The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land Sales

The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Trading Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land Sales

In this edition of The Daily, we cover the launch of an OTC trading desk by P2P exchange Hodl Hodl and news about a Belarusian exchange trading cryptocurrencies out of New York. We also take a look at Decentraland’s new voting platform that allows members of the community to express their opinions on future development of the virtual reality project.

Also read: SEC Ramps Up Enforcement, 60% of Smart Contracts Are Dormant

P2P Exchange Offers Non-Custodial OTC Trading

The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land SalesPeer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange Hodl Hodl has launched an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk in partnership with Tenbagger, a brokerage company licensed in the European Union. The new platform will allow clients to buy and sell large amounts of cryptocurrency with same-day settlement. It will also operate independently from Hodl Hodl’s existing P2P platform that currently supports purchases and sales of BTC and LTC.

Latvia-based Hodl Hodl has also developed a non-custodial cryptocurrency escrow service for the new OTC platform to ensure high level of security and transparency. According to an announcement on Medium, the exchange will create a unique multisig escrow account on the bitcoin core blockchain for each trade.

The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land Sales

Last month, the no-KYC trading platform introduced a new type of multisig escrow account for contracts that requires two out of three keys to make a release. The system provides buyers with more control over the funds locked in escrow – they have one of the keys while the other two belong to the seller and the exchange. Hodl Hodl also recently announced it’s working to offer peer-to-peer bitcoin futures contracts.

Belarusians Launch US-Based Cryptocurrency Exchange

A new cryptocurrency exchange, founded by Belarusian immigrants, is now offering trading services out of New York. The team behind Crexby insists theirs is the first major Belarusian project in the space since the decree “On the Development of the Digital Economy” signed by President Alexander Lukashenko entered into force on March 28 this year.

The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land Sales“Crexby is a revolving door for Belarus to the outside world, and for the global community to Belarus,” they said, noting that in addition to providing exchange services, the platform can also facilitate the implementation of unique projects, from charity fundraising initiatives to attracting large investments to crypto-friendly Belarus.

Crexby, whose office is registered at 30 Wall Street in Manhattan, is focused on both crypto-to-crypto and crypto-to-fiat trading. It supports 13 cryptocurrencies, including some of the leading coins by market capitalization such as bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), and litecoin (LTC) as well as popular altcoins such as monero (XMR). The company claims it stores 90 percent of the digital assets in cold, multi-signature wallets and promises to expand the listings in the future taking into account requests and interest from its customer base.

Decentraland’s New Voting Platform Is Now Live

The Daily: Hodl Hodl Launches OTC Desk, Decentraland Votes on Land SalesVirtual reality project Decentraland has recently launched version 2.0 of its voting platform, Agora, that will allow holders of mana tokens to express their will on important matters. According to an announcement published on Decentraland’s website, the first two public polls on Agora concern key development questions.

The community has been asked: “Should we remove the ability to pause mana transactions?,” a question addressing a security feature built into the smart contract for mana that enables all transfers of the token to be halted. Developers say the feature is no longer needed as mana has been in circulation for over a year and they feel confident in removing the pause function.

The answer to the second question, “When should the next land auction be held?,” must determine when 9,000 unowned parcels of land will be made available to the community, the two options for holding Decentraland’s second land auction being Q4 of 2018 and Q1 of 2019. So far, the community has voted overwhelmingly, with 95 percent in favor of Q4 of 2018.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


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Four IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC

4 IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC

One of the main selling points of decentralized exchanges (DEXs) is that tokens can be traded almost instantly. There’s no lengthy sign-up process and no interminable wait for know your customer (KYC) checks to be performed. But then IDEX, the leading Ethereum DEX, announced that it would be emulating centralized exchanges by introducing KYC. Thankfully, there are still plenty of DEXs that don’t follow this model and have no intention of doing so.

Also read: Review: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Decentralized Exchanges

Ethfinex Trustless

Trustless stands primely positioned to fill the void left by IDEX’s departure from the permissionless trading game. The exchange benefits from the liquidity provided by Ethfinex and Bitfinex, facilitating the trading of ERC20 tokens without the need to undergo KYC. News.Bitcoin.com spoke to Ethfinex project lead Will Harborne to determine whether the company’s Trustless DEX may be forced to go down the same route as IDEX and begin verifying traders.

Four IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC“We will do everything within our power not to introduce KYC on Ethfinex Trustless now or ever,” he explained. “I believe Open Access is one of the core innovations of this space, and what makes cryptocurrencies so powerful, and as an exchange is something we have a duty to protect.” He also pointed out that users of decentralized exchanges already undergo a greater degree of scrutiny than their centralized counterparts, pointing out that “using Ethfinex Trustless, it is genuinely impossible to successfully obscure the source of a person’s funds: every transaction is visible and recorded forever on the blockchain. The trail of funds is linked, and unbroken, from the user’s Ethereum address at the time of acquisition of funds, to final disposal.”

Four IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC
Openledger DEX

Openledger DEX

Openledger’s DEX is a little different in that it isn’t Ethereum-based – instead it’s built around Bitshares. This yields a number of benefits, including the ability to trade assets like BTC and EOS, which are paired with the bitshares token, in a decentralized fashion. Like Ethfinex Trustless, Openledger DEX has some way to go before it can reach IDEX’s trading volume, but it’s got a number of attributes in its favor. In addition to boasting a clean and intuitive trading platform, the exchange benefits from a range of stablecoins developed by Openledger that are pegged to various national currencies. The latest of these, bitcny, is pegged to the Chinese Yuan and available on a handful of other DEXs in addition to Openledger DEX.

