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EOS Hype Builds as Over 50 Candidates Vie for 21 Supernodes

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

EOS Hype Builds as Over 50 Candidates Vie for 21 Supernodes

EOS is scheduled to migrate from the Ethereum network to its own on June 2, 2018, and a slew of candidates are vying for one of twenty-one supernodes that will support this new mainnet. Since the first week of March, the platform’s Steemit account, EOS Go, has posted weekly reports on the organizations that have submitted themselves for consideration.

A mixture of big and little fish, the candidate pool includes upward of 50 different organizations. Some are groups of regional enthusiasts that bear the EOS name next to their home country or city, such as EOS Detroit, EOS Rio and EOS Canada. Others represent blockchain industry movers, such as Bitfinex, Huobi, AntPool, Wancloud and OK Blockchain Capital. As this previous sample suggests, an overwhelming number of candidates competing for the coveted supernodes come from Chinese organizations.

Also known as block producers, supernodes operate as part of EOS’s delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) consensus mechanism. Under DPoS, validators serve a function similar to that of miners who secure proof-of-work systems. Community members will vote on delegates to represent them on the network, and these delegates are charged with accruing, processing and mining transactions into blocks. They’ll also be responsible for broadcasting these blocks and the network’s distributed ledger to other minor nodes that support the network.

In order to keep block producers honest, the network implements a continuous voting process that places supernode operators up for reelection every 21 blocks.

EOS’s framework only accommodates 21 supernodes, so candidates must prove their worth to win over the voter pool. If chosen, these organizations will represent the network’s backbone, so potential supernode operators must show community members that they represent their best interests, both in terms of resources and integrity. In return, block producers receive block rewards and network prestige for their contributions to the blockchain.

Like political campaigns on parade, a variety of big players in the blockchain industry have submitted their candidacy, touting the benefits and worth that they could bring to the EOS ecosystem.

For many of these bids, this worth is tangible. With a focus on infrastructure, Wancloud, a neutral and open-sourced blockchain platform backed by Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, has committed its IT framework and expertise to the EOS community. Adding to its resume of supporting nodes for BitShares, Stellar, Qtum and Factom, Wancloud plans on using data centers in Hong Kong, the United States, Singapore, South Korea and Japan to run its supernode. As an existing blockchain and cloud services provider, Wancloud also features API kits, developers tools, and a community of enterprises and developers that would, in its words, “guarantee the sustainable development of the platform in the future” and “accelerate the promotion of EOS with respect to its industrial and enterprise adoptions.”

Similarly, venture capital firm OK Blockchain Capital has proposed an investment fund that it claims will provide over $100 million toward the development of EOS-based projects in the future, such as token projects, DApps and smart contracts. Using its partnership with OKEx and its own exchange, OKCoin.com, the group has also committed to “[promote] the circulation of EOS and EOS-based projects in digital asset markets all over the world.”

Bitmain’s mining arm, AntPool, is also a contender. As part of its campaign, AntPool is offering a “strong developer community … to be a guardian of EOS cybersecurity construction.” It also believes that its capital allocation and infrastructure of over 2,000 servers make it an ideal candidate for maintaining a supernode. ViaBTC, another Chinese mining pool, has announced its candidacy, leveraging its case for a supernode with its developer community and existing infrastructure, as well.  

Huobi, a top exchange out of China, announced its candidacy today, April 24, though it has not released an outline of its benefits as of this writing.

Like many of the other bidders, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is making a commitment with its own exchange servers that are monitored “with around-the-clock, military-grade security,” according to a Bitfinex blog post. In addition, the exchange is developing EOSfinex, a decentralized exchange built on EOS, and it’s making a pledge to organize hackathons, developer meetups and online/offline workshops to foster EOS’s adoption and development.

Most of the projects make promises to provide developing talent, technological infrastructure and incubation funds for the EOS ecosystem. Acting as a block producer will require energy/computation-intensive hardware and painstaking maintenance, so it’s obvious that candidates must have adequate framework and talent to support a supernode. EOS has also made it clear that it will take a hands-off approach to platform development and adoption. As such, candidates are pledging capital, establishing incubators and designing education programs to build up EOS’s ecosystem and convey their commitment to the project.

In theory, EOS’s DPoS consensus model is meant to provide frictionless, feeless transactions, all while avoiding the centralization that ASIC mining pools have brought to proof-of-work networks like Bitcoin.

To some, these promises are too good to be true, at least too good to be decentralized. On his self-titled website, Vitalik Buterin argues that DPoS invites bribery and alliances that defeat the entire purpose of democratic, on-chain voting. For a system like EOS, he claims, delegates can buy votes by promising higher dividends to its voters (in DPoS networks, voters place votes using the network’s currency and, in return, are usually rewarded with payouts from a delegate’s block rewards). These kickbacks can become even more complicated if delegates form informal alliances, what Buterin brands “political parties” or “cartels.” Such alliances would create a centralized governance structure that “contradicts explicit promises made by DPoS proponents.”

EOSnodecountSource: Block Producer Candidate Report

To date, Chinese entities seem especially interested in securing EOS supernodes, a phenomenon that may run the risk of centralizing EOS infrastructure within a single sphere of influence. Given the number of block producer candidates from China, the same centralization Buterin warns of in his blog post may be in the realm of possibility. As with Bitcoin mining, this concentration of resources may amount to nothing, but it does raise questions as to the merits of DPoS systems to avoid such centralization as we see EOS’s supernodes campaign veer toward this end.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

TD Ameritrade Put An Actual Ad on the Bitcoin Blockchain

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

TD Ameritrade used bitcoin's "memo" area to plant a digital flag on the cryptocurrency's ledger.

