NEM Foundation on recent heist: It’s ongoing fight

An official at a Singapore-based foundation promoting the virtual currency NEM says they are keeping tabs on the stolen funds. NHK interviewed the official, who describes the foundation’s efforts as a kind of ongoing battle, referring to last month’s massive heist at a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan.

An official at a Singapore-based foundation promoting the virtual currency NEM says they are keeping tabs on the stolen funds. NHK interviewed the official, who describes the foundation’s efforts as a kind of ongoing battle, referring to last month’s massive heist at a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan.

Hackers allegedly stole NEM units worth more than 500 million dollars from the exchange operated by Coincheck.

Internet records show some of the funds were moved to different accounts or exchanges overseas. The transactions have become active in the last week, with over a quarter of them moved.

The NEM Foundation is tracking the transfers. Its Vice President Jeff McDonald says “Bigger exchanges are not accepting hackers’ stolen Xems which is good. Hackers have mainly had to use smaller exchanges, or even make their own exchange on the darknet. And, hackers have only been able to move a smaller amount even considering that it’s been a long time.”

He says his foundation has made it extremely difficult for the hackers to move the coins, by tagging them. He says his group is engaged in an ongoing fight.

McDonald says overall he doesn’t think the heist is going to hurt the blockchain or NEM. He says his foundation focuses on the development of the technology behind cryptocurrencies, rather than on their prices.

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Crypto markets stuck in regulatory limbo face push out of business

Legislation enacted in April lets companies that have applied for approval continue running cryptocurrency exchanges on a provisional basis while they await a decision. Coincheck, which saw some 58 billion yen ($538 million) of the virtual currency NEM stolen Jan. 26, is one such provisional operator.

TOKYO — Japan’s Financial Services Agency will consider urging unregistered virtual currency exchange operators to withdraw their applications for approval if the regulator finds fault with their internal controls and information security measures.

This approach, aimed at encouraging tighter security and restoring users’ trust, comes in the wake of last month’s massive heist at operator Coincheck.

Legislation enacted in April lets companies that have applied for approval continue running cryptocurrency exchanges on a provisional basis while they await a decision. Coincheck, which saw some 58 billion yen ($538 million) of the virtual currency NEM stolen Jan. 26, is one such provisional operator.

The FSA previously treated operators awaiting approval the same as registered ones, saying that both were under legal oversight. But this window now appears to be closing.

Minister of Finance Taro Aso told reporters Friday that exchange operators awaiting approval would undergo on-site inspections. As of Wednesday, five such businesses had been probed. Aso warned investors to “bear in mind that provisional operators are still in the application process.”

After the Coincheck theft, the FSA decided to investigate the 15 other applicants, on concerns that Coincheck was “just the tip of the iceberg,” in the words of one agency official.

Forty companies had applied to run virtual currency exchanges as of September, when the FSA announced the first round of approvals. Since then, 14 have successfully registered. Of the remaining 26, 10 have closed down, leaving 16 operating while in limbo.

Starting this month, the FSA has informed multiple applicants that based on the results of inspections and monitoring, they have no hope of approval unless they drastically improve their operations. The agency is also working to identify operators that experience repeated system trouble or fail to ring-fence customer assets.

This is not to say that no exchange operators stuck in provisional status will eventually meet the criteria for registration. But some may choose to withdraw from the sector if the time and cost hurdles to qualification prove too daunting.

The law imposes no time limit on the application review, creating a gap that the agency has now moved to fill using its authority to perform on-site inspections.

The sector itself is moving to prod operators out of the limbo state. Two cryptocurrency industry groups — the Japan Blockchain Association and the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association — are poised to agree to form a self-regulatory body, scheduled to launch in April, and only registered exchange operators will be allowed to become members. That decision “likely sends a message to hurry and get registered if you want to stay in business,” according to an FSA official.

The FSA and the industry are at last making similar noises about using the registration system as a badge of reliability to assure customers. But even registered cryptocurrency businesses face problems. One approved operator, the Osaka-based Tech Bureau, encountered a glitch this month in which virtual currencies were sold for free. System troubles have cropped up at big exchanges bitFlyer and Bitbank as well.

Nikkei group company QUICK holds an equity stake in bitFlyer.

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Several Factors Are Driving Renewed Bullish Sentiment for Bitcoin

… of catalysts to explain Bitcoin’s rally, such as regulatory softening by some governments and new technological developments. Even PayPal’s Chief Financial Officer now predicts that Bitcoin might become a favorite payment method. In the meantime, Coinbase and Bitfinex are implementing SegWit to …
· February 21, 2018 · 10:00 pm

Bullish sentiment for Bitcoin is gaining renewed momentum. Investors and financial experts are suggesting a variety of catalysts to explain Bitcoin’s rally, such as regulatory softening by some governments and new technological developments. Even PayPal’s Chief Financial Officer now predicts that Bitcoin might become a favorite payment method. In the meantime, Coinbase and Bitfinex are implementing SegWit to reduce transaction costs.


