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Category Archives: Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency tracking improves — but how? – FCW.com

Posted: November 9, 2019 at 8:45 am

Law Enforcement

The IRS and other tax enforcement agencies are touting big improvements in tracing the use of cryptocurrencies in tax evasion and other criminal schemes. They just don't want to talk about how.

On Friday, officials from the J5, a cooperative consortium of tax investigation and enforcement agencies around the world that includes Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the U.S., wrapped up a week-long event in Los Angeles that brought together criminal investigators, cryptocurrency experts and data scientists.

The J5 was formed last year to help pool international tax enforcement resources and strategies. As the internet and the emergence of decentralized, pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have made it easier for tax evaders to move and hide their money, investigation and enforcement agencies around the globe have slowly realized they are dealing with a common set of challenges.

"The goal of the week was to remove some barriers and work together collaboratively to identify the most egregious tax offenders in the world," said Ryan Korner, executive special agent for the IRS field office in Los Angeles. "I want to emphasize that this week was not just a hypothetical training exercise; all of the participants ... worked together using real data to identify real criminals."

However, the agencies were more tight-lipped when it came to discussing what those leads are, how agencies are making new use of data and what tools they're leveraging. IRS officials said they developed new analysis platforms, generated "dozens" of new leads and were getting close to announcing operational results from the partnership, but offered few specifics on their work or what new capabilities they have developed to track cryptocurrency.

"I don't want to necessarily name any of them specifically, but we do have the tools in place today that we didn't have in place even six months to a year ago to take what was an anonymous form of payment and moving funds and really make it so it's not anonymous anymore," Korner told FCW.

IRS Special Agent Chris Hueston, the J5 project lead for the U.S., did cite enhanced data-sharing practices among partner countries as one of the reasons behind the improvement.

"We're able to use some of the data that we've seized through investigations, and we're able to rely on some of our J5 countries for data that they're able to share with us, so once we put those datasets together, as well as open sources and other information that we're able to share legally, those datasets become richer as far as putting a finer point on our targeting efforts for those criminals," he said.

The emergence of decentralized, pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies have created new challenges for financial regulators and tax enforcement agencies, who initially struggled to track and trace payments. A 2017 survey of 564 Bitcoin investors conducted by The Motley Fool found that more than one-third reported they did not plan to report their earnings for capital gains taxation. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress that new currencies like Facebook's Libra raise "serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection [and] financial stability."

While IRS officials were reluctant to discuss what tools they're using, there is evidence that law enforcement agencies are getting better at tracking cryptocurrencies. For example, the Department of Justice has cited the tracking of virtual currencies as a key component for takedowns of a massive child exploitation ring in October.

The use of new commercial software and algorithms may be fueling that improvement. At least two agencies, the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, have engaged in sole-source procurements in recent years with contractor Chainalysis for proprietary software and training on how to track the use of virtual currency. In both cases, the agencies argue the contractor is the only company capable of providing the services.

"The vast majority of FBI personnel investigating conduct involving virtual currency only have access to Chainalysis to perform bitcoin tracing," the FBI wrote in an August 2018 sole-source justification.

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.

Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.

Johnson has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master's degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at djohnson@fcw.com, or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.

Click here for previous articles by Johnson.

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Senator Romney Considers Action As A Nation On Cryptocurrency Threat To Homeland Security – Forbes

Posted: at 8:45 am

As Senator Romney has recently been in the news on his criticism of the President as impeachment proceedings, it seems the former Presidential Candidate and Republican Senator from Utah might want to impeach cryptocurrency from the United States based on the threat level it may pose to national security.

During a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs, Senators asked leaders from the FBI, Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center questions on Threats To The Homeland, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) raised the prospect of whether the U.S. needed to take action on cryptocurrencies or not worry about them. The FBI took no time in responding how cryptocurrencies are a significant problem that will get bigger and bigger.

WASHINGTON, DC - September 23: Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks to journalists before votes on the ... [+] Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Monday September 23, 2019. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Im not in the Banking Committee. I dont begin to understand how cryptocurrency works. I would think it is more difficult to carry out your work when we cant follow the money because the money is hidden from us and wonder whether there should not be some kind of effort taken in our nation to deal with cryptocurrency.

