Archive Monthly Archives: January 2019

Top Exchange Binance Adds Support for Credit Card Purchases of Major Cryptos

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance is adding support for credit card crypto purchases through its partnership with payment processor Simplex, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 31.

Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s CEO, said that the firm “want[s] to provide Binance traders with fast and easy access to crypto, in the most secure way possible.” Zhao added that the exchanges clients can purchase digital assets with credit cards and “start trading in minutes.”

Zhao continued explaining that “the crypto industry is still in its early stages and most of the world’s money is still in fiat,” which, according to him, is the reason why fiat gateways are important for the growth of the ecosystem.

Nimrod Lehavi, co-founder and CEO of Simplex, said that for mainstream users, easy and fast credit card payments are “a key factor in wider adoption of crypto in general.”

According to the press release, Binance users will be able to use Visa and MasterCard cards to purchase Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP).

Binance is currently the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by adjusted daily trade volumes, according to CoinMarketCap. Over the past 24 hours to press time, the exchange saw about $588 million in trades.

Last year, Cointelegraph itself also partnered with Simplex to enable credit card purchases of BTC, ETH and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Last week, Binance launched its own over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks for larger transactions. The new offering, dubbed Binance OTC, offers services geared to users performing trades worth at least 20 BTC (about $68,800 to press time).

Following the hack of  New Zealand exchange Cryptopia last week, Zhao announced that Binance had frozen some of the tokens sent to its wallet by the alleged hacker. Analysis from blockchain infrastructure firm Elementus states that as much as $16 million worth of ETH and ERC20 tokens were stolen in the recent hack, plus additional funds reportedly even more recently siphoned off.

Elon Musk’s Bombshell Earnings Call Reveals Tesla’s CFO is Leaving [Again] as Stock Falls After-Hours

Elon Musk's Bombshell Earnings Call Reveals Tesla’s CFO is Leaving [Again] as Stock Falls After-Hours 1

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the electric car maker’s long-serving chief financial officer (CFO), Deepak Ahuja, is leaving the company after over a decade of service, CNBC reports.

Musk made the announcement towards the end of an earnings conference call. Tesla’s shares fell sharply by nearly 5% in after-hours trading.

Elon Musk's Bombshell Earnings Call Reveals Tesla’s CFO is Leaving [Again] as Stock Falls After-Hours 2

Tesla stock price. Source: TradingView

This is not Ahuja’s first time to resign from the electric car maker. He first departed in 2015 only to rejoin two years later. This was to replace Jason Wheeler, who had abruptly resigned as the CFO.

How do you not include the departure of your CFO in your earnings press release? Just ridiculous @elonmusk

— Arb Cowboy (@ArbCowboy) January 31, 2019

Tesla’s Vice President of Finance to Assume CFO Position

Tesla’s CFO position will now be taken over by Zach Kirkhord who has been the finance vice president. Ahuja will not sever all ties to Tesla, however, as he has been offered a senior advisory role.

The incoming CFO previously worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Co prior to joining Tesla. In a statement, Kirkhord expressed optimism about Tesla’s future:

“I’ve been deep in the operations of every major program of the company from Roadster to…scaling our energy business and more things to come. I feel we’re starting 2019 with a very strong financial foundation. We have enough cash to start new programs and develop new technologies.”

High-profile Departures in Tesla’s Finance Team

The heavily-indebted Tesla has experienced a high turnover in its finance team. Last year in September the company’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, resigned after less than a month. Morton who had been the CFO of data storage firm Seagate before joining Tesla cited indifference from Musk and other executives as the reason for quitting.

At the time, CNBC reported that Morton had clashed with Musk over the latter’s plans to take Tesla private. Morton had raised concerns over the plans and had proposed a different way of capitalizing the electric car firm. Incidentally, Morton had been expected to eventually take over the CFO position from Ahuja.

Tesla Now Boasts of Four Profitable Quarters Since Going Public

In the earnings call which Musk discussed prior to announcing Ahuja’s departure, Tesla reported its second consecutive quarterly profit ever. Overall it is the fourth quarter that Tesla is announcing a profit since the 2010 IPO.

Tesla’s earnings per share (EPS) were however below the expectation of analysts. The EPS came in at $1.93 while analysts had been expecting $2.20. Revenues generated in Q4 amounted to $7.23 billion against average estimates of $7.08 billion.

Tesla blamed the hit on earnings on various factors including higher import duties incurred on parts sourced from China. This follows the imposition of tariffs on various Chinese goods by the Trump administration.

