Another Plus One For Crypto: Morgan Stanley Fined For Failing to Detect Money Laundering

Major banks are often spewing anti-crypto rhetoric over its potential to be used for money laundering. So it is a little ironic when one of the world’s largest banks gets fined for not doing enough to prevent or detect it.

$10 Million Fine For Morgan Stanley

An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Morgan Stanley had been fined $10 million by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in a probe into its anti-money laundering (AML) program. On Wednesday Finra said that the banking giant had “failed to adequately detect and coordinate the supervision of certain suspicious transactions within its anti-money-laundering program for more than five years.”

The regulator continued that Morgan Stanley’s automated AML surveillance program had not received the critical data required to detect tens of billions of dollars in wire transfers and foreign exchanges from high risk countries.

Finra added that the bank had not implemented procedures that would allow periodic reviews of its systems despite having found fault in them over a five year period from 2011 to 2016. The bank was found to have inefficiently monitored customer accounts for suspicious or heavy activity. Comments were made specifically about penny stock trading resulting in 2.7 billion shares deposited with subsequent sales of around $164 billion.

According to the WSJ the bank said it had accepted the fine without admitting or denying the charges, the official response was;

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter from several years ago. We continuously work to strengthen our controls and have been recognized by Finra for the extraordinary steps we have taken to expand and enhance our AML program,”

Major Banks Investigated For Money Laundering

Morgan Stanley isn’t the only bank to get into hot water over money laundering. Just last month Deutsche Bank was raided for money laundering as reported by NewsBTC. The investigation revealed that the bank is believed to have handled $354 million in ‘dirty money’ in 2016. Evidence suggested that the German banking giant had been involved setting up of off-shore accounts for clients in various tax havens in order to stealthily shift finances.

In September Danske Bank came under the spotlight for money laundering. The CEO resigned amidst allegations of potential money laundering of hundreds of billions of dollars, more than the entire cryptocurrency market cap at the time.

Morgan Stanley is just the latest to be implicated for potential dodgy dealings and failing to detect money laundering and it won’t be the last. The rabbit hole runs deep with big banks which are almost a law unto themselves. This is why most of them are so anti-crypto and also why it needs to become the new decentralized standard for financial activity as it was originally intended.

Image from Shutterstock

Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group to Launch Yen-Pegged Stablecoin in March

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Mizuho Financial Group (MHFG), which is one of the largest financial institutions in the world and the second-largest financial services group in Japan, is reportedly launching its own yen-pegged stablecoin in March 2019 in a bid to promote cashless payments at Japanese retailers.

According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review on 26 December 2018, Mizuho “plans to introduce a proprietary digital currency that can be used for shopping and remitted at no cost, starting next March.”

It seems that Mizuho, which is planning to have “about 60 regional banks on board”, wants to launch a yen-pegged stablecoin, and it is hoping that by charging shops “fees significantly lower than for credit card services”, a significant percentage of Japanese shops will adopt its digital currency.

The value of this stablecoin will be fixed at 1 yen (roughly, 1 cent) per unit.

Users will need to download a dedicated mobile app, and they will be able to make payments by scanning QR codes presented to them by retailers.

The report says that users “will not be charged a fee for transferring funds to their smartphone from a bank account, returning funds to their account, or sending funds to other users,” and shops “will also not be charged fees for depositing digital currency funds received from customers into their corporate bank accounts, which can be performed immediately.”

This new as yet unnamed stablecoin is the result of the J-Coin project, which was announced in December 2017 by Yasuhiro Sato, who was President of MHFG at the time. In a report by Nikkei Asian Review exactly one year ago today, we discovered that Sato had told them J-Coin in an interview. Sato said that J-Coin would gain mainstream adoption “”if the benefits to users and participating merchants become clear.” He also said that it was important to have a bridge between J-Coin and the Alipay platform in order to allow Japanese retailers supporting J-Coin to accept payments from foreign visitors (especially those from China). Finally, he suggested that Mizuho would try find a convenient way for users to exchange J-Coin with other form of electronic money (including other sigital currencies).

Finally, it is worth pointing out that Japan’s largets financial services group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), as reported by CryptoGlobe, has also announced plans to launch its own digital currency (MUFG Coin) in January 2018.