While the Senator invited all three of the witnesses to respond to his question, FBI Director Wray jumped in to note how big of a problem cryptocurrency already is. The FBI Director stated, Well certainly for us cryptocurrency is already a significant issue and we can project out pretty easily that its going to become a bigger and bigger one. Whether or not that is the subject of some kind of regulation as the response is harder for me to speak too.

FBI Director Wray, while being careful not to provide any policy or regulatory recommendation, noted the issues of cryptocurrencies and how they are used by terrorists is part of a larger issue involved with our enemies increased capabilities in using tech and the ability to process anonymous transactions.

...it is part of a broader trend...in terms of the terrorist threat in terms of our adversaries of all shapes and sizes becoming more facile with technology, in particular various types of technology that anonymize their efforts...

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/06/28: Christopher A. Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of ... [+] Investigation, at the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn Building at the US Capitol. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The FBI Director did note that Were looking at [cryptocurrencies] from an investigative perspective including tools that we have to try to follow the money. He also noted that it is not just cryptocurrency but various types of technologies that, if the U.S. doesnt get its act together, could result in the FBI being walled off by technology from doing their jobs in the future.

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Why Is the Stellar Lumen Cryptocurrency Up 18% Today? – Motley Fool

Posted: at 8:45 am

On an otherwise sleepy morning in the cryptocurrency market, most of the major currencies trade within a few percentage points of their value 24 hours ago. Stellar Lumen breaks with this calm trend, trading 18% higher as of 9:20 a.m. EST. There's a fairly simple explanation for why this particular cryptocurrency is surging today, and it's a twist on the familiar theme of share buybacks aimed at controlling dilution.

Stellar Lumen is one of the largest cryptocurrencies on the market today. Sporting a market cap of $1.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com, it's the 10th-largest cryptocoin both by market value and by daily trading volume.

Technically speaking, Stellar is a money transfer protocol designed to simplify transactions across international borders in a variety of local currencies. That core idea is very similar to the larger service known as Ripple. The two crypto networks were both founded by industry bigwig Jed McCaleb, who left the Ripple project amid disagreements with the rest of the company to start Stellar as a fairly direct alternative.

While the Ripple corporation works closely with banks around the world in an attempt to disrupt international payments at the professional level, Stellar is organized as a nonprofit foundation with the goal of achieving similar cross-border transparency for ordinary people.

"For example, using Stellar, a family in Venezuela can keep some of its savings in dollars, or in euros, and protect itself from local economic upheaval -- without having to keep bills 'under the mattress' or operate through a gray market broker," according to an official statement found on Stellar's web site.

Like Ripple's XRP token, Stellar uses the Lumen token to achieve its technology goals. This cryptocoin, traded across the Stellar network, can be translated into different real-world currencies for a near-zero transaction fee.

You can't mine Lumen, creating new tokens on the fly as you do in other popular systems such as Bitcoin. Instead, and again just like Ripple, Stellar created 100 billion tokens at the launch of the new cryptocurrency. The foundation keeps most of these tokens stacked away, allowing a trickle of new supply to reach the open market at a tightly controlled pace.

And that's where we find the reason for today's big jump. Stellar just made a big change to the supply of Lumen tokens.

Image source: Getty Images.

Remember the finite supply of Lumen, set to 100 billion units from the start? Well, that changed last night.

The Stellar foundation destroyed 55 billion Lumen tokens, permanently and irrevocably. Out of the 17 billion Lumens that were allocated to the foundation's operations, 5 billion tokens were destroyed. Reserves for various giveaway programs dropped from 44 billion to 6 billion units. Partnership programs now have access to 12 billion Lumens, down from 25 billion.

It's like an utterly massive share buyback that reduced the total share count by 55% in a regular stock structure, or firing over half of the world's gold into the sun. The underlying ideas are different here but the effects are similar. Lower supply equals higher prices for the units that remain.

The Stellar foundation says that the new supply structure more closely aligns with the foundation's mission.