Regarding its huge pile of debt, Tesla said it has enough cash to meet its obligations. The electric car maker has a $920 million convertible bond due on March 1.

Tick Tock: #ElonMusk Has Only 4 Weeks to Rally #Tesla #Stock or Pay $920 Million on #Bonds https://t.co/3bgG9sSz9d

— Crypto_Lion (@GDJA57) January 30, 2019

Elon Musk image from Brendan Smialowski / AFP.

About The Author

Mark Emem

After words, numbers are my other love… mostly when they are going up and they have nothing to do with taxes or expenses. That makes green my favorite color!

Bitfury to Launch Bitcoin Mining Centers in Paraguay With New Partnership

Blockchain tech firm and Bitcoin (BTC) mining manufacturer Bitfury plans to launch several mining facilities in Paraguay, according to a press release published Thursday, Jan. 31.

Bitfury has partnered with South Korean peer-to-peer knowledge commons research firm Commons Foundation to launch a series of transaction processing sites that will use Bitfury’s BlockBox AC mobile data centers in Paraguay.

The project is part of a larger initiative from Commons, dubbed “Golden Goose,” that aims to “expand cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation in Spanish-speaking countries,” the press release reports.

As per the announcement, the mining facilities in Paraguay will account for about 200,000 square meters, with electricity provided by a 500MW power substation. Bitfury claims that all the energy used by the mining centers will be renewable, as Paraguay is reportedly home to the world’s largest operational hydroelectric energy producer, power plant Itaipu.

In addition, Commons Foundation has unveiled its plans to open a global cryptocurrency exchange in Paraguay later this year and to issue a Golden Goose token (GOLD) for the participants in the two projects. The crypto exchange will reportedly use Bitfury’s Crystal analytics platform in order to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies.

Both parties, along with Paraguayan officials, stated that they believe the new crypto initiatives will help the country attract new investors, as well as help build a blockchain ecosystem in Latin America.

In November 2018, Bitfury partnered with Russian Plekhanov Russian University of Economics to develop a blockchain course for young specialists. In December, the firm signed a contract with Big Four consulting firm PwC to launch an blockchain accelerator for businesses in Russia.

NEM Reorganizes Non-Profit Foundation Amid Token Price and Funding Woes

Blockchain asset management platform NEM (XEM) announced it had completely reformed its non-profit NEM Foundation amid financial difficulties in an announcement Jan. 31.

The Foundation, which previously had a budget with a monthly burn rate of 9 million XEM (~$392,000), now plans to spend less than half that amount, as a new streamlined entity aims to cut costs.

“The NEM Foundation has restructured to eliminate regional teams and replace them with newly created product-focused teams,” the announcement explained.

Summarizing the changes, NEM confirmed that the “NEM Foundation you knew before is gone.”

The impetus for the changes reportedly comes from a lack of funding and criticism of spending under the old Foundation model.

XEM, the company said, had a difficult year in 2018, losing a significant portion of its value against previous highs as part of the ongoing cryptocurrency bear market.

NEM

XEM price and market cap 1-year chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

“In terms of running an effective organization, the existing structure failed. Maybe that didn’t seem like a big problem when the XEM price was high, but it’s a very big problem as we seek to sustain a viable organization in the ‘Crypto Winter,’” NEM continued in the post, adding:

“The XEM exchange rate has suffered catastrophic drops from this time a year ago, just as many other ambitious cryptocurrency projects have suffered, now the NEM Foundation is facing challenging budget decisions.”

XEM/USD is trading around $0.044 at press time, dropping over 8 percent on the day following the publication of the news. The pair hit an all-time high of $1.90 in early January 2018.

Later that month, the token was implicated as a target in a hack of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which saw funds worth over $530 million at the time disappear.

Today’s announcement did not confirm major staff layoffs, setting it apart from those that afflicted companies such as Bitmain, Shapeshift and ConsenSys in recent weeks.

Binance Users Can Now Pay for Crypto With Credit Cards


news

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by adjusted trading volume, has just made it easier for users to buy cryptocurrencies.

The exchange announced Thursday that it has partnered with Israel-based payments processing firm Simplex to enable purchases with Visa and MasterCard credit cards.

At launch, the exchange is supporting credit card purchase for bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC) and XRP. These can then be traded against up to 151 other tokens offered by the exchange.

