Rapid bitcoin rally cheers crypto market investors, others wary

Bitcoin hit its highest level in 10 months on Tuesday, raising hopes among cryptocurrency enthusiasts of greater mainstream acceptance as an escalating U.S.-China trade war roiled global markets, but others urged investor caution.


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Hackers steal over $40 million worth of bitcoin from one of the world’s-largest crypto exchanges

Binance warned that "hackers may still control certain user accounts and may use those to influence prices" but said it would cover the incident "in full," meaning users' funds would not be affected.
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SEC Suspends Trading In Oklahoma-based Bitcoin Miner’s Shares

The U.S. Securities watchdog has suspended trading of shares in Oklahoma-based cryptocurrency exchange and mining firm Bitcoin Generation (BTGN).

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it took the action due to concerns about the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace about BTGN’s public statements regarding the viability and valuation of a bond that it purportedl
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Bitcoin Buying Machines Installed In Over 2000 US Locations

Coinme, the largest Bitcoin kiosk network in the world, expanded its Bitcoin buying machine services in the United States by installing more than 2100 Bitcoin ATMs across 19 states in collaboration with Coinstar.

Coinme became the first licensed Bitcoin kiosk company in the US in 2014.

Coinme CEO and co-founder Neil Bergquist said that after its success in select Albertsons and Safeway stores a
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Thailand tows bitcoin trader’s floating home; owners may face death sentence

Thailand's navy has towed a floating home owned by an American bitcoin trader and his Thai girlfriend. They currently face possible death sentences or life imprisonment.
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Bitcoin Crosses $5000

Bitcon crossed $ 5000 for the first time in four and a half months to reach $ 5,080, its highest level since November 19, 2018. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was already beginning to inch towards $ 5,000 Tuesday, and crossed the mark towards the end of the day, representing an increase in excess of 20 percent. After dropping below $ 5000, Bitcoin climbed back to regain
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The Ledger: ‘ICO’ Settlement Learnings, Apple Card, Bitcoin Trading Faked

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been cutting deals in recent months with cryptocurrency projects it has deemed to be in violation of the so-called Howey test, a rule-of-thumb for determining whether an asset qualifies as a security and, therefore, must be registered with the agency. I spoke with some of the entrepreneurs who ran afoul of the commission to learn what they might have done differently and where they believe the industry is headed.

Victor Santos, CEO of Airfox, a peer-to-peer lender that raised $ 15 million in a 2017 “initial coin offering,” or ICO, expressed regrets about his company’s fundraising on a call with Fortune. As part of an agreement reached with the SEC in the fall, Airfox agreed to pay the agency a penalty of $ 250,000, to offer investors a refund of their money plus interest, and to file regular, audited financial statements moving forward, turning the startup into something of a quasi-public company. “What we’re hoping for is by us being compliant,” Santos says, “we’ll be ready when new regulation comes out.”

Santos is hoping his interaction with regulators will “open up the mind of the SEC to create new types of frameworks, like Switzerland has done,” he tells me. Particularly, he would like U.S. regulators to recognize different classes of crypto assets, such as “payment,” “utility,” and “asset” tokens, that fall under different legal regimes, some outside the traditional classification of securities. (For comparison, see this legal brief on the Swiss state of affairs out of PricewaterhouseCooper.) Whichever way the chips fall, Santos says he felt that working with the SEC would be a better bet for his company in the long term than fighting it.

“The golden days of crypto, with free-flowing capital everywhere, without know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering [compliance] anywhere–that’s not gonna last,” Santos says. His advice to peers: “Outside of moving to Switzerland,” he says, “you have to register with the SEC.”

Another cryptocurrency project, Gladius, which raised just under $ 13 million in a 2017 ICO to build a decentralized content distribution network, also recently settled with the SEC. The outcome was similar to Airfox’s, except Gladius dodged having to pay a financial penalty to the commission. The SEC let the company off the hook with a lesser punishment because Gladius was the first cryptocurrency business to self-report its violation to the agency in the fall–a move that 20-year-old CEO Max Niebylski described on a call with Fortune as “jumping into the jaws of the beast and making it to other side.”

Now Niebylski says he is offering input to the SEC on ways the commission might update its regulations. One area Niebylski deems to be “grossly outdated,” he says, is a stipulation requiring companies to be able to reissue securities. This condition is, typically, not a problem in a world that transacts in classic equity shares. But as any cryptocurrency enthusiast will tell you, blockchain-land is incompatibly quirky. Investors who lose the private keys to their digital wallets have little recourse to recover their precious cryptocurrency. Once tokens are gone, they’re gone.

It remains to be seen how U.S. regulators will ultimately come to grips with the cryptocurrency question. The Brookings Institute’s Timothy Massad, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is calling on the SEC to take the lead as the industry’s main watchdog. Meanwhile, Ted Livingston, CEO of the Tencent-backed chat app Kik, has pledged to fight an expected SEC enforcement action relating to his startup’s 2017 token sales. The courts may have the final say.