Featured Image Courtesy of Mizuho Financial Group

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield Results

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been tirelessly promoting the petro, ever since his administration announced the creation of what is now considered the first state-issued cryptocurrency. Although no one is really sure whether the coin actually works, Venezuelans have already seen their salaries denominated in the national crypto and their pensions converted to petro. Imposing the virtual currency on other nations, however, is proving much harder.

Also read: Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds

Russia Not Ready for Petro Bookkeeping

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsMaduro attempted to push the petro during his recent visit to Moscow, offering Russia the opportunity to use the Venezuelan coin in its oil industry finances. Speaking to journalists in the Russian capital, he revealed that Caracas intends to gradually introduce the oil-backed cryptocurrency in its trade relations with international partners and has already prepared a schedule to do so. The head of the Bolivarian Republic, who met high-ranking Russian officials including President Putin, added that his country will start using the petro for all transactions in its oil sector in 2019.

The news that the cryptocurrency will be on the agenda of the meetings in Moscow came from the Venezuelan ambassador to Russia, Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa, who claimed the Russian side has shown great interest in the Venezuelan proposals. Later, Russia’s deputy finance minister Sergey Storchak confirmed the petro has been presented to the Russian officials but said there were no immediate plans to use it in bilateral trade with Venezuela.

This is not the first attempt by Caracas to sell the petro to the Russians. In April of this year, officials from both countries discussed the expansion of the economic cooperation between their governments. Following the meetings, the South American country revealed plans to assemble Russian Kamaz trucks and intentions to pay for the auto parts with petro coins. The agreement, however, was not officially confirmed by the representatives of the Russian Federation who visited Caracas.

Belarus Prefers Raw Materials Over Crypto

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsMore recently, Venezuela offered another of its allies, Belarus, to pay a portion of the $113 million it owes for housing projects realized by the state-owned Belarusian construction company Belzarubezhstroy using the petro. “The financial situation in Venezuela is tense. We are considering alternative options for repaying the existing debt. One of them is to use the petro cryptocurrency,” said the company’s deputy director Alexander Falevich.

Despite the outstanding debt, Belzarubezhstroy continues to build apartment blocks in Venezuela, even after the departure of all Russian and Chinese companies from the country, Falevich told Sputnik. He added that the Venezuelan authorities do want to pay the money but the Belarusian law currently does not recognize cryptocurrencies such as the petro as legal tender. That’s why Minsk is trying to convince Caracas to repay the debt with raw materials, which Belarus can then re-export to the global market.

Caracas Pitches the Petro to OPEC Members

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsVenezuela also plans to offer its sovereign cryptocurrency as a unit of account in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). International oil trade is dominated by U.S. fiat currency and over the past decades a number of proposals to replace the greenback have been put forward by countries under U.S. sanctions.

In a video address, published last month on Twitter by the state-owned energy giant PDVSA, the country’s oil minister Manuel Quevedo said he intends to acquaint OPEC members with the “main oil-backed digital currency.” He also stated:

The petro will become the digital currency of the international oil trade. We will present it to OPEC. This will be a move to spread cryptocurrencies internationally.

Venezuela wants to start using the petro in its oil exports as soon as the first quarter of next year. Its government has already called on distributers of Venezuelan oil and petroleum products as well as air carriers and sea shipping companies to set up cryptocurrency wallets in order to be able to pay and be paid in petro. The problem is, however, that despite announcing the public sale of the national crypto in October, at this point its buyers can only get “petro certificates,” not the digital coins themselves.

That, of course, did not stop President Maduro from promoting the state-issued Venezuelan coin to another international organization, the regional “Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America” (ALBA). “We need to unite for economic liberation and go along the path of joint development,” the socialist leader told his colleagues from nine other member states, while suggesting that ALBA should put the petro in the focus of its monetary policy efforts.

What do you think of Venezuela’s attempts to promote its national cryptocurrency, the petro? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Belzarubezhstroy. 


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Bitcoin Could Soon Become Legal in India

Owning and using Bitcoin could soon become allowed in India, as the second interdisciplinary committee appointed to vote on the legality of cryptocurrencies is in favor of legalizing it, the New Indian Express reported on December 26, 2018.

India’s Harsh Stance on Crypto

Despite the number of crypto and blockchain experts in India being second only to the U.S., cryptocurrencies are still largely frowned upon by the country’s financial regulators.

Back in March 2017, the Indian government set up an interdisciplinary committee whose aim was to determine the legality of Bitcoin. The committee was led by the now retired special secretary Dinesh Sharma with members of the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), NITI Aayog and SBI.