"We owe it to the ecosystem, to the network, and to ourselves, to be as efficient as possible in our work," the official announcement stated.

We should only keep what we're confident we can actually use. And use relatively soon, at that -- in the next ten years. That's the proper scope for the Foundation. The ecosystem is already moving ahead on its own, alongside [the Foundation] rather than driven by us. We were never meant to be and would never want to be a perpetual custodian for Stellar's programs. Getting to our goal and still having Lumens at the end would serve no purpose.

Spoken like a true nonprofit organization with big dreams and a limited mandate. To be clear, it would be kind of crazy to see a publicly traded company performing a similar move in the form of a supermassive share buyback. But for a nonprofit whose assets are closely tied to a noncash cryptocurrency under its own control, it actually makes sense.

Now, the 55% supply cut did not double the street price of Lumens right away. The market reaction was muted by several factors, including the limited availability of Lumen tokens on the open market and the fundamentally unstable nature of cryptocurrency valuation in this evolving market. The Stellar foundation hopes that this drastic move will move the whole Stellar Lumen project closer to its stated mission of providing global banking tools for the unbanked masses, but only time will tell.

Until then, remember that any cryptocurrency comes with a massive amount of risk to investors. It's a promising market for sure, and the Stellar Lumen currency has increased 25-fold in value since its launch in 2014. But the coin could just as easily drop to zero in the long run, Stellar's good intentions notwithstanding.

Be careful out there, and only invest money you could afford to lose in these risky cryptocurrency vehicles.

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Cryptocurrency This Week: Facebooks Marcus Terms Bitcoin Not A Currency; Regulation A Must, … – Inc42 Media

Posted: at 8:45 am

Jrg Molt is the new self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto

Canadian exchange goes dark with over $12 Mn user funds

Bitcoin rich list has grown richer by 30%

Satoshi, the pseudonym used by the creator of Bitcoin has been officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. However, who is Satoshi? Only Satoshi perhaps knows. However, given the popularity of Bitcoin today, Craig Steven Wright and many others have claimed themselves as Satoshi, yet failed to provide compelling proof.

The latest entrant to claimers is Jrg Molt who also claims own 250K Bitcon. Molt, however, has been badly trolled on internet since then. While his Twitter account @bitcoin_cofound is currently deactivated, according to reports, The self-described co-founder of Bitcoin has four kids from three women and never paid and still does not pay for any of his kids child support. He was convicted several times by German law by not paying his legal obligations.

By the way, 250K Bitcoin is currently worth $2.2 Bn.

Gavin Andresen, who Satoshi had asked to lead Bitcoin.org after departing had once even supported Wrights claim as Satoshi just to retract later. Andresen in his blog later clarified,

So, either he was or he wasnt. In either case, we should ignore him. I regret ever getting involved in the who was Satoshi game, and am going to spend my time on more fun and productive pursuits.

Back to the present and the future of cryptocurrency, while Indias finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has extended her support to the draft Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019, Indias largest bank State Bank of Indias chairman Rajnish Kumar has recently commented,

The way the world is moving towards digitisation, at some stage, a regulated cryptocurrency would be a better bet than an unregulated oneLets see. Because theres a dark side of the internet also. There can be a misuse of digital currencies. That is why regulation is a must.

According to BitInfoCharts, the number addresses holding over 1,000 BTC has grown by 30% over the last 12 months. The 2,148 addresses contain more than 1,000 BTC, amounting to just 0.01% of all Bitcoin addresses, reported Yahoo.

David Marcus, the mastermind behind Facebooks Libra, Calibra has expressed that Bitcoin is digital gold, but its not a good currency for transactions. Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Conference, Marcus also clarified that he wont be heading the Libra Association.

The Search Committee at Libra Association is currently looking for a leader who could represent all the members. I am definitely not going to be that person.

On Bitcoin, he said, I dont think of Bitcoin as a currency. Its actually not a great medium of exchange because of its volatility..I see it as digital gold.

In a recent US Senate Committee on Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs hearing, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, however, maintained that cryptocurrency is a concern thats going to become a bigger and bigger one.

