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“BitPico” Vows to Activate Bitcoin Hard Fork Anyway

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An entity operating under the name “BitPico” has threatened to activate the Bitcoin network’s SegWit2x hard fork as planned even after most of its backers suspended the project.

Stealth Fork?

Bitcoin’s long awaited hard fork could still go as planned later this month, according to a community operating under the name BitPico. The mysterious group or entity wrote the following on their Linuxfoundation.org cloud address:

“We are carrying out the fork regardless as everything is set in motion. Backing down the difficulty right now is a strategy,” the group wrote.

“Wonder why 30% network hash-rate disappeared? It’s ours; the miners that will continue what is set in motion… A handful of humans cannot stop what they have no control over…”

Based on the above quote, BitPico controls roughly one-third of bitcoin’s hashrate. Until now, nobody is sure who or what BitPico represents.

Earlier in the day, news surfaced that Segwit2x proponents were backing out of the planned fork, which was scheduled to occur on or around Nov. 16. BitGo founder Mike Belshe wrote in an email Thursday that the project is being delayed because “we have not built sufficient consensus.”

Segwit2x Controversy

The idea behind Segwit2x originated in May as part of an effort to increase blocksize and improve scalability. However, the debate over scalability is at least three years old.

A hard fork via Segwit2x would have created two competing versions of bitcoin, with the mining community left to decide over the “real” version of the cryptocurrency. Many analysts have described the protocol as the most divisive one in bitcoin’s history.

That being said, the new protocol has a strong backing within the mining community, with exchanges, wallet providers and other market players tipping their hat in favor of 2x.

It remains unclear whether BitPico is the real deal, but it’s quite apparent that a sizable portion of the blockchain community are not happy with the plan to scrap the upgrade.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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South Korea’s Blockchain Association Draws Ire for Green Lighting Exchanges

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South Korea has the dubious distinction of allowing two of the major security breaches at cryptocurrency exchanges this year — Coinrail at around $40 million and Bithumb at $31 million.

But a self-regulatory agency in the country — the Korea Blockchain Association (KBA) — just gave its stamp of approval for the security of a dozen crypto exchanges operating there, including one of the companies that suffered a hack. The move is controversial at best and self-serving at worst at a crucial time in the industry when new and veteran crypto investors alike are awaiting market security.

The KBA is comprised of nearly two-dozen blockchain companies including Bithumb and about a dozen other local cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinone and Korbit, as pointed out by The Korea Times. Here’s the rub.

Officials from these companies are the very individuals who performed in-house inspections of the safety and security of South Korea’s 12 leading cryptocurrency exchanges including recently hacked Bithumb, which despite apparent flaws were green-lighted at a Seoul press conference. According to CCN, the exchanges are: “Dexko, Hanbitco, OKCoin Korea, Huobi Korea, Bithumb, Upbit, Neoframe, Gopax, Cpdax, Coinzest, Korbit and Coinone.”

But the exchanges didn’t pass with flying colors, which taints the review and could give traders and investors a false sense of security for directing funds onto these platforms.

“This inspection does not guarantee the absolute safety of the 12 exchanges. The result indicates the 12 exchanges satisfy the minimum requirement for their operations. It is like a driver’s license. It is hard to tell whether they are good drivers or not” according to KBA Chairman Jeon Ha-jin.

The KBA appears to have kowtowed to the exchanges, doubling its review period in an attempt to give the trading companies more time to meet their seemingly loose standards.

South Korea’s Crypto Landscape

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said today that the government will “ease requirements for new technology support, including the blockchain technology investment support.” This is expected to include expanded tax reductions “for new growth engine investment.”

Indeed, South Korea’s cryptocurrency regulatory landscape is evolving. Last month, the Financial Services Commission unveiled new guidelines to combat money laundering activity at financial institutions that transact in virtual currencies. Regulators also appear to have probed a trio of leading banks that have facilitated cryptocurrency accounts — Nonghyup, Hana Bank, and Kookmin.