In July 2017, after four months of deliberating, the committee recommended a total ban on all cryptocurrencies in India which immediately went into effect. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, backed by the entire Ministry of Finance, echoed the sentiment during his budget speech in February 2018.

However, the legal status of cryptocurrencies in India could soon change – as more and more stakeholders began challenging the RBI fiat in the Supreme Court, a second inter-ministerial committee was set up to resolve the issue.

The new committee, led by the Department of Economic Affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, is expected to have a much more favorable stance when it comes to cryptocurrencies, which is a move both the regulators and the crypto community welcome.

Bitcoin’s Legal Status Resolved as Early as February 2019

According to the New Indian Express, some of the interdisciplinary committee members, such as RBI executive director Ganesh Kumar and a few Finance Ministry officials have actively participated in G20 and FATF working group meetings.

Seeing how the G20 countries recently agreed to introduce regulations on crypto assets to fight money laundering and financial terrorism, a much more lenient approach towards regulating Bitcoin is expected from the committee.

The newly appointed committee has already met twice to discuss the issue, a senior official who attended the panel told the New Indian Express, adding that there was a consensus among the members that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal.

The next meeting is scheduled for January 2019, but the unnamed official said that the committee would most likely submit its final report to the finance ministry as early as February 2019.

“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity,” the official added.

Suspected Electricity Thief Arrested After Mining $3 Million in Bitcoin, Ether

A man in Taiwan has been arrested over claims he mined millions of dollars-worth of cryptos using stolen power.

According to a report from EBC Dongsen News on Wednesday, a man with the surname Yang is suspected of stealing electricity valued at over NT$100 million ($3.25 million) from various business premises to mine bitcoin and ether.

Yang reportedly tapped the power supply at 17 stores in Taiwan for his crypto mining operations. For each illicit mining operation, Yang would first rent an internet cafe or a toy store, then hire electricians to redesign the wiring so that the stolen electricity would not be metered.

Taiwan Power Company, the island’s state-owned utility provider, first discovered the operations after noticing an unstable power supply and launching an investigation. Yang was suspected and subsequently arrested by the police.

Wang Zhicheng, deputy head of the fourth brigade of Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau said in the article:

“The group recruited electricians who managed to break into the sealed meters in order to add in private lines to use electricity for free before that usage reaches the meters.”

Several such cases of mining using stolen power have emerged recently, as easy gains have proven too much of a temptation for some. Last month, two principals at a Chinese school got in hot water after stealing electricity from the institution to mine ether.

Back in June, police in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui arrested a man for allegedly stealing a significant amount of power for bitcoin and ether mining, after the local power grid company reported a spike in electricity use. And, in April, six individuals were arrested in China’s Tianjin region over claims they used 600 cryptocurrency miners to generate bitcoin with power taken from the local power grid.

Taiwan police car image via Shutterstock 

Cryptocurrency in India Maybe Legitimized After All

This year has been particularly bad for Indian crypto traders and investors with constant government crackdowns and a shroud of uncertainty about the future of the industry in the county. That may be all about to change as a recent report indicates that regulation and legitimization could be on the way in India.

India’s Year-long Oppression of Crypto

The crackdown culminated with a ban on holding crypto assets as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) spent the best part of 2018 trying to quash them.  Banks were banned from dealing with crypto exchanges which made it very difficult to trade them using fiat without turning to OTC platforms. Court cases involving the RBI and local exchanges were postponed and delayed leaving the whole industry in a quandary as to the legality of digital currencies.

According to a recent report however things maybe about to change with a committee meeting resulting in a more lenient outcome for crypto. A senior official who attended the meeting said;

“We have already had two meetings. There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalised with strong riders. Deliberations are on. We will have more clarity soon,”

The first interdisciplinary committee comprised of various state and banking departments was setup by the Indian government in March 2017. By July they had recommended a total ban on digital currencies but a number of exchanges continued to operate and the public still had an appetite for crypto. The RBI and Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, enforced the harsh stance earlier this year.

A second inter-ministerial committee, led by the Department of Economic Affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, was setup to take another look into crypto asset viability. Some of the ministers on this new panel attended the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires where crypto regulations, not outright bans, were recommended.

According to the report these ministers are likely to share insights garnered at the global summit and make recommendations based on them for the Indian situation. The next committee meeting is scheduled for January 2019 and observers are optimistic about a turnaround in stance on crypto assets.