After having failed to attract investors, Vancouver-based crypto exchange Einstein Exchange has suddenly downed its shutters, $12.1 Mn user funds in two. This is in contrast to the exchanges statement to the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) that it would be shutting down within two months.

The BCSC which has now applied to the Supreme Court of British Columbia stated that an interim receiver Grant Thornton Ltd. entered and secured the premises of Einstein Exchange on Nov. 1.

The step has been taken after BCSC received numerous complaints from investors who were not able to access their funds.

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Vancouver-based cryptocurrency exchange latest to shutter with millions owing to clients – Vancouver Sun

Posted: at 8:45 am

Einstein Exchange, in the building at 736 Granville St. in downtown Vancouver, has been taken over by a receiver.Francis Georgian / PNG

When clients of Einstein Exchange discovered last weekend that the website of the Vancouver-based cryptocurrency trading platform had gone dark, many feared they had fallen victim to the latest QuadrigaCX.

The distressed customers were referring to the case of another B.C.-based exchange that earlier this year left some 115,000 clients out of pocket for $260 million in cryptocurrencies and cash in what some termed an exit scam by its late founder and CEO.

This latest case of a crypto exchange leaving millions of its clients dollars in question has investors, regulators and experts warning people to be careful when using exchanges, and calling for clearer oversight of the industry.

This week Einstein clients learned interim receiver Grant Thornton Ltd. had entered and secured the companys premises on Friday to preserve and protect the assets of the company, which owes customers more than $16 million, according to the B.C. Securities Commission.

Kyle Dulay counts himself as lucky among Einsteins customers. The Vancouver man only had a couple hundred dollars in bitcoin on the exchange at the time its site went down. Dulay told Postmedia he had the bulk of his cryptocurrencies in cold storage safely held offline on a piece of hardware rather than held at the exchange.

Lisa Lan, a Burnaby resident, said she had intended to transfer about $3,250 in cryptocurrencies from Einstein to cold storage on the very day the companys website went down. I just missed it by hours, she said.

Lan recommended people do their research and due diligence and remove their cryptocurrencies from live exchanges. Dulay said there should be regulations that govern how exchanges store and use their customers digital assets.

The Securities Commission opened an investigation into Einstein in May after it received complaints that people were unable to access their funds, according to court documents filed by the commission on Nov. 1.

Among those documents was an affidavit that alleged Einstein had improperly used its customers assets. That affidavit, sworn by Sammy Wu, a lead investigator for the Commissions enforcement division, also stated the commission had received complaints that raised concerns about potential money laundering.

The claims have not been tested in court.

Chris Rowell, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of B.C.s Sauder School of Business, said that crypto assets were initially intended to exist and be used outside of the traditional economy. But they eventually came to be viewed as investments that people buy and sell. It is at the intersection of these two worlds, where there is a regulatory grey area, that problems are being seen, he said.

When asked about the regulatory picture in this province, Peter Brady, the executive director of the Securities Commission, said the lack of clarity around cryptocurrencies is a fundamental issue and said more needs to be done.

B.C. residents need to be really, really careful in this space. It is high risk. Not one of these exchanges has yet been recognized by BCSC or any other securities regulator. Their assets may not be protected. They cannot be assured that their transactions are going to happen, he said.

On Oct. 31, counsel for Einstein told the commission that the company planned to shut down due to lack of profit, but that it had sufficient crypto assets to fill withdrawal requests from its customers, according to Wus affidavit. That same day Wu demanded Einstein, through its lawyer, provide information on the location of its cryptocurrencies.

Two hours later, Einstein counsel notified me that they no longer represent Einstein, read the affidavit.

Einstein Exchange did not respond to a request for comment and Michael Gokturk, the companys director, could not be reached. Christine Duhaime, a Vancouver-based financial crime lawyer who has served as the exchanges lawyer, said she could not discuss the file without the companys consent. Duhaime said she was not the lawyer referenced in the affidavit.

In the QuadrigaCX case, company founder and CEO Gerald Cotten had died, taking with him the passwords to the companys cold wallets.