Kyber Network

Kyber Network doesn’t look like a conventional DEX because it isn’t, but for the purposes of trading tokens in a decentralized fashion, it performs a similar role. Using an onchain liquidity protocol, Kyber enables the swapping of tokens through connecting an Ethereum interface such as Metamask.

Four IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC

There are no order books with Kyber Network: instead you select the asset you’re seeking from a dropdown menu, adjust a slider to set a minimal acceptable conversion rate, and then the order will be fulfilled onchain. Kyber’s volume, at less than $150,000 a day, is around half that of other DEXs featured here, but its implementation is arguably more decentralized and resistant to the sort of pressures that might compel a platform to introduce KYC.

Forkdelta

Forkdelta, which is reviewed in more detail here, was the dominant Ethereum DEX before IDEX came along. Now that the latter is changing to a full verification model, Forkdelta has an opportunity to claw back some of the market share it’s lost. Its 24-hour trading volume and number of active users, according to Dappradar, suggest that it’s catching up fast. Low liquidity is one of the biggest pitfalls to using a decentralized exchange, and thus Forkdelta, despite its mediocre UX and checkered reputation, has a key advantage over the likes of Kyber Network.

Four IDEX Alternatives That Don’t Require KYC
Forkdelta

With new hybrid and decentralized exchanges under development from the likes of Binance, and interoperability standards improving, it will soon be easier to trade a wide range of digital assets in a trustless setting. It will be a long time, if ever, before DEXs can match the liquidity, choice and user experience of centralized exchanges. So long as the majority of DEXs remain free of KYC, however, they will perform a valuable role within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

What’s your favorite decentralized exchange to trade on? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Ethfinex, Openledger, Kyber Network.


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Turkish Police Detain 11 Suspects in Bitcoin Theft Case

Turkish Police Detain 11 Suspects in Bitcoin Theft Case

The cybercrime unit of the Turkish police has detained 11 people suspected of hacking into emails, user accounts and cryptocurrency wallets. The operation was launched after law enforcement received a number of complaints from victims who lost digital cash.  

Also read: Church Mining Cryptocurrency to Pay Higher Electricity Rates              

Hackers Steal $80,000 Worth of Cryptocurrency

According to Turkish media, 14 people have informed authorities about their compromised cryptocurrency wallets. The coins have been transferred to other wallets and subsequently sold for fiat. Investigators discovered the hackers had stolen “bitcoins worth 437,000 Turkish lira” (over $80,000), the Daily Sabah reported.

The cybercrime combatting division identified some of the suspects by tracking a new phone number they used to register on the trading platforms where they exchanged the cryptocurrency. The thieves moved the money through numerous accounts to cover their tracks, the Hürriyet newspaper detailed.

Turkish Police Detain 11 Suspects in Bitcoin Theft Case

On Oct. 26, agents from the unit detained 11 people at different addresses in Istanbul during joint raids with Polis Özel Harekat, the special operations department of the Turkish police. Currently, 10 of the accused remain in custody. Policemen also seized 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, six laptops, three hard disks, a tablet, two driver’s licenses, and a fake identity card.

During the investigation, police officers tracked the suspects who tried to withdraw the fiat money from various banks and ATMs. Their attempts have been recorded by multiple security cameras. Investigators are also looking for more victims of the hackers.

In Turbulent Times, Turks Turn to Bitcoin

Turkey, a country of around 80 million people and a regional powerhouse, has been through some rough times recently, in both economic and political terms. The country’s fiat currency, the lira, has been hit by hyperinflation and lost ground against the U.S. dollar ­– its value dropped by over 45 percent in the first seven months of this year.

These developments convinced many Turks to seek refuge in cryptocurrencies from the lira, but also from the dollar. In August, BTC trading volumes on Turkish exchanges and peer-to-peer platforms like Localbitcoins spiked following rumors that banks in the country may discontinue support for USD accounts and calls from the government to get out of foreign currencies, especially the U.S. dollar.

Turkish Police Detain 11 Suspects in Bitcoin Theft Case

The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, however, has also given rise to numerous scams. Many Turks invested in Turcoin, the so-called “national alternative digital currency” which was advertised as a “rival to the global virtual currency bitcoin.” This past summer, Turcoin was exposed as a Ponzi scheme after the Istanbul-based company that launched it stopped distributing dividends in June and its founders reportedly fled the country with millions of dollars collected from defrauded investors.

Earlier this year, Turkish media reported about a number of fake websites of popular hotels in Bodrum, Antalya and other resorts. Fraudsters blackmailed their owners demanding ransom in cryptocurrency to close down dozens of domains resembling the brand names of the hotels.

Do you think the Turkish police will be able to secure a prosecution in the bitcoin theft case? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Pan-African Organization Launches Framework to Encourage Cryptocurrency Trade

Pan-African African Organisation Launches Framework to Maximize Trade Using Cryptocurrency

On Nov. 2, the African Digital Asset Framework (ADAF) launched with a mandate to promote cryptocurrency commerce within the continent. Co-founder Felix Macharia said ADAF is an open-source software platform to create cross-border standards for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. It will also complement the African Union’s Single African Digital Market initiative, which leverages technology to stimulate digitized economic integration.

Also Read: Brazli’s Tax Authority Goes After Cryptocurrency Profits

‘Digital Assets Know No Borders’

Pan-African Organization Launches Framework to Encourage Cryptocurrency Trade

“ADAF was formed by organizations in the digital asset space who looked to harmonize standards and regulation in the space,” Macharia, who heads strategy at the Nairobi-based project, told news.Bitcoin.com. “Digital assets know no borders. If Africa is to benefit from the full potential of distributed ledger technologies and even from agreements around free trade, we must start drafting standards, legislation and regulations that are in line with this new reality,” he added.