“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity,” the official added.

If India does loosen its grip and allows regulated crypto trading to flourish, it could open up one of the largest markets on the planet.

 

Image from Shutterstock

If Crypto Dies, What Happens to Blockchain?

In a bear market environment in which crypto prices are crumbling, investors often struggle to keep cool from all their portfolio headaches and midnight market analysis. One question they all ask themselves is, will the market pick up or should I just cut my losses?

Blockchain in the Crypto-Winter

The extremes of the mega-hyped crypto bull and now bear market, have left many in public believing crypto and blockchain is dead! This is of course not true. The truth is we are moving towards a much more mature market in which only the fundamentally strong projects survive. Additionally, it is distracting from a straightforward fact; blockchain remains to be the next big thing to disrupt business and industry.  

Yes, this is a story that has been heard daily throughout 2018 without any massive breakthroughs being made. And yes, billions have been invested around the globe, with many of the world’s most innovative start-ups and established companies are exploring the technology – the sticking point being, there are very few use cases that have gained mass adoption. Yes, having a robust infrastructure that is legally compliant goes a long way to ensuring the token economy in blockchain remains very much alive.

Just think about the following. In today’s business world, many companies interact with each other in some capacity necessitating some form of documentation. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) on the blockchain can be used to document transactions in an open, distributed, and real-time database, helping reduce delays, increase transparency, and reduce human errors. Within the complex world of supply chains, for example, companies are always looking at ways to reduce the time and costs of moving products. DLT can cut out the need for multiple and inefficient record keeping methods and practices to ensure everyone on the supply chain has the same information in real-time, cutting out unnecessary waste.

One of the biggest criticisms of blockchain is its environmental credentials. Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies use the “proof-of-work” consensus mechanism to secure its blockchain, and that requires a lot of energy. To lower energy costs (and environmental effects), developers are building other consensus mechanisms. Chief among these alternative consensus mechanisms is “proof-of-stake.” Proof-of-stake requires users to wager that their version of the blockchain is correct and could eliminate the need for power-hungry mining rigs and make it scalable for business use.

Solving these issues will go a long way in boosting the real-life use of blockchain in business. Another piece of the puzzle that will accelerate adoption is legislation as this gives companies the ‘green light’ to move forward with developing tools within blockchain with the full support of the government in their operating market.

Will Cryptocurrencies Survive?

Is crypto dead? Maybe yes, maybe no. But blockchains will stay, but only for solutions addressing these issues outlined above: A mass-adoption use case, that solves the technical shortcomings, with an answer for the legal question marks.

One project that checks these boxes is Lition. They were the first to launch a mass-market peer-to-peer energy trading use case commercially, and are now using their knowledge to develop the new German blockchain law on tokenized securities, together with the national government.

They’re also solving the technical shortcomings by creating the world’s first scalable public-private blockchain with deletable data features, made for commercial use. To develop this, Lition has teamed up with SAP, along with their Chief Innovation Officer to join Lition as an advisor, and a few well-known seed investors like LD Capital. Now, they’re preparing for their ICO in March to secure funding for a broader, international roll-out.

The more crypto prices keep falling; the more focus needs to go on business fundamentals, with real use cases on a deep technical layer in a legally compliant environment.

 

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Looking to 2019: What Will Bring About The Next Crypto Bull?

new year 2019 bitcoin icos crypto bull Altcoins

Looking to 2019: What Will Bring About The Next Crypto Bull?


2018 is nearly finished and investors are cautiously optomisti about crypto’s prospects in 2019. While it’s great to think positive, what will it really take to turn the market around in 2019?

2018 was a Nightmare

As the end of 2018 approaches, there will be a steady barrage of articles writing 2018 off as a fluke correction year for crypto. Readers can also expect to be bombarded with proclamations that all cryptocurrencies have bottomed and 2019 will bring a bull run the likes of which the world has never seen.

With that said, 2018 was a rough year and the crypto-bear definitely roamed free and caused an unforeseeable amount of havoc. All criticism aside, 2019 should be a better year than 2018. Honestly, how could it get any worse?

Let’s take a look at what factors and new developments could help the crypto-market turn around next year.

Liquidity, Demand and Volume

Diminishing volume has been a recurring theme all throughout 2018 and a quick glance at a chart for Bitcoin or nearly any other cryptocurrency shows that repeated fake out rallies, dead cat bounces, bull traps and a continuous pattern of lower highs were clear signals that the market would continue trending down but hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?