‘Bitcoin Is Bigger Than the Internet’: Billionaire Investor Tim Draper

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is doubling down on his bullish bitcoin hand. Draper, founder of Draper Associates, became famous for his early backing of tech sensations Tesla, Jobs.com and Skype, but if you ask him today, bitcoin surpasses them all. He was asked during a panel discussion at the Intelligence Squared/Manhattan Institute US

The post ‘Bitcoin Is Bigger Than the Internet’: Billionaire Investor Tim Draper appeared first on CCN

MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency from the creator of Signal, just raised $30M for private mobile payments

TechCrunch, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A new privacy-centric cryptocurrency project with some big names on board just raised a round worth noting. On Tuesday, the team at MobileCoin announced that Binance Labs, the major blockchain incubator associated with the Binance exchange, led a $30 million round denominated in bitcoin and ether for the new cryptocurrency. MobileCoin will enjoy “priority consideration” […]

The Genesis Files: How David Chaum’s eCash Spawned a Cypherpunk Dream

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The Genesis Files: How David Chaum’s eCash Spawned a Cypherpunk Dream

“You can pay for access to a database, buy software or a newsletter by email, play a computer game over the net, receive $5 owed you by a friend, or just order a pizza. The possibilities are truly unlimited.”

This quote is not from a 2011 Bitcoin introduction video. In fact, the quote is not about Bitcoin at all. It is not even from this millennium. The quote is from cryptographer Dr. David Chaum, speaking at the first ever CERN conference in Geneva in 1994. What he’s talking about is eCash.

If the cypherpunk movement has a godfather, the bearded, ponytailed Chaum is it. To say that the cryptographer — now 62 or 63 years old (he won’t reveal his exact age) — was ahead of the curve is an understatement. Before most people had heard of the internet, before most homes had personal computers, before Edward Snowden, Jacob Appelbaum or Pavel Durov were even born, Chaum concerned himself with the future of online privacy.

“You have to let your readers know how important this is,” Chaum once told a Wired journalist. “Cyberspace doesn't have all the physical constraints. […] There are no walls … it's a different, scary, weird place, and with identification it's a panopticon nightmare. Right? Everything you do could be known to anyone else, could be recorded forever. It's antithetical to the basic principle underlying the mechanisms of democracy.”

Chaum, who started his career as a computer science professor at Berkeley University, was not just a digital privacy advocate. He designed the tools to realize it. First published in 1981, Chaum’s paper “Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms” laid the groundwork for research into encrypted communication over the internet, which would eventually lead to privacy-preserving technologies like Tor.

But privacy of regular communication was not at the top of Chaum’s priority list. He arguably had an even bigger idea. The Berkeley professor wanted to design a privacy-preserving digital money.

“The choice between keeping information in the hands of individuals or of organizations is being made each time any government or business decides to automate another set of transactions,” Chaum would explain in the Scientific American in 1992. “The shape of society in the next century may depend on which approach predominates.”

Ten years prior, by 1982, Chaum had already solved the puzzle, which he had published in his second major paper: “Blind signatures for untraceable payments.” At a point in time when today’s Bitcoin veterans like Dr. Pieter Wuille, Erik Voorhees or Peter Todd had yet to take their first breath, the cryptographer had designed a solution to realize an anonymous payment system for the internet.

Blind Signatures

At the heart of Chaum’s digital money system lies his innovation of “blind signatures.”

To understand blind signatures, it’s important to first remember how public key cryptography works and, in particular, what (regular) cryptographic signatures are.

Public key cryptography uses key pairs. Such a pair consists of a public key, which is a seemingly random string of numbers that is mathematically derived from the other, truly random string of numbers: the private key. With the private key, it’s trivial to generate the public key. But with only the public key, it’s practically impossible to generate the private key: it’s a one way street.

Public key cryptography can be used to establish private communication between two people — in academic circles usually referred to as “Alice” and “Bob” — who only share their public keys with one another. Their private keys remain private.

But private communication is not all Alice and Bob can do. Alice can also cryptographically “sign” any piece of data (and so can Bob). To do so, Alice must mathematically combine her private key with this data. The result will be another seemingly random string of numbers known as the “signature.” Once again, it’s impossible to recreate Alice's private key from the signature (with or without the piece of data). It’s all still a one-way street.

The interesting thing about this signature is that Bob (or anyone else) can check it against Alice’s public key. This tells Bob that it was indeed Alice that created the signature with her private key (and the added piece of data). This can, in turn, mean whatever Alice and Bob want. For example, it can mean that Alice agrees with the content of the data (just like a handwritten signature).

A blind signature then takes all this one step further. This time, Bob first generates a random number, called a “nonce,” and mathematically combines this with the piece of data. This “scrambles” the piece of data to make it seem like yet another random string of numbers. Bob can then give the scrambled data to Alice for her to sign. Alice cannot tell what the original data looks like, so she is “blind signing” it. The result is a “blind signature.”

Now, the interesting thing about this blind signature is that it’s not just linked to Alice’s keys (like any signature would be) and the scrambled data. The same blind signature is also linked to the original, unscrambled data. Using only Alice’s public key, anyone can check that Alice signed a scrambled version of the original data — including, of course, Alice herself, if she does get to see the original data later on.

eCash

This blind signature scheme is the trick that Chaum used to create a digital money system.

To realize this, Alice from the above example would actually be a bank: Alice Bank. This is a regular bank, like banks exist today, where customers have bank accounts with (in this example) U.S. dollar deposits.

Let’s say Alice Bank has four customers: Bob, Carol, Dan and Erin. And let’s say that Bob wants to buy something from Carol.

First, Bob requests a “withdrawal” from Alice Bank. (Ideally, he had already made this withdrawal earlier — but never mind that for now.) To make this withdrawal, Bob actually creates “digital banknotes” himself, in the form of unique numbers: “serial numbers.” On top of that, he scrambles these banknotes, as shown above. These scrambled banknotes are sent to Alice Bank.

Having received the scrambled banknotes from Bob, Alice Bank then blind signs each scrambled banknote and sends them back to Bob. For each signed, scrambled banknote that she sends back, Alice Bank subtracts one dollar from Bob’s bank account.