Cottens widow, Jennifer Robertson, recently entered into a voluntary settlement agreement that includes the transfer of about $12 million in assets from Cottens estate to the company.

With files from Bloomberg.

mrobinson@postmedia.com

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Governments race to beat Facebook’s cryptocurrency, libra, at its own game: Don Pittis – CBC.ca

Posted: at 8:45 am

Facebook's scheme to create its own money in the form of the libra digital coin has set off a globalrace to beat the social media colossus at its own game, and Canada maybe an importantplayer.

Since the initialmild reaction from U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell the day after thelibraproject was announcedin June, the world's governments and central banks have realized what somesuggested at the time, that with its global reach and technological savvy, Facebook was blazing a path to dominate money.

Canada has been one of theleaders in researching how to create and managea digital coin backed by a national central bank. But the arrival of thelibra idea, with its persuasive scheme to launch what was essentially a credible new global currency, kicked off a flurry of fresh activity that could transform the way we think of money.

Not only are the world's governments gathering at bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, theBank for International Settlements and the G7 group of large industrial economies toworkon the idea, but there are signs that individual governments, notably China, are racing to be the first to create a functional, tradable government-backed digital coin.

And while the final results are difficult to predict, it is not clear that ordinary citizens, who have grown used to money in its current form,will be happy with the outcome.

"It's interesting how exciting these developments can be," enthused Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins at last week's monetary policy news conference.

Introduced by her boss, bank governor Stephen Poloz, as "one of the world's foremost experts" on the subject,Wilkins has attended global conferences, armed with several years of groundbreaking Canadian research.

As Wilkins explained, what central banks hope to create is not a digital coin like bitcoin and its many imitators. With thatcurrency rising and falling as inexperienced investors triedto make a killing, critics, including me, pointed out years ago that the volatility of such cryptocurrenciesmade pricing goods in bitcoin impractical.

Far more interesting and functional, according to people like Wilkins, is a kind of digital money called a "stablecoin," which is how the libra is conceived. Rather than shooting up in value and plunging like bitcoins, a stablecoin is managed to maintain a relatively constant value.

"There's a whole class of crypto assets called stablecoins," said Wilkins last week. "What's exciting about it is the fact that these kinds of innovations can address what I think are important issues in global payment systems, particularly the cost of cross-border payments."

Wilkins suggested a stablecoin could be used, for example, for people from the Philippines trying to send money home from elsewhere in the world. And in developing countrieswithout a stable banking system it mightbe used domestically as a reliable unit of exchange.

That innovation is exactly what the libraproject has proposed, offering a service to millions of the world's "unbanked" so that they too can buy and sell and save up the value of their labour in a place they know won't be wiped out by inflation or governmentmismanagement.

But the more the world's central banks and the governments they represent thoughtabout the libra, theless they liked it.

To oversimplify, the two main objections to having a private company with such monetary clout were the wrenchingof monetary power out of the hands of central banksand the worry that eventually, without the backstop of a government, a private sector currency would collapse, creating global chaos.

"We know that innovations never come without risk," said Wilkins.

There are benefits to such a stablecoin system, but there are dangers: "The costs that we all know that are related to money laundering and terrorist financing, but also, with respect to safeguarding the value of that stablecoin properly, as well as potentially getting in the way of monetary sovereignty of different countries," she said.

By current thinking, that sovereignty is important. With people using something like libra, the currencies ofsmaller countries such as those in the Caribbean, or notoriously unstable currencies such as those of Rwanda or Argentina would be completely upstaged, aspeople use libra as a better alternative.

"I think Facebook hadn't thought through carefully how important control of currencies is for governments and central banks," said longtime U.S. central banker Simon Potterin an online video interviewby the Financial Times.

Globally, digitization of nationalcurrencies is already underway. Sweden is well on the road to phasing out conventional cash. Canadians have been world leaders in paying with alternatives like chip cards.China, with its powerful centrally controlled state, is ideally placed to push through a digital stablecoin that will also help it keep track of themoney flows of everyone who uses it.

