Category Archives for NYSE:SAN

Hong Kong: Purported Bitcoin Millionaire Reportedly Arrested After Making It ‘Rain Cash’

A supposed Bitcoin (BTC) millionaire has been arrested in Hong Kong after “making it rain cash” on the streets, local English-language news outlet the Shanghaiist reported on Dec. 17.

On Sunday, a swathe of 100-Hong Kong dollar bills were thrown off a roof in Sham Shui Po, one of the poorest Hong Kong neighborhoods. Wong Ching-kit, a local cryptocurrency enthusiast, purported Bitcoin millionaire, and entrepreneur who owns the Epoch Cryptocurrency website, is reportedly believed to be responsible for the stunt.

In a video posted on Epoch’s Facebook page, he is seen asking “does anyone believe that money can fall from the sky?” before money starts falling from a high building behind him.

The description of the video details a competition wherein participants can allegedly win large cash prizes. In another video Ching-kit reportedly describes himself inside a luxury car as some kind of “god” that “steals from the rich and gives to the poor.”

According to Shanghaiist, the man was subsequently arrested by local police, reportedly before performing another publicity stunt. Shanghaiist reports that he was detained for “disorderly conduct in a public place” while live-streaming with a stack of cash in his hand.

Leo Weese, a member of the local crypto community, tweeted that Ching-kit is not a Bitcoin millionaire but is instead “running a pyramid-like scheme.” The police reportedly claim to have only recovered 6,000 Hong Kong dollars ($767) while “a popular Twitter post claims, unreasonably, that ‘100’s of millions of HKD’ was dropped from the rooftop.”

In May 2018, organizers of a blockchain conference in China were subjected to harsh criticism after they arranged a performance including a Mao Zedong impersonator. An actor dressed in a grey Mao suit gave a speech in the style of the Chairman, wishing success to the audience in an accent from Mao’s birth province of Hunan, declaring:

“You are worthy of being called the great sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, and I thank you in the name of Mao Zedong.”

The organizers reportedly broke a law prohibiting the use of the image of any past or present leader in promotional activities and television advertisements.

Earlier that same month, a Ukrainian initial coin offering (ICO) publicity stunt on Mount Everest resulted in the death of a sherpa. Social network ASKfm sponsored “crypto enthusiasts” to climb Mount Everest and place a Ledger wallet holding 500,000 in ASKfm tokens at the peak. The sherpa died during the descent.

AriseBank CEO Settles SEC Charges

Jared Rice

CCN previously reported on the arrest and murky background of Jared Rice, Sr., the “CEO” of the AriseBank ICO scheme which saw him lining his pockets and paying personal expenses out of raised funds in the extreme.

Yesterday afternoon, the SEC announced that it had reached a settlement with Rice as regards its part of his legal troubles. A total of just over $2.5 million will be paid out by Rice and his COO, Stanley Ford. This figure includes almost $185,000 in penalties as well as over $68,000 in pre-judgement interest.

The SEC’s press release described the actions of Rice in typical government fashion, without much description or fanfare, saying they were guilty of defrauding people “by depicting AriseBank as a first-of-its-kind decentralized bank offering a variety of services to retail investors.” The director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, Shamoil Shipchandler, had a bit more to add:

Rice and Ford lied to AriseBank’s investors by pitching the company as a first-of-its kind decentralized bank offering its own cryptocurrency for customer products and services.

Banned From ICOs and Public Companies For Life

Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case that was brought against Rice in November, he is forever barred from serving in an officer or director capacity at any public company, putting an upper limit on whatever sort of career he might have thought of having outside of criminal activity. Both him and Ford are barred from this as well as “participating in a digital currency offering.” The term is vague enough to imply that they’re not even allowed to buy ICOs. As part of the settlement, the SEC wants them totally out of the game.

For some, this last bit might seem like a case of government overreach. But the fact is that many ICOs engage their community to help them both raise funds and spread the word. Someone with Rice’s particular set of skills could potentially do harm just by having access to a referral code. What is interesting about this case for cryptonaughts is the role the SEC is playing in legitimately protecting people from bad actors, flexing their considerable muscle in ways that take admitted thieves and scammers out of the picture.

