace of the future, where goods, services and assets can be exchanged without the need for traditional business frameworks.
Many technologists (myself included) argue that blockchain will have a transformative impact on business processes and will democratize innovation, making it possible for small businesses to play in the same sandbox as their enterprise counterparts.
Today, data is being heralded as the new gold, particularly big, structured data. Such data holds value in that when combined with applications and other technologies like machine learning, the results are powerful. Take virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa that rely on natural language processing (NLP) and massive sets of data to effectively communicate with smartphone users.
Without massive sets of data to train and interact with, the application alone holds hardly any value. Given that you need both to monetize and market applications or solutions, a startup or small business has little chance of success since each lacks big data — or very much data at all for that matter. Despite having a great product and a solid business, some small businesses even operate for years without sophisticated tools like a CRM or email marketing automation, for example.
The digital universe is growing at such a rapid rate that even enterprise companies cannot keep up with the maintenance and management of data. According to IDC, “Like the physical universe, the digital universe is large — by 2020 containing nearly as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe. It is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe — the data we create and copy annually — will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.”
Businesses that can leverage AI and monetize its data are well-positioned to derive actionable business intelligence and value, according to a 2017 study from Accenture.