Watch the International Institute of Finance discuss the future of money:

As reported by CBC Radio's The Current, access to information requests by the tech news site The Logicshow that the Bank of Canada has looked into the possibility of following Sweden and gradually eliminating those polymer bills, but such a plan would require a decision of the federal government to proceed.

Unlike China, a Canadian government might be unwilling to take such a radical step when such obvious moves asreplacing low-denomination bills by coins and eliminating the penny attracted such popular wrath.

But the difficulty for governments is that commercial stablecoins such as libra arenot the only competition. If one country creates a functioning state-backed digital stablecoin, it may be difficult to stop thecitizens of other countriesfrom using it.

For Wilkins, no doubt, working out a solution is part of what makes it all so exciting.

But whatever the final outcome, it does seem that our concept of money is changing. Just last month, Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane participated in a discussion at the International Institute of Finance titledThe Future of Money. The fact is, as cash disappears, digital stablecoins may become an essential alternative for certain purposes.

Lane pointed out that as merchants, banks andconsumers increasingly stop using bank notes for transactions, we may reach a tipping pointwhere those notes effectivelydisappear from circulation so that even people who want to use bills don't have the option.

"In the immortal words of Joni Mitchell," quipped Lane, "'You don't know what you've got till it's gone.'"

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

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Cryptocurrency for Africa: Akon Reveals When He’s Going to Launch His Own Coin – U.Today

Posted: at 8:45 am

Pop singer and record producer Akon seems to be dead serious about his cryptocurrency plans.TheSenegalese-American singer recently made an appearance on CNN where he revealed that the launch of the so-called "AKoin," which was first announced back in June, is slated for the beginning of 2020.

A multitude of celebrities has stepped up to launch their own cryptocurrencies. For Akon, however, this is not just another gimmick.

In an interview, he claims that AKoin is meant to empower Africa, the continent that has a large unbanked population.

"The platform is built to be a worldwide platform, but I'm talking to Africa specifically 'cause that's where the need is necessary the most," Akon told CNN.

That being said, Acon's new project will face some tough competition. Libra, which is also expected to be rolled out in early 2020, explicitly stated that it would be focused on the long-term success in African markets.

One might wonder why Akon doesn't want to start with small steps such as bringing electricity to African people (more than 100 mln Africans don't have access to power suppliers). In lieu of focusing on such mundane things, he pitches a cryptocurrency.

However, the pop star is certain that the coin will help to root out the core of Africa's woes -- corruption, and that's where blockchain comes to the rescue.

"If you follow the money, you will always follow the truth."

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Swell the News? XRP Drops 5% as Ripples Flagship Event Kicks Off – Cointelegraph

Posted: at 8:45 am

Ripples annual Swell conference has failed to induce positive price action for associated token XRP, data following the event shows. Price data from Coin360 covering XRP/USD showed selling pressure take over on Nov. 7, as the two-day conference continues.

Having reached local highs above $0.30 on Monday, the pair began expanding as Swell began but subsequently saw a rejection at just above $0.31.

At press time, XRP was back below the $0.30 mark, trailing at $0.28 on major exchanges, its lowest price since the beginning of the month.

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

The disappointing performance contrasted with attendees positivity and did not go unnoticed among cryptocurrency traders on social media.

Swell traditionally sees Ripple executives deliver future plans for the payment network, but has increasingly metamorphosed into a phenomenon of its own. The company is known for its controversial army of social media advocates, who wasted no time in advertising the event to bolster the reputation of both Ripple and XRP.

Incredible opening. The energy here is beyond anything I can explain. You can feel the excitement all around you, one attendee, Twitter user Lifes Tough Media, summarized.

XRP has suffered a similar fate to the majority of altcoin tokens since the cryptocurrency bear market of 2018. XRP/USD is down over 90% against its all-time highs above $3.20.

In a mainstream media interview this week, CEO Brad Garlinghouse nonetheless predicted a mass extinction event across crypto markets, with only 1% of current coins surviving.

I dont think about the price of XRP in the short term, he claimed.