Now, because Alice Bank blind signed the scrambled banknotes, her signature is also linked to the original, unscrambled banknotes. So, Bob can now use the original, unscrambled banknotes to pay Carol by simply sending them to her.

As Carol receives the banknotes, she should forward them to Alice Bank. Alice Bank then checks that she indeed blind signed each of the banknotes, which her blind signatures allow her to do: they are linked to her own keys. Alice Bank also checks that the same banknotes (serial numbers) haven’t already been deposited by someone else in order to ensure that they haven’t been double-spent.

As the banknotes check out, Alice Bank adds the equivalent number of dollars to Carol’s bank balance, and lets Carol know. Upon this confirmation, Carol knows she’s been paid valid banknotes by Bob and can safely send him whatever he was buying from her.

ecash chart

The basic idea behind eCash. Source: faculty.bus.olemiss.edu/

Of key importance, Alice Bank will see the unscrambled banknotes for the first time only when Carol deposits them! As such, Alice Bank has no way of knowing that the banknotes were Bob’s. They could just as well have come from Dan or Erin.

As such, Chaum’s solution offers privacy in payments. This was not new in itself, of course: private payments were the norm in those days. But it was new in digital form. Hence, Chaum’s analogy: cash. Electronic cash. eCash.

DigiCash

By 1990, a little under 10 years after finishing his first papers (younger cryptocurrency developers like Matt Corallo, Vitalik Buterin and Olaoluwa Osuntokun still hadn’t been born), David Chaum founded DigiCash. The company was based in Amsterdam, where Chaum had been living for a couple of years, and specialized in — indeed — digital money and payment systems. These included a government project to replace toll booths (which was eventually cancelled) and smart cards (akin to what we call hardware wallets today). But DigiCash’s flagship project was its digital cash system, eCash. (The system was called eCash, while the money in the system was dubbed “CyberBucks,” comparable to using capital-letter Bitcoin for the protocol and lower case bitcoin for the currency.)

Digicash team

The technical team in the early days of DigiCash. (Chaum not pictured.) Source: chaum.com/ecash

At a time that Netscape and Yahoo! were leading the tech industry to new heights, and where some thought micropayments, not advertisements, would be the revenue model for the web, DigiCash was considered a rising star by tech entrepreneurs of the day. Of course, Chaum and his team had much faith in their technology as well.

“As payments on the network mature, you’re going to be paying for all kinds of small things, more payments than one makes today,” Chaum told the New York Times in 1994, of course, emphasizing the importance of privacy in such a world. “Every article you read, every question you have, you’re going to have to pay for it.”

That year, after four years of development, the first successful payments were tested, and later that same year eCash trials began: Banks could acquire a license from DigiCash to use the technology.

Interest was significant. By late 1995, eCash was licensed to its first bank: the Mark Twain Bank in St. Louis. Moreover, by early 1996, one of the biggest banks in the entire world got on board: Deutsche Bank. Credit Suisse, a second major player joined later, and several other banks across different countries — including the Australian Advance Bank, Norway’s Norske Bank and Bank Austria — would follow suit.

Yet, what’s perhaps more interesting than the deals DigiCash struck are the deals it did not. Two of the three major Dutch banks — ING and ABN Amro — are said to have made DigiCash partnership deals worth tens of millions of dollars. Similarly, Visa reportedly offered a $40 million investment, while Netscape had interest as well: eCash could have been included in the most popular web browser of that era.

Still, the biggest offer of all probably came from none other than Microsoft. Bill Gates wanted to integrate eCash into Windows 95 and is said to have offered DigiCash some $100 million to do so. Chaum, so the story goes, asked for two dollars for each version of Windows 95 sold. The deal was off.

While a rising star in the minds of technologists of the day, DigiCash seemed to have trouble making a financial deal that would help it to realize its full potential.

By 1996, DigiCash employees had seen one failed deal too many and wanted a change in policy. This change came in the form of a new CEO: Visa veteran Michael Nash. The startup also got a fund injection, while MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte was made chairman of the board. (Through its Digital Currency Initiative, the MIT Media Lab employs several Bitcoin Core contributors today.) The DigiCash headquarters were moved from Amsterdam to Silicon Valley. Chaum remained part of DigiCash, but now as CTO.

It wouldn’t make much difference. After several years of trials, eCash wasn’t catching on with the general public. The banks that got on board were experimenting but did not really push the technology; by 1998, Mark Twain Bank had only enrolled 300 merchants and 5,000 users. While a final deal with Citibank came close — it could have given the project a good push — this bank ended up walking out for unrelated reasons.

“It was hard to get enough merchants to accept it, so that you could get enough consumers to use it, or vice versa,” Chaum told Forbes in 1999, after DigiCash had finally filed for bankruptcy. “As the Web grew, the average level of sophistication of users dropped. It was hard to explain the importance of privacy to them.”

The Spawning of a Cypherpunk Dream

DigiCash failed, and eCash failed with it. But even though the technology did not succeed as a business, Chaum’s work would inspire a group of cryptographers, hackers and activists, connected through a mailing list. It was this group — which included DigiCash contributors like Nick Szabo and Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn — that would come to be known as the cypherpunks.

Perhaps a bit more radical than Chaum himself ever was, the cypherpunks kept the dream of an electronic cash alive, proposing alternative digital currency systems throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2008, about 10 years after DigiCash’s demise, Satoshi Nakamoto sent his proposal for an electronic cash to the de-facto successor of the then-defunct cypherpunk mailing list: Bitcoin.

Bitcoin and eCash have little in common from a design perspective. Crucially, eCash was centralized around DigiCash and could not really be its own currency. Even if every single person in the world would only use eCash for all their transactions, banks would still be necessary to offer account balances and confirm transactions. This also means that eCash — while providing privacy — was not as censorship resistant. Where Bitcoin was able to keep WikiLeaks funded even through a banking blockade, for example, eCash could not have done the same thing; banks could still have blocked WikiLeaks’ accounts.