“The crypto industry is still in its early stages and most of the world’s money is still in fiat, ” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao. “Building fiat gateways is what we need now to grow the ecosystem, increase adoption and introduce crypto to more users.”

Founded in 2014, Simplex raised $7 million in a Series A funding round in February 2016. The investors included mining firms Bitmain and Cumberland Mining, crowdfunding platform FundersClub (which previously invested in Coinbase), among others. Back in November, the payments firm partnered with Singapore-based crypto exchange KuCoin to enable traders purchase bitcoin, ether and litecoin through credit and debit cards payments.

Binance earlier this month launched a new fiat-to-crypto exchange on the island of Jersey, a British self-governing dependency, enabling users to trade bitcoin and ethereum against the British pound and the euro. It also opened shop in Uganda last October , allowing crypto trading against the country’s fiat currency, the Ugandan shilling.

Credit cards image via Shutterstock 

South Korea Will Keep ICO Ban, Says Financial Services Commission

South Korea will continue to ban initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country, state financial regulator the Financial Services Commission (FSC) confirmed in a press release Jan. 30.

Unveiling the results of a survey undertaken from September 2018, the body said it had discovered that firms conducting ICOs were making use of foreign jurisdictions, but still raising funds from South Korean nationals.

South Korea formally banned ICOs in September 2017, citing lack of stability and ease of manipulation as cause to stop citizens from buying cryptocurrency tokens.

“If there is an unlawful act, a third party has to intervene, but it is difficult to intervene until the transaction volume or price soars,” local news outlet FN News quoted an FSC official as saying at the time.

Hopes of a reversal appeared in August last year after the National Assembly began debating the ban, but the tone has evidently since turned bearish.

“The government has taken a cautious stance on the institutionalization of ICOs. We will stick to it,” the press release stated.

The survey also revealed that Singapore and Switzerland were the most popular places to host an ICO among those companies that responded to the FSC. A total of 22 firms received the survey, but only 13 responded, states the press release.  

Globally, ICOs have suffered over the course of 2018’s persisting cryptocurrency bear market. As Cointelegraph recently reported, many tokens are now trading well below their original ICO sale price.

Report: Majority of $11.4 Million Stolen in 2018 Iota Token Heist Has Been Found

A top member of the Germany-based Iota (IOTA) Foundation has said the majority of the ~$11 million alleged to have been stolen in a major Iota token heist last year has been found, Reuters reported Jan. 30.

As reported, the suspected perpetrator of the heist was arrested earlier this month in Oxford, U.K., following a multilateral investigation by Europol, British and German police authorities.

The investigation first launched early 2018, after multiple citizens had reported stolen funds to local German police. Over 85 victims of the theft have since been identified, with the total IOTA stolen estimated to be worth ~10 million euros (~$11.4 million).

Dominik Schiener, Iota co-founder and co-chairman of its board, told Reuters that:

“[f]rom what [the Foundation knows], just a small amount of the 10 million euros has not been found. The exchanges have blocked the hacker’s accounts. He tried to free the money, but he did not succeed.”

The funds are reportedly now being held by law enforcement authorities to be used as evidence against the suspect. Schiener outlined that while investigators had initially thought the heist to have been perpetrated by an organized group, their trail led to the work of a single man, who reportedly “had a normal job and is well-educated.” His identity has not been disclosed.

As previously reported, the hacker is alleged to have used a malicious Iota seed generator — found to have been hosted on the iotaseed.io domain, among other sites — to create seeds for users that would lead them to use private keys under his control. He is reported to have thereby secured access to victims’ wallets, and transferred their holdings to wallets he had created using fake IDs.

German prosecutors first identified a man living in the U.K. last July as a possible suspect responsible for the fraud.

Cointelegraph recently reported that cryptocurrency-related crime has caused an estimated $1.7 billion in investor losses in 2018. The report notes that nearly three times as much was stolen in crypto in the first half of the year compared to the entirety of 2017.

A recent report from crypto analytics firm Chainalysis revealed that two hacker groups have received the majority of the money lost in cryptocurrency scams — reportedly totalling $1 billion in crypto.

As Cointelegraph reported today, Jan. 31, Danish state-owned energy company Energinet has expanded its partnership with Iota to investigate use of its technology in new areas.