Evaporating demand for cryptocurrencies translated to free falling prices and sharp corrections that repeatedly pulled the market below crucial supports.

The launch of Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures exchange could assist with the demand, liquidity and volume of Bitcoin and there are rumors that the platform operators are considering adding other digital-assets.

As has been discussed throughout the year, institutional grade investment platforms provide an on digital assets ramp for hedge funds, institutional investors, family offices and other larger firms to access the crypto-market in a secure, regulated manner.

To ETF or Not to EFT?

Every month of 2018 was spent pondering whether or not the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would approve a Bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund. For a time, it seemed that the entire lifeforce and future success of the crypto-market was reliant on the result of this decision and with each postponement and hint of denial the market steadily stepped down another leg.

At this point, it’s safe to say that most retail investors just want to scream out “Just get it over with already.” In other words, either deny or approve the damn thing so the market can react, accept and move on. Obviously, in the event of an approval, demand permitting, the market could experience an uptick in liquidity, demand, and volume.

Even if 2017’s bull rally was the product of a manipulative fluke, it is clear that main street investors appetite for creating a quick buck fueled a parabolic rally that will be the talk of ages.

While cognition is one of the key features that separates man from beast, a good rally and the chance to turn a quick profit is too hard for many a man to resist and if demand and investment from financial giants generate a trend change in the crypto-market, mainstream investors are bound to pile in.  

Whether it be parabolic frenzy or purchasing and advertisements from brokers and institutions, higher volume is required.

A New Year of Bullish Bets on CME & CBOE Futures

With Bitcoin shorted to nearly $3,000, Morgan Creek Digital’s Anthony Pompliano and other analysts are still suggesting the digital asset has further to fall. A possible silver lining to the whole situation is with the turn of a new year and Bitcoin price 00 so low, perhaps BTC bets on the CME and CBOE futures will turn bullish.

Analysts have correlated Bitcoin’s precipitous decline with the debut of Bitcoin futures and it seems that their approval and roll out came too late into Bitcoin’s 2017 rally to provide any benefit.

Hopefully, 2019 will reverse this trend as at some point if this trend does not reverse, there’s nowhere to go but up.

At the moment, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce, who many crypto-investors look to as a friend of crypto and affectionately refer to as Crypto-Mom pledges that she will continue to fight for crypto but also cautions, “Don’t hold your breath.

I do caution people to not live or die on when a crypto or Bitcoin ETF gets approved. You all know that I am working on trying to convince my colleagues to have a bit more of an open mind when it comes to [crypto].

– Hester Peirce

Meanwhile, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton resolutely stands by his previous statement that a crypto-ETF is a no until manipulation no longer poses a threat. Clayton has repeatedly said,

I want to see better market surveillance and custody for digital currencies before being comfortable with a crypto ETF.

– Jay Clayton

One thing to look forward to in 2019 is the growth of genuine use cases as the market grows more dynamic and diversified. Investors would do well to redirect their focus from the oft disappointing discussion of Bitcoin ETFs and bull markets to growth opportunities within the expanding sections of the crypto market

Genuine Use Cases

2019 should see an expansion of the crypto payments sector and announcements like last week’s news about a partnership between hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger and payment startup Crypto.com are a preview of what’s to come. The sector requires more services that allow cryptocurrency holders to transact in crypto without having to first spend fiat or exit crypto to make fiat payments.

More brokers offering crypto-to-crypto payment services are needed and a growing number of companies are beginning to enter this space. Crypto holders want to spend their funds and an increasing number of businesses are looking to accept crypto.

In fact, a 2017 study from Visual Capitalist report found that the number of brick-and-mortar shops accepting cryptocurrencies grew by 30.3% and this is representative of nearly 11,300 retailers worldwide.

Even more encouraging is the forecast of the e-commerce and payments sector experiencing exponential growth by 2021. Revenue from E-commerce and mobile payment processors are predicted to rise from $528.2 billion to $885.4 billion.

2018 also saw the gradual development of new sectors in the crypto-hemisphere. In 2016 and 2017 investors earned a return on their investments through block rewards for mining and staking coins to support various networks.

As the ICO market withered in 2018, the profits from mining, masternode operation, and staking became less lucrative for many but new options for earning a return on crypto-holdings emerged.

