In the past seven days, the price of bitcoin rallied by over seven percent to inch closer to the $7,000. This marks the digital currency’s second up week in a row following a bear market in the second quarter of 2018.
While cryptocurrency investors still seem to be split as to whether bitcoin has found its floor or has further downside ahead, the market – for the time being – is seeing a more favorable market sentiment.
The past week has little bitcoin price-driving news, which can be considered price positive for bitcoin as negative press tends to push the price lower, while no news generally helps to strengthen the price.
The biggest news of the week has been the Binance API hack, which caused one Syscoin (SYS) to be sold for 96 BTC, while the price for one SYS should have been around 0.00003 BTC. Binance responded promptly to manage the incident and announced that it would launch a fund to refund investors who have lost funds due to such and similar events.
The altcoin market also received a boost thanks to bitcoin’s firmness. The biggest winner among leading altcoins this week as NEO (NEO), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), 0x (ZRX), and BitShares (BTS), which rallied by 33 percent, 18 percent, 26 percent, and 29 percent respectively.
This week’s contributions have been provided by Cindy Huynh, John Iadeluca, Ogwu Osaemezu Emmanuel, Pratik Makadiya, Priyeshu Garg, Rahul Nambiampurath and Shaurya Malwa.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, Binance, faced an embarrassing situation on July 3, 2018, as attackers took advantage of an API hack to sell a single Syscoin (SYS) for 96 bitcoins (BTC).
Over a billion SYS were moved from a wallet, rumored to be owned by Binance, after enterprising attackers took advantage of the exchange’s Application Programming Interface (API), which determines the protocol for facilitating the trading of listed cryptocurrencies.
While fears of a possible blockchain hack emerged as the news picked traction, Syscoin’s underlying protocol is built to avoid a 51 percent attack as the currency is “merged-mined” with Bitcoin.
Trading was suspended on Binance for security reasons, and they confirmed an API hack via Twitter. At the time of writing, the exchange has reopened API key creations.
Baidu, the owner of blockchain-based image managing service Totem, will hold a launch conference for its Totem Rewards on July 18, 2018. At the meeting, Baidu will also reveal its blockchain layout to the world, the company announced on its website.
At the conference, vice-president of Baidu’s search division Wu Hailong, Baidu’s search chief architect and director of the blockchain laboratory Tan Waiting, and Zhang Xinyong, director of Baidu search product operations, will formally set in motion the Baidu Totem Rewards and present Baidu’s blockchain layout.
So, what are Totem Rewards, exactly? Totem Rewards serve as an incentive and a tool to ensure equity in the system. At first, the rewards will be available only for a small number of options, including user uploads.
This means that you will be able to obtain Totem points upon uploading photos or performing other actions. However, the company hasn’t revealed any specific consumption scenarios for the rewards so far. Nonetheless, the chance is that the rewards might apply to image transactions and Baidu resources exchange in the future.
CipherTrace reported that in the first half of 2018, there was more than three times the number of cryptocurrencies stolen and used in money laundering activities in comparison to all of 2017. The cybersecurity firm found $761 million had been stolen and laundered from cryptocurrency exchanges since the beginning of 2018, a considerably larger number than the $266 million that was stolen in 2017.
While it’s uncertain why the cryptocurrency industry is experiencing a bearish market, The Telegraph suggested that the sheer number of hacks and heists on cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018 may be responsible for the people’s loss of confidence in the industry and on popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
In 2018, there have been a considerable number of cryptocurrency hacks and heists. One of the biggest heists was the one on a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange known as Coincheck. In January 2018, Coincheck failed to implement basic security measures and lost $500 million in cryptocurrency. While Coincheck has agreed to compensate the hack victims, it will be awhile until the victims receive their lost funds.
For several months, the Thai government has been hard at work formulating amenable laws for its cryptospace. In what seems like a flawless victory for cryptocurrency investors in the country, authorities have now officially confirmed that the previously stated ICO regulation takes effect on July 16, 2018.
According to the Thai SEC statement, there will be dedicated portals for prospective ICO organizers to submit their projects for vetting. Once approved, the ICO vetting portal would, in turn, forward the list to the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission for final screening.
In February 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Stock Exchange of Thailand intensified efforts to formulate comprehensive laws that would govern the country’s ICO industry after a successful stakeholders meeting earlier in January 2018.
At the time, the authorities made it clear to all that it fully supports ICOs as a means of fundraising for startups and would, therefore, enact laws that would create a balance in the system.
“The SEC Thailand encourages access to funding for businesses, including high potential tech startups, and realizes the potential of ICO in answering startups’ funding needs,” the Thai SEC noted at the time.
A study has revealed the possibility of a hidden group of users in the Bitcoin network control a majority of the digital asset. This closed group also completes most of the transactions in the network. Past studies have also highlighted the majority holdings of the digital currency lie in the hands of a few people.
Bitcoin is built on blockchain technology, and as such, once a transaction is completed, its data is stored on the network’s public ledger. This makes it possible for researchers to study and analyze the behavior of bitcoin owners. Researchers Leonardo Ermann, Klaus Frahm, and Dima Shepelyansky released a paper titled “The Google matrix of bitcoin transactions” on July 2, 2018.
The research focused on the time frame between January 11, 2009, and April 10, 2013. They analyzed the ownership pattern by examining past transactions on the bitcoin blockchain. The researchers stated:
“We found the spectrum has an unusual circle-type structure which we attribute to existing hidden communities of nodes linked between their members. The Gini coeﬃcient of the transactions for the whole period is close to unity showing that the main part of the wealth of the network is captured by a small fraction of users.”
Local news outlet Tass reported the development on July 3, 2018. Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce business conglomerate, and early-stage incubator, is the parent company of Viber and stated it is studying Russian policies and legislation that may affect its ambitions. Notably, Rakuten will brand the coin after itself, with intentions to deploy it across owned companies to create a “Rakuten Ecosystem.”
Viber Chief Executive Officer Djamel Agaoua told Tass the “messenger-based cryptocurrency” will be launched in 2019, and confirmed that Viber’s “mother company” is creating the “Rakuten Coin.” Agaoua added:
“This Rakuten Coin will be tradeable in Viber. The cryptocurrency will appear in the Viber wallet and it can be exchanged for rubles, dollars and euros.”
The messaging giant Viber intends to launch an e-commerce platform in Russia in Q4 2018. Rakuten acquired the cross-platform Viber in 2014 for an estimated $900 million. While its popularity in Japan is slim, Viber enjoys a user base of over one billion across the world, with most from Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Central and Eastern Europe.
The Italy-based exchange BitGrail has halted all trading activities and defaulted the site as being “under maintenance” after it’s core team confirmed Italian law enforcement had seized all bitcoin in the companies accounts. This comes months after approximately $170 million worth of the cryptocurrency NANO was hacked and stolen from the exchange.
BitGrail’s troubles seem to be never-ending. Earlier this year in February 2018, the Italian based exchange announced that due to a discrepancy in its wallet-maintenance code, over $170 million worth of NANO (the formerly known “RaiBlocks” cryptocurrency) was stolen from user’s accounts. A plethora of lawsuits, user uproars, and pending criminal investigations followed shortly after, all seemingly normal whenever hundreds of millions worth of a digital asset is stolen or “lost.”
The BitGrail saga may be coming to a finale though, as, on June 15, 2018, Italian authorities confirmed they were seizing all Bitcoin holdings on the BitGrail’s platform pending criminal investigation. BitGrail has since suspended all trading activities, and all links on their homepage link directly back to the announcement confirming authority involvement.