February Is Often Good for Bitcoin Prices, Will History Repeat in 2019?


markets

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  • The probability of bitcoin ending its four-year February winning streak in 2019 is high, as the primary trend is bearish for the first time in the last three years. Further, BTC’s failure to capitalize on a bullish pattern on the 3-day chart indicates bearish sentiment is still quite strong.
  • BTC risks falling to December lows near $3,100 in the next few days.
  • The odds of BTC ending February in the green would rise sharply if prices see a strong bounce from the crucial 200-week moving average at $3,298.

Bitcoin could end its four-year February winning streak unless prices see a strong bounce from key support.

The leading cryptocurrency by market capitalization gained 16, 18, 23.5 and 1.6 percent in the second month of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI).

BTC generally posts losses in January before putting on a good show in February. The January losing streak looks certain to extend to the fifth year running with a close tonight in the negative.

As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $3,414, representing a 7 percent drop from the monthly opening price of $3,693.

  • As seen above, BTC has posted gains in February in five out of the last seven years.
  • January was a good month for the cryptocurrency during the three year period of 2012–2014.
  • BTC is reporting losses in January for the fifth consecutive year.

However, the odds of bitcoin posting gains in February for the fifth year straight are quite low, as the recent drop to six-week lows has put the bears back in a commanding position.

The bearish setup, however, would weaken if the crucial 200-week moving average support, currently at $3,298, holds ground for the second time in two months. That could yield a sustained rally to $4,000.

Monthly chart

The above chart shows the 5- and 10-month MAs are trending south and BTC is trading well below these averages for the first time since 2015.

Put simply, the primary trend heading into February is bearish, while bullish conditions prevailed in the previous three years. Hence, BTC may have a hard time posting sustainable gains in the next four weeks.

3-day chart

BTC jumped above $4,000 in mid-December, confirming a bullish divergence of the RSI – a strong indicator of a bearish-to-bullish trend change.

The follow-through to that trend reversal, however, has been anything but bullish. Moreover, prices fell to six-week lows earlier this week.

BTC’s inability to produce significant gains despite the RSI divergence indicates the bearish sentiment is still quite strong.

Weekly chart

On the weekly chart, BTC has carved out a bearish-lower high above $4,000, reinforcing the negative view put forward by the downward sloping 10-week MA.

The cryptocurrency, therefore, could soon revisit December lows near $3,100. A violation there would establish fresh lower low and open the doors for a deeper drop below $3,000.

The probability of BTC posting gains in February would improve if the 200-week MA, currently at $3,298, again serves as  a strong support. Moreover, that average had put brakes on the sell-off in December and was followed by a corrective bounce to levels above $4,000.

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.

Bitcoin image via CoinDesk archives; charts by Trading View

Cryptocurrency Market Officially in Longest Bear Snooze in History – How Long Will it Last?

Cryptocurrency

In the last 24 hours, the crypto market slightly recovered from $111 billion to $113 billion as Bitcoin rebounded to $3,400.

Other major crypto assets in the likes of Ripple (XRP) and Ethereum (ETH) recorded gains in the range of three to seven percent against the U.S. dollar.

Following the partnership with R3 and SWIFT, rumors around a potential SWIFT and Ripple partnership emerged and analysts attributed the sudden increase in the price of XRP to the rumors.

Cryptocurrency Market Officially in Longest Bear Snooze in History - How Long Will it Last? 1

Chart via TradingView

Longest Bear Market, What Can Investors Expect?

According to a cryptocurrency technical analyst Jonny Moe, the cryptocurrency market has officially entered into its longest-ever bear market.

In 2013, the crypto sector engaged in a 410-day bear market during which the Bitcoin price dropped from around $1,000 to nearly $100.

Since late December, for more than 410 days, the cryptocurrency sector has been in a steep sell-off, unable to demonstrate momentum or break out of key resistance levels.

Moe said:

Thursday marks the same length of time as the 2013-2015 bear market. We’re 2% off from the same depth. I’m expecting these cycles to become longer and less extreme as we go. Meaning, the upside move should take longer (it did), and the downtrend should be longer (TBD). Next uptrend should be less extreme than ’16-’17 and longer.

The analysis of Moe disregards several months of consolidation following the 2013-2015 bear market, which traders often describe as the accumulation phase.

Cryptocurrency Market Officially in Longest Bear Snooze in History - How Long Will it Last? 2

Chart via TradingView

Typically, especially in the cryptocurrency market, major crypto assets tend to go through a long-lasting correction and a few months of stability thereafter.