The framework, which is backed by ambassadors of the African Union, its member states and the African Development Bank (AfDB), marked its inception with a research and development paper on digitally-driven borderless commerce within the African continent and between its diaspora. The paper points to virtual currencies like bitcoin as key to enhancing economic integration within and beyond the continent, while actively developing strong legal and technological standards on the project’s open-source platform.

Pan-African Organization Launches Framework to Encourage Cryptocurrency Trade

Africa has an economic footprint across the globe through its diaspora, but trade between African countries accounts for only 11 percent of the continent’s collective gross domestic product. Africa’s inchoate intra-continental trade infrastructure is partially responsible for the great conundrum whereby some African countries earn a measly 5 percent royalty for their natural resources, according to pan-Africanist journalist Baffour Ankomah.

ADAF to Spur Cross-Border Trade

“Digital assets create a secure way for people to trade, peer-to-peer, across borders, enabling people to securely access and transfer items like currency, identities, land titles and votes over the internet,” ADAF said, in a separate online statement. Standards will be tabled, discussed, edited, and implemented on the ADAF platform, with a view to “encouraging digital asset ownership and value exchange in digital economies between Africans and its diaspora.”

Pan-African Organization Launches Framework to Encourage Cryptocurrency Trade
Felix Macharia

Macharia stated that the platform, built around the idea of collective creation, will display technological codes and policy proposals for different commercial sectors, data on sustainable development objectives, and thought leadership from community members. It includes a multi-lingual interface for individuals, civil society, entrepreneurs and policymakers to propose solutions, actions and standards of self-regulation that reflect changes in the cryptocurrency space, as well as offering translation services for such proposals.

Diplomatic heavyweights signed to the pan-African initiative include former president of Mauritius Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim; AfDB chief of corporate governance and shareholder relations Adewale Iyanda; and Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of DRC’s Kasai Kingdom. There is also a high-profile tech buy-in, with ambassadors such as the AU’s Head of Internet Society and ICT Infrastructure Moctar Yedaly and chair of Kenya Blockchain and AI Taskforce Dr. Bitange Ndemo.

ADAF was initially introduced to the global community as an idea on Nelson Mandela international day at the United Nations in July. It is led by its three founding member organizations: Raise, Kotani, and andalba.one, and supported, as a platform, by the ADAF Foundation, which is registered as a trust in Kenya.

What do you think about the ADAF initiative? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Exchanges Roundup: Devere Launches Crypto Fund, Binance Uganda Claims 40,000 Users

Exchanges Roundup: Devere Crypto Funds, Binance Uganda Claims 40,000 Users

Devere Group has announced the launch of a digital asset fund and Binance Uganda claims to have onboarded 40,000 users during its first week of operating. In other news, Grayscale’s quarterly report has estimated that 70 percent of the investments it received during Q3 came from institutions.

Also Read: Regulations Roundup: Ebang IPO Challenged by Probe, Plattsburgh Passes Mining Guidelines

Devere Launches Digital Asset Hedge Funds

Exchanges Roundup: Devere Launches Crypto Fund, Binance Uganda Claims 40,000 UsersUK-based financial consultancy Devere Group recently launched Devere Digital Asset Funds in partnership with Dubai-based Dalma Capital Management Ltd.

Nigel Green, the founder and chief executive officer of Devere Group, described cryptocurrencies as “now undeniably” comprising a “part of mainstream finance,” adding that mass adoption is “on the horizon.”

Green stated that the Devere fund will invest in a “diversified portfolio of digital assets via algorithmic trading” on cryptocurrency exchange and over-the-counter markets, adding that Devere will seek to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities present across multiple cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Zachary Cefaratti, the chief executive officer of Dalma Capital, stated: “Crypto Asset Markets abound with durable inefficiencies – creating opportunities … that we have not seen in conventional markets for decades.” Cefaratti added: “Arbitrage opportunities abound – the prices of the top 25 crypto assets vary across over 400 liquidity venues.”

Binance Uganda Claims to Have Signed Up 40,000 Users in First Week

Exchanges Roundup: Devere Launches Crypto Fund, Binance Uganda Claims 40,000 UsersBinance has claimed that its Ugandan subsidiary has signed up 40,000 users since launching one week ago, Coindesk reports. Recent estimates suggest that only 26 percent of Ugandan households have access to basic financial services.

Wei Zhou, the chief financial officer of Binance, indicated that the company will soon expand into Kenya, Nigeria, or South Africa next, stating: “Uganda is our pivot to reach out to other African markets.”

Grayscale Reports 70% of Investments Came From Institutions

Exchanges Roundup: Devere Launches Crypto Fund, Binance Uganda Claims 40,000 UsersAccording to Grayscale Investments’ report for the third quarter of 2018, the company saw a total of $329.5 million invested into its products during the year, 59 percent of which came from “institutional investors.” It is estimated that Grayscale takes in an average of $8.4 million each week, $5.5 million of which is invested into the Bitcoin Investment Trust.

The report states that 70 percent of funds invested into the company came from institutional investors, with Grayscale receiving an average of $6.2 million each week during Q3, $4.5 million of which went into the Bitcoin Investment Trust. Grayscale saw a total of $81.1 million invested in its products during Q3.

Despite the increased share of institutional investment seen during the third quarter, the report notes that “the dollar-value invested [by institutions] was lower than in the two previous quarters.”