Still, Chaum’s work on digital currency, dating back to the early 1980s, remains relevant. While Bitcoin itself does not employ blind signatures, scaling and privacy layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol could. Bitcointalk forum and r/bitcoin subreddit moderator Theymos, for example, has been a champion of an eCash-like scaling sidechain for Bitcoin for some time. Adam Fiscor, a leader in the domain of Bitcoin transaction privacy today, is realizing coin-mixing services utilizing blind signatures, as once proposed by Bitcoin Core contributor Greg Maxwell. And yet-to-be-announced Lightning Network technology could utilize blind signatures to improve security.

And Chaum himself? He returned to Berkeley, where he is responsible for a long list of publications, many in the field of digital elections and reputation systems. Perhaps, some 20 years from now, an entirely new generation of developers, entrepreneurs and activists will look back at these as the groundwork for a technology that is about to change the world.

This article is partly based on two articles published in the 1990s: “E-Money (That’s What I Want)” by Steven Levy for Wired, and “Hoe DigiCash alles verknalde” (Translated: “How DigiCash Blew Everything”) by an unknown author for Next! Magazine. There is also a wealth of information on chaum.com/ecash.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Sorry MIT, But You’re Not Taking Down Bitcoin

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

“Let’s destroy Bitcoin.” Thus the MIT Technology Review purports to present a guide to taking down the flagship cryptocurrency, whose network has achieved 99.99 percent uptime since its launch in January 2009. Unsurprisingly, the publication’s plans — which you can read about in more detail here — fall short of the mark. Author Morgan Peck

The post Sorry MIT, But You’re Not Taking Down Bitcoin appeared first on CCN

Snoop Dogg to Perform at Ripple's Blockchain Week NYC Party

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Snoop Dogg will perform at Ripple's Community Night during this year's Blockchain Week in May.

Promoted: Invictus Blazes New Path to Crypto Investing

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Invictus Header

As digital asset markets face increased volatility and turbulence, managing a portfolio of cryptocurrencies can be an overwhelming endeavor, even for the savviest of investors.

Ill-equipped with the time, energy and knowledge needed to successfully navigate today’s sea of new investment opportunities, this investor group can find themselves exposed to extreme vulnerabilities and traps in their early stage investment efforts.

A key attribute of blockchain technology and its power to create distributed immutable ledgers is its ability to track assets and currency. This signals a groundbreaking shift from today’s prevailing operational model, one that has the potential to alter the trajectory of how investors engage with the traditional finance sector.

Mirroring the flourishing success of CRYPTO20, the world’s first tokenized cryptocurrency index fund, comes the unveiling of the umbrella brand Invictus Capital, a global enterprise seeking to offer a fresh approach to the crypto-based investment landscape. 

Invictus seeks to deliver a broad cross section of data-science-backed funds, alongside CRYPTO20, for those cryptocurrency investors seeking diversified access to the cryptocurrency market. With their fund-as-a-token model, the third-party fees that extract a portion of investor profits are eliminated.

Spotlighting on the Invictus Hyperion Fund 

Invictus has introduced the Invictus Hyperion fund with a launch date set for April 30. 

Here is a brief overview of the new tokenized fund aimed at independent investors seeking exposure to projects before they begin initial coin offerings (ICOs):

Invictus Hyperion Fund is a syndicated venture capital fund that allows independent investors access to early-stage blockchain projects. Through the “IHF” token, investors are provided access to a suite of well-vetted investments involving ICOs and private and public presales.  Employing Invictus’ data-focused methodology, the Hyperion fund can highlight promising investments in blockchain technology. You can download the Invictus Hyperion Fund whitepaper here

Invictus’ Titan AI tool is one of a number of tools and predictive models that will be employed to determine investment opportunity potential and legitimacy. This watchdog service and tool mitigates fraud and copycat projects by analyzing ICO whitepapers and easily identifying plagiarized content. Read more about the Titan AI Tool here.

“Performing due diligence is vital for the health of the cryptocurrency community — we need to stand together to prevent dubious and fraudulent projects from taking investor funds,” said Daniel Schwartzkopff, founder and CEO of Invictus Capital.

Schwartzkopff is a South African business executive and serial entrepreneur who has founded several venture capital backed companies. He has been featured in everything from CNBC to the Wall Street Journal and is a graduate of the University of Cape Town, where he studied chemical engineering.

“We are employing proven data science and machine learning tools in the design and testing of our funds, as well as to justify our investment decisions,” Schwartzkopff said. “Our goal is to establish the industry standard while delivering  peace of mind, security and simplicity to our investors, all at a low cost.”

Data science allows Invictus to backtest various fund strategies in order to identify more optimal sets of parameters — i.e., the number of coins in the fund, how often to rebalance and whether a cap should be placed on the asset weightings, Schwartzkopff said.

“Intuition is often wrong, and this kind of analysis allows us to effectively justify our decision-making,” he added.

Ultimately, some of the core values behind blockchain technology are what drive the work of Invictus.

“Transparency and the scientific method are core tenets of our philosophy at Invictus,” Schwartzkopff concluded. “We believe that all funds should be developed and justified with a data-backed approach.” 

Note: Trading and investing in digital assets is speculative and can be high-risk. Based on the shifting business and regulatory environment of such a new industry, this content should not be considered investment or legal advice.


This promoted article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Yields on 10-year Treasury notes on Tuesday morning finally reached the elusive 3% level, which the benchmark interest rate hadn't seen since January 2014.

The yield flirted with the level all day Monday, but it was Tuesday's stronger-than-expected home prices as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller index that pushed it across the line.

The rise in the 10-year yield, a benchmark for things like home mortgages and company borrowing, has the potential to dampen spending as consumers and companies spend more to service their debt. It's also closely watched by stock traders. And sure enough, stocks started tumbling once the 3% level was breached.

In deal news, several top-10 shareholders at Jazz Pharmaceuticals have been pushing management to consider a sale of the drugmaker's sleep business, according to people familiar with the matter.

