Cryptoassets Take a Breather After Impressive April Rally: Week in Review May 7
The price of bitcoin traded in the $9,000 to near $10,000 range throughout the past week, closing the week only slightly in the green as the market digests the strong April price rally.
Regulation chatter has died down, and investors’ focus is back on how far the price of bitcoin will go in 2018. Even Goldman Sachs is now jumping on the crypto trading bandwagon and will start trading BTC futures, to which the market reacted positively and almost hit the $10,000 mark towards the end of the week.
The altcoin market has a mixed week with some crypto assets in the green, such as ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), and litecoin (LTC) while the likes of EOS (EOS), cardano (ADA) and stellar (XLM) dropped in value week-on-week.
In light of the last few weeks, it seems investors are positioning themselves for a rally in the second half of 2018, much like the one we witnessed last year. However, there are still two major risks factors – the global cryptocurrency regulation meeting at the next G20 and the Mt. Gox Trustee still sitting on a mountain of BTC and BCH he needs to sell – that are keeping investors on their toes.
Whether new money flowing into cryptoassets – from banks who are considering setting up crypto trading desks and new digital asset hedge funds – will be sufficient to support prices in the face of Mt. Gox selling pressure and potential regulation-driven volatility will remain to be seen.
According to Investopedia, Intel has filed a patent that would enable it to manufacture high-grade chips that could make bitcoin mining faster, with very minimal power consumption. The system-on-a-chip (SOC) comes with inbuilt hardware that fast-tracks the entire mining process.
On April 26, 2018, the 17 millionth bitcoin was successfully mined out of a total of 21 million. With this milestone reached, it means that mining the flagship cryptocurrency will keep getting more difficult, hence miners would need more sophisticated mining equipment and a substantial amount of electricity supply to remain in profit.
“It’s an event that makes the market more aware of the scarcity of bitcoin. It will eventually turn into higher prices,” Ansel Lindner, host of the Bitcoin & Markets podcast, remarked back in April.
After every rain comes sunshine; this is precisely the case in the South Korean cryptosphere as the dark clouds of regulatory uncertainties surrounding the Asian nation’s blockchain-based digital currencies are gradually fading away. Now, lawmakers in South Korea are putting preparations in top gear to enact a law that makes initial coin offerings a legal activity in the country.
As per the Korea Times, a group of legal luminaries in the nation has joined forces in a bid to lift the embargo placed on organizing new initial coin offerings in South Korea.
The ten-man team led by a reputable member of the ruling Democratic party, Rep. Hong Eui-rak, is determined to formulate a bill that will see to the legalization of ICO projects and get it endorsed by the end of 2018.
Speaking at an ICO conference held at the National Assembly on May 2, 2018, the lawmaker reiterated that: “The bill is aimed at legalizing ICOs under the government’s supervision,” adding “The primary goal [of the legislation]is helping remove uncertainties facing blockchain-related businesses.”
After recent changes in regulation from the Argentine central bank allowing ATMs to placed at non-banking entities, Odyssey Group is entering the market with an initial rollout of 4,000 ATMs. Continued deployment should see up to 5,000 ATMs within two years, but the Central Bank is citing an end goal of 30,000 ATMs throughout the country.
The country has already witnessed the installation of 200 ATMs as of 2017, but it seems Odysseys are doubling down in the Argentine market. According to their website, 90 percent of investors are from Argentina, with the rest coming from Mexico and Brazil.
The news comes at a time when the Argentine peso is going through a crisis, with the national currency depreciating against the dollar more than two percent on May 2, 2018, even after central bank intervention.
In times of crisis, people tend to focus more heavily on other assets like commodities, which makes this a perfect time for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be introduced into the market. Besides offering traditional ATM services, the ATMs are also cryptocurrency compatible and bi-directional, allowing users to buy or sell bitcoin, litecoin, and ether.
The fintech startup Revolut has unexpectedly withdrawn support for cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bitstamp and Kraken, BTCManager has learned on May 3. Bitcoin enthusiasts can no longer use the banking app to withdraw from exchanges and echoes similar moves made by UK banks in the past.