As a variety of privately funded financial products, ICOs and cryptocurrencies in generally don’t have nearly the authority or ability necessary to effectively limit scam activity. That the government is actively working to punish fraudsters is a newer paradigm in the history of cryptocurrency and speaks to its increasing legitimacy and mainstream nature.

Rice still has an ongoing criminal case, wherein the US District Attorney in Dallas sent the FBI to arrest him and charged him with fraud a couple weeks back. The outcome of that case could see him do some prison time before he is ever able to begin repaying all the fines and costs he’s incurred in the AriseBank fiasco.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Mugshot from Arrests.org.

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Blythe Masters Steps Down as CEO of Digital Asset

Blythe Masters, the CEO of Digital Asset, a tech company that builds products on distributed ledger technology (DLT), has stepped down, according to an announcement published Dec. 18.

Per the announcement, Masters has requested to leave for personal reasons after three years of serving at the company. Masters will purportedly stay active in Digital Asset’s operations as a board member, strategic advisor, and shareholder.

Masters will be replaced by AG Gangadhar, who joined the company’s board of directors last April. Gangadhar has been appointed Board Chairman and will serve as the acting CEO until the firm can fine a permanent replacement for Masters.

Prior to joining Digital Assets, Masters served as a JPMorgan Chase executive. According to the Global Fund for Women, Masters is also chair of the Governing board of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, member of the International Advisory Board of Santander Group, and Advisory Board Member of the United States Chamber of Digital Commerce.

Masters has taken a proactive approach in the fintech sector, becoming one of the most well-known women in the cryptocurrency space. As a range of recent research shows, the percentage of women invested and involved in cryptocurrency is still far lower than that of men.

According to Coin.dance, as of May 2018, 94.73 percent of Bitcoin community engagement and active participation comes from men and 5.27 percent from women. In Oct. 2017, a survey conducted by Reddit user loveYouEth, found that 96 percent of Ethereum users are men, and MyEtherWallet reported that 84 percent of their wallet holders were male.

In an interview with Bloomberg in October, Masters predicted that “tens if not hundreds” of blockchain projects will soon increase the efficiency of commodity markets, with commodity supply chains to greatly benefit from the advent of DLT.

Crypto Could Represent New Asset Class in Next Decade, Says BitMEX CEO

Bitcoin (BTC) has the potential to become a new asset class in the next ten years, CEO of major crypto derivatives platform BitMEX claimed on the podcast Unchained Dec. 16.

Arthur Hayes, CEO and co-founder of BitMEX, the largest crypto exchange by reported daily trade volumes, spoke with host Laura Shin and a group of other industry leaders at CME’s Global Financial Leadership Conference last month.

When asked if cryptocurrency represents a new asset class, Hayes expressed skepticism, saying crypto “is sort of a blend” but that it is “still extremely small”:

“Could it become a bona fidе asset class in the next ten years? Maybe. Still, jury’s out on whether or not Bitcoin is actually secure in the long run […] It’s still an experiment.”

Hayes, however, added optimistically that crypto “could be a new way of raising capital and sending value around the world.”

BitMEX’s CEO also weighed in on the future of trading, saying 24/7 trading — as with crypto — will replace conventional hours:

“I think 24/7 trading of all different types of assets is something that’s going to be the future, and that will bleed into other markets we’re all familiar with, you know, FX, fixed income and equities.”

Earlier in November, Hayes predicted that this year’s crypto winter could last as long as 18 months, citing “previous experience” of a “nuclear bear market” in 2014 and 2015.

At press time, Bitcoin is trading at $3,755, up almost 6 percent on the day, seeing a slight rebound after dropping to as low as $3,172 earlier this week.

Court: Dark Web Bitcoin Murder-For-Hire Suspect Remains Under GPS Monitoring

Tina Jones

A DuPage County, Illinois judge has ruled that a woman charged with paying $10,000 in bitcoin for a Dark Web hitman to have her former lover’s wife killed must continue wearing a GPS monitoring device as the case goes on. 32 year-old Tina Jones of Des Plaines, Illinois has been arraigned on four counts of solicitation of murder for hire, two counts of solicitation of murder and attempted first-degree murder after authorities were alerted about a contract denominated in bitcoin which was placed on the unnamed woman’s life.