Do you think that more mainstream financial institutions will soon launch cryptocurrency funds? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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ICO Roundup: SEC Annual Report, Israeli Offerings Raise $600 Million, Rapper Sued

The annual report of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement has detailed the actions taken against initial coin offerings during the preceding financial year. Also, a report published by One Alpha estimates that Israeli ICOs have raised more than $600 million during 2018, and 25 investors have filed a lawsuit accusing rapper T.I. and his business partner for allegedly operating a “pump and dump” through their Flik ICO.

Also Read: Brazil’s Tax Authority Goes After Cryptocurrency Profits

SEC Details Action Taken Against ICOs During Financial Year

ICO Roundup: SEC Annual Report, Israeli Offerings Raise $600 Million, Rapper SuedThe U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Enforcement has published its annual report, which includes a summary of the action taking by the regulator against ICOs over the course of the last financial year.

The SEC states that “Given the explosion of ICOs over the last year,” it has sought to pursue “cases that deliver broad messages and have market impact beyond their own four corners.” In 2018, the SEC “brought 20 standalone cases, including those cases involving ICOs and digital assets.”

The SEC notes that while many of said cases “have involved allegations of fraud,” the Division of Enforcement also has also taken action “to ensure compliance with the registration requirements of the federal securities laws.” In the past year, the SEC has opened “dozens” of investigations involving ICOs and cryptocurrency, many of which are ongoing as of this writing.

The report adds that the joint statement published by the SEC Division of Enforcement and the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations urging caution with regard to the celebrity promotion of ICOs “brought an almost immediate end to such promotions.”

Israeli ICOs Raise $600 Million During 2018

ICO Roundup: SEC Annual Report, Israeli Offerings Raise $600 Million, Rapper Suedreport conducted by cryptocurrency research firm One Alpha has found that cryptocurrency startups based in Israel have generated more than $600 million through ICOs during the first three quarters of 2018. Israeli ICOs also raised $586 million throughout the entirety of 2017 from less than 20 offerings.

One Alpha’s research was informed by surveying 140 active companies from Israel’s distributed ledger technology section. The report estimates that said companies have generated a combined $1.3 billion in investments since 2017, of which “More than … 88% of the funds are ICO-related.”

The chief executive officer of One Alpha, Yaniv Feldman, highlighted that “Israelis are less than 0.1 percent of [the] global population while making 3 to 5 percent of [the] global ICO fundraising” total.

Two Dozen Investors Sue Rapper T.I. Over Flik ICO “Pump and Dump”

ICO Roundup: SEC Annual Report, Israeli Offerings Raise $600 Million, Rapper SuedThe Blast and TMZ claim to have accessed documents evidencing that rapper T.I. and his business partner are facing a lawsuit accusing them of operating a pump and dump scheme through their ICO. Reports state that the lawsuit has been launched by 25 individuals who collectively invested more than $1.3 million in exchange for “now worthless securities called Flik Tokens.”

The plaintiffs assert that T.I. and Ryan Felton used “social media, celebrity endorsements, and well-known industry experts to create the false impression that Flik Tokens were a valuable liquid investment.” The investors also allege that Felton “created fake online posts on behalf of Mark Cuban in order to manipulate the value of Flik Tokens,” and that the pair fraudulently announced that Kevin Hart was going to become the face of the company.

The group accuses T.I. and Felton of then dumping on the markets, and are seeking $5 million in damages for securities fraud.

Do you think the peak of celebrity ICO endorsements is behind us? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Blockstream: When Will the Level of Dishonesty and Manipulation End?

Blockstream: When Will the Level of Dishonesty and Manipulation End?

The alleged Bitcoin-focused company Blockstream has raised over $100 million publicly, but has yet to be forthright with the Bitcoin community. It’s time for people within the Bitcoin space to start holding them accountable. Blockstream’s dishonesty should have a bright light shined on it so everyone is aware of their manipulation and deceit.

Also read: Bitcoin Intentions: Are We Aiming to Replace the Status Quo or Become Them?

Blockstream: When will the level of dishonesty and manipulation endIn late 2014, Blockstream went public with their company after being financed by banking and venture capital firms such as AXA, Khosla Ventures, Horizon Ventures, and others. Within six months, Blockstream said it would be focusing its time not only on sidechains, which it was founded on, but on the Lightning Network too. Since that time, Blockstream hasn’t produced much to advance the Bitcoin ecosystem. However, they have undoubtedly done many things to derail it and cause harm to it.

Re-inventing the SWIFT Network

Four years after going public, Blockstream finally released its coveted sidechain system to the public. The only problem is the product they released, Liquid, isn’t intended for general use. It is made specifically for private Bitcoin exchanges. The premise of Liquid is to take Bitcoin transactions off-chain and move them to a private sidechain of federated exchanges. As Forbes writer Frances Coppola points out:

“It isn’t possible to improve liquidity while maintaining full decentralization and trustlessness. So Blockstream cheerfully compromises both of these prized features. It appoints a small group of trusted institutions to validate transactions and submit them to the main Bitcoin chain.”

Aside from the Blockstream Liquid sidechain being intended for a private consortium of businesses, astonishingly, Blockstream CEO Adam Back is openly pushing for individuals to convert their Bitcoin into Bitcoin Liquid (L-BTC).

Congratulations Blockstream, you just re-invented SWIFT.

Lightning Network

It took four years for Blockstream to produce a working product, and the community is still waiting on a working version of Lightning Network (LN). It has been in development since 2015, and looks nowhere close to being completed as-advertised. The protocol is certainly not a decentralized peer-to-peer network that disavows trusted third-parties. In order for the platform to function as advertised, LN developers and Blockstream have to solve the path-routing problem.