South Korean gaming company is said to be in talks to buy Bitstamp, the world’s oldest bitcoin exchange. And Morgan Stanley identified the 10 tech companies most likely to get acquired in the next 12 months

In finance news, investing startup Acorns just took a page out of Netflix's playbook. And in an op-ed on Business Insider, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon stressed the need for the private sector to play a bigger role in ensuring economic opportunity is shared more widely across the US population.

In markets news: 

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NOW WATCH: A $700 billion investor dispels one of the market's most common myths — and explains what it means for your portfolio

The dollar's getting stronger — and that could be bad news

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Worried nervous trader


Whether a strong dollar is a good or bad thing remains highly debated among economists. But there is generally one consensus among them — it's important to look at why the dollar is moving.

The greenback has jumped more than 1.5% against the yen and euro since last Monday. And it's made even bigger gains versus other currencies, including the New Zealand dollar and the British pound. 

Bilal Hafeez, a foreign exchange strategist at Nomura, thinks the greenback is rising for "bad" reasons.

"US risk markets such as equities and credit have weakened over the same period while the dollar has rallied," he said. "The dollar is rallying in a negative environment."

Hafeez noted the recent commodities rally, which is credited for helping the dollar tick higher, was driven by trade tensions and other geopolitical worries rather than global demand. And those price dynamics may spill over into the rates market, he says.

US government bond yields have been jumping over the past week, with the 10-year Treasury yield hitting the key 3% level for the first time since 2014 on Tuesday. That could signal markets are positioning themselves for a slowdown in growth.

"If anything this suggests rates markets are expecting the Fed to be forced into more hikes to curb these inflationary pressures," he said. "This provides a more negative backdrop for the dollar rally."

Elsewhere, equities have remained relatively sluggish as the dollar climbs. Stocks have been slow to react to a recent series of strong corporate earnings. 

"Instead higher US yields could be de-rating stocks, and investor equity longs and fears on tech hardware seem to be weighing on stocks," he said.

Screen Shot 2018 04 24 at 9.52.48 AMThough the dollar index — a measurement of the greenback versus its major peers — paused Tuesday, some think it will continue strengthening.

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise rates two or three times more this year, which is relatively faster than the other major central banks. That could push rate differentials wider and further boost the dollar, according to FXTM Chief Market Strategist Hussein Sayed. 

"Unless President Trump surprises us with a new Tweet, we may see further greenback appreciation," he added.

But that's all the more reason to trade in US dollars for so-called safe haven currencies, according to Hafeez.

"In such an environment, we think the best way of holding onto a core short dollar position would be to sell it against the yen," Hafeez said.

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin hits its highest levels in over a month as crypto markets rebound

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Wall Street's biggest bull explains why trade war fears are way overblown

Stocks are tumbling after a key interest-rate benchmark hit its highest level since 2014

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Screen Shot 2018 04 24 at 1.08.14 PM

  • US stocks tumbled Tuesday after the closely-watched 10-year Treasury yield climbed above the 3% level for the first time since 2014.
  • Selling was also pronounced in the tech sector after Google's quarterly earnings report disappointed investors.
  • Follow the Dow Jones industrial average.

US stocks tumbled Tuesday after the closely-watched 10-year Treasury yield climbed above the 3% level for the first time since 2014. Selling in mega-cap tech stocks also put pressure on major indexes.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid more than 1.5%, or 374 points, while the benchmark S&P 500 dropped as much as 0.9%. The comparatively tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 saw deeper weakness, falling more than 2% at its intraday low.

Perhaps the biggest overhang on investor sentiment on Tuesday was the 10-year's breach of 3%, which had been pinpointed by market experts as a worrisome threshold. The fear is that higher yields will dampen spending as consumers and companies allocate more to repaying debt. The 10-year is a benchmark for mortgage rates.

Stock investors, in particular, are also keenly aware of where the 10-year is trading, because it helps inform the Federal Reserve's monetary tightening schedule. Any sign that the central bank will raise interest rates faster than expected is viewed as negative for equities since hikes will theoretically lessen the appeal of stocks.

And sure enough, the S&P 500 started falling from its daily highs just one minute after the 10-year broke 3%.

Meanwhile, weakness in many of the large tech stocks that have led the nine-year bull market also weighed on major gauges. At the center of the selling was Google's parent company Alphabet, whose better-than-expected quarterly sales were overshadowed by rising expenses and a looming regulatory clampdown.

Alphabet declined as much as 5.2%. Other major losers in the tech sector include Micron (-4.5%), Facebook (-3.5%), and Adobe Systems (-2.7%).

Check out Business Insider's recent market coverage:

Elsewhere in global equity markets, the Shanghai Composite climbed 2%, while the Stoxx Europe 600 was little changed. In the bond market, the 10-year US Treasury yield rose four basis points, to 2.95%, just below the 3% level it breached earlier in the day.

Here's a rundown of other asset classes:

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NOW WATCH: Wall Street's biggest bull explains why trade war fears are way overblown

CRYPTO INSIDER: The oldest bitcoin exchange is for sale

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

art auction

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

European cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp is up for sale, according to people familiar with the deal, and a South Korean gaming company is said to be in pole position to acquire it. The price is said to be around $350 million.

Here are the current crypto prices:

Crypto prices today

In the news: 

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SEE ALSO: The CEO of the oldest bitcoin exchange says all platforms are struggling with 'the massive, massive amount of new users'

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Tiny San Marino Has Big Plans to Become a Top Blockchain Hub

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tiny San Marino Has Big Plans to Become a Top Blockchain Hub

The Republic of San Marino, a tiny microstate entirely surrounded by Italy, unveiled ambitious plans to become one of the world’s leading blockchain hubs.

San Marino Innovation, the Republic’s innovation arm, has confirmed the creation of a joint venture with Estonian-based blockchain technology developer Polybius. With the partnership, San Marino wants to develop the infrastructure, the regulations and the technical expertise to become a blockchain powerhouse.