Earlier in the year, she was given the GPS monitor as part of her bail conditions – a condition which her lawyer says is now financially unbearable because of the $10 per day fee associated with it. To date he says, Jones has paid more than $2,390 since she was granted bail on April 23. If convicted on the Class X felonies, she faces up to 40 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the application, Jones’ lawyer said:

Ms. Jones would otherwise request that all other conditions of bond remain in effect, including that she be required to stay within the state of Georgia unless traveling to Illinois for court, and then she may only stay within Illinois for 24 hours. This court can be fairly assured of Ms. Jones continued compliance because of the support of her family (who travel with her to every court appearance), her performance while on release thus far, and other factors to be discussed with this court.

The judge however turned down the request, stating instead that the clerk’s office should deduct the GPS monitoring fee from the $25,000 bail she posted for the duration of the bail program.

Case Background

The case against Jones started out as an investigation by CBS program “48 hours” into a purported illegal service platform on the internet called ‘The Cosa Nostra International Network.’ While the platform itself turned out to be little more than a scam website harvesting cryptocurrency from inexperienced wannabe criminal masterminds, the investigating team noticed a contract on the website for the murder of a clinical social worker in Naperville.

The police were alerted immediately and Jones was arrested shortly thereafter on suspicion of solicitation of murder. According to police, Jones who is scheduled to appear in court on February 13 provided the purported hitman with a clear blueprint for eliminating her love rival including her lover’s work schedule and instructions to make the murder look like an accident.

In April, Jones was granted bail and allowed to live with her parents in Georgia.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Mugshot credit DuPage County State’s Attorney.

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Galaxy Digital’s Novogratz Does Not Expect Bitcoin Price to Sink Much More

Mike Novogratz, an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that he does not expect the Bitcoin (BTC) price to decline much further in an interview published by Bloomberg on Dec. 18.

Speaking on Bloomberg Television, Novogratz opined that there will not be much further decline in the Bitcoin price, despite the recent slump in the market. Novogratz projected that the Bitcoin price will stay between $3,000 and $6,000 in the foreseeable future.

Novogratz continued, saying that the macro trading environment has become more interesting than the digital assets market:

“We are entering a cool era for macro. Crypto is less exciting now versus macro. Macro got quite boring for many years, and crypto was really exciting.”

The investor also stated that he is “fairly certain” that Bitcoin will be a digital store of wealth, along with the decentralized worldwide computing system web 3.0. In Novogratz’s view, there will be “a lot of tokenized objects,” like limited partnerships, funds, art and “all kinds of things” in the near future.

Earlier in December, Novogratz compared cryptocurrency market performance to a “methadone clinic.” He characterized Bitcoin’s meteoric growth in late 2017 –– which peaked at $20,000 per coin –– “a drug.” He called the period a “speculative mania,” adding that the “audience is more sober now — the drug is gone.” At the time, the hedge fund manager said that the market was characterized by “pessimism” and “fear,” with people expecting the leading cryptocurrency to go “to zero.”

In November, Novogratz said that he expects cryptocurrency to “flip next year” since “that’s when prices start moving again.” Novogratz predicted that financial institutions will transition from “investing in cryptocurrency funds to investing in cryptocurrencies proper in the first quarter of next year.”

The Big Short: Former IMF Economist Finally Closes Year-Old Bitcoin Short

Mark Dow

A year ago today, Bitcoin peaked at $19,511.

Former International Monetary Fund economist and Pharo Senior Risk Trader Mark Dow made an unpopular bet not long thereafter: Bitcoin would not sustain its growth and the price would slip from there. He entered a short position and rode his intuition all the way to the bank, finally closing the position today. A big part of his intuition was the launch of Bitcoin futures trading.