Blockstream: When will the level of dishonesty and manipulation end

Until that day comes, LN developers have suggested that users rely on Watchtowers to prevent fraud. Watchtowers are just a fancy way of saying trusted third-parties. Besides the Lightning Network not being trustless, the cost of doing business will make Bitcoin (BTC) only for the elite. Blockstream seems to be working tirelessly to make BTC transaction fees as high as possible. The on and off ramps of Lightning will all require on-chain transactions to the BTC blockchain. What will happen when fees on BTC are so expensive that users begin to realize it’s cheaper and more convenient to stay on the Lightning network?

Dishonesty and Manipulation

Aside from the technical pitfalls and shadowy underbelly of Blockstream, censorship campaigns and toxicity within the community have already driven people away. But who is driving this unsettling environment? It would be impossible to pinpoint a single actor, but it’s important the community calls out bad behavior.

Censorship, of course, has exacerbated the toxic environment over the past three years. It’s been rampant across the bitcoin ecosystem. This has created echo-chambers and fake news, manipulating readers to the point where they are brainwashed into thinking along party lines. The impact of censorship in Bitcoin are very real:

“Censorship can really hinder a society if it is bad enough. Because media is such a large part of people’s lives today and it is the source of basically all information, if the information is not being given in full or truthfully then the society is left uneducated […] Censorship is probably the number one way to lower people’s right to freedom of speech.”

Dirty Games: Hacking and Vote Manipulation

Besides censorship, there have been all kinds of toxic and dirty games being played by Blockstream. Let’s take an instance last year where the community discovered that moderators of the r/Bitcoin subreddit were involved in hacking and vote manipulation. As part of the discovery process and evidence, it was found their former CTO Gregory Maxwell played an intricate role in the event.

Not only has Blockstream been playing dirty on social media, but they have been engaging in a kind of social-media infused espionage. Just this past summer, individuals in the community discovered Blockstream is working with former national spies to run counterintelligence on the Bitcoin community. Adam Back, the CEO of Blockstream, admitted he hired a team to promote Blockstream’s propaganda in order to manipulate the dominant narrative.  

Secret Work and Hidden Agendas

Blockstream has also been silently hiring people in the community to work on Blockstream products. Just two months ago it was uncovered that another “independent” BTC developer was really working for Blockstream, unbeknownst to the public. This is not the first time this sort of thing happened. In some cases, the hires have been downright weird and scandalous, which some may consider illegal. It’s obvious now why Blockstream took down their team page nearly a year ago and never put it back up.

Blockstream: When Will the Level of Dishonesty and Manipulation End?
Allen Piscitello aka AlpacaSW on Medium via the WayBack Machine

Today, it was also discovered that another well-known person in the Bitcoin space has been working for Blockstream. Again, the community was completely unaware these individuals were working for Blockstream to further an agenda rather than contribute to bitcoin development.

In a public video interview released two days ago with Crypto Insider, Allen Piscitello admitted he has been working for Blockstream for the past year as one of their product managers. Many people won’t even know him. Some old-school Bitcoiners will know him as the infamous user AlpacaSW on Twitter, aka Alphonse Pace, who is responsible for a myriad of social media attacks. He was also one of the most vocal drivers behind the UASF in 2017.

UASF: The Fake Grassroots Movement

The User Activated Soft Fork (UASF) was promoted in 2017. Here is how it works: instead of miners activating a consensus rule change in Bitcoin, individual participants in the Bitcoin ecosystem could activate a fork by running the software they choose. By coordinating with each other on a specific date (flag day), they could all run the software with the rule changes in place.

The theory is that if the UASF is coordinated successfully by the majority of the user network, miners would follow. However, at the end of the day, it would take the miners to cooperate with the UASF for it to be successful. Without miner cooperation, the UASF could cause a chain split.

Since there is no proof-of-work with a UASF — as it’s just users and network participants —it would be easy to Sybil attack it. Therefore, it became clear in 2017 that the UASF was just a fake grassroots movement to activate Segwit surreptitiously. And who was the main group behind UASF? It was none other than Blockstream who were championing the soft fork, judging by posts such as UASF is a user-driven protocol development and user-activated soft forks and the intolerant minority.

The Truth Will Set You Free

One has to wonder, when will the lies and deceit end? My opinion is that it won’t. As a community, everyone needs to continue being diligent, thinking critically and independently. The community should insulate itself from companies that say they have the best interest of Bitcoin in mind, but are only working to further their bottom line and fill the coffers of major investors.

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.


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Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days

Since our last markets update five days ago, cryptocurrency traders saw a lower range of volumes after cryptocurrency prices dropped in value. Now, this Saturday during the weekend trading sessions, most of the top digital asset prices have seen some slight gains between 1-5% over the last 24 hours. But one digital currency, bitcoin cash, has spiked significantly in value gaining well over 12% over the last 24 hours and 9% for the last seven days.

Also read: New Bitcoin Cash Stress Test Sees 700,000 Transactions in One Day 

Top 10 Coins See Slight Gains While Bitcoin Cash Leads the Pack

Over the last year, as 2018 draws closer to an end, many traders have complained about bearish markets and low trade volumes. With less than two months left in the year, a good portion of enthusiasts are hoping for a big trend reversal. During this weekend’s cryptocurrency trading sessions, most of the action among the top ten markets is fairly lackluster, except for BCH which has shown some decent gains this week.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
The top 10 cryptocurrency market capitalizations on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.