The partnership, which has been set up in collaboration with Olympus Advisors, a consulting firm based in San Marino, provides for the incorporation of a new company under San Marino law aimed at developing a blockchain ecosystem.

“We are the world's oldest Republic and we are proud to begin a transformation led by technology,” said San Marino’s Secretary of State for Economic Development Andrea Zafferani. “We believe this partnership will have an significant impact on the economy, growing the innovation sector which is at the core of our development strategy. The Republic will also acquire a state of art set of regulations to become a world-leading blockchain hub.”

The announcement emphasizes that San Marino intends to become a reliable and proactive legislative partner for the blockchain industry and, to this effect, it will start drafting a comprehensive legislative framework. Though not much information on the Republic’s plans has been released to date, it’s easy to guess that San Marino wants to position itself as a blockchain-friendly jurisdiction, similar to places like Switzerland’s “Crypto Valley,” to attract blockchain companies, capital and talent. Malta, another small European nation, is now pursuing a similar plan.

San Marino plans to harness Polybius’ Digital ID technology to create new identity mechanisms for authentication and verification, in compliance with ongoing European personal and private data management initiatives. Polybius recently relocated to Brussels to be close to the headquarters of the key EU institutions responsible for EU directives and regulations.

“San Marino is ideally placed to become an innovator with this type of technology,” said Sergio Mottola, executive chairman of San Marino Innovation. “We are not interested in short term or opportunistic policies to take advantage of the speculation surrounding today’s cryptocurrency world. Rather, we are intrigued by the revolution implicit in the underlying technology: the ‘blockchain,’ which we expect to bring an impact on the global economy greater than what the internet has.”

Mottola added that the government of the Republic is prepared to take on this sort of transformation and digital innovation. San Marino’s constitution supports forward-looking legislation and jurisdiction to favor the growing blockchain infrastructure. “We are also activating a direct dialogue with innovators worldwide, offering them an environment in which digital economy based businesses can thrive,” said Mottola.

“We were a pioneer of distributed ledger technologies through our HashCoins company,” said Ivan Turygin, co-founder of Polybius. “Now we are able to bring that expertise and experience to bear on a project that will position San Marino as a hub for innovation and deliver a strong incentive for the Government to continue growing the industry in the long run.”

“Our broad experience includes development of practical solutions on multiple blockchains, most notably Emercoin,” added Sergei Potapenko, co-founder of Polybius. “In the past, we have developed and implemented solutions ranging across password-free authorization, data storage and notary services.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Thomson Reuters Survey Finds Increasing Interest in Cryptocurrency Trading

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Thomson Reuters Survey

Cryptocurrency trading by financial firms could increase in 2018, according to a new Thomson Reuters survey, with approximately 20 percent indicating they are considering trading cryptocurrency over the next 3–12 months. The survey was conducted among more than 400 clients across all of Thomson Reuters trading solutions, including Eikon and REDI, as well as its FX platforms.

“Cryptocurrency is still a relatively small part of the trading market, but this survey makes clear this niche segment is starting to enter the mainstream of the financial services industry. This is a major change from a year ago,” said Neill Penney, co-head of Trading at Thomson Reuters, in a statement. “The most important thing for our clients is seamless access to news and data around cryptocurrencies to facilitate informed trading decisions.”

News and information provider Thomson Reuters, whose shares are listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges, has operated in more than 100 countries for more than 100 years. Thomson Reuters financial information products and services cover both traditional and emerging asset classes like crypto assets. It currently provides prices for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via its flagship financial desktop platform Eikon, as well as MVIS indices and CME bitcoin futures.

The company also recently launched a new version of its MarketPsych Indices (TRMI v3.0), which includes the first sentiment data feed for Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency news and social media sites are scanned and scored in real-time, aiming to capture market-moving sentiments.

“While bitcoin and its crypto asset cousins have mainly become a phenomena among individual retail investors, the rollout shows one of the ways that digital tokens are gradually entering the world of institutional investing,” noted Quartz.

Thomson Reuters intends to introduce further capabilities in this sector throughout 2018.

Among the participants in the survey who indicated they would trade cryptocurrencies in 2018, approximately 70 percent said they were planning to do so over the next 3–6 months with an additional 22 percent planning to trade over the next 6–12 months. The survey also found generally widespread familiarity with cryptocurrencies.

“Over the last three years, Thomson Reuters has been focused on exploring the application of smart contracts through the provision of market data with BlockOne IQ,” Sam Chadwick, director of strategy in innovation and blockchain at Thomson Reuters, said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine. BlockOne IQ is an Oracle framework for private distributed ledgers operating on Corda or Ethereum that allows application developers to use signed content from Thomson Reuters within smart contracts.

“Throughout 2017 though, it’s been clear that beyond the potential use cases of smart contracts, industry participants are increasingly seeing the potential of crypto assets as a new asset class as it provides financial institutions with operational effectiveness and is starting to become an asset that their institutional clients are increasingly interested in holding as part of a diversified portfolio,” Chadwick told Bitcoin Magazine.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Iceland's 'Big Bitcoin Heist' Suspect Has Been Arrested

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Iceland's alleged bitcoin mining computer thief Sindri Thor Stefansson, who escaped from prison last week, was arrested in Amsterdam Monday.

MIT Publishes a Plan to ‘Destroy’ Bitcoin [Yes, Really]

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The MIT Technology Review has a plan — or three — to take down Bitcoin. Writing in an article titled “Let’s Destroy Bitcoin,” tech writer Morgan Peck presents three scenarios that she believes could lead to Bitcoin’s eventual demise. The first option is a “government takeover,” whereby governments create their own digital currencies — dubbed

The post MIT Publishes a Plan to ‘Destroy’ Bitcoin [Yes, Really] appeared first on CCN

Goldman Sachs Makes First Official Hire to Its Cryptocurrency Department

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs Makes First Official Hire to Its Cryptocurrency Department

Multinational investment bank and financial services company Goldman Sachs has hired the first official employee for its cryptocurrency markets unit. Justin Schmidt, a former trader, has been serving as the enterprise’s first head of digital asset markets in the securities division since April 16, 2018.