The bottom line is that policymakers are requiring exchanges and banks alike to follow stricter know-your-customer standards, all of which is encouraging despite where the self-regulating KBA fell short and is a step toward the crafting of formal regulation of the cryptocurrency industry in South Korea.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 23 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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President Trump Unleashes Task Force Targeting Crypto-Fueled Fraud

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As a businessman, Donald  Trump has been curiously mum on the topic of cryptocurrencies — until now. The U.S. president has signed an executive order to activate a task force whose mission is protecting consumers against fraud in the cryptocurrency space, according to Bloomberg. It’s a sign that the U.S. government is throwing more resources at this nascent market even as any formal regulatory policy remains elusive.

Regulation is expected to be among the catalysts for a turnaround in the bitcoin price, but so far all U.S. agencies have been able to do is create peripheral groups to target scams.

At the helm of the new security unit, which was unveiled on Wednesday, is the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the task force is comprised of regulators from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has its own digital currency task force, as well as officials from the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Trump administration is lumping crypto-fueled fraud with that of other white collar crimes such as money laundering and Ponzi schemes, for instance, with a particular focus on protecting the elderly and veterans from these nefarious activities. It’s Trump’s stamp on an Obama-era security unit that was formed in response to the Great Recession. By signing an executive order, President Trump can control the focus and direction of the group’s activities, which now includes bitcoin.

On the Radar

It’s not as though crypto fraud isn’t already on the radar of government officials. In recent days, the U.S. DOJ announced the sentencing of a “so-called Bitcoin Maven” who was charged with running an unlicensed crypto-to-fiat transfer operation and laundering bitcoin that was obtained from narcotic-fueled transactions.

Theresa Lynn Tetley of Southern California, a former real estate investor, was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison in addition to fines and forfeiting 40 bitcoin, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bullions, all of which she obtained illegally.

Tetley advertised on LocalBitcoins.com, which is a platform for buying and selling bitcoin locally. Meanwhile, Facebook in recent weeks eased its ban on select cryptocurrency projects and many in the cryptocurrency community are wondering if Twitter will follow in its footsteps, especially after Justin Sun, founder of the Tron Foundation, tweeted about having received a visit from Twitter at the Tron offices.

President Trump is a Wall Street guy, with the Trump Building perched prominently on 40 Wall Street, a stone’s throw from the New York Stock Exchange. He made his fortunes in real estate, which incidentally is an industry that has begun to support bitcoin for payments.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 23 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Robinhood Trading App Adds Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash to Its Crypto Offerings

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Popular trading app Robinhood has expanded its cryptocurrency offerings to include Litecoin and bitcoin cash, giving traders no-fee access to some of the world’s leading digital assets.

Robinhood Crypto Expands Offerings

In addition to bitcoin and Ethereum, Robinhood users will now be able to access alternative coins such as Litecoin and bitcoin cash through their mobile phones. Combined, the four coins have more thn $165 billion in market value.

“Since we launched Robinhood Crypto in February, our customers have voiced interest in buying and selling other cryptocurrencies beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum,” the company said in a blog post Thursday. The app’s growth has been helped by “significant momentum generated over the last several months with the introduction of Options and Crypto.”

Robinhood claims to have over five million users across 17 states. The initial roll out of Robinhood Crypto began in February in five states.

Challenging Times for Crypto Exchanges

Robinhood’s expansion is occurring on the heels of a protracted bear market for cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin and other major coins down roughly 70% from peak levels. Diminishing market values has diverted business away from major digital currency exchanges, which have reported a sharp decline in trading volumes over the past six months.

Since May, global trade volumes have dipped below $10 billion on several occasions, a sign that traders were staying on the sidelines or losing interest in crypto all together. On Thursday, total trade volumes amounted to $11.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

The retail downtrend has forced popular exchanges like Coinbase to expand their custodial services in hopes of attracting institutional capital. As CCN reported Thursday, the Coinbase app has declined in popularity amid the downturn.

Robinhood’s advantage lies in the fact that its trading app provides exposure not just to cryptocurrencies, but the broader financial markets.

That being said, the company appears poised to expand its crypto offerings much more quickly than some of its competitors. Hacked reported last month that Robinhood was recruiting for a “crypto engineer” who can support “wallet functionality” as well as new digital currencies.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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