Meanwhile, bitcoin core (BTC) prices are hovering around $6,350 per coin and are down 2% this week. The second largest market valuation held by ethereum (ETH) is down 1.9% and each ETH is being swapped for $199. Ethereum is followed by ripple (XRP) which is trading for $0.45 at the time of publication. Ripple markets have seen a slight loss of 0.17% over the last seven days. Lastly, eos (EOS) markets have seen gains this Saturday as markets are up 0.44% over the last 24 hours with one eos trading for $5.35 per coin.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
The most-traded cryptocurrency swaps today on Shapeshift is bitcoin core (BTC) for bitcoin cash (BCH).

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Market Action

Bitcoin cash prices have done extremely well this week as the value currently hovers between $472-482 per BCH. Volume has doubled since our last markets report and 24-hour BCH trade volume this Saturday is between $550-630 million. The BCH market capitalization has swelled to about $8.2 billion and bitcoin cash is the fifth most traded cryptocurrency today.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
BCH 1-day.

The top five BCH exchanges this weekend include Lbank, Binance, Okex, Digifinex, and Bitfinex. The five most traded currency pairs swapped with BCH include BTC (37.2%), USDT (31%), USD (8.7%), ETH (7.1%), and KRW (5.4%). Over the last 24 hours, the most popular trade on the peer-to-peer trading platform Shapeshift.io is bitcoin core (BTC) for bitcoin cash (BCH).

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
BCH 7-day.

BCH/USD Technical Indicators

Looking at the 4-hour charts on Bitstamp and Bitfinex shows a lot more action happening in bitcoin cash-land. The 4-hour chart shows BCH bulls have managed to move upwards quite a bit but the relative strength indicator (RSI) indicates overbought conditions (-75.9) which could mean prices may dip a touch in the short term. The two simple moving averages (SMA) show a large gap this weekend with the long-term 200 SMA well above the short-term 100 SMA.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
BCH/USD 4-hour Bitstamp.

This is another sign that prices could reverse slightly if bulls cannot manage to keep pushing forward. SMA trendlines and order books indicate the path toward the least resistance is in the bears’ favor. Order books show on the upside bulls need to muster up strength and press past the current vantage point and the many large sell walls leading to $550. On the back side, there is a small foundation that could hold above the $440 mark but buy orders are far lighter than the upside path.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Cash Prices See Steady Gains Over the Last Two Days
BCH/USD 4-hour Bitfinex.

The Verdict: Fork Ahead and Korean Demand

Overall markets, in general, are seeing small gains during this weekend’s trading sessions and trade volume for all 2000+ digital currencies is just above $11 billion. The entire market capitalization of the crypto-economy is roughly $209 billion, with bitcoin cash leading the top ten largest coin valuations. The rise in BCH values coincidently comes just two weeks before the network hard fork scheduled for Nov. 15. Some have attributed the price spike to the fork because this time around the consensus change is contentious and may lead to a network split. Others have ascribed the BCH price jump to South Korea as markets in that region have seen significant growth and KRW/BCH pairs indicate a lot of demand.

Where do you see the price of bitcoin cash and other coins headed from here? Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Price articles and markets updates are intended for informational purposes only and should not to be considered as trading advice. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses or gains, as the ultimate decision to conduct a trade is made by the reader. Always remember that only those in possession of the private keys are in control of the “money.”


Images via Shutterstock, Trading View, and Satoshi Pulse.


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Wendy McElroy: Crypto as Propriety Justice and a Solution to Private Violence

Crypto as Propriety Justice and a Solution to Private Violence

Crypto As Propriety Justice And A Solution To Private Violence

by Wendy McElroy

The libertarian view is that human actors are self-owners and these self-owners are capable of appropriating unowned scarce resources by Lockean homesteading − some type of first use or embordering activity. Obviously, an actor must already own his body if he is to be a homesteader; self-ownership is not acquired by homesteading but rather is presupposed in any act or defense of homesteading.

Stephan Kinsella

Self-ownership is the foundation of free-market justice. There are three ways to answer the question “Who owns you?”: you own yourself, which is self-ownership; someone else owns you, which is slavery; or, you are unclaimed goods, like luggage in the lost and found. Anarchism is the belief that everyone owns his body, his property, and the right to peacefully use both.

But what happens if others prefer aggression? Free-market anarchism wrestles with how to provide private justice; that is, how can a peaceful society prevent or remedy the violence individuals commit against each other? To many, free-market solutions sound hypothetical because they have generally been forced to operate in that realm. The state refuses to allow rival systems of justice to compete in parallel with it; the closest it allows to competing systems are religious authorities that exercise limited jurisdiction over consenting members.

Crypto anarchism changes the modus operandi. Just as crypto and the blockchain revolutionized economic exchanges, it has the potential to do the same for other interactions, such as justice. A blast of fresh air is sweeping through old political theories and issues; the experience and insights of past anarchism do not need to blow away. Those blueprints of justice can be held up and compared against the solutions made possible by crypto anarchism. Let the best anarchism win. Let the best aspects of anarchisms merge. Solutions should evolve in parallel on the free market so that individuals can choose.

First, The Specific Principles of Crypto Anarchist Justice

The simplest way of understanding justice is giving people what they deserve. This idea goes back to Aristotle. The real difficulty begins with figuring out who deserves what and why.

– Michael Sandel, American political philosopher

The who of justice is any individual who is deprived of what is rightfully his. This definition eliminates victimless crimes and crimes against the state. Only individuals can be victimized by the denial of their property. The legal realm is reduced to contractual disputes and to torts—that is, to acts that cause loss or harm to others.