Amid all the uncertainty, at least one thing remains clear: the SEC is willing to forgive the sins of transgressors, at least in part, as the Gladius case shows, as long as they come clean. Regulators have kicked the log, in the other words, and now we must to see what creepy-crawlers slither out from underneath.

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Robert Hackett
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DECENTRALIZED NEWS

To the Moon… Apple debuts credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. Square wants to pay Bitcoin developers in Bitcoin. Banks should warm up to fintech startups. ICE’s Bakkt, which has yet to launch, is valued at more than $ 700 million.

…Rekt. Bitcoin is in the dumps. Most of the trading is fake, anyway. U.S. budget deficit is out of control. Ex-Enron CEO is exploring blockchain. Mexico considers banning crypto exchanges. Facebook failed to protect people’s passwords. Recession watch: the yield curve inverted.

BALANCING THE LEDGER

Bermudian Premier David Burt dropped by Fortune’s offices to share his plans for stimulating the island’s economy on the latest episode of Balancing The Ledger. He discussed cryptocurrency regulations, taxi-hailing apps, and Canada’s disastrous QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange.

BUBBLE-O-METER

Fake it till you make it. The overwhelming majority of spot Bitcoin trading on unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges is fake, claims a lengthy report out of Bitwise, an asset manager vying to list the world’s first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF. Out of aggregated $ 6 billion in average daily Bitcoin trading volume reported by the top 81 exchanges on CoinMarketCap.com, a popular industry tracker, only about 5% is real, says Bitwise. That’s a mere $ 273 million.

FOMO NO MO'

Golden goose. Facebook is reportedly planning to launch a price-fixed “stablecoin” backed by a basket of global currencies. Ted Livingston, CEO and cofounder of the Tencent-backed chat app Kik, believes that the company’s ultimate ambition is to dethrone the U.S. dollar as the world’s global reserve currency. While that might sound extreme–especially given that Facebook hasn’t even debuted its product yet–Livingston details the path by which this might be achieved in a post on Medium.

Not that long ago the world’s reserve currency was gold, where the value of a dollar was pegged to the value of gold. But then one day the US decided to unpeg the dollar from gold, paving the way for the dollar to replace gold as the world’s reserve currency. So here is my question: what will stop Facebook from doing the same?

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Ledger. Find past editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here. Question, suggestion, or feedback? Drop us a line.

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Crypto exchange Binance now lets you buy Bitcoin with a credit card

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Despite the plummeting prices, buying your way into the world of cryptocurrencies is getting easier every day. 

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, announced on Thursday it now supports purchases via credit and debit cards. 

Visa and Mastercard are currently supported, and users can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and XRP. To do so, go here, choose the coin, enter the amount of coins you want to buy, enter your credit card details and you’re ready to trade those with the 150 coins and tokens supported by Binance.  Read more…

More about Cryptocurrency, Binance, Tech, and Cryptocurrency Blockchain


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You’ll Soon Be Able To Buy Bitcoin at the Grocery Store

Bitcoin might not be the red hot commodity it was a year ago, but it’s taking its biggest step yet toward the mainstream world.

Coinstar, whose machines are found in supermarkets across the country and help people get rid of their spare change, has announced plans to let people convert cash into Bitcoin.

“Coinstar is always looking for new ways to offer value to our consumers when they visit our kiosks, and Coinme’s innovative delivery mechanism along with Coinstar’s flexible platform makes it possible for consumers to easily purchase Bitcoin with cash,” said Jim Gaherity, Coinstar CEO, in a statement.

Don’t count on using spare quarters, dimes and pennies in this case, though. Bitcoin via Coinstar can only be purchased with paper money (as much as $ 2,500). Investors will go to one of the company’s participating machines and select the “Buy Bitcoin” option on the screen, entering their phone number.

After inserting however much they want to spend, they’ll receive a voucher with a redemption code, which they can enter on a Coinstar operated Website.

Coinstar has 20,000 machines around the world and has become the de facto place for people to get rid of their jugs of spare change. It’s not clear right now how many of those will sell Bitcoin, however.

Bitcoin could use the boost. After seeing prices crash most of last year, the cryptocurrency is currently selling for about $ 3,600, well off of its December 2017 highs of $ 19,783. Supporters are hoping for a rebound this year.

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The Bitcoin ‘pyramid scheme’ continues to collapse

The ancient Egyptians made pyramids to last forever. Wall Street’s pyramid schemes aren’t nearly as durable. Bitcoin, while not officially a product of traditional Wall Street, is a pyramid scheme. A fraud. But it is best described as a “confidence game.” I’ve been calling it a “bitcon” for a long time. And now the pyramid…
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German Crypto Exchange Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel

German cryptocurrency exchange Bitcoin Group SE acquired investment bank Tremmel Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH, aiming to significantly expand its service portfolio. The purchase price was not disclosed, but the company said it is in the lower seven-digit euro range. With the acquisition, Bitcoin Group expects to obtain the use of Tremmel’s banking license.
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