Crypto-banking, crypto-lending, and crypto-to-crypto payments are all genius concepts that draw from the conventional business models of traditional finance but drop some of the challenges that come with traditional banking.

Stablecoins to the Rescue?

While still approached somewhat warily by investors, stablecoins offer a convenient, safe and at times lucrative (due to arbitrage) place to rest one’s funds as Bitcoin and altcoins whipsaw back and forth.

A number of stablecoins came on the market in 2018 and a currently giving Tether (USDT) a real run for the money. They might function as the saving grace to the cryptomarket as provide a regulated, stable, on-ramp for banks and businesses looking to dabble in crypto.

Also, with the ICO market in shambles, stablecoins and security token offerings could be the next assets that underpin an evolving fundraising model that traditional, blockchain and crypto-based startups need to acquire capital in 2019.

New ventures like the partnership between crypto-lender Nexo and stablecoin TrueUSD are likely to provide profitable alternatives to investors as holders can earn a return steady return on their digital assets and also acquire crypto-to-fiat loans on their crypto holdings.

Other crypto banking providers and payments companies like Nexo, FOTON Bank and Revolut are already making it easier for crypto-holders looking to acquire capital or make crypto payments quickly. The use of smart contracts and platform-specific native tokens are meant to bypass taxable conversions (crypto to fiat, crypto to crypto) and also remove the double transaction fees that those attempting to convert and spend crypto frequently encounter on exchanges.  

With forecast of a ‘revolutionary force’ in 2019, investors should keep a close eye on this corner of the crypto-sector to see what other services stablecoins could provide.

In 2019, it’s going to take more than pure speculation for traders to turn a profit and each investor will have to work a little bit harder and familiarize oneself with a maturing crypto-market.

Trading wise, investors will need to stay abreast of new developments and exploit the little opportunities in order to average a respectable profit. At this point, nobody is sure what the market holds for 2019 and it’s yet to be determined if a bottom has been found yet.

In order for the oft-mentioned ‘mass adoption’ that investors and analysts speak of to occur there needs to be genuine, convenient use cases for cryptocurrency other than just investing and spending.


What do you think it will take to turn the crypto-market around in 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Crypto Market Update: Super Spike For Eternal Token (XET) as Selloff Accelerates

Crypto markets still falling; Ethereum, BCH and Cardano dropping, Eternal Token gets epic pump.

Things are in decline again in crypto land as the selloff continues and the recent rally unravels. More losses can be seen across the board and total market capitalization is heading back towards $125 billion.

Bitcoin is falling back from an intraday high of $3,875 it made a few hours ago. The $4,000 resistance level can no longer be reached and BTC is extending losses. At the moment it is down 1.5% on the day and trading at just below $3,800. Ethereum as usual is in more pain with a 6% slide back to $125. ETH is still 25% up on the week though but those gains are dwindling as it returns to bearish territory.

The top ten is all red during today’s Asian trading session. Bitcoin Cash has joined Ethereum with a 6% loss over the past 24 hours as it falls below $170. The rest are dropping between 3 and 5 percent at the time of writing. EOS has managed to reclaim fifth spot from Stellar but the two have very similar market caps at $2.2 billion.

Only Ethereum Classic is in the green in the top twenty with a 7% gain to reach $5.28. Cardano and Monero are dropping the most with 6% losses. The rest are declining around 2 to 4 percent at the time of writing.

A monumental spike has occurred for Eternal Token which has pumped over 300% today propelling XET up the chart into the top forty altcoins.

A new remittance service by Atom Solutions called Equivalent Value Overseas Remittance System (EVOR) based upon Eternal Coin appears to be pumping the token at the moment. Factom is the only other altcoin in the green besides Ethereum Classic at the moment.

Yesterday’s pumped coin is getting dumped today as Polymath loses 12%. Also at the painful end of the top one hundred is Stratis, IOST and Ontology dropping double digits at the time of writing.

Just over 3% has been lost from total market capitalization over the past day as it slides back to $127 billion. Daily trade volume is down again to 16 billion as the short rally now seems to have fizzled out. Crypto markets are back at the same level they were this time last Thursday and very close to levels this time last month.

FOMO Moments is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New Devices

2018 was a crazy year in regard to the price of cryptocurrencies losing more than 80 percent of their values since they touched all-time highs. Interestingly enough, even though the prices of major digital assets plummeted, the hashrate for SHA-256 coins skyrocketed during the months of August through October. Although the hashrate has declined significantly since the price was severely impacted negatively this past November.