The what of justice—its focus-is the specific use of body or other property that is wrongfully taken. With crypto, the denial almost always consists of wealth that is taken by direct violence, threats, or fraud. Justice lies in restoring the status quo to the victim in the form of returning stolen property or its equivalent, along with reasonable compensation for associated losses, such as time, suffering, inconvenience, and the period of denied use. The aggressor may or may not be punished through further social sanctions. The offender’s bad acts could be published on a database that pays for valid information and charges for the use of its service, for example.

The why: Peaceful exchange enriches individuals and creates a free society. By contrast, aggression or violence returns individuals to a Hobbesian state of nature—a war of all against all. That is savagery, not society. Using the institutionalized violence of the state to rein it in is slavery, not freedom.


The How of Justice

The how of justice is the missing piece.

In general terms, self-defense is the how. Self-defense decentralizes justice down to the level of the individual. That’s what the right of gun ownership provides: a decentralized peer-to-peer way for individuals to defend themselves.

Self-defense falls into three rough categories or stages: prevention, direct action, and remedy. (Prevention is discussed in Chapter 9, Part 6.) There is a key difference between direct self-defense and acting to remedy an aggression. Direct defense occurs in real time when a person is confronted by violence, such as a break-in; the use of defensive force on the spot is obviously appropriate. But remedy occurs after the fact, when the aggression is a fait accompli.

Prevention and direct self-defense are not great challenges for anarchism. Both can be addressed through individual action or through a service provider that is hired or fired at will. For most people, it is the remedy stage where anarchism stumbles. That’s where they relegate their self-defense to the centralized monopoly of a trusted third party that cannot be fired: again, the state.

In his article, “Why the Elites Prefer a Centralized Legal System,” historian Chris Calton observes that “the motivation to centralize legal authority was entirely political.” A vital service fell under the control of those in power who imposed an increasingly arcane legal system upon an entire population in the name of consistency. In obscene perversity, “justice” came to be identified with the institutionalized violence of police, courts and prison systems. The situation is similar to believing that the vital service of commerce requires the monopolies of central banking and state-issued money.

Calton continues, “But in the early nineteenth century, consistency was valued less than flexibility in the legal system. When the courts were local, the people of a given community had a vested interest in seeing justice carried out according to the particularities of each individual case….And for those who were not fortunate enough to find themselves at the top of the legal hierarchy – the uneducated, the poor, women, children, and blacks – this flexibility upheld even modern notions of justice – if imperfectly – more effectively than did the centralized and legally consistent courts that followed.”

Most Western systems of justice were built on common law, which has been widely displaced by civil law. Chapter 8, Part 1 of The Satoshi Revolution—“Crypto: Civil Law Versus Common Law”–explains that “common law offers an alternative legal blueprint. Rooted deeply in the English tradition, it is a body of law that develops from the grassroots upward. It involves no presence of Parliament. It comes from the decentralized judicial decisions that arise from real legal disputes…” The answers presented by common law may be right or wrong in any particular case, but they are not codified to benefit the privileged. Common law is so named because it benefits the common person. And it is a giant step toward decentralization. The exercise of every individual’s power over his own life is the ultimate goal.

Why Have Any Trusted Third Party?

When self-defense is decentralized, why shouldn’t people simply administer their own remedies for past aggressions? Certainly, they have a right to do so. They can rightfully reclaim stolen crypto by accessing the digital account of a thief, for example, and hacking back the coins. But there are good reasons why doing so is unwise. The victim may be mistaken about the identity of the criminal, which converts a so-called remedy into an act of violence; achieving restitution can be dangerous, or beyond the victim’s ability; the retrieval can fail; it can also harm innocent third parties, leaving the remedy-seeker with liabilities.

The innocent third party problem is the main argument in favor of hiring a third party to remedy an aggression. To bystanders and to the rest of society, it is usually not clear who is the victim and who is the aggressor. In direct self-defense, bystanders who witness a person being attacked know who the victim is; if he pulls out a gun, the act is obviously one of self-protection and not of aggression. When a woman grabs back a purse that has just been snatched, third parties do not think she is stealing it; she is reclaiming property. The same is not true of personally retrieving stolen coins from the account of a thief. To third parties, such as the company handling the thief’s deposits, the retrieval is an act of theft.

In the preceding examples, the acts of victims and aggressors are basically the same. Both may be pointing guns; a purse is being snatched back and forth. Accounts are being hacked. Unless he sees the violence from its beginning, a bystander cannot know who the aggressor is. This makes personal remedies very risky. Consider: a necklace is stolen and the owner recognizes it around the neck of a person on the street. However, yanking the necklace off of the wearer looks like violence to all of society. A good Samaritan may well intercede to prevent what he believes is an attack on an innocent person. Meanwhile, the real aggressor may yell “Police!” and claim that the victim is the thief. How can people distinguish self-defense from aggression?

There is a simple litmus test: Who owns the property? The answer makes clear which is an act of violence and which is self-defense. To be effective, therefore, a remedy should allow third parties to identify who owns the property involved.


Crypto As Proprietary Justice

In his essay “The Proprietary Theory of Justice in the Libertarian Tradition,” Carl Watner writes, “The proprietary theory of justice is concerned with just one thing: the crucial determination of just versus unjust property titles of individuals in their own bodies and in the material objects around them.”