Holding a computer science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Schmidt previously served as the vice-president of quantitative trading firm Seven Eight Capital, LLC, which trades strategies based on mathematical computations and numbers crunching to identify trading opportunities. While his addition to the Goldman Sachs team marks an important step, the company is remaining relatively silent about its future in the crypto arena.

“In response to client interest in various digital products, we are exploring how best to serve them in the space, but at this point, we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering,” explained spokeswoman Tiffany Galvin-Cohen.

Rumors have swelled regarding Goldman’s alleged crypto program since December 2017, after it was reported that the bank was launching a crypto trading desk. Goldman executives have dismissed the rumors, even though in 2015, the company was part of a $50 million funding round with digital payment platform Circle. At the time, Circle was built specifically to allow bitcoin trading, but the company has since become a payments enterprise; it later produced a secondary item designed for trading in the form of a mobile text app.

Though its desk may be non-existent, Goldman seems eager to explore its “range of options” for assisting clients who seek to dabble in cryptocurrencies.

“The job of a bank’s trading desks is to help clients trade the financial stuff that they want to trade,” explained Matt Levine, managing director and the global head of Technology Risk Advisory. “If the sorts of customers who are banks’ customers want to trade a thing, then that thing becomes a financial thing, and so the banks had better start helping them trade it.”

At press time, Goldman is working primarily as a facilitator for its “crypto-curious customers” rather than a market maker. The company is offering clients exposure to bitcoin through its bitcoin futures contracts on the Cboe Global Markets and CME Group exchanges, though it’s merely serving in a “middleman capacity,” ensuring that anyone who places an order can get their hands on crypto.

The company is not presently active on any digital currency exchanges, though it will be interesting to see if this changes as its digital asset department grows.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bunny Ranch brothel lets visitors pay with bitcoin for first time ever

Fox News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A notorious legal brothel in the U.S. says it has accepted Bitcoin "in return for sexual services" for the first time ever, The Sun can reveal.

Bunny Ranch brothel lets visitor pay with bitcoin for first time ever

Fox News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A notorious legal brothel in the U.S. says it has accepted Bitcoin "in return for sexual services" for the first time ever, The Sun can reveal.

A South Korean gaming company is said to be in talks to buy Bitstamp, the world’s oldest bitcoin exchange

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Nejc Kodrič CEO Bitstamp

  • European cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp is up for sale, according to people familiar with the deal, and a South Korean gaming company is said to be in pole position to acquire it.
  • The price is said to be around $350 million, according to two of the people.
  • Bitstamp is the oldest surviving bitcoin exchange and the only licensed exchange in Europe.

LONDON — Bitstamp, the world's oldest surviving bitcoin exchange, is up for sale, according to people familiar with the matter, and a South Korean gaming company is said to be close to finalizing a deal to buy it.

Three people with knowledge of the deal told Business Insider that Bitstamp was in the middle of a sales process, and two of those people named Nexon as the likely buyer. They said the price being discussed is around $350 million. All three declined to be named as they are not authorized to discuss the deal.

The situation is fluid, and a deal could fall apart. Two of the people told Business Insider that Bitstamp had been involved in at least one other sale process prior to the Nexon deal, although they did not elaborate on the attempted transactions.

A spokesperson for Nexon Japan said: "We can neither confirm nor deny the facts about your inquiry."

A spokesperson for Bitstamp said: "I am not in the position to comment on the matter. We kindly ask you to keep an eye out for any official statement from our side on the topic of your inquiry."

Luxembourg-headquartered Bitstamp, founded in 2011, has 3 million registered accounts and 500,000 active trading accounts, its CEO told BI in January. The exchange, which is the only licensed platform in Europe, is the 13th biggest in the world and had a 24-hour trade volume of $246 million as of Tuesday. The spot price of bitcoin on Bitstamp is one of the measures used to calculate the price of futures contracts by CME Group.

Nexon Group, founded in 1995, specializes in PC and mobile games. It has developed titles such as the Korean and Japanese versions of Counter Strike and the Korean version of soccer game FIFA Online. The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of ¥1.3 trillion ($12.7 billion, £9.1 billion).

Japan is a hub for cryptocurrency trading, and 40% of bitcoin trading from October to November 2017 was conducted in yen, according to a Nikkei report.

Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodrič told Business Insider in January that the business had grown from a few dozen people at the start of last year to almost 200 staff as the exchange saw a surge in new sign-ups at the end of 2017.

Kodrič said the exchange was getting as many as 100,000 new sign-ups a day in December and added that Bitstamp had "more than enough internal cash flow to sustain the growth of the company."

The sale of Bitstamp is part of a flurry of dealmaking in the cryptocurrency exchange space. Goldman Sachs-backed cryptocurrency business Circle acquired exchange Poloniex for $400 million in February and earlier this month online brokerage Monex Group bought Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck.

Bitstamp raised £7 million ($10 million) from Pantera Capital in 2013 and £1.7 million ($2.4 million) through a crowdfunding campaign at the start of 2017.

South Korean regulators said they were preparing to ban bitcoin trading in the country, following a crackdown on initial coin offerings in 2017. In February, the regulators softened their stance and signaled support for "normal" cryptocurrency trading, according to a Bloomberg report.

SEE ALSO: A Goldman Sachs-backed tech company just bought a major crypto exchange for a reported $400 million

DON'T MISS: The Japanese crypto exchange that was the victim of a $530 million heist is being taken over

NEXT UP: The CEO of the oldest bitcoin exchange says all platforms are struggling with 'the massive, massive amount of new users'

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Bitcoin Price Will Top $11,500 Soon, Says Crypto Bull Predicted Recent Crash And Rally

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bill Baruch, a cryptocurrency bull who foresaw both bitcoin’s recent slump and ensuing rally, has set a near-term bitcoin price target of $11,500 to $11,800. Baruch, the president of Blue Line Futures, has a pretty good track record for bitcoin price predictions. In February 2018, when BTC plunged to $7,200 during the market correction, Baruch confidently

The post Bitcoin Price Will Top $11,500 Soon, Says Crypto Bull Predicted Recent Crash And Rally appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin hits its highest levels in over a month as crypto markets rebound

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin price today


The price of bitcoin was up more than 4% Tuesday, as high as $9,350 per coin, continuing a streak of gains that have pushed the world’s largest cryptocurrency to its highest price since mid-March.