Revolut has marketed itself as a cryptocurrency friendly service, announcing buy and sell support for major cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, litecoin, and ether. However, the author discovered that on May 3, a payment from Kraken had been ‘reverted’ and after contacting support, we learned that Revolut no longer supports cryptocurrency-related services like Kraken.
Examining Revolut’s Twitter and blog, we see no official announcement of forewarning for their customers. After contacting Kraken, we found out that the exchange had been dealing with a lot of requests due to Revolut’s decision.
British banks Barclays and Lloyds have also in the past restricted bank accounts related to bitcoin trading, as reported by BTCManager in February 2017.
According to a New York Times report on May 2, 2018, the financial powerhouse is set to begin its bitcoin trading desk in Q2 of 2018, using its own money to trade bitcoin contracts, which correlate to the price of bitcoin.
The move marks a huge step in the right direction, as the involvement of a large-scale institution is bound to create trust and interest towards the cryptocurrency sector.
The bank would not trade “actual” bitcoins, instead, dealing in bitcoin “contracts,” offered by the likes of CBOE global markets and the crypto-exchange BitMex. Reports confirm that Goldman has appointed a team of legal experts to explore regulatory limitations and opportunities pertaining to the holding, trading, and dealing with digital assets.
However, the bank does not share similar, highly-optimistic sentiments as cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and doesn’t consider cryptocurrency as a “threat” to traditional finance.
According to Rana Yared, an executive with Goldman: “I would not describe myself as a true believer who wakes up thinking Bitcoin will take over the world. For almost every person involved, there has been personal skepticism brought to the table.”
The latest mobile app to be compromised for “cryptojacking” is the globally popular Facebook App, including its ‘Messenger’ platform. According to reports, a new computer virus, called FacexWorm, injects Facebook, Google Chrome, and FB Messenger with a malware code that allows devious hackers to gain information of the victim’s social passwords, cryptocurrency account details, while also running a crypto-mining script in the background; without any permission of the user.
The virus, called FacexWorm, was discovered in April 2018 by researchers at Trend Micro, a Japanese cybersecurity firm.
As per Trend Micro, the FacexWorm virus is related to 2017’s malicious facebook spam campaigns – which took place in August 2017 and December 2017 – and injected victims with the ‘Digmine Virus,’ which borrowed the computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency.
According to Trend Micro, “FacexWorm’s modus operandi is similar to the previous two campaigns, but with the addition of new techniques aimed at cryptocurrency users.”
Four of the world’s largest car makers, BMW, General Motors, Ford, and Renault, announced on May 2, 2018, they will form a group to explore the potential of blockchain in the automotive industry. They will partner with technology providers and startups to form a consortium with the aim of applying blockchain technology to the automotive sector.
The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) will partner these car manufacturers with major companies with a stake in blockchains like Accenture and IBM, and blockchain industry groups like ConsenSys, Hyperledger, and Blockchain at Berkeley. The goal is to make transportation “safer, more affordable, and more widely accessible using blockchain technology.”
The scope of the group will include data tracking and supply management, consumer finance, and more futuristic applications like autonomous vehicles and ride-shares.
Reddit, one of the largest online forums in the world, is gearing up to resume accepting bitcoin payments.
The platform had earlier disabled bitcoin payments in March 2018 leaving subscribers with only PayPal and Credit Card payment options. Issues concerning high fees and problems with Coinbase API integration were responsible for the decision to stop accepting bitcoin payments. The forum also wishes to expand its crypto payment acceptance spectrum by adding a couple more cryptocurrencies.
Reddit boasts many of the large popular cryptocurrency niche communities with most of the coins having their own subreddit which are moderated/frequently visited by the core team.
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) announced on May 2, 2018, its Enterprise Ethereum specification strategy by publicly releasing the company’s Enterprise Ethereum Architecture Stack (EEAS). The new release is supposed to support and streamline the development of the next generation of Ethereum applications which in turn will facilitate the implementation of smart contracts.
According to Finextra, the new development aims to provide the building blocks to enable decentralized and connective intelligence. EEAS will provide the infrastructure for the next generation of Ethereum applications and will be made publicly available for download.
Ron Resnick, the EEA Executive Director, commented: “With the public release of the stack, the EEA is on its way to delivering a world-class standards-based specification for Enterprise Ethereum solutions with a TestNet and certification program to follow.”