By far, the best way for individuals to use proprietary justice is by contracting with a trusted third party whose reputation and business depends upon the accuracy of its business practices. In this case, the “trust” is based on merit and performance; the relationship of trust lasts only as long as the victim values the service. The third party’s purpose is to return stolen property, but it also acts as a protection for bystanders, innocent parties who may have involvement, and even the aggressor himself. As a business in a competitive market, the trusted third party has a strong incentive to reduce the expense and complications of injuring anyone.

The most commonly proposed mechanism of proprietary justice is the private defense agency (PDA). This may function in much the same manner as private fire departments with which home-owners contract. The details of how PDAs would operate are mostly speculative because of the state’s monopoly on justice and because predicting how free-market solutions would evolve without the state is not possible. Nevertheless, anarchists have attempted to do so for many years.

David Friedman sketches one vision in his book Machinery of Freedom. Friedman begins by considering “the easiest case, the resolution of disputes involving contracts between well-established firms.” Resolution between well-established crypto exchanges would likely be similar. Many such disputes are settled by arbitration that is specified within the contracts themselves as a way to avoid the expense and unpleasantness of court. “Currently, arbitrated decisions are usually enforceable in the government courts,” Friedman admits, “but that is a recent development; historically, enforcement came from a firm’s desire to maintain its reputation.”

But what of violent disputes? “Protection from coercion is an economic good,” Friedman explains. “It is presently sold in a variety of forms-Brinks guards, locks, burglar alarms. As the effectiveness of government police declines, these market substitutes for the police, like market substitutes for the courts, become more popular. Suppose, then, that at some future time there are no government police, but instead private protection agencies. These agencies sell the service of protecting their clients against crime. Perhaps they also guarantee performance by insuring their clients against losses resulting from criminal acts.” Insurance purchased from PDA becomes the immediate remedy to the victim. Then the PDA proceeds to retrieve the property and the cost of its services from the aggressor, assuming the risk of failure.

Friedman concludes, “What I have described is a very makeshift arrangement. In practice, once anarcho-capitalist institutions were well established, protection agencies would anticipate such difficulties and arrange contracts in advance, before specific conflicts occurred…”

Until proofs of principle are allowed to exist, however, the anarchist system of proprietary justice remains just a discussion. Happily, crypto may provide the elusive proof of principle in the area of theft. For one thing, it solves the pivotal problem posed by Watner: how to establish the property claim that defines whether the use of force is defensive or aggressive. The blockchain does this automatically. Its structure inherently answers the key question of proprietary justice.

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.

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Professional Course Prepares Russian Lawyers for the Cryptocurrency Industry

Professional Course Prepares Russian Lawyers for the Cryptocurrency Industry

Russian companies have organized an enhancement course to prepare legal experts for the challenges of working in the cryptocurrency space. The oldest university of economics in the country, two law firms providing services to digital businesses, and both houses of parliament are behind the project to help lawyers understand the specifics of the industry.  

Also read: Arbitrators to Resolve Disputes in the Russian Cryptocurrency Industry

Lawyers to Study Cryptocurrencies, ICOs and Smart Contracts

The one-month educational program titled “Legal basis and practice of working with cryptocurrency and blockchain projects” is hosted by the Plekhanov University of Economics, the oldest and one of the largest business schools in the Russian Federation. It’s focused on matters related to the legislative regulation of the nascent industry as well as law enforcement practices in Russia and other jurisdictions.

According to Alexander Zhuravlev, managing partner at the Efficient Business Resources law firm and co-founder of the program, the successful completion of the course will allow jurists to work with blockchain products. Quoted by Politika Segodnya, he noted that the sixth edition of the course, starting Nov. 23, will cover cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs), digital asset exchanges, smart contracts, mining, and address the implementation of distributed ledger technologies in the private and public sector. Anti-money laundering (AML) practices and know your customer (KYC) procedures will be part of the curriculum as well.

Professional Course Prepares Russian Lawyers for the Cryptocurrency Industry

IT Technologia, a company providing legal advice to IT businesses, and the Russian parliament are also among the organizers of the program. They have invited a number of lecturers from different fields, including legal experts, academics and representatives of the business community like Gerbert Shopnik, CEO of the Russian branch of mining company Bitfury and Alexander Mikhailov, cofounder and director of Lavka Lavka, an organic food farmers’ cooperative and restaurant chain that has its own token.

As part of the “Blockchain Lawyers” course, participants will visit the State Duma and the Federation Council, the upper and lower house of Russia’s legislature, and introduce lawmakers to their own ideas about the regulation of the digital economy, including the cryptocurrency industry. The students will also have the opportunity to meet representatives of the Russian internet giant Mail.ru Group. The lawyers will join a community of experts working to improve the legal framework for the fintech sector which is still under development.

Russian Cryptocurrency Industry Remains Unregulated

Professional Course Prepares Russian Lawyers for the Cryptocurrency IndustryThe cryptocurrency space in Russia is still unregulated after the adoption of a package of three bills, approved on first reading in May, was postponed for the parliamentary session this fall.

Public discussions on the drafts are currently underway, with representatives of the crypto community criticizing the state-sponsored legal framework for not covering important aspects of the industry. Russian lawmakers removed key terms like cryptocurrency, mining and smart contracts from the texts of the main bill, the law “On Digital Financial Assets.”

The Russian Association of Cryptoindustry and Blockchain (RACIB) and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) have put forward their own regulatory proposals. An alternative draft law prepared by the RSPP grants cryptocurrencies “special status.” The lawyers taking the enhancement course have been encouraged to share their professional opinions on the matter during the upcoming meetings with legislators in the State Duma and the Federation Council.

What do you think of the plan to educate legal experts on the specifics of the cryptocurrency industry? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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