Most cryptocurrencies saw a slight decline ahead of the US deadline for filing income taxes, which was predicted by both cryptocurrency investors as well as traditional market watchers, as investors sold off digital coins to pay Uncle Sam.

And the rally doesn't appear to be over just yet, at least according to one analyst who says $12,000 is in the crosshairs.

“We’ve seen a sustained bitcoin rise in the past week as confidence is buoyed, taking prices beyond the $9k mark,” Matthew Newton, an analyst at crypto firm eToro, said in an email. “A boom in bitcoin is partly the result of a new US tax year, as investors are buying cryptos after they shed crypto-assets ahead of tax day last week. From our analysis, it is important that Bitcoin continues on this trajectory; breaking $12,000 for the first time since January will be a potential turning point for bitcoin.”

April’s gains haven’t been limited to bitcoin by any means. Smaller coins have also fueled a 74% rise in the total market cap for cryptocurrencies from $243.56 billion at the beginning of the month to $225.7 billion today, according to CoinMarketCap. 

“The market is confident on all cryptos at the moment, not just bitcoin, with the trend to alt coins continuing,” eToro’s Newton said. “Investors should be aware that volatility is likely to continue, but we see a bright future for cryptocurrencies for the rest of 2018 and beyond.”

SEE ALSO: One in 5 finance firms is considering trading cryptocurrencies

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NOW WATCH: Wall Street's biggest bull explains why trade war fears are way overblown

Bitcoin Is Facing Stiff Resistance On Road to $10K

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin is looking bullish today, but must leap several resistance hurdles on the way to $10,000, chart analysis suggests.

Bitcoin Price Rises to $9,200 as Cryptocurrency Market Reaches $417 Billion

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The bitcoin price has surged to $9,200 over the past 24 hours by recording an increase of around $400. It successfully maintained its momentum in the $9,000 region, which investors perceive as an important level that could lead the bitcoin price to enter the $10,000 in the short-term. Alternative Cryptocurrencies Steal the Show Alternative cryptocurrencies,

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One in 5 finance firms are considering trading cryptocurrencies

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A man stands near an advertisement of a cryptocurrency exchange in Tokyo, Japan March 30, 2018. Picture taken March 30, 2018.

  • Thomson Reuters survey: 20% of 400 finance firms surveyed are considering launching crypto trading with the next 12 months.
  • Crypto trading remains a niche activity in mainstream finance but interest is growing and could support price growth.
  • Goldman Sachs recently hired its first cryptocurrency professional and is considering launching a trading desk.
  • You can follow live cryptocurrency prices on Markets Insider.


LONDON — A fifth of finance firms are considering getting into cryptocurrency trading within the next year, according to an industry poll by Thomson Reuters.

A survey of over 400 Reuters clients found that one in five is considering getting into crypto, with the majority weighing a push into the market within the next six months.

Interest in cryptocurrencies surged in the second half of 2017 as the price of bitcoin surged. The mainstream interest culminated in CME and CBOE launching bitcoin futures in December. But these products have been thinly traded and institutional interest in cryptocurrencies remains a niche concern.

There are over 200 cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds globally, according to fintech research firm Autonomous Next, but their combined assets under management are only $5 billion at a maximum.

Neill Penney, co-head of trading at Thomson Reuters, said: "Cryptocurrency is still a relatively small part of the trading market, but this survey makes clear this niche segment is starting to enter the mainstream of the financial services industry. This is a major change from a year ago."

The cryptocurrency market has stalled since the start of the year, declining from $800 billion in value in December to around $400 billion as of Monday. Many crypto bulls believe an influx of institutional money could be the spur that helps the market recover.

Bill Barhydt, the CEO of American Express-backed cryptocurrency startup Abra, told Business Insider last month: "I talk to hedge funds, high net worth individuals, even commodity speculators. They look at the volatility in the crypto markets and they see it as a huge opportunity. Once that happens, all hell will break loose."

On Monday it was reported that Goldman Sachs has hired its first employee to focus exclusively on digital currencies as the Wall Street bank explores creating a bitcoin trading desk.

SEE ALSO: 'All hell will break loose': The crypto market will boom again in 2018 according to the CEO of American Express-backed startup Abra

DON'T MISS: Goldman Sachs just made its first crypto hire to explore a potential bitcoin trading desk

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NOW WATCH: The market is about to reach an inflection point — here’s how to predict which way it’s going to go

BitPay Confirms Bitcoin Cash Retail Payments as Prices Jump

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Cryptocurrency payment service provider BitPay has announced that it will allow brick-and-mortar businesses to use Bitcoin Cash for payments. Already available for Bitcoin, the new service will give customers the option to choose between paying in BTC or BCH. BitPay Checkout, used by restaurants and other retail businesses, is currently being used in Atlanta, Toronto, St. Petersburg,

The post BitPay Confirms Bitcoin Cash Retail Payments as Prices Jump appeared first on CCN

Cboe Exchange Wants to Lower Its Bitcoin Futures Prices

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The CBOE plans to lower the minimum price change for its bitcoin futures contracts from $10 to $5, according to a newly published letter.

Bitcoin Price Climbs to 40-Day High Above $9,200

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin's price is back at 40-day high, followed by a similar trend seen in the overall cryptocurrency market today.

Another Police Official Arrested In Alleged Bitcoin Extortion Plot

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A police superintendent has been arrested in India on suspicions that he is connected to an extortion scheme against a local businessman.

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