Also Read: Crypto Bear Market Triggers Rise in M&A Activity

A Look at the Hashrates Securing the Most Popular SHA-256 Coins in 2018

Cryptocurrency miners secure blockchain networks for a profit and the cumulative proof-of-work (PoW) hashrate of all the SHA-256 coins has seen milestone after milestone in 2018. The total hashrate of both Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) networks combined surpassed 65 exahash per second (EH/s) last August. Since then, the combined hashrate of both networks is averaging 42 EH/s during the final week of 2018, as the hashrate tumbled over the course of the last eight weeks. The hashrate is still twice higher than it was last January, even though it had lost around 20-25 EH/s after the high.

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New Devices
Bitcoin Core (BTC) network hashrate 2018.

According to Coin Dance statistics, it is currently 4.10 percent more profitable to mine on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain. Furthermore, Coinwarz data details the BCH chain is the third most profitable PoW chain today. Since the SHA-256 hashrate declined rapidly during the first week of November and the BCH blockchain split occurred on the 15th, the Bitcoin Cash network hashrate has seen much better days. For instance, the cryptocurrency’s hashrate captured an average of 4-5 EH/s for most of 2018.

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New Devices
Bitcoin Core (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hashrates combined, on Dec. 26.

However, because of the split and falling BCH prices, the network is only capturing 1.5-1.9 EH/s but has improved considerably since the last big price drop. When the price was under $100 per BCH, the hashrate was only .5-.9 EH/s (or 5,000-9000 petahash per second). The biggest mining pools on the Bitcoin Cash network this month are BTC.top, Viabtc, and BTC.com. The Bitcoin Core network’s largest pools today include BTC.com, Antpool, and Viabtc.

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New Devices
The top SHA-256 mining pools of 2018.

2018’s Next Generation ASICs

2018 also saw a lot of buzz surrounding new ASIC miners that utilize next-generation chips like 7 nanometer (nm) and 10nm semiconductors. Even though these machines received a lot of attention because crypto-markets had plummeted, they really haven’t lived up to their hype so far. Even if a machine packs a lot of terrahash per second (TH/s), it still has a hard time profiting this year. There are roughly six SHA-256 ASIC machines at the time of publication that are pulling in a profit by mining either BTC or BCH. The most profitable miner today is the Asicminer 8 Nano Pro, a machine that claims to pack a monstrous 76 TH/s. It is followed by the Ebang Ebit E11+ which makes $3.73 per day at current prices and claims to capture 44 TH/s per machine.

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New Devices

The 2018 Bitcoin Mining Ecosystem Saw Record Hashrates and New DevicesAsicminer’s 44 TH/s Nano version is capturing $3.36 per day but the fourth most profitable miner, the Innosilicon T3, isn’t available for purchase yet. Only five of the six most profitable SHA-256 miners can be purchased today and most of these devices process more than 23 TH/s. Also, a big surprise came this week from the manufacturers of the 7nm-powered B2 and B3 miners created by the GMO Group from Japan. According to the company, it won’t be manufacturing these machines going forward and it saw a record loss of $218 million during the last four months. Other mining operations have also recorded deep losses this year, like when Washington-based firm Giga Watt filed for bankruptcy. And local reports stemming from China this past November explained that miners in the region were “selling mining rigs by the Kilo as scrap.”

Even With the Ups and Downs — Hashrate Continues to Increase Over Time

The bear market of 2018 has definitely taken a toll on miners but even more so during Q4. This month, news.Bitcoin.com explained how Chinese miners have been shorting the spot markets in order to break even on electric costs stemming from unprofitable devices. These rigs are then sold on the secondary market and miners keep repeating the cycle until they can buy new machines when prices get bullish. Although our publication also reported on Matt D’Souza, the co-founder of Blockware Solutions, who explained that even though some operations were going bankrupt, other mining facilities have handled the cryptocurrency recession in a more inventive fashion.

Moreover, even though SHA-256 mined coins had their values chopped considerably in 2018 and their hashrate plummeted by 20-25 EH/s, both metrics are still significantly higher than ever before. There will always be highs and lows but an economy with an upward healthy trend over the long run is always a good sign.

What do you think about the hashrate climb this year and all the new machines announced? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

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Images via Shutterstock, Ebang, Asicminer, Blockchain.com, Coin Dance Cash, Fork.lol.


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