Throughout the past three months, Bitcoin has endured a continuous sell-off. Although it has demonstrated some stability in the $3,500 to $4,000 range in January, the range is at risk of being broken as Bitcoin falls to the low $3,000 region.

As Hsaka, a cryptocurrency trader suggested, it is possible that Bitcoin recovers to mid-$3,500 and avoid testing the $3,000 support level. But, the lack of momentum in the crypto market may prevent the dominant cryptocurrency from recovering in the short-term.

$BTC

Think we see 3500+ soon. pic.twitter.com/5wZQJ7UpLO

— Hsaka (@HsakaTrades) January 30, 2019

Previously, analysts including DonAlt stated that a quick move to the $2,000 to $3,000 range for Bitcoin is highly likely if the asset does not rebound with strength in the low $3,000 region.

“Sitting in the last buy zone before new lows. Cut some of my buys due to the breach of the top of the zone. Looking to re-add them if it is reclaimed. If green fails I expect a quick move into the $2,000s. If it holds $4,000 is on the cards,” the analyst said.

In the short-term, at least until the end of the first week of February, it will remain uncertain whether Bitcoin can hold onto the tight range it has maintained since early January or fall to a new support level.

Expect Extended Bear Market

Generally, both analysts and traders expect the current bear market to extend throughout the first half of 2019 before a proper bottom is established and the market begins to recover.

One positive factor in the mid-term growth trend of the cryptocurrency sector is that startups believe the crypto winter has not been as bad as previous corrections even though it is the worst on paper in terms of length.

Boost VC co-founder Brayton Williams told Coindesk:

“The investment money is returning back to the norm of difficult to obtain. I think the ‘winter’ is greatly exaggerated. We are just back to normal behaviors.”

As seen in the deals of Nasdaq and Fidelity’s venture capital arms, established companies within the cryptocurrency sector are not finding it challenging to receive funding, which is optimistic for the health of the industry.

Last month, CCN reported that Nasdaq and Fidelity invested $28.5 million in regulated crypto futures market operator ErisX in a highly anticipated deal.

Click here for a real-time bitcoin price chart.

Featured Image from Shutterstock. Price Charts from TradingView.

About The Author

Joseph Young

Hong Kong-Based Finance and Cryptocurrency Analyst. Contributing regularly to CCN and Hacked. Providing unique insights into the crypto and fintech space since 2012.

Ethereum Hackathon ETHDenver Partners With UNICEF on Blockchain Bounty System

Upcoming Ethereum (ETH) hardware hackathon ETHDenver is partnering with UNICEF on a blockchain bounty token system, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 31. The token aims to incentivize developers to create projects which promote social good, the press release notes.

ETHDenver — set to take place February 15-17 in Denver, Colorado — has partnered with UNICEF Ventures, UNICEF France and ETH startup Bounties Network on the prototype for what it calls a “positive action token,” the firm stated in the press release.

While the token is yet to have a name — indeed, its creators are appealing to ETHDenver attendees to contribute to finding one — it forms part of an incentivization program dubbed “The Impact Track.” As ETHDenver Diversity and Impact Steward Nick Rodrigues has outlined, the program encourages developers to think systematically about the positive social impact of a given piece of technical innovation:

“For example, if someone had a project where they happened to develop a way to shard more efficiently which therefore required less energy consumption, they would be meeting a sustainable development goal.”

As a non-monetary, value-driven community coin, the token cannot be redeemed for fiat currency, as the organizers report. Instead, users can use their tokens to get early access to future UNICEF and Impact Track events, mentorship sessions, incubator-style support, and similar offerings. ETHDenver has also pitched the token as “digital public acknowledgement of positive actions.”

In a separate blog post published Jan. 30, ETHDenver and blockchain startup MakerDAO (MKR) — creator of the Ethereum-collateralized stablecoin Dai (DAI) — have also announced the creation of an ETHDenver pop-up token economy based on an ephemeral “localcoin.”

Hackathon attendees will reportedly each be issued with a unique “xDai” wallet, which runs on their phone’s default web browser and is pre-loaded with the localcoin, dubbed “buffiDai.” The coin is pegged to the Dai and redeemable for food, drinks and activities at the event, the blog post reports.

As previously reported, the positive action token represents just one of UNICEF’s many forays into the blockchain space. Last month, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced it would be investing $100,000 in six early stage and open-source blockchain companies working toward humanitarian goals.

In February of last year, the organization appealed to PC gamers to use their computers to mine ETH and donate their earnings to a charity campaign for Syrian children.

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