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Why Are Cryptocurrencies Becoming a Mainstay of International Business Platforms? – CryptoNewsZ

Posted: at 8:45 am

The year 2017 marked the cryptocurrency revolution, with the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed to around $20,000 towards the end of the year. Of course, later on, the prices moderated, and as far as the current scenario is concerned, the prices have been leveled off. Despite this, the interest in digital coins and blockchain technology is continuous on the rise.

The increase in the cryptocurrency adoption among all walks of life is very apparent today, more so in the business domain. More and more businesses, ranging from small revenue to large turnover, are coming on board the digital train. Even many countries have realized the importance of digital coins and now altering their regulatory and statutory policies to embrace the ongoing digital revolution. It is not very hard to see why most of the businesses are aligning themselves with the digital revolution. We highlight some of the key points that explain the growing proximity of business towards digital coins and how the crypto revolution is transforming businesses across the globe.

1) Reduction in Transaction Charges: Unlike the other transaction mediums, you need not pay any direct processing fee when you deal with digital coins. It considers as a considerable saving in the cost, especially for large organizations that undertake millions of transactions every day.

Take, for instance, the payment through the credit card wherein a bank acts as an intermediary. The bank will process any payment made through the credit card, and accordingly, the bank will charge a certain amount of processing fee for carrying out the transaction. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are decentralized, which essentially means there is no involvement of third parties in the process (unlike the bank in case of a credit card), thereby reducing the processing fee components involved in conventional transactions. The only expense you have to incur that you are an online merchant is for having a wallet account (Coinpayments or BitPay). These accounts will allow you to accept the payment in terms of various cryptocurrencies and charge a fixed amount for the facility.

2) Faster Transactions: One of the primary merits of dealing with digital coins rather than the conventional fiat currency is the faster transaction speeds that one can achieve with the digital coins. With cryptocurrency being a payment method, transactions happen on a real-time basis. Payment will be credited to the beneficiary account within a matter of seconds or minutes. It is in stark contrast with credit card payments or bank deposits, which takes several days or even weeks to clear.

3) Enhanced Customer Base: With the online taking the lead over the physical stores, the internet is going to be instrumental in spreading the businesses across the segments. The use of cryptocurrency will be able to provide you wider access to the customers. The audience-base you can cater to with the help of digital coins is far greater than the physical reach constrained by the physical boundaries and territorial concerns.

Higher business prospects will ultimately translate into better margins and turnover growth for the company. Even in the B2B segment, we are finding more and more organizations opening up to the idea of cryptocurrency, which helps them to grow their business across nations.

4) Fewer Regulations: Thanks to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, they are not governed by governments or central banks. Digital coins work based on blockchain, which is nothing but a distributed ledger technology aiming to distribute the information democratically among all the participant nodes. While dealing with cryptocurrencies, you need not worry about regulatory changes or government coming up with some new regulation now and then. Less number of regulations also mean there is less hindrance to the business, which in turn translates into more stability and higher business prospects.

5) Adoption of Stablecoin: One of the key impediments in cryptocurrency adoption is the high volatility in the value of the digital coins. It is indeed a very genuine concern, and to overcome it, the field of cryptocurrency is now witnessing the phenomenon of stablecoin. The value of the stablecoin is pegged to some fiat currency, which means the value of the cryptocurrency will not change even in case of the high turbulence in the market. The concept is primarily invented to address the challenge of volatility, and stablecoin has indeed reined in the highly volatile nature of the cryptocurrencies.

Another method that has allayed the volatility concerns is to have a merchant wallet account that converts the cryptocurrency into fiat currency immediately. It means if a customer has paid you in cryptocurrency, then your wallet with immediately transfer the digital coin into fiat money. Because of this convenience, most of the merchant accounts have the automatic cryptocurrency to fiat conversion feature, which minimizes the risk of volatility and loss in value for the businesses.

Despite some inherent challenges, the march of cryptocurrency to become a future mainstay transaction medium is heading in the right direction. With more and more countries now opening up to the idea of digital coins, the contentious issues of opaque policies and non-standardized policy frameworks are also expected to get some clarity soon. Once that happens, the adoption of cryptocurrency is sure to gather the momentum further.