Dow wrote a sort of guide on shorting Bitcoin around the time he’d opened his position. Not quite a week after the peak, he wrote:

First, bitcoin is volatile. It’s annualized volatility is over 100%, implying daily moves up or down of over 6%. Second, bitcoin exchanges are open 24/7, but bitcoin futures follow regular Globex hours. Third, the exchanges have integrity risk (e.g. Mt Gox) and the futures have 20% collars. These last two factors increase gap/discontinuous pricing risk for those who trade the futures, even though I suspect these factors represent more risk for long positions in bitcoin futures than for short ones.

Today I say goodbye to the bitcoin short. Sad! #bitcoin $BTC $XBT.

— Dow (@mark_dow) December 18, 2018

He told Bloomberg that he’s already taken profits twice this year on the position, but now he has finally decided to close it altogether. He didn’t comment on whether this is because he sees an upswing coming. He said:

I’m done. I don’t want to try to ride this thing to zero. I don’t want to try to squeeze more out of the lemon. I don’t want to think about it. It seemed like the right time.

Dow frequently refers to Bitcoin as “faith-based.” He said to Bloomberg that the reason for last year’s bubble was largely people “believ[ing] the narrative” and that a failure on the part of many traders to actually understand the underlying technology lead to a “more violent” bubble.

Novogratz Believes Bitcoin Will Be $3,000-6,000

Erstwhile, Mike Novogratz feels that a gradual demand pressure is building in Bitcoin, telling Bloomberg that there was a “monster correction” which is “over.”

His conviction level remains “high.” He pointed to the dot com bubble, saying that both the Bitcoin bubble and the Dot Com bubble were based on “something real.” He made the point that the Internet has changed the world in many ways.

CCN’s own chart analysis shows that BTC/USD will either break out and head on another bull run soon or careen off the edge, given the Doji pattern presented in recent charts.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Mark Dow photograph from LinkedIn.

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Coinbase Pro Adds Another Four Ethereum Tokens Including DAI

Coinbase Pro Added 4 Tokens Today

In a slew of additions and developments, and not unexpectedly, Coinbase has added four more Ethereum tokens. Dai (DAI), Golem (GNT), Maker (MKR), and Zilliqa (ZIL) will be added to the Coinbase Professional platform but with some regional restrictions.

GNT and DAI will be available in the US, but not New York, in the UK, the EU, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. MKR and ZIL will be added to Coinbase Pro in the UK, EU, Canada, Singapore, and Australia only. As per previous Coinbase announcements, these jurisdictions could be extended at a later date and a roll out for the main coinbase.com platform and mobile applications could also be added later.

DAI, MKR, and ZIL are ERC20 coins and GNT is Ethereum-based but not officially an ERC20. Coinbase qualifies this as part of its promise to continue to add new ERC20 tokens to its trading platform.

Smart Contract Functionality Not Yet Available

The associated smart contract functionality of each of the new tokens will not be available “immediately” through Coinbase Pro, says the press release and:

As a result, users who want to engage in MKR governance, use their GNT tokens to submit rendering tasks to the Golem beta network, utilize functionality like Compound, or exit DAI positions in the event of global settlement will need to move their assets from Coinbase Pro to a local wallet.

Inbound transfers of the four tokens will be accepted to the platform “at some point” after 11.45am Pacific time (PT) on December 18. Upwards of 12 hours afterward trading of the coins will be enabled once liquidity has been established and will begin with a USDC pair. Tweets for each coin and stage will be issued via the Coinbase Pro Twitter account.

Inbound transfers for DAI, GNT, MKR, and ZIL are now available in the regions where trading is supported. Traders cannot yet place orders and no orders will be filled. Order books will be in transfer-only mode for a minimum of 12 hours. https://t.co/Ov3BtA1BWE

— Coinbase Pro (@CoinbasePro) December 18, 2018

Community response has been mixed with many on Twitter asking for Ripple (XRP) and Stellar (XLM) to be added next and another Twitter user saying:

Please don’t add $waves would like the rise to continue. thanks.

The WAVES coin is currently experiencing a massive, considering the current market, and sustained price hike with a 35% increase still showing for the last 24 hours.