Several Factors Are Fueling Bitcoin’s Rally

Bitcoin’s current rally has many drivers. One of them is regulatory softening towards cryptocurrency. In this regard, CNBCreports, Brian Kelly, the founder and CEO of BKCM LLC, points out that one of the catalysts for the cryptocurrency’s rally is the fact that the Wyoming House of Representatives unanimously passed two crypto-friendly bills: House Bill 70, and House Bill 19.

House Bill 70 is entitled “Open blockchain tokens-exceptions.” According to State Representative Tyler Lindholm, Bill 70 “exempts initial coin offering [ICO] tokens issued on an open blockchain from Wyoming’s money transmitter and securities laws, as long as the token has not been marketed as an investment and is exchangeable for goods or services.”

On the other hand, Bill 19 is entitled “Wyoming Money Transmitter Act-virtual currency exemption,” and it exempts cryptocurrencies from the state’s money transmitter laws.

Kelly also suggests that another catalyst for Bitcoin’s rally is the South Korean government’s shift from a very hostile stance towards cryptocurrencies to a more supportive attitude, encouraging “normal” crypto trading.

As a result, Kelly concludes:

The sentiment has changed here, which to me is going to start bringing in more investors to the space.

Moreover, John Rainey, CFO of PayPal, is also optimistic about Bitcoin’s future, predicting that Bitcoin will become a popular payment method. When The Wall Street Journalasked him whether “Crypto or bitcoin [will] ever be popular as payments?” Rainey replied:

At some point, there is a very high likelihood. The technology, there is real merit to it. I do think, though, it will be years down the road before we see the kind of ubiquity and acceptance that make it a form of currency that is used every day.

Technological Advances Motivate Bitcoin Optimism

Most importantly, Bitcoin is gradually but surely solving its problem with scalability. Indeed, new schemes and technologies such as Segregated Witness (SegWit), Lightning Network, and Atomic Multi-Path Payments over Lightning, are being implemented to facilitate near-instantaneous low-value Bitcoin payments.

For example, leading Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase and Bitfinex are already implementing Segwit to trade Bitcoin.

Our engineering team has finished testing of SegWit for Bitcoin on Coinbase.

We will be starting a phased launch to customers over the next few days and are targeting a 100% launch to all customers by mid next week.

— Coinbase (@coinbase) February 20, 2018

In one of its earlier announcements regarding the SegWit implementation, Coinbase explained:

For those unfamiliar with SegWit, this upgrade helps reduce the size of transactions, which improves the overall transaction capacity of the Bitcoin network. This upgrade should also help reduce the fees customers pay on bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin price chart - Feb 21 2018 - CoinMarketCap

As a result, Bitcoin has been able to withstand threats and hostile actions from bankers, governments, and world financial authorities. And, once again, as the chart above suggests, the cryptocurrency is starting to attract investors with renewed enthusiasm.

How do you think the softening of restrictions will affect Bitcoin’s value? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, CNBC, Coinmarketcap

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Time for HK to take a serious look at crypto issues

The order also requires financial institutions across the mainland to adopt necessary and effective measures to prevent their existing payment channels from being used for virtual currency trading, in a determined attempt to crack down on cryptocurrency users and investors in China. Likewise, the South …

Coincheck, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Japan, announced last month that it suffered a loss of US$500 million in customer assets as a result of a massive hacker attack.

The incident has once again renewed international concern about the current state and potential risks related to cryptocurrencies.

At present, countries around the world differ in many ways when it comes to the policies and regulatory approaches toward cryptocurrencies.

Take Japan as an example. In recent years the country’s financial regulatory authorities have remained relatively receptive to the trading of cryptocurrencies.

Last year the Japanese government even officially recognized bitcoin as a legitimate means of transaction and exchange, and allowed a total of 11 cryptocurrency exchange platforms to register and operate in the country.

According to statistics, currently nearly one-third of the world’s total bitcoin transactions are cleared in the Japanese yen.

Apart from Japan, Israel has also been relatively positive about virtual currencies.

Shmuel Hauser, former chairman of the Israel Securities Authority (ISA), once said that the Israeli government must clearly differentiate among the blockchain, bitcoin and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

He urged Tel Aviv to establish a proper regulatory framework over cryptocurrency trading in order to set the country on a steady course towards becoming the world’s ICO hub.

On the other hand, some countries and regions, such as Russia, Dubai and Sweden, have adopted a different approach.

Instead of setting up legal frameworks to regulate the transaction and trading of digital currencies, these countries have taken one major step further by issuing their own official cryptocurrencies in order to make it easier for their regulatory authorities to trace inbound and outbound capital flows.

More importantly, by issuing their own virtual currencies, these countries can eliminate black market trading and reduce their tax losses.

However, while some countries have remained receptive to cryptocurrencies and even recognized them as legal currencies, there are also some others, such as China and South Korea, which have remained highly skeptical about the virtual units.

As far as China is concerned, it has been taking a tough stance on cryptocurrencies.