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Why Are Cryptocurrencies Becoming a Mainstay of International Business Platforms? - CryptoNewsZ

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Startup Targets Cryptocurrency Crime – But Will The Big Banks Come On Board? – Forbes

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:12 am

Will cryptocurrencies ever be considered mainstream? Millions of people around the world are invested in Bitcoin and its rivals, of course, but from the point of view of governments, regulators and financial institutions, virtual coins and tokens are still viewed with a considerable degree of suspicion.

Witness the stormy weather that is currently being encountered by Facebook as it presses ahead with plans for its Libra project. Earlier this month, Visa, Mastercard and eBay announced their intention to walk away from the association of companies and institutions that originally agreed to develop and support the new virtual currency. A few days later, ING chief executive, Ralph Hamers told the Financial Times that an ongoing commitment to Libra might prompt banks to cut ties with the social media giant unless it addressed the money laundering concerns expressed by regulators.

And as Dr. Tom Robinson sees it, financial institutions remain extremely wary of exposing themselves - and by extension their clients - to the risks they perceive in the cryptocurrency market. Indeed, hes witnessed that wariness at first hand. Having read about Bitcoin in 2012, he and university friends, Dr. James Smith and Dr. Adam Joyce quit their jobs to set up a company - Elliptic - providing cryptocurrency security solutions. We tried to get institutions interested, he recalls. But they were very concerned about the associations between virtual currency and criminal activity.

Creating A Safe Space

But the worries expressed by financial institutions also pointed to an entrepreneurial opportunity. Banks and fund managers were seeing the emergence of a new investment class that promised rich rewards for those with strong nerves. To be more precise, they were seeing their clients buying into Bitcoin and other currencies. Having initially started out by providing secure custody services for investors, Elliptic developed a solution that would enable institutions to provide cryptocurrency-related services to their customers while steering clear of any association with trading activities that might tarnish their reputations or see them falling foul of regulators and law enforcement.

The demand use case for cryptocurrencies is speculation," explains Dr. Robinson. Thats especially true after the 2017 Bitcoin bubble - even taxi drivers were talking about that. Banks wanted to give their clients access to crypto-assets.

Against that backdrop, Elliptics team developed a system to analyze blockchain trades and identify non-legitimate trading.

Essentially, Elliptics technology tracks the activity on the blockchain and - to put it simply - strips away the anonymity that has been a traditional feature of virtual currency transactions. We link transactions to known entities, says Dr. Robinson. And once these entities are visible, it is possible to assess the risk of a transaction being linked to, say, money laundering, illegal arms trading or the payment of ransomware.

Bypassing Banks

This, in turn, opens the way for financial institutions to engage more confidently with virtual currencies, says Dr. Robinson. And enhanced security, he argues, will be a key factor in opening up a new era of financial services provisions. For the first time, we have an open financial system, he says. Nowadays, you dont have to go to a bank to carry out a transaction. And if you want, you can create your own bank.

But as the high-profile withdrawals from Facebooks Libra project demonstrate, there is still a long way to go before everyone is convinced that the virtual currency marketplace is a safe environment for institutions.

To date, the company has assessed risk on around $1 trillion of transactions. However, it has had more success in providing its security solutions to organizations within the blockchain sector than to mainstream institutions. We have more than 100 customers now, says Dr. Robinson. Most are exchanges and wallet providers but we are also seeing banks, hedge funds and asset managers coming on board. The financial institutions represent a minority, but it is a growing minority.In addition the company has worked with U.S. law enforcement agencies. To

And Dr. Robinson believes more widespread uptake of virtual currencies is on the way. Even if Libra doesnt succeed, I think something similar will emerge. There is real scope to provide services around international remittances and e-commerce. And blockchain analysis will become standard.

Potentially good news for Elliptic, which just raised $23 million in Series B funding to finance its expansion into Asia and the US. The longer-term question revolves around who will dominate the blockchain security market. Entrepreneurial companies such as Elliptic or the bigger players in the digital security space.

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Startup Targets Cryptocurrency Crime - But Will The Big Banks Come On Board? - Forbes

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