Waves Price Source: CoinMarketCap

Coinbase is considering other tokens, ERC20 and otherwise, on a case by case basis. It added Civic (CVC), district0x (DNT), Loom Network (LOOM), and Decentraland (MANA) on December 7, 2018, and is reportedly exploring support for Ripple’s XRP.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Spanish Renewable Energy Operator to Trace Electricity Generation With Blockchain

Spanish renewable energy company ACCIONA Energía is going to deploy blockchain to trace electricity generation, according to an announcement published Dec. 17.

ACCIONA Energía is an international global renewable energy operator, that reportedly produces emission-free energy for over 6 million homes. The company is recognized as one of the largest renewable energy developers, with more than 9,000 MW owned and installed.

ACCIONA started the project after it reached an agreement with FlexiDAO, a Barcelona-based startup that offers software tools to electric power companies for digital energy services. With this move, ACCIONA plans to allow its clients to check the provenance of electricity distribution.

Per the announcement, ACCIONA and FlexiDAO have been jointly working on the development of a commercial demonstrator that tracks the supply chain of renewable electricity generation from five wind and hydro facilities in Spain to four corporate customers in Portugal.

Now the company is looking to implement the technology in new areas, including markets that do not have a consolidated renewable energy certification system. Belén Linares, Director of Innovation of ACCIONA Energía, stated that “blockchain technology can facilitate this service [tracing the renewable origin of energy] considerably to clients in any part of the world.”

Energy companies and utilities globally have been applying blockchain technology to their supply networks and operations. Earlier this month, the South Korean government announced it will spend 4 billion won ($3.5 million) to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP) in the city of Busan. A VPP is a cloud-based distributed power plant that integrates the idle capacities of multiple energy resources in order to optimize power generation.

In November, two energy divisions of German tech giant Siemens joined a blockchain-driven energy platform to promote the use of decentralized technologies in the sector. Siemens officials reportedly believe that blockchain technology will help increase interoperability in the area, linking consumers with energy producers and network operators.

Swiss Federal Council Opts for Minimal Regulation

Switzerland Financial Regulator FINMA Head Mark Branson

A report based on the analysis conducted by a blockchain working group that was appointed earlier this year has been adopted by the collective head of state and government of Switzerland, the Federal Council.

Among other things the report has concluded that the legal framework of Switzerland can handle new technologies such as blockchain with only selective adjustments being made and not fundamental ones.

The Federal Council currently sees no fundamental issues regarding financial market law that specifically concern blockchain/DLT-based applications and would require fundamental adjustments. Swiss financial market law is generally technology-neutral and able to deal with new technologies.

Specific areas

The individual areas which need targeted adjustments according to Switzerland’s governing body include banking law, civil law, insolvency law, and anti-money laundering law. In civil law, the Federal Council has recommended that the legal certainty involving the transfer of rights via digital registers be increased.

With regards to financial market infrastructure law, the Federal Council has called for a new and flexible authorization category specifically focusing on blockchain-based financial market infrastructures to be devised. The governing body of Switzerland stated various reasons for this including the specific challenges that blockchain-based business models face:

…such challenges exist namely in the areas of trading tokens via central trading platforms and in the application of financial market law to decentralised financial market “infrastructures” …  Hence, it seems more expedient to address the challenges in financial market infrastructure law that are specific to blockchain/DLT applications by means of specific amendments (instead of a regulatory carve-out).

Insolvency Law

Switzerland’s governing body also proposed adjustments in insolvency law calling for clarification with regards to the segregation of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets in the case of bankruptcy saying it ‘considers it necessary to provide for unambiguous rules regarding the segregation of crypto-based assets from the bankrupt’s estate by analogy to the owner’s right to segregation under current law.’

According to the Federal Council, there is lack of clarity especially in cases where crypto-based assets are deposited with third parties and whether in such a case a debtor has the power to dispose of such assets if the third parties have asserted their rights.

Other areas where the Federal Council has proposed changes include the anti-money laundering law where the body has proposed that decentralized trading platforms be more explicitly subjected to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act.

In making the report, the Federal Council has indicated that its goal is to ‘create the best possible framework conditions so that Switzerland can establish itself and evolve as a leading, innovative and sustainable location for fintech and blockchain companies’.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Mark Branson portrait from FINMA. 

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