For instance, after banning all ICOs of virtual currencies and shutting down all transaction platforms in the mainland last year, the People’s Bank of China recently issued an order which bars banks and their subsidiaries from providing any form of transaction services for cryptocurrency trading.

The order also requires financial institutions across the mainland to adopt necessary and effective measures to prevent their existing payment channels from being used for virtual currency trading, in a determined attempt to crack down on cryptocurrency users and investors in China.

Likewise, the South Korean government also banned all forms of cryptocurrency ICOs, and required that all virtual currency trading activities must be carried out only in an identifiable manner.

In the meantime, the Seoul administration is also working aggressively to push a bill through the Korean parliament under which all cryptocurrency exchange institutions and their trading activities could be banned within the country.

In comparison, the US, Britain and Singapore have been steering a middle course over the trading of digital currencies.

Simply put, these countries are largely sitting on the sidelines over the trading of virtual currencies, and have no plan yet to ban them altogether.

However, regulatory authorities in these countries are keeping a close eye on any cryptocurrency trading activity that might violate existing financial regulations, and are working painstakingly to warn their citizens against the potential risks of crypto investments.

The biggest challenge posed by the rise of cryptocurrencies is that these digital currencies aren’t tied to any country and can transcend borders easily. As a result, it would be very difficult for any individual sovereign state to oversee and regulate cryptocurrency trading effectively.

That said, I believe in the long run, the establishment of a multilateral regulatory framework would be necessary in regulating the trading of virtual currencies. The European Central Bank has already called upon countries that will be attending the G20 summit next month to pay more attention to the cryptocurrency issue.

As to Hong Kong, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Investor Education Center have made a joint effort in educating the public about the risks of cryptocurrency investments.

Nevertheless, I believe public education campaign alone is not enough. The government should also study how to establish a regulatory mechanism for the trading of virtual currencies so as to protect the interests of our citizens and investors.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 13

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

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Verge (XVG) – Prices Rising

Verge (XVG) – The past week has seen coins like Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), and Verge (XVG) go up in price while most of the cryptocurrency market is stuck in the red – especially today. People are looking at cheap alt coins to fill their portfolio. While this is a smart move, investors must be sure to …

Verge (XVG) – The past week has seen coins like Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), and Verge (XVG) go up in price while most of the cryptocurrency market is stuck in the red – especially today. People are looking at cheap alt coins to fill their portfolio. While this is a smart move, investors must be sure to research their coin and not just throw money at anything with a pulse. Before you know it, it may be too late to get into that one cheapest coin you were looking at. For instance, at this time one year ago, XVG was bouncing around one satoshi, which is is the smallest unit of a bitcoin. By this time next year, it could be too late. After hitting an all time high of around .26 cents in January, Verge has since dropped all the way back down to .03 cents. Right now it sits at about .06 cents.The week was bullish while the day has been bearish.

Verge (XVG) Chart source coinmarketcap.com

Privacy coins like Monero, Dash and ZEC seem to be all the rage right now but a lot of traders looking for anonymity in transactions will find that Verge fulfills their needs most. Verge has at times been labeled a “pump and dump” coin but that may just be because its price has been fluctuating heavily at such a small unit price per coin. At one point Verge (XVG) and Tron (TRX) were rising at very similar paces and some believed they were being pumped together. All “fud” aside, Verge’s future looks promising.

Privacy

Because it holds a permanent ledger of addresses and transaction history, Bitcoin is not technically an anonymous coin. This is where Verge comes in handy. As crypto matures privacy will become more important in the real world.

So how is Verge different from other privacy coins?

Most of the cryptocurrencies that promote anonymity only hide the transactions on their network and some actually reveal users IP’s. If a users ID cannot be protected, then a coin cannot be private. The only coins that follow this privacy rule are Monero and Verge.

Verge’s ledger is transparent and allows anyone to view all of its transactions. Users identities and locations are protected by an integration of tor and I2p, which doesn’t allow IP’s to be exposed. Tor (the onion router) is an IP service which directs traffic through an encrypted network consisting of more than 7000 relays. Verge uses an additional layer of security with I2P because Tor itself is often centralized.

One bonus XVG has on other alt coins is its Wraith Protocol – which allows users to switch between a private and a public ledger. Merchants can use the public ledger for accounting purposes, while users who wish for complete anonymity can switch to a private ledger with just one click. The Wraith Protocol is what makes Verge the only truly untraceable cryptocurrency in existence.

Verge XVG

Verge is not the product of a private company or an initial coin offering , but instead the product of combined efforts of thousands of community contributors.

Verge is one of the easiest coins to be mined on the market because any processor can mine it. in 2018, Verge developers are releasing a mining guide. This feature will allow more and more people to get involved with mining , therefore earning people money through mining. This could easily raise the value of XVG’s price per coin.

Another addition that could easily affect the price of Verge is the implementation of RSK smart contracts. Verge’s development team is already new testing smart contracts to introduce to the Verge community. This implementation will allow easy distribution of Dapps, blockchain-based applications, allowing all creatures to monetize their skills through developing different types of applications within Verge ecosystem.

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